Television as a Religion

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What defines a religion? In my mind, there are no clean boundaries between different religions so creating a broad definition may not work. Is it more or less than:

  • Religions have a conception of a primary religious experience
  • Religions also have scriptures or stories that are collectively understood and passed down in the form of text or stories
  • Religions have shared rituals and traditions that are shared by all participants

Can you stretch your conception of television culture to classify it as a religion? Maybe not in the sense that the folks doing the actual watching consider it a religion, but there certainly are some similarities.

And on the anti-television side of things, how many of you, the fine readers of Our Thoughts, have dropped TV completely?

13 thoughts on “Television as a Religion

  1. All things in moderation…24, House, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, The Daily Show, The Office, Earl, American Experience, Austin City Limits, Call for Help….

    Moderation! I’m workin’ on that principle. Kids only watch on Saturday mornings and the TV is usually off until after the kids are in bed. My wife spends most nights marking schoolwork. I tune in just for those shows…not before or after and I only watch a few religiously(every week). I’m blaming it on the long winters up here, that’s my story. Ha!

  2. TV was presented as a religion in an 80’s film called Videodrome where people worshipped at the Church of the Cathode Ray. The premise of the film was that a signal could be sent via televesion that warped people’s sense of reality so they could be manipulated in some sort of mind control something or other, not sure what. Part of the underlying premise of the film was that violence and pornographic imagery was a means of controlling the audience.

  3. I believe there are a lot of similarities between religion and TV-watching. There are certainly some cultish aspects to watching television (weekly observance, mid-week topical study, etc).

    When our daughter was born, we spent about 2-3 years without any TV.

  4. When I was little we had a Family Council about TV and the kids out-voted the parents on whether or not to have a TV. So majority ruled and we got rid of our TV. My parents really missed it. They visited their parents often to get their fix. My Mom comprimised and justified a small black-and-white TV a couple of years later “for Seseme Street for the kids.” It has come and gone in our house over the past 20 years. I’ve seen a TV thrown out of the house into the snow and TVs hid in the quanset and in the basement in a closet. I do think it has a great potential for influencing social change. Is it a religion? (The opium of the masses?) I think it’s Neutral…but some people worship it and it runs their life.
    On the positive side it provides great opportunity to instill critical thinking abilities in your children. (Will whiter teeth really make someone like you more?)
    My sisters and I talk about it and we like the social and time resources we had from growing up with no TV. We didn’t miss out on popular culture either. (That would be very difficult to do.)
    Last night I enjoyed playing chess with my roommate while we watch CSI. Which one? All of them. They are all great. I watched Corner Gas for the first time yesturday.
    I can see Mary’s point. It was funny and it took my mind of my despair at not finding The Hour.

  5. I am a Lethbrigde-ian. Jeff brought us some fame last night on The Hour. Did you see it?

  6. That is cool. Hopefully I get to meet you sometime.
    And Rick, I specifically wrote Lethbridge-ian to avoid the whole leth-bian thing. Being a woman I don’t want to have someone assume I have a lisp and that I love my roommate as more than “just a friend.”

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