Monday, January 30, 2012


Walking down the corridors of a hospital at night, the thing that immediately stands out is the blue TV light shining from patient rooms, and the sounds of different channels wafting into the halls.

The mix is always pretty mainstream.  Sports.  Religious broadcasts.  Sitcoms, both old and new.  Shitty Ben Stiller movies that would have been comfortably forgotten had they not been repurposed into basic cable staples.  Nothing really demanding of anyone's time or attention.

That's the point, of course.  People in a hospital, whether patients or visitors, are a captive audience, but they tune into these shows for the same reason people at home do: Because they're there, and there's nothing else to do.

This sort of TV is often described as the audio-visual equivalent of comfort food, but that's not quite true.  A meatloaf and mashed potato dinner may be full of calories and starches, but it will still provide some form of nourishment.  This sort of TV doesn't do that--quite the opposite.  It deadens the mind and senses.

Sometimes that's needed.  There are times in our lives when there is literally nothing else to do, and all that's left is to kill some time.  That's the job of most TV, and it does it well.