Apr 232002

I’m in the midst of a standoff.

Not with the vulgar, anti-abortion individuals on the Lory Student Center Plaza who demonstrate an incredible audacity in professing their value of justice for all, but with another, equally deceptive brainwashing entity.

I’ve forsaken my television and am battling an addiction to mindless programming. This week is TV Turnoff Week. My television was off by midnight, Monday morning and will remain off (if I can stay clean) until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 28 as part of my commitment to this international movement.

TV Turnoff Week was first celebrated in 1995 and has experienced a consistent growth in support over the years since. It has been estimated that as many as 6.4 million people worldwide will take part in this year’s television boycott.

In the recent past, there has been a great deal of debate on the effects of television viewing on children of various ages. Some argue the enormous amount of violence children witness on television significantly contributes to a dangerous desensitization to acts of a violent nature and to an increase in aggressive tendencies. Others counter television programming is not to blame for the recent surge in violent behavior among young children and adolescents but rather that fault rests on lax parental supervision and monitoring. While I won’t make any assertions as to the righteousness of either of these arguments, I do find it most interesting that by the age of 18, the average American child has witnessed 200,000 violent acts on TV and approximately 16,000 murders. Is this cause for concern?

Americans are among the most ambitious consumers in the world. Our televisions (in addition to every other commercial communications medium) have convinced us to aspire to a level of consumption that is threatening global resource sustainability. The average TV-watching American has seen about 2 million commercials by the age of 65. With advertisers spending tens of billions of dollars annually to promote gross over-consumption of material and non-essential goods, it comes as no surprise that we hover on the verge of buying ourselves right out of existence. Is this cause for concern?

About 59 percent of Americans can name the Three Stooges, while only about 17 percent of Americans can name three Supreme Court Justices. This is cause for concern, people.

Wake up and smell your brain frying.

I must admit that I am quite ashamed about the fact that I can’t name all nine Supreme Court Justices, but I can assure you that this week those names will replace the space in my head usually reserved for “The Amazing Race 2.”

This week I will take a walk. I will clean my kitchen. I will call my grandparents. I will go on a hike. I will converse with my partner during dinner, and I will refrain from desiring the shiny, bright red truck sloshing through mud bogs in Toyota commercials. I hope you might consider an attempt at a TV free week (or even a TV free day) as well.

Happy TV Turnoff Week. For more information, log onto www.adbusters.org or www.tvturnoff.org.

Veronica Garcia is a senior majoring in sociology.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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