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Idiot Box

6 December, 2010

So I read Charlie and the Chocolate factory the other day. Its a great little book, even for a twenty-something. I had a lot of favorite parts, including when Mr. Wonka calls Mrs. Salt an “old fish” and then commands her to boil her head, haha.

Also, the Oompa-Loompas sing a song after each of the kids does something stupid and is forced to end to the tour of the Chocolate factory.  After little Mike Teavee, the TV addict, gets digitized and shrunk, the Oompa-Loompas sing this song:

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.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotized by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
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!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
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.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.


I think this song is pretty awesome.  It should be on MTV and then we might be able to understand it.

Note: I am not against the TV.  I love Auburn football and I live in Africa.  I obviously have an appreciation for the Idiot Box.  And sometimes I want to be an idiot for a little while, especially for 3.5hrs on Saturdays in the Fall.  War Eagle.  SEC Champs!

I just think Roald Dahl has some very keen observations on the TV, and this book was written in 1964. Nineteen Sixty Four!!  Can you believe that was almost 50 years ago?!  How very far our society has come since then eh?  Now the computer screens have their own Idiot Box status.  Note: I am especially guilty of that accusation.  Big idiot.  Right here.


God Bless!  Read the Bible. Watch your life change; More entertaining than Discovery Channel.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    6 December, 2010 16:55

    You know how I feel about the idiot box!!!!! I sometimes listen to AU games on the radio and use my inagination to “see the play”. As I was listening to the the final seconds of the first half of the SEC game (while parking in the library parking lot), the excitement and surprise of heairng them announce the “miracle hail mary pass” was even more intense b/c I was not watching..only listening.
    I am reading a book now called Outcasts United about a soccer team of refugee children from all parts of Africa and the Middle East. There is alot of stuff in it about DRC b/c children have come from there because of the atrocities of the civil war. This refugee camp is actually just down the road in Cartersville, GA. I never even heard of it until now, but apprently it’s been there since the 1990’s.

  2. Philip permalink
    24 December, 2010 19:07

    Stumbled across your blog. Great post.

    Right now I’m (attempting to be) an English teacher, and I feel the books-versus-television sentiment down in my bones!

    To push the point further: I remember my father reading Roald Dahl to me when I was a kid, and I loved it. But American culture is losing the practice of reading corporally as well, and of telling stories orally. Too sad. It’ll be our generation’s turn to decide what to do about that in the coming decades….

    Merry Christmas, and I look forward to reading more on your blog.

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