My parents restricted our television watching when I was young. I learned to tell time before kindergarten so I could turn on my program (Romper Room) at 11:30. I still rarely watch TV and have been thinking we can let the cable access go without a problem. I watched only a few things in the past year and most of that was accessible online.
However, I know a lot of people have the television on just about all day. It’s background noise to some. For many, it is the focus of their activity. Perhaps, in time, it will be also for me. My mother-in-law, essentially bedridden in her last few years because of COPD, had no cable but still could watch local programs. She had public television on all day. Or at least when her local sports team was not being televised. The television brings the world to a lot of people, especially if they do not get out into the world.
Back in 2000 I heard people talking about a new tv program, Survivor. They were excited about what the contestants of this reality show had to do. I actually watched one show; I think they had to eat bugs. It was an interesting concept but, to me, not worth the time. I had a six-year-old and my husband was dying of brain cancer. It was more important to me to spend time with them than spend an hour glued to what really seemed like the idiot box.
We were living in Huntington, West Virginia in 2010 when British chef Jamie Oliver came to town to get people to change their bad eating habits. Part of the show was filmed at my son’s high school and he came home often with descriptions of what REALLY went on before the cameras started to roll. In addition, I spoke with one of the guys who was on the track team and had participated in the reality show. He described an incident where he informed an associate producer that he had a conflict and was told to tell Oliver. As he started to explain to the chef, Oliver stuck his fingers in his ears and started singing “I can’t hear you.” Later, when the episode aired it showed Oliver having a fit because this guy had not had the courtesy to inform him that he would not be there.
So, it was very apparent to me that reality television shows are NOT about reality, but are staged as much as any scripted show. And it also became apparent to me that people watched these shows because they enjoyed seeing people lose. The excitement of the show very much included the idea that someone who is inferior would be kicked out. If the watcher voted for someone who got to stay, they “won.” This set people up, over all these years, into a me versus the rest of them attitude.
Needless to say I had no interest in watching the Apprentice. I grew up in the New York City area and knew about Donald Trump’s ways to take advantage of people to get what he wanted. I did not need to give up my time watching him belittle people. However, it was a popular show. And many people voted for Trump based on that TV persona. They did not realize it was fake. So, by accepting it as reality, guess what happened?
Now now we have a new reality.
- The head of the EPA went on national TV and said carbon dioxide doesn’t drive climate change. This is a complete reversal of past EPA policy and a total rejection of all credible science and facts. This isn’t a joke — It’s the first step to killing all programs to combat climate change. Ask yourself WHY.
- We have escalating fear that a transgender person will attack young girls in public restrooms although no such incident has happened. At the same time, young white men are getting slaps on the wrists for raping and sexually assaulting women, even when they are unconscious. Ask yourself WHY.
- A member of the Congressional committee discussing the new healthcare plan does not want men to have to pay for pre-natal health care. Perhaps he is merely unaware how costs go down when the pool includes people who do NOT use a service, or maybe he sees no reason for women to have health care costs as low as men. Ask yourself WHY.
- The populations of more and more states are voting for legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana but the federal government is adamant that the risk to public health is equivalent to drugs like crack, meth, and heroin. So, the legal businesses have restriction from federal banks and the government can continue to slap people into prison for sentences that are often longer than crimes against people. Ask yourself WHY.
- While 17 intelligence agencies say they have proof that Trump and his cohort had dealings with members of the Russian oligarchy, no one in Congress is willing to start an investigation but those same Senators pounced all over the mismanagement of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Ask yourself WHY.
- People throughout the country clamor that illegal aliens have stolen jobs from native born Americans and support the deportation of all people who entered the country illegally. Farmers growing produce, restaurants, and the construction industry welcome people wanting jobs to come forward. Ask yourself WHY.
- Trump promises a YUGE wall to protect us from bad hombres and also promises that he will get Mexico to pay for it. As the plans unfold, it appears that not only will we the people be paying for it with a surcharge on Mexican products but it is apparent that Trump’s plan to reduce the funding for the Coast Guard will offer a new door of entry to anyone wanting to come to stay. Ask yourself WHY.
- Discussion about infrastructure construction includes giving the work to private companies who will get reimbursed by we the people with tolls on rebuilt highways and bridges. Ask yourself WHY.
- And finally, because this list COULD go on and on….The new healthcare plan will be lowering costs not for we the people but for the government. The rest of us will have the option to pay more than we can afford for services unknown at this time, or die. Simple choice. Ask yourself WHY.
And the people are beginning to make some noise. Congressional town hall meetings in their home districts are having massive attendance. Some are calm as people ask questions and the Representative or Senator responds. Many districts, however, are not being visited or their meetings are cut short because the Congressional Rep or Senator can not adequately show that s/he is actually listening to his or her constituents.
But the majority of the people remain silent. Can you explain to me why?
One reader said I am asking too much of people to expect them to comment. Okay, here goes: don’t comment to me. Get involved. Turn off the television and go out into your community. Get involved. Only by your actions will you be known.
If not you, who? If not now, when?
March 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm
Hi – After some 50 years of activism – some more active than others – learned a long time ago that sometimes we do best by being the example. as the expression goes “be the Change you want to see”. big or small, publicized or not, be true to yourself alone. This election cycle brought that home more than ever; see a hue and cry over what The Donald will do to the environment. Where have they been through Fracking, GMO’s, and a plastic island in the Pacific? Now, the whole Racism thing. How can they have missed the last 50 years worth of prejudice and racism? So I support what I believe in and what I can – Like the NoDAPL . but have found that no amount of talk is going to make people give up their demand for petroleum products – no matter how they fell about pipelines and pollution. They are not interested in reducing their need for power or oil based fuels. They’ll talk a good talk, but if it means ‘reducing’ their lifestyle? Uh Huh. Which is why they watch Reality Shows. They don’t want to face it, they want to pretend.
And I’m sorry for your loss. hope you and your child are doing okay
March 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Thanks for writing. That child is coming up on 22 and he is amazing. So are his older siblings. They each are active to some extent, my daughter perhaps the most as she and her dude also spent time at Red Ridge in November helping with support efforts there. I have told my family that I am going to be as active as I can be and if it means being jailed, so be it. If it means I get killed, so be it. We each need to know when to act and what our inaction may cause. People who sit it out are also acting in fear. That’s hwo the German population let Hitler rise to power.