Friday, 30 June 2006


Why does watching TV have such a bad press from various 'intellectuals'?

Various people who decide that they are to be our arbiters of good taste and excellence in culture deem that watching telly is a "bad thing".

One of the problems I have with these people is the fact that the alternatives they come up with are usually no better than TV anyway. Let's face it, the alternatives to TV that these snobs come up with always involve theatre, opera or art galleries, for some reason.

Now, I love the theatre, as you probably know. Can't stand opera, but that's just me and I don't condemn those who do enjoy and understand it. But I really can't understand those stuck-up people who seem to insist that, somehow, "live" art-forms are better than television.

"Sitting in front of the TV for hours on end without moving rots your mind". Yet, these people don't mind going to the theatre to watch an interminable Wagner opera (which consists of sitting down for hours on end to watch the show, but you can't get up and get yourself a drink when you like - only at the interval, when Herr Wagner says you can finally move).

"TV is just mindless pap". Oh, and I suppose that no-one ever wrote a book that was mindless pap, or a play, or a film, or a musical (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, anyone?). And, I'm sorry, 90% of the modern art I've seen IS rubbish. A con-trick.

"TV is a one-way process. A passive medium. The viewer isn't engaged by it". Huh? I'm sorry, but when was the last time you went to the theatre or the opera or an art gallery and started interacting with the actors, or with the canvas. If you did that they'd throw you out of the place or have you committed.

I'm sorry, I just don't get it. Sure, there is a lot of mindless pap on TV that should never have been made. But there is also a lot of fantastic drama, comedy, documentary and uncategorisable stuff that anyone should watch and be edified by.

Don't tell me that Run For Your Wife is funnier than Seinfeld.

I don't believe that Cats is better than the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode Once More With Feeling.

Do you seriously expect me to believe that Tracy Emin's My Bed has more artistic value than Twin Peaks?


MaryB said...

I agree that there is a lot of great stuff on television, both in terms of entertainment and education (and often, the two together). And there is a lot of schlocky stuff in museums and live theatre.

I guess where I see the difference is that by going to a (however schlocky) museum or play, you've gotten your butt up and outta the house and are having to mingle with the great washed and unwashed masses. An education in itself, eh?

But I do want to strangle people who insist that television is a "vast wasteland." (Thank you Mr. Minnow.)

jomoore said...

Right on! What's wrong with mindless pap anyway, once in a while...?

When I've been using my brain all day at work, I want to have a rest and get 'fed' my entertainment. I also read a lot of rubbish for the same reason - I sometimes just don't want to try too hard.

That's not to say that I don't enjoy some intellectual stimulation too. But my brain's precious and I don't want to wear it out!

I bet, in his day, Shakespeare was accused of 'dumbing down'. And didn't Charles Dickens write soap operas?

Of course, I like to look a bit highbrow now and again. I've recently been listening to Gilbert & Sullivan - people casually passing by would think it's opera, but I'm safe in the knowledge that it's just jolly, frothy nonsense!