Leonard Mead thinks that most of the programming on television is mindless trash. There are two quotes that show his negative attitude to what people inside their homes are watching.
"Hello, in there," he whispered to every house on every side as he moved. "What's up tonight on Channel 4, Channel 7, Channel 9? Where are the cowboys rushing, and do I see the United States Cavalry over the next hill to the rescue?"
"What is it now?" he asked the houses, noticing his wrist watch. "Eight-thirty P.M.? Time for a dozen assorted murders? A quiz? A revue? A comedian falling off the stage?"
"The Pedestrian" was first published in 1951. These were very early days for television, which had not been marketed to the American public until after World War II ended in 1945. The programs were mostly local because of technological reasons . It would take years to establish nationwide networks and build up a big national audience. This meant that television was very low budget. There were no big stars. The screens were tiny and the pictures were all in black and white. There were many cowboy shows because the Hollywood studios had huge collections of cowboy films. People were fascinated by television just because it was possible to watch audio-visual entertainment right inside their homes. As the audiences grew bigger, the revenue from advertising became bigger as well. This enabled the TV networks to offer better entertainment.
Leonard Mead has a very unfavorable attitude towards television, not only because of its poor programming, but because it sequesters families in dark living rooms where they no longer interact with their neighbors or even with each other. They have lost touch with the real world and only know the world they see on their little black-and-white screens. They are losing their humanity. This, in fact, has actually happened to some people by our times, but they are a minority called "couch potatoes." Television is a blessing for people in hospitals, nursing homes, and other shut-ins. Ray Bradbury, like his protagonist Leonard Mead, was a writer. Bradbury feared electronic media because it threatened his livelihood. Leonard Mead tells the robot cop-car that he is a "writer" and the robot records "No profession." As a writer, Mead can no longer find work, so he is unemployed as far as the robot is concerned,
Ray Bradbury had a vivid imagination, but he had a tendency to exaggerate, as he does in Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic novel in which the fire department's main job is to set fire to books. Television has become absorbed into American homes without creating havoc either inside or outside on the sidewalks. The TV is just a big black box that sits there silent much of the time. It has not become a monster dominating American life. It cannot brainwash people or spy on them. It is just another machine like the microwave oven. People still read books. In fact, they are reading more books than ever before. Was Ray Bradbury being serious? Or was he just being funny?