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Quotations about Television
and Watching TV



SEE ALSO:  SCREEN-FREE WEEK CINEMA & ACTING RADIO TECHNOLOGY ADVERTISING BOOKS & READING LEISURE


The best thing on television the other night was a meadowlark on my neighbor's antenna. ~William D. Tammeus, in the Kansas City Star, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1981


Even the bad of television has its good: the worse the program is for children, the quieter it keeps them. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all...
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out...
~Roald Dahl, "Mike Teavee is Sent by Television," Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964


They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotized by it...
~Roald Dahl, "Mike Teavee is Sent by Television," Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964


I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts. ~Orson Welles (1915–1985)


Watching television is dosing one's self with great jugs of that modern Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The spice of life," A View from the Hill, 1957  [a little altered —tg]


I have seen some good things on TV, but watching it now and then is not the same thing as the indiscriminate gluing of the eye to the screen that some people do all day, all night, using up time that goes by and will never come again... I think such addiction to the screen is a crime against life itself... ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The spice of life," A View from the Hill, 1957


On cable TV, they have a weather channel — 24 hours of weather. We had something like that where I grew up. We called it a window. ~Dan Spencer


Media is much more than just television, but TV's influence is disproportionate. All television is "educational television." The only question is, "What is it teaching?" ~Nicholas Johnson, "Media Literacy," 1997


I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go into the library and read a good book. ~Groucho Marx, 1950  [quoteinvestigator.com]


I love to watch football on TV, and I will tell you exactly why: I have no idea.... Whatever the attraction is, a lot of women seem to be immune to it. I have seen women walk right past a TV set with a football game on and — this always amazes me — not stop to watch, even if the TV is showing replays of what guys call a "good hit," which is a tackle that causes at least one major internal organ to actually fly out of a player's body. The average guy cannot ignore something of this importance. ~Dave Barry, "Fools For Football," 1994, in The Baltimore Sun, davebarry.com


T.V. is changing the American child from an irresistible force to an immovable object. ~Author unknown, as quoted by Dick Morrow, 1959


A soap opera is a television serial about a family that never spends its time watching a television serial. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!

~Roald Dahl, "Mike Teavee is Sent by Television," Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964


It costs only a penny an hour to operate your TV set, and there are times when it's worth it. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)


And there is no question but that you can't sustain a mood, a dramatic mood of any particular kind, when at the end of the climactic moment of the scene, out come a couple of dancing rabbits with toilet paper. ~Rod Serling, as quoted in Teaching Literature to Adolescents: Plays by Alan B. Howes, 1968  [Another version: "How can you put on a meaningful drama or documentary that is adult, incisive, probing, when every fifteen minutes the proceedings are interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper?" ~Rod Serling, speech at Ithaca College, as quoted by The Reader's Digest, 1982 —tg]


Kids don't remember their best day of television. ~Author unknown


One nation
under God
has turned into
one nation
under the influence
of one drug —
television, the drug of the nation
breeding ignorance and feeding radiation...
~Michael Franti and Mark Pistel, "Television, the Drug of the Nation," Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, 1992 ♫


Parents have to realize that there is a stranger in your house. If you came home and you found a strange man… teaching your kids to punch each other, or trying to sell them all kinds of products, you'd kick him right out of the house. But here you are — you come in and the TV is on, and you don't think twice about it. ~Jerome Singer


Television is a medium of entertainment, and a tedium of advertising. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all. ~Joey Adams, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1991


Time has convinced me of one thing. Television is for appearing on, not looking at. ~Noël Coward, 1956


Grandmother: A babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television set. ~Jackie Kannon


Early to bed and early to rise makes a man not watch TV. ~Student at Brookside School, Long Island, 1966, completing the first part of the proverb as given by Candid Camera, CBS


If you surveyed a hundred typical middle-aged Americans, I bet you'd find that only two of them could tell you their blood types, but every last one of them would know the theme song from "The Beverly Hillbillies." Right? ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40, 1990, davebarry.com


The human race is faced with a cruel choice:  work, or daytime television. ~Author unknown


After about two hours of steady bed rest and television, the world always looks a little better. After about ten hours, it always looks a lot worse. ~The Wonder Years, "The Phone Call," 1988, written by A. Scott Frank  [S1, E5, Narrator Kevin]


What used the darling ones to do?...
Before this monster was invented?...
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed TO READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
~Roald Dahl, "Mike Teavee is Sent by Television," Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964


Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new type program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was.  ~Art Buchwald, "Adding Insult to Injury," Have I Ever Lied to You?, 1966


Never trust anyone whose television is larger than their bookshelf. ~Author unknown


I suppose I should get a VCR, but the only thing I like about television is its ephemerality. ~P. J. O'Rourke


We've seen so many detective serials we're beginning to suffer from private eyestrain. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)


The publishers and others should quit worrying about losing customers to TV. The guy who can sit through a trio of deodorant commercials to look at Flashgun Casey or swallow a flock of beer and loan-shark spiels in order to watch a couple of fourth-rate club fighters rub noses on the ropes is not losing any time from book reading. ~Raymond Chandler, 1946


Theatre is life. Cinema is art. Television is furniture. ~Author unknown


...whenever it's on it's like having somebody in my house that I want to get rid of and they won't leave. I hate the sound of it. All that noise and light coming from a piece of furniture. ~John Waters, interview, in Jon Winokur, Return of the Portable Curmudgeon, 1992, advicetowriters.com


It has also been whispered about that I hate television commercials. Once again I plead "not guilty." I love them. Oh, I readily admit that they are noisy, nauseating, ridiculous, dull, boring, and tasteless… but so are many other things... The difference — and herein lies the reason I love commercials — the difference is that one can turn them off. This is an epoch-making breakthrough. In the entire history of sadism, the television commercial is the only instance where Man has invented a torture and then provided the victim with a means of escape. What is interesting is that so few people avail themselves of the opportunity. ~Alfred Hitchcock, 1965


