October 23, 2007

Viva television


My sister offers a spirited defense of television as a literary medium than need not bow down to other artistic forms. The best-selling writer Orson Scott Card enthusiastically agrees:

Folks, I've said it before, but I'll say it again. This is the golden age of television. As the movies flail about trying to find a way to get good writing and good stories past movie studios interested only in spectacle and stars, television has become not just a writers' medium, but a place where good writing can actually get on the air--not always, not even most of the time, but often enough that you can spend hours a week watching some of the best dramatic art in our culture.

I agree as well with Half Sigma that Netflix raises the television-watching experience (that's television watching, not watching movies on television) from good to much better.

In the comments, my brother Joe posits that "reading is actually quite abnormal." Although some children do uniquely "acquire" literacy without a formal education, it is rare. Literacy is an "unnatural" behavior to the extent that writing systems actually have to be invented and promulgated, and then taught and studied.

Japan has one of the world’s most complex writing systems, a hodgepodge of natively-invented and imported orthographies. I don't think it unrelated that Japan's 99 percent literacy rate is paired with a highly visual popular culture going back centuries, currently expressed in television, anime, manga, as well as the fine arts.

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