Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Writer's Fear: the public TV

This week’s readings felt relatively challenging to cope with as a writing student. While on the one hand, when Morse stated,  “the interiors of the home television viewing space, the automobile, the space are ultimately associated with the interiority of the human mind” which I quite agree with. The home television ( and I believe the article is slightly dated in what exactly ‘the home television’ means in this day and age) is personal: it engages our minds in ways similar to reading a book or playing a video game. It is about our experience on a singular, personal level. Unlike that of the public television. THAT aspect of television is frightening for a writer, especially in Morse’s notion that screens are equivalent to malls and freeways, where all we as writer’s want is narrative engagement and 100% attention from our viewer. (Idk maybe that's just me???)  We don’t want it to be something to pass the time. I would be curious to see what Morse would say about the accessibility of screens today with phones and iPads functioning as portable devices you can take anywhere. They have even made the “waiting period” that McCarthy so heartily described, obsolete. In the past few years, any time I have been in an office with a waiting room, no one is on magazines or even watching the TV…everyone is on their phone or tablet.  These programs feel dated and have become just ambient noise for the office itself. Screens have invaded the public space and have made a once private experience into a public one.

I “watched” TV in a public space at Galen Center for lunch with several classmates last week at peak rush hour. For me as a TV enthusiast and writer, I like watching with full engagement… what occurred in Galen was hardly that. Given it was a lunch hour, and it was packed, you could barely hear the conversation, let alone the probably muted TVs in Galen. There are about a dozen TV screens all of which were playing different sports programs. There were ESPN highlights of the week, a live stream of the NBA All star weekend about to happen, a soccer game, and a special on Muhammad Ali. In where I was sitting in Galen, my side of the table could only see the Muhammad Ali special… but could only just see it. It seemed like the kind of program you also wanted to hear. The other half of the table was able to see the ESPN highlights AND the NBA slam dunk highlights. Who was more excited and engaged in the TV? It felt mildly isolating and distracting to eat and sit in that situation, because the other half of the table was so into the program behind me, it was hard to actually have a full attention conversation.  I guess that moves me to ask the question, what is a public television today supposed to look like? If I’m on a train with my ipad watching TV… doesn’t that consist of public TV too?  Is anything gained or lost with this development of screens from fixed placement into handheld and mobile devices?

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