August 30, 2002

Simply outrageous…

I once accused Neil Postman of plagiarism after I showed the movie Network (1976) to my sophomore rhetoric class. I was kidding, but the point was to highlight that much of what Postman criticizes about television in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death (1986) may be found in the movie. One of my students wagged his finger at the screen and said: “All that stuff’s come true.” Or most of it, anyway.

Two of Postman’s points that I’ve employed to good effect are: Television is worst when it’s trying to be good; and, The trash on TV won’t hurt you because it’s not asking you to think.

CBS has now sunk so low that both of these points are now invalid. I refer to the proposed show The Real Beverly Hillbillies. Rod Dreher writes with moral outrage about it for The National Review. While I am uncomfortable with the parts of his argument that deal with race, I think he makes an effective case for saying to CBS: I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!

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