In The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Tuco (the ugly) shoots a chatty man and afterwards advises him that “if he’s going to shoot, shoot, don’t talk.” Similarly, I’m of the mind that if you’re going to watch, watch, don’t do anything else. I’m sure it’s happened to you several times. You stroll into the living room, the TV is on with some mindless and bland show playing, a roommate or family member nearby, staring at a computer, reading a book, or perhaps dozing. You snag the remote, flip the channel and a few minutes later: Hey, I was watching that.
First, no, you weren’t. You were on Facebook. Facebook is not the TV. If you’re doing any activity that occupies your eyes, you lose television rights. If you start talking on the phone, you lose television rights. Basically the only thing you should be doing in front of the TV is watching it. And maybe having a snack.
The real reason that this is a problem lay in that because you’re distracted, you don’t have the slightest idea what’s going on. This will lead you to one of three possible outcomes, each of which is maddening, frustrating, and completely avoidable.
- You’ll ask what’s going on. Do you want to know the easiest way to know what’s going on at any given time? Watch the fucking show, movie, or broadcast. Whatever it is that you so badly want to be a part of, be a part of it. Who was that guy, why did he do that, what did he say? The easiest solution is the simplest – pay attention.
- You’ll fail at conversation about it. When people like us get together, we like to talk movies and television and all that good stuff. When people finish watching a TV show, they like to talk about the episode, about what just happened. You, having not paid attention, will suck at conversation. You won’t remember that part. Or you’ll “forget that happened.” This always leads to the “Oh yeah!” moment where you lie to us and pretend you were paying attention and have the slightest idea what’s happening.
- Worst of all, you’ll be completely wrong in conversation. This is beyond failing at conversation. This ruins lives. Embarrasses people. You look like an idiot. You see, when you don’t pay attention, you miss a lot of things. Cut-aways, background objects, character glimpses, glances, winks, nods, nudges. You don’t hear every word. You don’t connect every dot. Yet, because you “watched” it, you’ll still assume you know what’s going on. You look to the screen and confidently declare “Wow, she’s going to leave her husband.” The rest of us stare, mouths agape, until we facepalm ourselves. No. No. No, she’s not going to leave her husband- what show were you watching? If you haven’t watched something completely, you shouldn’t talk about it. You definitely shouldn’t try to understand it or convey that understanding to others. You’ll tell two friends and then they’ll tell two friends and pretty soon everyone thinks House and Cuddy slept together.
So please, for the sake of my sanity, just pay attention to what’s going on. Put down the magazine, silence the phone and just take in the entertainment. Or get the hell out of the room. Serious entertainment watching business is about to go on and some of us want to enjoy and understand it. Every time I see someone “multitasking” their television programs or hear a stupid, misinformed comment, I go right past my hey what’s that over there?
Can’t get enough of Robert Fure’s rants? Get them in real time on twitter: Twitter.com/RejectRobert. Also, check out the Boiling Point Archive.