Monday, December 1, 2008

No TV Zone

I am hooked on television. I don't own an "idiot box," so whenever I have the chance to park it in front of one, I do. For those of you who think this is strange, I couldn't agree with you more. I haven't owned a TV in years. The reason is simple. I would become an addict.

(Case in point: Last night, I watched 3/4 of the True Blood series. More on that later...)

It's unfortunate, because Barry Hannah, the acclaimed writer and hero to many, once explained the value of the TV for creativity, and especially writing. It's about stories, he said. (In reality, my friend used this argument when I made fun of how much he watched TV. It's not in the watching, it's what you do with it that counts.) Hannah's point is that too much isolation from the rest of the world is never a good thing.

(Barry Hannah)

Clarissa subscribed to cable this fall. This is my friend who grew up in the bright lights and big cities of L.A. and New York. For the first couple of years she lived in Oxford, she watched movies and a few local fuzzy channels she captured with bunny ears. I recall the day I walked into her house and noticed the screen was clear. You have cable, I announced, rather than asked. Then in her usual way of explaining things (yes, my Clarissa really does explain it all), she told me that she needed it.

All this brings me to the "blog." A few weeks ago during my meeting with Charles Wilson, the professor signing off on this project, we discussed the sudden-hit TV series True Blood. I'd heard about it from my sister in Florida who records it and watches at her convenience every week. It's good she told me, but never why. So when Dr. Wilson brought up, I was intrigued. What is he doing watching this show?

(It's like Cheers with Vampires and Sex and Southern Drawls.)

Charles Wilson has his finger on the cultural pulse of the South, that's why. The show, he explained, and I would later find out, was series of dialogues about race, sexuality, and gender in the South. What I noticed, aside from the rich amount of sex and violence, was the depictions of southern homes. Whether it's the home Jason now lives in since he parents died in a flash flood, the home Sookie inhabits by herself since her grandmother was murdered, or the shabby digs of Tara's abode she shares with her alcoholic mother, the theme is this: the south is all about the shared space. Even Will Compton, the vampire Sookie has fallen for, shares his home with transient vampires; and Sam, the owner of the bar Merlotte's, spends more time in there than in his tin can trailer. You get the sense that people move between spaces more freely in the south.

I thinking about this as I plan my own move from Pierce Avenue. Will it be easy? I hope so, and perhaps watching a little TV will help with the process.

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