“On my tombstone, I want written, ‘He never did ‘Love Boat!”― Orson Welles
In May 2010 I asked the question “Is television more powerful than ever?”* The question came up because it was now 15 years since Michael Crichton declared in a National Press Club talk that television would be gone in ten years, replaced by the Internet. There were many who shared this optimism of technology convergence in which people would have a hybrid device that was computer and streaming video or something akin to that. Instead, we have HDTV and a range of monitor sizes, tablets, and smart phones so we can have it any way we want.
What surprised a lot of people is that television not only remained a primary source of information and entertainment for so many people, it also became the fodder that people wrote about and interacted about online.
In 2010 I wrote:
According to a “A Special Report on Television” in this week’s The Economist (May 1st-7th), television is far from dead. The average person still spends more than three hours a day in front of the tube.
The special report has articles on various aspects of television in 2010. One article is about the problems of bringing TV programs to the Internet. Another discusses piracy issues, the television equivalent of Napster. A third shows how 3-D will emerge as a powerful new app for television, via sports. Another article takes time to assess the future of interactive TV.
The article that especially caught my eye was the one dealing with how people really watch television. One researcher spent 100,000 hours videotaping viewers to analyze their behavior and learned that most do not fast forward through commercials, and even though many say they are watching more TV online, they really aren’t doing it as much as they say. In fact, most are more couch potato than they care to admit. Who knows where television will really go. Instead TV’s demise, many are calling this most recent wave of new programming “television’s Golden Age.” I have more to say on that topic, and will prepare those thoughts for another day. Here’s a baker’s dozen quotes I gleaned from Goodreads: “People are sheep. TV is the shepherd.”― Jess C. Scott
“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.”― Erma Bombeck
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”― John Lennon
“Most people gaze neither into the past nor the future; they explore neither truth nor lies. They gaze at the television.”― Radiohead
“Television is the soma of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.”― Robert MacNeil
“The chief problem with television is that, for those who watch it consistently, it undermines and eventually destroys the ability to think. This is because it communicates primarily images, not by words, and words are necessary if we are to perceive logical connections and make judgments as to what is right and wrong.”― James Montgomery Boice
I quit watching television when I realized it couldn’t comfort me when I was grieving.”― William Nesbitt
“The moral nihilism of celebrity culture is played out on reality television shows, most of which encourage a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness, and betrayal.”― Chris Hedges
“A celebrity is an object that the media manufactures today, just so they have a subject tomorrow.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
“We chose younger and younger politicians to lead us because they looked good on television and were sharp. But really we should be looking for wisdom, and choosing people who had acquired it; and such people, in general, looked bad on television — gray, lined, thoughtful.”
― Alexander McCall Smith
“Even if tomorrow will be the end of the world, people will still continue to watch television for whole day!”― Mehmet Murat ildan
“The dumbest thing I ever did? Buying a TV. The smartest thing I ever did? Giving that TV away.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Meantime, life goes on all around you, within you and without you.
* “Is Television More Powerful Than Ever?”, Ennyman’s Territory, May 8, 2010.
November 2018 Update: Actually, the answer to the above question can be found in this article from The Atlantic. Believe it or not, the 2010 blog post was indeed the peak for TV watching, which has now slightly declined to just under 8 hours a day per household. What do you make of that?
Originally published at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com