Sunday, September 23, 2012

TV: From Vast Wasteland to Vast Cesspool

Over 50 years ago, on May 9,  1961, Newton Minnow, then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, gave a speech in which he referred to TV as a "vast wasteland." This is what he said:

"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it."
This was in the days of The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It To Beaver, Lassie, Father Knows Best, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and for some "racy" stuff, Peter Gunn.  Most people never had more than 7 channels, and that was in the city.  For those in the country, they were lucky to have 1 or 2 channels.  TV stations actually signed off at night and came back on in the morning usually with the national anthem and a patriotic video.  If you missed a TV show, there was no way to record it and go back and watch it again. 

But now there are hundreds of channels to choose from, and they are all on 24/7.  We have DVR's and other ways in which to record the programs and watch them when we want and however many times we wish.  My cable company allows me to watch not only on TV but on iPads, iPhones, iPods and laptops.  I can actually carry TV around with me wherever I go, even into the bathroom.

Some might think that the term "vast wasteland" is still a good moniker for TV.  However, I think "vast cesspool" is much more fitting. 

On what may seem an entirely different subject, but really isn't, the Collect from today's Traditional Latin Mass is:
"Grant, O Lord, unto Thy people grace to avoid all contact with the devil, and with pure minds to follow Thee, the only God."
Everything in this world comes from one of two sources.  It is either of God or of the devil.  Where you do you think most TV shows come from?  Are we avoiding contact with the devil when we watch TV shows that promote sexual perversity, brutality and moral ambiguity?  Below is an article from Media Research Center on the shows that are up for Emmys this year and just what they represent. 

2012 Emmys Honor the Profane
What does Hollywood value? Sex and lawlessness.
Published: 9/21/2012 11:08 AM ET

By Lauren Thompson
Author Archive

In typical Hollywood fashion the 2012 Emmy Awards are giving the high honors to television shows that trade in sexual depravity and even brutality. The ceremony, which will air Sunday evening on ABC, is sure to be a glamorous roll in the mud.

HBO shows “Game of Thrones,” “Girls,” and “Boardwalk Empire” are all nominated in respected categories. “Game of Thrones” received harsh backlash for decapitating former President George W. Bush and even came under fire by liberal critics for a litany of gratuitous sex scenes.  [According to Wikipedia, "Game of Thrones" explores the themes of magic, social hierarchy, crime and punishment, civil war, sexuality and incest, and religion, apart from moral ambiguity of its characters.  From an interview:  Game of Thrones star Kit Harington has claimed that sex is "very important" to the show  The actor, who plays Jon Snow, hinted that the forthcoming second season would be even more explicit than the first.  "The second season doesn't hold back in that area," he told Vulture. "We go even further in our explicitness, because sex is being used as a weapon. It's such an important part of the series."]
George W. Bush's decapitated head in "Game of Thrones"
The gory, medieval drama is nominated for two Emmys.
“Girls,” is hailed by liberals as “a dawn of a bold and honest new era” for its ability to inflict on viewers graphic, ugly sex scenes, drug use and plots about abortion and masturbation.

Other nominees for bread-winning categories are “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” “Mad Men” follows the life of philandering advertising executive Jon Hamm and is always a favorite for an award. “Breaking Bad,” AMC’s popular show about a chemistry teacher turned meth manufacter, also receives regular praise and awards.

