Monday, October 1, 2012

Do You Know Where Your Remote Is?

I remember the days when the only stations you got were ABC (channel 2), CBS (channel 4), NBC (channel 5), and PBS (channel 9).  It was exciting to then start getting KPLR TV(channel 11), and thrilling to get a channel 30 (for the life of me I can't remember the call letters).  This was back in the '70s.  Back when black and white TVs were still popular, so were console televisions.  There was a turn dial, some of them, like ours, had two - one to change the channels with and the other to adjust the lines and the picture quality - but not all of them went up to channel 30 (which wasn't denoted by a number, but by something else).  There were finicky rabbit ears that had to be adjusted depending on the channel you were watching and the time of day.  It didn't matter if your TV's image wasn't perfectly clear.  Even with lines running up and down and lots of little fuzzy dots, you still watched intently.

The fact that there was no remote didn't bother anyone.  There wasn't much to choose from in the first place.  In the second place, people were usually loyally devoted to a certain station for their programs during a given amount of time, so you didn't need to get up to change anything anyway. 

I don't think it was until more and more commercial blocks began to interfere with our viewing pleasures that even wishing for a remote became a desire.  And unlike today, the majority of us sat within inches of our televisions anyway, despite the fact that we could go cross eyed, or even blind, for doing so.

We weren't use to a million choices either, back then.  In fact it wasn't till the surge of longer and more frequent national commercial spots, and the up-rise of shows where people went shopping for all kinds of cool things and wore a different outfit every day, and who could do whatever they wanted with minimal moral consequences - despite their mediocre jobs, that we started to get a bit more self righteous in that we felt more deserving of optional ways to spend our hard earned cash.

This coincided with the idea that because we worked hard we had every right to spend money in order to show that we were at the economic level that we thought we should be at, despite the fact that we really weren't, and that this idea also made us deserving of sitting on our asses in front of TV dinners and Twinkies, in order to pleasure ourselves and to ease our poor hardworking bodies and minds with free entertainment, remote in hand (even though I don't think they were invented yet).  This also marked the time of longer hours for workers and businesses, as well as longer political battles in counties, towns, and cities on whether or not businesses, other than the Sunday morning Dunkin' Donut shops and the occasional family restaurants, should be open on Sundays.  Longer hours, to make more money, to spend more money, to sit in front of the boob tube, to see more people spending money and acquiring more things, to see more commercials for things we should be spending our money on because everyone else was.  So where was our damned remote!?

Well, we got our remotes.  We also got lazy.  We stopped taking naps, replacing good old fashion rest and fresh air with even more corporate induced television families and heroes.  We got love on boats, fantasy islands, bionics, smart assed rich kids, crappy cereals with crappy prizes, and toys that peed.  And we didn't stop there.  The remote controls needed remote controllers.  Soon every household had an alpha remote control keeper.  Those who lived alone were envied by the rest of us. 

Now we have even more choices, thousands of channels and programs to choose from, boxes and boxes of media options, individual controls and universal controls (none of it free any longer by the way).  We have so many choices we don't have time to watch all of our decisions.  And so hell yeah we're going to throw everything upside down, even if it takes us an hour or even days, to find that remote so we don't have to move a gosh darned muscle.  Our alpha status depends upon it.

1 comment:

Roberta Kyle said...

ahhh Frieda, I remember the days before the remote too-- the days when the three grainy black and white TV stations went off the air at 1am by playing the national anthem. and test patterns. Remember them?

Some days I feel awash in information and other days I feel overwhelmed, but you can't stop progress and the future belongs to it which I guess is why the present moment is where I feel most comfortable..... loved this post and you wonderfully unique take on things as always. Good to see you posting again.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Frieda says: I can e-mail you my posts!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner