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TV or not TV


the late late show has mated

with the early early news

but fiddling with my color knob

can’t rid me of the blues


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tho I make the picture rosy

or turn the faces green

only authorised reality

is allowed to grace the screen


from the cathode ray tube

pat patterns reach my eyes

sometimes six-two-five lines

convey as many lies


‘the medium is the message’

& it’s written on the air

in black & white or color

so simply sit & stare


Communications Satellites

send images from space

electronically linking me

with the rest of the human race


thru the magic window

the wonders of creation

are beamed to avid viewers

throughout this lucky nation


our thanks must go to Logie-Baird

who could never have foreseen

what his visionary invention

would one day come to mean


this all-wise one-eyed idol

like a mirror that distorts

is oracle to millions

& controls our very thoughts


the blessèd box dispenses

so much sex a saint would goggle

& such sadistic violent scenes

my mind begins to boggle


record your favourite programme

on video cassette

& look at action-replays

for fear you should forget


if you don’t believe the adverts

why not switch to bbc.gif (1453 bytes)

you may as well get your money’s worth

you pay a licence fee


we watch TV at breakfast

then feast on it till night

as if entirely mesmerised

by moving lines of light


when birds perched on the aerials

twitter at dawn you know

the late late news has mated

with the early early show

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[Enable sound in your browser & you'll hear a rendition of the above performed by Davy King LIVE (Calton Hill, Edinburgh Festival,1983) recorded & electronically treated by Mark Farrar.]


"The nearest analogy to the addictive power of television and the transformation of values that is wrought in the life of the heavy user is probably heroin. Heroin flattens the image; with heroin, things are neither hot nor cold; the junkie looks out at the world certain that what ever it is, it does not matter. The illusion of knowing and of control that heroin engenders is analogous to the unconscious assumption of the television consumer that what is seen is 'real' somewhere in the world. In fact, what is seen are the cosmetically enhanced surfaces of products. Television, while chemically non-invasive, nevertheless is every bit as addicting and physiologically damaging as any other drug.

"Most unsettling of all is this: the content of television is not a vision but a manufactured data stream that can be sanitized to 'protect' or impose cultural values. Thus we are confronted with an addictive and all-pervasive drug that delivers an experience whose message is whatever those who deal the drug wish it to be. Could anything provide a more fertile ground for fostering fascism and totalitarianism than this? In the United States, there are many more televisions than households, the average television set is on six hours a day, and the average person watches more than five hours a day—nearly one-third of their waking time. Aware as we all are of these simple facts, we seem unable to react to their implications. Serious study of the effects of television on health and culture has only begun recently. Yet no drug in history has so quickly or completely isolated the entire culture of its users from contact with reality. And no drug in history has so completely succeeded in remaking in its own image the values of the culture that it has infected.

"Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coercion, brainwashing, and manipulation. Television induces a trance state in the viewer that is the necessary precondition for brainwashing. As with all other drugs and technologies, television's basic character cannot be changed; television is no more reformable than is the technology that produces automatic assault rifles."

[p.p. 218-220, Terence McKenna, FOOD OF THE GODS; Bantam, 1992. ISBN 0-553-37130-4]

Other Drugs: Cannabis, LSD


"When the world crashes in into my living room
Television man made me what I am
People like to put the television down
But we are just good friends
(I'm a) television man"

Talking Heads: 'Television Man'


& Remember:

Ventriloquist's Dummy's Head used for Baird's first television broadcast experiment. Who are the dummies now? bairdhead.jpg (6623 bytes)

'the Revolution will not

be televised'

(Gil Scott-Heron)


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