From The Published Archives: Just Don’t Watch It!

There are few subjects that get people more riled up than TV violence.  I’ll never understand it.  I just think there are more important things to talk about like the North American media’s chronic unwillingness to hold politicians accountable for their actions, for instance.  With the FCC going overboard in its quest to rid the airwaves of both violence and sex, this previously published piece remains very timely.
When I was in college in the early to mid-1990s I submitted numerous pieces to the student newspaper, The Satellite.  That was done separately from my TV Broadcasting studies.  However, there was one support class we had where we had to submit articles to The Satellite.  We had to write an entertainment article, a news article and an editorial.  Just Don’t Watch It!, which was published on February 7, 1995 on page 6, was my opinion submission.  I’ve decided to publish what actually ended up in the paper rather than what I submitted and here’s why.
In the last paragraph, I talk about Bob Rae and Jean Chretien.  Rae was the one-term NDP premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995.  Chretien was the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003.  Originally, I had said that Chretien was a “freak of nature” and that he was “no Christian in my book!”  The first part referenced the odd way he talked.  I found out later he had a terrible bout of polio when he was a kid and that’s why he talked out of the side of his mouth all the time.  I always found that strange but it was an unfair thing to say when I didn’t know that part of his medical history.  Professor Richard Giles, a great character who was always a fan of my writing when I submitted stuff to him, took offence and felt that the “freak of nature” remark was “rather rude” and that it went “beyond political disagreement into the realm of the personal.”  He was right.  I was wrong.  And that’s why it was cut out of the published piece.  It will not be reinserted here.
The other comment about Chretien not being a Christian was a rather inane attempt at goofing on his last name.  Chretien is French for Christian.  A year and a half or so after this editorial was published I became an atheist.  Looking back at the writing I did at the time I still believed in God I realize now how dopey and unwarranted that smear was.  I’m glad it was cut, as well.
The only other change was in the first paragraph and it was less controversial.  In fact, it was another good edit.  The fifth line originally read, “You could watch another program, read the latest novel by Margaret Atwood, listen to the new R.E.M. CD, or better yet, get a life!”  As you’ll see, the references to Atwood and R.E.M. were wisely dropped.
Despite some dated references I still believe in what I wrote 11 years ago.
By Dennis Earl
The war against TV violence has escalated to the point of pure tedium. Quite frankly, I’m sick of hearing about it. I wish the people of this country would stop complaining about violent programming and simply tune out whenever these “offensive” shows are aired. Besides, you people have other options to consider. You could watch another program, read a novel, listen to a new CD, or better yet, get a life! Remember, your lives do not revolve around the most manipulative medium of the Information Age. Please don’t waste my precious time by whining incessantly about the content of TV programs. It’s just not worth it. If I hear one more person gripe over the violent tendencies of Elmer Fudd, I will slice my ears off and feed them to my cat.

This whole debate over the representation of aggressive behaviour on TV is completely ridiculous. If we don’t show people engaging in warfare, we will never understand why a substantial number of men and women, in real life, choose violence over peaceful problem-solving.

There are many interpretations of violence on TV. Many programs use violence in order to make a political statement, to reflect the destructive nature that many people are born with. NYPD Blue is an excellent example of this. On the other hand, there are shows that exploit violence for the purpose of entertaining people with silly action sequences. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is one of those shows. I could go on but boring you is not my top priority.

The point I’m making is this: Television needs violence to constantly remind viewers that it still poses a problem for our society. Just watch your local newscast and you’ll see my point.

It’s a common problem in many marriages and in order for it to disappear from our lives, we must resist the temptation of physical violence. Violent confrontations are not glamorous. They are horrifying experiences for many people. Television, when it wants to be responsible, reflects that reality.

Now, as far as the amount of violence in TV programs is concerned, the real answer to this problem is freedom of choice. You have the right to select any television program you wish to see or don’t see. You don’t even have to watch Television. As I stated earlier, you can do anything you want. Besides, Television, today, is at its poorest quality since the 1980s.

If you are offended by the violence you see on television, please do not send any grumpy letters to Bob Rae or Jean Chretien. Don’t picket outside the offices of CBC, either. Just don’t watch it. The less attention a violent program receives and the fewer viewers it has watching it, the faster it will be taken off the air. The answer, my friends, is as simple as that.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
7:19 p.m. 
Published in: on April 5, 2006 at 7:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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