The Age of Telly

by cedhausen

It’s like searching for an Easter egg, somewhat. You’d have to have the eye of an eagle and the memory of an elephant to spot some of things (and then recall them) that flash by the television screen, but when you do, the satisfaction that wells up from the pit of your stomach to the tips of your hair is uncontainable. Clandestine, but uncontainable. How’s that for an antithesis?

Anyway, so today’s post will be on TV! Who doesn’t like watching TV? A lot of Malaysians. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement. Allow me to rephrase: 90s babies in Malaysia tend not to watch television; not because they don’t enjoy it, but their ‘viewing’ habits have changed. Now, when I say watching TV, I mean actually allocating a specific time to just lounge on the couch, probably flip through a few channels, before finally settling on a documentary featuring huggable Arctic seals, or WWE, depending if you’re in the mood for a Snuggie or beer.

Here’s what usually happens in a typical household. Before the arrival of the Internet and way before the advent video streaming, people still watched television quite frequently. And then, YouTube came, which happened at a time when my homies (trying to be urban; don’t know if I succeeded) were moving out of their homes and into university dorms, where travelling down to the common room next door was too colossal of a task for them to even bother. Unless the English Premier League was on, parents no longer need to smack their children’s head because they were sitting too close to the television screen anymore. People looked towards the Internet to download or stream movies, so much so that the TV is now only useful for its bigger screen. Now? Entertainment lives vicariously through six-second Vines.

I used to watch television. I used to scan the newspapers for the television schedule to check if National Geographic was indeed covering the Titanic at nine o’clock. At one point, I would throw a tantrum I missed my favourite Korean drama, Dae Jang Geum (you might recognise the theme song, this show was massive back in 2004), on weekdays at half past eight. I’d rush my parents through dinner if we weren’t home by eight. My entire teenage life involved coming home after school to the sound of two women bickering in some Cantonese drama.

All of that changed when I went to the States. Every other guy down the hall had a 40” Widescreen HD LED TV connected to two gaming consoles while I, that one guy with the Asian name on the door, had to make due with my laptop and roommate who insists on waking up to the sound of God, live from IHOP (not pancakes, the evangelical organisation… the day my pancakes start to sing hymns…). Plus, being an English major, I didn’t have time for television when I had to finish Chaucer, Defoe, and Eliot in one sitting. A lot of my friends went through this similar detachment from television, but it never bothered us immensely because we were too busy code switching when we talked to five different friends of three different nationalities, and searching for the cheapest air ticket to San Francisco during spring break.

All of us simply had a really smooth divorce with television, even though we still followed our favourite programmes religiously online. Can you imagine how happy I was to find out I could watch the latest episode of Once Upon a Time on ABC’s website? That kind of s*** don’t happen here!

… oh my goodness I’ve watched one two many Vines today, I’m beginning to sass talk…

So yes, while television may have departed from our lives, we still enjoyed the over-acting cast in Downton Abbey, the outrageousness of Drop Dead Diva, the douchebag jar from New Girl, and Peggy Carter’s red hat in the season premiere of Agent Carter. Personally, I enjoy watching period dramas, like the short lived Pan Am and, okay, Downton Abbey… Who can resist Maggie Smith with that ostentatious accent and acerbic tongue? The costumes, the music, the sound of typewriters droning out all noise in the offices of Mad Men… Oh! And the mode of transportation… vintage Fords and Chryslers looking so fine with their shiny hubcaps. People actually dressing up in fur coats and suits as they flew… “Coffee, or tea?” How about a bottle of Dom Pérignon?

I do admit I have a fascination for Western civilisation, especially on the advancements and events that occurred during the first half of the twentieth century. The cultural divergence experienced globally then was much greater than it is today, where everyone is somewhat united by wireless technology and social media. This probably explains my fixation with typewriters (or anything that can be labelled “vintage”), since they’re not a part of Malaysian history (in the sense that they weren’t invented and produced here), which brings me to the Photo of the Day (finally!):

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That’s Remy, my 1958 Remington “Quiet-Riter”. It’s quite the rare model and it still works beautifully. Typing on Remy is an incredibly therapeutic occupation, though it forces me to be more careful with my choice of words. The fact that I can’t simply “delete” a mistake pushes me to type in my head, and not on a screen.

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Well, I didn’t expect to end a post with the Photo of the Day, but hey, it’s two in the morning, and I should be sleeping. So I’ll see y’all tomorrow!