Volume 93, Issue 28

Wednesday, October 20, 1999


Fight Club loses in decision

Johanson draws wayward public to her bosom

Lists cures trivial needs

Bowie's Hours... time well spent

Just say no to the evils of the idiot box

Just say no to the evils of the idiot box

Near the end of the summer, I had a minor epiphany. I was sitting at home, mindlessly flipping through channel after channel when it suddenly occurred to me that in a week's time, I'd probably be unable to recall one single iota of anything I'd seen during my little television session.

This was an incredibly scary thought – enough to inspire the making of a difficult decision. I decided when September rolled around and I moved into my new apartment, I would not sign for up cable. The idea was to blackmail myself into seeing how drastically my lifestyle would change without the idiot box.

Believe me, it was not an easy decision. I thrive on pop culture and not having a television would deprive me of this treasured indulgence. Every time I considered changing my mind, though, I'd be hit with another more compelling thought – life is just too Goddamn short. I mean really, why should I give a rat's ass about Dawson Leary and his ongoing quest to find a girl who speaks more cryptically than he does? What impact does George Clooney's absence from ER ultimately have on my life? Do I really care to waste an entire half hour a week watching six yuppie brats sit in a faux coffee shop while making mildly funny jokes about sex and relationships?

I, for one, am no longer content to sacrifice a significant portion of my life for the sake of some mindless entertainment. If you think I'm being melodramatic, keep reading.

A recent Neilson poll conducted in the U.S. stated the average American watches roughly 27 hours of television a week. Let's do the math. Twenty-seven hours a week works out to roughly 59 full days a year. That's 59 full days that I can now potentially spend doing far more productive things.

Once you actually give up television, it really does feel that dramatic. All those nights you previously wasted with two or three hours of prime-time television suddenly become open to possibility. Moreover, once the habit is kicked, it's difficult to go back for an extended period of time without feeling fidgety.

With the possible exception of the odd sporting event or a movie, I'm not conditioned to sit in front of the television for more than 20 minutes at a time. If I try to, I get restless and my mind starts to drift towards other matters – it's a brilliant thing.

Let's face it. Ninety-five per cent of the programs on television today are nothing but cheap imitations of the similarly pallid shows which preceded them. There's no innovation, no interaction and with the exception of a small handful of shows, there's rarely anything remotely thought-provoking.

I know a lot of people who watch horrendous television shows because "they're so bad they're good." If it's such pointless drivel, why not go one step further and simply refuse to watch it? Do yourself a favour, if only even for one night and make a point not to go near the damned thing. You might just enjoy yourself.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999