Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anyway Friends

"A little white dress with ABCs all across the front. I remember I came home one evening after a marathon of kids’ parties and whatnot and Little Miss Maya was not quite ready to take her little dress off and get in the bath so we went to her room and hung out on the floor and started talking. And out of nowhere, she told me that when she grew up, she wanted to marry me. So I said, “Why?” I asked her, I said, “Why me?” And she looked up at me and she said, “Because, Daddy, you are my anyway friend.” Now at the time I didn’t know what that meant so Maya had to explain to me that an anyway friend is the one person in your life who, no matter what they say or do, no matter what they’ve been through with you, they love you anyway. So my sincerest hope is that for Maya, Dink, and for Dink, Maya, is that anyway friend. Because no matter how old you are or what your responsibilities, if you have love, real, unconditional love, I think you can make it. So, to my anyway friend and her anyway friend, may you not only make it but enjoy it."

~Sam's Toast in Private Practice, Season 3, Episode 15, "Till Death Do Us Part"

*

People like to say TV is trash, that they don't understand why people would waste time watching television when there are so many other things they could be doing. But I think TV is a laboratory in which people play out their possibilities, seeing who they could be or would be dependant upon the differing situations offered to them. I think many television shows are portals into other worlds, other perspectives that allow us to view ourselves differently. And I was impressed by Sam in this episode and the words he spoke even though they were difficult for him. Naomi and Sam both demonstrated courage- Naomi in coming to Maya's wedding and Sam for making this toast rather than chastising the two teenagers- and I thought the concept expressed was beautiful and worthy of note. Hurrah for anyway friends.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agree wholeheartedly!
It was a nice episode and anyway friends are important in out lives.

Erachet said...

I really like the concept of anyway friends. It's so heart-warming.

David said...

The critique of television as a waste of time is a much more fundamental one than you portray it. Television is essentially and exclusively a vehicle for entertainment; the serious in irretrievable admixed with the entertaining, relegating even what is serious to, at best, a Huxleyian version of panem et circenses.

I would suggest reading Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan for why this is true. McLuhan's tetrad of effects for television is illuminating of why the medium is so ill-placed and damaging. The medium is essentially a visual-emotive one, not a intellectual-reflective one (as books can be.) Because of this, by nature it emphasizes simplistic storytelling. (Simplistic, not simple.)

Not to say I don't watch TV, but I try not to glorify how I waste time.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

I'll have to agree with David over here; what you're saying, while being insightful and somewhat groundbreaking in a sense, is also true regarding any other type of fiction. Books for example. I mean, I'll admit that TV is "a complicated sugya" and shouldn't be "נדחה בשתי ידיים" without further consideration, I also admit that since the average man doesn't tune into his favorite shows with any sort of intent or mindfulness, it's hard to say that they're getting as much out of it as you are...

Anonymous said...

TV is one of the very few things I am extreme about. Just about everything else is worthwhile in moderation, but I have always likened TV to smoking. The very nature of it is to get you hooked, and all the while there is a control it exerts over you rather than the reverse, and ends up poisoning its users without their knowledge. My main gripe with TV is its manipulative nature. It is trying to get you to feel this, think that, and watch something else, all in the hope that you will then succumb to the even more manipulative commercials. Books do the same, however, with the strict written word and without the added tool of visual, critical thinking is encouraged rather than discouraged and the persuasion is limited. In other words you are partners in your experience whereas with TV you are passive. I find that the transparency of TV is offensive and its messages are rarely anything I would appreciate - and the few that are thought provoking I would rather find in a book or in real life, as opposed to the contrived fantasy that TV spins knowing how happy we are to excape into it.

Chana said...

I don't agree. Obviously, it depends upon the TV show in question. There may be less to learn from a show like "Melrose Place" than there is from "Grey's Anatomy" or "Private Practice." But especially in these latter two, the show offers an opportunity to analyze characters making choices. Sometimes the choices are good and other times they are bad, but the choices are made and it is up to you to analyze them. I think the critical analysis is something you must choose to bring to the table rather than having it handed to you. Sure, certain scenes are meant to tug at your emotions. Thus you analyze: do I agree with that point of view? Even though this is sad, would I do the same in my case? "Million Dollar Baby" does the same thing, but that doesn't mean I would advocate for euthanasia. I think to claim TV is the flaw is to say that our audience simply has not been educated as to how to watch it correctly. Indeed, if you turn on the television as an escape and turn off your mind, it can think for you. But I find it rewarding to analyze characters and their motivations within the show as opposed to simply accepting the premises offered to me.

David said...

Firstly, Anonymous,
I disagree completely. The immersive nature of TV makes it uniquely suited to entertainment that is capable of really showing the viewpoints of others. The way that it is used can be good or bad, but I was purely discussing the nature of the medium. Life is manipulation. Usually we call it interaction. All interaction is manipulative, because all interaction is intended to convey something.

