Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Television

"Television’s strongest point is that it brings personalities into our hearts, not abstractions into our heads." - Neil Postman

"Develop the art of friendliness. One can experience a variety of emotions staying home and reading or watching television; one will be alive but hardly living. Most of the meaningful aspects of life are closely associated with people. Even the dictionary definition of life involves people." - William L. Abbott

"Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture available to everyone and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want." - Clive Barnes, fully Clive Alexander Barnes

"The child's entire life is influenced by his ability to listen. Good listening habits make it possible for him to broaden his knowledge, enjoy music, conversation, storytelling, drama; discriminating listening makes it possible for him to select radio and television programs for enjoyment. Critical listening helps him function intelligently in selection of governmental leaders. It is quite possible that the ability to listen effectively may be one of the most valuable tools he can use in his efforts to bring understanding and peace to the world." - Lucile Cypreansen

"There are three reasons why, quite apart from scientific considerations, mankind needs to travel in space. The first reason is garbage disposal; we need to transfer industrial processes into space so that the earth may remain a green and pleasant place for our grandchildren to live in. The second reason is to escape material impoverishment; the resources of this planet are finite, and we shall not forgo forever the abundance of solar energy and minerals and living space that are spread out all around us. The third reason is our spiritual need for an open frontier. The ultimate purpose of space travel is to bring to humanity, not only scientific discoveries and an occasional spectacular show on television, but a real expansion of our spirit." - Freeman John Dyson

"Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home." - David Frost, fully Sir David Paradine Frost

"Thoughts are indestructible, as real as radio and television waves, as powerful as life, and they are never lost. While it is true that thoughts may come unbidden, you can cast out thoughts that are harmful and substitute good thoughts instead." - Ruth Barrick Golden

"There is one type of feeling which is above all important to foster in childhood. Children have naturally an abundant faculty for wonder and reverence. There are so many books, so many radio and television hours, so many encyclopedias and, alas, so many teachers whose aim is to import knowledge quickly and easily without any element of that faculty which the Greeks said was the beginning of philosophy – Wonder. It is strange that an age which has discovered so many marvels in the universe should be so conspicuously lacking in the sense of wonder." - A. C. Harwood

"[Television]... A medium - so called because it is neither rare nor well done." - Ernie Kovacs

"Modern man seems to be afraid of silence. We are conditioned by radio and television on which every minute must be filled with talking, or some kind of sound. We are stimulated by the American philosophy of keeping on the move all the time - busy, busy, busy. This tends to make us shallow. A person's life can be deepened tremendously by periods of silence, used in the constructive ways of meditation and prayer. Great personalities have spent much time in the silence of life." - Robert E. Lyon

"If the television craze continues with the present level of programs, we are destined to have a nation of morons." - Daniel James Marsh

"There’s something missing in the sanitized life we lead. Something that our leaders in Washington can never supply by simple edict, something that the commercials on television never advertise because nobody’s yet found a way to bottle it or box it or can it. What’s missing is the touch, the warmth, the meaning of life." - Harvey Milk

"Ours has been called the jet age, the atomic age, the space age. It is also, I submit, the television age. And just as history will decide whether the leaders of today’s world employed the atom to destroy the world or rebuild it for mankind’s benefit, so will history decide whether today’s broadcasters employed their powerful voice to enrich the people or debase them." - Newton Minow, fully Newton Norman Minow

"Today, thanks to technical progress, the radio and television, to which we devote so many of the leisure hours once spent listening to parlor chatter and parlor music, have succeeded in lifting the manufacture of banality out of the sphere of handicraft and placed it in that of a major industry." - Nathalie Sarraute, fully Nathalie Tcherniak Sarraute

"Instances of people harmed by television will not be found I averages or statistics but in hospitals and prisons." -

"I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to se beyond the range of our vision we shall discover either a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television - of that I am quite sure." - E. B. White, fully Elwyn Brooks White

"I believe that, for the rest of the world, contemporary America is an almost symbolic concentration of all the best and the worst of our civilization. On the one hand, there are its profound commitment to enhancing civil liberty and to maintaining the strength of its democratic institutions, and the fantastic developments in science and technology which have contributed so much to our well-being; on the other, there is the blind worship of perpetual economic growth and consumption, regardless of their destructive impact on the environment, or how subject they are to the dictates of materialism and consumerism, or how they, through the omnipresence of television and advertising, promote uniformity, and banality instead of a respect for human uniqueness." - Václav Havel

"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?" - Nicholas Johnson

"The dependence upon corporate advertising of the mass media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – makes them editorially subservient, without in any way being prompted, to points of view known or thought to be favored by the big property owners… The willing subservience shows itself most generally, apart from specific acts of omission or commission, in an easy blandness on the part of the mass media toward serious social problems." - Ferdinand Lundberg

"One hundred years after its invention, film art still occupies a marginal place in academic circles. The very activity of watching television is routinely dismissed as inherently inferior to the activity of reading, regardless of content. But narrative beauty is independent of medium. Oral tales, pictorial stories, plays, novels, movies, and television shows can all range from the lame and sensationalist to the heartbreaking and illuminating. We need every available form of expression and all the new ones we can muster to help us understand who we are and what we are doing." - Janet H. Murray

"We are on the brink of a historic convergence as novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers move toward multiform stories and digital formats; computer scientists move toward the creation of fictional worlds; and the audience moves toward the virtual stage. How can we tell what is coming next? Judging from the current landscape, we can expect a continued loosening of the traditional boundaries between games and stories, between films and rides, between broadcast media (like television and radio) and archival media (like books or videotape, between narrative forms (like books) and dramatic forms (like theater or film), and even between the audience and the author. To understand the new genres and the narrative pleasures that will arise from this heady mixture, we must look beyond the formats imposed upon the computer by the older media it is so rapidly assimilating and identify those properties native to the machine itself." - Janet H. Murray

