I keep feeling a need to write, and have felt for the last few days like I should write a post on unschooling. Because, you know, that's what this blog has become almost entirely about.
But you know what I really want to write about today? I want to write about TV shows.
A couple of years ago, I hardly watched any TV shows. There were maybe one or two I watched with any sort of interest or regularity, but that was about it. Yet in recent times, I've come to truly appreciate about ten different shows, and really, really love a couple of those ten. Having discovered the joys of watching shows on DVD when possible, I've devoured whole seasons in the space of a few days, caught up in wonderful worlds filled with compelling characters. Current favorites include:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Though a classic of modern television to most people, I only started watching it in July of this past summer, after having heard rave reviews from multiple people. I was quickly sucked in (no vampire pun intended), and after having gone through all seven seasons during the course of the summer (and very early fall), I can say that this is my favorite show, ever. Terrific, hilarious dialogue; genuinely believable character development; great characters; clever storylines... I was by turns literally falling over laughing and bawling my eyes out. So yeah, it's just great!
Being Erica: A sweet, funny, and moving story about a woman who's building the life she truly wants through time traveling "therapy". My only favorite Canadian show, since, well, there don't seem to be many Canadian shows to choose from at all, so considering the overall small percentage, the good ones are few and far between. But this one is a real gem!
Supernatural: My newest discovery (I'm currently nearly finished the first season), this show is about pretty guys fighting malicious spirits, demons, shapeshifters, and various other creatures of the night. Since I'm someone who likes both fantasy/supernatural stories, and pretty guys, how could I resist it? The interaction between the two main characters is great, and there's plenty of humour, a must for me (I can't think of a single show I like that isn't funny at least at times... If there's nothing to laugh at, I get bogged down in serious shit and just get bored).
Sherlock: Really a mini-series more than anything, I've decided to count it anyway because it's a recurring mini-series (can't wait for the next season! I sure hope it's longer than the first one...). By far the best on screen take on Sherlock Holmes I've ever seen. Set in modern day, this fast-paced, sharp, and witty show is just wonderful. Also? I usually (well, okay, mostly) refrain from shipping non-canon couples, but it's obvious that Sherlock and Watson are made for each other (and the show's creators totally play on that!).
Other shows I enjoy include Inspector Lewis, House, The Mentalist, and Doctor Who.
And what's the point of my telling you about a few of my favorite shows, you ask? Well, besides recommending them to you, I want to talk a bit about storytelling.
You see, some people have this idea that storytelling is only worthwhile, only a valid way of spending time, if it fits a certain format: most often, those who feel this way consider books to be that format. Yet storytelling is an art-form, or more, a collection of art-forms, that are incredibly diverse: books, comics, plays, movies, TV shows, puppet shows, musicals... All of these are different ways to tell a story, all can be equally, though in very different ways, captivating, interesting, thought-provoking, and just plain entertaining. I think there enters a certain snobbishness though, as people try to cast certain forms of storytelling as "better" than others.
There is the argument that TV has many harmful messages: that there's obvious sexism, racism, classism, homophobia and transphobia, fat-hating, and other really nasty things present in most shows. And that's completely true. But, since we live in a society that is sexist, classist, etc., everything created by members of this society, be it TV or novels or puppet shows, is as likely to perpetuate oppression as anything else. In a society where oppression is so ingrained, it's virtually impossible to find something, anything, without at least some nasty shit in it. I suppose you could decide to not come into contact with any media whatsoever, and in the right circumstances that could certainly be managed, but even then, if you still talk to people, you're going to encounter those some attitudes and things you're trying to avoid. Which leads to my next point:
There's a big difference between passive absorption and active engagement. The first is what I think most people against television picture when they think of TV: blank faced zombies sitting in absolute stillness in front of a flickering screen, their brains passively absorbing whatever passes over said screen. Yet in my house, that's not how watching TV works.
To start with, it's a social activity: I virtually never watch TV shows alone. All four members of my family like Sherlock and Inspector Lewis; the three women in the house like House, Being Erica, Buffy, and Doctor Who. Emi and I like Supernatural. And we like discussing what we watch. And when I say discussing, I mean we talk about everything from how hot that guy is, to the fact that in this show, that person is being treated as the Token Gay Guy, or how police are glorified in many shows. We discuss the building of stories and characters, scriptwriting etc., as well as how commonly found stereotypes and social norms are reinforced in TV shows, and how that might affect the people who watch said shows more passively than we do. It's not unusual for one of us, when watching a show on DVD, to snatch up the controller, pause it, and bring up some interesting point about something that just happened on the show. Active engagement might seem like a strange way to describe watching TV, but for my family, it seems pretty accurate.
Does this mean I think that people who don't watch TV shows or don't own a TV are seriously missing out? No, it doesn't. If going TV free makes someone feel freer, more whole, more relaxed, or in any way happier, hell, I think it's great!
This also doesn't mean that I love modern technology, or think it will exist in the future. I see a future of radical decentralization, and a return to truly sustainable communities: technologies based on exploitative practices have no place in that future. But seeing as I'm a part of this culture for now, as are we all, I either embrace (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or tolerate (like money) many aspects of it that I might think hold no place in an egalitarian and sustainable future.
Life is adaptable, and perhaps I'll decide at some point, maybe even in the near future, that I think the negatives of TV's and TV watching outweigh the positives, and decide to make some changes around TV in my own life. But for now? For now I want to see if Emi wants to watch the season one finale of Supernatural, because I can't wait to see what happens...