That Whole Bathwater Thing

This is something I’ve thought of on and off for a while, sometimes after comments from Karl and last time when that whole four things meme was going on. I found it funny, disapointing and just this side of pissing me off that people would show no shame in listing bad movies as “movies I can watch over and over” but then feel the need to say “I don’t watch tv” when they got to “Four tv shows I love”. WTF? Watching a 2 hours crap movie is ok but you can’t (or won’t admit to) watch tv? Come, on!

It’s also weird to me that I get compliments and “I wish I’d do that”s when I list the books I read in 2005 but hear a variety of critiques of tv when mentioning Lost. I’m not sure I understand how books are great (which they are) even though there are Fabio covered romance novels out there but tv is crap because The Simple Life is produced.

Interesting that one is beloved despite something and the other reviled because of a similar example of crapulence. The same thing happened a number of times with blogs (just this last week in Montréal with the Nuovo incident [fr]). The “journalist” dumps all blogs because some are shit. I haven’t read his article and there might be a hole in my associating those things together but one thing remains, people notice crap in some setting and dump the whole setting, good and bad together.

There are tv shows that have more production value and/or talented writing than 10 hollywood blockbusters. There are books that can change your life and some not worth the paper they are printed on. Some superb reporting in papers and some papers you use to line birdcages (allo Franco).

I’m sure some are thinking “of course Patrick, it’s always been like that”. Yes, it has. Still pisses me off and should still stop. So just to keep reminding people:

  • Blogs are a way to publish, some are good some are bad.
  • Books are a way to publish, some are good some are bad.
  • Movies are…

    And on, and on.


Philippe-A. March 7, 2006

Moi non plus, je n’écoute pas la télé, même si j’ai regardé “40 year old virgin” au moins 15 fois depuis que je l’ai acheté.

Certes, il y a de bonnes émissions, mais encore faut-il être devant l’écran quand elles passent. “Regarder la télévision” en tant qu’activité est souvent une perte de temps monumentale.

C’est pourquoi jamais je ne laisserai le cable rentrer chez moi sans un enregistreur numérique (tivo).

Et c’est pourquoi, je t’écris ceci entre deux épisodes sur DVD de Lost (c’est même pas des jokes!).

Patrick March 7, 2006

Yeah, that’s something I had in mind of including but forgot. The difference with TV is that you can simply sit in front of it with no particular goal, just going from show to show, sitting there. You can hardly finish a book and slip into another one without realizing it.

Someone can go “doh! I just watched half of Oprah”, harder to go “doh! I just read half of A Million Little Pieces”.

karl March 7, 2006

Bad movies are bad movies. It doesn’t mean that it’s a universal truth, an opinion is not a universal truth. It’s one of the thing unfortunately that bloggers in general tend to forget. Expressing one’s concerns doesn’t mean he/she’s right, it doesn’t mean that you have to behave the same.

Basically, if I was naughty, I would say: “Why it’s pissing your off? You do not assume the fact to watch TV and take pleasure with it?” ;)

So I will repeat it again. I was a telephage, I was swallowing TV when I had one, looking dumbly at all american TV series. I still have wonderful memories with a lot of them. I enjoyed the generic of “Mannix”, I found “Hawaii, police d’état” boring, I still laugh at the French versions of “Magnum” or “Starsky and Hutch” (lot better in French). I have spent thousands of hours in front of TV.

That said, I knew how lame it was for myself (I do not say it’s lame for others and that you should be burnt because you watch TV.)

When I moved from France to Canada, I decided to not buy again a TV. The first main reason is that it didn’t happen, as in I moved, and I had many things to do before thinking of buying a TV. The other reason was that I knew that the main channels TQS, TVA, etc, were cutting 10 times during the showing of a movie with advertisements. Then I noticed that 1) I didn’t miss it 2) I gained a handful of hours by day.

I repeat a handful of hours by day, something like 3 hours by day. That is just gorgeous. 3 hours gave me the possibility to do many other things I was enjoying more, a lot more. That was insanely cool.

There are bad movies on screen, There are bad books as well. And sometimes you are utterly disappointed by them. But once I have been disappointed by a specific author. I’m very unlikely to come back to this book, and/or this author. It can happen though.

I usually don’t read self-help book, I don’t read the sports chronicles of someone, etc. to illustrate the categories of TV shows related to Oprah or Sports on TV. Though naughty ambiguities of life, I would enjoy watching a Rugby game, but not at all a basket ball game that I have played for 15 years.


complexity, yes definitely. There’s never only one answer.

Antoine March 7, 2006

BitTorrent saved my life….

AlexAtNotesonCinema March 7, 2006

An intelligent man understands the ambiguities of life.

and yes, i concur, catcher does change lives. it changed mine.

but on the subject of tv. i must say that a 21-episode series has never packed the life-altering qualities of two or three classic movies. i do not doubt that there is some interesting work being produced but the format is inhenrently limiting, TeeVee relies on simplicity and clarity, and manipulative dramatic engagement (do i even need to point this out). If we are putting up tv against film, then i maintain that the best visual education (the one that alters the way you reason about) is found in cinema. no contest.

