Let me go into my Grandma Moses mode and bitch about something relatively newfangled and shit.
Back when I was growing up in the Civil War, there were only a handful of TV stations on the dial.
And that meant that every single human with a TV set watched the very same things.
Every conscious American would sit down every week for The Ed Sullivan Show (above), and, as the years passed, we’d all focus our communal gaze on Bonanza, Bewitched, That Girl, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Everyone watched these shows!!!! You had no other choices — and besides, they were really good!!!!
They became shared experiences — a form of culture that a vast majority of the American populace lived for, looked forward to, and could relate to.
So if you said to just about anyone, “Can you believe what Topo Gigio did last night?” they knew just what you were talking about.
And then along came cable (which gave my face a home, so I’m not really complaining that hard).
As a niche-marketing tool, it’s grown to the point where there are literally hundreds of channels with thousands of shows on them.
Some of them do way better than others, while most of them exist in a place where they aren’t instantly identifiable to everyone you meet.
So saying, “Could you believe what happened on Whale Hoarders last night?” might get you blank stares.
And I defy you to know who was booted off that talent show last week — not the big one some people watch, but the knockoff of it. (Or is that even on anymore?)
We’ve lost our communal culture!
Of course, the more media, the better — and now Facebook and the Internet have become everyone’s shared experiences — but still:
Things were better when there were only a handful of channels!