Telly come very lately
Have you seen the title to the north of this sentence? I think it’s pretty useless, even though I’m the owner of the single brain cell that came up with it.
But by virtue of looking, at first read, useless, it lends itself perfectly to multiple layers of interpretation. And it’s ideal for cadging a lift to an empty car park of philosophical wonderings and the one question that’s been giving me plenty of thought-ache in the past week: what is television?
But let’s erase and rewind to the very beginning. Unlike most of you, in the past days I haven’t managed to watch any football on the telly. I have maybe collected a 15-minute aggregate of highlights, early morning repeats and commentaries in between zaps.
Instead, I’ve been getting my Euro 2012 dose on my tablet, thanks to a nifty little app which allows me to watch any television station from any civilised country in the world. So I watched England’s games on an English channel, Italy’s games against the background of a commentary in Italian, and Germany’s games in Arabic – aptly so because, since I don’t understand the Teutonic language, I thought I might as well go for another language which sounds Greek to me – a veritable tongue twister.
But here’s the conundrum. Does watching football on a tablet make the same tablet television? Admittedly, I’m getting the same message – a football match. And yet the medium is as different as chalk and cheese. And the basic difference is that while television loves company on a sofa, a tablet doesn’t.
Watching television on your own smacks of an Edward Hopper painting, but sharing a tablet with another pair of eyes is not done – you don’t invite your friends over and crack open a case of beer to watch football on a tablet. And when your team loses, you shout at the telly, but not at a tablet. Well, you can, but you will look pretty stupid.
By virtue of that, football on a tablet is not the same as football on television. Football on television is a collective enjoyment – football on a tablet is like watching a two-a-side game.
And because of that, football suffers – because like life, football is meant to be shared and argued over. It conquers friendship, then divides it. It is social.
Which is why I’ll be watching the rest of Euro 2012 on a proper television.