I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a little junk food TV for my eyes. This differs, slightly, from eye candy. I’m very very willing to consume that too, particularly since it has no chance of going to my hips. (Yes – very literally – you filthy-minded people you). Reality TV though? Nope. No good can come from that parallel universe.
My dear friend C, languishing over the great divide of the Tasman in the land of sheep and long clouds that are white, inspired me with this thought-provoking image:
Why yes. Yes it does.
HOWEVER TV, as a medium, has much to its credit I reckon. We’re all very happy to review and discuss the latest movies, but TV, as a medium, is considered decidedly lowbrow.
There’s good reason for this. Reality television has played a deplorable role in the
de-edumacating of our society. We sit, glazed, while orange-coloured humans contemplate the couple of brain cells playing ping-pong in their skulls, occasionally colliding to form words, and even sentences. Indeed, if there’s alcohol involved, the meeting of common ping-pong buddy-balls may cause a long and consternating discussion as to which club is more awesome and worthy of their presence. Yeah, ok. I admit I’ve watched a couple of episodes of Jersey Shore, purely for anthropological purposes. I’ve come to the conclusion that this type of TV is part of the de-volution of our species, back towards Neanderthal times. In the following dialogue ‘NDM’ represents ‘neanderthal man’. A typical episode goes something like this.
NDM1:’You, woman? Me drunk. Want come play with joystick at my crib? Have single bed. We share. Good. Yes?’
[Woman. Nods. Pulled by hair (Ok… I may be dramatising here, just for dramatic purposes.)
Woman. Nods, stumbles glazed, giggling and zig-zaggedly down street.]
NDM2: ‘Dude, that not woman, that man. You no do that.’
NDM1: ‘Arrggg (in style of pirate). Thanks dude. You lifesaver. You, chick, you out. You no good. You have dick.’
[Woman: Still not spoken. Throws things, is ignored, leaves.]
I hate this show. I won’t bother even going in to all the misogynistic, stereotyping, yada yada places it goes to because it’s all just too stupid to waste brain power on. The point is, it gives TV a bad name, and TV IS AWESOME. Just not that kind of TV. That time, I’ll take a book, thanks.
A lot of ‘all or nothing’ people I know, particularly book people, find TV a brain-sucker and have a blanket ban on it. I am a passionate book devotee, and have been since about the age of 6 when I discovered Enid Blyton. Despite this, I’ve learned so much culturally, scientifically, anthropologically (being SBS-serious now) and about the nature of interpersonal relationships from TV, while I read books mostly for escape and pleasure. And entertainment-wise? There is nothing like the hook of an incredible show to keep you coming back once a week for another fix of quality, not quantity.
So how do we define this quality? For me it’s easy, but of course it’s subjective.
Mad Men, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Awesome acting, a window into an era, and Don Draper. The woman, particularly Peggy and Joan, are strong, yet frustrated daily in their struggles in a man’s world. Fascinating stuff.
And the United States of Tara? Such an amazing show, totally driven by Toni Collette. She plays a woman with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities) and it’s fascinating to see how this plays out in the context of a family situation. It’s also quite hilarious watching her trying to out-teenage her teenaged daughter.
I love Breaking Bad, because it breaks the mould. An ordinary chemistry teacher turned meth cooker, and I love 30 Rock because Tina Fey is just so smart and funny, and the whole show has me doubled over laughing. Also – Alec Baldwin got kind of re-spunky in his older years. Weird. But I don’t complain.
And Grey’s Anatomy and Packed to the Rafters, for some good schmaltzy aww stuff. Cos I’m a girl and I like hugs and people (particularly Jesse Williams) hooking up. And all the blood and gutsy drama stuff, cos I’m a drama sucker, and sometimes my brain needs to be washed over, and not stimulated any further lest it pop off at the neck and spew forth foam (made of angst, stress and exhaustion).
Let’s not forget, there are plenty of crap books out there. Just because it’s printed on paper doesn’t make it quality. Do we have to mention that stupid book again? Dammit, I do. Because pop culture. Popularity doesn’t spell quality, and 50 shades of grey (I deliberately lower case this book) is proof of that. The medium is not the determinant of quality.
So go forth, one and all, and throw your arms around your telly. Unless of course it’s a large plasma, in which case i’m probably preaching to the converted. Just try and keep the reality this side of the TV, and you might have a chance of keeping your brain intact.