I am a tv person.
I think for anyone who wants to know me, that’s an important thing to start with. I am a tv person. There are movies I love, and books I love, and music I love, but tv is where I live; it’s my passion. And it bothers me that it’s the least respected. You tell someone you’re a film buff or an avid reader, and there’s an intellectualism associated with you now, an appreciation of literature and art. Tell someone your passion is television, on the other hand, and all of a sudden you’ve morphed into a mindless couch potato.
Well, I am not a potato.
The introduction of television to the American public, and subsequently the world, was revolutionary. It single-handedly united the country in ways that were unimaginable. Sitting around your television watching the latest episode of Leave it to Beaver or I Love Lucy was an experience shared by millions of people all at the exact same time. The spread of information was at an all time high. People living in California could turn on the television and literally be able to see what was happening right at that moment in New York, Detroit, or Atlanta. Television was powerful: local and individual efforts could be instantly broadcast to the whole world. It helped shape the political landscape of post World War II America, where it could promote the ideals of suburban, middle-class life and the American dream with scripted programs like Ozzie and Harriet. It played a major part in the civil rights movement of the 60s: broadcasting images of peaceful protests disrupted by the violence and hatred of white police forces, combating public perception of African Americans and other minorities with a representation of respectability, and acting as a catalyst in unifying the movement. Television continues to speak to people across the nation and the world, constantly battling between the broadcast of propaganda and true cultural representation.
To be fair, this isn’t quite the way of things anymore. With the advent of cable, sattelite, etc. our television viewing has become increasingly more and more splintered. I spend my Monday nights watching Sleepy Hollow and Gotham, but maybe you watch The Voice, and where’s our common ground there? Maybe you’re an avid viewer of Fox News and I get all my current events from The Daily Show. Maybe you’re one of those snooty “I don’t own a tv” sort, and then we really can’t be friends (I mean…what’s all your furniture pointed at?).
On top of our fractured content choices, we also now have the platforms of Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon, and itunes (not to mention illegal downloads) to stream our tv anytime we want. It’s no longer necessary to gather round the tv at a set time. Is anything really appointment tv anymore?
But that doesn’t mean that hallmark is completely gone. There are still moments that unite us. The Superbowl. A presidential election. Hell, just about everyone I know tuned in to see the final fate of Walter White (and yes, I do see the irony of that statement seeing as I still haven’t seen the finale, but don’t worry – February 2015 will see me finally watch Breaking Bad).
Television, an scripted television in particular, is more than the mindless boob tube so many people dismiss it as. It’s art. It’s satire and social commentary. It’s literature. It’s history. It’s a way to affect change. It’s an indictment of our failings and a promotion of our dreams and ideals. It’s an incredibly detailed visual showcase of how far we’ve come and just how far we’ve got to go.
All I really wanted to say is this: TV is a magical place. Please join me in loving it.