Television: The Drug of The Nation

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
Hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
Thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil-Scott Heron


We’re having a debate at Tojeiro: Should we have a television?


On one side of the argument is position the television dumbs down the cultural life of the farm: if you’re watching television you’re not playing music, chatting, being creative, praying/meditating/yogaing, reading and that old favourite working. All-in-all you’re sucking in outside culture and memes and not engaging in proactive community life of the immediate environment. A strong position indeed and of the main drivers for coming here in the first place: surely to get away from the evils of modern life and TV is slap-bang in the middle of contemporary culture.


On the other side exists the idea that movies/cartoons/documentaries/news/ sport is good for community life, who doesn’t enjoy watching the famous Glasgow Celtic playing Kilmarnock in the SLP on Saturday morning? OK, it’s only me, and I watch it on my phone all by myself, but a large part the community will watch GoT, especially if one the community has a role in it – which one did. And many enjoy a film after the Friday Night travails, just gouching out.

There is the further point that if the TV is removed community dwellers will just end up atomised, huddled individually around their laptops/tablets/mobiles (guilty!) hid away in their caravans and tents. Modern life may suck but there are just some parts we just can’t and won’t do without – notice there is no debate about having the internet. There’s something different about the television.


The superb band, The Disposable Heroes of Hipocracy (no relation) have a track called Television: The Drug of The Nation. They’ve got a great video that accompanies it, and there’s the hypocrisy: the band use television (it was pre-Youtube) to promote their anti-television polemic. How else did they get their message across without hard-hitting visual images? For the visual is very important for our species.


But let’s not get carried away in this love of the cathode ray, or LED 55″ for the moment, who among us has ever preferred the film over the book – there may be a few examples (Shawshank Redemption – although I haven’t read it), but not many, a book may take effort and time but it brings a deeper satisfaction than any tear jerker or disaster film ever can. Or does it? Breaking Bad, The Book? Doesn’t quite have the same feel. Television surely can bring satisfaction and real emotion to the individual and the group as they share in the excitement of Celtic v Kilmarnock or going through the human drama of a major breaking news story (a near by fire certainly gets the adrenaline flooding here) or laughing at Rick & Morty as a Monday night treat.


But does a hippy community want and need this external input? Would we not be better off playing guitar, making candles or discussing Kant? Probably. Definitely. But do we want to? Probably not. Not all the time at least.


There is also the point that we are what we consume and the ruling class having been dominating the working-class (do you have to work to avoid being thrown out on the street after a couple of months of nonpayment of rent/mortgage? You’re working-class) through dissemination of their ideas of hierarchy, consumption and control for centuries and television has been an extremely effective vehicle. The tempo of Television makes it difficult to maintain and employ a critique of what we are visually and aurally consuming and thus we can become passive receptors for sexism, racism, homophobia and inequality. For who owns the TV stations? Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Michael Bloomberg, all good friends of Trump. Do they want you talking about inequality? No. Do they want you talking about scandal, tragedies (to others) and the rich and amous? Sure they do.


But Television is only a receptor and transmitter of visual and aural data and not all such data is corrupt, many a scientist was inspired by David “Population Control” Attenborough or Patrick Moore (a most benevolent person I have good reason to believe). Many have been introduced to great art and literature and fascinating ideas through watching TV. Is watching a YouTube video on TV watching television? Is watching a video on a laptop just another way of consuming the control methods of oligarchy?


Perhaps in conclusion the television should stay but have more competition to it. Have it that people just don’t want to watch TV and let it gather dust until the next movie night or wet winter day when another game of cards just won’t cut the mustard. Or maybe just turn it on and play Call of Duty for half an hour when nobody else is around. Or maybe just get rid of it and wait until you return to “civilization”.


Television has caused a dilemma in the community because it causes a dilemma in the individual. I am disinterested and that’s why I can’t make an argument for or against it; they are both strong points and as with many things we just have to live with tension. Unless the TV’s owner decides to sell it.


It’s just another First-World Problem I suppose; the problem of the privileged, for not everyone has 55″ they can argue about.

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