More Calls to "Throw the TV Out of the House"

Following the introduction of a "Moment of Truth" copycat program on Israeli TV, calls to throw out the family TV are once again being heard.

Hillel Fendel ,

Following the introduction of a "Moment of Truth" copycat program on Israeli TV, calls to throw out the family TV are once again being heard.

The new show is an Israeli version of "Moment of Truth," in which contestants must answer the most intimate questions about their - and their loved ones' - personal lives in order to make tens of thousands of shekels.  It is screened once a week at 9 PM on Channel 2, at a time when children of nearly all ages are awake and watching television.

A review by Ynet's Ireana Melamed had this to say: "Even as a passive couch potato - the way Channel 2 likes its viewers - I simply couldn't watch the whole show, [because] it is hard for me to suspend... my desire to live in this world as an ethical person...  Watching a show in which people expose their family members to their dirty secrets... and in which people are publicly humiliated turns me into a [debased] person. I don't want to be that way."

The review received close to 1,150 talkbacks within 12 hours of its posting. Only a handful disagreed with Melamed, and several of them recommended getting rid of the family television set altogether.

In religious circles, television has long been considered either forbidden or, at best, something to carefully screen.  Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, for instance (head of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem), has written many articles on the topic, saying that television is a tool for "inciting sensations of violence, lust, nonsense and frivolity," and is "forbidden to have in one's home."

Kiryat Arba's Chief Rabbi Dov Lior was asked by a man who wished to rid himself of a television if he may sell it to his neighbor. The rabbi said that such a course of action is "problematic" in that it violates the prohibition of "Do not place an obstacle before the blind."

Assaf Wohl, who has a Masters Degree in Jewish History from the University of Haifa, explains why he got rid of his television set: "The TV sets in our homes are essentially the end of a long pipe [that] funnels cultural garbage straight into our homes. On the other side of the pipe are media advisors, cheap celebrities, spinologists, copywriters, art-directors... who view the public as a collection of idiots."

"So one day," Wohl wrote, "I just got sick of it.  I got sick of how they throw garbage into my home... and of how they raise the volume for the commercials... and of the shows like 'Take Me,' 'Kick Him,' 'The Models" and all the other shows that answer to the description 'mega-intellectual-terror attack.'"  Many readers responded that they, too, had thrown out their TV sets, and were happy they did.

Veteran TV reviewer Goel Pinto wrote recently, "The truth: How many times have you sat across from the TV and yelled out, 'Shut up already!' or, 'Enough of those boring jokes, awkward questions, and all your nonsense!' ... [Someone on the show being reviewed] said, 'You can just throw out the TV, who needs it?' - and she was right..."  This article, too, received assents of approval from Israelis who felt that TV sets are dispensable.
Mike Rogers, 30-year TV-radio veteran and the president of a mass-media production company in Japan, writes, "All parents, or soon to be parents, need to read The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn. It is a book that explains how television is destroying our children and our families... The only problem I had with it was a small bit of a seeming compromise by the author on the issue of controlling TV watching time... I can tell you from experience that there is no practical solution to trying to control TV watching. The only practical and successful method for controlling TV is to throw the set out. Even though I work in TV, we do not have a TV set in our house."

Financially, as well, getting rid of one's TV set makes sense.  A blog entitled "The Simple Dollar" lists "Ten Financial Reasons to Turn Off Your Television," including the following: Cable, satellite and electric bills; less time for other opportunities; commercials; guilt (because TV programs create a glamorous image of a life that is far outside the financial capabilities of most people watching, leading to a lessened sense of self-worth, leading to susceptibility to commercials); obesity and poor health; and less communication with friends and family.