Tuesday, March 3, 2015


In Marc Andrejevic's "Watching Television Without Pity," he writes that "Online forums give us the chance to be heard, and the reader can choose to ignore it or pay attention--but the point is, WE GET THE CHANCE TO BE HEARD" (41). I would argue that online forums have expanded to include the likes of Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. This weekend "House of Cards" premiered on Netflix. My brother and I were lamenting that we now have to avoid scrolling through all online feeds just to avoid any spoilers of Frank and Claire Underwood's dastardly misdeeds this season. With the manner in which television and film are disseminated, fans fight to the finish as soon as Netflix or Amazon releases episodes of a new season or series. Fandom has become less about enjoying the actual show and more about who can watch it first, with many fans claiming people who don't binge watch their favorite shows immediately are not "true fans."

I just read an article in "The Huffington Post" entitled "Binge-Watching Netflix is Making You Lonely and Depressed." In this article they cite a University of Texas study about the effects of binge watching:

"Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way," study author Yoon Hi Sung said in a statement. "Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously."

Binge watching is something you often have to do alone as it's not likely you'll find someone else willing to spend 12 hours locked in a room watching a show with very little breaks. It's a practice that almost demands to be done without others. I know I've definitely tried to watch shows with my brother and we always disagree on how many episodes to watch (He likes to save them, so he has something to look forward to, and I like to get it all over with as quickly as possible). 

In previous classes, we've discussed how TV is communal and promotes camaraderie among fans of the show. Ellen Seiter's "Qualitative" is one of the first articles we've read that touches upon the negative impacts of TV watching "Some of the women expressed resentment towards television and video as a deterrent to engaging in more appealing forms of leisure activities, such as going out, and as a barrier to family communication and intimacy"(469). Television has become something we consume at warp speed, locked in our houses, while glued to our TV or computer screens. I remember when Shonda Rhimes' "Scandal" become a hit sensation, people used to run to their computers to live tweet their reactions to the show as it aired. This was especially thrilling because Shonda and cast members of the show would also join in on the action, making fans feel like they were actually one of Olivia Pope's gladiators. The interesting thing is, it was easy to avoid a "Scandal" episode spoiler for a few hours every Thursday, but people tweet after binge watching as though the show is being aired every Thursday at 9PM. This practice leads to many angry comments underneath spoiler heavy Facebook statuses. People have become so insular in their viewing of TV that they spoil and reveal things without realizing that they have no community to commune with! I haven't had time to watch the latest "House of Cards" season and I have to say avoiding all the spoilers is making me irrationally resentful of all the people who do have time. While I love having the ability to watch episodes at my own leisure, I believe binge watching is starting to destroy the sense of community people felt while watching television years ago. 

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