Television is one of the most important inventions of the century. Almost everyone owns a TV set at home today. Be it educational or entertainment, life would be so boring without one nowadays.
First of all, thanks to television we have the latest information at our fingertips. We are constantly informed of what is happening around the world without leaving home. Furthermore, television has made learning at home possible. In fact, some TV stations dedicate their programmes to specific interests.
A further advantage is that old people living alone find television a - very good company. It helps them forget their loneliness.
On the other hand, too much television can create problems in the family. It is not the constant argument of which channel to watch, it is the isolation of family members. One watching television doesn't feel like talking or being disturbed as they are so absorbed in what they are watching. Hence, the term 'couch potato'. Too much television implies lack of outdoor activities and we find that there are less and fewer people taking exercises.
Television, nevertheless, remains one of the most interesting inventions. Carefully controlled viewing makes it an indispensable instrument in our daily lives otherwise, it can turn into an addiction to harmful consequences.
Few technological developments have brought such rapid and important changes to any society as has television to the United States. In 15 years, TV has become an integral part of the lives of most Americans: there are sets in 90 per cent of American homes, and these sets are in operation for fully one-third of the working day. What are the effects of our remarkable and rapid acceptance of this most massive of mass media? How do people feel about it?
The People Look at Television is the first scholarly attempt to discover the attitudes of audiences toward television, both as an element in the social structure of their lives, and as a source of information and entertainment. Working with a national survey of approximately 2500 adults, and secondarily with an American Research Bureau sampling of viewing habits in New York City, Dr Gary A. Steiner and the staff, of the Columbia Bureau of Applied Social Research have come up with a number of surprising results.
The dependence of many people on television as a routine, daily source of entertainment is striking. A majority of the survey named it the development of the last 25 years that has done most to make life "enjoyable, pleasant, and interesting," but feelings run much more deeply than that. A better indication of the importance of TV comes from their reactions to the breakdown of the set. What has been jokingly called the New American Tragedy does seem to take on some aspects of a crisis. "When it is out of order, I feel like someone is dead," said one person. "I went to bed early because I was lost for something to do," said another.
When the set is working, people watch a lot of television, and they are generally satisfied with what they see. Those interviewed seemed to feel that the programs--and the programs mix--were good. Certain aspects of programming were criticized, particularly TV violence and interruptive, infantile commercials. It is interesting that the distaste for commercials apparently does not stem from any general resentment of sponsor advertisements. Fully 75 per cent of the survey felt that the sponsors were entitled to their say.
A major finding of the survey was that everyone, regardless of educational or religious background, considers TV a source of entertainment. Everyone expressed the desire for more informational and educational shows, but at the same time did not want to sacrifice entertainment. Few people now use the set as a deliberate source of information, aside from news and weather reports: as a public service, documentary medium television is a failure. An independent check on the viewing habits of individuals who strongly expressed a desire for more information on TV showed that these people, when presented with the choice of entertainment or information, generally favored entertainment--as did everyone else.
Perhaps the most surprising discovery of the study concerns the essentially ambivalent attitude of most viewers toward their set. People enjoy television, and yet they feel they should not watch. They consider it both entertaining and a waste of time. Here, as Dr. Steiner suggests, there may be a conflict between the passive relaxation of TV viewing and and the American insistence on "doing something" with leisure time. This conflict does not arise with other leisure activities; reading is improving," and golf "healthful," but TV is not so easily justified. The need to rationalize viewing time may lie at the bottom of the widespread request for more educational and informational programs.
It should be noted that there are a number of things wrong with the presentation of the study. Statistically, the book discusses only the most general theory.
After the success of Bill & Ted, MTV hired Winter, Stern, and Burns to develop a half-hour sketch comedy show for the network. As the channel was still strictly music-oriented at the time, The Idiot Box was mainly a showcase for popular music videos, but with a series of sketches, fake commercials, and parodies shown in between. Therefore, although an episode ran 30 minutes, there were only 7 to 11 minutes worth of sketches.
Inspired heavily by the likes of MAD Magazine and Monty Python's Flying Circus, the humor in The Idiot Box was rooted in absurdity and violent slapstick, often in the form of television and movie parodies and commercials for fake television shows (such as "Mumford the Yodeling Mutt" and "Who's A Total Idiot? with Tony Danza"). Each episode would end with a recap by the Max Headroom-esque VOTAR, "the future of television announcing", as he would criticize each of the sketches in the episode and occasionally quote lines from new wave songs.
Although the show was a hit for the channel, Winter, Stern, and Burns chose to cease production after six episodes and instead accepted a high-paying deal with 20th Century Fox to write and direct their own feature film. The result was 1993's Freaked, which featured the same brand of humor as The Idiot Box.