Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"Origins Of A Specific Sensitivity"

We – meaning my older brother and I – are sitting on the floor in our den, watching TV.  I’m, like, six.  Or possibly ten.  I would like to think six because it’s less embarrassing. 

“It’s” being what I am about to tell you.  

Television.  It was amazing.  Hopalong Cassidy.  Kate Smith – less amazing, but still pretty good.  Large woman.  Sang “When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain.”  But you could actually see her doing it.  Not like on radio, where you could hear her but you did not know how big she was.  Not that that matters.  But now you had the choice whether to care. 

Time matzas on.  Inevitable upgrades in technology.  RCA, who manufactured televisions owned NBC, which broadcast television programs.  Inducing people to buy televisions from RCA.  You see how that works?  You wanna see “Uncle Miltie” – you have to go out and purchase a set.  Or run down to the Appliance Store and watch it through the window.  A guy gets whacked with a gigantic powder puff, you don’t need to hear words.

Anyway, RCA was now selling color televisions.  (Colour televisions in Canada – same product, but with a “u.”)  To promote the arrival of color television, NBC began broadcasting color television programming. 

The thing is, most people still had black-and-white televisions, because A) color televisions were expensive and B) for a long time – in my opinion, until Sony got into the game – color television was terrible.    

Last paragraph of boring introduction.

In order for people to watch television both ways, the programming was transmitted in what was called “compatible color”, meaning, if you had a black-and-white TV you saw the program in black-and-white and if you had a color TV you saw the program in washed-out color.  (That is not sour grapes; color television totally sucked.)  To clarify this dichotomy, before every show, the network’s “Voice Over” announcer would intone,

“The following program is broadcast in compatible color.”

We were watching in black-and-white.  Probably a western.  Where the show’s wide-open spaces could “colorfully” showcase the new product.  Leave It To Beaver in color?  Who cares?

So we’re watching this western after the announcement about “compatible color” when suddenly, my older brother goes nuts.

“Look at that!” he shouts excitedly.

“What?” I respond confusedly.

“It’s in color!”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Are you crazy?  Look at those greens!  Look at those blues!

“I don’t see anything.”

“It’s right there!  In compatible color!”

“Compatible color’s only for color TVs.”

“I see color!

“But our TV’s just…

“Holy catfish!  The rancher’s daughter has red hair!

“She does?”

“Can’t you see it?”

“I only see black-and-white.”

“Aw, gee.  Maybe it’s your eyes.”

And on it went.  I cannot do justice to my older brother’s persuasive abilities, as I have minimal talent in that direction, while my brother has natural “Br’er Rabbit” propensities.  I only know that somewhat later, I am standing in the bathroom, washing my bifocals with soap, so I can see television in color.

That’s how I grew up.  Being convinced that what was demonstrably false was actually really the case, and it was my mistake rather than their brutalizing deception.  Can you sense I am not entirely over this?

Okay.  That’s where I come from.

So…

When I hear, for example, that “The American people love this president” when I know that more than sixty percent of them think he’s an idiot

When I’m told that the Supreme Court is a non-political branch of government, when I know that every landmark decision of the last sixty-five years has been decided on the basis not of judicial impartiality but by the court’s political composition

When, even though I know the south turned Democratic after Republican Lincoln freed the slaves and then flipped back to Republican when Democrat Johnson got the slaves’ descendants civil rights and voting rights – I am assured that the south is not racist

To take three examples…

How do you think I am going to react?

Not calmly… is the answer.

You have your opinion?  Fine.  But don’t tell me stuff that’s not true.

People generally accept deceitful “certainties” as part of “business as usual.”  That’s understandable.  They never experienced

“Look at those greens!  Look at those blues!”


Nor found themselves scrubbing their bifocals in the bathroom.

1 comment:

Fred from Scarborough said...

The figure is closer to 99% in the rest of the world.