Of course, I do like the Kill Your Television site, at www.turnoffyourtv.com. My brother has the Kill Your TV sticker on his stereo, which I think is a great location! But The whole notion of "killing" the TV is kind of against my philosophy. I want more of a personal decision to consume media (and anything else) consciously. Kill Your TV isn't as blind as the slogan seems, but they're still wearing the slogan. And as an artist I know well how important a shocking slogan is. Still... it's not my style.
I'd also like to make it clear that MATV is not a card-carrying group of TV-killers. You don't ask permission to "join". It's just a movement of people making the decision to seek entertainment in real life as opposed to reality on TV. So if that means you have a TV in your house but only take it out for special events, or even choose to watch a particular program on a regular basis, that's OK. MATV is about being very aware of the media diet we consume and feed to our children, and taking social responsibility for our consumption. It's not the media's fault if we watch TV -- we're not slaves! It's our own decision, and whether we trash expensive new TV sets and forbid our children to watch TV at their friends' houses (they will anyway, of course), or keep 3 sets in our homes and watch them simultaneously 24 hours a day, we do it fully aware of the decision we've made. I hate to hear people mourn the fact that they watch so much TV; it's up to you to turn it off! And similarly, we can't stop our children from watching TV by forbidding it; we can only provide them with enough intelligence to look at it critically, see the value and the detriment in what they watch, and feel inspired.
Edited to answer some questions people have been asking:
No, I haven't read Jerry Mander's book, nor am I actually very knowledgeable at all about this whole issue, other than how it plays out in my own home. I'm always interested to hear your opinions, experiences and discoveries; don't hold back!!
I am very aware that children who don't watch TV or play video games may want those things all the more. In my own home that's definitely happened; when we go somewhere with a TV on, they can't peel their eyes away from it, and, quite frankly, neither can I sometimes! They're also not desensitized to the violence or even the blaring assault of light and sound. I'm not actually sure that's a good thing, either; it's certainly caused them not to fit in in some of their social circles. They've actually been quite traumatized at times to hear the gruesome stories some of their very young friends tell. I once went out and rented Sleeping Beauty just so my kids would get some ever-so-slightly-violent pop-culture, but it was a huge failure; Tal said it wasn't nice, and he didn't like that they made the witch bad, and Annie just sobbed her way through the movie and ended up with nightmares. Regardless, I still whole heartedly believe that we're doing the right thing for our own family by keeping the TV and video games out of our house, especially in these early years. Here's why:
- The time we don't spend watching screens is spent in other ways, which I'm not sure we'd find time for, otherwise. I obviously can't list the ways, because they are as varied as our imaginations... but we are never bored.
- The kids are very critical viewers. Especially Tal, as he grows older: Any ad he sees is quickly analyzed: What are they selling? Why? Do I like that? Do I like the way they are trying to get me to buy it? What assumptions are they making about me? Do I like those assumptions? Mind you, he's also the product of a graphic designer and a programmer.
- Most importantly, from my perspective, our family is growing slightly independent of pop culture, and this gives my kids the freedom to truly grow their own way. I mean that I think they have more opportunity to become aware of their own individual natures before having to live in the context of media and the greater world community. Of course, if they're interested in things that are screen-related, I'm willing to go down that road, and at some point it will be very necessary for them to grow into the media culture we live in and learn to be at ease, there. I just think that's not the most important thing at this young age; there will be plenty of time for that, later. So for now they're totally busy just discovering the immensely large, complicated, and interesting world around them. We're quite happy this way!