Sunday, January 02, 2005

I've Made a Huge Mistake

So I successfully set up the Tivo I got for Christmas. Very exciting, the dream of several years now come to fruition. Sarah assures me it will change the way I watch TV forever. For 12.95 a month, it better. Actually, I have a gift subscription, so I won't have to worry about paying until next year.

Once I waited the requisite 4 hours after setup to start programming it (why does it take so long?), Stephanie and I went through and selected all the shows we want to watch and might want to watch, as well as a bunch of old movies, which Stephanie likes to watch. Considering that we have trouble keeping up with our Netflix as it is, Stephanie pointed out that between cable, Netflix, and now the hypothetical price of Tivo, we're now paying about $80 a month for access to a volume of entertainment media we can't possibly consume, and that's not even including what we pay to see movies in theaters, or DVDs we purchase, as if there's ever time to watch something, let alone re-watch it.

It's insane. We're over-entertained. The amount of entertainment we have is no longer a comfort but a source of stress. How much entertainment are we missing out on because of troublesome things like school, jobs, friends, love, meals? Scratch that, meals are a chance to watch TV. We need more meals, actually--that would give us more precious entertainment-consuming time. We're not getting our money's worth! Portable DVD players in airports are not a luxury but a necessity--we must seize every spare moment to be entertained. There's no time to be bored, not at $12.95 a month, $19.95 a month, $48.98 a month. Every second you're bored, every hour you read a book is money down the drain.

Unless you paid for that book. Then you'd better read it, and fast.

How many books did I get for Christmas? Four? Plus the one I bought myself shortly before. How many DVDs? Two Hitchcock box sets plus Napoleon Dynamite plus a Twilight Zone DVD--what, eighteen? That's what, thirty-six hours of entertainment? Not counting special features?! Wait, Lydia gave me Azumanga Daioh (appreciated, this post notwithstanding). So, thirty-eight. I still haven't watched the commentary on my Freaks & Geeks set. And I wanted to re-watch those sans commentary too. I've given up on ever hearing the Futurama commentary. Good thing I resisted the pull of the Seinfeld set at Costco today--I've seen those multiple times already.

I forgot about video games. Is there time to continue making my way through True Crime, to take another crack at Making the Moon in Katamari Damacy? To get tricky in SSX3 just for the hey of it? How many hours will that take?

Meanwhile Tivo is set to deliver hours more entertainment on an ongoing basis. Am I a fool? I should have an entertainment embargo! I should cancel cable for the next six months, until all my entertainment is cycled through. Stephanie would never stand for it. While she got into selecting old movies on the Tivo, she prefers the spontaneous nature of old-school television. I guess in some ways it is comforting. If you missed it, you missed it. Don't worry about it. It's not piling up in some digital storage center, adding to your guilt-inducing unwatched Netflix, your shelves full of DVDs, your stacks of unread books, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weeklys (a guide to Entertainment? How many hours have I spent reading about entertainment, comment on entertainment, Internet message boards responding to entertainment, critics on entertainment? I waste too much time reading about entertainment and not enough being entertained!).

How can anyone consume so much media? Why is there so much? What have we done? There's a Twilight Zone story in this somewhere. And it ends with the guy breaking his glasses.


Zack said...

Lord knows I've managed to bury myself in entertainment without cable, satellite, TiVo, Netflix, digital radio.


Maybe you should only watch the really interesting "special features". It sounds like you realize that you are in a position to be extremely choosy about your entertainment. My chosen form of primary entertainment is games. Like other gamers, I have a backlog of games I have not played. Lydia complains that we haven't gotten around to finishing Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, or Kingdom Hearts*. A Final Fantasy game can last 60 hours. That's like 30 DVDs worth of time, you realize. Hell, some gamers even use "length of time" as a positive; games that can be enjoyed, beaten, and understood in 12-15 hours are often criticized for what is basically high density of quality.

Boback has probably literally more music in his collection than he could ever listen to, even if he learned to listen to different music in each ear. So, on behalf of Boback and myself, welcome to the high council of entertainment hell.


The problem is old, probably one day younger than the existence of media ownership. I know my parents have boxes and boxes of books in their garage. Literally there are bookstores with less books. My mother has books and books of crossword puzzles and logic puzzles that she just cannot get through.

*FFX is Tom's fault. And Kingdom Hearts just isn't very good. But what does it say that you need to spend 2-3 hours with a game just to decide you're not going to like it?

C said...

this year, instead of her usual gift of something random from nordstrom (which is usually cool, but the wrong size) which can be taken back and exchanged for cash, my aunt got me and my sister gift cards to AMC theaters. most people would consider this a very good and useful gift. but it forces me off my couch to drive to the mall, hope that it doesn't take me longer to find parking than to actually drive to the mall property, and stand in line for the privilege of sitting in a dark room of questionable cleanliness surrounded by strangers, who often end up touching me.

all forms of entertainment should come into the home. i like tv because of that sense of urgency. you can say, "oh, i have to get going the movie starts in 30 mins." why don't people accept that for tv? "sorry, can't chat, alton brown in on in 10 mins" people just think i'm anti social. hmmph. maybe i should start lying about going to movies, but really watch tv instead.

that's the problem with dvd's you own. they're not going anywhere. no urgency.

Sarah said...

I really liked this post. I don't have anything to add to it. Well, other than you should really watch the Futurama commentaries and finish Katamari Damacy.

Although if you want me to, I'll send you my Futurama commentary audio tapes so you can listen to them in the car. I've got all of season one and season two up to How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back.

And I love the Tivo. Lovelovelove.

Meli said...

My favorite website is Television Without Pity for the fact that it serves the dual purpose of offering commentary on tv shows I watch, and offers recaps of tv shows I don't want to bother to watch, but am interested in. It's also more portable than my tv, and easier to negotiate than my vcr.

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