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In a recent Times review of two books devoted to the cultural effects of the tube, John Leonard remarked that TV ""ends up being our sympathetic magic, our purgative, our way of stylizing our anxieties. . . ."" Here in a series of brief, somewhat scattered, and overblown evaluations of major programs and events, Berger also views the electric box with a steely eye: ""We have sloughed off our bodies and become videofreaks who see all and are nothing, who want all and have (we are led to feel) nothing."" TV, he believes, makes news events, for example, more ""real"" than life (people have been known to watch a sports event on TV even while in the stadium) to the point where we become ""narcoticized""--""you have to watch more and more news to maintain even the illusion of being."" Analyzing selective programs, Berger focuses on the contribution each makes to a particular American cultural need: All in the Family releases verbal aggression without guilt; Kung Fu is a modern manifestation of ascetic Protestantism(?); Rhoda and similar sitcoms feed out lies about the fundamental nature of reality--when everything is funny, nothing is particularly funny; to children Batman is the ""depreciated father""; morally influential Ironside is the' castrated father; Star Trek, both in the character of Spock and the situations, is an attempt to preserve innocence, und so welter, piled higher and deeper. As the author advises: ""Take what you like and discard what you don't""--but at least he persuades one to reconsider when pressing the button into Norman Lear's Wonderlands.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Walker