The World Doesn’t Revolve Around A Television Set (anymore)

As an only child, I never had anyone to watch my kids shows with, and my mum and dad had very different interests in terms of what they liked to watch, so the only time we were ever really likely to be around the TV at the same time was if Collingwood was playing in the AFL, and even that was rare.

According to Livingstone (2009), the TV was historically marketed as a way of an entire family coming together at the same time to watch TV together, even going so far as to adjust domestic schedules to fit the viewing schedules. While this may have been true in the 1950’s when TV was a new and exciting thing, fast forward to the 21st century and its a very different picture, at least in my family.

I was what some may call a ‘privileged child’ growing up, in that we had Pay TV. This meant that I grew up on a television diet of the best of Disney, with the occasional offering from Nickelodeon thrown in the mix. But to be honest, my clearest memories of watching TV growing up aren’t even at home; they’re with my grandparents.

I used to spend every Friday night with my grandma at their place while my mum and grandpa would go to the raffle. The most vivid experiences I have of these Friday nights was watching ‘Strictly Dancing’ on ABC every week when I was 5. I would make up my own dances and (try to) dance along with the professionals while my grandma would shower me with praise. I even became so invested in the show that my grandma handmade me my own dancing costumes so that I could be dressed up in sequins and glitter just like the dancers on the show (maybe that’s where my glitter obsession came from).

Looking back, its easy to now say that this weekly, dance-filled ritual played a role in my individualisation as a child. Since it’s introduction, the television has played a vital role in the individualisation process for children and adults alike, as it provides the avenues and resources necessary in order to construct ones identity (Livingstone, 2009). At the tender age of 5, I was yet to be widely exposed to the performing arts, but since then I have become fully immersed in everything performative. If I had not been exposed to shows such as ‘Strictly Ballroom’, I may not dipped my toes in the performing arts until much later, altering my personal identity.

The way we view TV has changed again over the last 15 years, with a huge transition towards online viewing and streaming. Gone are the days of frantically running to the toilet in the ad breaks. I could not tell you the last time I watched a TV show with another person, instead preferring to watch my Netflix from the comfort of my own bed, alone and in total darkness.

Catch ya on the flip side,

Jess x

 

References

Livingstone, Sonia (2009) Half a century of television in the lives of our children. The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625 . pp. 151-163.

Once Upon a Time in an Australian Cinema…

It’s easy to assume with the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Stan (as well as the ever-present small group of people who continue to choose to illegally download movies) that cinemas may have become a dying industry. But while being able to watch a movie at home, curled up with a blanket and your own not exuberantly overpriced snacks while being free to scroll through your social media may be super appealing, there is a certain charm about cinemas that still seems to be attracting kids, teens and adults by their millions (ABS, 2011).

Going to the cinema is an experience which has evolved over time and has meant different things for different people and generations. For my Grandparents generation, going to the cinema was an event. You couldn’t just rock up in jeans and a t-shirt as so many people do today; you had to wear your best clothes and you had to stand for the National Anthem before the movie. The actual cinemas which they attended  were also very different, with the art deco style theatres, drive-ins and open air theatres being the ‘norm’. 

The Capitol Theatre, Wagga Wagga. Opened in December 1931, this was the smaller of two Art Deco style theatres in the city while my grandma was growing up.

 

My parents generation have a slightly different connection to the cinema experience. Being one of 6, my mum’s family seldom went to the movies because it was just too expensive. It was an outing generally reserved for special occasions like birthdays. My mum says going to the cinema and visiting the ‘Candy Bar’ was seen as a very American thing. This was also the booming era of the drive-in; my aunty remembers seeing ‘The Sound of Music’ countless times, piled up in the backseat between her siblings at the drive-in.

My first memory of going to a ‘cinema’ doesn’t actually involve a cinema in the context that most people think of them today. The RAAF base in my hometown used to have a ‘cinema’ (I honestly couldn’t tell you if it’s still there) that showed movies super cheap, but you had to have a connection to someone in the RAAF, which we did, and so we saw ‘Finding Nemo’. From what I (vaguely) remember, not a bad movie.

Forum 6 Cinemas, Wagga Wagga. This was (and still is) the only cinema in the city while I was growing up. The building itself still showcases some of the styling of the Art Deco theatres, something which isn’t overly common in modern cinemas.

 

My mum’s memories of taking to me to the movies as a kid is a little different. According to her, the first time she took me to the movies, I got so scared when the lights went out that I had to hold her hand while she reassured me it was okay. I, obviously, have no recollection of this and don’t believe it actually happened.

These days, my mum is still my favourite cinema companion. While the overall experience of going to the cinema may have changed and evolved since my grandma was a child and again since my mum and her siblings were children, there is one thing which will (hopefully) never change; you’re never too old to go to the cinema with your family.

Catch ya on the flip side,

Jess x