Viewfinder: Get in the Game

About 98% of homes in the United States have a TV, it is on for nearly eight hours a day, and the average American watches it for over 4 hours, according to Nielsen Media Research. Many of us share the sentiments of the people at www.tvturnoff.org who feel that people are watching far too much TV. According to author Valery Fahey, 49% of Americans agree that they watch too much TV. I would also agree, but have devoted my life’s work towards an alternative solution. It’s not that we watch too much TV, it’s that we watch too much TV produced by the "television industrial complex."

We all recognize how powerful TV is, but we can gain a greater understanding of its power if we consider its meaning. Television has four definitions: (1) It is a system of transmitting audio/video content. (2) It is the name of the appliance that we watch from our couches. (3) It is the name of the broadcasting industry. (4) It is a medium of communication. Television, however it is defined, is pervasive in our society and that is why it is so powerful.

What’s exciting to me is the fact that you, or just about anyone else, can participate in TV. Just a few years ago, your participation was so dramatically limited, that you were more of a victim than a participant. While you thought you were being entertained, you were really being persuaded to purchase certain products and embrace certain beliefs. Today, with a small investment in a camcorder and a computer, you or just about anyone else, can participate in the creation of TV today. By doing so, you use the medium of communication, called TV, by transmitting video content to the appliance, called TV, that people watch from their couch. You can even become a member of the broadcasting industry, called TV, most easily by using the Internet to deliver your video to viewers.

The "television industrial complex" has been expressing itself on TV since its inception, but most citizens were not able to participate in that forum. TV was reserved for the elite in Hollywood and New York’s entertainment industry. The people in the television industrial complex are not evil, nor do they want to prevent you from expressing yourself, but the complex simply overwhelms our society by its shear magnitude. TV producers, advertisers, networks and stations all have cooperated for decades to exploit the TV audience, while delivering TV programs. Now you have access to the audience. What are you going to do?

You may not have a solution that will resolve our problems in Iraq, but then again you might. Perhaps you have an opinion as to how society should solve it problems with health care. Maybe you just have a good idea that will serve your family and friends to brighten their day by making a video about them. Whatever the case, there’s nothing holding you back from expressing yourself.

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