Like most people my age, our parents were born in the era where a television was a big. fat box which flashed moving pictures on a silver screen, sometimes even without sound. Before my mother’s family got their first television in 1972, my mum and her older sister used to run to their neighbors house to watch the music channels Countdown at 6PM every Sunday night. It wasn’t very common back then for every household to own a television. Now, in Australia, almost every family owns two or more television sets in their home.
My mum’s favorite television shows back then were: The Benny Hills Show, Hogans Heroes, Countdown, Hey Hey It’s Saturday and Gilligan’s Island. Although some of these shows are still running repeats on cable TV, my first memories of watching television were quite different. They were of Austar. I remember the Foxtel worker coming into my home and setting up a magic box on top of my TV. We were given a new remote and the channels were all three digits long. And, just like that, at the click of a button I discovered Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. I had unlimited access to hundreds of shows like Sponge-bob Square-pants, Rugrats, Rocket Power, Ahh! Real Monsters, Looney Toons and Dexter’s Laboratory. It wasn’t until I hit high school that I started to become more interested in Channel V and MTV, but even then I would still watch episodes of Hannah Montana before dinner time.
My house operates differently to most of my friends. Before my family renovated, our dining room was situated at the back of our house. With parents coming home from work at different times and myself with sporting commitments, it seemed easier and more entertaining to eat dinner in front of the TV every night. Everyday at school, the boys and girls in my class would laugh about last night’s The Simpsons episode. But nope, not me. My parents strictly watched the news at 6 PM every night. By 8:30 PM, my dad and I would watch Seinfield on channel TV1. Years later and we still watch it from Monday to Friday, even after seeing each season about three or four times. My mother wasn’t a fan, and therefore would get comfy in bed and watch her Law and Order or CSI type shows on a smaller television.
Now, living in a bigger house with about five TV’s all in different rooms, not much has changed except for where we eat dinner – on the dining room table. The older myself and my brother get, the less interest we have in watching television on the actual TV. Instead of coming home from school and watching MTV’s Parental Guidance at 4 PM then doing my homework, I come home from University and either go to work, the gym, or do some chores. When I want to watch a television series however, like Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, I turn to my MacBook Pro. Free online movies and TV series at my fingertips in the comfort of my own bed. No advertisements, no disruptions in my private space, and no waiting for the next episode to air in Australia. Speaking of disruptions, there are what you call “codes of behavior” which exist around watching television. For example, I wouldn’t bother trying to ask my dad a question during a live streaming horse race or NRL Roosters game. When a movie or show is being played and the lights are out, your instinct is to be quiet and tip-toe into the kitchen for that late night snack to avoid disturbing the TV watching atmosphere.
It really is amazing how much even the smallest of things can change throughout time. I still have old videos of Cinderella and Pippy Long Stockings lost in my house somewhere. From rewinding videos after every use, to clicking play and pause on a disc and now just simply clicking on a link. Technology emergence has not only changed our quality of life, it has changed our way of life, especially in the way we view television.
Manning, B., 2013, ‘We watch TV when we want’, The New Zealand Herald, 24 August, viewed 24/08/13, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11113611&ref=rss
Singer, M., 2010, ‘Televisions are breeding faster than Australian households’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July, viewed 24/08/2013, http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/hometech/televisions-are-breeding-faster-than-australian-households-20100718-10g3k.html
2013, Timeline 1970-1979/TelevisionAU, TelvisionAU, viewed 24/08/2013, http://televisionau.com/timeline/1970-1979