The Case for Communal Television

Tubeopolis. Acrylic on canvas 16 x 20 by Kevin Cameron

Tubeopolis. Acrylic on canvas 16 x 20 by Kevin Cameron

I woke up thinking about Tommy Hunter.  Tommy who?  Not Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Hunter.
Tommy was a household voice I grew up with as part of my family TV experience.  He’s Canadian and was recently, at the age of 77,  honoured with his image on a Canadian postage stamp.
This post is not really  about Tommy Hunter. It’s about the fact that one of his trademark songs that he closed his weekly Tv show with, “Travellin Man” ,was actually wandering through my mind. Here are a few of the lyrics:
“I am a travellin’ man
Followin’ the breeze
Travellin’ here and travellin’ there
Gathering memories
So let me wander,
All my life away”
There’s this refrain , “…let me wander, let me wander, (repeat)” that has stuck with me all these years since childhood.
It awakened me to bitter-sweet memories of my youth…sentimental emotions.  Being young then, Tommy Hunter was really my parents’ show.  I liked shows with action and adventure and space travel.  Yet the song of Tommy Hunter remains with me in the same way the memory of early summer mornings fresh after the rain.
That’s because television was a communal thing in the 70’s and 80’s.
You really didn’t have much programming choice so you learned to like something that your brother, Mother or Father liked a little.  Sort of like the customary middle east marriages that were prearranged.
Sure, sure, preachers wailed against the evils of television and its morality changing powers and teachers scolded us for wasting our academic minds on the bluish glow.  It’s still the same today. They’re still saying the same thing.  Am I denying that exercise is important and lethargy leads to poor health?  Not a chance.
However we were a physically active family when I was growing up and spending an evening sharing a couple television shows was the icing on the cake.
 The family was together!  We laughed at the same jokes, we cried at the same deaths and cheered as one to see our heroes back again next week.
Now , often ( not always) when I see my family of 5 together to watch a show we are all sitting in the same room but almost all of us have our attentions divided.  Each one of us has our own screen.  Each one has a laptop open on our knees or tabled beside us.  Almost each one of us has yet another smaller screen/ smart phone, etc dimly lurking and updating us on our social status.  
Have we lost something?
  Did we lose a communal connection that we as families had in the old days? I’m not sure.  I don’t want to become the wailing preacher or the finger tapping teacher warning us of doom and gloom.
Perhaps they too, the next generation , will still hold fond memories of sitting together with family and Facebook friends at the same time sharing in those sacred Tv/iPhone/laptop/desktop memories.
Really I don’t care so long as they can still sing their own song or  hum along  with Tommy Hunter:
 “Some have said a travellin’ man walks a lonely mile,
But I find friends along my way who offer me a smile.
I tell people that I meet I’ve travelled far and wide.
I’ve just one man for company. My dear Lord’s by my side.
May I keep a-wanderin’ until the day I die.
There’s nothing that can tie me down. I’m free as the birds that fly.”
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4 comments on “The Case for Communal Television

  1. well put Kevin. Where has it all gone? Nothing wrong with sharing time with family and sharing some of each others interests . We just had a visit with our Grandson and his fiancée and they found time to share some of their future wedding plans with us and ask our advice or even listened to how things were in our days of planning. Many modern items to work with today and not just one choice of invitation, reception, photography, etc etc. Some of the old values still exist . Tommy Hunter is one of them .

    • Thanks Barb! Times change. I’m sure each generation will have it’s ‘good ole days’. Some thought the telephone would ruin families. Let’s just hope they hold onto some of those old values.

    • Thanks for liking the painting! It’s gallery wrap style on deeper canvas with two craft foam “legs”. If I get chance I’ll get a picture with a different perspective. There’s actually little people/ figures in it that you can see if you look closely. It’s about television being like a city we live in. I wanted to have the tubes glowing representing the glow of city lights, etc. Always appreciate your comments!

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