I watched the new Magnum P.I. series premier shortly after reading “Television Makes You Smarter” by Steven Johnson. The producers of the show either never read the article, or were actively attempting to prove his thesis wrong. The show had one major theme, totally spoon fed every bit of information, had literally NO complex themes and was ABSOLUTELY worse intellectually than the original – and that is a HIGH bar. The only part that made me think was the beginning, where Magnum is jumping out of a space capsule. The thought went, “Is this show really going to do this? Is it going to be that ridiculous?” Turns out it was an author’s rendition of one of his past misadventures, dramatized for the book. Then the rest of the show went full vapid and lame, making you wonder which was worse, the fake book or the real TV show.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
I almost missed that you had assigned both “Television is an Evil” by Theodore Dalrymple and the above discussed article. Nice contrast. I went ahead and re-read them together. My first time through “Television is an Evil” I really started wondering if it was satire. It went seriously over the top blaming TV for almost all of society’s ills. Not that this is far from the truth, but TV has brought a lot of good with the bad. How else are we going to find out how truly awful everyone we elect is?
I loved the quote the author laid out at the end describing TV people as awful, though I disagree that they are worse than politicians. Yesterday at lunch, the bartender was a former TV producer, and he was amazingly frank, charming and helpful. Of course, he was bartending because he had to leave TV in order to get sober and is now working towards a degree in Social Work, so he might not be the best example.
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