And what awards show wouldn’t be complete without a heavy dose of gay culture? ABC’s “Modern Family” is thought to be a lock to win in its respective categories. 
Homosexual kiss from "Modern Family"
[From Wikipedia: "Modern Family drew criticism from the LGBT community for its portrayal of Cameron and Mitchell as not being physically affectionate with each other. The criticism spawned a Facebook campaign to demand Mitchell and Cameron be allowed to kiss. In response to the controversy, producers released a statement that a season two episode would address Mitchell's discomfort with public displays of affection. Executive producer Levitan has said that it was unfortunate that the issue had arisen, since the show's writers had always planned on such a scene "as part of the natural development of the show." The episode "The Kiss" eventually aired with the kiss scene in the background which drew praise from multiple critics.]
Other sordid offerings include FX’s crass comedy show called “Louie C.K.” In one episode CK took part in a staged debate over masturbation against an opponent, labeled a virgin Christian, who had formed a group that was adamantly opposed it. CK berated the girl for her beliefs and ended the uncomfortable scene by telling her, “I’m going to think about you later when I masturbate, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”  [I am particularly offended by Greg Gutfeld who plays himself in this episode and who is a Catholic.  Why aren't the bishops saying something about this?]
From the Louis CK Show in which he debates about masturbation
This is entertainment and worthy of an Emmy?
As vapid and self-congratulatory as the Emmys and other entertainment awards shows are, they perform one valuable service: they make it clear exactly who and what Hollywood values and celebrates. And it’s not ordinary Americans.  
* * * 
I don't quite get the last statement from this article.   If these values are not about ordinary Americans, then why are ordinary Americans watching these shows?   The last show mentioned in this article, Louis CK, stars one of the most immoral, anti-God comedians in our era.  He has picked up where George Carlin - pray for his poor, sad soul - left off.  If you can stand it, here is a routine from Louis CK in which he blasphemes God in telling the story of Abraham and Isaac.  The story of Abraham and Isaac is a beautiful story from the Old Testament which pictures the sacrifice of the Son of God to save humanity from eternal damnation.  Warning:  this video is completely blasphemous against the God of the Universe.

According to Wikipedia, this is the reception given to Louis CK's show:
Although initial critical response to the show was mostly positive but divided, Louie has gone on to receive almost unanimous critical acclaim. The first season earned 70 out of 100 rating based on 20 reviews on Metacritic. The stand-up segments received strong praise, as did the show's perceived "indie film" style, with some likening the show to the work of Woody Allen. Criticisms largely centered on the pacing and low-key delivery of the show's jokes, which often include long setups compared to the rapid-fire punchlines of a traditional sitcom.

Critical response to Louie improved since its debut, with the show appearing on 9 of the 28 "top show" lists tracked by Metacritic for 2010, and 22 of 39 lists in 2011, which included 3 lists where the show was ranked 1st. The first four episodes of the second season scored 90 out of 100 based on 7 reviews on Metacritic. The third season has received very positive reviews, scoring 94 out of 100 based on 16 reviews on Metacritic.
This show is up for Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. 

UPDATE:  Modern Family won Emmys for Best Comedy Series, Supporting Actor and Actress and Directing Comedy.  Louis CK won for Writing Comedy and Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Special (C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre)

Why aren't the bishops speaking out against this?  People's souls are in danger of eternal hellfire if they keep putting this kind of garbage into their minds.  And yet our Bishops are silent.

Here are some excerpts from one of the best TV shows ever created, The Twilight Zone, from an episode entitled "The Obsolete Man."  This episode was originally broadcast on June 2, 1961, about one month after Newton Minnow gave his famous "vast wasteland" speech.  Towards the end of this episode, when Burgess Meredith's character is awaiting his execution, we hear him reading aloud from Psalm 23.  If this was a wasteland, may we please have it back?


  1. Under "Sites That Keep Me Informed", could you add "Big Pulpit" to that list?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. With great pleasure! Thanks so much for this website. What a great place to get news from a truly Catholic perspective.

  2. I found your post via Tito Edward's blog roundup on National Catholic Register, and linked to it on my blog. Come take a look:

    1. Thanks for the link, Lisa. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is fed up with what is called entertainment these days. You are especially wise to just get rid of TV, and I admire you for doing so. To allow the media to spoon feed us what they call entertainment is to allow the devil himself into our homes.

      I enjoyed your blog and especially liked your post about Catholic Writers and the New Media, which can be found here.
      The internet is a great tool to reach out to others and to connect with those who are like minded. We especially need it with all the darkness surrounding us in the world today.

  3. Many of the sitcoms you mentioned of days gone by (thanks for making feel old), I still watch to this day. I find if I have to watch ONE channel (besides EWTN, of course), Noggin or other such channel for very young little people. And I will watch Mr. Rogers if I live to be 95.

    1. For $8 a month you can get Netflix streaming which has many of these old sitcoms. They have the entire Twilight Zone series, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, etc. I would also recommend taking a look at my posting on the proven benefits of watching old TV shows. You're not just imagining that you feel better when you watch these old shows!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...