There Are Not Many Good Screens

From the Editor in Chief

When I was young in the 1950’s, my parents limited watching TV to one hour. We were allowed to enjoy Children’s Hour on BBC, the only channel that started broadcasting at 17.00h. After that came the news and weather forecast, followed by some police series, (Dixon of Dock Green was my mother’s favourite – see above), followed by a quiz show and then more serious adult drama or political programs like “Panorama” – then the final news of the day. The government’s opinion was that 5 hours was more than enough for the population, and “God Save the Queen” was to be played every evening on BBC like in all the cinemas.

Most of the people on TV spoke with a posh accent, and Panorama was the program to watch if you wanted an “informed opinion”, which was passed down to the population by wealthy sounding, well-educated English men and women called Lords, Barons, Ladies and Baronesses. It was a good time to be a right-wing nationalist, like today!

BBC radio was actually more rewarding with excellent and dramatic theatre. I remember that the whole family sat around the radio and listened earnestly to short stories or what they called “radio theatre”. What you could not see was substituted by our own imagination of what the story looked like!

But my favourite weekly spot was BBC’s Alistair Cooke’s “Letter from America”. He was a posh older British gentleman living in America, who reported each week on one topical subject with incredible details. These programs are still popular and worth listening to – his talks are a great window of his take on history – 1946 to 2004. Try listening to this and many other talks: The early days of television in America, as reported by Alistair Cooke – there are almost 1 500 weekly talks on the BBC at this site.

  • Now we have 24/7 of stuff being produced as fodder without much thought about time wasted:
  • “Reality Shows” like Big Brother and Paradise Island having absolutely nothing to offer, and certainly no reality… 
  • Quiz shows where people are asked things like recalling the name of their president or prime minister… 
  • Soap operas that are more concerned about having botox-lipped actresses kissing tanned “handsome” male actors…
  • … and crime and war films we are being are feeding us gruesome violence and killing… it has become so much more repetitive because every possible combination has been tried and tested to many times – and we just get more of the same because Netflix and Disney don’t know how to make decent drama.
  • Then we have e-games for teenagers and older folk that concentrate on killing the enemy – or better still killing for the sake of killing anybody and anything…
  • Facebook and other social media is also a 24/7 thing that glues all eyes to the screen for two-second glees of joy – selfies fill the aimless air like bad farts.

Does this serve our society well?

What interests are being served by this trash? 

Why do people want to watch them? 

Who are these people that make these programs, and do they really believe this is doing any good?

… the fact that Trump uses badly spelt tweets should be warning enough to put down these screens and start demanding more from life… this man is nothing more than a badly brought-up teenager.

Politicians do not want to listen to us – they tweet to be heard and recognised; they want to be elected by telling us whatever their algorithms want us to hear, giving us nice warm promises based on these algorithms that follow your every move.

What we should want to hear is not the stuff screaming out from these screens 24/7. We should be meeting friends, eating meals with family, reading good books, talking and listening, interacting with this world now – that is living.

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