Turn down that infernal hideous racket

When the great invention of television was introduced to many homes across the globe, it comes to no surprise that many sat in awe as they observed this little box work its magic. My father was no exception to this. His brothers, sisters, mother and of course himself absolutely loved it. However, his father hated it with a passion. Dad recalls when his father would get home from work and say things like “I see they’re watching that damn idiot box again”, “turn down that infernal hideous racket” or “pay attention when I’m talking to you and look at me rather than the box”. Dad’s most notable experience with his father’s hatred of television is when he would do something wrong and his father would say “Nicholas, don’t get flippant with me or I’ll get rid of the box”.
According to my father, the thought of colour television had never really entered anyone’s mind until it was introduced in 1975. It had come to no surprise to Dad and his three siblings that when they asked if they could have it, the reply was a very quick “NO”. However, thankfully the neighbours were one of the first homes in the area (Cheltenham, Sydney) to get a colour TV. The highlight of each day was after school when they would go to the neighbour’s house and watch episodes of Gilligan’s Island and the Brady Bunch in colour. Eventually, with plenty of help from the mother of the household, his father finally succumbed to a colour television in late of 1978 after the old “idiot box” could go no further.
It has never crossed my mind to think about how the invention of the television was approached, whether it be with fear, caution, excitement or hatred. During the introduction of TV, values and attitudes of the adult generations were primarily influenced by depression and war. I believe there to be a link with this and the reaction of the general public to television. Reactions of mistrust, suspicion and uncertainty would have plagued the minds of those who witnessed or experienced the horrors of human nature during the first and second world war.
Since its inception as an integral part of family life in the 1950s, television has reflected and nurtured cultural values and mores.

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One thought on “Turn down that infernal hideous racket

  1. It is true, the television has developed a portal hole of what culture and values have eventuated to. The thought of being engrossed in the black and white flickering box drawing your attention more than a conversation with your mother when you get home from school is the ideal seed of what technology has grown into. This seed has blossomed into a huge tree. Since, we have planted more and more screens into our lifestyles, these screens becoming the focus of our culture and values. Whilst we are glued to a virtual screen, we are detaching from the reality screen. As my mum says when I on my phone “Can you put that down when I’m talking to you?” I can see it’s frustrating for her, I feel I can multitask and focus on both, but you really can’t. If you are talking to someone, give them your full attention. Our generation needs to rid the rudeness of our culture and values.

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