Television (TV) is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images and sound. Television can transmit images that are monochrome (black-and-white), in color, or in three dimensions. Television is an iconic mass medium, serving as a conduit for entertainment, advertising and news.
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- The role of television is the illusion of company, noise. I call it the fifth wall and the second window: the window of illusion.
- The viewer of television, the listener to radio, the reader of magazines, is presented with a whole complex of elements—all the way from ingenious rhetoric to carefully selected data and statistics—to make it easy for him to “make up his own mind” with the minimum of difficulty and effort. But the packaging is often done so effectively that the viewer, listener, or reader does not make up his own mind at all. Instead, he inserts a packaged opinion into his mind, somewhat like inserting a cassette into a cassette player. He then pushes a button and “plays back” the opinion whenever it seems appropriate to do so. He has performed acceptably without having had to think.
- The rockets that have made spaceflight possible are an advance that, more than any other technological victory of the twentieth century, was grounded in science fiction… . One thing that no science fiction writer visualized, however, as far as I know, was that the landings on the Moon would be watched by people on Earth by way of television.
- Isaac Asimov, in Asimov on Physics (1976), 35. Also in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 307.
- What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish. This is bad for everyone; the majority lose all genuine taste of their own, and the minority become cultural snobs.
- W. H. Auden, "The Poet & The City", p. 83. The Dyer's Hand, and Other Essays (1962)
- Everything is being televised so you won't be able to tell where the Revolution is. "Who's revolting? Well, I don't know, what's on the other channel?"
- The luminous screen in the home carries fantastic authority. Viewers everywhere tend to accept it as a window on the world... It has tended to displace or overwhelm other influences such as newspapers, school, church, grandpa, grandma. It has become the definer and transmitter of society's values.
- Bread and circuses—to some observers, welfare and television seemed modern equivalents, pacifiers of empire, protectors of power and privilege.
If television has assumed this role, it is not the result of a struggle between good guys and bad guys. If it were, it would be easy to solve, like problems in televisionland. ... The sponsor who thinks in terms of maximizing sales and profits is doing his duty. ... The advertising agency executive who recommends programs and time-slots in terms of audience size and demographic targets is likewise doing his job... The network sales executive who favors programs that advertising agencies will recommend to sponsors is performing his task. ... The problem—the folly—is not in any of these, but in a system that has made the center of national attention a market item, for sale at auction prices. The system has put the leadership of our society on the auction block.
- For intellectual authority, the appropriate version of Descartes's cogito would be today: I am talked about, therefore I am.
- I like to watch.
- Repeated lines by "Chance, the gardner" in Being There (1979), initially referring simply to his lifelong habit of watching television.
- First radio, then television, have assaulted and overturned the privacy of the home, the real American privacy, which permitted the development of a higher and more independent life within democratic society.
- It is not so much the low quality of the fare provided that is troubling. It is much more the difficulty of imagining any order of taste, any way of life with pleasures and learning that naturally fit the lives of the family’s members, keeping itself distinct from the popular culture and resisting the visions of what is admirable and interesting with which they are bombarded.
- Do you realize if it weren't for Edison we'd be watching TV by candlelight?
- Al Boliska, as cited in: Stuart Kantor (2004) Beer, Boxers, Batteries, And Bodily Noises. p. 39
- We're aware of the scale of the planet, so we don't accept that our own circumscribed horizons constitute reality. Much more real is what's relayed to us by the TV.
- John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar (1968), continuity (17) "Timescales"
- A message I’ve been telling myself: the cinema is very conservative, and unless you have a story that satisfies you, that is within the unchallenging zone, but you love it, you can’t do it as cinema. Otherwise, you better go do it for television, which is more daring now.
- You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to believe that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion!
- Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, a football players. We're in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry. Just look at your watch. At the end of the hour, he's gonna win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear.
We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion. So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off!
- I’d park myself a few inches from the RCA color television set we had. I was so close, I could feel the static electricity of the screen tugging at the peach fuzz on my face and smell the wonderful aroma of electrically heated dust coming from the vents of that lustrous wooden console. No matter how many times my mother yelled, “Kevin! Move back before you go blind!” I’d still feel myself powerfully drawn into that world, and the worn-out seats of my Lee jeans bore witness to the pull I was powerless to resist.
