I Tube, Therefore I Am

“Common Sense Media” – no, we haven’t heard of them, either – would like you to know that the Collapse of Western Civilization is proceeding on schedule:

Two-thirds (65%) of 0- to 8-year-olds watch TV at least once every day (ranging from 37% of 0-1 year- olds, to 73% of 2- to 4-year-olds and 72% of 5- to 8-year-olds). Forty-two percent have a TV in their bedroom, and 39% live in a home where the TV is left on all (10%) or most (29%) of the time, whether anyone is watching it or not. Children this age spend an average of 1:44 watching TV or videos in a typical day, compared to :29 reading, :29 listening to music, and :25 playing computer or video games.

Okay, so American kids are, um, American. Why should we care?

Having an accurate understanding of the role of media in children’s lives is essential for all of those concerned about promoting healthy child development: parents, educators, pediatricians, public health advocates, and policymakers, to name just a few.

Not named: Children.

Our childhood, which we consider profoundly conventional, was absolutely freakish compared to the statistics on offer here. An hour forty-five of TV a day? That’s barely enough for reruns of Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island, plus half the local cartoon show. Try six hours. Easily. On a school day. Expand to all available conscious hours on weekends and during the summer. And no PBS pablum. We’re talking solid network.

By these standards, we were the 1 percent. All TV, all the time.

Yet somehow, we were also a voracious reader. We lived for the day the Scholastic paperback catalog arrived in class, and we were back the next with all our choices. We were actually scolded by our mother for reading on family vacations when we should have been watching the scenery during boring highway trips. But Mom, it’s Asimov!

Our American Childhood, birth to eighteen: pop culture, wall-to-wall, start-to-finish. If we encountered anything serious, it was purely by accident.

And then we spent the next ten years getting it all out of our system. Blame college. Specifically, blame college Shakespeare. Fucked us up for life.

We don’t offer our childhood as an objection to the conventional wisdom – if we watched TV now like we did growing up, we would succumb to an intense case of claustrophobia. But when you’re a kid, all the world is new, and that includes the images emanating from your furniture. Which, if yours was also An American Childhood, was the most interesting thing in the house.

Besides, don’t make us choose between Batman and Bewitched. That would be cruel.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America [Common Sense Media, via WaPo]

It certainly is.

Cartoon violence or staring at Elizabeth Montgomery.

You are up early. I thought World Domination didn’t get under way until noon or so. And you meglected to memtion Have Gun, Will Travel, which taught some of us what it means to be a man: always quote Shakespeare to a bad guy before you shoot him.

Besides, don’t make us choose between Batman and Bewitched. That would be cruel.

True. Can you choose between Spiderman and Batman?

@Dodgerblue: richard boone don’t play. have you ever seen hombre with him and paul newman?

Good thing the folks at Common Sense didn’t factor in comic books/graphic novels. Because for me, the Silver Age Marvel Comics did so much to stimulate my imagination and enhance my vocabulary and comprehension. That, and Saturday morning cartoons.

The only thing that saved me from total immersion was the irredeemably bad quality of afterschool and Sunday morning cartoon options.

I credit Bullwinkle for my first stirring of political consciousness and Emma Peel for other first stirrings.

No electricity or tv from 1970 through 1976 (or running water, indoor plumbing, natural gas or central heat for that matter) except for when we had a generator going, but we lost that when Gramps burnt down the shed. But like most steenks, I read a hell of a lot and also listened to the local AM station that had a very broad sense of programming to serve everyone in the valley – Bartok to Bloodrock with rancheras, Native American music and a shit load of news.

@redmanlaw: Radio was my eventual salvation from TV addiction – particularly once I discovered the FM side of the dial. On the other hand, radio played a big role in turning me into a hippie.

@Walking Still: “Equis 80 Rocca – Juarez, Mejico.” “KOMAaaaa.”* My two night time 50,000 watt blowtorches, that and the late great free form FM station in Albuquerque that I built my first antenna to catch.

* can’t count how many times I heard the goddamn OU fight song on there.

@redmanlaw: post some Native American music. all i have at home is Indigenous.

@jwmcsame: Here’s a start:

Ulali, “Mahk Jchi” A contemporary take on traditional music. I saw them live and my friend David Amram (OG beatnick and composer of the score for the Manchurian Candidate) got me up on stage with them to drum. He also had me play with the late Floyd Redcrow Westerman at a gig or two.

Samples of songs for the San Juan Pueblo Turtle Dance done at the Northern Rio Grande Pueblos around New Years.

Pueblo Drum Group – slow War Dance song

A Navajo Yeibechai song from a healing ceremony done in the wintertime.

Peyote song from the Native American Church I grew up across the road from a major NAC practitioner so we heard this stuff all the time.

ADD: War Dance song by Navajos from a New Mexico Army National Guard unit in Iraq.

@redmanlaw: thanks. i assume the drumbeat is the heart, the rhythm of life. it sure seemed to beat a lot faster in the peyote song. i assume a song with a slower beat is more reverent. i read this in the LA times last week about choctaw stickball and how the drummer for each team slows or speeds up the beat letting the team know to drop back or pick up the pace.
thanks for the knowledge. I’ll google up floyd redcrow westerman this weekend.

@redmanlaw: For me, it was WWUH (University of Hartford) and WHCN (in the early 70’s – before it sucked). After that, I was off to WOBC for my college DJ days.

We lived for the day the Scholastic paperback catalog arrived in class, and we were back the next with all our choices.
Somewhere in my mom’s house is a box with all those books … best day of the year when they showed up.

Add a Comment
Please log in to post a comment