Timberlake: ‘Educational’ television fails to educate

Ian Timberlake

Behold: the recently or currently running TV programs from The Learning Channel, The History Channel and The Discovery Channel, respectively:

“19 Kids and Counting,” “America’s Worst Tattoos,” “Breaking Amish: Brave New World,” “Breaking Amish: Los Angeles,” “Cake Boss,” “Cheer Perfection,” “DC Cupcakes,” “Extreme Cheapskates,” “Extreme Cougar Wives,” “Extreme Couponing,” “Family S.O.S,” “Four Houses, Four Weddings,” “Gypsy Sisters,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” “I Found the Gown,” “Little Couple,” “Little People Big World: Wedding Farm,” “Long Island Medium,” “Mario & Courtney’s Wedding Fiesta,” “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding,” “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” “My Crazy Obsession,” “My First Home,” “My Strange Addiction,” “My Teen is Pregnant & So Am I,” “Next Great Baker,” “NYink,” “Randy to the Rescue,” “Say Yes To The Dress,” “Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta,” “Say Yes To The Dress: Bridesmaids,” “Secret Princess,” “Sister Wives,” “Something Borrowed Something New,” “Strange Sex,” “Take Charge of your Every Day,” “Toddlers & Tiaras,” “Virgin Diaries,” “Wedding Island,” “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” “What Not To Wear,” “Who Do You Think You Are — America The Story of Us,” “American Pickers,” American Restoration,” “Ax Men,” “Bamazon,” “The Bible,” “Big Rig Bounty Hunters,” “Bonnie & Clyde,” “Cajun Pawn Stars,” “Chasing Tail,” “Counting Cars,” “Counting Cars: After Hours,” “Gangland,” “Gettysburg,” “God Guns & Automobiles,” “Hatfields & McCoys,” “Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning,” “History Films,” “I love the 1880s,” “Ice Road Truckers Deadliest Roads,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man,” “Mankind the Story of Us,” “The Men Who Built America,” “Mountain Men,” “Only In America with Larry the Cable Guy,” “Outback Hunters,” “Pawn Stars,” “The Real Face of Jesus,” “Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe,” “Swamp People,” “Swamp People: After the Hunt,” “Top Gear America,” “Top Shots,” “The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents,” “Vietnam in HD,” “Vikings,” “WWII in HD,” “We’re the Fugawis — Gold Rush South America,” “Tickle,” “Porter Ridge,” “Jungle Gold,” “Amish Mafia,” “Airplane Repo,” “Shark Week,” “Fast N’ Loud,” “Mythbusters,” “Naked and Afraid,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Moonshiners,” “Africa,” “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” “Auction Kings,” “Backyard Oil,” “Bering Sea Gold,” “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius,” “Blade Brothers,” “Blood and Oil,” “Cash Cab,” “Curiosity,” “The Devils Ride,” “Dirty Jobs,” “Dual Survival,” “Frozen Planet,” “Great Bear Stakeout,” “Klondike,” “Life,” “Man Vs. Wild,” “Naked Castaway,” “North America,” “Philly Throttle,” “Planet Earth,” “Pot Cops,” “Property Wars,” “Saint Hoods,” “Skywire Live,” “Sons of Guns,” “Storm Chasers,” “Street Outlaws,” “Test Tube,” “Texas Car Wars,” “Warlocks Rising,” “Weed Country,” “Yukon Men.”

If you made it through that list, hopefully you noticed the severe lack of programs that aren’t sensationalized blue-collar drama. There are a few diamonds in the rough, though, some of which being reruns.

Not many people know that TLC was created in 1972 by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare along with NASA and was distributed for free via NASA satellites. Several years after its founding, in 1980, the channel was privatized but continued its devotion to educational documentaries. In the late 1990s, TLC took a turn for the worse, and now there isn’t a single educational program running. Discovery Channel and History Channel have a few programs that could be considered educational, but they are few and far between.

In June 2011, I put my TV on the top shelf of my closet, and it stayed there until about three weeks ago when I moved into a new apartment. In all likelihood it will go back up into my closet. There isn’t anything of value on TV anymore outside of a handful of entertaining fictional shows that can all be found online. News programs are becoming ever more biased, and sports networks are more or less irrelevant unless you’re catching a high stakes game.

Discovery and TLC are owned by Discovery Communications which owns smaller channels like Animal Planet, Science and Military History. These networks are not nearly as commonplace, but they contain highly educational material. The unique thing about these three channels is they were born out of moving them from Discovery, TLC and The History Channel (which is owned by Disney) to make room for the “reality” television shows that fill the current time slots.

Out of simple protest, I’m not giving these networks my time or money until they start living up to their supposed directives. I suggest you remove yourself from mindless television shows populating these major channels. You can count on me mailing this to the owners of these major networks — it’s just one more thing making our society and our daily lives more dramatic and less intelligent.