Monday, June 13, 2011
WATCH "THE TUBE" HERE:
How Television Affects The Mind: Review of Le Tube, a documentary
Le Tube is a documentary film. Journalist Peter Entell and actor Luc Mariot travel to three continents to uncover the history of television and its effects on the human brain. The focus of their research is to study the effect of television regardless of the content. This is an outstanding investigative movie for anyone seeking knowledge about television.
The movie begins here with Mariot's younger daughter, Zoe, who is crying because Mariot turned off the Pokemon cartoon. Mariot is concerned because Zoe never blinks when she watches television. Researching the Pokemon cartoon on the Internet he comes across an article describing a December 1997 event where 700 children were hospitalized with eye problems and convulsions because of a Pokemon episode.
Mariot visits the hospital in Tokyo and the doctor there explains that 1 in 4,000 people are hypersensitive to light and are therefore "at risk" when they watch television. An unusually high rate of "flicker" or flashing lights will affect these people and produce symptoms similar to epileptic seizures. TV Tokyo, home of Pokemon, reveals to Mariot that because of public outrage it now uses an Animation Flicker Machine to monitor each episode.
Schenectady, New York
The movie then moves to the Research and Development section of General Electric. The technicians explain Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) and Electron Gun technologies that make television work. The television screen is made of Red, Green, and Blue (RGB) pixels that flicker at a high rate when bombarded with fast-moving electrons. Mariot asks the GE technicians why television is hypnotic and addictive. They have no answer.
In Lunenburg the film crew meets with Dr. Thomas Mulholland whose experiments with electroencephalograms (EEG) and alpha waves provide the first indications of physical reaction to television. Alpha waves are brain activity that increases as brain work decreases. Closing your eyes, relaxing, sleeping, not thinking, meditating all increase alpha waves while even looking around a familiar room lowers alpha waves. Dr. Mulholland has discovered that children watching television have very high alpha - in other words they have minimal brain activity.
Then the crew visits Eric McLuhan at the University of Toronto where the McLuhan demonstrates in an experiment the difference between transmitted light and reflected light. Movie theaters reflect light on viewers while television creates and transmits its own light. In effect, with transmitted light McLuhan says, "you are the screen." The brain responds to the medium, not the content.
Finally, Mariot tracks down former researcher Herbert Krugman of the Advertising Research Foundation. Krugman's experiments on the effects of television led him to conclude that TV induces some type of "sleeping awake" activity. Why are people so mesmerized or hypnotized by the TV. Krugman used this power of TV to help the advertising community. Krugman says that with TV, "when you lose touch with the body and the brain will play." You're not asleep and not awake. It's midnight and you are staring at the TV and can't turn it off. You sit watching commercials blankly and unthinking. You don't turn it off.
"The television is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to distract yourself from how you already feel that's ever been invented," says one psychologist in the film.
A worker at a TV station says, she thinks, "TV is like a drug. . . Sure, just try taking it away from them."
The Tube is a well done film. It presents many compelling facts and questions about an activity that most people take for granted. Unfortunately, many questions still remain unanswered as some continue to question the benefit of staring at red, green and blue flickering light.