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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Opinion

Viewers must separate television from real life


In modern times, the way individuals watch television and and movies is changing, but the way people process and connect with the lives on the screen is not. For example, Netflix is not just the world’s leading Internet television network with over 50 million members in nearly 50 countries, it also claims more than one billion hours of TV shows and movies per month, including original series. 

One simply cannot say it’s just the monthly low price that draws viewers to the various subscription channels. It’s not just the numbers adding up, but the value that comes along with it.

Most television shows are rearrangements of human emotions in different circumstances, and these shows also have the ability to rearrange the emotions of viewers as well — sometimes not for the better. 

Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White in “Breaking Bad,” wrote a column in the New York Times where she waxes about how she has been criticized online.

One commentator said, “I have never hated a TV-show character as much as I hate her.”

A comment like that is an odd reflection of the audience, one that vehemently attacks characters they don’t like, or characters that don’t fit what they want to see. They won’t let go of fiction, wanting it all to be real. 

Like literature and music, these television series are bringing many fictional characters to our lives and how they stay with the viewers long after the series is done with. The modern day television series have some spectacular and sometimes inspiring leads who might very soon become the jargon for those idiosyncrasies or character traits they portray on screen.

Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey in “House of Cards,” might soon stand for chicanery and sly behavior in any administration; Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston in “Breaking Bad,” might even replace the working class hero.

“House of Cards,” although a remake of British series from last century, remains immensely popular in United States as well as many other nations, including China. This series has been at the forefront of the popularity race with the large-scale production value.

Even President Barack Obama in an interview assures the nation that life in White House isn’t as interesting as “House of Cards.” 

A few of these series like “Breaking Bad” may well turn into one of the cult classics of modern day television and very well remain contributors to collective zeitgeist — also known as the spirit of our times. And the spirit might stay long after these series turn obscure, with their contribution to language seeming invaluable and with the moments withstanding the test of time.

For an international student here on UH campus, learning about American culture might be fascinating because it may help them understand nuances of American culture and politics, which can be one of the fastest ways to understand how our society works.

We need only to probably wonder about where to draw the fine line while we turn into polarized bandwagons of audience. Any rational individual may neither be a fan of victimization, nor of unresolved issues. While most of advancements of technology are blurring the fine line between fact, fiction and fact-based-fiction, they’re contributing to hate mongering. 

These extreme once-in-a-while emotions fueled from reactions to what we see, what we play and what we read may as well be reflection of the times we live in and the revolutions we endorse. In any case, the placebo is addressing these concerns and asking the right questions and the cure would be to avoid repetition of mistakes.

Only time will tell if that would help us emerge into a civil society. No easy task, one would say.

Opinion columnist Valli Challa is a law graduate student and may be reached at [email protected] 

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