Now, I will be the first to state loudly and clearly that I do not watch television. I don’t mean that I just catch the occasional thing, maybe the news… I mean I. Do. No. Watch. Television. Period. We don’t even have the capability to do so, no aerial, no cable etc. I do have a TV in the house, it is set up to a VCR and a DVD player so I can watch films and that is it. I will also admit that I am a complete film hound, so the fact that I don’t watch TV is not due to any dislike of the visual medium in and of itself. I have chosen to not watch for about 5 or 6 years now, and I admit I feel no great loss. I should clarify and add that I don’t utilise BBCiPlayer or anything else either.
I choose not to watch it for pretty simple and easily comprehendible reasons (I my opinion). First and foremost, I truly hate the incessant advertising; it drives me bonkers that there is this inherent need for programming to generate the desire within people for stuff. Secondly, in my experience when I visit people, such as members of my family, who do have a television there is nothing I wish to watch. Actually that’s not entirely true, I do have a slight weakness for QI, but I find a single dosage of that once a month is quite adequate and don’t even think about it when I am not at my mother’s. To be completely honest, due to my lack of everyday or even weekly experience of having a television I now find the damn things extremely intrusive and very strange. My stepfather and my brother like to have it on whenever they are in the living room, and recently I have come to really dislike having to put up with the noise and inane content.
This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed television in the past. When I was younger I was an avid viewer of Sesame Street and several other childhood favourites, as well as; MASH, Red Dwarf and Mork and Mindy when I was older, later still; Buffy, Xena, ST:TNG and X-Files. However from the age of 14 or so, films became a far more enticing medium to become involved with. I was also a slave to the TV papers and the VCR; I’m a big fan of the VHS cassette tape. The random movies I saw due to the simple fact of scouring the film sections of the paper and then setting the VCR is vast. From old 30’s Katherine Hepburn films to B-movies like The Blob and made for TV movies, nothing was too obscure for me to tape it and give it a whirl.
Technically I suppose, I admit, I do still watch television programmes, but I am working through things that are long past, for example my viewing at the moment is Charlie’s Angels Season 4, not exactly recent stuff. One of the reasons for this lack of interest in modern viewing is the quality, which is where the “reality” bit comes into play. It appears from my limited knowledge that programming has basically come down to what is cheapest to produce. They are aiming at the lowest denominator of viewers, or at least that what it feels like. Maybe this isn’t the case, either way it strikes me that they have moved into a realm of cheap and lazy programming en masse. Why produce something of quality that is funny and smart when you can make something for a fifth of the price about people eating too many chips?
Look at the rather promising programming that has been cancelled in recent times (they are American imports but nonetheless) Pushing Daisies (Bryan Fuller, he is part of the triumvirate of folk I will search out their programming, Joss Whedon and Rob Thomas being the other members), Dollhouse, The Unusuals (which to be fair, was really trying too hard to be weird and quirky and a little bit different, but it was enjoyable nonetheless), Global Frequency didn’t even get the pilot aired because it leaked to the internet and they threw a big strop about it.
Then look at the stuff that is replacing it; ‘I’m a (z-list) celebrity get me out of here’, Wifeswap, America’s Next top model… and all that other shit. Why? Why are we subjected to this immense amount of crap television? Because it’s cheap? Because people will accept any old thing you shove on the ‘idiot box’? It’s deplorable, truly it is. How are any of these programmes reflective of society, how do they show kids anything about reality that will enable them to grow up to be the person they can be? There are shows were people compete to marry a complete stranger, actually compete, and they say that Gay marriage is demeaning the meaning of marriage? What complete and utter bullshit. It makes me so angry, this two faced and lazy programming.
Therefore, I do not watch television, and it is highly doubtful I will be voluntarily watching it any time soon. It is a deplorable representation of the human race that we will sit through such vacuous crap.
Am I saying that old television was any better? Yes in a way, the programming wasn’t necessarily more highbrow but that quality was better, the sitcoms were actually funny with none of this canned laughter track running throughout, but on the other hand, no it was just as bad.
Ultimately I don’t think television is especially beneficial to society, indeed I have a lot more time to myself and my interests due to the distinct lack of television in my life. However it does mean that my tolerance is now insanely low, I can’t stand the noise, the distraction is un bearable and I hate having to eat with it on… My step-father likes it on whenever he is in the room, so since they don’t eat at the table… another fact that bothers me rather, I have to sit through the crap because I am in their house, which is fine, because it is there house, doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Yet another… essay/rant that didn’t end where I thought it would, and technically I’m not sure it’s ended per se… simply reached the last of my ire for the time being.