- Kevin Clash, puppeteer who plays Elmo on Sesame Street, on his childhood. Published in 2006 as part of My Life as a Furry Red Monster.
- Television is for appearing on, not looking at.
- Noël Coward in Barry Day (2007), The Letters of Noël Coward (illustrated ed.), Alfred A. Knopf, p. 585
- IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK–HE ONLY SEES!
- Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), p. 139
- An EEG of a person watching TV shows that after about half an hour the brain decides that nothing is happening, and it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state, emitting alpha waves. This is because there is such little eye motion.
- Philip K. Dick, in "How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later" (1978)
- A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection — not an invitation for hypnosis.
- Umberto Eco, in "Can Television Teach?" in Screen Education 31 (1979), p. 12
- It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
- I used to think that television could be potentially the most powerful medium for the dissemination of knowledge that the world has ever known, it could be a very rich and rewarding thing if handled properly and that the problem was in the execution. I've now come, after ten years in the business, five years of which was as a television critic, to taking the very extreme view point. I think television itself is bad. The idea of television, the act of watching television kills the imagination. It's not like radio, with radio you had to listen, had to make things, you had to build things in your mind. Movies do that. Television is something else again. Television lays it all out there in a very prescribed way and the bare minimum of imagination on the part of the viewer is needed and I really fear for all of us.
- Harlan Ellison Interview in 1979, quoted in The Online Copywriter's Handbook (2002) by Robert W. Bly, p. 19
- We are in the process of seeing the fulfillment of Edgar Allen Poe's prophecy in which the painter, impassioned by his mistress-model and also by his art, "did not want to see that the colors he spread on his canvas were taken from the cheeks of the woman seated beside him. And when several weeks had passed, and very little remained to be done, nothing but a stroke on the mouth and a glaze over the eye, the mistress’s spirit still flickered like the flame at the base of a lamp. Then he put on the final touch, put the glaze in place, and for a moment the painter stood in ecstasy before the work he had finished. But a moment later, he was struck with panic, and shouting with a piercing voice: ‘It is truly Life itself,’ he suddenly turned around to look at his mistress. She was dead." Nothing ever constrains us to face what is dying when we see it so alive in our images.
- Jacques Ellul, The Humiliation of the Word (1981), J. Hanks, trans. (1985), p. 208
- The word, although prevalent in our day, has lost its reasoning value, and has value only as an accessory to images. In turn, the word actually evokes images. But it does not evoke the direct images related to my personal experience. Rather, it calls up images from the newspaper or television. The key words in our modern vocabulary ... are stripped of all rational content, so they evoke only visions that whisk us away to some enchanted universe. Saying "fascism," "progress," "science," or "justice" does not suggest any idea or produce any reflection. It only causes a fanfare of images to explode within us: a sort of fireworks of visual commonplaces, which link up very precisely with each other. These related images provide me with practical content: a common truth that is especially easy to swallow because the ready-made images that showed it to me had been digested in advance.
- Jacques Ellul, The Humiliation of the Word (1981), J. Hanks, trans. (1985), p. 210
- 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.
- Television is just another appliance- It's just a toaster with pictures.
- Television, the drug of the Nation, Breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.
Where imagination is sucked out of children by a cathode ray nipple. T.V. is the only wet nurse that would create a cripple
- Michael Franti,Television drug of the nation, from Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury, by Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, 1991 
- Phil saw television as a marvelous teaching tool. There would be no excuse of illiteracy. Parents could learn along with their children. News and sporting events could be seen as they were happening. Symphonies would mean more when one could see the musicians as they played, and movies would be seen in our own living rooms. He said there would be a time when we would be able to see and learn about people in other lands. If we understood them better, differences could be settled around conference tables, without going to war.
- 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, as quoted in A Companion to Television, Wasko, Janet (2005) Blackwell Publishing. Page 9.
