Binge-Watch TV a Mirror for Consumerism

There’s nothing on TV at the moment.  And the reason why is because I have already watched everything that is currently showing.  In the past, I might have made the same complaint and, back then, it would have been because everything that was on was a repeat.  Nowadays, it is a different story.  It is because I have binge-watched everything in advance on iPlayer.

I am annoyed with myself.  Normally, I exhibit a better degree of self-control.  Normally, I am content to watch shows at the time they are aired as dictated by the terrestrial schedulers; happy to wait a week in order to discover the outcome of the previous instalment’s cliff-hanging scene.  But I have succumbed to the twin, modern-day scourges of society: greed and impatience.  I want it all, and I want it now.

So, I couldn’t wait to find out what happens at the end of The Tourist.  And I didn’t dilly-dally over discovering who was the culprit in the Rules of the Game.  And I cut to the chase when it came to Hidden Assets. I binge-watched them all.  Saw them right through from beginning to end in one, long, self-indulgent, couch-potato excess.

And what is wrong with that?

Several things, I could argue.

Partly, I dislike the unconscious pessimism, which lies behind the activity.  It is a case of cramming in everything now, because the future looks so uncertain ahead.  Perhaps that is why binge-watching, as a whole, has been on the increase during the pandemic.  I have always considered that it the optimist who eats the food on his plate that he most dislikes first––beetroot in my case––acting in the positive belief that he will still live long enough to savour the delicacies he most enjoys later.  It is the inherent pessimist who greedily wolfs down the choice morsels first, leaving only a plateful of beetroot for later (Or you could just stop serving up beetroot? Ed.).

Binge-watching TV also mirrors western society’s economic model of consumerism: buy now, pay later.  No one saves in order to make a purchase any longer; credit permits a societal model of have-it-all.  Once again, there is a fundamental pessimism behind this strategy.  It is effectively a statement that today is as good as it gets.

But, like with purchasing everything on credit, there must ultimately come a time of reckoning.  Judgement day.

I have now reached this time regarding my TV viewing.  I have reached the end of my credit.  I have nothing left to watch.  This is how the world ends: beetroot today; beetroot tomorrow.

© Simon Turner-Tree

Simon Turner-Tree is an unlikely optimist who doesn’t like beetroot.

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