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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Does TV make the world a better place?

Complaining about television is practically a fact of life. So much so that while critics and fans alike can and do single out individual shows for praise, the general consensus seems to be that, in the words of Bart Simpson, TV sucks — and what’s more, with the rise of the Internet, TV is dead. I was startled, then, to come across an essay by Vanessa Richmond at AlterNet called “TV Is Not Dead: 3 Ways Television Makes the World a Better Place.”

Richmond’s three things? She deems TV prejudice-busting (“I mean, what’s better? Telling people not to be racist, or making Cliff and Claire Huxtable into characters no one can resist: funny, successful, smart and quirky?”), thought-provoking and discussion-creating (“there’sWeeds, which questions mainstream assumptions about suburbia and about the marijuana trade, and also asks questions about what it is to be a good parent”), and behavior-changing (“when women in Brazil get access to TV… that access has the same effect on birth rates as two more years of education… because of the glamorized portrayal of female characters with few children”).
Richmond isn’t pretending that TV is all good, but her points are provocative. What do you think? Does TV make the world a better place?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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