A muddled and derivative look at how television influences our lives, from media ecologist Pawlowski (Communications/Univ. of Northern Colorado).
Pawlowski’s stated intent is to examine how television has subverted and usurped the family’s role as tribal bearers of manners and customs. Has the blue glow, she wonders, strangled familial intercommunication? But little time is spent in this vein. Rather, the author prattles on about what an evil force television has become: “It cuddles up next to us” (as if we didn’t ask it to), “demands” our attention (as if we didn’t give it), and forces “its culture . . . its jargon” upon us (as if the transistors wrote the script). We hear from an army of experts on television’s role distorting the harmonies and disharmonies of everyday life, its encouragement of premature sexuality and hyper-consumerism, its antiheroes and dreadful role models (from Homer Simpson to Calista Flockhart). While the author’s sanctimony and lack of humor are far from appealing, it is her lazy writing and thinking (“television tapped into a need most of us didn’t know we had—the need for entertainment”) that repels the most. But she concludes with some sensible, if hardly original, ideas about how to pry the monster’s fingers from our collective throats—which pretty much come down to waking up when you are watching the tube: be discerning, critical, and aware of television’s place in your life, and appreciate the good things the medium has to offer.
Pawlowski’s recommendations would have benefited from less hand-holding and more tough love. Get a life: turn it off.