Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"You can't believe everything you see on T.V."

While reading David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Courderoy and Denim, I couldn't help but notice he recurrently alluding to T.V. and his family's obsession with it. I had a feeling that after reading about it two or three times, that it would be a contributing factor to the book and come up many more times. So when we mentioned the significance of the T.V. at the end of class on Tuesday, I couldn't help but use it as a contributing factor in my Blog.
Throughout Sederis' memoir, he tells story after story from his life, ranging from when he was a little boy to a teenager to an adult. Most of his stories are outrageously blunt and painfully funny. At times, I didn't know whether to cry for him or to laugh. Based on what I read and what we talked about in class, I would say that laughing is the best reaction to these embarressing and heartwrenching stories. Why? Because Sedaris would not put himself out there if he didn't want to accept other people laughing at his misfortunes. He doesn't want sympathy, because if he did, he wouldn't shine his stories in a humorous light. He wouldn't put in ridiculous jokes and crazy one-liners if he didn't want you to laugh!
This brings me to my next point. As we said in class and as I stated earlier, Sedaris alludes to his family's reliance on the T.V. throughout the entire book. From the very beginning we see that his family engulfed themselves in the television all hours of the day, and even made fun of their neighbors who didn't have a T.V. At one point, he even describes his family as, "The family whose T.V. was so hot that we needed an oven mitt in order to change the channel" (31). Describing his family's obsession with the T.V. is a way of telling us what not to do. We all have heard of the phrase "You can't believe everything you see on T.V." Well this can be a message Sedaris is trying to get across. Too often we become distracted by what the media is telling us through the T.V., the internet, etc when in reality, we need only to focus on the real life situations we are in. It is within our real life situations that we will learn what we need to know, not from the images we get from the T.V. By pointing out every instance where his family depended on the T.V. we see that in doing so, we will miss out on more important things. If we are distracted, we will not be able to appreciate the moments that define our lives better than any newscast or reality series. The part in the book that made me aware of this was when David's brother, Paul, was getting married. It is Paul's wedding day, and all he and his father could do was watch the news on a flood that was occurring somewhere in the world. Rather than even being concerned about the people that were being affected and the possible lives being lost, Paul says, "Water like that will fuck the shit out of some hardwood floors.." This is a prime example of the statement we began making in class on how we cannot become distracted based on what we see on T.V. For Paul and his father, and David too, their obsession led them to lose one of the most exciting times they will ever has and brothers, fathers, and sons. If I had to speak for David Sedaris, I would think that he would tell us that we create meaning in our life, not the media and not those who bring us down, like Brandi in the Girl Next Door chapter. We have control over what we pay attention to and what makes us happy. As friends, spouses, parents, siblings, we need to keep our attention focused on those we love and those who love us, as well as ourselves.

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