Saturday, April 12, 2014


Recently, the artist-philosopher Hito Stereyl declared the internet dead. No one to my knowledge has declared television dead, though I remember hearing in the late-1990s of the impending "marriage" of our television and our computer.

Seems people stopped talking about television after the so-called merger of AOL and Time-Warner in 2000. After that, the dot-com bubble burst, followed by 9/11, a loss of market confidence and a recession.

How did I get onto this track? I wanted to talk about the death of a medium (television), how death is marked by funerals, how funerals are marked by eulogies, and how the eulogy could be History's last platform -- and a eulogy for History itself.

Marshall McLuhan said that when a medium dies it turns into an art form. But I don't want to talk about that either.

What I want to talk about is a history of television that would tell us how, in the late-1960s and through the 1970s, Saturday mornings became filled with children's programs, most of them cartoons. And of these cartoons, the first ones on that day were from the 1940s and 50s.

Like many of us who were born in the last years of the Baby Boom, we watched a lot of television -- and a lot of cartoons. One cartoon I remember was from the 1940s or 50s. Not sure if it was a Looney Tunes cartoon, but it had as its subject our new modern conveniences (new mod cons, as the British say), and what it might look like if they turned against us.

The image above is of an older model thin coil hot plate, like the one I imagined for yesterday's post -- the broken one. Indeed, this hot plate looks broken too, based on its expression, a kind of apoplectic rage, like what happens to Tweety Bird after he eats the "Hyde Formula", or what Sponge Bob might look like if he too ate the Hyde Formula, while at the same time turned into an appliance.

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