Clash of the Titans XLVIII: Public Broadcasting

September 7, 2007, 12:30 pm; posted by
Filed under David, Debate, Tom  | 9 Comments

In this corner, opposing PBS, is David!

And in this corner, supporting it, is Tom!

Public broadcasting is part of an evil plot to subvert our country’s youth by filling their minds with liberal politics, designed to turn them all into leftist car-burning radicals.

That being said though, it isn’t really the main reason I am so opposed to public broadcasting. The main reason is that we tossed all these topics into a hat a while back and I drew this side of the argument.

However, the best reason for opposing PBS or NPR (the nefarious radio arm of the cabal) is the obvious safety concern, highlighted in a study fabricated by the University of Wisconsin during the late 1990’s. Test subjects drove across the country while listening to the soothing sounds of either R&B music or hard rock, in an effort to gauge the effect of the two formats on driver alertness. As you probably have guessed, NPR was used as the placebo. After 33 deaths from NPR listeners falling asleep at the wheel, the study was cancelled. The university is still in litigation over the psychological damage suffered by the test subjects who were not fortunate enough to perish.

The second reason to hate public broadcasting is their TV presence. The problem is actually twofold. One is their programming. Who hasn’t grown tired of watching frumpy people with British accents make their way through intricate plots based on books written 200 years ago? “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” they used to be fond of saying. I guess all that daylight adversely affected the mental composition of the British author, and somehow the British managed to win a rigged bid process, requiring us to watch their endless prattle for the next 3 centuries.

The second, more dangerous, aspect of their TV presence is the dreaded pledge drive. During the pledge drive, whatever “good” movies they have in their back room are dusted off and advertised heavily. Casual TV patrons are drawn in by this ploy, so after they have enjoyed the first half of the classic movie they have been dying to watch for years, the movie is brought to a screeching halt, so a pleasant little fellow in an easy chair can lay on the guilt trip.

“Have you been enjoying this wonderful trip down memory lane? Did you know that the only way we can stay on the air is thanks to contributors like you? Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah — and if you ever want to see the end of this movie, you freakin’ freeloader, get off your lazy butt, open that wallet, and PAY US!!!”

This, by itself, has led to many nervous breakdowns among the viewing public.

Commercial broadcasting is part of an evil plot to subvert our country’s youth by filling their minds with consumerist politics, designed to turn them all into mindless SUV-buying mouth-breathers.

That being said though, it isn’t really the main reason I am so in favor of public broadcasting. The main reason is that we tossed all these topics into a hat a while back and I drew this side of the argument.

Public television has long been a part of my life. Although I’m an outspoken critic of most television, very little of the programming I’ve come across on WPBS (my local affiliate) offended my admittedly delicate sensibilities. Big Bird and the rest of his crew on Sesame Street taught me colors, letters, numbers, and how to take a punch. Mr. Rogers taught me how crayons are made, and the all-encompassing importance of coordinating sweater and sneakers. Even up through college, my roommates would return from their classes on days my schedule lightened to find me transfixed, my entire being a beam of concentration leveled intensely at Simply Ming.

Whether I was appearing on Whiz Quiz with local celebrity Glen Gough, or relentlessly mocking Rod and Reel, public television was always there for me. Would lack of exposure to the brilliance that is Rowan Atkinson in Mr. Bean have made me less of a person? Would having to put up solely with the depravity, inanity, and banality that is a commercial television station have harmed me irrevocably? At this point it’s impossible to tell, but I’d err on the side of caution and give PBS its due in the amalgamation that is Tom.

However, public radio is the medium of the people that lies closest to my cold little heart. Our local National Public Radio affiliate has kept alive the tradition of real radio programming that laid the foundation for all of our media sources today. The landscape of commercial radio today is a barren wasteland of Top-40 nonsense, jaded partisan babblings, and the warbly, self-pitying strains of country stations just aching to get that truck back. NPR fires back with news featuring in-depth reporting, quiz-shows that simply assume their audience is smarter than a fifth-grader, and entertainment programs in which people read (gasp) actual short stories. Oh, the humanity!

Finally, to defend the lowly pledge drive. Without the sale of commercials, public broadcasting is able to keep itself pure, an ivory tower of news, entertainment and information unsullied by the dirtying effects of the almighty dollar. If the price I have to pay for my cooking shows is watching a pledge drive once a quarter, is that too much? I humbly submit that it is not.



9 Comments to “Clash of the Titans XLVIII: Public Broadcasting”

  1. Djere on September 7th, 2007 1:23 pm

    Smooth ‘n smarmy.

    Though I know from personal experience that The Tom prefers olde tyme radio progrums featuring subtle racism.

  2. aaron.guest on September 7th, 2007 1:46 pm

    I’m with Tom. Though I only listen now to NPR for Praire Home Companion, I used to lay awake listening to the quiz shows and blues/jazz on Sunday mornings in college. Plus, Car Talk got me through some long rides from Boston to Kentucky. Without it, I’d still be who I am, but it’s refreshing entertainment that’s decidedly wholesome. Liberal? Probably. But subtle political humor is an art-form and to be recognized because in this age of partisans yelling at each other, subtlety is nice.

    Plus, there’s the Red Green Show on PBS. Best. Show. Ever.

  3. Djere on September 7th, 2007 2:05 pm

    One of the Bweinh!tributors does a pretty good Red Green impression.

  4. Mom on September 7th, 2007 5:13 pm

    Why, uh, yeah, yeah he ah does, eh.

  5. MC-B on September 7th, 2007 10:28 pm

    I love Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! a good deal.

  6. Karen on September 9th, 2007 3:06 pm

    Did you know my favorite station, K-love is listener supported too? Where would we be without K-love?(rhetorical question)

  7. Djere on September 9th, 2007 5:47 pm

    Did you know that your favorite station, K-Love, is also self-proclaimed “Positive, Encouraging K-Love”

  8. Steve on September 10th, 2007 12:44 am

    The implications are obvious and troubling.

  9. Tom on September 10th, 2007 10:02 am

    TIOT point!

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