Some 20 years back, I returned home to find thermocol strewn all over the living room. Unbeknownst to me, a new way of life was in the offing, one that had more than 2 channels and where lifeguards with red swimsuits saved the day. To relive that feeling, think back to a time when you scurried back from school to catch Small Wonder and Wonder Years and a little later, Home improvement and It’s a man’s world. And you wondered how children in America were kissing mouth to mouth with such aplomb.
Before we were enslaved by social networking, television time was not easy to come by. In my case, it was simply the case of too many people vying for one solitary device. Grandma never veered off from sun tv. My sister never veered off from bold and the beautiful and santa barbara. In between all of this, I was supposed to find space, even though I didn’t understand what the heck I was supposed to be watching. And then Baywatch washed everything over.
Of course you’ve been there. Of course, you’ve told your folks about how Baywatch was about rescue and fending off disaster believing they would fall for that while you waited patiently for Pam and all the others to strut their stuff as they ran across the beach with ‘I’ll be there’ playing in the background. And for the want of space, you did all of this with the entire family watching. From time to time, granny’s eyes would wander to the screen and ask if the women didn’t have money to clothe themselves.
Of course you’ve been there, when watching, the subjects on screen decided to suddenly get frisky. Then they would make out. Then they would decide to take off their clothes. And then would materialise a near sex scene that made everybody squirm in their seats. So what started off a wholesome family entertainment took a ghastly turn. It is one of those serendipitous moments when your hand refuses to find the remote and eyes refuse to leave the screen and everybody is forced to suffer in silence.
How can you forget the times when you went back to school to discuss Friday’s Philips top ten? And when you fought for what was deemed your right to television. When a fight broke out with your sibling over what to watch and both ended up getting censured. In those trying times, the joy and thrill of watching television watching lay in what one had to traverse to get there.
Now, the television has achieved near archaic status. You can’t chat on television or see photos or follow celebrities. Everybody gloats over the number of channels that are afforded to them. 400 they say, as if it were a matter of personal pride. While in reality, after scouring through every photo on facebook, chatting yourself to death and reflecting on what the twitterati have to say about the state of the world or the state of their world, you just plop yourself on a chair and watch the first channel that lulls you into a deep slumber. If you haven’t yet figured, the 400 channels is just an illusion of choice.
Personally, the lucre of television has long since faded. After granny passed on, the television sits alone, bereft of all the attention that was once bestowed on it. I still take care (dad disagrees vehemently, but you know who to believe) to carefully dust it once a week. There are no more battles to be fought in order to earn television time. It sits forlorn, much a yesteryear star whose days of glory have long since passed.
20 years hence, the television at home has gotten bigger (Pam Anderson will be proud) and better. And so it sits, all 29 inches of it and a home theatre for company. Still waiting for that elusive boob job to restore it to some of its past glory.