My friend asked me if I wanted her TV/DVD player which she was giving away. Since I had a 18 year old TV (no DVD player), I said, "Yes." That meant giving away my old TV which was given to me by a friend Thersia, who tragically died not long after she gave me her TV. I was very attached to my old very old TV, but someone once said I shouldn't get sentimental about a set. Finally, I was ready to let go of my old set. A few months ago I'd walked into my local video store, but they didn't have videos--only DVDs. So I thought maybe I should get a new TV?
I've never bought a TV in my life. Actually, when I was 12, my dad threw out our family TV, telling me to study, so throughout my teens and and most of my twenties I didn't have television in my house. I read a lot, started a record collection, saw great films, and made videos--wrote, directed, and produced feminist news which was broadcast. Since I was making TV, I was given my grandmother's old set. I was of the generation which fell in love with movies as ART and wanted to be video freaks, making our own video.
Makng one's own short newsbroadcast and then showing it on the air was such a rush--incredibly exciting. I even helped a colleague write a grant for a people's video editing studio. In comparison to making one's own television in the 1970s and 1980s, broadcast TV was ridiculous, a stereotypic waste of time. As TVs in the last few years grew larger & larger I thought it quite bizarre. Why on earth anyone would want such a big piece of dud in their living room?
Once the new TV was in my apartment (the same size as the old TV or about 24" wide), I looked at the manual and the remote control, and then I went to Radio Shack to get a rabbit ear antennae and some cables to hook it up. Back in the apartment, I followed the manual in hooking up my VCR to the new TV as well as the stereo receiver to the TV and also hooked on the new antennae as well as plugged it in. I turned on the TV but all it said was "no usable signal" and the remote control didn't work. After replugging and plugging the TV on , I got the DVD player to work but still no broadcast TV.
Next day I called my local TV shop in West Hollywood and asked them to make a house call to set up my TV. Well, the technician came. He immediately got the on-screen menu to work (I had been warned that the menu was very difficult to operate), and by god he got a TV signal. The picture was fuzzy but it was a real signal! Also, after he put a tape in the VCR he got the video to play. He also put one of my jazz CDs in the DVD and it played out of my two stereo speakers! He turned by rabbit ear antennae this way and that--each way some TV stations would come in but others wouldn't. He said that now TVs cost less to build than they used to but are sold for much more money. Also, he said I should get cable TV because the broadcast signals are lousy where I live.
I had cable TV once in my life but hated it. I've seen a lot of great movies in theaters, but there were few good movies on the cable movie channels--a major disappointment. No Fellini No Bergman. No Kurosawa. No Ray. No Eisenstein. What a drag this cable TV was. The biographies were 2nd rate. The documentaries weren't that good. I've seen some great documentaries from Nanook of the North to Ken Burns The Civil Wars and Jazz, but on cable they weren't showing top documentaries the 6 months I had it in the mid-1990s. For 2nd rate programming I paid $24/month plus had to watch insipid ads.
I did start watching Law & Order, the cop/attorney show on cable NBC, but it was also on the regular channel of NBC, so I stopped the cable. For years I've had this guilty pleasure of watching Law & Order on NBS. Even Noam Chomsky watches Law & Order. When I heard that, I felt pleased with my attachment to this show. On Law & Order pop culture theorizes about latest current eventssuch as gun control, radio talk show hosts, undocumented immigrants, ect.
The technician said I could get analog cable which was cheaper than the digital from my local cable company who doesn't even advertise they still have analog since they make so much more money from digital. After he left I could get the PBS station which I watch a lot; CBS which I also watch a bit; and the Warner Brothers station which I never watch. But I couldn't get or NBC or the local station KCAL in Los Angeles. So I thought, do I want just to watch CBS and PBS and forget about NBC? Can I live without NBC?
If I don't get NBC I'll never get to see Law & Order, but after years of watching Law & Order, it isn't that original but repetitive and a bit of a bore. Last year I read my way through 50 novels about Los Angeles to make up a list of the top 40 novels of L.A--the novels were incredibly exciting; in contrast, TV seemed even more stereotypic and dull. I think it a shame that after more than 60 years of television in this country it still stinks to the extent it does. I'm still my father's daughter, thinking that books, music, good movies, making ones own video are much more exciting and entertaining than canned commercial TV.
Right now I'll stick with CBS and PBS, forget about cable, save the money, and skip Law & Order. Oh, I did rent my first DVD--rapidly entering the modern era. I saw Delores Claiborne starring Kathy Bates who was excellent in this adaption of a Stephen King book. The new technology is great--yes, DVD's are an improvement over videotape; yes, it's good to hear TV concerts over stereo speakers (the rare time there's a good concert on broadcast TV). So it was worthwhile to get the new set after all in order to play DVDs.