Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dirty Rotten Television

Sometimes I really hate the TV. Sometimes I'm angry at myself for sitting in front of it. It just sort of sucks you in, your body motionless while your eyes are glued to the images flashing past at high speed.

Since the sister at MyHijab brought up her feelings about her daughter watching the Simpsons, I started to think a little more about my own tube-gazing habits. Which might be odd, considering I don't own a TV. That's right, I don't own one. I have never bought one, I have never had one in my bedroom, and as soon as I moved out of my parents' house I resolved not to ever get one.

But in both my current apartment and my previous one, I had a roommate with a television in the main sitting room. Now my bedroom is very small and it's uncomfortable to be in there all the time, so usually I am out in the living room instead. And occasionally even turn on the television. For a while, it was more than just "occasionally" but several times a week!

Now, most of the time I do spend watching it is either to watch the news, CSI reruns on Spike, or Star Trek. The news for legitimate reasons (especially on primary nights), Star Trek because I have a bizarre fascination with the show (especially Voyager), and then CSI I turn on because I don't really want to watch television (the prime-time evening shows) but I'm here by myself and sometimes want something to do.

But I've unfortunately been watching enough TV now to be acquainted with a couple of shows--shows which really ought to remind me why I don't want a TV in my own home, and why I don't think I would want my kids watching it. My parents were actually pretty strict about what we could watch on TV--adult humor shows were off-limits. Anything from Saturday Night Live to the Simpson's, it was just not allowed in our home.

One of the worst shows on TV right now, I think, isn't even that but a show called 'Gossip Girl' on the CW. The fact that it is a show about teenagers should attract a certain audience, but the behavior of the characters has yet to demonstrating anything to redeem the show. Among the evils:

1) Drinking--the characters who are high school juniors (or less than that) have a tendency to wind up in fancy bars, falling-down drunk. They don't have to hide beer under the bed, oh no, they can drink in public. Which they do quite often and it's gross to imagine.

2) Drugs--as if the drinking wasn't bad enough, they have easy access to drugs and nothing to stop them... except perhaps their moral compass which seems to be broken.

3) Sex--the characters with their boyfriends/girlfriends and also with their arch-enemies, and their best friends' boyfriends and girlfriends. Often this is a result of aforementioned reasons for impaired judgment.

4) Lying--naturally, to their parents about what they've been doing, and to each other, about who they've been sleeping with.

5) Envy--those with less wealth want more wealth, and popularity, while the ones who are rich and popular already want the happiness of the others, resulting in catty torment of younger characters who don't yet subscribe to the politics of mean girls. And of course, envy of someone else's boyfriend/girlfriend or how much time they get to spend. I could call it jealousy but envy seems even more appropriate. They want everyone else to suffer...

6) Gossip! Naturally on a show called 'Gossip Girl' there is going to be the backbiting, slander, and innuendo which comprise gossip. An anonymous blogger of sorts manages to get all the dirt on the major characters and SMS it to everyone in the school, with pictures, with lightning speed.

The whole show just makes me sick (which is why I never watched more than a couple episodes.) But I guess that since I have watched, and can point out how icky it is, I should remember why exactly I don't want to have a TV in my home, and probably make more of an effort to keep it off. And I should point out to anyone else that society in general (thanks to shows like Gossip Girl) doesn't make staying on the straight path any easier. And if there were ever a reason to shun part of American society, I'd say that prime-time television ought to be near the top of the list of things to be avoided.


taiyyaba said...

agreed, completely. not only is TV a distraction, but there's not a lot of things you can watch in good conscience all the way through.

we have a TV but it's not hooked up. we only use it to watch movies and things. if we wanted to watch something, i'd make ameir stand next to the window holding the antenna, moving his arms around until the signal was clear.

On that note, we have all of the star treks, old and new (kirk/spock and picard/data), so come over if you want to watch. nerdy, yes. I know.

Anonymous said...

on the other hand shows like simpsons, south park are awesome...