- I know very well the sorts of pressures you're under in television. I don't work in television anymore myself, but I'm constantly hearing from colleagues who present scripts to networks and are told, "The script is too complex. You have to keep it simple because the audience is dumb. You can make more money for the advertisers that way."
- Michael Haneke as interviewed by Richard Porton, "Collective Guilt and Individual Responsibility: An Interview with Michael Haneke," Cineaste, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Winter 2005), pp. 50-51
- Our perception of the truth is determined by what appears on the screen. If an event is never broadcast, it somehow never happened. The electronic image is the word of God. The corporate state controls most of what is seen and heard on television, what ideas and events can be discussed in the mainstream media and what orthodoxies, including neoliberalism and the war industry, must never be questioned. We suffer an intellectual tyranny as pervasive as that imposed by fascism and communism.
- Like the invention of indoor plumbing. It didn’t change people’s habits. It just kept them inside the house.
- One of television’s great contributions is that it brought murder back into the home, where it belongs.
- Seeing a murder on television can … help work off one’s antagonisms. And if you haven’t any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.
- In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery. It is difficult to believe that general artistic culture can flourish in this atmosphere of passivity.
- News is not at all an easy thing to do on television. A good many of the main news items are not easily made visual — therefore we have the problem of giving news with the same standards that the corporation has built up in sound.
- Television is simultaneously blamed, often by the same people, for worsening the world and for being powerless to change it.
- When you're young, you look at television and think, There's a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that's not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That's a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It's the truth.
- Steve Jobs, Interview in WIRED magazine (February 1996)
- On the big screen they showed us a sun
But not as bright in life as the real one
It's never quite the same as the real one.
- Elton John "Grey Seal" from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- The new values transmitters are the television producers, the movie moguls, the fashion advertisers, the gangsta rappers, and a host of other players within the electronic media-cultural complex. ... These trend-setters exert an extremely powerful hold on our culture and our children in particular, and they often have had little or no sense of responsibility for the harmful values they are purveying.
- Joe Lieberman, In a lecture at the University of Notre Dame, Awake! magazine, April 8, 2000; "Are Morals Worse Than Before?"
- The culture is unchallenged as the standard setter, and the child’s sense of right and wrong and his priorities in life are shaped primarily by what he learns from the television, the movie screen and the CD player.
- Joe Lieberman, In a lecture at the University of Notre Dame, Awake! magazine, April 8, 2000; "Are Morals Worse Than Before?"
- Television encourages separation: people from community, people from each other, people from themselves, creating more buying units and discouraging organized opposition to the system. It creates a surrogate community: Itself. It becomes everyone’s intimate advisor, teacher and guide to appropriate behavior and awareness. Thereby, it becomes its own feedback system, furthering its own growth and accelerating the transformation of everything and everyone into artificial form. This enables a handful of people to obtain a unique degree of power.
- I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.
- Groucho Marx, as quoted in Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion (1984) by Leslie Halliwell
- Thanks to television, for the first time the young are seeing history made before it is censored by their elders.
- Margaret Mead, as quoted by Robert P. Doyle (1993) Banned Books Week '93: celebrating the freedom to read. American Library Association. p. 62
- I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you—and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.
- Newton N. Minow, FCC Chairman, May 9, 1961 ; republished by Minow in Equal Time (1964), p. 52.
- Hollywood, television and film is not my prime area of interest. Because I would never have any control, working in those areas. It’s nice to get the money from a Hollywood project, but whatever they do with it, it would be their piece of work, and not mine.
- Television may represent a threat to our culture analogous to the threat of atomic weapons to our civilization.
- I haven't had a TV in 10 years, and I really don't miss it. 'Cause it's always so much more fun to be with people than it ever was to be with a television.
- Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object.
- Unless and until there is unmistakable proof to the contrary, the presumption must be that television is and will be a main factor in influencing the values and moral standards of our society.
- Pilkington Report, Great Britain, Committee on Broadcasting (1960), Report (Command paper 1753) (1962), chapter 3, p. 15, 19.
- Television does not, and cannot, merely reflect the moral standards of society. It must affect them, either by changing or by reinforcing them.
