Loren Knuths

Television Evolution in Pop Culture


Though the years since its creation, television has grown and evolved from something of a small rarity in households to a main core aspects in many lives. In the 1940’s during the early years of TV, only 0.4 percent of American households owned a TV. This number was so low in fact that in 1939 The New York Times made a prediction that this newly released product would fail because people would “have time to stop and stare at a screen”. This statement alone shows how much television has changed over time. Between 1949 and 1969 the number of televisions owned in America jumped from less than a million to over 44 million. From then the numbers have risen to near an estimate of 116 million televisions in the United States alone. Not only have American found time for these screens, for many their entire lives revolve around them. Through the years this marginally used and predicted failure has become a standard tool and even a way of life in everyday America.

One quick example I found of this is in my own life. Where I don’t watch a large amount of TV one would probably never believe that just walking into my house where I have 5 televisions, most of which are rarely used. To me this is a great example of modern America’s materialistic obsession and showing that televisions are definitely something that falls into this category of modern pop culture.

In the past 60 years TV and film has evolved greatly both in the technology and functions it provides as well as the actual content that it shows. Obviously the days of a few black and white channels are long behind us, with new smart televisions acting more as computers rather than just something for viewing movies and shows.

As companies incorporate more features, technologies, and functions into their televisions the more people are drawn and captured by these devices. This device that was originally created as something to be able to view news and entertainment starts to become something that life revolves around. The question is when does it stop being entertainment and start becoming a false sense of reality?

If someone was to turn on a tv for the first time today they might think that the product of this device’s 60 years of evolution is something known as “reality” tv. Undoubtedly nearly all have seen a reality show of some sort of another seeing as nearly every station has at least one reality tv show. Everyday millions of people gather to watch these shows. Choosing others life as their choice of entertainment. Gathering around televisions, blocking out their lives to watch someone else’s’, or trying to slip out of their own reality and into another’s. But what are the consequences of all of this? Besides the obvious health problems that can come with a sedentary lifestyle, what are the metal side effects of all this television and constant viewing of what is titled as “reality”? With constant bombardments from commercials combined with never ending comparison of others “reality” and further withdrawing from their own, is television causing viewers and users to lose sight of their own reality?


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