Reply to: Psychology and TV John Writes: "It is really a medium of time rather than a medium of artistic expression." People in the TV broadcast industry talk about it in terms of selling time, targeting audiences in time, scheduling, windows, bracketing, and all the rest. Essentially TV sells views to advertisers by attracting them to a time when the advertiser's message is ready to play. In that way the psychological "dependence" that people develop toward their "favourite" programming is useful to the broadcasters to attract advertising. Further, people have no trouble "saying" that TV is generally quite bad. What they have trouble with is that they cannot imagine television being really very good at all. The whole "snob" value of putting down TV serves everyone equally. If people followed their own advice then TV programming would shift to attract them back with whatever they imagine a "high brow" might want to see for a "time". Here in Canada we have this debate (which may be a national pastime) in which we decry the state of the film industry because it depends so heavily on the U.S. market for viability. Then we moan about the influx of American television both on the cable systems and with our own networks without noticing that we are watching it anyway. No matter how high the quality of Canadian production gets we never seem to feel it's ever good enough. And I've enjoyed watching people talk about that terrific movie they went to while knowing that it was shot in Canada with Canadian crews and looks indistinguishable from popular fare. We, here, seem to be psychologically challenged to accept that our content is as good as anyone elses. And to Brian: "Television has then successfully invaded the most intimate recesses of peoples lives" The appliance that occupies so much of our time has an appeal which speaks to our inner self-esteem. I have a colleague who talks about this in terms of a viewer developing a kind of "social" autism. They become increasingly less interested in risking themselves to social situations and find comfort in the predictability, the familiarity, and the "warmth" of the electronic hearth. Even the bad stuff seems good on TV. I often like to tell the story about how I was shooting a very long shot of a fireplace for a Christmas program and I was surrounded by a lot of TV people enjoying themselves at a Christmas party. I began to notice that when people came into the room they would watch the fire on the monitor much more than the "real" one right next to it. I talked to someone there about that and they didn't know what to make of it either. It would seem that the representation of the fire on the video screen was a much more interesting (or stimulating) image than the flickering and crackling one in front of the camera. I've done this also with people watching other people on monitors. If you set up in a public place, people will take the time to watch the monitor more often than the "real" people. Now I suppose there is something out hoping to find out what's going on "through" watching the monitor, but I've seen this hapen in so many situations with both sophisticated and non-professional viewers that I think it means something. I believe that television has invaded the deepest recesses of that process within ourselves that helps define our identity. And, for those who have that process impaired through neglect or abuse, the way that television viewing shapes our image of ourselves has almost nothing to do with what is on the screen. For film it is a different story. Because we can locate the effect of that movie on our sense of self in a specific place and time (and with specific people) we are able to examine the psychological impact, or change, within ourselves. John notes this very well when he refers to the continual nature of television. When TV stations "signed on" and "signed off" each day the viewing experience could be separated from the rest of our interpersonal activities. Now that television programming is like a pool we swim in (or an eternal fire we visit) then the experience of it lacks a location, a time, or a separation from the rest of our experiences. I love to read studies in which people are asked where they read something and they state categorically that they read it in the newspaper when in fact the only source was network television. This happened a lot during the Gulf War especially. That's enough for now.