Re: COHOUSING & TV
From: Denise Cote (denisediac.com)
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 12:54:56 -0500
I've been enjoying this thread and just lurking, because I figured that 
sooner or later on a discussion this lively everything would get said.  
But I'm surprised no one has really responded to this comment by Dorothy 
Zemach, so I guess it's up to me:

>If we really object to the quality of TV shows, the place to protest
>is to the advertisers.  A short note (you could do this during
>"computer time") saying, "I noticed you were a sponsor of xxxx movie
>that played (date); I will not buy a product that supports (things
>you object to)."  If enough letters like that come in, things will
>change.  Sure, it takes some time to do that, but aren't cohousers
>people who don't mind spending time to bring about positive social
>change?
>
I'd rather be free to make my own choices about whether to watch TV, and 
what to watch, than have government censors decide for me.  Of course, 
I'd rather be able to make my choices from a range of high-quality 
options--programs that are thought-provoking, educational, enriching, or 
that at least make me laugh.  Advertisers pay for the programming and 
therefore have more direct influence over what is offered, so Dorothy is 
correct in saying the thing to do is inform the advertisers of your 
opinion.  The only problem is that I won't be writing to object to an 
advertiser supporting a particular program, because, if the show is 
garbage, I will choose not to watch it and therefore I don't know who the 
advertisers are.

TV can be hypnotizing, so it takes discipline and will power to change 
the channel or turn the damn thing off sometimes.  I strive to be aware 
of how it is affecting me.  Do I feel depressed or agitated?  Do I have 
disturbing thoughts or dreams after a particular show?  I stop watching 
it.  I also hit the mute button during commercials, and I eagerly await 
the invention of a device that will automatically blank the screen and 
cut the sound during ads ;-> .

There may be a correlation between violence on TV and violence in 
society, I don't know.  What I find far more disturbing than make-believe 
violence is the trend towards "crime as entertainment."  News programs 
sensationalize, highlight, and even exagerrate the events they report.  I 
think the result of this (although I doubt it is intentional on the part 
of the media) is a form of terrorism, fostering widespread fear and 
cynicism.  For example, while statistics showed violent crime rates 
*dropping* across the US, media coverage of crime has increased, and 
surveys report that a majority of Americans believe the rate of violent 
crime is *increasing.*  Politicians exploit this mistaken belief to get 
elected.  Then, fulfilling their promises to "Get tough on crime" they 
build more prisons and pass laws that infringe on civil liberties.

Perhaps in the relative safety of a community in which we know our 
neighbors, we have a greater immunity to this fear-mongering.  I hope 
that, watching election results or a favorite show with friends, my 
fellow cohousers will help me remain aware and alert to the seduction of 
TV values and consumerism.  I think a letter representing 10, 20, or 30 
households who share an opinion about something carries more weight with 
politicians and advertisers than a rant from a single, isolated 
individual.  And, talk about choosing from a range of quality options, 
would you rather attend your neighbor's yoga class, go strawberry picking 
with the kids, or watch I Love Lucy reruns (and earn the disdain of the 
anti-TV faction that I'm sure exists in every cohousing community)?  I 
believe that in the context of an intentional community, many of the 
negative impacts of TV can be reduced, and some of the positive effects 
are enhanced.  So, hooray for community!

After all that, I have a question.
Carolyn Haley said:
>It's ironic that people so into "community" are first in line to destroy
>the vehicle that has done more to make the world a global community than
>anything else in history.
Is TV making the world a global community at the expense of diversity?

--Denise Cote'
Geneva Community, Boulder/Lyons, Colorado
denise [at] diac.com

Denise Cote'
Boulder, Colorado
denise [at] diac.com

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