I didn't have cable until I was in my early teens.
On Saturday mornings, it was bliss if we got less snow than usual on channels 3, 5, 7 or 11 so we could watch cartoons. But with such little choice, we were outside by noon and not at all interested in watching Bugs Bunny re-runs.
Now I have more than 50 channels – half of which have nothing that remotely interests me – and my evenings are filled with catching up on this show or making sure I'm home in time to watch that one.
It bothers me that I've become so lazy! But the thing about television that bothers me the most is how its quality has gone spiraling downward.
While waiting to drop off my car at the mechanic's today, I heard the sweet giggling of a two-year-old amusing herself by running around chairs. It was then sharply contrasted by the blaring of the television screen, to which she would occasionally look up, as it shouted "watch my a** as I walk out the door" and that someone was going to be such a sorry b*stard.
Okay so not the worst words I've heard come out of the box, but not quite appropriate for a child to be listening to. The lady helping me looked uncomfortably surprised, and I wondered aloud what show was on...
The worst part about it was it was probably some innocent renovation show or at least something that wouldn't have been added to by using crass language. What bothers me most about television is its allowances for the inexcusable.
Sexism is humour, lazy husbands are typical, comedians resort to dirty jokes as a last ditch effort for uncomfortable laughs, rude language is character development, children's cartoons are "not cool enough" anymore, and porn is freedom of expression. We have allowed that box to teach our children that talking back is brave, shooting the bad guys is the only way to solve problems, and it has filled our adult minds with tolerance. It has invaded our living room with what is often simply smut, and we say it's okay because "it's entertainment".
I know several parents who have canceled their cable now that they have children. One dad in particular mentioned he walked in to see some highly inappropriate activity his three kids, aged two to 10, had accidentally flipped to, and immediately called to cancel the broadcasts.
Since that time, he said they have been more creative, much more active outside, willing to make crafts, play games, and use their imagination. They have also been better organized in terms of doing their homework and practicing piano (and, as I teach two of them, that's "music" to my ears :) )
I wonder what we would accomplish if there were no cable in our houses?
And is it right to "deprive" children of such mindless entertainment? After all, it's such a good babysitter.