Monday, October 19, 2009

What Happened?

In the beginning there was radio.

It was squeaky and scratchy. It’s tinny sound mesmerized, politicized and homogenized the disparate culture of the mind. People went from reading to listening.

There was Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Burns and Allen, and Amos and Andy. There were Radio City Concerts, soap operas, Fireside Chats and Here It Now.

Then from the electric void where science and intellect meet came the light of electrons stacked and packed together into black and white pictures. The images and sound came from tiny rounded screens with propeller test patterns, high–pitched tones and monochromatic snow that fell into channeled images and they called it television. And people went from listening to watching.

Radio was the royal patron, but television was the Columbus to discover the new world of entertainment and information.

The black and white universe flourished and grew on the foundations of Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan and Jackie Gleason. Television news grew too. Edward R. Murrow continued to set a standard few embrace today. The solid bricks of entertainment flourished with the laughter of I Love Lucy and the story lines of Gunsmoke and Dragnet.

By the early 1960’s the pictures got better and the audiences got bigger. Color screens were the new kids on the viewing block and all across America families gathered around the tribal fire of television to wonder at the sights and sounds from far away places.

Television was both our mirror and our window to us and to the world. It brought us wars and riots. It brought us into space and under the oceans.

And then new technology brought us into the six hundred-channel cable universe and mostly junk.

What the hell happened? We were doing so well!


Anonymous said...

What in the world are you talking about? I watched the Today Show this morning, while waiting for my car to be serviced. I got caught up with the Balloon Boy, saw a dog rescued from a well, heard Barbra Streisand auctioned some old junk, and learned of a coyote rescued from someone's car grill. Sadly, my car was ready before I saw the discussion about whether Suri Cruise is too young for high heels. If you caught that segment, could you let me know? Thank you, S ;-)

Gabi K said...

Well, maybe we are still doing well? At least partly? Internet was invented and people start reading and writing again. Ad thinking about things that were written there...

But in the case of TV you are absolutely right.

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