I have deep problems with TV. And I have been trying to figure out why. Originally, I assumed that my attention span is merely exceptionally short and paying attention for that long is something I am incapable of. I am very into YouTube and the connection seemed to make sense - YouTube videos’ shorter length may have trained me to expect something more compact.
But I’m not sure that’s it. I still watch Top Gear, Mythbusters, and Doctor Who and they are all of equal length to shows I am always told I would love - Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad come to mind. I watched the first few episodes of both and just could not find it in me to be moved to care. But that may be a little too simple - indifference isn’t exactly what I felt watching these shows; it was more like a deep dread that indifference protectively covered up the way a scab forms over a cut.
I admit that I do not watch much TV; that’s the reason I’m writing this after all. But here’s what it seems like to me - there seems to be some trace of sordid sneering at all of humanity running through every show as a constant undertone, as if cynicism is actually the best default method of viewing the world. These shows seem to be saying, “Yeah, we’re despicable but so are you and hey, let’s enjoy being despicable together.”
And that turns me off, almost immediately. Does anyone think this is cutting edge anymore? If what is common celebrates pruriency and destruction, then the alternative, the new/’cutting edge’ has to be by definition something other than prurient and destructive.
Here we come to my three shows: Top Gear, a show in which three guys talk about how much they love cars, Mythbusters, a show in which a group of people all have fun enjoying science, and Doctor Who, whose main premise is (maybe was, but that’s another post) that humans (Donna) have amazing potential within them to do amazing things, even if they don’t know they do.
And none of them are ironic or meta in some postmodern way. 30 Rock could be a particular example of this meta-irony that seems so representative of TV. 30 Rock is a show about making a show. It is a TV show about TV. And it uses a weary irony to deal with the industry, which may be my main problem with it. It is a constant critique of itself in a self-conscious, postmodern, self-referential way that does nothing to look outside the realm of TV. TV is now an entity that can self-sustain and it seems to be a black hole of narcissism and misused irony, whirling in a constant inner recursion.
My main problem with TV, I guess, is that to me, it doesn’t seem to have faith in humanity anymore (if it ever did) and somehow, since TV is now at least America’s main cultural lifeline, this overarching sneering cynicism is the basic mode of communication. We all suck, it seems to say, and let’s all suck together because hey, aren’t we awful?
No. We’re not. We, humanity, are amazing. More people need to believe that.
Lol ~April fools~
I have decided to stop posting stuff about DFW
— John Green
I have problems with the Ender’s Game movie (I say movie because I just watched it. I read the book maybe a decade ago).
Guys, guys, guys - I’m going to Russia this summer
— David Foster Wallace, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”