By Cheri Hanson
I’m sick of hearing about the evils of TV. When people say they never
watch TV, it’s always with an air of superiority that implies their precious
intellect would be tarnished by contact with that wonder of tubes, wires
and satellite dishes.
Well, I like to assume that people aren’t stupid. It’s wonderful to read,
go to plays, ride a bike, and participate in all the experiences life has
to oVer, but when all you want to do is collapse on the La-Z-Boy, watching
tv for an hour or two is not going to poison your mind. Obviously people
who spend their lives glued to the couch have a problem, but TV is not the
root of that problem. Secluding yourself in your home and hiding from the
world outside is indicative of deeper personal issues than an addiction
to Home Improvement.
I’m not going to debate the quality of writing, casting or the artistic
merits of the current TV menu. That’s for everyone to decide for themselves.
Maybe most of it’s not Shakespeare. So what.
I’ll give you an example. My grandfather died while I was still quite
young, so I didn’t know him very well. Strangely enough, one of the most
enduring memories I do have is watching The Price is Right together on weekday
afternoons. He was a retired farmer, and definitely not part of the target
audience, but for some reason he loved that show. He loved to guess the
prices and play along with all the contestants. I’m sure it was a diversion,
something to do. But diversions are everywhere. Why The Price is Right?
He grew up in the ’30s, during the Depression when many people could hardly
scrape together enough change for a cup of coVee. In The Price is Right,
an intimate familiarity with the cost of Rice-a-Roni (something anyone who’s
counting pennies inevitably winds up with) is your ticket to trips, prizes
and shiny vehicles. It’s a rags-to-riches fantasy.
ok, I’ve picked an overly sentimental example (how can you argue with
my game show-watching grandpa?) but the point is still the same. People
watch tv and become loyal to specific shows for often very personal reasons.
They’re not stupid. It’s insulting to think yourself superior because you’ve
never seen a soap opera. If tv wasn’t serving some sort of need-emotional,
intellectual, or otherwise-for people, they wouldn’t continue to watch.
After exams were done and the stress finally let up, tell me this.
Did you watch any TV? It’s okay, I did too. Oprah may have gone a little
wacky lately and still interrupts her guests with useless stories about
her own life, but I have a critical mind, I can see that. I still find it
comforting to watch sometimes. I also read an excellent novel, went skiing,
and spent time with friends and family. My mind is not more lemming-like
and I have not been induced to buy unnecessary products because I watched
Martha Stewart cook with soy.
High culture, low culture, pop culture, mass culture-it’s all part of
the balance of entertainment and the flow of what we do with our time. No
one is more or less superior because of what they consume. Repeat with me:
viewers are not stupid, even if Full House might be.