Oh, no! There’s a TV in my living room

2012-02-10 15:31

Dear reader, please help. My bosses have forced me to start watching television again.

Apparently I need to start telling you all about the things I’ve watched.

I understand that part about pleasing you, but I must alert you that this whole affair is getting in the way of my reading habits. And there lies my undoing.

Anyway, after a few weeks of nudging, arm-twisting and a few hundred rands spent, there is a television in my living room again. I haven’t watched this glowing box for the most part of a decade.

The reasons for this self-imposed “exile” was a mix of a steep study agenda, a weird diet of eccentric politics and a ballooning CD collection that is now nearing a hefty 500 albums. So you’ll understand that I need all the time I can spare to indulge in them.

Hence I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to the pay TV decoder being installed. It means more channels and more programmes to flood my world.

You see, I’ve only had terrestrial television for a couple of weeks and already I’m finding it intrusive.

The tell-a-lie-vision occupies the whole atmosphere of the house, unignorable and screaming “Look at me! Look at me!”.

And if you go outside while that never-ending soapie Generations is playing, you’ll see that the television colonises entire neighbourhoods. The streets become deserted. There are also unconfirmed reports of meals being burnt because the cooks were fixated on this mysterious box.

Having had a long break from it helps because I can observe it with a slightly uninterested eye, unlike when I was a child. Yes, I also grew up on K-TV, Kideo and Bop TV’s music video programming.

Then I started reading all those esoteric books about why too much TV is bad for people. I also watched Spike Lee Bamboozled with Damon Wayans constantly calling it the “idiot box”.

The most intense was Jeremy Seabrook’s article, How Western Pop Culture Demobilises People, in Islamic newsletter al-Qalam.

Seabrook argued that Western pop culture, through television, “makes tangible the elsewhere for which so many poor people long, it transplants them into worlds of fantasy and sterile actionless dreaming, and with these, passivity and inertia. . . de-energises, wastes the abilities and capacities of people to do things for themselves”.

Well, that was back in the art school days. Now I have an idiot box in my living room, and the thing demands to be watched.

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Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu 

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