Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Return Of The Idiot Box

I've spent the past couple of evening curled up in front of my new television set. This is the first time I've had TV in my house for over a year. In a fit of misplaced frustration and anger, I disconnected the last one I owned and carried it outside to the curb, where I left it with a sign saying 'Works well. Please take.'
I was raised with the idea that television was a waste of time. If I watched it at all as a kid, I had this gnawing guilt that I should be doing something better, something more productive. TV made me lazy, I'd been taught.
Now, I not only have a TV, I've got digital satellite and real-time interactivity.
I've been gorging myself on it, channel-surfing and recording to an integrated hard-drive so I can fast forward through the ad segments later. I watch Sex And The City using the scene-skip function – I don't give a toss about the plot, I just want to get to the next outfit. I flick back and forth between Kimora Lee Simmons, Tyra Banks, Nigella Lawson (whose eating noises gross me out) and whatever other E! Entertainment junk is on. I've never seen these programs before and I want to watch everything – for a few seconds, at least.
I record hours of art programs, documentaries, travel shows and biographies and later, allow myself to become absorbed in them. My favourite subject is modern history, a fetish sparked by a documentary on the evolution of the machine gun. I've recorded a few movies but my attention is too restless to sit through any of them.
Frankly, what I love most is TV itself. Its like scanning constantly changing images captured from a camera monitoring all of Western society: its flaws, fetishes, and fads reduced to an easy-to-review, point-and-click program grid. So many random sequences, or so they appear to me, and all of them good, bad, smart, stupid, humiliating, sexy, degrading, extravagant and grotesque (often, all at once).
I can't bring myself to look away.

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