[W]hen television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and loss sheet or rating book to distract you -- and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.Newton N. Minow, "Television and the Public Interest" (speech given to the National Association of Broadcasters, May 9, 1961)
You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials -- many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, try it.
Forty-five years later, there are fewer cowboys, and the "totally unbelievable families" are more likely to be found on so-called "reality" shows. But the song remains pretty much the same, with more colorful lyrics.
TV-Turnoff Week 2006 begins this coming Monday, April 24.
» Transcript of Newton N. Minow's "vast wasteland" speech