The end of television

At least for us at Chez 5th Ave.

The June 12 transition to digital has arrived. We're currently just a little too cheap for basic cable, have no box for our older set, and I haven't worked out the d-settings for our newer tube. So we're cut off. It's undeniably just a little startling for a couple kids brought up with TV as a central part of the home.

Although neither of us found that TV ate into family time to a debilitating effect, I definitely remember my dad regularly stopping the flow of a talk/argument in the den as his eyes would wander over my shoulder to the screen. He'd point to the screen, say "Let's watch," and that would be that. To be fair, he tended towards substantive fare, mostly news and docs–my parents loved to tut-tut in time to the stopwatch on 60 Minutes. Thank goodness we weren't brought up on the addictive "reality" genre.

Of course, the advent of The Network has assured that the end of television is neither about the end of televised content, nor the end of interacting with the screen. Nor is it the end of "far sight," the phrase to which the compound of the Greek tele and the Latin visio translates.

For all his occasionally annoying pretensions, Genesis P-Orridge generally had it right on this. I think it was in RE/Search #4/5 (during the early '80s) that he talked about media-makers transcending television's strictures. Of course, if anything, the post-television age is about more access to more diverse and interesting televisual content, more access to production and media, and fewer commercials and broadcast time strictures.

Bye-bye, TV. Your history is fascinating, but you're done.


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