Television Posted by Oaktown Girl, 05 Jul 2007 05:34 pm
Oakland and Berkeley California must surely have been the world capital of Kill Your Television bumper stickers on cars and other inanimate objects at the peak of that particular phrase’s popularity, (probably sometime in the 1980’s). You can still see them every once in a while, but not nearly as much as before. Bigger fish to fry, what with Bush and Iraq, I suppose.
Kill Your Television was the only “lefty” bumper sticker that really bugged me. In fact, it was probably the only lefty bumper sticker that bugged me. And that’s saying a helluva lot. Nowhere, I believe, are there more lefty bumper stickers than in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco California.
From the very first time I saw it something really got under my skin with the Kill Your Television message, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was. Clearly, Kill Your Television is snobby, and that’s rather unappealing. But there was something more. It’s also condescending, which is really irritating. But even that didn’t answer the gnawing question of why it bugged me so much. Oakland and Berkeley was positively riddled with irritating, snobby, condescending lefty types (ironically enjoying all the benefits of White privilege). I grew up there. I’d long since developed a survival immunity against letting that get to me, at least most of the time. So what the hell was it about this one damn bumper sticker message?
Finally, I figured it out. Kill Your Television wasn’t just snobby and condescending, it was insulting. Yes, that was it - it’s downright insulting. What it’s saying (at least to me) is, “You don’t have the intelligence and discrimination to discern the good from the bad. You can’t tell chicken shit from chicken salad. You are unable to make good viewing choices. You’ll sit there and absorb everything you see equally and become an establishment tool. Therefore, it’s better for society if you not watch TV at all.”
Oh what a sense of relief I felt to finally have been able to put my finger on exactly what was bugging me so much about that Kill Your Television bumper sticker. Those assholes are calling me a dumbshit! Are you kidding me? Beyond the insult on the very face of it, as far as media-awareness street cred goes, I’ll bet you I have more media literacy education activism and media activism in general in my big toe than 99.9% of those fools with the bumper stickers have in their entire body. So, you know… fuck you!
I bring this up because today I saw something on TV I really enjoyed. It was a piece about the artist Bernini, and is part of the BBC series now being shown on PBS called Simon Schama’s The Power of Art.
I’d never heard of Simon Schama or that series, so I went in completely unbiased. A bit of Googling on Schama afterward (including reading reviews of the Power of Art series) informed me that some people take exception to his style, which they say is over the top. Further, he’s accused of being a Superdon. If that’s the case, it certainly didn’t bother me while watching his piece on Bernini. Then again, I love watching documentaries and reading about great art and artists. A narrator would have to be really, really over-enthusiastic for it to ruffle my feathers. Besides, it’s a frickin’ documentary. Whoever did it obviously feels fairly strongly about the subject or else they wouldn’t have made the damn thing in the first place. You know that going into it, for goodness sake. (Well, the Kill Your Television people don’t think you know that, but I’m sure some of you besides me do in fact know that). And while I’m passionate about the arts, I’m also very opinionated. So a narrator or author speaking or writing breathlessly (and I don’t think that Schama did) isn’t going to unduly influence me much one way or the other. [And for the record, neither was I unduly influenced by the sexy, smoldering, searing portrayal of Bernini by Andrea Gherpelli in a non-speaking role.]
I just try to be open. But not an absorb-everything-and-become-an-establishment-tool kind of open.
I have to make that clear in case one of those “We know what’s best for you” types tries to break into my apartment and kill my TV.
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