I have zero intentions on making this site anywhere near politically minded; I myself try to stay away from political arguments which always permeate my friend-o-sphere during election time. Until a time comes when we have a political figure that actually stirs me and makes me believe what he or she is serving up, I’ll not back any party. I believe the biggest changes in our lives are not in the hands of the politicians, but of the people. We all just need to stop complaining about everyone else and realize we have the power to change things ourselves.
The point of this little message is, though I didn’t watch the political debates (It was my boy’s birthday and after he went to bed, Supernatural Season 8 was premiering, so as you can imagine, I was preoccupied), I heard about a lot of points afterwards on Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. One of the points that disturbed me is Mitt Romney’s plan to cut funding for PBS. This will not do.
PBS is underfunded as it is. Shows my generation (Gen X) grew up on were well-beloved by not only us (just look at damned near 60% of the shows of the 70’s & 80’s getting reboots), but our parents. This was not only because of the quality of programming, but of the quality of the people creating the programming. None of the shows were thinly veiled toy commercials like they are now. I only remember there being a couple plush muppets being sold in stores (I had a Super Grover). But over the years, productions costs have soared and PBS, normally run on grants and public funding, have been forced to sell merchandise and licensed products to make money. This has taken its toll on the amount of money they have to retain and produce quality programs. Still, you won’t see (many) commercials or product placement during their shows, certainly not in the middle of Sesame Street. But that’s what Romney wants.
PBS currently only gets 15% of its funding from the Government and they had to fight to get even that much. Now this guy wants to cut that down. He doesn’t see the problem with throwing product placement and commercials into the faces of our children or during stirring documentaries they air (which I’m a fan of). Could you imagine a Pepsi commercial thrown in your face right in the middle of the pensive, dulcet tones of Carl Sagan soaring through the universe with you on Cosmos? Well, it may happen during the planned Cosmos sequel to be hosted by everyone’s favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. That’d be like going to take a leak and having some throw an alligator clamp on your urethra mid-stream. Painful.
I’m not here to tell you what to do or how to vote. As this is mine, your opinion is yours.
However, if you’re reading this website, I imagine that you’re somewhat of the same mindset as me and I hope you’ll take this into consideration.
As a nerd, I support PBS. It’s the first and last frontier of truly good and educational programming on television. I wouldn’t know as much as I do about science, the world, its people, as I do now if I didn’t have it growing up. Sesame Street helped tutor me on numbers, letters, and different cultures before I started school and during those early years. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood helped affirm what my mother had told me, that I was and could be a good person, that who I am mattered, that it was okay to be different and that those differences made me special and unique. The Electric Company helped me learn better grammar and reading skills, AND was the first to introduce me to Spider-Man, who would go on to become my favorite superhero. Once all that was sinking in, Reading Rainbow kept the fire to read and fuel my imagination stoked and burning. By this time I was also enraptured by science shows which began with 3-2-1 Contact and as I got older, moved on to Nova, and Cosmos, where Carl Sagan introduced me to not only the universe, but the philosophy and theory of the science inherent in it, as well as my place and personal responsibility to it.
As a father I support it for the same reasons that I loved it as a child. Whereas I do not want to raise my son on as much TV as I watched as a child, in this day and age, it’s hard to keep your child media-free. Some could argue that it’s detrimental to their social development. Regardless, I can still choose what my child watches and I prefer to keep the channel locked on 13 (PBS in the NYC area).
The best thing about PBS is that it isn’t ALL “educational” programming. PBS is also the network responsible for introducing me to Doctor Who, Monty Python, Sherlock Holmes on Masterpiece Theater, Fawlty Towers among other BBC staples. These days it STILL shows them, including the “New Who” and the incredible new incarnation of Holmes, “Sherlock” again on M.T., and the drama that you have trouble admitting you love, “Downtown Abbey”. It also has “Austin City Limits“, an amazing musical performer showcase that introduced me to SO many amazing musicians. Some of the guest they’ve had run the gamut of legendary acts, artists like the Pixies, R.E.M., David Byrne, Johnny Cash, Cat Power, Beck, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen…I could really go on and on. More recently they’ve been featuring a lot of contemporary artists as well.
Were it not for PBS, I would not be the person I am today. I like the person I am today. For the most post, haha.
So, I’ll ask you a favor. Do whatever you can to support the Public Broadcasting Service. Whether it be something as simple as writing an email to your congressman, donating on their support page, or just spreading the word. Maybe even something more complicated like volunteering or helping out during their fundraisers, maybe even holding your own fundraiser.
Most importantly right now, no matter whom you vote for in the upcoming election. Just make certain you are vocal in reminding them that there are countless resources that the government pours money into (*cough* POLITICIANS SALARIES*cough*) that could be cut. PBS funding should not be touched and should be taken off the table, as with any educational funding.
If you’ve read this far, thank you, truly and sincerely,
Christopher Lee Mannix