Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Idiot Box

As Witches who are more focused on inward processes than outward (see previous post) and working for change in the worlds (magic) rather than maintaining the status quo- TV is a troublesome concept at times. Especially when raising a child.

TV and mainstream media actively shapes us into fearful sleepers. I firmly believe this. At best it is "entertainment" (which is to say, distraction- which can be OK if it is not constant) and worst, it keeps us from being effective Witches and human beings in relation to one another.

Media gets us to believe everyone is a potential threat at worst, competition at best. It teaches that the gender differences reflected in our culture are intrinsic and create a huge chasm of difference between "men" and "women" (and that there are correct ways to be male and female and that there are no other options than those two gender assignments). It promotes a violent culture and treats violence as a way to solve problems. It creates a shameful relationship to sex and sexuality. I am, in short, not a huge fan. 

That is not to say that I do not watch certain things*. I have regular shows that I appreciate (most of the time) and I allow my son to watch* commercial free shows and movies that I select. We can do this because we only have our TV monitor hooked up to a Roku box. This gives us greater control of media in our home and also is cheaper than most people pay for the boob tube. 

We were given a TV for Xmas (Free! We would never have bought one, frankly.) and bought the box (for $60, total- so no ongoing fees for TV other than internet, which we use anyway!). We see Netflix (commercial free, $8 per month), streaming movies (also commercial free, and the most we have paid is $4 for a movie, but often they are free with our subscriptions), HBO Go (access given to us for free by a lovely friend!) Amazon Prime (for which we paid $50 a year -and- get free two day shipping in addition to a library of streaming for free) and Hulu Plus (not commercial free- so only the adults watch Hulu). 

The best part of this arrangement is that my kid is not indoctrinated with weird pop culture crap and commercialism because we actively choose what he watches. We choose programming that fosters empathy, compassion, and learning. Why anyone would pay a hundred plus dollars a month for TV is beyond me. We paid an annual fee for Amazon prime and currently pay $15 per month for our monthly subscriptions, which is all the media we can handle (often we have too much in our watch lists to "consume" anyway).

We make sure to leave the house every day (even if it is just playing in the yard)- we go to the library, the park, the zoo, the science museum, over to other kids' houses. We play inside too- play dough, coloring, games, using our imaginations. We take care of gardens and houseplants and animals. We cook together. We teach our son about numbers and letters and the passage of time (calendar and clock games).

In short, we LIVE!

*What do I watch? Game of Thrones (adults only! too violent!), The Newsroom, Real Time with Bill Maher, Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Community, Modern Family, Bones, Misfits, Downton Abbey. All of these are interesting- all have problems. Modern Family has no class analysis (how does a real estate agent and a stay-at-home mom afford such a gorgeous home and three kids, two in college, in L.A.?) Real Time is informative but Bill Maher's Dawkins-eque stylings on religion get tiresome sometimes. Game of Thrones (I am also reading book five) is a world that is riddled with racist, misogynistic, violent problems but it is a fascinating tale.

What does my son watch? Shows that foster cooperation (Wonder Pets, Go Diego Go, and Dora the Explorer). Shows that educate him on numbers, counting, reading and phonics (Sesame Street, Super Why, Leapfrog movies). I also let him watch movies that foster spirituality and an animist outlook (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service) or cultivates empathy and compassion (Up, How to Train Your Dragon, Wreck It Ralph). And you can bet that we talk about what is happening during and after the show. We want to make sure he is getting the right messages.

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