Television Evolution

4 08 2013

John, 50, was born in Yorkshire, England, before moving to Australia with his parents when he was 5 years of age. And a lot has changed in relation to visual entertainment in that time. “When we first moved to Australia, T.V. was just starting out, black and white, big old HMV box”, he says. “You could barely get a signal. Everyone wanted colour, but 90% of it was black and white”.

“I used to look after myself when I was growing up. Mum had jobs and dad had work, so I used to look after myself”, he says, showing that he had some form of independence from a young age. “In the morning before I went to school, I used to watch Wacky Racers, Catch A Pigeon and Astro Boy, but it was all black and white. When they coloured Astro Boy it was a totally different thing. It wasn’t the same”, a heavy laugh reverberates around this small room.

But that’s not all that has changed since the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. “It was a safer time back then I think”, he says after a brief pause. “You could go out in the street and not worry about some idiot trying to pick you up. Back then, kids used to run the block. [But] now they’ve all got knives and bullshit happening. It’s all violence. Kids get to watch shit now that my parents would’ve, you know. I used to have to sneak around the corner and watch Number 96 when my folks were on the couch. Now kids are just allowed to watch it. And there is so much more violence then there ever used to be. The shit that’s on T.V. and its rated ‘M’ was rated ‘R’ back then.”

Asked if this is a case of Albert Bandura’s bobo doll experiment reaching extreme levels, John says you’d be crazy to think otherwise, “I know you got to turn a blind eye to things sometimes, but this is just impossible to do so”. However there is currently debate going on about whether or not this is the case, as some argue that a release such as this can be theraputic.

The argument of whether violence is influential though is not just something which has arisen in recent times with the advent of televsion though. Both “Plato and Aristotle had srong views on the subject” (Cogburn & Silcox 2009), and their arguments are continued today around the world by school teachers and parents alike. And the argument will once again be discussed by many after the shooting murder of Chris Lane in the U.S.

Due to the ever advancing nature of everything technology, with the evolution of the television has come the advent of new devices that offer a new kind of viewing experience. “In the beginning it was ‘Beta Max’ which was basically a cassette that was the size of a truck”, he emphasises with hand gestures. “From there it was VHS, I didn’t mind VHS. [But] DVD is the finest, the easiest, but it’s all technology, and if you’re not technical minded they’re as useless as an old ‘Beta Max’”.

Then there are the interactive consoles that have changed the world as well. “Back then, kids played, they didn’t sit in front of the T.V. playing video games or anything. They didn’t do all that”, a slight hint of sadness enters his voice. “And now that’s just a normal part of a kid’s life. I grew up with Pac-Man, and that was as violent as it got”.

Asked what he thinks about television from his childhood compared to the standards today, John has this to say, “I don’t think it’s come to the better, I think it’s come to the worse.” And, sadly, this is a sentiment that is echoed by many others of a similar age in society.

Cogburn, J & Silcox, M 2009, “Realistic blood and gore”: do violent games make violent gamers? (first-person shooters)”, Philosophy Through Video Games, Routledge, New York.

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