Up until the age of 13, I didn’t have a television. The only television
I watched on a regular basis was at my best friend Pam’s house. We
would often watch The Dukes of Hazzard
at 3:00 before we went outside to play. If I spent the night at her
house, which I usually did on Saturday nights, we had a deal where I
would watch wrestling with her if she would watch Saturday Night Live
with me. I became very familiar with the von Erich brothers, and she
became familiar with the early comedy of Eddie Murphy. When my parents
went over for one of their long, boring, academic dinners with their
friends, I would spend the evening glued to their television watching
MTV. When I was 13 we got two televisions, because two different
friends of the family got bigger and better televisions. Each new
season, I had to submit a plan for the two hours of television per week
I was allowed to watch.

When I got my first apartment in Portland, OR, I bought a television.
On layaway. It was a symbol of independent living and freedom – like
eating Fruit Loops if I wanted, even though growing up my parents would
not buy me cereals that had sugar in the first three ingredients. But I
don’t eat Fruit Loops now, because they taste gross and they’re not
good for me. But I still watch television. I have a love-hate
relationship with television. I don’t want to give up 24 and Desperate Housewives and Judging Amy,
but I also see television as sucking away my little free time that I
would rather be spending writing or doing art. Art? What’s that? When
was the last time I painted?

I don’t know what the point of this post is, except that it is
something I have been thinking about a lot lately. Anyone else have an
ambivalent relationship with television?


~ by realsupergirl on May 10, 2005.

17 Responses to “Television”

  1. I hate tv. I now own two, and use them all too often. I now have the miserable image of flava flav and brigitte nielsen (sp?) making out burned permanently on my brain. I just learned that sebastian bach is not as hot now as I thought he was in the 90s. Thank you VH1. I am just as much an addict of sit coms now as I was when I was in grade school, only now it’s king of the hill and reruns of will & grace and frasier, instead of the flintstones and reruns of taxi and the facts of life. Yesterday, I brought my sexy new iBook to work to show off – and forgot it here. I went home and was computer-less. Which sort of freaked me out. But, I decided to make the best of it, and I forced myself to NOT turn on the TV. I ended up cleaning the top of the refrigerator (it’s amazing, really, that that much crud can accumulate in 4 square feet), and reading a book that I plan on sending you, yes you, when I’m done. Fargo Rock City – one of the few real investigations of heavy metal (including speed, death, glam and hair subgenres) and its impact on pop culture. definitely the best night at home I’ve had in a while. The TV is dead. Long live TV.

  2. “I just learned that sebastian bach is not as hot now as I thought he was in the 90s.”

    LOL. I totally get this. I too lusted for Sebastian Bach back in high school.

    Who is this, BTW? sd?

  3. Deep ambivalence. I used to have this idea that I would build an ark for my TV, you know, like for the Torah. The TV would simultaneously have this place of honor in my home, reflecting its status in my life and the culture in which I operate, and be less visible than it was, naked in the living room of my parent’s home. I’d sort of have to think about it before I parted the curtains to turn it on.

    I never built this ark, which I attribute to some mix of ambivalence, laziness and cheapness. But my TV now lives in our TV/guestroom (which I often find myself calling the office because the futon that lives there now used to live in the office in our old house. But I digress.) on a fancy metal-and-glass stand with other electronic components. The room is filled with action figures from our favorite shows and movies, and the bookshelf in that room includes books about TV (as well as our psychology, comedy, and gaming sections). The TV is an honored guest in my home — ostemsibly not central, but with a special status.

  4. oooooooops yes. it’s me. sd in tejas. and I meant to say “in the 80s.” gah! long day.

  5. One word for you – TiVo.

    I’m not a big TV watcher, but do have the shows I like to see, and this has totally revolutionized my relationship with the TV.

    Just record the shows, and you can watch them at your leisure. For example, I NEVER watch West Wing on Wednesday nights, but at some point during the week when I’m having that, “OK, I just need to sit around and be lazy for an hour” I’ve got something worthwhile right there to take up my time.

  6. How’s Tivo for the cable-free?

  7. About six years ago, an odd confluence of things started a new tradition. I bought a TV after some friends got me hooked on Babylon 5, my dad gave me a brain-shaped candle for Christmas, and my roommate decided to drape some fabric over the TV so it didn’t dominate the room when it wasn’t on. The fabric tended to fall off the TV, though, so I decided to put the brain candle on top of the TV to hold the fabric in place.

