Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Television

I am so glad that we finally decided to get rid of our satellite television. When we turn on the TV, we don't have any channels. Not a one. Not that we were big television watchers in the first place. In fact since Corner Gas finished its run, the only thing I watched was The Tudors. It only played 8 episodes a year and I found that I could watch it online, at my own convenience. Woohoo!


Paul, on the other hand, could watch a movie that was over half way done already. He has watched Cliffhanger and the Die Hard series replayed on TV at least 5 times each. (rolls eyes). Athena loves to watch TV. Not TV really, but her videos that we get from the library. Given the chance she could watch for hours I am sure. Once she told me that she "was born to watch TV". (rolls eyes again)


It has been several days now since she has viewed any media at all. None. No TV, no computer, no leapster games. It started out as a punishment for some less than stellar behaviour and now, mostly due to her getting out of the habit of even asking for it, she has not even wanted to. Also due in part to her not wanting her brain to turn soft as cheese. Explanation to follow.


We have been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory aloud these past 10 days or so and we came upon this prophetic quote, by Roald Dahl in 1964 no less. The year before I was born and shortly after TV became mainstream and available to all. I shall quote in its entirety. Please read it, then read it again and see if you don't agree.


"The most important thing we've learned,

So far as children are concerned,

Is never, Never, NEVER let

Them near your television set-

Or better still, just don't install

The idiotic thing at all.

In almost every house we've been,

We've watched them gaping at the screen.

They loll and slop and lounge about,

And stare until their eyes pop out.

(Last week in someone's place we saw

A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)

They sit and stare and stare and sit

Until they're hypnotised by it,

Until they're absolutely drunk

With all that shocking ghastly junk.

Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,

They don't climb out the window sill,

They never fight or kick or punch,

They leave you free to cook the lunch

And wash the dishes in the sink-

But did you ever stop to think,

To wonder just exactly what

This does to your beloved tot?

IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!

IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!

IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!

IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND

HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND

A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!

HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!

HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!

HE CANNOT THINK-HE ONLY SEES!

'Alright!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,

'But if we take the set away,

What shall we do to entertain

Our darling children? Please explain!'

We'll answer this by asking you,

'What USED the darling ones to do?

'How USED they keep themselves contented

Before this monster was invented?'

Have you forgotten? Don't you know?

We'll say it very loud and slow:

THEY ...USED ...TO ...READ! They'd READ and READ,

And READ and READ, and then proceed

To READ some more, Great Scott! Gadzooks!

One half their lives was reading books!

The nursery shelves held books galore!

Books cluttered up the nursery floor!

And in the bedroom, by the bed,

More books were waiting to be read!

Such wondrous, fine fantastic tales

Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales

And treasure isles, and distant shores

Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,

And pirates wearing purple pants,

And sailing ships and elephants,

And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,

Stirring away at something hot.

(It smells so good, what can it be!

Good gracious, it's Penelope.)

The younger ones had Beatrix Potter

With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,

And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,

And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-

Just How the Camel Got His Hump,

And How The Monkey Lost His Rump,

And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,

There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-

Oh, books, what books they used to know,

Those children living long ago!

So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,

Go throw your TV set away,

And in its place you can install

A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

Then fill the shelves with lots of books,

Ignoring all the dirty look,

The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,

And children hitting you with sticks-

Fear not, because we promise you

That, in a bout a week or two

Of having nothing else to do,

They'll now begin to feel the need

Of having something good to read.

And once they start- oh boy, oh boy!

You watch the slowly growing joy

That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen

They'll wonder what they'd ever seen

In that ridiculous machine,

That nauseating, foul, unclean,

Repulsive television screen!

And later, each and every kid

Will love you more for what you did.

P.S. Regarding Mike Teavee,

We very much regret that we

Shall simply have to wait and see

If we can get him back his height,

Bit if we can't- it severs him right.



Now, congratulations if you read that all and you got this far. I simply couldn't leave one sentence out. And as a side note, when Paul (dear man) got to this part in the book while reading to Athena,
he skipped over it because he thought it too long. Evidence enough. (No offence Paul, but you do have a short attention span.)

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Giggled at the end of this. :)

We got rid of all of our channels, too (in fact, we just never got any channels set up at all when we moved in March).

De-lightful. Best decision ever.

Brittany said...

I loved that! I'll have to remember it.