As you know, I’m all about reading. I love an interesting fiction story and I love reading biographies about my “heroes” (more on that next week). One aspect of reading I sometimes struggle with is the “Read Instead” concept. For a long time, I didn’t have cable. I used my computer to catch up on current events and I had a roommate who worked at Blockbuster so we always had movies around to watch should the feeling strike us. When I moved in with my Huz in 2007, I “upgraded” and we have had cable since. Now I have shows that I greatly enjoy, and often they fit into the same genres as my favorite books – “documentaries” about mermaids, weekly series about fairy tale characters who live in modern Maine, and quirky movies and shows with sci-fi themes. What I wanted to talk with you about today is the idea that – aside from the terribly annoying commercials that always seem to be never ending – I think I’ve decided that maybe television isn’t so bad.
Bear with me.
This change of heart really stems from the availability of commercial free Netflix and other streaming availability. I hope we continue down this avenue and that our “shows” become more widely distributed without the commercial breaks. It seems our lives are constantly more and more commercialized and I can’t help but wonder if we will finally reach a point where we all say “STOP. NO MORE!”. I really think we will, and I think it will be soon. Personally, I’ve stopped watching certain shows because of annoyingly obvious product placement. Perhaps I’m not the audience most commercials strive to entertain, anyway, because I buy most of my clothes from consignment stores and find my music on Spotify and Pandora (and often mute the commercials)… but it is easy for me to block out those screaming announcers who want me to purchase whatever it is they think I must have.
You may be thinking – “But all of those Netflix shows are funded by product placement!”. I know, I know… but it feels better to be marketed to in a way that let’s me decide I want to be more like Claire Underwood and her cool, modern, sense of style and well-organized office so I might as well buy an Apple computer! Oh wait, I don’t want to be like Claire… I do still love my Macbook, though. I digress.
So, back to this “Read Instead” phenomenon. Let’s forget commercials for a minute. Let’s pretend they don’t exist, and forget that the reason people make television shows is to make money. Instead, let’s think about why we enjoy television: We like to escape from our stressful lives for a little while. We like to learn about ideas or concepts completely unknown to us.
Those are the same reasons I read books.
I’m not saying we should all stop reading. I’m not saying that television should replace my beloved favorites – Poe, Gaiman, Barrie, Martin. What I hope to convey is that maybe we can supplement our reading habits with other opportunities. We can use television to learn and to take a break for a while.
So, maybe instead of “Read Instead”, we should really “Read” (at all) and “Watch Sometimes”.