My friend Brian
posted the other day a flippant comment that TV is bad
. Indeed, a couple of my friends do not own a television at all, and a few have the television, but only to watch DVDs. Since I recently posted an ode to TV
, I feel that I need to comment further on that wonderful boob tube, the pacifier of the masses, today's babysitter: the television.
First, yes, for years and years, I had a television but didn't often watch it because I, too, believed that television watching was innately bad. Not bad in little pieces, and certainly not bad as social commentary in general, but bad in that people seemed indiscriminate in what they watched on and how long they watched television. I had a TV mainly to watch videos and VH1 Behind the Music
, and until my sister bought me one for my birthday, I never owned a DVD player. We'll just say that Legally Blonde
was my first DVD, if that gives you any indication when I got my first DVD player.
Today, though, I am a proud owner of a Samsung 61" HDTV and all the brilliant trappings that go with it. I'd like to say that it was Joel's idea to buy this television, but really it was mine, and maybe I wouldn't have this television if I wasn't so comfortable staying at home, but it's really been great to have such a large and in charge piece of machinery in my home.
I think at the end of the day, having this television is way more economically efficient than not. It's seems a little absurd to think of it this way, since it's a $2,000+ piece of technology in my living room. But the going rate for a movie is $10/person, not including driving there and back and parking fees, and definitely not including super expensive concession stands. Really, two people going to the movies tops out at least $40 per movie. And that's a movie. Say I wanted to go to a play. Why not? LA is the home for actors and the entertainment industry, after all. Well, going to see John Goodman play Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
set us back $90 for the tickets, $10 for parking, and I don't even remember if we went to dinner before this. That's not including the fact that we had to drive 20 miles back and forth to the theater on the other side of LA.
There's a certain premium to being entertained outside the house. Given, there's little price to walking, hiking, and the like, but that's a different sort of entertainment all together and I love doing these things as well. But, there's a certain beauty to watching a drama, being entertained by comedy, and being moved by a tragedy. To get the same entertainment I get on television without it, I would need to spend hundreds and hundreds. Reading is an option, but often a more engaged one that takes more time, effort, and focus. I can watch a television program and simultaneously fold laundry, exercise, or even just pet my cat. Moreover, television gives a visual and audio stimulus, and one can watch and appreciate how visual symbols interplay with words and music. It's a different experience entirely.
So I don't think that television is bad. I think there are a lot of bad television shows. In fact, I believe that my trusty friend the television is assisting me in saving for a new house while keeping me entertained.