Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
When we first moved to Mexico, people back in Minnesota asked us “What are you going to watch on TV?”Now, that would not be my first question when asking about another country…but, I explained, unlike the United States, they have cable television that had more than a few English-speaking channels. Satellite is available here as well. One would think that only the United States operates in the 21st century.
“Newbies” to Lakeside ask a lot of the same questions. Which provider is best? Well, we’ve tried them all, and my answer to them is always the same: They are all the same: hundreds of channels of nothing to watch.
If I had grandchildren, I would drive them mad with stories of what television was like when I grew up. Soap Operas ruled the day. Mom watched hers as she dusted, cleaned and ironed. Then she got a job. We exercised to Jack Lalane and I anxiously awaited “Captain Kangaroo.” There were the “Mouseketeers,” and there was always an afternoon movie. One hour of national and local news, and we were back to real honest-to-God programs. “Mayberry RFD”, “Maverick”, “Bonanza”, or “Perry Mason.” These programs had a beginning, middle and an end and usually a moral to the stories of “My Three Sons”, “Father Knows Best”, and “Eight is Enough.” Friday nights were special as we gathered around to watch the line-up and had our dinner on TV trays! Sunday nights we watched Walt Disney. “Star Trek”, “Outer Limits” and the “Twilight Zone” jump started our imaginations.
That was when there were only three or four channels to watch. At 10:00 a voice would come through the speakers saying “Parents: It’s 10:00. Do you know where your children are?” The TV signed off at midnight with a poem, a plane in flight, and the National Anthem.
Television was a group effort then. A program had an entire staff that included, of all things, writers! The three main networks worked hard to provide great programming. They would never have dreamed of a rerun on the same day! They wouldn’t even rerun a program in the same month. Now we have 500 channels of nothing to watch. And you can watch reruns every day.
Somewhere along the line, public service announcements stopped reminding us that there were people who needed help, and services available to help them in their time of need.
The Fairness Doctrine eliminated the FCC rule about receiving government funds in exchange for public service announcements. Equal time for partisan politics was eliminated. The 24-hour “news” cycle began. And “infotainment” was born. The soap operas dramatically exited in favor of game shows and cooking shows. And “Reality TV” became the big draw, where people lived in houses together and plotted and planned against each other. Other programs put people in near impossible situations to test their survival skills, or cooking skills, or job skills, all the while showing the American public the worst sides of human behavior. Writers in TV land became fewer and further between because reality shows didn’t need writers, they needed producers and plotters. Stories became fewer and fewer.
Here in Mexico, the best Christmas present I ever bought was a pair of wireless headphones for my husband. He watches his shows, and I don’t have to listen. Now we have shows about pawnshops, antiques, and crime channels. Occasionally we can find some History or Discovery channel gem, but they are few and far between.
Which provider? Please! Give me a book or a DVD of a good old movie any day.