I found Lipsitz article, The Meaning of Memory very informative in terms of television history… there is so much I have taken for granted in my TV upbringing of the 90s. In watching episodes of The Goldbergs last week, which I too ( in agreement with Andrea’s comment) did not find too funny, I was struck by how much the program was an incorporation of advertisement…and then begged to ask the question, what would it have been like as a TV writer back then? Scary? Debilitating? What was it like to be a pioneer?
As Lipsitz stated, “TV advertised individual products, but it also provided a relentless flow of information and persuasion that placed acts of consumption at the core of every day life” (77). Talk about a shelling of product placement! Even the entire episode we watched was centered on a material item: a hat, something of a status symbol and (in truth) an unnecessary expense when it came down to it (as the other women in the apartments commented). Lipsitz’s comments about the TV emergence into working class life reminded me of a conversation my mother had with her grandfather (Irish Immigrant) when she was growing up. He lived with my mother’s family, and when they got a brand new TV set and watched it for the first time, he complained at how it ruined their relationship to one another. As Lipsitz stated, “the entry of the TV into the American home disrupted precious patterns of family”; it served as a reminder of consumerism. My great grandfather never spent money on anything he didn’t need, and thus the introduction to commercials into TV programs on certain expenses felt to him like harassment. My mom tells me he constantly said (in thick brogue), “ya don’t need people who don’t know ya on some screen tellin’ ya to buy milk or shoes… they don’t know what you need. You buy them when you’re out and can’t live without them.” But as economy grew, the relation to keep up with it did as well, just like Mrs. Goldberg’s hat. These generational clashes enabled a venue for discussions of past and present and engaged a conversation of these family issues.
I also found a point that Lipsitz raised casually, one of intrigue… in all of these working class comedies of this time period, why is it we never get a beat of the workplace itself? The workplace is such a distance brunt of the joke, and yet that is where half of the characters spend their time… imagine 1950s The Office!
In a broader sense of consumerism today… do we feel we’ve distanced ourselves from the days of integrated commercials into the flow of programming? Are we numb to it?