Way back when I was in my 3rd year of college I stopped watching TV. We had a little TV that served us well in our dorm and then in our apartment. We had free basic cable and a VCR. This meant that when we should have been working on drawings, writing papers and working in the studio, we were more likely to be found watching reruns and movies taped from HBO at home. One of those papers that I finally got around to writing had to do with how TV sucks away your creativity and basically rots the smart parts of your brain. Up to this point I had really never seriously considered the amount of time I wasted on TV and how that time could be better spent.
Stan and I moved the TV into Chad’s room and didn’t watch it again until we graduated. Now, some of you know that I get bored fast. Very fast. So about 5 minutes after moving the TV I needed something to do. I picked up my sketchbook and started drawing. Then I looted the apartment for scraps of bigger paper to draw on and I started drawing for fun. This was the first time I had started a drawing that was not an assignment since school began. For the next year and a half when we got bored we’d find an adventure to go on or a goofball project to start. We worked on our assignments, I took an extra sculpture class and our work got better. I didn’t miss the TV at all.
I don’t watch much TV these days. G and I have a couple of shows we will record and watch when we have a chance. The DVR allows us to record other shows too….shows we wouldn’t watch at their normal times. We’d probably tell you it’s because we are busy at those times, but the truth is the shows are just not good enough to make the cut. This is difficult for me to understand and difficult to explain, but I’m talking about the kind of shows you watch when you have nothing else to do. They are time filler shows. If you have 30 minutes to kill before you go somewhere, you watch one of these shows. Or late at night when I’ve finally finished all the computer stuff and I’m having a sugary snack and some hot tea, I’ll watch one of these shows. Some weekend nights may sit down with a box of cookies and fast forward through a week’s worth of Conan episodes. (I watch the funny stuff and the music but FF through most of the interviews). I’ll also actively try to make it through the week without knowing when Honey Boo Boo is coming on. If I happen to see it on, I’m stuck watching that train wreck of a show until the network finally puts a different show on. It’s horrible and yet I can’t look away.
I suppose it’s laziness. I know I have things I should be doing – creative, productive things – but it’s nice sometimes to just sit and not think. And trust me, aside from Conan, there’s not a lot of thinking happening on either side of the TV screen. Without fail, I always feel like I’m wasting time when I watch TV. Probably because I am. So that has to stop. As Mr. Minow famously said, TV is “a vast wasteland” and as the Violent Femmes wisely said, “I hate the TV”.
So guess what I’m giving up for Lent this year?