Revolution in a Box

December 22, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Jim Carter for this article from Foreign Policy.

It’s not Twitter or Facebook that’s reinventing the planet. Eighty years after the first commercial broadcast crackled to life, television still rules our world. And let’s hear it for the growing legions of couch potatoes: All those soap operas might be the ticket to a better future after all.

“The television,” science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury lamented in 1953, is “that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.” Bradbury wasn’t alone in his angst: Television has been as reviled as it has been welcomed since the first broadcasts began in 1928. Critics of television, from disgusted defenders of the politically correct to outraged conservative culture warriors, blame it for poor health, ignorance, and moral decline, among other assorted ills. Some go further: According to a recent fatwa in India, television is “nearly impossible to use … without a sin.” Last year, a top Saudi cleric declared it permissible to kill the executives of television stations for spreading sedition and immorality.

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