10/18/04

Programming Excitement

Following an exasperating discussion Saturday night with people actually living in the world, Penelope and I decided to start watching tv again. This is the topic for her post at her site today, and I loved her comparison of broadcast entertainment to an unending tidal wave. The moment I threaded the little cable connector into the antenna really was just like poking a hole in a dam.

It's been two years since I watched television regularly. During those two years I've become increasingly clueless about a great many conversations going on around me, been mostly irrelevant to the process of making up television commercials at the advertising agency where I worked, and remained utterly transfixed by the shiny moving images on tv sets in restaurants.

I'm here to tell you: there is no torrent of information quite like television. Radio can be tuned out; newspapers and magazines can be read absent-mindedly; internet browsers load pages only when prompted to do so. Tv is something else altogether, and it froze me in my living room for several minutes, speechlesly flipping through our six channels and struggling to keep up.

I'm trying here to describe this clearly, because I have a feeling it won't last long, and soon I'll be nonchalantly chugging data like everyone else, like I used to.

I'm not saying it's wrong, either. Tv is what it is, which is a huge crowd of people jumping up and down trying to get you to listen to them and keep listening, because we all must want it to be this way. I suspect that the disorienting-then-comforting phenomenon is an absolutely natural development in our culture, and that actually concerns me even more.

There is so *much* in fifteen minutes of television programming. I couldn't begin to list all the ideas that ran into me.

I saw a taco bell "Think Outside the Bun" sign behind a Red Sox batter, and when he took his second strike looking I saw him turn and watch the umpire yell and point at the Taco Bell logo.

I saw the view through the Fox Diamond Cam, which must be a half-buried video camera ten inches from the plate, because the batters are stirrupped titans waving utility-pole clubs as the hulking spherical catcher brushes off the plate, and the basepath dirt granules are well-lit and magnificently textured, like a gleaming advancing army of ground beef.

I saw a navy-suited preacher in a swing suspended from the church ceiling, standing on the seat, pumping the ropes, leaning backward on the upswing while the congregation chanted holy songs.

I saw an amazingly composed white-haired man on the public television station begin telling me about the forgotten brother of two kings of England who never ended up being a king of anything himself, only to suddenly trail off as the opening credits faded onto the screen and I realized I'd probably have to wait a half hour before finding out why or how this regal toddler got cheated out of his crown.

Then I saw blurry people on a station we don't quite get trying to sell me exercise equipment or acne medicine.

And then I saw a black screen with white letters describing how one of the candidates for state attorney general has fought to make sure people get life sentences in prison if they rape children, and how I should make sure I vote for him this year because he's committed to protecting Indiana.

Then I turned it off, and caught my breath, and walked out of the room.

Last night we tried again and I saw the actress I remember for portraying Kevin's big sister on the Wonder Years. She stabbed somebody in the jugular and jumped out a window.

1 comment:

buddha said...

It's strange. I stopped watching T.V regularly almost a year ago, and now I have the same reaction you seem to.

I can take it in small doses, but after a very short time I am back to smoking and staring out the window again, which works better for me I guess.