Rolling Stone has not actually called me yet, but that’s only because I’m unlisted. Surely by now they are slavering to contact me, as they have undoubtedly chanced across my television show. It is showing on all the major media outlets, which is to say, it is showing on the Wilhelmsplatz cable access show.
If you do not live in Wilhelmsplatz, you are paying less rent than I am. That’s just not fair.
If you do not live in Wilhelmsplatz, you are not able to watch my teevee show. Ain’t it a shame? Almost makes you wish you were paying through the nose for your 900-sq. foot apartment with too few closets and paper-thin walls.
Don’t worry. I’m lying. I hope you haven’t torn your clothes and pulled your hair out in despair. It’s freely available online. Just google for the local public access channel. I’d post the link, but that would utterly shatter any last pretense of anonymity. If you already know me, I’ll send you the link; if you stumbled on this site accidentally, kindly imagine a stunning specimen of the female species crooning sultry bar songs. Further imagine all of the people in the audience, men and women alike, drooling over her. That’s exactly what happened in the teevee show, I swear.
Now then. Let’s clear up something once and for all.
I don’t watch teevee.
Nor do I watch movies.
This is difficult for most of you to grasp. Advanced calculus is easier to wrap your mind around.
I took calc in high school. It was pretty fun. My favorite part was where we took a macaroni and twirled it around and figured out how much space it had displaced on its courageous journey. Fun times.
When I was in second grade I made the conscious decision to stop watching cartoons. I was insulted by them. They pandered to me. They gave me stock characters and predictable plots and pat endings.
Don’t think I managed to articulate it like that when I was eight, but the point here is that I decided I had better things to do with my time.
You begin to understand why I didn’t have friends.
I didn’t stop watching when I was eight, though. Cartoons, yeah, those went out the door, but I was all about some Peter Jennings. (We didn’t have cable, so I didn’t have much choice: it was Peter or the cartoons.)
I wasn’t totally abnormal. Once the Simpsons came on the air, I watched it religiously. I was also suckered into the X-Files.
I quit teevee for good in college. Haven’t watched it in five years. I do own a telly, but only to play my PS2, and besides, I have it hooked up wrong. Can’t figure out which cable’s plugged in the wrong place, but it’s not a major concern. Just means I haven’t saved Middle Earth from Sauron recently. Sucks for the hobbits. Poor little guys.
Also means I can’t show a movie when guests visit, but that’s not a frequent problem. When you’re a famous celebrity like me, common folks are too intimidated to request audience. It’s a shame, really. I’m humble enough to condescend to their level, but something—my sheer beauty, I’m guessing—scares them away.
So why don’t I watch teevee? I know there are good shows. I know I would enjoy the stories and the characters and the gorgeous actors. I don’t think that television is a less worthy form of entertainment than, say, reading, or saving Middle Earth.
The reason I don’t watch teevee is because I don’t like to be passive. Television viewing is passive.
“Oh, sure,” you snort. The derision is palpable. “Like turning pages is a workout. Shut up, Jessica.”
Let me make my point before you jump all over me, kay?
When I read a book, I control the pace. I have to actively engage with the text to make it happen. I have to apply my brain to the medium, or absolutely nothing happens. With television, you sit there and receive what the telly chooses to send out. You’re a receptacle. You’re not in control.
I don’t like not being in control. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD types don’t like relinquishing control, to the same degree that Irish Protestants don’t like Irish Catholics.
It’s not teevee I dislike. It’s the act of watching it. See?
Daniel Clowes wrote Ghost World, a fabulous graphic novel that is much better than the movie, though I’ll agree right now that Thora Birch makes for a hot Enid. Daniel Clowes also wrote Ice Haven, which I didn’t much care for. There’s an excellent passage, however, that discusses entertainment in terms of reading and visual stimulus. Comics combine them both: you get to receive the images set forth, and you get to read the words.
I do so love graphic novels, and maybe that’s why. I still get to read, but I get a dose of visual pleasure that I can choose to take at my own pace
Now then. There are exceptions. If I’m at somebody’s house, I’ll watch teevee, because that’s what people do. And very, very rarely, I will watch a movie. I do not enjoy the process, but sometimes it’s worth it to me to be discomfited for two hours, especially if it meant that I got to stare at Johnny Depp for the duration.
I don’t regret giving up teevee. It means I have more time for blogging and reading and rescuing hobbits. The only drawback is that I’m lousy for conversation. Take away television, and it’s hard to find shared common ground with other people. “Say, did you ever calculate the area displaced by a swiveling piece of pasta?” Try that line at a party sometime. Once they realize it’s not a sexual innuendo, it takes about three seconds for the room to clear out. Not even drunk people want a piece of that conversation.
To bed with me, now. Need to be coherent for work—big projects going on this week. I haven’t a prayer for getting any of them done on time but I should at least have the decency to be awake when the deadlines fly by. And then after work I need to edit some CD liner notes for my friend Adam the euphonium player, and I need to write my Cormac McCarthy piece.
And yes, that’s my idea of a fun evening. Keep your snide remarks to yourself. Leave a noodle-displacement-calculatin’ girl in peace.