Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Television Liberation

This afternoon, I ventured to the cinema to catch the Iron Man film (awesome, by the way). Among the trailers was an advert for Virgin Media, touting their latest innovations - presented by Samuel L. Jackson. Two quotes which stood out in my mind were along the lines of "Now there's never 'nothing on'", and "This is television liberation".

I hope I'm not the only one for whom these words conjured up not a brightly-lit, happy and carefree future of on-demand entertainment, but rather a dystopian vision of unthinking, couch-ridden zombies hypnotised by the room's only source of light and information.

There are few things that have happened to me which liberated me more than moving into a hall of residence in which my TV signal was virtually non-existent. I ceased to be spoon-fed my information by patronising and oversimplified documentaries; I got my news from a variety of sources and was able to weed out the sensationalism which so litters television and the dead tree press.

My apologies for the rant, but if anyone mentions "television liberation" to me again, I'll define it for them in a single word:



taw said...

Couldn't agree more, though I extend this sentiment (somewhat ironically) to computer use. Over in Australia we have an TV ad for broadband internet whose jingle is "We all get on when we all get on" (any naughtiness read into this is purely coincidental).

The TV ad pans through the house and each family member is using a separate screen, occasionally ignoring their proximate family members. At the end, the shot pans out and shows each family member hooked to a separate screen in a separate room. This is apparently how a 21st-century family "gets on". I can scarcely think of anything so dismal.


Darkwinter said...

Absolutely.. That advert is quite horrific when you don't let it seduce you.

I'm quite ambivalent about computers in this regard - I agree that they are just as bad for generally isolating people as the TV is, if not worse; but at the same time they are far better sources of information etc.

I think you just have to be aware of the dangers of social isolation, and try not to let it affect you. One of the (small) things I'd like to imagine my future holds is sitting by the computer with my girlfriend/wife/family and listening to something like the SGU, and having it stimulate discussion between us.

If it wasn't for computers, we wouldn't have the opportunity to arrange social encounters like Skeptics in the Pub, for example.

In the end, there may be more truth to "we all get on when we all get off".... But that's even more wrong than the original in terms of innuendo.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a short story I read in an English class... oh, years ago. I can't remember what it was called, but the general premise was that individuality has essentially been outlawed. It followed some guy as he wandered the streets at night, just choosing to go for a quiet stroll, rather than shut up at home - it described flickering lights coming from behind shuttered windows; everyone else shut up in their homes, watching their prescribed television shows. Damned good story, I wish I think what it was.

Darkwinter said...

If you do happen to recall the name or author at any point, do let me know - it sounds like my kind of story.

taw said...

@master-jeffery, the book of which you're thinking isn't Ayn Rand's Anthem, by any chance, is it?

I've not read it, but from this review it sounds rather like what you describe. (I did a bit of sleuthing and found it using a Google search for "individuality outlawed site:amazon.com").

If this is the book, it'll certainly be thought provoking - Rand always is (for me, at least). I don't agree with everything in it, but her Atlas Shrugged is my favourite book of all time.