November 22nd, 2005

sigh, emily

television, the drug of the nation

Here's something that annoys me: people who think that the radio is somehow morally and intellectually superior to the television. Or that there is something inherently and automatically good about not ever watching television, rather than it being a matter of personal taste.

I applaud those who don't have televisions (especially in the face of TV Licence people assuming they HAVE to have one, because how could they live without it?), and I am a firm believer in the telly ONLY being on for specific programmes, and then being turned off. I hate flicking, I hate watching TV for the sake of it, and I actually don't watch much TV (just Coronation Street, Peep Show and Bleak House, at the moment, and the odd special documentary or drama. I never turn it on during the day). And of course, Radio 4 is on almost constantly in my house (because that's not the same as having the telly on! OR IS IT?!) But, there are a lot of fantastic things on television, and to dismiss it wholesale is the ultimate in genre snobbery.

But where is this snobbery? Well, everyone's encountered people who announce that they don't ever watch television in the same tones they might use to announce that they don't, I dunno, have sex with sheep. And you see it, alas, in my fellow Radio 4 lovers, particularly the Archers message boards, where TV soaps (or "tele" soaps, because heaven forfend they should actually spell telly the common way) are constantly compared to the glories of Ambridge. But here's the thing: Coronation Street is much, much better than the Archers. It's more melodramatic, but it's better written, it's often better plotted, and the acting is, in general, better. Also, it is frequently intentionally hilarious, and we all know what happens when the Archers tries to be funny. I love the Archers, I love its slow pace, I find it totally addictive. But, as drama, Corrie is a superior work of art. And yet, comparing TA to Corrie is seen as the ultimate insult by many Archers fans. Because Corrie is on the telly, and the Archers are on the sainted Radio 4. So they are automatically superior.

So basically, I abhor genre snobs. I don't read much (any?) science fiction, BUT I would never dismiss the entire genre, because I know there are really good science fiction books, and I've read some of them. Likewise fantasy, or romance, or chicklit. Also, one of the (few) things being a professional critic ahs taught me is to distinguish between something that is a good, well-crafted piece of art and something that I actually like myself. Basically, just because something's not my sort of thing doesn't mean it's not good. I wish genre snobs could figure this one out.