Thursday, 17 December 2009

TV on trial

In August we got rid of our TV licence.

My friend Phil is currently conducting an experiment to see how life is without a TV.

I summed up the first month or so of TV-lessness here, but now I might discuss it in a bit more detail...

Well, I don't want to be confusing, but we still have a TV. In fact we have two. We don't watch television on them though, we watch DVDs and videos, and I play old video games. I see several bonuses (or should that be boni? Boneces?) in this approach.

Apart from the obvious not having to pay the licence fee, you actually get more freedom without television. That is, you don't feel the pressure of having to keep up with a particular show, or the tension when two "essential viewing" programmes clash. You don't have the risk of accidentally watching something that turns out to be appaling. You get more time do to other things.

The most interesting thing that I've noticed is that I don't miss television at all. I never got any withdrawal symptoms, I didn't crave a certain show or feel like I was missing out on anything. There is absolutely no benefit from television that I can't find from another source. All my entertainment, information and cultural needs are met elsewhere, so it wasn't even a sacrifice to give it up. I think it would take a lot to make me want TV back.

Reading Phil's reasons why his TV is on trial, I've realised that the only thing that has disappeared from my life is a constant stream of unfiltered and often negative messages. I agree that TV disciples the viewer, subtly coercing us to think in certain ways. Being a passive watcher is a deadly thing - you will soak up an awful lot of toxic substances.

I don't think it's wrong to watch TV, but it is essential to be aware of the sermon that each programme and advert is preaching to you. These are the sermons you are likely to hear if you watch an hour of TV...

"Your life will be better with this product."

"You are only attractive if you look like him/her."

"Life is all about being good to yourself."

"Gossiping is ok."

"Disrespecting your parents is ok."

"God plays no significant part in modern life."

If you ever get fed up of them you know what to do.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Adrian Beard on Advertising

I'm reading a unit on "using English to persuade" at the moment. The writer, Mr. Beard, has this to say about advertising:

"Advertising depends upon the emotional idea that our lives are in some way imperfect; we lack something, we need something, we have the wrong view or belief. If we buy 'x', do 'x', think 'x' then our lives will be better."

I am reminded the incredible song that went, "If you buy this record your life will be better, your life will be better, your life will be better. If you buy this record your life will be better, if you buy, if you buy, if you buy..."

The problem is that making our lives "better" doesn't make them any less imperfect (or, if you're not into double negatives, any more perfect). Five minutes after buying 'x' we realise that we still need something else.

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

(Emphasis mine)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Worst Christmas present ever...

I was in town today and I saw a miniature air guitar for sale. It was a plastic package in the shape of a guitar, with nothing inside. It came with a free "air pick" too, and cost £2.95.

If anyone gets me one of those I will not be happy.

I couldn't find a picture or anything online but I did stumble upon another alternative gift for a similar £3.95...

It's not even a joke.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Ultimate Twister Destiny Duels #3

I think it's about time for another showdown!

This time, broaden your horizons as we imagine a high-stakes Twister battle between...

MR. BEAN and MR. BLOBBY!!!

Mr. Bean... the epitome of clumsiness, takes to the mat. What will his strategy be? Well, having done lots of research last time I was sick I have a good idea of how his mind works. Mr. Bean is a master of the underhanded trick, whether it be shunting a Reliant Robin out of a parking space or tipping a vase of water into a kids lap to distract him and steal his Batman comic. How will this work out in the Twister arena? I would not be surprised to see various lubricative fluids mysteriously finding their way onto the playing field.

Mr. Blobby... the epitome of blobbiness, plays a psychological game. Let's face it, he is neither svelte nor lithe, and will struggle to manage a full stretch. He starts with a distinct disadvantage. However, the gelatinous giant employs several tactics designed to weaken the opponent's constitution. Firstly, Mr. Blobby's very appearance is, to be blunt, sickening. Stare too long at that pink and yellow polka-dot pattern and anyone would come over all giddy. Secondly, there's those big ol' eyes, capable of freaking out the most stable competitor. Lastly, he utilises a terrifying war-cry to totally unnerve his enemy. Who would not shudder at the hideous wail of BLOBBY BLOBBY BLOBBY!

It looks like Mr. Bean has met his match. What else does he have up his sleeve? Hopefully a pair of sunglasses and some earmuffs. With these reliable tools he might just be able to withstand the mental onslaught from his pink adversary. With two very tactical duellers, the loser may well be the one who makes the first mistake. Although mistakes are usually Mr. Bean's forte, I don't think he should be underestimated.

My prediction: Victory to the Bean.