Television and society
I think there is hardly any household in the developed society without a tv set - these boxes have even found a place in our kitchens; in fact, we are so much used to having a tv set in almost every room that most of us cannot even imagine waking up some day to have a quiet breakfast without staring into the bright and shiny screen on the wall. The most terrible thing is that sometimes this boxes are switched on most time of the day, devouring our attention, sucking the juices out of us, killing our creativity, destroying our family happiness, turning our kids into illiterate zombies,... I can go on forever, but I will not - I will tell you that I gave up on watching TV ten years ago, when I was around 18 y.o. I have been one of happiest people in the world so far. Since that moment, I have been carefully observing the world around me and learned a lot about the way things work in our society, especially media and television. These are not just means of entertainment, these are machines created to manipulate the masses. I really hope that more people will open their eyes in the future to see what television is in our society.
TV is harmful not just for your health
If you browse some essays and articles about television in our lives, you are going to discover that most of them criticise television for being harmful for our health, which makes me believe that only a few people are actually able to see whole picture and realise that it is not only about our health, it is about our lives. There was a day in the history of television when a bunch of powerful people and corporations realised the true potential of this means of entertainment and since then have been successfully using it to control the masses by "entertaining" them. They work hard to make you see the world the way they want you to see it, which gives them the power to control your every step:
- They want you to believe that the end of the world is coming
- They want you to believe that Iraq and Iran are full of terrorists
- They want you to believe that after a hard-working day your home is the only place to be, because the world out there is unbelievably unsafe.
- They want you to believe that their games with money and stock market are so important that without them the society would not exist
- They want you to believe that your life will lose value value if you do not buy the latest model of some mobile phone
If you swallow all this and take the things your tv set tells you for granted, then it is really not only about your health, it is about your life being controlled.
Excerpt from "Network" (1976)
A great speech about the effects of television on human lives
"The Truman Show" (1998) by Peter Weir
One of the greates films to criticise television
Art is the harshest critic. It can say painful things, but they will most likely be the truth. For this reason I often mention works of art relevant to the topic I write about. This article is not an exception, since there are good films to mention when discussing the effect of television on society.
I should confess that, despite being a great enemy of TV, I managed to see the film "The Truman Show" just a few days before writing this article, but I think this is good - it gave me a lot of fresh ideas and made me understand the film better than I would have understood it more than ten years ago.
"The Truman Show" is an amazing example of what television is today. I doubt that there are many people who have not seen this cinematic masterpiece, but for those who for some reason have not, I will briefly write about the story:
- Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey, is living his life unaware of being a star in a TV show that was created to follow a person's lifetime. He was chosen to be the star of the show right on the day of his birth, and since then there have been thousands of hidden cameras watching his every step and showing it all to the people. Truman very much wants to escape the life that was artificially written and created for him, until some day he realises that everything around him is a great show and escapes from the studio into the real world.
In this film the concept of television, including all the producers, managers, actors and the audience, is shown as the Big Brother of Truman's life, controlling his every decision and making him see the world the way it is written in the script. However, if we look at the concept of the film from the distance, one can easily understand that "The Truman Show" is a metaphor for our own society. The society we are living in is the Truman show in reality, and the only way for us to quit the show is to find the EXIT sign, open the door and leave, the way Truman did. In our case this EXIT sign is our will to live a normal healthy life; but you can see it only after you realise that your tv set is just a box that has nothing to do with what you came here for.
"Requiem for a Dream" (2000) by Darren Aronofsky
Television as a requiem for our dreams
In Darren Aronofsky's famous film "Requiem for a Dream" television, along with drugs, is represented as one of the most destructive weapons against a human life. Sara Goldfarb (played by Ellen Burstyn) is an old and lonely woman living in a poor neighbourhood; her son is a drug addict who steals from her to get money. She has nobody to help her, so her only consolation is her tv set: she spends hours watching her favourite TV show and her biggest dream is to be the star of the show one day. She gets so much involved in the dream that in the end she ends up in a mental asylum instead of a tv studio. Television, that seemed to be a perfect solution for Sara's problems, eventually ruins her life.
"Requiem for a Dream" trailer
"Dark City" (1998) by Alex Proyas
A metaphor for our artificial world
"Dark City" is not as bright example as "The Truman Show," but it is worth watching it to understand how a bunch of "higher beings" seamlessly manipulates our minds and our memory by locking us up in their fake world. In "Dark City," the world where John Murdoch finds himself one day is as artificial as the world created by our television. Just like Truman, Murdoch has to find and open the door to find the way out of the dark city where people's mind and memory are controlled by a group of mysterious strangers. When he reaches for the door and opens it, we see that the Dark City is just a strange metropolis surrounded by miles of stone walls as high as the sky, and what he sees on the outside is the Sun, the sea, the sky and the love he once lost in the Dark City.