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Gin, Television, and Cognitive Surplus

Watching television is compared to the drinking of gin that overwhelmed London during the industrial revolution. Just as drinking of gin was viewed as a problem to be solved rather than a reaction to the problem, so watching television has been confused. Education and modernization have left the educated with lots of time at their disposal. As a result, this time is used for viewing television. There is an increased social transformation and just as drinking of gin is intoxicating, it is not hard to explain why people are obsessed with watching television. Some of the TV programs are good. However, some of the content is questionable. Just like drinking alcohol and caffeine is good when moderated, these substances can be fatal when consumed in excess. The same way is television without moderation.

People watch television for differing reasons. However, the amount of time spent glued to the screen is alarming. In developed countries, watching television has not only become the hobby of every citizen, but also a duty. It is hard to explain how the watching of television has turned to be a part-time job for almost every individual in the developed countries. The dose makes the poison; it is evident that the time dedicated to viewing television is poisoning the modern society. The effect is evident on the individual and culture as a whole. The measure is not what we watch, but how much of it. For this reason, the modern activities have reduced to sleep, work, and watching TV. This is a reordering of the world’s human affairs. It can be attributed to increased GDP. Just as the disapproval of parliament to the consumption of gin during the industrial revolution did not bear any positive fruits, so is the dramatic increase in the image viewing.

The writer argues that unhappy people tend to watch more television than happy people (S. Frey and Stutzer et al). This is done in pursuit of happiness and consolation. The viewers feel integrated in a virtual world composed of the characters in the television. Since humans are social beings, their need to interact and mingle has been replaced by the presence of TV and the steady reduction in social capital. Increased TV watching is done at the expense of other activities, especially social activities. This results into feeling lonely and eventually tuning to their favorite programs to counter the feeling. The precious time spent with families and friends is replaced by viewing more television. This results in the side effects of watching television. Despite the disadvantages, it is better to feel a part of a society than to be left out.

Precious time has been used and dedicated to television. Unlike radio, watching television requires concentration as it involves both the eyes and ears. It is much viewing that leads to a shift to material satisfaction. Individuals have underestimated the value of interpersonal relations and overestimated materialism and material satisfaction (Marco). It is observed that the younger generation is watching less TV than their elderly counterparts. The industry has been shocked in the realization that young people are shifting their attention elsewhere. However, the participatory behavior among young people is expected to drop once they start working. This is because work will overwhelm them and the best they can do with their free time is just to watch TV. The author observes that life in the developed countries is composed of passive participation. For this reason, watching becomes the only option that the citizens have.

From Beats to Arcs: Toward a Poetics of Television Narrative

Television flourishes artistically regardless of many critical views. This gives an industrial reward to both its audience and advertisers simultaneously. For this reason and its commercial logic, some of the famous programs have their effect. The user involvement that television offers creates a mode of storytelling that is both captivating and possesses the power to keep users glued to their seats. The narratives applied maximize the networks profit and ensure that users are updated at regular breaks so that they do not miss essential information (Newman). The ability to create a narrative is essential to the success of the television industry. At the micro-level beats, the authors of the television programs strive to present the information in an urgent, surprising, and emotionally captivating manner. This is done to enhance interest in the story and ensure that the users intensify their interest. From this perspective, most television sets seem similar. The shows are divided into various categories in order to classify different narratives.

The writers organize their work in segments known as beats; these beats may appear to the user as different segments. However, they are the threads that intertwine the development of the plot of the story. A reaction is a new bit to the narrative where every reaction solicits different feelings as each scene may contain different information. The organization is done on the assumption that users do not watch everything. The author argues that it is for this reason that a reminder is used when it comes to the most important things. Some narratives are serialized, and for this reason, a recap is always done to ensure that the information about the story world is used for new developments. Various forms are used for new developments such as the perpetual naming of characters. A more basic recapping retells the shows’ basic premise in the episode after episode (Newman). A lot of time is dedicated to the development of the plot, flow of the play, and analysis of the characters to ensure that they rhyme with the play.

According to Metz, no one is forced to view television. However, the story telling mode applied on the dramas keeps people yearning for more. This is usually done on the micro level where a story is broken into beats, and the working of the beats is designed to compel users for their attention. The structure of the episodes where most questions go unanswered keeps the viewers on edge to reveal and see the result. However, the main action for each episode seems to be resolved. The questions formulated are not meant to obstruct the clarity of the narrative, but to create suspense for the user and keep them on the edge, so they yearn to resolve the dilemma presented in the story. The author uses Hollywood Star Wars as an example of serial storytelling.

As opposed to the movies, television acts have well-punctuated endings. Different writers use different styles to convey their message. This is what creates user interest in the character psychology. It can be viewed as the stage that creates melodrama. It is this dramatic structure that satisfies the audience. Coupled together with thematic parallelism, they seem to appeal to the viewers. However, the author fails to analyze the low quality standards applied by some authors, making the play a total mess. The time devoted and the finances applied to the support of the program go to waste, and this is not only a disappointment to the industry, but to the viewers as well.

At the macro level, what actually distinguishes the plays is different ways in which they invest in the characters and not merely in the forms of programming. The main emphasis is done on the characters since the significant events deployed on the story make the characters undergo different changes. The author does not focus on the reaction of the users and how they perceive the plot and the characters. It is evident in many programs that the viewers are more attracted to the show by the characters rather than the flow and plot of the storyline. The device that best ensures user commitment is the character arc. This is used to ensure that the plot of the story and character are intertwined. The author defines an arc as a plot defined in terms of the character. To keep a story live and users motivated, the use of writers’ tricks comes in handy (Newman).

The Representability of Time

A play condenses fears, anxieties, desires, and pleasures in a mechanical representability of time. The mysterious ability of the kinetoscope to access other times, specifically the past and the future, and the main characters’ immortality and infinite nature are a representation of time (Benjamin). These were the main attributes that characterized the early cinema and theatrics. During this era, time was felt like a weight. It was viewed as the source of anxiety. Modern photographic technology represents time and rescues it from its present corruption. With the introduction of the modern watches, it was viewed as the onset of anxiety and stimulation of the nervous system. Time is seen as palpable when the minutes cover a man like snowflakes. According to the author, the reverberations of epistemologies of time are still present today.

The standardization and rationalization of time are attributed to changes in industrial organization and perceptions. The perceptions are between the body of the worker and the machine (Benjamin). Time was supposed to be scarce during the 19th century. This is very different in the 21st century. Nowadays, people have lots of time at their disposal, and this time is mainly used for entertainment purposes. The main mode of entertainment that people engage in is viewing television. Just as in those days people were obsessed with viewing cinemas, today it has shifted and the attention is given to television viewing. Both time and money can be used, wasted, and spent as well as hoarded. They are the main attributes that indicate a capitalist economy. The rationalization of time has put pressure on the public sphere and, as a result, many people observe this as being materialized in the film form. Both the cinematic time and dead time represent the stages through which the representability of time has undergone.

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