Misleading Television a Turn Off

(U-WIRE) SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — My friend has let me down. Recently, we had a misunderstanding and I decided that we should no longer see each other. I realized that my friend is holding me back and giving nothing to our relationship.

Blame it on the recent heat wave or the dullness of my tedious life as a summer intern, but I have reluctantly decided that I hate television.

I realize that this is not what some refer to as “TV season,” but I think the absence of “all-new prime-time” has exposed television for the despicable beast it truly is.

Lately, as I flip through the channels I cannot stop a single reoccurring question from taking over my every thought: “What in the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on here?”

I am aware that someone has already made the conclusion that television rots your brain, but I feel that spending time watching television these days can do more than turn you into a vegetable.
To begin with, it is impossible to watch television without being solicited for something you probably don’t need and won’t ever want.

According to the A.C. Nielsen Company, the world’s leading market research firm, an average child sees 20,000 commercials a year. Whether it is affordable car insurance, super-strength deodorant, or cell phones with MP3 players, viewers are steadily inundated with product commercialism at eight-minute intervals.

I am not knocking the new wonder products that save an average housewife tens of seconds each day by sweeping and mopping at the same time. Nor am I in any way bashing capitalism and the honest American way of making a buck by selling a quality product.
But I do take issue with the sleazy way in which these products are being sold.

Not only are the products being sold by the same celebrity whose reality show just took a break, but they impress upon the viewer that they are qualified to sell the product. It infuriates me to think that celebrities who are admired by children around the world are making even more money by peddling useless pieces of plastic to kids.

However, it would be foolish of me to underestimate the abbreviated attention span of television viewers today, and it would be a lie if I were to say that I am unaware of the recent technological innovations that record television and make skipping through commercials to get to “the good stuff” even easier.

These days, you can record the entire series of your favorite reality show about a shop full of questionable characters that get on each other’s nerves, but always get the job done and make the customer happy. Or you can record two separate spin-offs of “Law & Order” or “CSI.”

The problem with television today is not just its cheap, pre-packaged message abject of any meaningful thought; it is that it is misleading.

Everything has some sort of twisted angle: Sitcoms make fantasy seem like reality, while reality shows turn reality into fantasy; prescription drug commercials convince people that they are sick; an “American Idol” sells pickup trucks while singing his Top-40 hit, all amid a sea of product placement.

There are a few exceptions. Some shows offer an intriguing story line, witty banter, or a compelling argument. Television can give you a good laugh and a quick escape from reality, but it is dangerous. According to A.C. Nielsen, average Americans will have watched seven to 10 years of television by the time they are 70.

So next time you are thinking of snuggling up with the remote, skip that rerun of “America’s Got Talent” to go live your life. Besides, you can always TiVo it.