Bewitched, The Brady Bunch and I Dream a Genie… some of my Mum’s favourite television shows growing up, that she would watch every night without fail. These shows and characters are a representation of what the television means to her and what it reminds her of today. Great childhood memories and family time, that will always be associated with the television.
The sound of the television is nothing but background noise in most modern day homes. When the TV is on today, a conversation, game paying, internet surfing, eating and shopping can all be present. Noise over noise. During my mum’s childhood, the TV was to be turned off using the dial (no remotes – crazy huh!?), when a visitor came to the door, or when someone called the home phone. Mum remembered being heartbroken if it was during one of her favourite shows!
The nature and meaning of the television differs depending on geographic location, culture, beliefs, age and whole range of different aspects. When interviewing my mother Cherie, age 45, happiness and great shared memories were brought back when asked to think about what the television meant in her home growing up. There are times in my home today where there will be several televisions on at the same time (whether they are being watched or not) in different rooms. In Cherie’s house growing up there was only one single TV in the main lounge room.
My Mum, Born in the 70’s has changed her perception of television a number of times throughout her lifetime, as the meaning of the object has evolved.
“One thing that’s completely different for sure, is that never would we ever, EVER dream of eating dinner in front of the TV.”
When I asked Cherie how she remembered watching television as a child she responded by saying that it was a ‘special occasion’ type of thing- a reward at the end of the day. Cherie, remembers always laying on the carpet floor in front of the TV with her parents sitting on the Brown and orange lounge behind. “I loved laying on the carpet and watching shows. It was fun, a special treat almost.”
For Cherie, the Tekevision in her family home was an object for gathering the family and brining people together – Much like the kitchen. In Sonia Livingstone’s article, she explains the idea of the ‘The quintessential image of the television.’ “Audience is of the family viewing at home – children and parents sitting together comfortably in front of the lively set.” The introduction of the television was to connect people and bring people together and also to share information. Today, the television still connects people with the world around them, however it is much more of an ‘object.’
In our home today we have several televisions. If my parents want to watch a particular show or movie, it will go on the big screen in the main lounge room, and if anyone else in the home objects they can watch whatever they like in their own spaces. Most of the time, if all five of our family members are together watching a show, we aren’t truly watching. We are all on our own devices, Facebooking, Instagraming and perhaps even tweeting bout the TV show we aren’t really watching. We are together in the same space, but are we actually watching it together? Was this the Quintessential image Livingstone was talking about?
My mum remembers watching the Granville train disaster on her small wooden television with her parents, and realising for one of the first times just how necessary and important the TV is. A small screen can bring people from all over the world together to watch a news event or a television show. “I remember thinking, WOW, this thing can tell us so much.” This idea brought up my Cherie made me think about my own television experience… I have never been without a TV, so in a way I can’t help but think our generation has taken advantage of its useful and entertaining qualities, as thats all we have known. For as long as I can remember, google and the news were at my finger tips.
Today not only do we connect with people from around the world by being informed on local and world-wide events, but also big sporting games like the state of origin which brings friends and family together. Whether it’s the bar TV or the one in the main lounge room, the television creates a sense of belonging and community. The television I believe was and still is a symbol for bringing people together and connecting through a show, the news or just being in the same room as one another, (even if everyone is on twitter, we are still together right?!)
This year for the state of origin I watched it with about 15 of my friends, all huddled on a huge leather lounge, eating pizza and drinking soft drink. It was so much fun – yet I don’t even watch footy – I don’t think I was even watching the game at all, but the fact that we were all doing something together talking and laughing over the top of the TV made the experience.
By getting my mum to look back on the evolution of the television in her home, and the memories associated with watching TV, I think allowed mum to appreciate not only how far TV has come, but also how much technology in general has changed and shaped our lives today. Cherie believes that the television will always be a big part of the family home, and of everyday life in general.