History of the Television
1927 - American engineer Philo T. Farnsworth develops the dissector tube, the basis of current televisions.
1939 - RCA and researcher Vladimir Zworykin research and perform experimental telecasts from the Empire State Building. These efforts culminated in the debut of television at the 1939 Worlds Fair.
1952 - The first UHF station, KPTV in Portland, Oregon goes on the air.
1973 - Giant screen-projection color TVs begin to be marketed.
1977 - 75 percent of TV homes have at least 1 color set.
1995 - Wide-Screen HDTV sets are predicted to go on sale by 1997. 25.7 million colour TV's are sold this year.
Television and Society
Every day, millions of people across the world sit down and turn on a television set. What is it that makes television so popular? The answer to that question is quite simple: it's entertaining. People like to have fun and to be entertained, which is what television provides. Turn on any TV and you can watch a comedy, a thriller, reality tv, almost anything.
However, many people believe that viewing television can have negative effects on one's life. Violent shows can cause violent behavior in those people that watch the shows, especially if a child is the viewer. Negative health effects can become evident if a person sits around the house all day watching TV. But is there anything positive that can be said about television?
Educational programs are believed to be a positive element of television, since those watching will learn from the show. Television is also viewed as being a way for anyone to connect to the world. Basically, television allows us to gain knowledge about events occurring in China, Brazil, and all around the world. Television allows us to communicate with each other. And of course, the main positive aspect of television is that it provides us with entertainment. Feeling bored with nothing to do? Turn on the TV for a half hour and enjoy your favourite television show.
As you can see, there are both positive and negative effects associated with television. But no matter what anyone says, one thing is clear: television is here to stay. The technology keeps getting better, as more and more channels become available to us. Television ratings today are higher than ever. People are tuning in, and television is a part of almost everyone's life.
Negative Effects of Television
1)Violence on TV effects people, especially children, in negative ways. Before the average American child leaves elementary school, researchers estimate that he or she will have witnessed more than 8,000 murders on television. Nearly 3,000 studies have found a connection between television violence and real violence. For example, studies involving children show that the more violence a child watches on TV, the more violent he or she will...
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Dogs and Smurfs
This has been a great year for male writers, with women shunted aside for major prizes and all-new hand-wringing about why it is so. Because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but male writers get taken more seriously. Also, stories about men, even if written by women, are considered mainstream, while stories about women are “women’s fiction.” This despite the fact that women read more than men, and write more, and are over-represented generally throughout publishing.
As the father of two girls, one aged five and one ten months, I know why. It’s because of dogs and Smurfs. I can’t understand why no-one else realizes this. I see these knotted-brow articles and the writers seem truly perplexed. Dogs and Smurfs: that’s the answer.
Let me walk you through it. We’ll start with dogs. I have written about this before, but to save you the click: people assume dogs are male. Listen out for it: you will find it’s true. To short-cut the process, visit the zoo, because when I say “dogs,” I really mean, “all animals except maybe cats.” The air of a zoo teems with “he.” I have stood in front of baboons with teats like missile launchers and heard adults exclaim to their children, “Look at him!” Once I saw an unsuspecting monkey taken from behind and there was a surprised silence from the crowd and then someone made a joke about sodomy. People assume animals are male. If you haven’t already noticed this, it’s only because it’s so pervasive. We also assume people are male, unless they’re doing something particularly feminine; you’ll usually say “him” about an unseen car driver, for example. But it’s ubiquitous in regard to animals.
Now, kids like animals. Kids really fucking like animals. Kids are little animal stalkers, fascinated by absolutely anything an animal does. They read books about animals. I just went through my daughter’s bookshelves, and they all have animals on the cover. Animals everywhere. And because publishing is terribly progressive, and because Jen and I look out for it, a lot of those animals are girls. But still: a ton of boys. Because of the assumption.
Here’s an example: a truly great kids’ book is Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. I love this story, but on page 22, after being called “it” three times, an otherwise sexless penguin twice becomes “he.” This would never, ever happen the other way around. The only reason a penguin can abruptly become male in an acclaimed children’s book without anybody noticing is because we had already assumed it was.
Then you’ve got Smurf books. Not actual Smurfs. I mean stories where there are five major characters, and one is brave and one is smart and one is grumpy and one keeps rats for pets and one is a girl. Smurfs, right? Because there was Handy Smurf and Chef Smurf and Dopey Smurf and Painter Smurf and ninety-four other male Smurfs and Smurfette. Smurfette’s unique personality trait was femaleness. That was the thing she did better than anyone else. Be a girl.
Smurf books are not as common as they used to be, but Smurf stories are, oddly, everywhere on the screen. Pixar makes practically nothing else. I am so disappointed by this, because they make almost every kids’ film worth watching. WALL-E is good. I will grant them WALL-E, because Eve is so awesome. But otherwise: lots of Smurfs.
Male is default. That’s what you learn from a world of boy dogs and Smurf stories. My daughter has no problem with this. She reads these books the way they were intended: not about boys, exactly, but about people who happen to be boys. After years of such books, my daughter can happily identify with these characters.
And this is great. It’s the reason she will grow into a woman who can happily read a novel about men, or watch a movie in which men do all the most interesting things, without feeling like she can’t relate. She will process these stories as being primarily not about males but about human beings.
Except it’s not happening the other way. The five-year-old boy who lives up the street from me does not have a shelf groaning with stories about girl animals. Because you have to seek those books out, and as the parent of a boy, why would you? There are so many great books about boys to which he can relate directly. Smurf stories must make perfect sense to him: all the characters with this one weird personality trait to distinguish them, like being super brave or smart or frightened or a girl.
I have been told that this is a good thing for girls. “That makes girls more special,” said this person, who I wanted to punch in the face. That’s the problem. Being female should not be special. It should be normal. It is normal, in the real world. There are all kinds of girls. There are all kinds of women. You just wouldn’t think so, if you only paid attention to dogs and Smurfs.
Is it the positive role model thing? Because I don’t want only positive female role models. I want the spectrum. Angry girls, happy girls, mean girls. Lazy girls. Girls who lie and girls who hit people and do the wrong thing sometimes. I’m pretty sure my daughters can figure out for themselves which personality aspects they should emulate, if only they see the diversity.
It’s not like this is hard. Dogs and Smurfs: we’re not talking about searing journeys to the depths of the soul. An elephant whose primary story purpose is to steal some berries does not have to be male. Not every time. Characters can be girls just because they happen to be girls.
P.S. Don’t talk to me about Sassette. Sassette was like the three millionth Smurf invented. You get no credit for that.