Life without TV

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Corpus Corpus 1 Life without TV

Séries générales • LV1


Formes de pouvoir


Polynésie française • Septembre 2014

Séries générales • LV1

  TEXT 1  Giving up watching TV

Researcher of communication at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University, Marina Krcmar interviewed 120 people from 62 different households who do not watch television, as well as 92 people from 35 households with TV. […]

The motivations for most people who abandon TV fall into three categories, Krcmar found.

Some give it up to avoid exposing their families to the excessive sex, violence, and consumerism they feel are promoted onscreen. Others object to the medium itself, claiming television intrudes too much into their lives, interferes with conversation and takes time away from the family. Finally, some people have a beef with the power and values of the television industry and don’t want its influence in their homes. […]

“Non-viewers had a greater variety of things that they did with their free time than viewers did,” Krcmar said. “It’s not just that they were reading instead of watching TV. They were hiking and biking, and going to community meetings and visiting with friends. Overall, they tend to do more of everything.”

Science does in fact support many non-watchers’ worst fears about TV.

“The research tends to show that increased exposure to television and violence results in greater aggression in children,” Krcmar said. “That’s a pretty consistent finding.”

Though not all children become more violent, and everyone reacts uniquely, it’s fair to say that what we watch affects us.

When parents did cut television out of their homes, they reported that their kids didn’t bug them as much for junk food and toys advertised on TV. They also said giving up television made their children easier to manage.

“It’s sort of counter-intuitive1, because people think their kids would drive them nuts without TV,” Krcmar said. “But parents found that kids became very good at entertaining themselves and didn’t need to be entertained all the time by something that was lively and active. They didn’t complain about being bored.”

People who had relinquished television didn’t report too many downsides. Most felt satisfied getting their news from newspapers and radio, and while some people said they felt less connected to pop culture, “many adults noted that as a point of pride,” Krcmar said.

Even most kids in non-watching households seemed to agree with their parents that they were better off without the reviled medium, though a number of kids around ages 10 to 13 said they resented feeling left out when other kids talk about shows and actors on television.

Clara Moskowitz, Live Science (website), September 04, 2008.

1. Counter-intuitive: unlike what people usually think.

  TEXT 2  TV programmes, a poison

She followed me, saying, “Where do you come from”.

“Springfield,” I said, naming the biggest place I knew.

“I never heard of Springfield,” she said. “What’s their team ”

What was she talking about I said, “It’s a secret.”

“We’re from Baltimore. Baltimore’s got the Orioles. That’s my team. They almost won the World Series. I bet you don’t even have a team. ”

“Yes, I do. They’re on television.”

“What’s your favorite TV program ”

This stumped1 me. We didn’t have a television. Father hated them, along with radios and newspapers and movies. I said, “Television programs are poison.” It was what Father always said.

“You must be sick,” Emily said, and I felt that Father had let me down, because I did not know what to say next.

Emily said, “I watch The Incredible Hulk, The Muppet Show, Hollywood Squares, and Grizzly Adams, but my favorite is Star Trek. On Saturday afternoon, I watch the ‘Creature Double Feature’ − I saw Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster and Godzilla. They were real scary. On Sunday morning we all watch The Good News Show and sing the hymns. My father was on TV, on The Good News Show. I’ll bet your father’s never been on a TV show.” […]

She knew things that I did not know, she moved in a bigger and more complicated world, she spoke another language. I could not compete. She demanded to know my favorite movie star and singer, and though I had heard father dismiss these people as buffoons and clowns, there was no conviction in my voice when I repeated what he said. She wanted to know my favorite breakfast cereal − hers was Froot Loops − and I was too embarrassed to say that mother made our cereal out of nuts and rolled oats, because it seemed makeshift and ordinary. She said, “I can do disco dancing,” and I was lost.

Paul Theroux, The Mosquito Coast, 1981.

1. Stump: astonish.


Text 1

1 Why are there figures in paragraph 1 What can you suppose about the nature of the document

2 What is the topic

3 List five reasons why people give up TV.

4 What do non-watchers do in their free time (Find five activities).

5 Choose the right answer and justify by quoting from the text.

1. Children watching TV…

a) tend to be less docile

b) have healthier eating habits

c) are less addicted to commercial messages

d) are better behaved

2. Before giving up TV, parents…

a) believed it would be easy

b) feared children could be hard to manage

c) thought they would need teachers’ help

d) were really enthusiastic about this experience

3. Children who do not watch TV…

a) know how to keep busy

b) are less active than the others

c) compensate with junk food

d) are much brighter than the others

6 What is said about the main advantages and drawbacks living without TV  Explain in your own words.

Text 2

7 What is the nature of the document What is the topic

8 How many characters are there How are they related Justify.

9 Where are the characters from

10 Compare and contrast these characters.

11 Analyse the narrator’s reactions to the questions asked. Choose the appropriate adjective and justify with two quotes:


12 Explain the sentence: “she spoke another language” (line 23).

Both texts

Seul(e)s les candidat(e)s des séries L et L option LVA traiteront les questions 13 et 14.

