Friday, September 2, 2011

bring it: the drug of the nation...

For a very, very long time, from the time The Kid was 5 until he turned 18, we did not have television.  Wait, I lie: we had a physical television set, but we did not have cable, meaning that the physical television set was only capable of showing us videos, then DVDs.  We watched a lot of movies together, but missed a huge chunk of television-time.  We missed, for example, the entire Seinfeld era.

It was easy since for most of the time, The Kid was in Waldorf school, which actively promotes this kind of disconnection from bullshit children's programming and the horror of incessant ads pushing plastic toys and so-called "food." When we left the French school, dumped the tv and went to Waldorf, we were suddenly liberated from the acquisitive arms race of who at school claimed to have more Mighty Max playsets.  

aforementioned Mighty Max
We didn't miss tv, although of course, if/when we traveled and had access to it, we were like pigs in shit, rolling and reveling in the popular "culture" that we were otherwise missing.  [I feel I have to apologize for the use of that pig idiom.  It's revolting, but somehow really does seem fitting in this instance.]  

I credit the absence of tv for much that was good in The Kid's upbringing, one of the excellent and most important decisions we made.  He definitely had long stretches of being bored, an essential state for children, in which he learned to come up with activities on his own.  He also developed a strong reading habit, beginning from Where the Red Fern Grows (although he was a late adopter, something that kept me awake at night), and was a prolific artist and model maker.  Not having a tv puts a lot of pressure on parents, naturally, since the frequency of the question, "Mom, what can I do?" markedly increases.  But damn it, it was so worth it.

Once we were out of the woods, so to speak, developmentally, once we knew that The Kid had good habits, and once  -- probably most important -- we'd run out of surprises for his birthday, we decided to make him the gift on his 18th birthday of turning on the cable.  Don't get me wrong: we were never utter luddites.  We'd had internet for as long as it was possible to have internet, and we watched a lot of movies.  But cable tv?  That was a whole new thing.

His first response, besides glee, was, "Nice one, guys: way to get cable right before I go to college." In fairness, his birthday is in November and so college wasn't for almost a year. Plus, I don't think we were ever the kind of family that imagined that at 18, he would break up with us and be completely on his own.  

But glee it was, a feeling we all shared.  

I readily and happily admit to LOVING television.  There is so much good stuff, so much funny, so much great nature footage, so much Masterpiece Theater and so much cycling coverage.  I feel grateful that we re-entered the tv world around the time of TiVo -- thank heavens for that device -- and have only once or twice regretted letting it back into the house, probably because Somebody was watching something annoying like The Family Guy at 7 in the morning.   That is not my favorite.

Mostly I'm thinking about my love for tv a lot right now since it's September, and I'm so happy that a lot of My Shows will be coming back on the air.  In particular, I'm excited about the return of my favorite show OF ALL TIME, Sons of Anarchy, and Parks and Recreation and Always Sunny in Philadelphia and  30 Rock and House (because I love Hugh Laurie, even though the show really is, as Joe says, just medical ScoobyDoo, every episode pretty much identical to the last, every show featuring at least one mention of amyloidosis).  I am so looking forward to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey making me laugh even more than I am now thanks to Louis CK and the madness of Wilfred

It's not an either/or for me: I don't subscribe to the "I don't watch tv, I read books," Kill Your Television school of thought.  I'm going to do both, dang it, because it's not an either/or.  OK, yes, I do have to make a choice of how I spend the time available to me, but watching something really funny can be followed by reading something really great or vice versa.  It's not as if one negates the other.  It's a both/and.

The season hasn't started back up yet and the tv's off right now, so in the quiet of this morning, I'm savoring the anticipation of what's to come.  And for old times' sake, sharing this appropriate Disposable Heroes video from back when I really loved Michael Franti, so young and bringing it re the drug of the nation, in such a sweet, old-school Target-Video-reminescent style. 

No either/or here.  I can buy what he's selling and *still* settle down happily on the couch, closed book on my lap, rocking to the methadone metronome.

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