29 May, 2020

Too Much TV for Me

Having been locked down (or not, if you use the prison's questionable terminology) for a month and a half, I'm suffering a variety of the quarantine fatigue that has most of the rest of America uneasy, and, again, like most of the rest of America, I've been seeking at least some relief in the form of television.

I haven't quite decided how to feel about this. I grew up in a household that generally considered TV a last refuge. As if to prove how low-priority we considered televised entertainment, our one TV set was small and janky, a portable black-and-white model with a clothes hanger for an antenna. And of course we didn't have cable. You could make the argument that a child of the '80s raised in a home without MTV is no true child of the '80s. My childhood was atypical in a lot of ways; not being glued to the tube was a very minor one.

Today, bingeing entire seasons, or even whole series, in a few days, carries more than the whiff of a guilty pleasure. I try to convince myself that there's only so much a shut-in can read, but I have a hell of a time trying to truly convince myself of that. My critical mind can be a real hardass. Throughout this quarantine, whenever I turn on the TV, it's said, You could draw instead, or write some e-mails, or reorganize your footlocker, or, basically, do anything else at all. I don't always listen, but the criticism creeps to the back of my mind and stays there.

There are videos online (I see clips on TV) of ordinary people in their homes, getting creative in occasionally stunning ways. Admittedly, my options are a bit more limited than your average joe's. In prison, raw material is generally contraband, and is in short supply. So is range of movement. I'm sure that I'd innovate the shit out of some things if I had a kitchen, workshop, garage, or parking lot or backyard at my disposal. I'm not an uncreative sort. But is this just an excuse to rewatch Tim Burton's Batman, or to check out an episode of Ru Paul's Drag Race on a lazy weeknight?

In Season Three of The Americans [spoiler alert!] Martha's exfiltrated to Moscow after the FBI learns her secret, Pastor Tim and Alice learn about Philip and Elizabeth being deep-cover KGB officers, the Centre demands delivery of a horrific virus, and even though I watched this amazing Soviet-era drama years ago, with bated breath, seeing it again now feels fresh and even richer, somehow, than during the first go-round. I don't feel a shred of guilt for squandering time by watching it. Does not feeling guilty mean it's not a waste? I'll think about it later. The next tense episode is calling my name.

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Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.