13 Find two expressions showing parents dislike TV. (One in each text.)

14 Do all non-watchers use other media

Seul(e)s les candidat(e)s de la série L option LVA traiteront la question 15.

15 Rephrase the underlined words or expressions (text 1):

1. “some people have a beef with the power and values of the television industry” (lines 11-12)

2. “people think their kids would drive them nuts without TV” (lines 30-31)

3. “People who had relinquished television didn’t report too many downsides.” (lines 35-36)

EXPRESSION  10 points

> Choisir un des deux sujets.

Candidat(e)s des séries ES, S et L : 250 mots +/- 10 %.

Candidat(e)s de la série L option LVA : 350 mots +/- 10 %.

1 The narrator in text 2 goes back home and talks about the conversation he/she has just had. Write the dialogue.

2 “Television programs are poison”. Do you agree or disagree with this statement

Les clés du sujet

Texte 1


Clara Moskowitz est une journaliste scientifique américaine, rédactrice de Scientific American, qui publie essentiellement sur Internet.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Une étude, effectuée sur des foyers possédant la télévision et d’autres ne la possédant pas, montre que les familles qui ne regarde pas la télévision ont une vie sociale et culturelle bien plus active. Contrairement à ce qu’on pourrait croire, cela n’a pas d’impact sur les enfants, même si certains souffrent d’être un peu isolés du monde. Quant à celles qui décident de ne plus la regarder, elles ne le regrettent pas.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To have a beef with something, l. 11 (US, très familier, avoir un problème avec qqch)  to hike, l. 16 (faire de la randonnée)  to cut sthg out, l. 26 (supprimer)  to bug someone, l. 27 (casser les pieds de qqn)  junk food, l. 27 (mauvaise nourriture, cochonneries)  to drive somebody nuts, l. 31 (rendre dingue qqn)  to relinquish, l. 35 (abandonner)  downside, l. 36 (inconvénient)  to revile, l. 41 (vilipender)  to resent, l. 43 (ne pas apprécier).

Texte 2


Paul Theroux (1941-) est un écrivain américain. Son œuvre est composée de récits de voyages et de romans dont certains ont été adaptés au cinéma, tel que Mosquito Coast qui raconte l’histoire du jeune Charlie dont la famille rejette le mode de vie consumériste américain.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Le jeune narrateur, qui vit dans une famille qui rejette le consumérisme américain (télévision, radio, presse, cinéma, nourriture industrielle…), est complètement décontenancé quand il rencontre Emily, une jeune fille « de son temps ». Il se sent perdu et incapable de trouver un point commun avec elle.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To bet, l. 6 (parier)  to let someone down, l. 13-14 (laisser tomber qqn)  scary, l. 19 (effrayant)  hymns, l. 20 (cantiques)  to compete, l. 24 (rivaliser)  dismiss, l. 25 (rejeter)  makeshift, l. 29 (de fortune).

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes traitent de l’impact de la télévision sur notre vie et s’intéressent à l’impression d’isolement ressentie par ceux qui ne la regardent pas. Le premier texte souligne les bénéfices sur la vie quotidienne de ceux qui ont fait le choix de se débarrasser de leur poste de télé.

Le sujet d’expression

Pistes de recherche

Où le narrateur a-t-il rencontré Emily  Certainement pas dans le cercle familial… Imaginez, par exemple, qu’il la rencontre dans l’école où il vient d’être inscrit. Il découvre à son contact que l’éducation qu’il a reçue est à des années-lumière de celle des jeunes d’aujourd’hui, ce que son père n’admet pas. Il a peur d’être l’objet de moqueries, d’avoir raté beaucoup de choses en étant mis à l’écart de ce qui intéresse les autres adolescents, et donc de ne pas pouvoir s’intégrer.

Vocabulaire utile

Classmate (camarade de classe)  light-years apart (à des années-lumière)  to miss out on something (rater qqch)  to look down on someone (mépriser, regarder de haut)  the ugly duckling (le vilain petit canard)  worthless (bon à rien)  to catch up (rattrapper)  to fit in (s’intégrer).

Le sujet d’expression

Pistes de recherche

Vous pouvez partir de l’idée qu’il ne faut pas généraliser : toutes les émissions ne sont pas mauvaises (donnez des exemples). Qu’il s’agisse de la presse ou des séries télévisées, le « poison » n’est pas dans le fait qu’elles existent mais plutôt dans le risque de les absorber sans esprit critique ou sans modération. La vigilance des parents doit permettre d’éviter ces écueils et d’utiliser à bon escient ce moyen de communication.

