I’m going to admit something that, these days, is unfashionable.

I watch television.

I watch it, I like it, I have cable, and not just for the History channel or BBC World News.

I like to watch trashy reality shows on VH1. I like cooking shows. I could probably give you a detailed list of every Food Network personality. I like stupid shows aimed at women like all those ridiculous makeover shows that I know, intellectually, are dumb and condescending, but no one’s watching me in my little studio apartment, so what the hell.

Anytime a group of 20-30 year olds get together, someone, at some point in time will declare, proudly, how little television they watch:

“I haven’t even turned *on* my TV in weeks!”

“Oooh, you have cable…wow”

“I haven’t had a TV since I was a freshman!”

“Sorry, you know, I really don’t keep up with that stuff anymore. I didn’t watch that. In fact, I never watch TV.”

I don’t know how much more of this self-important tripe I can take. Why don’t people just say what they mean? Because when I hear shit like that, I know what people are really saying is, ‘I am above popular culture, and therefore superior to you. Also, my time is so massively important that the world would come to a screaching halt if I sat down to enjoy a soccer game or an episode of Good Eats.’

Television is no better or worse for your brain than reading or looking at photographs or paintings or absorbing any other kind of media. The whole ‘TV rots your brain’ myth has come about because it’s the most ubiquitous form of entertainment, and fun and leisure makes puritanical Americans nervous, even though they crave it more than anyone. If you read novels written before the 1940s or so, you’ll see characters saying the same things to their children about reading novels.

I’m not saying that my morbid fascination with Breaking Bonaduce is admirable or a sign of great intellectual rigor on my part, and there’s nothing wrong with not liking television or not being able to afford one or whatever, but don’t act like you’re above it. The box is also a mirror, and frankly I think it’s irresponsible not to look into it once in awhile, even if you don’t always like what you see.

P.S. I am a copy editor.


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  1. Kit says:

    My biggest problem with TV is that it is highly addicting, at least I find myself spending far too much time just watching when before I’d do something else more productive. Plus I hate the commercials. I do like watching DVDs of TV shows because then I only watch something I find enjoyable. OnDemand TV is cool too. I really like the show Huff on Showtime and I recommend that everyone watch it.

  2. alec says:

    haha, well written diane. i feel like i got over my im-above-everything-that-is-popular phase because i am no longer a teenager, consumed in loathing the outside world. TV is great for novelty (who doesn’t enjoy MTV), sports, and the occasional pretentious programming (Le Journal from France, or the recent Scorsese directed documentary on Bob Dylan, anyone?)

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