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Monday, July 15, 2013

You Are What You Watch

Now I expect Ron Howard to provide
sardonic voice-over commentary
Each generation watches TV differently, did you know that?  For example, my mother's generation.  They'd watch TV sitting around in a circle, their ears cocked to the set.  That's because they weren't watching TV but radio.  My brother's generation was the first to grow up with television.  They'd turn on the set and watch squiggly gray lines accompanied by hisses and buzzes.  Basically, it was radio without the sound.

During my formative years, television was something you had to wait for.  "Normal" TV was news shows and movies where people did a lot of talking and acting.  You had to wait for the "Good" shows to come on, which was a signal to your parents to send you to bed.  Then there was a brief perplexing time when you'd be watching a show in black and white, and it would proudly announce it was "In Color."  The words "In Color" were in black and white.

Then came cable TV and with it, the zillions of shows we know today.  People learned to channel surf.  You couldn't afford to spend too much time watching Pet Psychic because you'd miss championship poker on ESPN, and by the way, there was a new music video every two minutes.  So you'd sit, remote in your sweaty fist, clicking back and forth between channels.  In a single thirty-minute period, a skilled surfer could watch about four hours of television.

And we used to watch commercials.  Does anybody remember commercials?  I used to love them.  We'd always laugh when the elderly deaf lady complained about her hamburger.  Ha-ha!  There were songs about it.  There were a series of ATT commercials that made me sob.  I honestly think I am a better and more compassionate person because of those commercials.  Thank you, Giant Multi-Billion-Dollar Company!  And patriotism: there were some Miller Beer commercials, that just made you proud to be an American.  I believe the Miller Brewing Company was directly responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan.

Now, of course, I can watch any program I want, any time I want.  The result is, I watch all my favorite programs back to back.  We'll store up about six Modern Families and watch them all in a row, zipping through the commercials.  Ditto for Mad Men and Breaking Bad.  This method of watching has begun to affect our minds.  I watched the complete run of Arrested Development from start to finish, including the new episodes produced by Netflix.  Now when I'm walking the dog, I keep expecting Ron Howard to give a sardonic voice-over narration. Talk to someone who watches a lot of Law and Order, and notice a sort of breathless quiet that falls over them.  They're waiting for the Da-dunk! musical cue that says time to cut to another scene.  Little by little, we become less like ourselves and transmogrify into versions of people we spend so many consecutive hours watching.

I believe this may explain the weirdest of our weird shows - things like Honey Boo-Boo and Jersey Shore.  Where do these despicable people come from?  How could anyone turn out like that?

Answer: by watching television.

1 comment:

  1. Raising Hope...watch it start to finish...just sayin'