Vocabulaire utile

Fulfilment (épanouissement)  short-sighted (à courte vue)  to be acknowledged as (être reconnu comme)  to one’s own benefit (à son propre profit).




Text 1

Attention !

Figures est un faux-ami, qui signifie « les chiffres ».

1 The figures refer to numbers of people who have been interviewed for a study. We can suppose this is an informative document.

2 The main topic is the impact of watching TV.

3 The reasons why people choose not to have a TV are that it exposes their families to excessive sex, violence, and consumerism. (l. 7-8)  it intrudes too much into their lives (l. 9-10)  they object to the power and values of the television industry (l. 11-12)  giving up television made their children easier to manage (l. 28-29)  they were happy to be less connected to pop culture (l. 37-38).

4 Non-watchers engage in many different activities including reading, hiking, biking, going to community meetings, visiting friends (l. 16-17)

5 1. a) giving up television made their children easier to manage (l. 28-29)

2. b) people think their kids would drive them nuts without TV (l. 30-31)

3. a) parents found that kids became very good at entertaining themselves (l. 31-32)

6 The main advantages are that people have a lot more time to spend on various activities such as sports, culture, meeting others, etc. As for children, they are not bored, as they learn to keep themselves busy. The only drawback seems to be that as TV takes up the greatest part of many people’s lives, you often feel left out “culturally” in TV-centred conversations.

Text 2

7 This is an excerpt from a novel. It deals with the cultural gap that exists between people, depending on their habits.

8 There are two characters. We can imagine that they have just met, as Emily asks the narrator about his cultural interests. They are obviously children or teenagers.

9 The narrator is from Springfield, Emily is from Baltimore, two American cities.

10 Emily is a girl of her time, and TV and consumer society are the hub of her life, whereas the narrator’s family consider TV as poison and seems to reject all that embodies modern life, as they don’t even eat industrial food. He is like someone from another era.

11 Puzzled: “That stumped me” (l. 10)  “I did not know what to say next” (l. 14)

12 The narrator has never heard the names of the shows Emily watches on TV, a world he knows nothing about so these names sound like words from another language.

Both texts

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L (questions 13 et 14).

13 Text 1: “the reviled medium” (l. 41). Text 2: “Television programs are poison” (l. 11-12)

14 In text 2, the family rejects all sorts of modern media (“Father hated them, along with radios and newspapers and movies”, l. 10-11) whereas in text 1, people object only to the impact of TV (“Most felt satisfied getting their news from newspapers and radio”, l. 36-37).

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L option LVA.

15 1. Some people resent the power and values of the television industry.


Remarquez que le mot drawback vous était soufflé dans la question 6 du texte 1.

2.  People think their kids would make them go crazy without TV.

3. People who had given up watching television didn’t report too many drawbacks.


1 Guidelines

The narrator goes back to school next week but has just come back from his visit to his new school, where he met Emily, one of his future class-mates. He has a word with his father.

“Dad, I have met one of my class-mates, Emily, and I have a feeling that . She seems to be like all the other students but she knows every single TV programme, can speak of actors and actresses as if she knew them personally .”

“You shouldn’t talk to her too much. As I keep saying, TV is poison and she seems to have taken quite heavy doses... I do hope she won’t have too much of an influence on you...”

“But she’s just like all the other students, Dad. at school if I know nothing of the world we live in We don’t watch TV, we don’t listen to the radio, we don’t read the papers, we don’t even eat the same food! , or live in a family of ignorants! like the ugly duckling!”

“Do you really think that you’re ignorant because you haven’t watched those silly TV programmes Do you think you’re worthless because you don’t know about such or such an actress Do you think all this is better than what your mother and I have taught you Do you...”

“I’m sorry to say this, dad, but I realised this morning how old-fashioned your education is. . And now there are so many things to catch up on! I hope that Emily will understand this and teach me how to live in this world!”

2 Guidelines

There is a lot to say about some TV programmes that really do not bring anything to our personal fulfilment. But . The BBC, for example, has , for children and adults, whose quality is acknowledged all over the world, and which are used as teaching material in class. Although some are meant only for entertaining people with easy stories, others are (quite a few film directors either direct or produce some of these series).

So . People have a tendency to consider what is shown on TV as true, and indeed, a news bulletin can be judged as poison if it tells lies, distorts facts or tries to influence people. But can’t this apply to the written press too

As to TV series, these fictions can introduce us to contexts we would never have an opportunity to see otherwise (House of Cards or The Wire, for example). The problem is to detect, behind the story, the message that is being sent to us, and to be able to make up our minds about it. Just like with a book...

Un peu de vocabulaire

The hub: le pivot.

Altogether: totalement.

: if it becomes the hub of your everyday life, you miss out on a normal social life and other cultural events, etc.

Maybe this is what the father meant when he called TV “poison”, but instead of forbidding it altogether, .