Letters

Readers blast advocate of TV Turnoff Week, ponder the meaning of indie bands on "Gilmore Girls" and "The O.C.," and reject Ashton Kutcher.


Salon Staff
April 28, 2005 12:00AM (UTC)

[Read "Don't Buy It!" by Stephanie Zacharek.]

I was intrigued by Stephanie Zacharek's article on the new magalogs. It seems to me they are part of what I've come to call "the new domesticity." The TV shows and networks devoted to home improvement/demolishing/rebuilding, landscaping, interior design, etc., all appear to be geared toward making us stay put, stay in our aesthetically pleasing domiciles. Why go traipsing to uncomfortable, potentially dusty, far-flung locales when we can sit at home in air-conditioned super-sized living rooms, in front of $10,000 flat-screen high-definition televisions?

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I don't think the events of 9/11 began this trend (it came about earlier, in the alleged economic boom of the '90s, when everyone supposedly had huge amounts of disposable income), but it's certainly focused our attention on our most basic comforts. We seem rabid in our ever-increasing desire for physical and environmental stability via the acquisition of pleasant-smelling rooms decorated in pastel tones and 800-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.

As for me, I'm changing my palette from all those dim earthy hues of last year to the lime green and yellow of happiness and inner peace. I know it will make me feel sooooo much safer.

-- Susana Roberts

[Read "He Doesn't Like to Watch," by Julia Scott.]

The TV Turnoff jammer group is a great example of obnoxious and misguided activism. Mr. Lasn's behavior strikes me as decidedly self-centered and downright rude. There is no single bank manager or bar owner "forcing" people to watch television à la "A Clockwork Orange." Bars and banks are not truly public places but private establishments that are open to the public. If you don't like that a certain business has a television, you can ignore it, ask the manager to turn it off, or leave. Lasn's TV zappers aren't vigilantes defending freedom. They're just jerks imposing their will on everyone else. As for televisions at the airport, a wise man once said, "Read a book."

-- Ed Macauley

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Kalle Lasn is relying on a large fallacy when he supports the use of the TV-B-Gone remote to turn off televisions in public ... Just because a television set is on does not mean you are being forced to watch it (unless they have you strapped in a chair, eyelids held open "Clockwork Orange"-style.) One can simply ignore the TV. One can turn away from it. Or find something else to do. Very rarely is a TV so intrusive (with an über-loud volume setting) that it cannot be easily ignored. Turning off TVs other people are watching (especially in bars,) is not "civil disobedience." It's just being a jerk.

-- Andrew Turkenkopf

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"The question is, what right do airports and bank managers have to force us to watch TV in public places?"

Oh, Kalle ... I've read an Adbusters here and there (when I'm in Borders and I see it, I'll purchase it) -- in general it's a good mag, albeit it does go over the edge every now and again. But this statement ... no one is forcing anyone to watch TV in public places! Like the people in your bank, they can choose whether or not to watch! ... And if I'd gone into a sports bar to watch a game, I'd kick your ass for turning the TV off, too. Generally, the problem isn't with the content, but with the ads that run in between. Turn the shit off then, or simply mute the TV. You said yourself you didn't turn off a nature show -- why? Is it because that is acceptable programming and dudes in padding throwing a ball and trying to slam each other into the ground isn't? Who are you to make that choice for dudes drinkin' beers on a Sunday?

Not to mention, I will never turn off my TV during TV Turnoff Week -- it's always during sweeps! There are so few shows I watch anyway, the whole idea seems completely ridiculous to me -- that I should turn off my TV for the entire week when I may only watch three hours all week tops!

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-- Jen Bacher

If anyone is an example of what's wrong with liberals, it's Kalle Lasn, who has the arrogance to go around switching off TVs in public just because he decides people would be better without them. And then makes some great cause of stopping people from watching TV. I'm not here to defend the quality of everything on TV, but the quality of print is no better. Not every book is Hemingway, and yet we extol those who mindlessly bury their noses in two-bit novels or trashy newspapers over those who sit glassy-eyed in front of a TV. What people really need to do is take some responsibility to filter the information that comes in, whether it is from TV, radio, print or the Internet.

-- Larry Firrantello

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[Read "Death Shows for Cuties," by Hillary Frey.]

Why will you not see the songs associated with meaningful interactions onscreen? Why will you see the songs instead associated with "limp hangout scenes" in a bar? It's quite simple. The producers et al. of these shows don't want these musical acts on the "O.C.'s" of TV land because they feel the music is important and they want to get it out there. These folks want something associated with the show. And what is that thing? It ain't the music -- it's hipness.

What do people like ["The O.C." creator] Josh Schwartz really find in the music they listen to? Is it the music itself, or does the importance lie in being seen as someone who listens to hip music? Or more importantly, seen as someone who helps define what hip music is? That's the real problem of rock 'n' roll's weird marriage of style and substance. It's much more important to some to wear a Death Cab for Cutie T-shirt than it is to actually value the substance of Death Cab's music. The two types aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but it's not hard to see where the "O.C.'s" and "Gilmore Girls" of the world stand.

--Kris Walz

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Do you remember the Standells' appearance on "The Munsters," the Beau Brummels on "The Flintstones," or even Davey Jones on "The Brady Bunch"? Time was, real musicians appearing in TV land were never treated as anything but ironic: a "postmodern" blend of reality and fiction. Nowadays, TV treats the two as if they're one, something viewers apparently enjoy and have come to expect.

-- Michael Caleb

There needs to be an acceptance of the fact that a large part of [The Shins' lead singer] James Mercer's appeal stems from his clearly being not someone who feels at home on the same airwaves that were partially responsible for promoting Britney Spears. This lack of slickness feels at home in "Garden State" and feels like something from another planet in the context of "Gilmore Girls." Let's be honest: "Gilmore Girls" is explicitly designed for an entirely different clique than the one that produces people like Mercer. The audience for "Garden State" is a much more natural matchup.

Or, to put it another way, "Gilmore Girls" seriously blows and "Garden State" doesn't. While I'm thankful that good music is finally being promoted on mainstream television, I'm annoyed that the shows doing this promotion tend to be so much worse than the music they highlight.

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-- John Dagen

[Read "A Lot Like Love," by Stephanie Zacharek.]

Kutcher's sudden popularity is as baffling as was Keanu Reeves' when his career started. Is there any difference between the two? Pretty-boy doofuses who began by milking and mocking their own simple-mindedness. Kutcher was always my least-favorite actor on "That '70s Show," and I could never figure out his attraction. The one thing he was good at was pratfalls. But you can't make a living off clumsiness. It was, of course, inevitable that he would end up in movies. Pretty boys always do.

Reeves eventually had to abandon his teenage persona and transform himself into an action star to survive. (How he was mistaken for a real actor by some serious foreign directors I'll never know.) But then, Reeves always had a lanky kind of athleticism that made you believe he could handle himself if he had to.

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With Kutcher's goofiness and skill at bumbling, it's nearly impossible to imagine him leaping off a speeding bus or skydiving with no chute. His lopsided grin is too silly to become the face of a dramatic lead. What future outside limp romantic comedies can he possibly have? Perhaps none. But as long as teenage girls and certain grandmothers insist on paying to see him on the big screen, his career will flourish for however long he can string it out. And the rest of us will stand by thinking, "Are you kidding me with this guy?"

-- Scott A. Keister


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