3 October 2008
Why can some people be such snobs about television?
Someone asked me recently about the name of a celebrity, which sounded familiar to her, but she couldn't quite place it. I said that she had been a member of the cast of one of the classic television sit coms.
"Oh." came the reply.
"I don't watch television."
She then went on to say that she stopped watching television when she saw how it affected the grades of her college roommates. She then said that she much preferred going to theatre and concerts.
I admitted that I watched television (I didn't bring up the fact that I watch a lot of television or that I am hooked on such stupid programs as Touched by an Angel or that I can tell you too much about contestants on too many reality programs!). I said that until I became a critic, I wasn't able to get to that many stage shows because the tickets were just too darn expensive.
"Well, if I can't get to the theatre, I prefer to read a book," came the reply. "I read lots of books. It's a much better pastime than watching television."
She doesn't even go to movies, feeling that anything that isn't "live" isn't worth her time.
Clearly I was not going to convince my friend that there was any value whatsoever in the boob tube. Our conversation came to a skreetching halt.
The other class of "non-TV watchers" that I frequently encounter, especially in this university town, are those who stick their nose in the air and admit that they only watch public television, as if apologizing for actually owning a television set but excusing it by somehow assuming that as long as it comes over public television it was high fallutin' enough to be considered OK.
Now I will admit that there is a lot of junk on television. I will even go so far as to admit that I watch an awful lot of junk on television. But nothing is all bad. And, trust me, I've seen enough junk live on stage over the past eight years that just the fact that you are watching something "live" doesn't mean that it's somehow better quality than, say,
I still cringe at memories of "Defending the Caveman," "Virgo, Hebrew Rising," "Magdalene," and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Wistle Down the Wind." Heck, even "Touched by an Angel" was a step up from these!
To dismiss an entire entertainment genre and look down your nose at people who enjoy it is narrow-minded, and (to use the current buzz word), "elitist."
There is very good stuff on television. There is very bad stuff on television. There is good stuff on PBS, there is bad stuff on PBS. The quality of a thing is in the mind of the viewer and, ya know?...sometimes just plain entertainment is a valuable thing (witness the wonderful scripts of "Two and a Half Men" or "30 Rock").
But you can't answer someone who looks down his or her nose at you and sniffs "I don't watch television. I prefer to see a stage show or read a book."
I enjoy stage shows. I love reading. But I also enjoy watching television and I think that makes me a better rounded person.
At least when someone mentions a classic television program, I don't have to feel uninformed because I never once watched that show.
5 Friends, uncensored
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