My mothers childhood memories of television were so interesting, and very different to my own. In year 4, she was the last one in her class to get a colour TV. She recalls how exciting this was for their family; the only colour TV they had seen before was at their Grandmothers house, they would watch her TV no matter what show was on, just to see the different colours.
Moments that she remembers fondly are the family conversations that arose surrounding the advertisements on TV. She recounts, “My farther wrote the first media studies textbook, he was big on ‘just because its on TV doesn’t mean its true’ – lots of kids thought everything was on TV. A big family conversation in my household was ‘sucked in by ads’ – which basically meant we shouldn’t let TV influence you. If we were at the shops and asked my Dad for a product that we had seen an ad on, he would repeat his slogan.” Back then, she recalls that the ads had more jingles, lots more singing and her and all her friends knew (and still know), all the words to them because you had to watch them and couldn’t fast forward.
Every Sunday night a different kids movie was on. In her household this night was hair washing night, and everyone would take turns with the old fashioned hairdryer (a big balloon machine which sat on your head.) She points out that nowadays when you have a movie night, everyone’s doing different things; watching the movie, but texting and on their laptops at the same time. Back then everyone had no choice but to focus all their attention onto the TV set.
Her family had watched the Brady Bunch so many times that whenever an episode was on, it would be a competition to see who could guess which episode it was first – ‘It’s the episode where Peter gets braces!’
A major memory of hers was how as a teenager her mother wouldn’t let her watch the show Countdown. She felt herself feeling increasingly left out at school because of this; her group would spend their lunchtimes singing the top 40 and she couldn’t; join in because she didn’t know the songs.
The other night she was on her iPad with earphones in and I asked what she was doing. She said she was watching the previous episodes of the Bachelor because all of the women at her job were talking about it and she wanted to fit in and join the conversations. 30 years after the Countdown incident and it would seem as if much hadn’t changed. Television was still creating a conversation, and you had to keep up to date in order to fit in.
When she was 20, her boyfriend’s family had a remote control for their TV. When she watched it with his family, his brother would take control of it and flick stations so many times you weren’t sure what you were watching, or think ‘oh I didn’t know this actor was on this show.’ She remembers thinking that she didn’t want to buy a TV with a remote when she got married, but by that time they all came with one.
Something that is significant to her today in 2014 is how accessible media is. In her childhood and into her young adulthood, if you weren’t home when a TV show was on, you missed it because there was no such thing as record.
One day when she was 10, her dad was reading the newspaper and said ‘One day you’re going to be able to watch whatever you want, whenever you want.’ She remembered being completely blown away by that. How on earth would that happen? Do you ring up and say ‘Can I please have Brady Bunch on at 23 Menai Road now?’ At a time when videos and DVD’s weren’t even invented, it was almost impossible to imagine what television and life would be like in the future.
During this conversation I was definitely aware of how much freedom we have with our television and media choices in 2014. If I want to watch a certain movie I can choose to watch it without even having to leave my couch. After hearing all her memories and realising that they didn’t even occur that long ago, it made me wonder what television will be like in another 30 years. We already have 3D and touch screen televisions, what will be next? A television that you can actually step into?