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People who don’t own televisions

May 19, 2010

The other day, the wife and I got into a conversation about people who don’t own televisions. Not the desperately poor, who literally cannot afford televisions. Rather, people who don’t own televisions as some sort of conscious choice.

To the wife, this choice, this lack of ownership, was noble, enlightened, something to be respected.

But it just pissed me off.

I’ve never been comfortable with people who boast about their lack of TV ownership, but that discomfort has always been instinctual, a gut aversion to holier-than-thou snobbishness. I’d never bothered going any deeper.

Of course, when you’re in a discussion with Mrs. Doogs, you better be on your toes if you’re going to come out and say something like “people who don’t own TVs piss me off”, so I decided to work through what, exactly, pissed me off.

I soon realized that it all came back to a simple, core truth. I like stories. And television is a storytelling medium. One among many. And boasting that you don’t own a television, to my mind, is basically the same as boasting that you’re illiterate, or that you don’t like movies.

Yeah, I know the immediate and obvious defense. There’s a lot of crap on TV. And that’s totally true. But there’s also a lot of crap in your local Barnes & Noble:

You betcha...

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to avoid crap. Don’t watch it. Don’t read it. Don’t listen to it.

But not owning a TV because you don’t want to watch The Bachelor or whatever? That’s like not learning to read because you don’t want to read Twilight.

And when you do that, yeah okay maybe you miss the crap, but you miss the gems, too. Gems like Lost, Mad Men, Rome, Band of Brothers, Glee and Babylon 5, to name but a few.

If you want to miss out on stories like these, fine. But stop pretending it’s some kind of noble act.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim permalink
    May 20, 2010 6:57 am

    I’m in the same camp. It always comes across to me as a holier-than-thou statement — but if you replied to that person, “hey, we’re kind of alike, I don’t read books,” they’d look at you like you were an idiot. (And before you start, yes, I do read books, too.)

    Usually the conversation does take the tone of “How can you stand TV? there’s so much crap on it.” My reply is typically, “You’re not supposed to watch it ALL.”

    It’s a legitimate story-telling medium. Shows like The Wire (to use just one example), are masterpieces of the form, truly legitimate, meaningful art, and, most importantly, could not exist in any other medium.

    A medium can’t be defined by the trash it serves up, but by the best work it produces.

    I am now going to go to some garage sales, look at a bunch of horrific landscapes, and declare that I am no longer going to pollute my brain with paintings. And that will make me better than you.

  2. Mark permalink
    May 20, 2010 9:25 am

    Glee? I watched the first three episodes of Glee. Glee sucks. HARD. What do you find the least bit redeeming about that show?

  3. Doogs permalink*
    May 20, 2010 10:27 am

    Wow, you don’t like Glee? I’m shocked.

    What do I find redeeming? The completely dry humor. The ridiculous stylization of high school life. The quips that come out of the stupid cheerleader’s mouth (“did you know that dolphins are gay sharks?”, etc). The over-the-top production of the musical numbers. The fact that it’s a show that isn’t about cops, lawyers or doctors.

  4. Mark permalink
    May 20, 2010 12:11 pm

    no argumnts about he cops lawyers doctors schtick. It is so overkill it’s not funny.

    As for Glee, if the show was “taking the piss” as they say in in England, ( i.e. intentionally being outlandish….kind of like Monty Python of Fawlty Towers ) I understand.

    And yeah, occasionally some of the dialogue made me chuckle a bit. But my impression was that the absolutely ridiculous (and boring) musical numbers are meant to be taken seriously. Regardless of intent, it’s these dumb musical numbers that has all the girls and middle aged women all excited about the show….at least that wa my impression. Tara and I both gave up on it pretty quickly….

  5. Doogs permalink*
    May 20, 2010 12:20 pm

    Outside of the ones in the various competitions, I don’t think the musical numbers are meant to be taken seriously at all. They’re like a glimpse into the characters’ imaginations, showing what they wished the musical numbers could be like. I see it as sort of a manifestation of that whole “putting your life to a soundtrack” thing.

  6. May 20, 2010 4:55 pm

    If you never watched TV….how would you ever learn about Colonel Steve Austin, B.A. Baracus, Schnieder the super, Isaac the bartender, or the White Shadow???? I have met a few of those high and mighty members of the “anti-TV” establishment and they always seem way to serious. I say….Lighten up. Embrace the magic box for what it can be and don’t blame all of TV because you lack the discipline to turn it off. At least I’m sure that is what Magnum PI, Jim Rockford and Simon and Simon would have said.

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