It was 1948 or so. I was five years old, and living in a little town of 300 Norwegian farmers called Badger, Iowa. My father ran the "corner store." I don't remember when he brought home the TV. I just remember that he opened a soda fountain (he was a teetotaler) in the basement of the store and invited the locals in to watch. I don't remember what was on back then, but I became an unapologetic TVidiot and remain one to this day.
So I was more than a little disturbed a few years ago to see bumper stickers that urged us to Kill Your Television. Why? Why did they hate it so? Why? These people were those presumably on "my side of the aisle," by which I mean, vaguely leftish. Hippie deadhead commie pagans. You know the drill. But what the hell were these people watching on TV that they hated it so? And why should I have to Kill My Television?
There are hundreds of TV channels to choose from today and, for my money, there is a veritable Sahara of programming in which I have not the slightest interest. But then, TV programming isn't, sad though it sometimes seems, all about me.
Here's what's on my DVR list this week: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Grimm, Fareed Zakaria GPS, Moyers and Company, Touch, Fringe, Bones, Alcatraz, Castle, American Experience, Great Performances. And that doesn't include the new Masterpieces coming up on my TV schedule in the next month or so. The new Sherlock's anyone?
Not an actual "reality show" or daytime talk show among 'em. Except maybe Fareed. And I do try to catch Charlie Rose before I drift off to sleep.
A bit of a range there, I think. You might wonder how I find time to write anything. So do I.
Lyla Byock, in a recent piece in The New Yorker, wrote this about television. About comparing it to either books or movies.
Well, there are references to books, there are references to movies, there are references to culture. But these things about genre are always puzzling to me. On some level I kind of take exception to that because it’s all a derision of television. It’s basically saying, It’s not stupid TV It’s like a movie, which are great! Or it’s like a book, which are valuable! And I say, it is what it is.
And I say, Don't Kill My TV!