Food for Thought: The Downside of TV
Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.
—David Frost (1939– ), British television personality, CBS Television
I’m always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence.
—Alice Walker (1944– ), U.S. novelist and poet, 1989
Television was the ultimate evidence of cultural anemia.
—Roy A. K. Heath (1926– ), Guyanese novelist and teacher, Kwaku
Television has proved that people will look at anything rather than each other.
—Ann Landers (born Esther Pauline Friedman; 1918-2002), U.S. columnist
Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked “Brightness,” but it doesn’t work.
—Gallagher (born Leo Anthony Gallagher; 1947– ), U.S. comedian
Television’s perfect. You turn a few knobs, a few of those mechanical adjustments at which the higher apes are so proficient, and lean back and drain your mind of all thought. And there you are watching the bubbles in the primeval ooze. You don’t have to concentrate. You don’t have to react. You don’t have to remember. You don’t miss your brain because you don’t need it.
—Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), U.S. writer
Time sidles by: on television
The soaps dissolve, the jingles change.
Defeat or pity or derision
Constricts our hearts. Our looks grow strange
Even to us.
—Vikram Seth (1952– ), Indian novelist and poet, The Golden Gate
We are bombarded today by such a quantity of images that we can no longer distinguish direct experience from what we have seen for a few seconds on television. The memory is littered with bits and pieces of images, like a rubbish dump.
—Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Cuban-born Italian novelist and short-story writer, Six Memos for the Next Millennium “Visibility” (Patrick Creagh [translator])
Each day a few more lies eat into the seed with which we are born, little institutional lies from the print of newspapers, the shock waves of television, and the sentimental cheats of the movie screen.
—Norman Mailer (1923– ), U.S. novelist and journalist, Advertisements for Myself, “First Advertisement for Myself”
Television is a gift of God, and God will hold those who utilize His divine instrument accountable to Him.
—Philo T. Farnsworth (1906-1971), U.S. inventor and television pioneer
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