Ray Bradbury on tv and ‘the people’

žižkov tower žižkovská věž

Žižkovská věž


This morning I read an article from last week’s LA Weekly about Ray Bradbury. The article was entitled “Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 misinterpreted”.

I read Fahrenheit 451 while I was in high school many years ago. I liked it, but I don’t think I understood it. It just seemed like good science fiction, but – come on – why would they really burn books in the USA?

We were taught, and most people think, that the book is about government censorship. Ray Bradbury says that it is not. And the things he says the book is about are certainly more threatening than government censorship.

Fahrenheit 451, according to Bradbury, is about television destroying people’s interest in reading. The people themselves are at fault for not reading, and the state only begins burning books because people no longer want them.

Bradbury’s book, then, was prophetic.

Most Americans did not have televisions when Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, and those who did watched 7-inch screens in black and white. Interestingly, his book imagined a future of giant color sets — flat panels that hung on walls like moving paintings. And television was used to broadcast meaningless drivel to divert attention, and thought, away from an impending war.

People do still read, although not as many people read as much. Americans average about 4.5 hours per day of television; other nations are not that far behind. I have stated my belief over and over – television is evil and it makes people stupid.

The LA Weekly article outlines Bradbury’s views of television news, which mostly have to do with how it has no substance at all.

“Useless,” Bradbury says. “They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full.”

And the government is not to blame in this case, although it would be wrong to say that they are not happy to take advantage of the situation. But the people have to take responsibility for their own stupidity, and we have something very important to learn from Bradbury’s message.

The mindless entertainment – we don’t have to watch it. The television news that has no substance – we don’t have to accept it. We can demand more or, even better, we can not turn on our televisions. Everyone that really cares about the news knows that the internet is a much better source. But the problem is that television has already done its dirty work, the people have made their choice, they have been sucked in and they don’t have any desire to get out.

The article is here.


4 Responses to Ray Bradbury on tv and ‘the people’

  1. Evil da Pig says:

    No surprises. Every television broadcaster (with possible exception of PBS) exists for only one purpose. To make money. This goes for the news channels as well. They aren’t bringing you news reports out of the goodness of their hearts, they are trying to find out what news to tell you and how to tailor to get you to watch them so that they can amass as much of an audience for their advertisers as possible.

    And speaking of news in general, no matter what our source, it’ll be biased so the best thing you can do is get news from as many sources as possible and digest it yourself.

  2. Heddy says:

    I agree,

    I’ve noticed that Australia differs to the UK quite considerably. I know that the BBC is probably just as guilty of this form of news ‘tailoring’ as others, but I still think that it is a far superior form of news broadcasting to that in Australia.

    Here I hear virtually no news about international issues, except perhaps New Zealand. I hear sensationalised reports about murders, transport accidents etc that seem to take over all news stations for extended periods of time.

    I also regularly hear about how brilliant Australia and Australians are! Do any other countries have this almost insane need to self-congratulate on such a regular basis? (Pioneering australian, Record breaking australian etc)
    Maybe its just that british disinclination towards self-promotion?

    Also, I hear an almost 15 minute segment on a 30 minute news show about sport. (10 minutes of which is dedicated to Aussie Rules football). This I violently object to. I’m sure someone watches it, but honestly!!!

    I’ve found that the only way to be a truly informed global citizen is to regularly check in with several internet news sources. At least then I don’t feel like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

    I know I sort of digressed slightly there, but sorry.

    Rant over!

  3. Pivobud says:

    Best source of U.S. news on TV…The Daily Show with Jon Stewart…available free of charge via comedycentral.com.

    Sad that a comedian has to play the modern role of medieval court jester, but so it goes……

    Truly hilarious, thought provoking and eye opening show and will happily spend a large chunk of my 4.5 hours/day watching. 🙂

  4. Max says:

    I agree with all of you.

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