"TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests."
– David Foster Wallace
Writer and Professor at Pomona College
4 comments on “Quote of the Day About TV”
I would agree that there are many shows on TV that are “vulgar and prurient and dumb,” but I won’t stand for the idea that all of them are. Watching Lost, indeed, might be one of the noblest things I have ever done.
I like TV. Much of it is vapid, but much of it isn’t. Since I grew up with only one TV channel for the first 13 years of my life (actually, we didn’t get a TV until I was 4), I watched everything from Gilligan’s Island to The Twilight Zone. It was a good way to learn about the structure of drama, and to become a more discerning consumer. My daughter (now 25) didn’t watch TV until she was 13, and it took her awhile to learn the distinctions between the stupidity of Saved by the Bell and her first favorite Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. But eventually she caught up. I’ve never been able to sit and watch anything comfortably–not even in a movie theater–so I like to multi-task while the TV is around. The trick is to use TV instead of letting it use you–i.e., to be selective.
Rings true to me. Especially after doing a course on writing. Then it struck me how many references there are to “high culture” in even the lowliest sitcoms. It’s got more to do with the format than with the autors’ abilities.
To quote Ibsen: “The majority is always wrong”
And not only that, it is vulgar and dumb as well. Pity.