I have long thought, and still think, that radio is magic. Television is OK, but radio is magic. If television had been invented first and then radio had come along, people would think, "What a wonderful thing this radio is! It's like television except you don't have to look at it!" ~Charles Osgood, 1989


I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision we shall discover either a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television — of that I am quite sure. ~E. B. White, 1938


You can always enjoy television if you have a big enough screen: just put the screen in front of your television set. ~20,000 Quips & Quotes, Evan Esar, 1968


So long as there's a jingle in your head, television isn't free. ~Jason Love, jasonlove.com


He hadn't written in years. Magazines and books didn't sell any more. Everything went on in the tomblike houses at night now, he thought, continuing his fancy. The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them. ~Ray Bradbury, The Golden Apples of the Sun, 1953


Then I went in and shot the televisor, 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... ~Ray Bradbury, The Golden Apples of the Sun, 1953


Sometimes I think my life would make a great TV movie. It even has the part where they say, "Stand by. We are experiencing temporary difficulties." ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Television, like all new arts, when they are new, is having to work its passage to respectability... The cultists of radio held that there was a purity in their medium absent in television. Nor is their claim foolish: radio drama was, and remains, unlike anything else; the wireless liberated poets and writers to an imaginative articulation which does not quite resemble, yet can sometimes give rise to, literature... The radio listener is provoked to a fruitful participation, as a good reader is... One need but cite the early plays of Harold Pinter, who seemed to write in a dark script of "negative meaning" which lurked in the silences between his lines. Words, isolated in the velvet of radio, took on a jewelled particularity. Television has quite the opposite effect: words are drowned in the visual soup in which they are obliged to be served. ~Frederic Raphael, "The Language of Television," in The State of the Language, ed. Leonard Michaels and Christopher Ricks, 1980


When television came roaring in after the war they did a little school survey asking children which they preferred and why — television or radio. And there was this seven-year-old boy who said he preferred radio "because the pictures were better." ~Alistair Cooke, unverified


If it weren't for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we'd still be eating frozen radio dinners. ~Johnny Carson, unverified


Without Edison we'd be watching TV by candlelight. ~Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980), marshallmcluhan.com


So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
~Roald Dahl, "Mike Teavee is Sent by Television," Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964


Anyone who buys your book has plenty of problems in his or her life. You have no moral right to disturb them unless you also entertain them. Art is moral passion married to entertainment. Moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and entertainment without moral passion is television. ~Rita Mae Brown, Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers' Manual, 1988, ritamaebrownbooks.com


I wasn't satisfied with "Stuart Little" on TV, but I didn't expect to be... It is the fixed purpose of television and motion pictures to scrap the author, sink him without a trace, on the theory that he is incompetent, has never read his own stuff, is not responsible for anything he ever wrote, and wouldn't know what to do about it even if he were. ~E. B. White, letter, 1966


TV... where image takes precedence over wisdom... ~Michael Franti and Mark Pistel, "Television, the Drug of the Nation," Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, 1992 ♫


I could have been a doctor, but there were too many good shows on TV. ~Jason Love, jasonlove.com


The great thing about television is that if something important happens anywhere in the world, day or night, you can always change the channel. ~Author unknown


ad infinitum  Television commercials on "The Late Show." ~Leonard Louis Levinson, Webster's Unafraid Dictionary, 1967


The same media people that claim violence on TV doesn't influence people, are perfectly willing to sell you advertising time. ~Author unknown


Of course, some teen-age laughter is the result of sheer excess of energy. Consider the closely related problem of giggling. Two fourteen-year-old girls in a classroom can keep each other amused almost indefinitely just by exchanging covert glances. Three girls in a group can readily reduce themselves to semi-hysteria and can produce laughter of the sort that television considers valuable enough to record on tape for further use. ~Gerald Raftery, "In Defense of Teen-Age Humor," in The Clearing House, May 1960


      We cannot blame the schools alone for that dismal decline in SAT verbal scores. Your teachers are working hard. The drop shows that we haven't taken the time to read to our kids, to talk with them, to teach them the art of communication, how to think, how to write, how to speak clearly.
      What happens at home really matters. And when our kids come home from school, do they pick up a book or do they sit glued to the tube watching music videos? Parents: Don't make the mistake of thinking your kids only learn from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You are, and always will be, their first teachers. ~George H. W. Bush, 1991


The relationship between television and the politician should be at arm's length; the eye of the camera should pursue the politician to the very limits of privacy and decency. When the politicians complain, as they have in several countries, that television turns their proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that television has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained. ~Edward R. Murrow, 1959  [found on QuoteInvestigator.com]


Television brings us to another accusation I should like to refute. We often hear the criticism that there is too much violence. Screen producers need not be told that television violence is very much like an iceberg. Only a small fraction of it is visible on the screen. The public should see what goes on behind the scenes. ~Alfred Hitchcock, 1965


But the point is that one of television's greatest contributions is that it brought murder back into the home where it belongs. Seeing a murder on television can be good therapy. It can help work off one's antagonism. And, if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some. ~Alfred Hitchcock, 1965


Why are sex and violence always linked? I'm afraid they'll blur together in people's minds — sexandviolence — until we can't tell them apart. I expect to hear a newscaster say, "The mob became unruly and the police were forced to resort to sex." ~Dick Cavett, 1978


Sex on television can't hurt you unless you fall off. ~Author unknown


The cable TV sex channels don't expand our horizons, don't make us better people, and don't come in clearly enough. ~Bill Maher, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 2005





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