I have just spent the afternoon sitting in front of the TV. Not only that, but someone else had control of the remote, with the result that I watched things that I otrherwise probably wouldn’t have.
We were mostly watching a celebrity-, pop-oriented music channel. As I watched, I was aware of the (to my eye) moral and spiritual shonkyness of some of the material, but I couldn’t bring myself to say anything, or to make a bid for remote control power.
Why do we sit watching things we don’t particularly enjoy? Is it because making a fuss would give what we’re watching some kind of control over us? Do we say ‘am I bothered though?’ as a form of self-defence?
In my case, it was partly because where I was is where I would have been anyway; a place where, if the TV switcher-oner hadn’t come along, I would have continued sitting in peace and quiet.
It seems to me that people are influenced by what they see and hear. When you watch TV, you aren’t just being given words and pictures, but ideas, ‘values’ and emotional input. If you never watched anything on TV except University challenge, but watched it every time it was on, and watched re-runs on the intervening days, I bet that after a while you would become more studenty, or Paxmany, or intellectual.
When we watch something new, that we’re not used to, we’re more receptive to the associated ‘values’ and meanings. If we watch something we’re used to, we don’t notice those things. It’s just more of the same. It becomes part of the background of our minds. Part of the scenery.