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Violence On Television

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Violence on Television


     Since its introduction, television has increased in popularity to such
an extent that the TV has become the electronic member of the family. The TV
can hypnotize us and lure us into worlds of fantasy and adventure as we escape
from our worries and cares. It can also inform us and bring us up to date on
the latest news. The TV can be a teacher, a friend, and a source of knowledge
and information, or it can have a negative effect on our behavior. No matter
what effect television has on a person, it is often possible to know someone's
lifestyle by observing the way he watches TV.
     When the television was first introduced, critics claimed that it would
be mind numbing, addictive, and utterly passive. These critics were describing
the stereotypical TV watcher, the Addict. As his name implies, this person's
life revolves around watching television. TV is like a drug to him, and he
cannot get enough of it. He epitomizes the couch potato and the “boob” in boob
tube, and can often be described as intellectually empty, especially while he is
watching TV. The Addict lives hand to mouth from the potato chip bag. He is
lazy and will often go for hours without moving from the television.
     If the Addict is not glued in front of the TV, he is most likely to be
found paging through his latest issue of TV guide, carefully selecting the shows
which he will watch that week and marking them off with a highlighter. On an
average day the Addict will come home from work or school, put off all
responsibilities, and escape into the world of TV. In this world, the Addict
has no demands or responsibilities. The TV becomes his only focus of attention,
and all of his energy goes into staring at the TV. While watching one of his
favorite shows, the Addict becomes totally oblivious to the world around him.
He will not answer his phone, talk to his family or friends, or do anything else
which may distract from his viewing pleasure. He lives to watch TV.
     Just as the Addict emerged with the invention of the TV, the Surfer
arose with the invention of the remote control. When a Surfer sits down to watch
television, he first grabs the remote before anyone else can get to it. He
turns on the TV with the remote, and it does not leave his grasp until he is
finished watching. He is constantly changing the channels and will pause on a
particular show only for a moment. The Surfer is a person who likes to be in
control, and the ability to change the channel at any instant gives him the
power for which he hungers. If he walks into a room where people are already
watching TV, he will do his best to take control of the remote, stealing it out
of another person's hand when necessary. While a Surfer is watching TV, others
in the room will often shout phrases such as, “this looks good,” “this is my
favorite show,” “leave it here,” or “Hey! I was watching that!”; however, the
Surfer will ignore all of these pleas.
     In fact, a Surfer will usually be changing the channels so fast that
non-Surfers will not even be able to see what they are missing. To the Surfer,
changing the channels on the TV is an art form. He knows whether what he sees
is interesting or dull the second that he sees it, which allows him to quickly
pass over anything he does not want to watch. He knows all of the best stations
on his cable TV and has each channel number memorized so that he will never be
found sitting through a boring commercial. Instead, this interactive watcher
will be constantly changing the channels until he finds the show of most
interest. He will then leave the TV on this channel for a brief period during
which he becomes part of what he is watching, often talking back to the people
on the show. Unlike the passive Addict who sits immobilized in front of the
television, the Surfer is an interactive watcher who loves the power and control
which he feels when he holds the remote in his hand.
     TV watchers who are neither Addicts nor Surfers will most likely fall
into the category of Non-Watching watchers. This type of watcher is a person
who leads a very busy life and likes to do many things at once; therefore, he
will often have the TV on even if he is not mesmerized by it. It is even
possible for a person to change the channel on the TV without him noticing. For
the Non-Watcher, the TV is just one area of interest among many others. He
involves himself simultaneously in several activities by alternately
reassigning and prioritizing his attention to his many areas of focus.
     The Non-Watcher has been around since the introduction of TV, but has
not been as widely recognized as he is in this era of multimedia. In the past,
the Non-Watcher was the housewife who would have the TV on while she was taking
care of her children and doing chores around the house. Although her main focus
would not be on the TV for the majority of her time, this did not mean that she
would turn off the TV. Rather, she would go about her business taking care of
her children, cooking, and cleaning, and during the short periods when she had
the opportunity, she would watch the TV to catch something of interest.
     In this modern day of multimedia there is an increasing number of Non-
Watching watchers. We live in a society in which our televisions are always
turned on. It is not uncommon for a television to be turned on though nobody is
watching it. Because of this, children are growing up accustomed to always
having the TV on. With the increasing popularity of new technology such as
video games, compact disc players, and computers, children are becoming even
more accustomed to being involved in several activities at the same time. An
average student may come home from school, turn on the TV, put on their favorite
CD, talk on the phone, and do their homework all at the same time. The Non-
Watcher's attention shifts to and from the TV, including it, but not excluding
the other activities.
     The Addict, Surfer, and Non-Watcher watch TV in three totally different
ways, which correspond to the lifestyles they lead. The Addict tends to be lazy
and mindless, often sitting for hours at a time in front of the boob tube. The
Surfer, who loves to be in control, enjoys a much more active form of watching
television as he talks back to the TV and quickly changes the channels against
the will of those around him. Finally, for the Non-Watcher, TV is just one of
a multiplicity of activities which he enjoys. Although watching television may
seem like nothing more than a common form of recreation, it can actually be an
indication of the lifestyle a person leads.

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