Amy said...

And on the other hand... 'awesome' is totally relative. I, for example, think shows like Southpark, and the Simpsons, need to be flushed down the toilet...

glad you posted as anonymous, in case I know you... lol

Amy said...

Salaam Taiyyaba! Thanks for agreeing with me. I might have to take you up on that Star Trek offer :P

Aliocha said...

I have also decided I don't want a TV set when I get my own house.
Back in 2002/03, I spent a year in a school for missionaries, in Rome. We didn't have a TV in the School, so I basically spent a year without TV.
When I came backto my country, it was impressive to see how much time people waste watching TV.
I am worried with my younger sister now, I know she watches "Gossip Girl" over the web (we don't have it here in Portugal on TV) and I have never taken the time to see an episode. Thanks for the warning!
I think this (and many other cultural issues of the same kind) are concerns that are common to christians (at least to catholics, which I am, so which I know better) and Muslims, and where we could give a common witness, make common efforts.

MyHijab said...

As parents, we need to regulate what our kids watch. I know many parents who leave their kids in front of the tv without giving a thought to what is being imprinted on their minds. Sadly, I even know a couple who allow their 7 year old to watch south park: a show I think is absolutely hideous for adults, let alone children.

Having said that, I do appreciate the humour of the Simpsons, but again my sis for example would shake her head at that.

umm I can't remember if I was trying to make a point or not! lol

anyway: my hubby would much rather watch world news and I really enjoy watching medical story shows, missing persons shows etc (the real stuff: not House for example). My daughter loves medical shows and wants to now be a doctor when she grows up (her words not mine).

What would she want to be if she watched something like southpark?

umm, i've lost my train of thought again.

sorry Amy!

Anonymous said...

Again, I am in agreement with you, Amy!

The TV show you mentioned and the values it espouses is not even reflective of the current godless/secular culture, but is an exaggeration in order to pander to such for audience/marketing/money.

I watch al-Jazeera English via membership and some of the movies. I love British TV via BBC and Netflix. I just finished BBC-TV's "Spooks" (called MI-5) here and the balanced/realistic approach to terrorism. Now I am watching "Doctor Who" with my 8-year old, and we love the phraseology/accents as much as the story line!

HBO and Showtime still manage to hold my interest. But since becoming a Muslim, I have found my priorities and values shifted, and I don't enjoy the usual T&A shows which pander, rather than inspire.

I did think that Showtime's "Sleeper Cell" miniseries was, perhaps, a great primer on Islam and extremism and the line between the two. It was only possible because of the inclusion of Kamran Pasha, a Muslim-American screenwriter. (But, I digress.)


Jamilah said...


We got rid of our satellite dish service about 9 months ago, and I don't miss it. We used to just sit and watch all the series and waste time (which we still do but with different things).

This may sound like an extreme way to look at it, but when you are watching TV, you are not lowering your gaze. You are staring intently at that handsome actor... he may be fully clothed and talking about something sterile and safe, but he is still handsome... the same goes for men watching beautiful girls. There are women and men all over TV in varying stages of undress, never mind the content of what is going on!

Anyway, we still get movies occasionally, and watch documentaries that we download from the net, so we are not a NO TV family yet, but I was happy to get rid of the main part of it.

the crazy jogger said...

really? NO TV? I thnk i know tht feeling.. last tv we had was broken in by a soccer ball in 2000. never had one sinec. but i think everything is online.. so I think its not worth it. since we cant control wht we watch, when we watch n how much we watch.! for tht .. DL it 4m the web.
and ur rite abt GG. it gives us teens something to look up for. like some of my female friends say tht they watch it cuz 'of the awesome dresses they wear'. from wht i've read, its a rich snob show
and its fuels backbiting..
but then again there are / were some show which i loved. Jericho, House M.D., Chuck, Prison Break, Little Mosque on the Prarie [your blog reminds me of that ALOT]