Sunday, March 6, 2011


The Pirate Princess and Her Crew performing a street dance.
An unexpected bonus of our move overseas has been the absence of a television.  We cancelled service in Germany at the end of August.  (Although they are still trying to collect monthly bills, having refused our cancellation.  Because we obviously did something wrong, because it is obviously our fault, and because we are obviously delinquents trying to cheat them out of their rightfully earned money.  For programming we haven't watched in close to half a year in an apartment we haven't live in in that time!)  An expected bonus of the move has been the ability to ignore the bone-headed German service businesses contracts that refuse to end.  The German rail system and my fitness center too.  And some others.  Honestly guys, we don't live there anymore.  And in one more month you won't have our forwarding address anymore either! 

But enough about German customer service.  Or that oft-vaunted efficiency, for that matter.

We've never been big TV watchers.  In the States we had minimal service and watched a few favorite sitcoms and some early morning children's programming.  When we moved to France we had 3 or 4 French channels.  We learned French through 'Dora the Explorer' in the mornings and 'France Seeks a Superstar' in the late nights when Andrew wasn't sleeping.  Ah, Luca, you had NO talent, but darn were you beautiful!!!
Cardboard cut-outs and some string.  The pirates aren't even missing their toys yet, let alone the TV.

'Dora the Explorer' helped us hone our language skills when we moved to Germany too, but most programming was so lame that we stuck to the few channels that ran American shows - Lost, Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck - you kind of took what they gave you. 
The problem was we got stuck in the pattern of using the TV to numb the kids after the twins were born.  Saturday mornings.  Weekday afternoons while I was doing homework with the older two.  Then evenings when I just couldn't take it anymore.  Most of it was crap (although Germany did have some good children's news programs on in the evenings) and most of it was just noise.

So that I didn't miss it at all in Iglersreuth.  We had a channel or two that gave us some teen mystery program the kids watched once or twice but frankly, we had better things to do.

Of course when we hit the big hotels on our way back to the Stuttgart airport - and I saw those large flat screens built into the walls across from the luxurious bed - well, I couldn't resist.  The result?  Crap.  Okay, I personally get a kick out of watching Heidi Klum berate beauty contestants in any language. (She's even ruder on her German show than she is on the American one.  Must be nice to be so perfect that you feel you have the right to be condescending.)  But other than watching Heidi be mean, I found that I had missed nothing in past years of not watching.

Matthew as coach thanks to a pizza delivery box.

Aidan is a knight in bubble wrap.

We had twenty-four hours on the airplane too.  AMERICAN PROGRAMMING.  And again I thought, THIS was what the fuss was all about?  I DO like 'How I Met Your Mother'.  But I strongly suspect it is mostly because I like watching a gay man play a straight womanizer with a heart.  And, although I have watched it here since, it's no 'Friends' or 'Cheers.'

Although Patrick Dempsey is hot, hot, hot, 'Grey's Anatomy' is no 'E.R.'  'The Practice' is a less smutty version of 'Nip/Tuck.'  And honestly, if you are GOING to watch that sort of thing, the more smut the better.  Don't get me going on C.S.I.  Anywhere.  THIS is quality television.  THIS is what people are spending their nights watching?

I have ethical issues with two programs I COULD have watched in Germany.  'Big Love.'  Although the Mormons told me I was being oversensitive, I just can't see the value in glorifying a polygamous family.  I don't care how cool they are.  These are not my values.  And 'Dexter' is truly disturbing.  I tried, I really did.  But the third show I watched flashed back to a five-year old Dexter watching his mother being sawed to pieces.  You see the child watching.  You hear his mother shouting, 'Cover your eyes, Dexter.  Don't watch.  Cover your eyes.' as she tries to protect her baby even as she is sawed to bits.  I can see this as a disturbing Stephen King piece.  But to do it week after week after week?   What does it say about us as a society that we NEED this sort of titillation?  Does it make us feel better?  More alive?  Sorry, this is one thing I do not need.

Andrew narrates Mother Goose to a captive audience.

So that yeah, I still like 'Supernatural.'  (The difference being that they are GOOD guys getting rid of PURE EVIL, like Will Smith in Independence Day, so that there are no moral ambiguities about the blood and gore.  They're both really hot too, so that helps.)  And I will watch 'Desperate Housewives.'

I can get my American news from John Stewart here.  And the Aussie news isn't as horrendous at the American news, or as boring as the German news. 

The kids watch some 'So You Think You Can Dance' every now and then.  Mostly so they can refine their hip-hop moves and so that I can show them some truly cool male dancers.  'Aussies Funniest Home Videos' is something I can put up with for half an hour.  But 'Biggest Loser Families' and reality cooking shows?  Really?  REALLY?

Need I say more?!

I'd meant to write a blog about the benefits of living without a TV.  (We're reading the fifth Harry Potter book aloud, the kids create dances and plays, we make things out of cardboard and we color.)  And I still intend to.  I have some cool photos of Aidan and Matthew dressed up in bubble wrap pretending to be knights or in large pizza delivery boxes while Ryan drives them around the room like coach horses. 

But the surprising thing is how easy it's been to give up.  The kids don't ask for it at all, even on Saturday mornings or weekday evenings.  We've all found better things to do.

Honestly guys, this stuff is really crap.  Mind-numbingly addicting crap. 

You'd be amazed at how alive you would feel by just peeling yourself away from it.
Ryan as mermaid.  Water bubbles on one side, tropical beach herself.  And when people complimented me on my work, I was proud to say she had done it HERSELF!

No comments:

Post a Comment