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American TV

Howell Hurst American News


After a self-imposed 15-year avoidance of America’s TV, I have been watching it lately. During the 15 years, I would now and then watch TV while in a motel on a trip somewhere.

That infrequent visit to U.S. TV always showed me why, for the most part, I did not watch it – or miss it. 90% was trashy paid advertising, or programs selling trashy items to addicted consumers eager to buy whatever “latest” gadget was offered.

Now, however, the full force of American TV, particularly news, is clearer to me. This has happened because I’ve left my ocean sailing and rented a place on land that has a large TV as part of the rental agreement.

It really astounds me what the American public has gradually allowed to become acceptable as programming. I am particularly amazed at the poor quality of news programs.

With the exception of BBC America and PBS, which hold still to a degree to true journalism standards, it more closely resembles action movies than news. All news stations, as a matter of fact, advertise themselves as featuring “action news.”

When did “action” become the defining trait of news? When did showy, glitzy graphics and reporters with wildly-bobbing heads and gyrating bodies replace deeply researched factual news reporting?

It is embarrassing for me to watch TV in America. Only about 10% of the programming approaches what one could describe as intelligently presented.

HBO, History, National Geographic, and a number of other programs strive for quality. There are a fair number of good dramatic programs. The rest is outright circus, vaudeville show-business hype – of the cheapest quality possible. Not even good vaudeville.

The comedians are unquestionably the most honest shows on our TV. Saturday Night Live. Hurrah for them! Comics are the guys who attempt to speak truth to the rich and powerful, those who own and program America’s TV,

When I was stationed in Europe as a young Army officer, I was impressed by how their TV commercials were handled. They were positioned entirely separately from normal content programming. They never interrupted actual programs.

It is common to watch U.S. TV news for two minutes, then to be interrupted with five minutes of commercials. Back to two minute of news, then another five minutes of commercials. And on and on.

The Internet’s about as bad. When you click a news program, you must for each news item first watch a commercial. If a politician’s been shot, you must watch the commercial first. to find out the details.

It is clear how Mr. Trump got elected. He puts on the dadblangdest circus act on TV. Spectacularly creative lunacy parading as governmental leadership. That ever-present frown of his as he spouts words is a work of acting art.

TV broadcasting was my actual major in college. Following U.S. Army Intelligence service, I never worked in it, largely because of its show business antics, because of its obsessive focus on selling something, anything, all the time.

When I studied broadcasting in school, I viewed it as the greatest educational and entertainment invention ever. I foresaw a great future for it. I was sure it would help the American people become the best educated and wisest people in the world.

Instead, it has become one of the most prominent causes of the radicalization of America as a violence-obsessed, consuming-addicted nation, apparently mentally divorced from reality, lost in a fantasy world of moving four-color electronic images.

Clearly, I am the one utterly out of touch with America. This is a disturbing revelation for me. I am not sure how to handle it. Having to dodge 90% of all TV in order to find something comfortable to watch is an exhausting experience,

Possibly I may have to return to sea, where from the deck of my boat I can look toward land and simply wonder how my country has became addicted to such a parading electronic charade as its normal perception of life. How it has let this nationalized electronic mental disorder become what is considered reality.

Then, perhaps I should visit a psychologist. Even a psychiatrist! Do you imagine I need mental health counseling? That must be it. Don’t pay any attention to me. I’ll search for a psychiatrist

I’ll seriously look into it. That’s probably the real problem. That’s what I’ll do. I promise.

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