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How TV Ruined Your Life

February 9, 2011

Do not watch this if you don’t like swearing. I’m not saying I like swearing, I’m just saying… Well, anyhow. I really enjoyed this, and you have until 19th Feb to watch it.

I haven’t seen a sharper, angrier, and yet more challenging satire on our fascination with ‘aspirational telly’: aspirational homes, aspirational lifestyles, aspirational appearances and aspirational families. The take-off of The Apprentice is brilliant, and the challenge to parents (though crushingly nihilistic) is not a million miles from Jean Twenge’s wise counsel in her book on narcissism: Generation Me.

The sound track of this 30 min prog ends with Amazing Grace, and despite its generally godless outlook, that is exactly what’s being lost in our image-driven culture.

As for the language, I don’t defend it, but a quick glace at Ezekiel 23 shows how prophetic ire can enlist graphic sexual imagery to expose unrighteousness – using the language of ‘lewdness’ against itself. If this is 21st century prophecy, wash your ears out and give it a listen!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2011 1:28 pm

    It’s very revealing, isn’t it? I’m in the middle of re-writing a seminar for women called “Great Expectations” as a bible study for the girls I read the Bible with. IT considers our expectations and where they have come from, vs. God’s expectations for us and our world.

    Having been born in the mid 80’s, I don’t remember a time where there wasn’t aspirational media, but I have noticed how the generations after me have gone further different. When I was at secondary school, I had a rucksack and a pair of Clarks. All the girl’s I see walking to school now have handbags, MP3 player’s and Starbucks coffee. The children are indeed paying forthe sins of their father’s, as I think will our own children if we’re not incredibly careful. Such freedom in Christ Jesus!

    We are brought up in a culture where all of this stuff is normal, and like passive smoking, we don’t realise how damaging it all is until we are ill, and even then we deny there is anything worng with wanting all this ‘stuff’.

  2. David Wright permalink
    February 10, 2011 3:22 pm

    This was truly frightening, as well as enjoyable in a macabre sort of way. I am now in my 70s, but remember as a young man hearing John Stott preach against the use of Green Shield stamps (remember them?) as “the slippery slope towards consumerism and exploitation of the young in particular”. He wrote something along those lines in the early days of LICC. We needed this reality check, and I have recommended as many of my friends and family who still have dependant children to watch it and learn. I think it is a 21st century prophecy Mark, so confirm your sentiment that we should wash out our ears (and eyes) and give it a listen (and watch).

  3. February 23, 2011 8:41 am

    I don’t watch TV and I’ve been a “recovery TV addict” for the last 17 years. And I am happy for that.

    Despite that I’d like to thank Charlie and all the people involved in the making this series of How TV Ruined Your Life.

    I say this because it makes me feel relief of the pressure I’ve been creating by things that are not actually happening in my life. I believe I’ve caught them (like a cold) only from being part of this society.

    I mean, I consider statements like “the more we get things the less happy we are. Happiness seem completely out of reach” (aspiration program N0. 4) very relevant.

    I value that view because it makes me realise that there are ways to be happy with very simple life, without the aspirational needs of having to own a “grand design house” or being a “millionaire or a celebrity”. Full stop. There is much more in life than that.

    I reckon Andy Warhal was wrong when he said everyone needed a 15 minutes on TV.

    I am not a british born person, I was born in a so-called “developing world” country. And I am married to a Chinese girl. So my mind was made up far away from here, even though I live in London since 2002.

    I bring this because every time I visit China and watch TV (CCTV 9 in English) it seems to me that all the pressure from the media has been taking away, in part because of the heavy estate control over their content. In short it all seems like “good news”. However, far from starting a political debate about how appalling China may be about humans rights, and so on, I feel relief and interested in the good news and the positive approach to information they give to people. This is something I don’t see here, unless of course you are watching CBeebies 24/7.

    If you pay attention the most popular news are the bad news. Apart of course for the rescue operation of the Chilean miners. A truly rear exception.

    I mean, back to the program, I also believe FEAR is a very common tool used to scare people off in order to achieve goals of different nature. Just look at Michael Moore’s documentary “America, the love to Capitalism” or something, to see how the american government play their fear cards, to make people pass a legislation that would eventually bailed out the banks in 2008.

