Sunday, December 13, 2009

TV vs. Uniboobs and Cherubim

A lot of people look down on watching TV. They say it's low-brow, anti-intellectual and a waste of time. Researchers have even found that brain activity is lower when watching TV than it is on drugs. Yes, it can be a waste of time. But in risk of sounding like I possess all of the above qualities, I’ve got to say: I love TV!

Despite its faults, I think TV has its place. Sometimes people suggest other activities you could be doing instead of watching TV. While there are good alternatives, why not make them something to do in addition to TV? Someone might suggest jogging for an hour instead. Yes, exercise is good for you. Or, you could go out to coffee and catch up with a friend. Yes, relationships should be more important than people on TV. Although productive activities enrich one's life, people can't be productive every second of the day. Sometimes we need to live vicariously through a character with a fabulous wardrobe and apartment. I’m serious. Sometimes it’s good to recharge, relax and escape into another reality.

When I was studying abroad at Parsons Paris, many students would spend their nights going out to clubs, and one group of friends even went to Euro Disney three times during the semester! “Really? You can’t go to Disney World at home?” I thought. Granted, they’d also Eurail to different countries in Europe. Their parents sent them train tickets each weekend, but they would complain that they were tired. One time someone went to Belgium and didn’t leave the hotel! (They did say they felt guilty about it though.) Back then I couldn’t believe this. “I’ll go!” I said. “I’ll take pictures, and we can photoshop you in to show your parents.” “Mmm, I think they would know.”

To take things a step further—instead of traveling to a new country every weekend on top of going to school full time—just imagine if every moment was spent "to the max!" We would be exhausted. It's like a painting—you need some resting space; or in graphic design white space. This white space allows your eye to rest and then return to the intricate part of the picture with full attention.

When I lived in Paris I went to the Louvre every Wednesday night for two to three hours. My friend Jessica and I set a goal to see the entire museum. We brought our maps and crossed off the rooms as we went. Three months later, I got sick of it. Everything started to look the same. We referred to a lot of the paintings as “uniboob paintings” because there was painting after painting of women draped in toga-like clothing that covered only one breast. We wondered what was up with that? Was it the style or was it an excuse to see naked women? Cherubim could be spotted in half of the paintings too. Yep, uniboobs and cherubim. We knew it sounded uneducated and ungrateful, but after countless hours at the Louvre (in addition to all the other shows we attended) we were tired. I thought being disciplined to see and study all these paintings would be good for me as an artist. I told myself I needed this knowledge of art history. Somehow it would imprint on my brain and help me create good compositions and be aware of the references to art history. Of course I could take a break and read about art history later, but when would I be able to see all these masterworks in person again?

I also understood that I was lucky to have this opportunity. With a mom working on her Ph.D. full time and also paying for my study abroad experience, I felt like the clock was ticking. Mom knew French and all the authors, artists and museums. I felt I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy of this trip. Before I went I felt sheepish because I didn’t know what “the things to see” were. What if someone asked me what I wanted to see and I didn’t mention one of the major attractions? Towards the end I just wanted to rest and do something mindless. Even God rested on the seventh day.

Just like I didn’t want to waste time when I could be doing things others could only dream of, perhaps the anti-TV people worry that if they watch too much TV they won’t be worthy of life. That’s a little melodramatic. Of course I don’t condone being a couch potato! But sometimes you just need a break. Sometimes you need to take a trip to Euro Disney.