On Television

March 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have not owned nor watched a television since I was sixteen years old. Sure, I’ve watched a few shows on Netflix that have been recommended to me, but I haven’t had the opportunity to flip, to surf, which is really the sine qua non of “watching television,” for more than a decade.

Until three weeks ago.

I’m living in a dorm room in a very rural part of Oregon for a while, and the university outfitted the room I’m in with a flat screen television. Now, it isn’t that I’m really opposed to television on ideological grounds. God knows I’ve wasted my time and mind away on lesser things. And a lot of TV shows I’ve seen have been really quite awesome. I just haven’t really felt compelled to own one because I’ve convinced myself I have so many other better, more important things to do, like staring aimlessly out of windows feeling sorry for myself. But now I’ve stumbled into one. And feeling pretty bored, lonely, and in the middle of the high desert in the middle of winter without a friend to my name, I have admittedly embraced this curious machine.

It having been some time since I had access to regular channel surfing, I have noticed the following things about television programming:

1. For some reason, there is movie with Vin Diesel in it, on some channel, at all hours of the day. I didn’t think he was in that many movies, honestly. Maybe this is something about licensing. It’s very strange. Bill Murray is almost always on television at all times, but Mr. Diesel actually is. This is too bad, really.
2. There is, on some channel, always an episode of this show 30 Rock, which is actually a pretty funny show. That it is always on on some channel is an odd sort of comfort, which is a little discomforting.
3. Crime shows and reality shows about people and their jobs are everywhere all the time. Half of television seems to be programs about forensic something or other or programs about people who buy storage lockers at auctions or exterminate vermin or make guns or chop down trees. Slightly romanticized death and work – I guess that makes sense, in a way. Next season I expect to see: John Anderson, CPA.
4. Television news is like watching anime on acid but it’s all actually very serious and real. It makes me almost seize. I much prefer to read about genocide and death and privilege in plain black ink on white paper, because it’s much more palatable that way. I flip passed MSNBC and feel I need a benzo.
5. It is so very addictive. How does anyone read with this thing looming in the background? It’s like a giant piece of pie. You know it’s not very good for you, you know should eat some kale instead, but there it is, beckoning, whispering to you to just pick up the remote, just for 15 minutes, just to see what’s on…
6. The people on the TV won’t respond to you when you invite them out for a beer after the show.
7. Commercials are terrifying. They make me feel either horribly inadequate, terribly in need, or on the verge of certain death.
8. Some television makes me feel like I’m not doing so bad. The other day I saw a show about a girl who was addicted to drinking gasoline. Some television shows make me feel like I’m failing miserably, like that show with the 27 year old friends that live in a 3,000 sq ft Manhattan apartment and drink scotch all night and take cabs everywhere.
9. TV has such potential, but instead of broadcasting the future-defining healthcare bill proceedings, we get some show where people have singing battles and everyone is taking it very seriously. Who am I kidding, though; I’d watch that over the supreme court any day.
10. What happened to live surgeries on TV? I miss that.

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