Monday, July 02, 2007

TV watching

In the post on my favorite TV shows I halfly expected some critical comments for writing the following: "for years I foolishly lived without a TV". More exactly, for using the word "foolishly". That's because most people don't hold TV watching in high regard; it's a low status activity and many would consider it some sort of strength to live without a TV (even if they themselves don't).

I find this strange, because it so obviously equates "TV watching" in general with a certain kind of TV watching (although a common one). That's like saying that reading poetry or meditating is bad because it's possible to do it too much, or in a wrong way, or whatever. Anything can be done destructively.

There is also a light version of TV bashing, and that's when someone would say something like "sure TV watching has its uses -- it's great for entertainment or relaxation" with the obvious implication that while not being bad, TV watching still can't be, say, a deeply meaningful or spiritual activity, like I'm sure they would (if they're typical) say that reading books can be.

I'm suspicious of people whose value hierarchy happens to mirror the cultural norms exactly. It doesn't prove anything, but it indicates that they instead of independently having reached conclusions simply have adopted intellectual cliches, like "TV bad, books good". The indication becomes stronger when you get to know that they do watch TV but never read any books... (I might also add that my criticism is directed at TV bashing, not TV avoiding. It is a perfectly valid choice to not watch any TV. The reason it was foolish in my case is that it was the wrong choice for me. Or maybe it was the right choice at the time since I hadn't found the good TV stuff yet.)

But it's also worth saying that TV is a challenging medium to use correctly. It's easy to get too much of it (even watching boring stuff), and it's difficult to find the really good stuff (though somewhat easy to find *rather* good stuff, but that may not be good enough to spend time on.) I was serious when I said that it wasn't until I found Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I really understood the value of TV shows.

Anyway, having now seen four complete seasons of Babylon 5, I can easily add that show to the list of "deeply meaningful" TV shows. Really great show. Stay tuned for an update of my favorite TV shows list to see how I rate it in relation to my other favorites.

2 comments:

Temposchlucker said...

During a period of 20 years I haven't watched TV. Just because I hadn't time for it plus I didn't find it very interesting. A lot of people saw that as a sign of disapproval of their own lifestyle.They tried to convince me that it was necessary "to stay informed". My idea was, when something is important, I will hear it anyway. Which was always the case.

XY said...

It is certainly a valid option to not watch TV, and I find that an interesting choice. I just think that TV watching has an undeservedly low status. Destructive TV watching should be criticized, but it doesn't have to be like that.

I rarely watch TV to "stay informed" (I use the internet for that).

 
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