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Friday, May 25, 2012

point-counterpoint: tv

So here we are.
POINT: Television shows shouldn’t be real.

Why would anyone want to turn on a television and see exactly what they can see outside their own windows, or in their own mirrors?
Television is a magical gateway to a magical land, populated by the beautiful people, those gods and goddesses with white teeth and shiny hair. The food is fresh and cooked by someone else, the wardrobe is always fashion-forward and neatly pressed, and oh, the furnishings! 
Every hair is in place, except when it’s meant not to be for comedic effect, because it’s funny when perfect people are temporarily imperfect. There are no zits on television, except in pimple cream commercials, and even they are obviously prosthetic. Even the winos and workmen have perfectly placed smudges on their faces. 
Even New York City is better on television. All of the taxis in New York are roomy, romantic, and long-extinct Checker cabs. All of New York is mostly Los Angeles. All of the trains depart only from a sun-dappled Grand Central Station. Penn Station doesn’t exist in the land of television because it is too ugly... even to play a location’s kooky best friend. 
Pizza rolls and hamburgers look amazing on television, shellacked and well-lit. The refrigerators are stainless steel behemoths, sparkling clean. Snack cakes are cut perfectly in half, with ample cream filling. All fillings are ample on TV. 
Reality is depressing. 
Reality is why we feel bad about ourselves. We plod through our days in the same old battered shoes, day after endless day. But on TV, no one wears the same thing twice, and somehow they all seem to be strolling comfortably in sky-high designer pumps. TV dreams come true! If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow... well, of course you can too!
Don’t you wish you were on TV? Of course you do!
TO SUM: If TV wasn’t fake, whatever would we aspire to be?
COUNTERPOINT: Television shows should be real.
Why would anyone want to turn on a television and see such obviously superficial fakery? 
Perfection is boring. It’s been done to death.
The best television is real, a gritty reflection of our very worst selves. We are humans who are poorly lit, ergo TV characters should be more poorly lit. In fact, they should give Emmys for Best Lighting to the worst lighting. Doesn’t that make sense?
Bricks should be made of bricks. That’s how you know it’s a brick. A fiberglass brick isn’t a real brick. How can you care about a character if he or she is standing in front of a fake brick wall? How?
How can one follow a story if one is constantly distracted by flawless eyeliner application, perfect highlights, and implants? How can anyone hope to figure out who the murderer is if the ferns look plastic? 
And how, how can we hope to believe in love when TV love is impossibly, improbably calculated? Do you actually know anyone that pretty or clever or well-dressed?
Fantasy is depressing. 
Fantasy is why we feel bad about ourselves. We can’t hope to live up to the false promises of television. Why not tell it like it is? Why not have more stories about people failing, or doing nothing? That’s something we can identify with. Not everyone’s kids are capable of uttering such sharp one-liners. Not everyone’s coffee tables and kitchen islands feature giant hand-painted ceramic bowls piled high with fruit and nuts. If TV aims low, we can feel higher.
Do you feel worthy of being on TV? Of course you don’t!
TO SUM: Fake TV only creates disappointment at our inevitable failures.

CONCLUSION: Whether or not TV is real, our lives should nonetheless revolve entirely around it... because that’s the only way we’ll know what we should buy. 
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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