Keeping up with all of the TV shows that I want to watch can be a challenge. Sometimes I find myself frustrated that I’m not up to date on Walking Dead, The Americans, Downton Abbey, or Better Call Saul. Then all of a sudden, Netflix releases all of the episodes of House of Cards and I can’t binge all at once! It’s funny how much of a stronghold the television can have over us, even in an era where we get to watch TV whenever we want without fear of missing it.
One argument for why TV is so demanding to view is because we don’t want to be that guy who is always telling people to stay quiet about their favorite show because they haven’t caught up yet. I generally don’t think spoilers are a big deal because I think that characters and plot should stand up on their own and not as a result of a surprise. But still, the demand to view before others do, to be caught up, is a new way that we have gotten enslaved to TV.
In years past, it wouldn’t matter when you caught a TV show because there wasn’t much of continuity. Most TV shows were limited in their scope—each episode would kind of resolve itself. But since you could only watch when the show aired, we tuned it to get our fix. These days, when we can tune in together, the way the networks have enslaved us to storylines filled with must-see action that would lose its luster if revealed too soon.
Enter Oldermost and its newest video, “A Drink or Two.” I love the song and it is fun to see my friends in a real music video. They are so talented!
I asked Bradford about the video, which shows a character that he plays, strapping his old boob tube to a stroller and taking it to some sort of pagan shrine. He helped me understand his perspective and actually asked me to write about it!
My instinct was that the video was a critique of our TV obsessed society, but Bradford was honest about his appreciation of TV shows (I am with him, those aforementioned shows are entertaining!) as well as our society’s enslavement! It was refreshing to have him play both sides as opposed to just being dogmatic.
I think when we lessen our dogma and judgmentalism, we include people. I think the video is inclusive. But it also shows us how influential we are. As the main character aimlessly wanders until the TV directs him to the shrine in Fairmount Park, he influenced the characters played by his bandmates to do the same things; to offer their most valued possession to the pagan god.
It seems like the weakest and most sedated among us are the ones that are influenced. His friends were on a stoop, guzzling their cheap beer, almost just waiting to be influenced. At first they mocked him, but after considering his actions and their own aimlessness, they followed. It’s funny how sometimes we can, in a conscious state criticize the big targets: the media, capitalism, and commercialism. But by the end of the TV show, we want to buy the products it advertised and want to follow the executives to whatever hell they have made for us. As George says, by the end of the ad, we are singing, “By Mennen.”
How conscious are we of how our aimless wandering, how our media enslavement, influences other people? I don’t think the character in the video meant to influence his friends, but he still led them somewhere. There may be value in wondering as we wander, but I don’t think our influence should be that random.
I think when we are that unaware of our actions and where they lead, the media conglomerates dominate us and lead us where they want us to. In fact, I think that the TV executives want us to kind of wander into them and get influenced.
Bradford told me that a point of the video was note the blurriness between voices that guide and voices that distract. For me, I want to listen to the Voice that guides me: the Holy Spirit. And I want to be an agent of Jesus, leading people to follow him.
The value in knowing all we can about the voices that distract are helpful so that we can guide the distracted. One of the reasons I watch TV is simply to be aware of how the world is working and what messages it is swallowing. But we need to be mindful of how we are influenced and whether or wandering is leading us to danger. I think we should do everything on purpose and with a sober mind, ready to be agents of Jesus in this world, conscious but not condescending.