The Transition Generation

The Box That Changed the World

May 24, 2011

It was a sunny day.  I came home from school – I was in first grade then.  I walked in the door and turned my head to the left and saw a small box atop the television, and I knew my life would never be the same. What was this box that changed my life – it was, in fact, the cable box.

Before you laugh and decide to stop reading, let me say that for this gal, television really did change my life.  Television, and film as well, I’ve found have the power to cross cultural boundaries quickly in a way few other mediums do.  Television grew quickly as a medium here in the US, but in other countries film made more of an impact early on.  My father talks about watching Spaghetti Westerns as a child and that being his first introduction to American cinema and history.  Even Khaled Hosseini mentions it in his book, The Kite Runner.  I know American immigrants who watched old American films and learned English from them – learned colloquial sayings which, though outdated, say those films made them feel more like an American.

For me, I had a similar experience.  Growing up in a world that was decidedly different from my classmates, television gave me a window, albeit at times a stereotypical one, into their lives.  The events they would face in the future, such as various problems in high school, I then learned I would also face.  It helped me understand my classmates better, and helped me understand the world around me.  People are afraid of what they don’t know – and I suppose I was afraid of my classmates for the same reason they may have been a little afraid of me.  The only difference was, I could study their habits and behavior by watching the great American tv shows of the 1980s and 1990s, while they had no real way to learn about me. 

Television also helped overcome my shyness to a certain extent.  While I felt I couldn’t relate to the experiences of much of my classmates – proms, dances, etc. – we all related to the latest episode of a popular television show, movie, or song.  We would debate as to who really shot J.R., the dramatic turn of events on Growing Pains, or the humor in the Cosby Show, and color didn’t matter. 

Pop culture seems to trump racial tension – at least for awhile anyway.  And that’s probably why I am still obsessed with television, movies, and music even today.  It speaks for me in a way I can’t speak myself (despite the troublesome stereotypes which still exist) and gives me a topic to discuss during any lull in a conversation.  Who didn’t want to talk about Lost when it first premiered or the finales of Cheers and Seinfeld the morning after? 

Television has left an impression on me that will surely stay the rest of my life.  Television is not my life, but it has helped to shape it, guide it, and help me along the way.  And since tv shows keep getting more sophisticated and clever, my tv addiction will probably not wane anytime soon.

Has there been a tv show or movie which has affected your life?  Tell me about it in the comment section below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Thanks for reading



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    First generation born and raised American, and member of the Transition Generation © (aka Generation T ©). Join me as I discuss the struggles and joys I have faced as an American. What's your story?


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