Call it the telly, TV, television, or goggle box. For Aussies they all mean the same thing. Yet whatever you all it, television has found its way into our lives in an extraordinary way.
You can be in someone’s mansion or else a mud hut and there – somewhere – will be a TV. Amazingly, not only will the television look recognizable, but the content itself will also be somewhat similar.
I say somewhat, but maybe that’s an exaggeration. For when you go to another country and turn on their TV it’s often something of a shock.
Forget the accents or language differences and you’ll still see entertainment, sport, and news of course. But there will be other quirks and surprises that aren’t exactly what you’d expect.
Like the Asian suspense crime show with the criminal threatening to shoot the heroine with a banana. Or, the live crossovers to thigh slapping festivals on Bavarian telly. Or, the endless ads on American televisions where it seems even commercials are brought to you by someone else representing another advertiser backed by yet more advertisers.
Here in remote Tasmania, we of course have our own quirks too. There’s crossovers to cricket – not that strange if you are in a nations that play it – programs devoted to Aussie rules football (a winter sport), fishing, boating, rugby, netball, soccer, lawn bowls, hockey, and basically anything that can be even vaguely be called a sport.
Generally, Tasmanians, like other Aussies, are happier watching it as playing it. But, coming up next, there’s more to our TV that’s probably not worth seeing.
Like the commercials we see that are done on the cheap selling sheep dip, giant sprinklers, and the prospect of a hearty pub lunch. Or, the homemade commercial news shows that feel a little like your Mum and Dad and friends up the road put it together for half a joke. Bringing you headlines like, “Corner store caught fire in Peter St with a damage bill of $5000”. Or, there’s a call for more parking down at the docks, chicken eggs have to be stamped, or bus fares are going up an untenable extra ten cents.
Wherever it is, the goggle box fits into the prevailing culture, offering something that people want to see where you live and pitching at a level people typically feel comfortable with. For its advertising might, you could call it a medium for manipulation. Or, just another form of cheap entertainment.
Inventors of television, like the British creator, Logie Baird, envisioned TV would be the greatest medium for education ever and maybe he was right. Only, not the way he hoped it would be.
Plus, TV has been an incredible social tool. We can feel more connected with people around us through TV than pretty much anything else. “Did you see such and such on TV last night?” and “Do you watch…?” are quick ways to find common ground with people from a wide range of backgrounds (much more than so than the Internet). Because, if they watch what you do, we find rapport that’s suddenly entwined with familiarity that’s public yet also feels private.
So do we know what this TV thing really is? With so much else going on, I guess we all take it for granted these days. Yet there is something about television that isn’t quite as banal as it seems and maybe we should take it more seriously for the great potential it brings. Whatever we like to call it.
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