Recently, I found myself wondering about old cartoons. I watched a movie the other day called “Walt Before Disney,” a biography on Walt Disney’s story about his struggle to become a famous cartoonist.
A specific scene caught my eye and made me think about the different ways people watch TV according to their generation. The scene was set on a movie theater in the late 20s. It was the release of the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to the public. The room was full of married people, formally dressed, and without any children .
During this era, people dressed up to go to the movies, and it was strictly an adult entertainment medium. Today, I go to the cinema maybe thrice a year, to be honest. I’m also positive that no one would put on a tie or a dress just to go to the movies, unless it’s a Hollywood premiere.
It’s incredible how television has evolved so much that it stopped being what it originally was intended to be. Something that united people to share a one-time and place experience. I’m referring to that wonderful time where families and friends gather around that black and white TV and enjoyed that unique experience (at least at that time), a modern version of the campfire gatherings.
When the television was introduced, people probably never thought the screen would be reduced to a tiny-screen device called smart phone, and that the shows would be watch mostly by oneself. The evolution of TV entertainment has had the most changes than any other device has had. From B&W to color images, from big black boxes to flat wide screen TVs. But as many other devices were invented -phones, tablets, computers, among others , that big screen runs the risk of becoming extinct.
In my experience, how I watch tv was different when I was younger from today. For instance, there are two tvs in my house, but where will you find me most of the times? Laying on my bed while watching an entire season of Mindy’s Project on my laptop/tablet. On the other hand, when I was a kid it was totally different. I watched TV in the living room, mostly with other family members, as a sort of a family activity.
To find out whether this experience spanned over different generations, I decided to ask a couple of more mature I know. So, I asked Andy Russell, 42 years-old, medical device salesman what his experience with TV was when he was a teenager. He explained that the only TV in his house was placed in the living room.
“I watched TV with my family while we ate dinner and on saturdays when I watched cartoons” said Russell, but later he affirmed: “Despite of that, TV was not that important for me back then; playing sports and playing outside was.”
If we read both experiences -Andy’s and mine- they are not so different. Now, if we want some real contrast, we would have to go way back. Yajaira Agostini, a 64 years-old licensed in Administration and retired college professor told me her story watching TV for the first time.
This not only brings contrast on generational differences, but also in cultural differences, because it happened at her birth country, Venezuela, which is a completely different perspective.
“In 1958, – I was 6 years old – there was no TV in my house. Television existed in Venezuela but only a few privileged people could afford it. My neighbors had a brand new b&w TV, so they would let their living room window open so all the kids in the block could pick on their window and watch it together.” said Yajaira.
Imagined what this meant for a generation that did not have this kind of connection and sort of entertainment. This is what I get out of all this: TV started as a very important medium for the generation that witnessed its invention. But, as time went by, people started to give less importance to it, because everyone had it. It was not something new or innovative. Then, with the rise of new technologies, people have found a new love for TV. To watch a show wherever you go, whenever you want, however you want it, was certainly something unimaginable a generation ago.
This is where the “TV” obsessed generation was born. I wrote TV in quotations, because it’s not really their physical TV what we’re obsessed with. We are obsessed with TV content but in our portable devices, which makes it so much easier to watch every single minute of our day. If you understand this, you’ll understand why when you go out to eat, there will not be any crying babies on the tables around you. There will be happy babies, on their tablets, letting their parents eat while they watch cartoons or play kids video games. An uncommon scene for past generations. But still, this is the TV of today and tomorrow. And we hope that VIDGO becomes part of your tv stories, the ones you will share with another generation in years to come.
This article was written by Oriana Valderrama, a journalist student at the University of North Texas.
Photo @ Andrey Popov