“Do not bother to adjust your (TV) set. We control the vertical. We control the horizontal.”
-cheesy , deep-voiced narrator on “The Outer Limits.”
Ever see that old show, “The Outer Limits”? Basically, it’s a poor man’s “Twilight Zone ” (now there was a show!). The intro for The Outer Limits begins with a narrator who says this mumbo jumbo about controlling your TV set, while a bunch of wavy lines appear on your screen. Mr. Cheesy goes on to say that any attempt to adjust the picture on your screen is fruitless, and then what follows is a bad, poorly-acted, black-and-white “suspense” show. Basically, the narrator is announcing the upcoming hour’s mindless programming (at least he’s up front about it). While there are those who consider television a form of mind control�blessedly so, for some of us�usually it is voluntary.
I recalled this whole opening bit and the idea of mind control when I read a recent Woman’s Day article. “Too Much TV” described a new trend in our country: television screens appearing in public places (airports, supermarkets, banks, department stores). The article made several valid points regarding the negative aspects of this trend, including increased noise, unnecessary stimulation and distraction, and reduced human interaction as a result of TV sets popping up on the face of our nation like a bad case of chicken pox.
Now, let me just say that I LOVE TV. You’ll get my clicker when you pry it from my cold, dead, Cheeto-stained fingers. But I have to admit, I do agree with the writer of the article when it comes to the potential for too many TV’s to provide “a fresh distraction from our focus on other people or our own thoughts.” Hmmm�I nostalgically recall a time when I thought my own thoughts. I can fondly remember one, in particular. Maestro, a little harp music, if you please.
It was that rare occasion when I took the time to empty my mind of all the clutter. Rather than my brain turning to mush, my thoughts turned to broccoli. I spent quite some time marveling at how broccoli was designed. Think about it: Like a miniature tree, broccoli’s got these tiny leaf-like structures attached to stalks, which branch out for days. And the color; it’s a deep, beautiful, interesting shade of green, which turns into an even better shade when cooked. After pondering broccoli a while, I just sat and then contemplated the mind that created such a simple, delightful, and tasty thing. Now there’s a mind thinking its own thoughts.
To me, the most deep and profound thing about this scene was that I was actually engaged in choosing what I would think about, rather than having that chosen for me. It’s a novel concept. You can argue whether one’s thoughts are divinely inspired or internally generated, but one thing’s for sure: either of those options is preferable to having a TV or even MTV in charge of the programming which runs on the Jumbo-Tron in your head.
At the end of the Outer Limits, the narrator relinquishes back control of the viewer’s TV (and mind, apparently). Maybe we shouldn’t wait until that control is returned to us, but should do something to prevent it from being taken away in the first place. They can put TV’s everywhere, but let’s draw the line with our minds, shall we?