Tuesday, January 27, 2009
While researching for my next post about reruns, tentatively titled: "The Syndication Effect", I stumbled across this rant on TV from 2001 written by yours truly for some class way back in the day at SAIC. I'm not usually a fan of sharing tidbits from my writing past, but this response (though I'm not sure what it's a response to) is charmingly crass, mildly amusing and I have no recollection ever writing it.
"The fact is, yes there are a few people out there who read books and claim that they never watch television. I’ve even heard of people who don’t own one. Crazy, I know. I don’t know any of these people. No sane person does. They are not fun to hang out with."
Please to enjoy - my deepest (and unedited) thoughts about media in 2001.
Feb. 13, 2001
TV is “now”. It’s on right now as a matter of fact, as I write, and it’s begging me to watch it. Maybe it’s actually the other way around. If it’s not “now”, TV maintains the illusion of the “now”. As we flip through the channels we watch the world called “television”, and it’s a completely different topography of space and time compared with the real world it mimics and manipulates. It is past and present with the anxiety of the future all at the same time. We no longer tune in to a single program and the commercials that go with it. We click between two or three shows sometimes, catching five seconds of this commercial as it blends in with the one on the next channel. We catch the conclusion of Good Times on one channel and switch over to the Home Shopping Network Knife Hour on another. We keep track of multiple story lines, and sometimes even forget what we were watching in the first place. It is a world made up of a fragmented barrage of quick cuts and great periods of time condensed into neatly packaged segments. TV Land is comprised of generalized dreams and fantasy fulfillment that has become self-aware. It no longer hides its intentions of keeping you in your house watching and consuming. It’s called “Must See TV” for God’s sake.
To characterize the effects of television on the masses involves the very generalities that TV uses as its main tool in communication. It would be like generalizing all of its audience and that’s exactly what studies on television and popular culture involves. It seems to be a paradox, similar to the one we feel while we are watching TV. There are a million better things to be doing. Life to be living! The fact is, yes there are a few people out there who read books and claim that they never watch television. I’ve even heard of people who don’t own one. Crazy, I know. I don’t know any of these people. No sane person does. They are not fun to hang out with. They don’t get the references in your jokes and they think The Simpsons is just some cartoon that’s on at night. These people do not concern me and I don’t know why I’m even mentioning them. Oh, yes, these are the kinds of people who write books about the elimination of television, reformed addicts with communications or humanities degrees that call for everyone to turn off their major source of information in favor of talking to other people and reading newspapers. Again, these people are insane.
A child today cannot survive without the knowledge that is provided (for free) by television. Sure, it’s not all-good stuff. That is where the critical watcher comes in. They have to be taught that watching TV is also participation in the deconstruction and critique of the messages and methods of delivery. TV is the primary source of information about the world and though it may be biased, corrupt, and manipulative, it is the most powerful of all media.