“Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.” Sir David Frost, 1939-2013.
This quote by Sir David Frost landed in my inbox yesterday. Sir David was an English journalist and television presenter who is best-known outside of the UK for the interviews he had with former US president Richard Nixon. Sir David passed away on Saturday.
In one of the articles reporting on his death I read that he had had a great love for television as a communication medium. One easily forgets that that is the purpose for which television (and radio) was originally invented – as a way to quickly spread information among large numbers of people; a way that even the illiterate could easily access. Entertainment came later, probably as a way to generate funds through marketing.
Today entertainment (with the ever-present advertising) seems to have become the main point of television (if you’re in South Africa, between the shenanigans of our politicians and the incompetence of our two brand-new twenty-four hour news channels, that includes the news as well). Entertainment, as Sir David said, in our living rooms. One has to wonder about the people we let in to do that entertainment, though.
There are quite a few people from television (aforementioned politicians included) whom I wouldn’t allow in my living room in person. I’d be distinctly uncomfortable, for example, if Dexter was a houseguest. I know he only kills bad guys, but still…
I won’t like to have House in my…erm…house. I love the character, but can’t say I care much for someone calling me an idiot and a liar the whole time.
I consider Two and a Half Men a bit of a guilty pleasure (because it’s really not that good – typical American humour based exclusively on bodily functions), but I’m sure I want none of the Harpers to ever set foot in my house.
If Castle, Gibbs, or Grissom showed up it would probably be to interrogate me as a murder suspect (if I’m lucky) and Patrick Jane would just creep me out if I ever met him in person.
The Doctor may visit any time, as long as he doesn’t bring along any Daleks and I get to go for a ride in the TARDIS. (If I had a choice I’d prefer the tenth to show up, but it doesn’t matter all that much.)
Last weekend a large number of people regretted allowing Miley Cyrus into their living rooms. Frankly, I wouldn’t want Hannah Montana in mine either, nor any other character from that show or any other recent Disney (or Nickelodeon) offering for that matter (except Phineas and Ferb – they can visit anytime…maybe they’ll invent a cool waterslide/elevator combo for my building so I won’t have to climb four flights of stair every day anymore).
But where Sir David’s words ring true the most is with reality TV. Who on earth would want the Kardashians or the Osbournes over? (Unless you’re, you know, actually friends with them.) After seeing how the contestants of Big Brother behaved in their living room I certainly don’t want them in mine. (Just for the record, I don’t watch those shows, but have experienced them on a single-serving basis. That was enough.)
I wish I could say I wouldn’t want any contestant of Survivor in my living room, but I suppose there are bits of all of them in each of us – we just keep those parts hidden most of the time.
One person from reality television I would gladly allow in my living room on purpose is Phil from Amazing Race. He actually looks uncomfortable when the contestants on his show start biting at each other – most reality show hosts encourage it.
But I think we’d stop watching most of what we watch if the cast members actually showed up to act out their scenes in our living rooms, don’t you?
Which people who regularly entertain you through your television would you prefer not to drop in for tea and cakes?