"The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television." - Andrew Ross

"Freedom is not an ideal it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set - and this in a world where half our fellow man have less than enough to eat." - Adlai Ewing Stevenson

"Freedom is not an ideal it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set - and this in a world where half our fellow man have less than enough to eat." -

"Freedom is not an ideal it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set - and this in a world where half our fellow man have less than enough to eat." -

"The human race is faced with a cruel choice: Work or daytime television." - Author Unknown NULL

"Nothing is real unless it happens on television." - Daniel Boorstin, fully Daniel Joseph Boorstin

"Television is chewing gum for the eyes." - Frank Lloyd Wright, born Frank Lincoln Wright

"Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labor, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television." - Lewis Thomas

"Watching television, you’d think we lived at bay, in total jeopardy, surrounded on all sides by human-seeking germs, shielded against infection and death only by a chemical technology that enables us to keep killing them off." - Lewis Thomas

"Thanks to television, for the first time the young are seeing history made before it is censored by their leaders." - Margaret Mead

"It is television’s primary damage that it provides ten million children with the same fantasy, ready-made and on a platter." -

"Each day a few more lies eat into the seed which we are born, little institutional lies from the print of newspapers, the shock waves of television, and the sentimental cheats of the movie screen." - Norman Mailer, fully Norman Kingsley Mailer

"That happiness is to be attained through limitless material acquisition is denied by every religion and philosophy known to humankind, but it is preached incessantly by every American television set." - Robert Bellah, fully Robert Neelly Bellah

"We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late. " - Edward R. Murrow, born Egbert Roscoe Murrow

"The young watch television twenty-four hours a day, they don't read and they rarely listen. This incessant bombardment of images has developed a hypertrophied eye condition that's turning them into a race of mutants. They should pass a law for a total reeducation of the young, making children visit the Galleria Borgese on a daily basis." - Federico Fellini

"The success of Apollo was mainly due to the fact that the project was conceived and honestly presented to the public as an international sporting event and not as a contribution to science. The order of priorities in Apollo was accurately reflected by the first item to be unloaded after each landing on the Moon's surface, the television camera. The landing, the coming and going of the astronauts, the exploring of the moon's surface, the gathering of Moon rocks and the earthward departure, all were expertly choreographed with the cameras placed in the right positions to make a dramatic show on television. This was to me the great surprise of the Apollo missions. There was nothing surprising in the fact that astronauts could walk on the Moon and bring home Moon rocks. There were no big scientific surprises in the chemistry of the Moon rocks or in the results of magnetic and seismic observations that the astronauts carried out. The big surprise was the quality of the public entertainment that the missions provided. I had never expected that we would see in real time astronauts hopping around in lunar gravity and driving their Rover down the Lincoln- Lee scarp to claim a lunar speed record of eleven miles per hour. Intensive television coverage was the driving force of Apollo. Von Braun had not imagined the possibilities of television when he decided that one kilohertz would be an adequate communication bandwidth for his Mars Project. " - Freeman John Dyson

"If those in charge of our society — politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television — can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." - Howard Zinn

"There is the past and its continuing horrors: violence, war, prejudices against those who are different, outrageous monopolization of the good earth's wealth by a few, political power in the hands of liars and murderers, the building of prisons instead of schools, the poisoning of the press and the entire culture by money. It is easy to become discouraged observing this, especially since this is what the press and television insist that we look at, and nothing more. But there is also the bubbling of change under the surface of obedience: the growing revulsion against endless wars, the insistence of women all over the world that they will no longer tolerate abuse and subordination… There is civil disobedience against the military machine, protest against police brutality directed especially at people of color." - Howard Zinn

"What always puzzles me is why parents aren't more alarmed about the impact of television content, and why they don't make their concerns felt, but they don't." - Joan G. Cooney, fully Joan Ganz Cooney

"It’s absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does." - John Taylor Gatto

"...There are many other facets to the current collapse of childhood. I have touched on the issue only briefly, but one thing is clear, our schools have deteriorated because they must deal with damaged goods. Most responsible for this damage is hospital childbirth; second comes television. Next comes day care, which fosters television and is a result of hospital childbirth. Premature schooling runs fourth. (A fifth must wait a bit for discussion.) And as our damaged children grow up and become the parents and teachers, damage will be the norm, the way of life. We will habituate to damage. Nothing else will be known. How can you miss something you can't even recognize, something you never had?" - Joseph Chilton Pearce, aka Joe

"The mood state Americans are in, on average, when watching television is mildly depressed." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, native form is Csíkszentmihályi Mihály

"Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy. The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefited hardly at all from modern plumbing : running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments would have added little to their life. The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive prerogative of the rich and powerful." - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products." - Neil Postman

"Television is our culture's principal mode of knowing about itself. Therefore -- and this is the critical point -- how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged. It is not merely that on the television screen entertainment is the metaphor for all discourse. It is that off the screen the same metaphor prevails." - Neil Postman

"Our culture's adjustment to the epistemology of television is by now all but complete; we have so thoroughly accepted its definitions of truth, knowledge and reality that irrelevance seems to us to be filled with import, and incoherence seems eminently sane. And if some of our institutions seem not to fit the template of the times, why it is they and not the template, that seem to us disordered and strange." - Neil Postman

"It is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience... The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining." - Neil Postman