Sunday 17 March 2019

Television: The Great Pacifier

1950s glamourous dressing for watching the television
Dressing for the telly, naturally

We've a running joke, Mr P & I, about the reason the television was invented: it was to keep the leisured classes occupied and take their minds off being productive, in all its pun-ish forms. Borders don't need storming or new lands discovered; visionary palaces and gardens don't need planning; Second-Sons needn't plot against their lot in life nor the idle fiddle with Alchemy. Indeed, no taxing decisions need making beyond whether it's too late for another episode of "Mad Men". Revolution is nigh on impossible during ratings season. We, the people, are Satisfied and Pacified.

Mr P is presently engrossed in the lives of The Romanovs and is frequently heard to exclaim over some revelation about the general busyness of the protagonists, in and out of bedrooms and charging all over the countryside, fighting and fornicating, like thus:

"Huh, so that explains the great fondness the Russians have for going to the ballet - the Romanovs used the Imperial Ballet as an escort agency!"

"Yes, well, perhaps if the television was invented back then..."

As we seem always to have our noses in books about those whose lives came well before us, we really can't ask them if the telly would have been sufficient entertainment to keep a married Grand Duke out of the bed of a glamorous ballerina. However, I am sure he may have stayed in more at the weekend and we and the Russian people might be culturally poorer for the loss of Patronage.

But if you look outside, you see no great public works being erected nor is embellishment being added to beautify our Built World since artistic directors and CGI special effects can satisfactorily provide it two-dimensionally. After a binge weekend of "Versailles", a little less of the baroque gilding can be quite soothing on the eye, a fact exploited to the nines by unimaginative architects.

Margravial Opera House in Beyreuth, Germany, interior shot
The Margravial Opera House in Beyreuth, Germany
It would never be conceived today

Likewise, knowing Millennials as we do, the extraordinary youth of the Movers and Shakers from previous centuries leads to raised eyebrows and comments between us:

"It's hard to imagine a twenty-year old inspiring and leading an army today."

"Yes, well, if Alexander the Great had had the next season of Game of Thrones to look forward to..."

Not to mention the notion that the explorers and adventurers from centuries past would just up sticks and sail off into the blue yonder for months and years at a time, regardless of their marital situation.

"Mrs Captain James Cook only spent about one quarter of her married life with her husband!"

"Yes, well, I'm sure the telly was invented by an Explorer's Widow, sick of the single-parenting."

Of course the proof of our running joke lies with the fact that no one in our acquaintance is beating a door down to join the Mission to Mars.

"Yes, well, ... telly!"

Bats In The Belfry