Who are we to argue with Anthony Kiedis, former mostly-nude drug addled madman extraordinaire, Red Hot Chili Peppers jefe, and sometime Freddy Mercury lookalike?
The Chilis’ classic early aught’s pop-rock jam exhorts listeners to “throw away your television” with an argument that boils down to “reruns are boring.” This is true but misleading, because there are far better reasons to free yourself from the telly’s suffocating embrace.
I. Construction of Unhealthy Norms
Television is an instrument of state and corporate-industrial-complex propaganda, which therefore promulgates a worldview conducive to the best interests of your society’s powerful institutions and groups. In many cases, this worldview will explicitly contradict your best interests as a man. If you expose yourself to the persistent socialization shown on sitcoms, the news, popular dramas, etc, your mentality will begin to bend towards the television’s unstated premise in a subtle and insidious fashion. There are very few truly iconoclastic role models and lifestyles shown on television today, and a near-total absence of ideas about how to live one’s life devoted to something other than consuming the maximum possible quantities of industrial products. 2
In other words, the Sultan will never suggest that you develop the skills to disrupt his economic system and thereby become independently wealthy, remove yourself from his low-paid labour force, and use your newfound free time to seduce his harem.
II. Observe Your Elders
Likely very few of the men you respect spend much time watching TV. If they do, it’s probably live sports or a single show on DVD/Netflix. For example, Bro Kaizen’s grandfather spends the overwhelming majority of his time reading, writing his memoirs, working in public service, and tooling around in his garden. He watches a single 30-minute programme, once per week—and this is a man with limited mobility and significant health problems, for whom it would surely be physically very comfortable to descend into a couch-potato existence of grim daytime soap-opera viewing.
Observe several exceptional men—most of them spend far less time in front of the television than the median male. This is not a cooincidence. One of Bro Kaizen’s modern role models, Arnold Schwarzenegger3, has the following to say about learning from your elders.
“My father was a country police officer. All he knew was discipline, performance, and work—not wasting your time. He came from an era where everything was scarce, so everything had to be useful… But it was from him that I got my work ethic.”
He also touches on time wasting, as per section III below. The quote is borrowed from an interview in Esquire, which contains a few of Arnold’s other bon mots. You’ll notice that at no point does he advocate sitting around lazily in front of the TV.
III. Money, Time, and Indolence
Television is expensive. The hardware costs might run to the high hundreds or low thousands of Euros for a big flat-panel display, and cable television costs in some countries as much as hundreds of Euros per month for a upper-middle tier package. You have better things to do with this money—such as investing it in appreciating assets that will contribute to your eventual financial independence.
Notably, the costs mentioned above do not account for the time spent on a TV habit. Overwhelmingly large piles of money have been spent to sculpt most programmes into expertly crafted attention magnets. It becomes progressively more difficult to extricate yourself from a series’ plotline and psychological effects once you’ve let it into your life. It will suck your hours away and you will barely notice they’re gone.
Lastly, consider the most pernicious effect of the television-watching lifestyle: chronic indolence. Television watching is designed to beget more television watching, and a weekend spent pissing away time on the sofa will sap your gumption more than any other experience. This effect is particularly dangerous because gumption is a man’s most precious resource.
IV. Exceptions and Counterpoint
We can also play the hypotheticals game—if Odysseus were alive today, would you find him parked in front of Modern Family? What about Michel de Montaigne? Winston Churchill? Obviously not.
Naturally there are counterexamples, and it isn’t hard to imagine the immortal bard savoring a laugh at Basil Fawlty’s expense or the often bawdy Chaucer relishing the unsubtle innuendos of Jersey Shore. But it is a stretch to propose that those men would make TV their primary pastime.
And of course if TV is a bonding experience with your buddies, it becomes something of a different animal. Male friendships are extremely important, and you must work to nurture them. But if all your friends do is lounge around and watch TV, you might need to re-evaluate the company you keep.
Parts of the religious media promulgate a broadly nonmaterialist ideology, but by the anthropic principle, any religious organization wealthy and powerful enough to control significant mindshare on broadcast television or the internet will replace commercial TV’s mantra of “Buy consumer goods!” with one similar in all but name, which might be summarized as “Pay your tithes and become tightly integrated into our religious organization’s social structure!”↩
All the usual caveats apply about Arnold’s abysmal acting abilities and thick accent. But he stands in the first tier of men who have done difficult things well and bettered themselves significantly in the process.↩