Patrick March 7, 2006

Probably true, Doesn’t mean every movie is by default better than any tv show / miniseries. Which some people seem to believe and “promote”.

Julie March 7, 2006

AlexAt… thanks for pointing that out.

Different media produce different types of stories, using different stylistics and ultimately engaging the receiver (/reader) differently. Yes there’s good TV and bad films and bad books, but a receiver’s relationship to the medium greatly changes the message. Why are there so many people who’d rather watch a movie than read a book? Well, for starters, a book takes commitment. It takes patience. The consumption of the story is done over multiple time slots rather than in just one seating. Different senses are stimulated. Plots are exposed differently (as they are from movies to TV). If you don’t understand a word you may be able to infuse its meaning from the context, but isn’t body language, facial expressions and the film score much more accessible to “getting” the meaning than dragging out the dictionary to look the word up? This is just part of what alters the medium, and people respond to all these elements differently.

Then, you have the ads. I can’t stand that the volume on TV goes up 10 notches when the ads come on. Can’t stand it! Some people just hate ads. Others go watch movies of ads at Park cinema. To each his own. But ads do change the experience.

Then, there’s the schedule. You have to know what plays and when and whether you’ll like it. So you’re a big fan of Lost. I like 24. But if I need to work Monday night, 24 gets the boot without much remorse on my part. Especially since I know that at the beginning of the next show there will be a 2 minute recap that will perfectly sum up what a missed or, worse case scenario, I’ll be able to rent it in a few months. Big deal!

Now, as you know Pat, I am one of those who don’t watch TV (24 is a habit that started this year, I’m very outdated and uncool, and generally I watch about an hour of TV per 2 months, even if I have cable). I do like reading and I like movies. I basically love stories. I love being immersed in a story. I love being fascinated. If a like a section of a movie, I’ll watch it a few times over (I think I watch 8Mile 3 times in two days, and the last scene was watched maybe 5 or 6 times in total). I can re-read a page I like up to three times, just to soak in the story more than once. TV usually doesn’t do it for me because of commercial breaks, the schedule thing, can’t re-play and because scripts are often rather lame (even 24 disappoints at times…).

That being said, the people I have known who best knew all of the Simpsons’ and Seinfeld episodes by heart as well as all the current reality TV shows are my buddies from my MA Literature courses at UofM. The reason was: after spending 3 hours racking your brain over some theory text (like, 5 to 10 pages of it), your head goes to mush and needs some braindead material to recuperate. For them it was the Simpsons’ (which is actually a good show, as was Senfeld), for me it was “Legally Blond” and “Bring it On.” Seriously, you wouldn’t believe some of the crap graduate Lit students appreciate in their “off” hours. When I started my MA I would come back from class and religiously watch The Bachlor. Eventually I became friends with my aforementioned buddies and opted for drinking beer with them rather than watch TV alone at home. :-)

Pat, don’t forget that a lot of people watch TV because they don’t have motivation to do much else. In our society it is often used as a brain-numb-er. Now if that annoys a few who rather ignore it, or who rather actively claim that it’s crap, it might not be a reflection of the quality of some shows rather than a (political) stance to what they feel is an affront to their individuality and, to an extent, their humanity.

Bref, there’s more to a medium than its name (TV vs film vs literature – and that’s without even going into High and Low Art!) and people will react to it very differently for different reasons. In the meanwhile, you’d best put your energies into something other than frustration over people who might just not have yet found a good quality TV show to look forward to. :)

BTW: A Million Pieces is quite an entertaining book and hardly one you put down half-way through! ;)

Martine March 7, 2006

I liked “Bring it on” as well! ;-)

Owning a pvr (Tivo style) has changed the way I view television: no ads, on-screen scheduling and skip the irrelevant, introductory stuff. I really only watch the stuff I care for so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time. A lot of people have said it before me but I’ll say it anyway: there’s no way I would go back to what tv used to be before the pvr.

Hoedic March 8, 2006

Long comments here :) Watching again ang again a bad film is tied with symbolism. A given film even if it’s a ‘navet’ mean something, reminds or creates specific emotions or thoughts. You can’t compare that with watching/reading something new (a new episode of a serie you know).

Personnaly : I hate looking for a good show. I turn on the TV and see crap, then I switch it off. And I don’t want to pay for channels that I will probably never watch, with tons of ads, etc. So I use my TV for DVDs and Hockey + Cartoons (Simpsons and South Park), I we just have the channel needed for that.

Epicure March 8, 2006

Débat perpétuel… L’art mineur vs l’art avec un grand A.

Ça me rappelle mes études en communication quand avec un certain mépris dans le regard et un bouquin sous le bras, quelques étudiants se vantaient de ne pas avoir de télé chez-eux.

Que tu préfères les livres, la télé ou le cinéma, tout est dans les choix que tu fais. On trouve du meilleur comme du pire dans chaque. Et peu importe, il ne faut jamais oublier qu’on est tous le quétaine de quelqu’un d’autre!

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