We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this very important public service announcement. This announcement is brought to you by Apple – “Making a herd one sheep at a time” – and McDonald’s – “Over 1 billion obese people served.”
“Television has struck the inner life of Man like a pestilence, and is shaping for us an inevitable and hideous destiny. Like the insects and diseases in our gardens, which are able to establish themselves only in plants that are already sickly, this loathsome affliction could never have made any headway except among a people who had already lost all sense of the meaning and worth of their existence. Any human adults who will sit for hours before a TV screen betray the fact that they have no deep purpose in life, that in fact living bores them. Their minds and souls are empty. They are mere shells of life eaten out by years of existence in a mechanized society where their energies, from their youth, have been subjected to the wills of bosses, to the deadening prod of identical external stimuli, and been used up in serving ends quite outside themselves. Now they are tired. There is nothing that they want to do — nothing that reflects any thought, or will, or quest, or direction of their own. They seek only relief from their boredom. They want only to be entertained. In the pleasure and reassurance that they find in merging themselves into the television, most of them never become aware of the slow and silent withdrawal of their own souls from their lives. They have become mere empty shells, but few of them ever realize it.
Healthy people simply do not sit looking at TV. People who know what it is to have a life-of-their-own, as do all real persons, all real individuals, all really healthy people, have far too much that they want to be up and doing, to waste time watching other people do something. I cannot believe that TV could ever have taken hold among any people in a period when they were spiritually and mentally robust, awake, curious, conquering, exploring, achieving, creating. And among us today, the rush of almost everybody to get a TV set can be explained only on the ground that the overwhelming mass of our people were already sick, feeling needs and deficiencies that could have arisen only in a mechanized society that had always denied them meaningful and satisfying outlets for their deepest life instincts. And TV has worked with fearful speed to complete the decay that it came upon. What little was left of individual initiative, personal integrity in any real or meaningful sense, or independence and self-reliance, it has been bleeding out of the mass of men, turning them more and more into suggestible pawns, robots, rabble, needing only the wily agitator to whip them into a raging mob, or an adroit dictator to subdue them and to lead them like sheep wherever he will.
Our very life is being penetrated by the drivel and blather, and gutter taste, and marketplace morals, and the false, vicious and even treasonous propaganda of radio and TV. Men and women are admitting those announcers with their soulless voices to profane the stillness of their firesides, to sit down and talk to them while they eat, or while they travel in their cars, or while they work. In the village garage and the country store, as well as in city offices, factories and chain stores, the radio or TV drones on until the doors are shut at closing time.
And everywhere it drives men’s own thoughts and judgments out of their heads, deprives them of the condition for getting any thoughts or judgments of their own, and subtly, stealthily, constantly slips into their empty, somnolent heads the thoughts and judgments of other men, perhaps alien men, even anti-American men, which tomorrow will come out, from New York to San Francisco, in the votes that men and women cast or in the opinions that they express, as if they were their own!
And the control of all this is in the hands of a very few men about whom most people know absolutely nothing. Perhaps many of my present listeners would find it worthwhile to inquire who these men are, whether the key men in the situation were even American-born, whether their basic alignments do not reveal loyalties that prove them hostile to our whole system of government and even to the continuance of our sovereign independence — that is, prove that at heart they are traitors. And yet our fate is largely in their hands. Reflection upon this situation has convinced me that until this central and alien and essentially treasonous control of TV has been utterly broken, changes of administration in Washington will not matter, and all talk of States’ rights, of local government, or any thought that we have any real freedom, whether as persons or as a nation, is but chatter and a fools’ paradise from which we are bound to awaken at last to find ourselves in Hell.”
Thank you for your attention. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
William Gayley Simpson – On Television