Monday, April 27, 2009

Frequently Asked Question

I like to think of myself as a patient person. But sometimes I feel 100% frustrated no matter what - like when people I meet are told I live basically TV-free ask me:

If you don't have TV, what do you do?

My mental reaction tends along the lines of: Are you fucking kidding me?! I have a fucking LIFE is what I do!

But my verbal reaction tends to be: Well, I read and draw and write and take walks and I watch the stuff I wanna see on DVD.

Really, I don't understand how not wanting to spend my life in front of the idiot box is weird, so this question just freaking aggravates me. The other reason this question aggravates me is that I am so frustrated that being nothing more than a consumer is the apparent life goal of so many Americans who unquestioningly accept the messages they are indoctrinated into like: watching TV is the best way to unwind after a long day! Its the same reason people naturally having left-leaning political views in Seattle and people assuming you somehow "believe in God" if you live in the Midwest drives me crazy: I can't stand people unquestioningly accepting any common belief and living their lives by it. Just makes no sense to me.

On the other hand, I also get frustrated by this question because I think people assume I'm avoiding TV not because I don't want to be bombarded by stuff I have no interest in or the rampant celebrations of consumerism in commercials (by watching TV shows I like on DVD and occasionally online) but because I'm like the person my awesome friend Joe mocks in his recently re-posted blog, TV Free!:

Have you ever talked to someone who doesn't own a TV? It's not simply about their personal preference. It's about their superiority. "I'm quite a bit more intelligent and disciplined than you because I find television distasteful while you find it enjoyable."

We're meant to be in awe of how cultured they are.

There may (or may not) have been a time when TV was nothing but a Vast Wasteland. But these days -- and this is hardly the first time I've pointed this out -- TV is at an all-time quality high. There are some amazing and impressive shows on right now. Audiences are savvy, and they demand more. The writing and the directing and the acting matches anything you've seen in movies or on the stage.

"Just look," they will say, pointing at some awful sitcom. "How can you defend this?"
I just don't want to waste my time on shit I don't care about when I could be doing something more interesting. Or, as Joe puts it: "TV [isn't] an unavoidable presence, [just] an accepted choice." Which is maybe what I've been trying to get at - I don't want people to assume I want to destroy all televisions just because of a personal choice I've made.

Anyway, you should go to Your Daily Joe and read the rest of his post in defense of TV's awesomeness. It's good stuff. Joe works in the TV industry, so he has a more vested interest in it overall and gave the whole thing some great thought.

Related posts:
Television Revolution
Margaret Cho is a Goddess
Mad TV William Shatner Skit

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Hyperblogal said...

I have a couple of shows I watch fairly regularly... if I can find them... but if someone broke in (again) and stole my tv... I wouldn't miss it. I particularly wouldn't miss someone breaking into the CBS Evening News to tell me about a probable tornado crossing the IOWA line.

m.v. said...

with the DVR I pretty much watch what I want without commercials in addition to several hundred DVD's a year. nowadays TV is not as big of a deal anymore, but would you just as easily give up the internet?

May said...

Nope. The internet is my primary means of communication, research, news, etc. There's no way I could give it up. Although... after saying that, I haven't had internet at home for about the past 7 years (maybe longer). We're getting it in our new place soon, however.

m.v. said...

My point exactly, Internet replaced TV for many of us, so being TV-free is not a big accomplishment anymore.

May said...

That was kind of my point with this post.

Lee Ryan said...

Excellent post!