One of the things I have been rambling on about incoherently in my posts is the idea that television IS an everyday thing. It doesn’t seem extraordinary to us who have grown up with it. David Morley, in “Home Territories”, in a way argues this himself:
“being an “ordinary person” involves, among other things, a certain amount of daily television viewing.” (pg. 109)
This is just what we expect from people in our culture, as TV has such prevalence in the way we live. Morley goes further than my general idea, however, insinuating that television is such a huge part of our lives, that it even determines how we live. Quoting Stuart Hall’s view of the BBC, he identifies broadcast television as having ‘produced the nation which it addressed, it constituted the audience by the ways in which it represented them’ (pg. 108).
Underlying all this theory is an almost “Matrix-like” assumption that although we have created TV, it now in a way creates and controls us. Morley points out how ‘broadcasting marks (and helps construct) the annual regular festivals and occasions of the culture’s yearly, seasonal and weekly cycles’ (pg. 109), essentially keeping time for us. In fact we can tell what time of day it is even by what programs are on TV. If it is a breakfast show like Sunrise, we will know it is the morning; if it is a talk show like Dr Phil or Oprah, it is around midday; if it is a drama like Home and Away or Neighbours, it will be early evening…and so on.
In terms of live television, broadcasting brings into our lives what the world sees as important. Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz liken the “sacred” quality of media events to religious processions: in the same way a religious icon is paraded through a neighbourhood, public values “penetrate the private world of the residence” in the form of media events broadcasted on our televisions. For example, the live coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games was not only “the world’s longest commercial” as Brian put it this morning, but it was a linking up of a worldwide ‘virtual community’. Sitting at home, wrapped in blankets in the early hours of the morning in Australia, we could experience the ‘immediacy’ of the Games despite them taking place half a world away. However, to many the early hour of the screening did not matter. The Games are televised every four years, and it was again time to turn on the screens and take part in this ritualistic event.
The excerpts shown in class this morning clearly display the connection between television and the blurring of the private and public spheres. The Olympics Opening Ceremony, an obviously hugely public event, was viewed by billions in the comfort of their own home: a demonstration of how public events are drawn into private lives through the privilege of television. People no doubt sat around their screens discussing the events that were taking place, much as we did this morning in class. Conversely, the Sunrise clip demonstrates the opposite: the public newsroom was turned into a laid back space, almost like a living room in itself. This kind of Breakfast television demonstrates the ‘domestication of the national’ in that public events, even politics and finance reports, can be presented to the audience in the form of general discussion between two ‘anchors’ that act more like old friends having a chat.
Morley, D. 2000. Home Territories: Media, Mobility and Identity. Taylor and Francis
Dayan, D. and Katz, E. 1992. Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History. Harvard University Press