- Pilkington Report, Great Britain, Committee on Broadcasting (1960), Report (Command paper 1753) (1962), chapter 3, p. 15, 19.
- Those who say they give the public what it wants begin by underestimating public taste, and end by debauching it.
- Pilkington Report, quoting an unknown source. Great Britain, Committee on Broadcasting, 1960, Report (Command paper 1753) (1962), chapter 3, p. 17.
- Television. An advanced technical method of stopping people from making their own entertainment.
- Leonard Rossiter, English comic actor. ‘...To Rossiter’, The Devil’s Bedside Book, Hamlyn paperbacks (1980) p. 46
- How can you put out a meaningful drama when every fifteen minutes proceedings are interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits with toilet paper?
- Rod Serling, Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval (October 1997), American Masters (PBS: Thirteen/WNET)
- On the Twilight Zone I knew I could get away with having Martians say things Republicans and Democrats couldn't.
- Rod Serling, Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval (October 1997), American Masters
- For the first time in television a writer will have the opportunity to let his imagination take him where ever he wants to. The sky is no longer the limit.
- Rod Serling in Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval (October 1997), American Masters
- My favourite show is The Sopranos. Movies would never have let [David Chase] do that ending. There would have been repercussions. They would have stopped promoting it a certain way and would have said ‘hmm, we tested it and it’s not doing so well, half the audience hates it’, that kind of stuff. But on TV everybody watched it. They might have hated it, but they all watched it and it was up to Chase to decide the ending. He had that freedom.
- Watching violence in movies or in TV programs stimulates the spectators to imitate what they see much more than if seen live or on TV news. In movies, violence is filmed with perfect illumination, spectacular scenery, and in slow motion, making it even romantic. However, in the news, the public has a much better perception of how horrible violence can be, and it is used with objectives that do not exist in the movies.
- There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to The Outer Limits.
- I think TV is sometimes more creatively satisfying because, you know, every week, like say on Samurai Jack, we were able to do something new and different. We really challenged ourselves. Oh, this week, we're going to fight zombies, and so, we'll do a real scary one. The next week, we're going to do a rave, and so we'll do it not as scary and just do more focusing on the dancing and the music. So, that was really fun creatively, but then the speed makes you suffer, because we have to go so fast. We have limited budgets, and so, we just go as fast as we can. Everything that we do is really our first instinct.
- One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
- Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.
- And I'm not saying that television is vulgar and dumb because the people who compose Audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests.
- I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.
- TV is a drug, and we as a nation have become hooked.
- Kenny Werner, Effortless Mastery (1996, pp. 16)
- What do you get from a glut of TV?
A pain in the neck and an IQ of three
Why don't you try simply reading a book?
Or can you just not bear to look?
- I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see 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.
- Television will enormously enlarge the eye's range, and, like radio, will advertise the Elsewhere. Together with the tabs, the mags, and the movies, it will insist that we forget the primary and the near in favor of the secondary and the remote.
- I kind of treat moviemaking and TV like the Army, and I kind of always have. Whoever is in charge, is in charge, and if they're going to march you up a hill and get you all killed, that's what you do. You march up that hill. You have to respect that, you have to respect that chain of command. I've done it under directors I believed in, I've done it under directors I didn't believe in. I've done it with executives and on projects.
- Except for ... people with enough power to tell the studio ‘I’m going to make a movie about dreams and there’s nothing you can do about it,’ ... everything else is driven by marketing, entirely by marketing.
- I may be vile and pernicious
But you can't look away
I make you think I'm delicious
With the stuff that I say
I'm the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I'm the slime oozin' out
From your TV set.
“In America, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions of a quite different roder from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us. What is happening here is that television is altering the meaning of 'being informed' by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. I am using this world almost in the precise sense in which it is used by spies in the CIA or KGB. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information--misplace, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information--information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing. In saying this, I do not mean to imply that television news deliberately aims to deprive Americans of a coherent, contextual understanding of their world. I mean to say that when news is packaged as entertainment, that is the inevitable result. And in saying that the television news show entertains but does not inform, I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”
― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business