Shlomo,
I was not at all trying to be insightful, I was attempting to point others to the non-Judiac criticism of TV as a medium. The issue isn't with fiction, it is with the intrinsic natural portrayal that TV represents. This makes it a vehicle, again, for immersive entertainment.

Chana,
I'm not discussing programming, I'm discussing the fact that any entertainment that creates a world for you makes it unsuited for rational evaluation outside of the environment portrayed. I can reflect on the situations presented, but that isn't the natural or normal way to approach the medium. This is why I think McLuhan was right in saying that any media is essentially incapable of educating and illuminating in certain ways, and these ways vary with the medium discussed. We wear shirts on our torsos because that is how they are designed to be worn. You can do what you want with them, if you so choose. TV isn't made for reflection, and though it can be used that way, the metaphorical shirt is intended to be worn on the torso, not the head; wearing it wrong makes one look silly, and fails to afford any of the advantages of a shirt.

Anonymous said...

People like to say TV is trash, that they don't understand why people would waste time watching television when there are so many other things they could be doing. But I think TV is a laboratory in which people play out their possibilities, seeing who they could be or would be dependant upon the differing situations offered to them. I think many television shows are portals into other worlds, other perspectives that allow us to view ourselves differently.

=======================
Of course life is often complex, the question is how much time do you spend on it and what is the ROI (return oin investment) versus other possible investments of time?
KT
Joel Rich

Chana said...

"TV isn't made for reflection, and though it can be used that way, the metaphorical shirt is intended to be worn on the torso, not the head; wearing it wrong makes one look silly, and fails to afford any of the advantages of a shirt."

I would suggest reading Shonda Rhimes' blog (she's the creator of "Grey's Anatomy") if you really think that; I think you will find it surprising.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

David: Dude I was commenting on the post not your comment..

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

By the way, the creator of "House" is not only Jewish, but his brothers are all Rashei Yeshivot in Israel, and he consults them about what topics to put in the show (mostly medidal ethics from a halachic standpoint). Though I've never seen an episode of "House" so I can't really talk...

David said...

To continue with the metaphor, no matter how useful you may find using the shirt as a hat, actual hats will tend to work better for that purpose. This is probably true even if the shirt is designed to be usable as a hat as well; the shape and size make it wrong for the new use.

"I love fiction, but I can't write four pages about the antique armoire. It just makes my head hurt. But screenwriting's very clean. It's action, it's dialogue, and that happened somehow to suit me." - Shonda Rhimes.

The fact is, the action and drama she refers to is exactly what I was referring to when I said it was essentially not a reflective medium. The stories are at best emotive edutainment (with implicit agendas,) not actual discussions of morality and the human condition which can be dissected and fairly analyzed.

Shlomo - I misread your comment. You referred to me, so I though you were responding, which upon rereading clearly is a misreading..

Chana said...

David,

Somehow you missed out everything else the writers have to say about the characters on the show. I think TV is written to entertain, yes, but there's no reason it can't be both entertaining and educational. Regarding your point, those of us who use shirts for hats simply have more imagination than the others. I don't think a celebration of a lack of imagination (aka people should only wear hats for hats) is a good thing.

David said...

Chana, Firstly, after I have stretched a bad analogy too far, I'm going to shift gears and make it much worse; to someone with only a hammer, even television shows look like hats. If the shirt is all you have, maybe using it as a hat is a good idea. On the other hand, generally we have the ability to communicate using writing, speaking, graphs, charts, equations, music, even interpretive dance. Given the wide variety of clothing available, to continue to destroy perfectly bad metaphors, why use the shirt to cover your head when the sombrero is right there.

I think that your comments regarding Greys Anatomy are either disengenuous, or simply misplaced. I didn't make any claims about a lack of depth on the part of the characters. I didn't say the show failed to portray complex moral and emotional situations.

The issue is the mental space that television creates, and the culture it produces. It can entertain and educate, but the education it provides is antithetical to intellectual discourse. The fact is that television by nature is destructive of reflective and deep thought, something that is apparent to anyone comparing the level of intellectual discourse in this country with that of fifty or a hundred years ago. I'll make the not-particularly-bold claim that this is at least partially because of the media we immerse ourselves in.


To quote Postman,


"Television does not extend or amplify literate culture. It attacks it. If television is a continuation of anything, it is of a tradition begun by the telegraph and photograph in the mid-nineteenth century, not by the printing press in the fifteenth. What is television? What kinds of conversations does it permit? What are the intellectual tendencies it encourages? What sort of culture does it produce?"

Anonymous said...

I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia [url=http://www.buypenisenlargement.com]penis enlargement[/url] penis enlargement and being forced to post spam comments on blogs and forum! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. [url=http://www.male-sexual-styles.com]penis enlargement[/url] penis enlargement They’re coming back now. [url=http://vimax3-4.com]vimax[/url] vimax Please send help! nitip [url=http://www.male-sexual.com]penis enlargement[/url] penis enlargement

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me about the old days of good blogging. If you can please visit my site [url=http://kitchencheap.co.uk/]kitchen cheap[/url]