I Love PBS

Sometimes I feel guilty when I write something.

It happens. I am only human, but whenever I write an editorial it is coming first and foremost from a good place. Usually my negativity, when it is presented, is because I believe there are better ways that things can be done (the bad in a way acting as an introduction to me explaining why I am giving the advice in the first place). I have never written a negative post for the sake of attacking. I’m not wired like that.

Basically, I just want to put in my two cents … Which, in a way, is the entire point of having a blog, right?

I’ll get to my apologies in a bit.  Let’s start with the love…

I would estimate that when it comes to TV, PBS makes up 85 percent of all of the television my family watches. From PBS Kids in the morning (my son loves Super Why, Dinosaur Train, and especially Wild Kratts) to History Detectives, Masterpiece Theater, Great Performances, Ken Burns documentaries… Well, the list can go on and on and my DVR is full of just that one station.

Yes, PBS owns my DVR.

In the first debate between Governor Romney and President Obama one thing stuck out more to me than anything else (besides, the obvious shock of how much Romney flipped from the “stark conservative” he was in the primaries), and it was the idea of the stopping of the federal funding of PBS.

Now others have written extensively about how little PBS makes up of the national budget. You can easily get those figures with a Google. All you need to know is that it is pennies compared to Defense and it is not breaking anyone’s back.

Frankly, PBS is not the reason for the deficit.

I Love America

I love the concept of America, what it represents in the world and more than anything I love the potential for America. We have always been a country of dreamers, and while there is legacy in every generation of embarrassments and mistakes, the American dream and potential has always been there.

When Romney announced that he wanted to “fire” Big Bird, I tweeted this:

PBS represents to me what we as a country want to look like to the world. Intelligent, caring, thoughtful, literate, good parents.

See, it is for that reason that the idea of PBS going away bothers me.

  • Network television doesn’t celebrate what makes America great. When was the last time you saw a documentary on our country, or a detailed discussion on a point in our history?
  • Network television doesn’t support literature (unless it wants to steal the idea of modernizing Sherlock Holmes), and the idea of them showing a Shakespeare play is laughable.
  • Network television doesn’t educate, unless there is a dime to make on it, and do you really want to trust people that feel that way around education (especially with your kids)?
  • Network television doesn’t celebrate the arts. There are no opera, jazz, or classical music performances on network television and there never will be.  Heck, look at the Olympics and how NBC decided to cut modern dance from the opening and closing ceremonies. (That still angers me.)

And what about the news? You can barely trust cable news these days to give you accurate news since they can be so bias (Fair and Balanced… sure).

We are more than just consumers, and PBS knows that. And that understanding will be lost if PBS goes away.

Yes, PBS represents the best of America, our best image to the world. When you want to talk about the arts, painting, dance, literature, PBS is the one TV station that has a voice in the matter. We need PBS for our image and our future, and it feels incredibly naive to me that not everyone (on both sides of the aisle) don’t see that potential for making a better country, a better world.

Governor Romney, it is more than Big Bird. It is more than all of the Sesame Street Muppets.  It is more than antiques (both old people and historical artifacts) and period dramas.  PBS is us, it is simply, again, our country best represented on the tube.

PBS is America.

Now for my apology…

Since becoming a father I have written a few editorials on PBS Kids and what I like and dislike around the shows and their format. I criticized Sesame Street for its obsession with celebrities, for example; but do I want any of these shows to go away?

No, not at all.

Any comments I made (like in that Sesame Street article), came from a place of love and hope for the show to get better. In no way was I dismissing it like I do everyday around the kid shows on Nickelodeon. On TV, PBS still has the best for my children… Just like they did for me when I was a shy, quiet kid in the 70’s.

So when I criticize Masterpiece Theater for making us wait for Downton Abbey and Sherlock (while the rest of the world watches it), or question why Elmo in Elmo’s World asks a TV for information before simply asking a parent or going to a library, well, those are all things that can be fixed.

It’s all from a place of love… and I do love PBS.

I cannot even imagine my childhood without Mr. Roger’s singing to me (Can you imagine what his show would have been like on network TV?) or watching Sesame Street every morning (I was both Ernie and Super Grover for Halloween thanks to some great costumes by my mom). Yes, PBS is like home to me, family; and I will not vote for anyone that would attack something that I hold so dear.

If you are in the arts, or care about the arts; if you care about education and children… I think you know who you have to support in this election.

Romney’s cold recommendation made the election personal to me.

Support Big Bird.

If you liked reading my article (and maybe my book in process, Permanent Spring Showers), why not check out some of my published books? I had two novels published in the last few years, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

8 thoughts on “I Love PBS

  1. Great article Scott…I guess Big Bird is in that 47% that Romeny has dismissed for not being DUMB ENOUGH to believe that electing him would be our best option for improving the state of our economy. Only an arrogant, elitist fool would overtly dis Big Bird and PBS. Romney’s comments further proves that he is too far removed from the typical life experiences of most Americans to do anything that would actually improve our livelihood. Needless to say, we don’t have to worry about him. So what if he “won” a debate. I’m pretty confident that Obama will be re-elected…and Romeny will return to his elitist bubble in a sore loser in disbelief that he has lost.

  2. The portion of PBS funding from our government has been slowly decreasing over the years. It now represents only about 12% of their yearly budget. I don’t understand why government funding is is critical to the future of PBS.

    I too, enjoy many of the programs offered by CPB and PBS stations but do not like them being tarnished by the small amount of government funding they receive.

    What would change if they relied solely on private and commercial funding? Not much if it hasn’t happened already.

    If those of us who do enjoy this programming would just send a little more during a pledge drive, or in some cases start contributing to the quality programming they so desire to keep, the albatross of government funding would be removed; this would be the best scenario for the future of CPB and PBS.

    • That is your opinion and you are welcome to it (And thanks for reading my post, of course), but I like my tax dollars going there. Just like I like my money going to grants for the arts and support for students going to college.

      The question, for me, really comes down to how we want to be seen as a country and what is important to us. I see our government and country having the potential to do good, and everything on PBS does good. If it was solely in the hands of sponsors and pledges a lot of the pieces that you might discover (as compared to seeking out) might disappear.

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  5. This is a splendid editorial Scott and thank you so much for sharing it with us at WKAR. (I wish I’d seen your notification before today! Apologies for the delay.) You say it well and we are so grateful that you care so much and can say it so eloquently. Thank you.

  6. OK, I’m going to try this again — you may have comment moderation! But thanks for sharing this link with WKAR. I wish I’d seen it sooner so I could thank you earlier. Your words are eloquent and here at WKAR we are very grateful that we have been such a part of your life. Thank you, so very much. ~ jeanie croope

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