When I was a little girl we didn't have cable television. "Our television was a piece of furniture unto itself." It sat in the living room; a large plant stand from which Little House on the Prairie blared religiously on Monday evenings.
"Mondays were my favorite night back then." After cheering for Laura as she triumphed time and again over the detestable Nellie Oleson my mother and I would sit cross-legged in front of the TV folding the weekend laundry while she watched M*A*S*H. It was quality time. I had her all to myself -- even if I did have to sit and match socks. It wasn't long before a new item adorned the top of that old T.V. set.
"Subscription television finally came to my house." We had what was called ON Television, which was a pretty funny name because it was more OFF than it was ON. Broadcasting only between the hours of 6pm to 1am they provided commercial free movies, sports events, and theatrical performances. It came into our home via a small black box that sat atop the bohemouth squawking plant stand. In order to view this smorgasbord of commercial free goodies you had to turn your television to an off broadcast channel and then switch the box ON. The commercial free movies were great, but like I said "it wasn't always ON."
After that we got cable television. Cable was even better than ON because it was ON all the time. Not only did cable come with movie channels it came with additional television channels. It was here that I was introduced to Alanis Morissette, the woman that stole my diary -- turned it into a bunch of really great songs -- made a ton of money off of itâ and hasn't even had the decency to buy me a cup of coffee. OK...that might be an exaggeration. She didn't actually steal my diary, but I did watch her faithfully every afternoon on Nickelodeon's "You Can't Do That on Television" though that would be a few years after we actually got cable. Preceding the entrance into my life of a most beloved chanteuse was the premier of Music Television, also known as MTV.
I was 8 years old when MTV debuted. The hype surrounding this premier was so huge that even I, a mere 8 years old was excited to see what this music television was about. I remember standing in front of that enormous television/plant stand when out of the darkness came the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll," followed by the now iconic MTV man on the moon.
Already having absorbed my parent's love of music I was familiar with the sounds of Linda Ronstadt, Janis Joplin, AC/DC, and The Stones to name just a few as the list goes on and on. But I had never seen an actual music video. This would soon change as Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles filled the picture screen beneath my mothers plant collection.
Over the years I would get to know the VJ's well, Martha Quinn being my all-time favorite. But, as a true blue lover of music...I never really got the allure of MTV. "Sure" some of the videos were cool, and I seriously wanted to be Martha Quinn, but the sound was atrocious. Those speakers on that ancient console television just didn't do Pat justice as she informed me, rather astutely I might add, that "Love is a Battlefield." It really is.
Perhaps if I had been witness to the birth of MTV on my roommates new enormous 60inch widescreen high-definition flat plasma TV jacked into his killer sound system that now adorns our living room I would have a different opinion of it. I've never seen Blade Runner look or sound as good as it does on this technological wonder. The house actually rumbles with the sound. With this baby there would have been no mistaking the severity of Pat's message. It would have been heard loudly, clearly, and accompanied by a high definition dance floor battlefield where ladies of the night laid down their arms and took up the dance in an effort to show the slimy night club owner the power of female solidarity.
My roommate seems quite pleased with his new toy. I'm sure he'll be even more pleased when football season starts again. It will be just like he's actually at the game only with Prime Ticket it will be like he is at ALL of the games.
I sit and look at my now 13 year old 27 inch Sony that sits atop the dresser in my bedroom; a Christmas gift from an ex-ex boyfriend that shows no signs of ceasing to provide hours of visual entertainment anytime soon. I wonder if its time to say "Out with the old -- in with the new" and purchase a smaller version of what most nearly approximates having an actual movie theater in your home. And then I remember. I remember that despite not knowing how many channels pumped into our home via digital satellite that there is almost nothing worth watching.
Gone are the days of "Must see TV." And MTV, that Music Television thing I was so disappointed by. It doesn't even show videos anymore. What once meant quality time with Mom has become a never ending merry-go-round of sharks, Nazis, trashy reality shows, and CSI: pick your favorite city. "Honestly if it weren't for "Lost" and Bill Maher my DVR would sit empty. "No." I will not succumb to the consumer machine that continually pumps out newer and better versions of providing nothing worth having.
"Television has come a long way and gone nowhere." What could have been an instrument of education, quality entertainment, and relevant information is simply soma for a bored and frustrated body of willing viewers. For my part, I will continue to watch Bill and "Lost" on my, now tiny, 27 inch curved television screen with a real picture tube housed somewhere inside.
Though, I do have to say it might be nice to see Bender give Principal Vernon the old FU in high definition quality during one of my nostalgic for the 80's fests. "Yeah" that would be really cool.