Happy New Year. I Killed My TV, or, Why TVs Need Their Own Room

Essays

“Happy New Year. I Killed My TV”

I walked into my house tonight after seeing “A Beautiful Mind” (really good) and remembered that at our big New Years patio party last night I had killed my TV. My apartment was strangely silent when I walked in, not that I’d usually have a TV going when I’m gone, but more a silence from its absence that fell about me when I looked at the empty spot it had occupied. Then I hit the couch and grabbed the remote control, something I had forgotten to kill. That was a very strange feeling.

So, I wandered around for a bit, wondering just what to do? With this kind of hangover and fatigue from hosting a big party, I’d usually try and find a golf match, nature documentary, or the ultimate Codeine of TV, “Love Boat” re-runs. Now, only silence.

Not that this is a forever thing, but over the last year I had been watching more and more TV. And the more I watched, the more I had the little feeling in my head start to grow, a feeling that it is not good to spend that much time alone in a apartment with a cat watching other people do exciting things, while you do nothing but breathe and watch.

And that feeling grew. TV is a story box and mostly involves the listener doing nothing but listening, while the cast performs stories. In the last month I grew to hate my little TV, and at the core, myself for being seduced by its charm. I felt like I was sitting in a car sitting on the highway of life, in neutral, and with a blank glazed look in my eyes. My mother didn’t allow TV in the house until I was 18, so that adds to its attraction for me. And my undergrad was in video production, which must have freaked my mother out, although I’ve always thought it was better to make TV, then to watch it.

TV is way more powerful then we think and I have come to believe it is too powerful for me to handle right now. So I killed my TV last night. Lots of folks expressed an interest in taking it off my hands, but I needed to not get rid of it, I needed to kill it. Other people wanted to watch, some wanted to take their own anger out by taking a hit.

Anyway, at around 12:45am last night the crowd at the party reminded me that I’d promised to kill my TV. It was sitting on a chair outside, off the cable line, showing snow. I found myself avoiding the act for a while, but finally grabbed a wooden (TVs have capacitors that can hold a charge for a while) hammer and took it to the back ally dumpster. Closing my eyes, I swung the hammer at the center of the screen. A Pop. A spark. Then I just kept hitting it until it was a mangled piece of plastic, wires and glass. It felt great.

Now I sit here typing this, partly because I don’t have a TV anymore and had to find something else to do. It may take a while to get used to, and I might go down to my neighbors apartment to watch TV in about 3 minutes, but at least I’ll be with someone else and out of the house.

The older I get, the more I understand my mother’s tactic. No TV meant no policing hours per week or other hassles. And yet I watched TV at my friends houses enough to be able to sing the Gilligan’s Island theme song or talk about the last MASH episode.

I had a distant uncle I visited once who seemed to have very sound protocol with TV, if you can afford it. He was a film music composer and on the Academy board for the awards. I think there’s about 4000 people who vote for the awards and each one gets the movies mailed to them every year to screen. In his house he had a TV room. There was a main couch and several soft chairs, all pointing at the TV. A shelf full of tapes, a coffee table, and a TV. It was clearly set up only for one purpose and closed off from the rest of the house. During a party it would be a very hard room to socialize in because it was entirely focused on one wall.

I believe TV is powerful enough that it needs to have its own room to keep it from getting out into the house and lulling us all into a story watching coma. Or in my case, right now TV needed to be killed outright and banned from the house all together, at least until I learn how to handle it better. Because really, it was not the TV that was the problem, it’s just telling stories for all those who want to listen, for as long as you can take it.

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