Marquette Wire

Television in everyday life

Marianne Gosz

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Around the world, Americans are often stereotyped as being out of touch with current events or, to be blunt, stupid. Many foreigners think we are egocentric, or that we are unable to see a world beyond the United States. This, of course, is a misconception, but it has some truth behind it. For example, I am ashamed to admit that I know more about the history of “Saved by the Bell” than the history of Western civilization. But I am willing to bet I am not alone. How many of us can rattle off the cast of “Friends” faster than the members of Bush’s Cabinet?

In America, we have a thriving entertainment industry. But is that a blessing or a curse? Television appeases and relaxes us, but should we be taking more time to educate ourselves about pressing social issues? Is television making us less intelligent?

I guess my answer would have to be yes and no. We can learn more about critical issues by watching television, not only through TV news but also through socially conscious TV shows. Television not only has the power to entertain, but also the power to educate, inform and create community amongst viewers. We can learn a lot from shows like “The West Wing” — as liberal as it is — but we also need to learn from more socially accepted educational resources, such as newspapers, books and periodicals.

I think as long as the line between fiction and reality remains clearly visible, we’ll be OK. As college students, we keep ourselves pretty well informed, but sometimes there’s just not enough time for information and entertainment. We’re not stupid, we’re just incredibly occupied.

That said, I would also like to add that it is a great honor to have Martin Sheen here for the dedication of the Raynor Library, but if I hear anyone humming “Hail to the Chief,” then I’ll know that television, in all its glory, has gone too far.

marianne.gosz@mu.edu

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