    I believe in living my life aware and awake, in order to make up my own mind, and this series contribute to that. I’d like to ask if this series will be on sale on itunes of the BBC shop. I am building my own library of good programs and documentaries and one day i’d like my daughter to see and to understand different views in order to take good references and to make up her own mind. Because if not, it’s easy to get lost in the middle of this storm and madness.

  4. McKay permalink
    March 7, 2011 11:12 pm

    I am a 16 year old student using this documentary to write a piece about aspirational television, and the arguments presented in the show.
    But even before we were shown the show in class I’d seen it on our sky+ box, and I’d like to say that he puts things the way they really are. Most intelligent people will happily say that television is a complete waste of time, but because it is so accessible and easy, it tends to be the pastime of choice for many people.
    I’d like to commend Charlie for what he says about TV, because it is the honest truth. Much like an ‘inconvenient truth’ to be honest, but that’s just the way it is. Sometimes we need to hear what the truth really is, and he puts it in such a way that makes you want to leave the room whenever another advert appears for something you don’t need, or often, even want.
    Television has majorly messed up society and we’d all have been better off without it. At least DVDs and online media give you the choice of what you want to watch, but being somewhat forced to sell your time to advertisers or TV networks in return for your entertainment is a bit old fashioned. It’s time for a change.
    Network TV should be stopped and everything that you could watch on TV should available online to watch for free. I’m sick of the way we sit our children in front of televisions and let them raise our young with the images and ideas that they produce.
    Like the guy says from the movie ‘The Cable Guy’ the television has become the ‘Baby Sitter’ of our children. Who says we don’t have robot nannies, we do! It’s the box that sits in your living and is focus of too many people’s spare time.
    Now television hasn’t always been completely crap, much of old black and white TV from the 50s and 60s is still great. But we’ve come to ‘programmed’ into thinking that everything should be as good as it possibly can be, and that just having what you have already isn’t enough. It’s really quite sad when you think about it, but then that’s one thing TV has taken away from society.
    The ability to think.
    Independent thoughts never really arise in front of the set. Have you ever been sat in front of the TV and thought of a genius brilliant idea that could possibly make your life much, much better?
    Probably not.
    So why then do we still let a screen with a few pixels on it tell us how to think and implant ideas into our brains? I don’t know if this is a modern day revelation or a message from God, but it goes to show that when somebody turns off the TV and gets a REAL life, they see things a lot differently. And that what’s happened to me and you. But we‘ve lost sight of what real life is really like and what TV has done to us.

  5. Lyla permalink
    March 15, 2011 12:58 pm

    I didn’t manage to see the entire series, but the two I did watch (How TV ruined your life – Love, and Knowledge) impressed me. The producer (and everyone who helped make the series) did an incredible job in providing us with the various aspects of what TV perceives to have done – but failed miserably! The Box which is supposed to have enriched our lives, filled our brain with knowledge and made our spare time entertaining or educational has, I believe, its own good points and bad.

    I was already thinking about experimenting with living with the TV off for a week, but this program has actually convinced me otherwise. With over 800 channels to choose from, isn’t it upto the viewer to choose and watch something worthwhile. As much as I agree that celebrities with no special knowledge are taking over documentaries – haven’t some hosts BECOME celebrities – example being Steve Irving? As much as there are meaningless programs being shown aren’t there programs worth watching like Question Time, Dispatches, and frankly like THIS series that DOES give the brain food for thought and educate people of lives outside their own nuclear family and give them another perspective? As for Knowledge, perhaps people can give various programs like How its made, Megastructures, and hundreds of such programs on National Geo/Wild, CBBC. For more variation – Press TV for another perspective on news (as compared to major news channels that are owned by ONE MAN and show the same news), Peace TV for lectures on comparative religious education and more! Besides TV need not be the only medium – once we’ve found something on TV isn’t it more intelligent to question if what we have watched is true and confirm the truth from various OTHER sources of MEDIA like internet (news, youtube, live blogs!), books, other channels, RATHER THAN JUST BLINDLY BELIEVING WHAT WE’VE SEEN?

    TV, I believe, should be just another source of information rather than the only one, like our many friends, each with their individual opinion!

    Thanks for giving people ideas about what TV can and cant do! We need more programs like these 🙂

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