Salon.com – that American liberal click-troll experience par excellence – had an article this week about how the “new golden age of television” is just a sham. It’s a fairly long article but the jist of it is that TV is still a boob tube and it’s nothing more than a servant of monopoly capital brainwashing the public into hyper-consumerism, yada yada yada. It bemoans the fact that the old radical critiques of televions (such as Jerry Mander’s classic ‘Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television’) are as valid today as they were back then, and it’s a goldarn shame that no one (outside of Portland, Oregon) seems to have ‘Kill Your Television’ bumper stickers on their cars anymore.
The article fails to mention that those radical critiques accomplished absolutely nothing in their time.
Which reminds me of the Occupy Wall Street movement which seemed to take winter into account.
Such is the fecklessness of radicalism in America.
But I digress (which, by the way, is something I LOVE doing, and which may be considered my forte, if not my raison d’etre). I was sick yesterday and stayed home from work and watched all 14 episodes of Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Dickens’ Little Dorrit thanks to my Roku and Amazon Prime Video. It’s hardly original to say that Dickens is just wonderful, even in his non-masterpieces. What a tremendous storyteller, what vivid characters, what intricate if unsurprising plots, and what a great job the BBC does in bringing that era to life in such television shows. What I and many others like about this new golden age of television is that novels – and stories in general – are getting the time they need, whole seasons in fact, and now you can watch them all without commercial interruption (something the essayist referenced above seemed to be unfamiliar with, as if he’s writing about an age of television which he doesn’t watch and knows nothing about). Whether it’s something like Orange is the New Black (the book is better, by the way) or my family’s latest obsession, Orphan Black, it’s a pretty damn good time for watching TV.
As if most people would otherwise be reading! I don’t think so.
There’s a cost, of course. My son won’t watch anything in black and white, so he’s missing out on the entirety of film noir, not to mention Twilight Zone! And the latest CGI and animation talents have also ruined a lot of old stuff for the current generation, but just like hardly anyone reads Thackery anymore, they don’t need to be watching Steamboat Willie either. There’s no shortage of good stuff. You could never run out.
So you won’t find me bashing TV. You can watch what you want, or not, and it’s not the end of the world.
On a completely unrelated note, to Salon.com’s credit, I just read there an interesting review of the work of Jennifer Weiner, a contemporary best-selling author who’s made a lot of noise about the gender inequality of reviews and reviewers at the New York Times. She’s perfectly right about all that, and Salon took her seriously enough to review her own books. The review is worth reading and reminds us to be careful what we wish for.