There be dragons!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


...or why reading is better than watching tv or (gasp) internet.

For some time I've debated the efficacy of reading versus watching movies, tv, or browsing the internet. Most of the argument has been against the nature of the medium, not just the content. But it occurred to me today that there is a difference in freedom. With movies there are certainly many and you can choose what you wish to view; but you are always subject to the interpretation of the movie maker. There is little to counter the viewpoint put forth by the movie so if Jose Cameron suggests that the Titanic sank in such and such a way - it's truth; unless you check it. Moreover, with things like tv you watch what they want you to watch. You may have a gabillion channels on your satellitecabledirectinternet tv, but seriously, are you going to find something original and unique? Not likely. Most of it will be canned by someone else's opinion of what you want to watch; Ted Turner colorizing the old black and whites for instance. Ditto with internet - you see the profile others want you to see. With books, it is true that you are reading the opinion or view of the author (that's inevitable) but you can pick up another book and cross reference things, find out things that others might not know, browse through a bookstore and find gems overlooked by the hoi poloi... sort of like using a dictionary instead of those new-fangled dictionaryinakeyboard thingummies. In the former while browsing for zebra I might discover a hundred other words exciting and unknown. One might argue that while browsing blockbuster you might do the same - true, but the medium still is limited to what the director offers. Moreover, book people are normally the types to move from one to the next to the next book instead of reading one and considering it the gospel uber alles. There is a certain freedom of thought provided by such agility which seems lacking in tv only, or movie only, or internet only people. Indeed, one can't always believe what they read, but then most of what is on tv or internet is mere pablatum.

1 comment:

  1. Would you apply your opinion of Film and TV to other visual mediums (painting, sculpture, etc.)

    Me? I'm a book/movie/occasional TV person. I can't imagine committing myself to only one (FOLLY!). I found that the problem of people holding one thing "uber alles", as you said, plagues readers and viewers alike. Everyone watches movies, but not everyone is necessarily of film viewer, so to speak. Not to sound condescending, but can those who read whatever Oprah recommends be considered "book people"? Or are they just Oprah people who read books? Conversely, I know some who really only watch a few types of movies. If it doesn't fit into their familiar type (be it Rom-com or horror), they won't watch it. The best example I can think of are those who simply won't watch an animated film that isn't the familiar family flick (though I love a good family film, animation can do so much more).

    I may have types I'm partial to, but I'm always open to encountering (not accepting, mind you) new ideas, and what is a director/author doing but conveying an idea through a particular medium? Whether I'm watching a film or reading a book, I'm arguing and second guessing the author/director's assertions. I only wish films came with margins on the side to write notes in (one BIG drawback to visual mediums).