Saturday, January 26, 2008


"Television: a medium, so-called because it is neither rare nor well done."
-Ernie Kovacs

Right about the time the writer's strike began, I stopped watching television - an unintentional coincidence. I was moving into a situation where the house had none and I elected not to buy one and pay for cable, which turned out to be pretty great. As it turns out, I don't actually miss it, and the one or two things I do enjoy watching I can find on the web if I need to (speaking of which, if you have National Geographic, I highly recommend Dogtown).

The last writer's strike, in 1988, resulted in a 10% loss of viewership of "big 3" network television - viewers that never came back. In an age where the Internet and video games provide such an appealing alternative, I would be surprised if that number didn't exceed 10% this time and saw more people fleeing not only to cable TV, as they did in 1988, but to the aforementioned alternatives.

It's an odd predicament I find myself in - I work in entertainment and I'm a big union supporter. I support the writers and their right to strike, and I think the things they're asking for are incredibly reasonable, particularly their demand for new media royalties. At the same time, I've realized that most of TV is, for me, a wasteland of recycled jokes, bad drama and corporate-controlled messages masquerading as news. As a medium it seems to have achieved its highest potential long ago, doomed to end up a footnote to modern relevancy, like AM radio.

I'm sure I'll still watch TV occasionally. I have a long touring-ingrained habit of flipping the TV on when I'm in the hotel room for a little background noise (usually CNN or the like), and as my housing situations tend to be temporary there's one around more often then not. Truly, for the majority, television has replaced religion as the real opiate of the people, apologies to Marx. But television has been replaced for me by activities that are more interactive and more thought provoking - which includes things like not only this blog, but simply being alone with my thoughts and my dogs. (Yes, that's more interactive. Try it.) Not always fascinating, but it beats "Two and a Half Men" by a mile.


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