I’ve found a solution

For a long time now, I’ve disparaged families who are so negligent as to “use the TV as a babysitter.” I had my reasons:

* TV are stuupid. Television is designed to pitch to the widest possible audience. In part, this is usually accomplished by also pitching to the lowest common denominator. This means that most television, even movies is noticeably lacking in any kind of content which might require an attention span. But people only mature and become capable of working with more complex information by being regularly exposed to stuff that is beyond what they’re actually used to. You don’t improve in anything unless you have to struggle a bit. Since TV constantly pitches low, a regular diet of television makes you dumb.

* TV are annoying. Young children are geared toward repetition and memorization. Which means that, even if you find a way to expose your kids only to “smart TV,” they’re going to want to be watching it a great deal more than an adult is quite prepared to tolerate. I don’t care how much better than the standard fare Thomas the Tank Engine is. It’s not good enough for me to have to memorize it. And I don’t know that I want my kids memorizing it either. OK. Maybe Veggie Tales songs. But I have limits.

Unfortunately, ideals are all wonderful until you encounter real life, in which a child requires a great deal of stimulation. In particular, my child, from as young as 3 weeks, needed something to be going on *all the time* or he became terribly bored. And since, he was essentially immobile without assistance, bored means crying. And both of us, I’ve discovered, are awfully quite people. There’s not a lot that goes on in our house that could be described as visually interesting. We talk; we read; we type. I think we have a fascinating and intellectually stimulating family culture. But to a person who hasn’t worked out the mechanics of speech yet, let alone reading, well it’s agonizing.

Valerie has coped with this by being a mom. I am constantly amazed at her ability to play with David, talk to him, repeat the same baby games until he screams in laughter. Me – I have a limit of about 5-6 repetitions before I tire out. Occasionally I get him to smile.

But now… I’m staying home and looking for work online whilst my dearest is working part time. So 10 to 15 hours a week right now, it’s me and the babe. And not only am I lousy at entertaining him, I’ve got some other work that is really kind of important. I’ve got to give him something.

Well, I think I’ve hit on it. He needs something abrupt and entertaining. Colorful, but not stupid. I need something that I won’t mind if it gets stuck in both of our heads, but at the same time won’t interrupt me from my work (unlike blogging). What I need is high quality TV without words.

Bingo. Fantasia. As I type I hear peals of laughter at uh… dancing mushrooms.

And for the record: as good as Fantasia 2000 is, it’s just not nearly as good as the original. The original movie had something that no sequel afterward will ever have: W. Disney. That movie has his personality all over it. It is at once more reticent and bolder than any modern movie being made.

9 thoughts on “I’ve found a solution”

  1. When you need a break from Fantasia…. Praise. Baby. There are 3-4 DVDs, and they’re worship music. Josiah and Adam hated Baby Einstein. I hate Baby Einstein. It’s boring and creepy. Adam still demands Praise Baby (he likes the green one better than the blue) over Disney movies sometimes! And Baby Signing Time is great, too.

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  2. I like the bit about Fantasia. Just allow me to add to your list of anti-TV reasons:

    TV is not ment to entertain, but to sell. The purpose of the shows is to get you to watch the commercials… which is what pays the people who make the shows. When you simply follow the money you begin to realize that there really is vast hollywood (dare I use the word) conspiracy to keep their hands in your wallet and their ideas in your head… shudder

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  3. @Tom:
    I don’t know that I would go so far as “conspiracy.”

    The problems you describe are an existential fact, and a real problem. But calling it a conspiracy involves knowing intent, and not just of an individual but for a whole group – who have met without your knowledge. I think that’s a tall order. It could just as easily be that all these people are making what they think of as necessary compromises while not to look too hard at the side effects.

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  4. So, when TV execs review their performance stats and realize that what sells viewership is when they offer programming that flirts with moral boundaries, do they not work to ensure that more of that programming is promoted on their station? After all, higher viewership equals higher ad revenue… not to mention the competition is doing it.

    Yes, conspiracy refers to a larger, coordinated plan between execs, which is not what I’m saying. Though I would say that a similar coordinated effort does exist when you consider spiritual forces at play.

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  5. I would assert that flirting with moral boundaries doesn’t sell more viewership, but yes, they do follow the bottom line. But they follow it in order to sell TV, not to sell Tickle Me Elmos and Ginsu knives.

    If you’re going to consider spiritual forces, then yes, everything is a conspiracy. But the greatest conspiracy is a conspiracy of 3. (I mean, one.)

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  6. Just sticking in my oar. In my opinion, and it wouldn’t be acceptable to your no word requirements, but John Lassiter is the new Walt Disney. He is doing something with Pixar that no other animation company is coming close to. It’s not just the cutting edge animation but there’s a depth & quality to his stories that Dreamworks and the old Disney aren’t getting. Their stories might be smart & cute and even humerous but Pixar has depth while retaining the humor.

    And while I agree with your assessment of Fantasia verses Fantasia 2000, I still like the flamingo with the yo-yo. [wink]

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  7. Pixar is excellent. It definitely gets rid of the stoopid problem. But after 499 repeats, I don’t think even Pixar can avoid the annoying problem.

    The flamingos are lovely. Steve Martin and Bette Midler more than compensate.

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