How Television Changed Books

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It was the year 1939. The very first public television signals were being broad casted. (Wikipedia, viewed April 9,2011)Little did the maker know that this device would be the epitome of information  for decades after.  This device would send news and information everywhere in the world. That is until information started to decay and capitalism started to rise. Bits and pieces that provoked emotion were being preferred over the typical weekly newscast. People didn’t care to know the truth any longer and  people cared to know how to feel. This carried outside of television and into the books, that people write or the books that the average person would read. Thanks to television, the quality of modern day books has plummeted.
The average television commercial length is thirty seconds long before it mind-numbingly switches to a different 30 second commercial(New York Times, April 5,2008). This thirty second commercial has to be able to fit all of the information about the product that it possibly can. This means, without the use of some commercial skipping device, people grow accustomed to having to listen to a bunch of information in such a short time span. People then when they read books do not like long lengthy books that have no action or humorous catchphrase that they can remember and admire. See, any editor would tell you that some character needs to have a catchphrase. Instead, people sacrifice meaning for length. They choose to read the shorter book rather than the longer book that has a deeper meaning. For instance, if someone were to google the phrase “tweet book” there are several sites that immediately pop up that will display all of the “tweets”, that is 160 or less character statements, into a book format that one can sell to publishers. This book contains no more information than that of their own personal life and funny statements that they randomly came up with and decided to post to the world. There is no backstory, characters, or literature devices just fragments of sentences. Fragments. Nothing more, nothing less thanks to television itself.
Now, assuming that a book isn’t a twitter book, then  it’s bound to follow one of a few plots. There’s the hero’s journey plot with maybe a variation on gender or race or even speices, there’s the book that skips the hero’s journey and bildingsroman and goes straight for the guy getting the girl, and then there’s the book that insults other political parties or politicians. In the year 2010, on the Barnes and Noble best selling list, if you discluded series and political insult books, there would be one original book. That is one out of the 10 that had character, plot and theme. This once again is thanks to television. The only shows or movies that obtain the viewers attention are those that people have seen before. People are no longer interested in a new plot that doesn’t rip off some other movie before it just by adding new characters or a new species. One of the highest grossing movies of 2009, Avatar, was just a ripoff of the classic story of Pocahontas except on another planet.  The only reason why it got such highly rated views, besides its graphics, was the forbidden love plot(Rotten Tomatoes, viewed April 8 2011) that has been seen in every single fictional movie and book in the last century starting with versions of Romeo and Juliet. Even in the tell all political insult books, there has to be some form of this forbidden love between two objects, whether it be between the politician and his work or the politician and his mistress/secretary. The human race has been reduced to read the same story over and over and over again.
Then there is the problem with series of books by the same author. They too tend to follow the same plot except maybe with an older  or younger character. They tend to make their series and elongated bildungsroman, so the reader will keep buying their new books and the author will keep making millions of dollars. In fact, books that are part of a series made up half of the total best selling books in 2010 at Barnes and Noble. There are books that could have been original novels with a deeper meaning and that could have revolutionized the world for the better. For instance, one of the famous authors Jon Krakauer wrote a book that had three dimensional characters and a deeper meaning. Instead, we are left with one three dimensional character going on a  journey with his two dimensional friends who end up having a romance. The characters follow the same exact journey and the same exact personality in every book in the series. Once again, this is due to that one 1939 television signal that began shows and television series with characters who didn’t have a personality. Shows where the characters were there solely for humour. Television created shows that followed the same exact journey every season.  One of the most highly rated television shows of 2010, Glee, had both seasons follow the same progress from regional all the way to nationals by singing songs and getting insulted along the way. There was no separation between the seasons or books of a series.  They were the same story with a different setting.
Television truly ruined books forever. There would no longer be such brilliant literature as the “Great Gatsby” that would be one of the top selling books of the year. There would no longer be books that had such a vibrant political and moral message such as how slavery was a cruel thing and all african american people deserve to be treated the same way by everyone. There would no longer be tales of just how artful war can be. Instead, humanity is left with twitter books and a couple of bland series that should have died out long long ago. Television revolutionized the way we get our information. Television revolutionized entertainment. The only problem is that television killed books.


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