Intro to TV Culture

I’m a self-confessed procrastinator. (Self-confessed AND accused of being: my boyfriend has even taken the time to explain to me the genetics of procrastination, how animals don’t have the “planning” gene and act only on impulse, etc, etc, in what I can only understand to be a subtle attempt at making me study.)

In fact much of the last, maybe, 5 years (?) has been dominated by TV series. The kind of domination that is all-consuming, the ‘look-I’m-really-sorry-I-can’t-hang-out-with-you-I’m-really-busy-lol-I’m-actually-dying-to-get-home-to-watch-Fresh-Prince’ kind of life domination, the ‘what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-my-life-now-that-I’ve-finished-this-series?!!’ kind of life domination. Only now I can pass it off as studying for TV Cultures! Hurray! This week I’ve been watching Breaking Bad, The Wire and Game of Thrones in an effort to broaden my television knowledge of ‘quality TV’. Yes, I am ashamed and embarrassed  to admit I used my lunch breaks at work on Wednesdays last semester to watch the new episode of Glee. And I think my embarrassment at admitting that goes against what Alan McKee writes in his article Why Do I Love Television So Very Much?

McKee posits that art lovers not only “say, ‘I love this’, but also – ‘and if you don’t love this, then there is something wrong with you’. … Not only ‘This makes my life better’, but also, ‘If your life doesn’t have this in it, your life is less worthwhile than mine’.” I feel this is unfair to art lovers (myself included). While I have been known to publicly chastise said boyfriend for not liking Joan Miro while we were at the Joan Miro Foundation in Barcelona, I’ve come across this higher-than-thou attitude a hundredfold with television. Self-proclaimed tele-holics ridicule my taste in TV, particularly that which I use as escapism, my guilty pleasure of a Friday night. Toddlers and Tiaras anyone? There’s just something so enthralling and suck-y in-y about trashy “reality” TV. Yes, in the same breath I did say I love MTV crap and Surrealist art! What of it? Why does McKee have to create a division? Televisionados vs artophiles…. Why can’t we all just get along?

One example I do agree with McKee about is The Simpsons:

The Simpsons may, quite rightly, mock intellectuals who think they are superior to everyone else (’But you can’t hate me!’, yells Homer after his retreating friends, when the removal of a crayon from his brain boosts his IQ to genius levels and renders him an unbearable snob: ‘I’m your better!’); but it also includes jokes that only Art lovers will get (Thomas Pynchon appears in the cartoon, but only with a paper bag over his head). It speaks to different people, in different ways, at the same time.

I’m going to bring up my boyfriend again (I must really like him or something?). When we watch The Simpsons together, we’ll both find hilarity in different parts: he’ll get the take-off of a famous rock song from the 70s or the Game of Thrones opener, I’ll appreciate Lisa as Ophelia or a reference to The Breakfast Club. The Simpsons, I feel, really embodies McKee’s point: “[Television] is a generous, warm, inviting, kind medium–defined by its desire to reach out and draw communities together.” I can watch The Simpsons with my seven-year-old nephew and my dear old, highbrow dad. I really can’t praise The Simpsons highly enough, and I’ll cut myself off here before I start an essay on the cleverness of the writers, and the boundary pushing, and even the artwork, and the….

As you’ve already read, I enjoy “crap” TV. Big Brother included. I can’t tell you how many times my dad made me “turn off that crap”. One of the things I liked most about Big Brother was simply just watching how people interact with each other. As a tweenybopper, I was interested in how ‘women’ (although I know now they were probably only 19) were supposed to act around ‘men’ (ditto). As ridiculous as it may be, I really loved the ‘guidance’ afforded me by the show. And if nothing else, I think it made me work out who I didn’t want to be like when I grew up. I really identify with Graeme Blundell‘s opinion:  I also liked Big Brother for the way the show blurred the conventional boundaries between fact and fiction, drama and documentary, and the way each year its various producers imaginatively tested the conventions of the format.

This blurring of genres is something I really love in all mediums, be it TV, art, music, books or film. I don’t think any form is less snobby than the others in truth, and I think it’s unfair to pit lovers of any genre against each other, especially when it’s normal to enjoy any and all!

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2 Responses to Intro to TV Culture

  1. Mr WordPress says:

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  2. Pingback: Reading Digest: Shockingly Crappy Merchandise Edition « Dead Homer Society

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