    As a side effect, I discovered that in order to watch TV, you have to cover up the brain (by lifting the fabric up off the screen and placing it over the candle). This makes for an amusing metaphor when I remember to stop and think about it…

  8. I BELIEVE it is not necessary to have cable in order to use TiVo, but I do not know that for a fact. (Although I don’t need cable, my Sweetie would wither away without his ESPN and associated channels) The main issue I foresee would be that nightly it downloads program-listings to allow it to go record the necessary shows, and I don’t know if that’s a hookup with the local cable companies or what. But, honestly, it would be worth some research to see if it can do that. And there are other systems out there, TiVo has just become sort of the generic brand name. We’ve got a ReplayTV right now.

  9. I wish I had enough money to buy a TV so I could be ambivalent about it. *giggle*

  10. I sold my T.V. when OJ was found “not guilty”–and haven’t had another since. When Johnny Cochran said of the verdict “It’s just like ‘Perry Mason'” I knew television wasn’t the benign little time-waster that I’d convinced myself it was. TV is the reason people talk about stupid-ass stories like the one about the runaway bride like it’s the most important thing in the world –and not notice that Social Security, a government program that all of them contribute to and are due to collect from, is in the process of being dismantled. It’s the reason people think George W. Bush is “tough on terrorism” when in fact he is doing all the right things to ensure that terrorism worldwide and in the U.S. will increase exponentially. It’s the reason people thought Terry Schiavo couldn’t possibly be in a persistent vegetative state and Congress was right to completely disregard the balance of powers (which might be the foundation of our constitution but aren’t on TV!) and overrule the many, many courts (and court-appointed neurologists) that found she had no hope of recovery. In short, television is why so many people in this country are fucking idiots.

    Throw out the TV and go to a bar to watch “Desperate Housewives” (Club Cafe might show it: it’s certainly the right demographic there). You’ll have more fun and you won’t be a slave to the screen the times you really don’t want to watch. And you won’t even know who the runaway bride is. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  11. no ambivalence there, hmmm?

    what I most want to watch on TV I’d have to get cable to watch anyway – the Spurs games. But I think seeing as how I live with someone who grew up with the TV always on, latchkey style, getting rid of the television completely is not an option.

  12. One word: Goodwill. (=

  13. There probably isn’t a Goodwill in Turkey, however…

  14. Oh, sure, like I have time to click through to everyone’s userinfo page and figure out what country they live in. Doesn’t everyone on the Interweb aspire to live in the good ole Yew Ess of A, anyway? (=

  15. Ah, well, I live in one of those third-world developing nations that charities like Goodwill are set up to help, which means aside from anything else, my nearest GW store is about eight thousand miles away.

    That, and I strongly suspect I couldn’t afford a TV there anyway. My monthly food bill here is about the equivalent of 7 US dollars, and most months I struggle to come up with that much.

    Oddly enough, you’d think a second-hand charity store would go over really well in this area, but we don’t seem to have them. You can only buy things like TVs brand new, and they’re low-quality and really expensive. You can’t get anything like widescreen or HD; you just get a plain old 70s-style box, and it’ll cost you about a year’s salary. Well, a year of my salary, anyway. *laugh*

    I’m going to check out your journal next time I’m on the high-speed connection. That left-handed smiley of yours intrigues me. 🙂

  16. It does seem odd that secondhand stores aren’t more prevalent, but then again, they seem like a byproduct of an overconsumptive culture — the economic equivalent of carrion eaters, to borrow a (non-pejorative, really) analogy from the evolutionary landscape.

    I must give you fair warning: my blog is ludicrously geeky. And, “I know something you don’t know.” “And what is that?” “I am not left-handed!”

  17. Do you happen to like classic tv shows (including 70s and 80s)? I’m one of the panelists of Hulu Award, and this week I need some opinion on nominating classic tv shows. Please visit my blog if you are interested in giving your opinion on the best classic tv shows. Thank you. 🙂

    Oh and of course, you can also help me nominate your favorite tv shows in other categories in the next few weeks if you want to.

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