Television--The Breakthrough Invention

Delta Winds cover 2009Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


Television--The Breakthrough Invention

Matt Fernandes

It has been said that one great television show can change the world. With the ever-growing American culture, I believe this statement to be true. The television is a gateway into worlds we may never see, a portal to endless journeys and struggles we may never experience. Since the invention of the television, the minds of human beings have been transformed into something beyond exceptional. Television shows can possess educational value and can be entertaining, but most important can offer a guiding voice to those who watch and listen.

If you were to ask the average person "Do you watch the news? Are you following the presidential campaign?" most would answer yes. But these campaign updates comprise only a small percentage of the educational lessons television has to offer. Those viewers with the luxury of a satellite can witness the teachings of "Survivor Man," a television show on the Discovery Channel that depicts a man traveling around the world finding ways to live off the land. Personally, I think this show is great. In a way, "Survivor Man" has been able to teach us that we can live without a cell phone to call for help. Everything we need is right in front of us, even if it does mean having to swallow the occasional bug. "Survivor Man" is just one of the shows that the Discovery Channel has to offer. A show called "Myth Busters," well, busts myths. By using scientific experiments, these people tackle some of the most outrageous stories we have heard growing up, from combining the ever-dangerous "Pepsi and pop rocks poison" to the famous "Yawns are contagious." Although what these myth-busters are solving may seem a little childish, some hypotheses that they do test are fascinating. One in particular interesting finding was that plants do seem to flourish when classical music is played. The Discovery Channel is just one channel out of hundreds that has proven to be a great source of education.

To the average American, television is a way to escape. There is a very high percentage of people who relax by reclining in the armchair and watching their favorite show, which sometimes deals with humor. Nothing beats a great laugh. One show that achieves this is "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." There are four parts to this show. O'Brien will begin with a very funny monologue. This can be about, and usually is about, the daily news, such as the Super Bowl. He then moves into skits that are not only hysterical but also commendable. Because "Late Night" is a network show, foul language is banned, but that's ok because O'Brien and his writers are unique. They don't need to swear to get the joke out. They have an exceptional sense of humor. The third part of the show is interviewing celebrity guests. I enjoy this segment because I learn things about people that I would not normally have known. The final part of this great show is the musical guest. Many bands have made their first television debut on this show and have since become great musicians. In a way, television has become that connection everybody wants. It's a way of getting heard.

Arguing that television is educational and entertaining has been overused. The most important quality of television has been overlooked, the ability to change a person's thinking strategy. To categorize everything on television into either Good or Bad is wrong. To inspire hope into the viewer is a gift. The ability to help others visualize a positive concept or idea is a blessing. A show that comes to mind is "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Many people watch Oprah because she has the ability to help us grow as a people. Instead of pointing out the faults and problems and condemning us for them, she provides ways to help us fix them. Numerous doctors and authors on her show lend credibility to what she is saying. As a result of Oprah's efforts, the viewer can be changed from seeing the glass half empty to the glass half full. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" has shaped the way we see life. Other shows that have been known to do this are young children's shows, such as "Barney" and "Sesame Street." Just as a book can teach us morals and lessons, so can television. Just as a film or book has the potential to inspire, so does television.

In conclusion, the television is a great technological achievement that has the characteristics of a person. Some shows are funny, powerful and inspiring; others are just not worth watching. Although television has a bad reputation, it really is a wonderful tool, bringing into our living room a whole other world.