At a conference I once attended, a woman with pink hair presented a paper on the ethics of bingeing on TV shows. She argued (and I paraphrase what I understood) that given that several TV shows are engaging with topical ethical issues, bingeing could be seen as an immersion in ethical dilemmas and not a retreat. While this is an attractive proposition, someone in the audience pointed out that bingeing today may involve engaging with complex ethical issues, but it doesn’t really go beyond that into actual political action. It remains a solitary, self satisfying act.
I’ve been off TV for a while. For one, I prefer reading and V hogs the TV (we have only one in the house, shocker!) and because I have alternative entertainment in the form of books I’ve never really fought it (except when he started watching Trump’s antics through the prism of Fox News that is). Then we discovered streaming software and I slowly got back into TV, partly fueled by the fact that there is really a lot of excellent TV being produced.
My current mental state also means that I need an escape route. So yeah, I’m not one of those claiming any ethical dimension to my TV indulgence. It is escapism pure and simple. TV helps me ignore the claims and worries of real life by projecting me into other worlds and giving me other things to think about.
If I’m honest, books do the same for me and probably always have. V was the first person to suggest to me that there was nothing intrinsically noble about reading and it was just escape. I don’t entirely agree. Books stretch the imaginative faculties in a way that TV doesn’t – which probably accounts for why TV has been my escapism of choice lately, it’s just easier. Ironically, I can finish a good book faster than I can watch an entire TV series (I can’t/don’t watch on the MTR or at uni, instead I read recaps and analyses of the episodes). Also finding the right book is also challenging. I do have some ideas in mind, but it involves a trek to the library. Yeah boo effing hoo I have a library system at my fingertips but don’t seem to have the time for a ten minute walk. I also still have vestigial guilt about reading anything not PhD related or more recently unrelated to the courses I’m prepping for. Reading is not free from worry and need to work.
So yeah for probably the first time in my history, TV is taking precedence as a form of relaxation and all I can say is:
A) who would’ve thunk?
b) I’m grateful. Grateful that a medium of such entertainment exists. Grateful for streaming services that are like a cave of treasures for the taking.
Not grateful for the problems I’m trying to escape but they are admittedly not life and death.
This too is another change. I used to want to tackle things head on, wrestle with them mentally and figure out What To Do. Now as more things seek beyond my control, I’m leaning towards Let It Be. However, I’m not evolved enough to just LIB without some kind assistance. Enter the Idiot Box – the 20th C’s own form of therapy lite.