Are TV Watchers Distracted Viewers?

The way we watch TV has changed drastically, and will probably continue to change as we see more and more convergence between media devices. For example, I do not have cable, and instead I use a web-ready TV to stream TV shows and movies directly from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant. While I watch I always find myself either on my phone or my tablet, usually browsing reddit or playing bubble shooter games. I also often watch shows directly on my computer, but I use my second monitor to – you guessed it – browse reddit or play bubble shooter games.

When I realized that I have this compulsion to do two things at once, I was actually very surprised. Why can’t I give even my favorite TV shows my undivided attention? Am I multitasking, or do I just have a short attention span? What kinds of subtleties am I missing when I look away from the screen, even for a moment?

130201-supernaturalAccording to this study I’m not the only one with this problem – or is it even a problem? I don’t know. I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to not let myself get distracted while I continue to watch Supernatural with my husband over the next couple of days (almost done with season 4!) and see if I really notice that big of a difference. I’ll report back to you with my findings.

This article talks about the “multitasking” that many TV viewers are engaging in and comes to the conclusion that smart TV’s are the next big thing–I’m sorry, but isn’t that already a thing? Sure not everyone has a web-ready TV, but I don’t feel like it’s this huge advancement in the way we conceive of television. We’ve been using convergent devices to watch TV and movies for a while already. To me, the most interesting thing about the findings of the study in the article is that it has implications for network programmers, directors, and even TV writers, who have to adapt to the fact that viewers may not always keep their eyes on the screen.

How do you normally watch TV? On your computer or another device? Do you have cable or stream media using services like Netflix and Hulu? Do you ever find yourself distracted by other screens while watching TV? Do you think it hinders your enjoyment of what you watch?

Study: Majority of consumers watch TV and surf Web simultaneously
Dawn C. Chmielewski @ LA Times

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A new study from KPMG suggests that the majority of Americans now watch TV and access the Web simultaneously. However, consumers say they still prefer to watch video on the TV — suggesting the next big disruptive technology in the living room may be the Internet-connected “smart TV,” like these on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show.

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The Stupidity of the Winter Hiatus

I don’t know about you, but with the Golden Globes last night (although I didn’t get a chance to watch them live and have yet to sit down and watch a recording), pretty much marking the official return of good TV to TV after the winter hiatus, I am pumped.

I always thought it was incredibly stupid that during breaks from school and work there was nothing new on TV. This article explains how the holidays, traditionally seen as a low-viewership period of time, may actually offer a lot of potential to television networks, and they should take note.

How do you feel about the winter hiatus? Do you use it as a break to catch up on shows, or do you too, feel like you’re wasting away with nothing to watch?

Wasting Away in the Winter Hiatus
Liz Medendorp @ PopMatters

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Recently we were back in that time of year when TV hits a dry spell: the infamous Winter Hiatus, when no new episodes are aired from about mid-December to mid-January. If you’re anything like me, you’re anxious for things to start up again, growing bored out of your mind watching the only things available to you: reruns, holiday specials you’ve seen dozens of times, and drawn-out New Year’s Eve shows. Why must we endure this dearth of good television precisely during that time of year when pretty much everyone has time off?”

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Tarantino on the Censorship Controversy of ‘Django Unchained’

Even though it’s been out for over two weeks now, I can’t resist at least a brief discussion of the controversy surrounding Django Unchained, especially because of how closely related it is to my own adoption of the moniker “mewling quim”.

Django Unchained uses the n-word approximately 110 times in its 166 minutes, a level of vulgarity that has caused some uproar. My first reaction to the arguments against it was simply that, coming from Quentin Tarantino, what do you really expect? He is known for excessive violence and language in his films, almost to the point of satire, and that is honestly what is so great about them.

The whole issue reminds me a lot of the episode of South Park, “It Hits the Fan” (S05:E01) that took a stance on censorship through the excessive use of the word “shit”–they even kept a counter at the bottom of the screen of how many times it was uttered in the episode, reaching 162 by the end of the half-hour show. This episode emphasizes the fact that the more a word is used, the less impact it starts to have. It seems to me that this is exactly the point of Django Unchained, as it is meant to realistically reflect its setting at a time and place when the n-word was not offensive. Words change their meaning and their import over time, so why are we so concerned that Django Unchained uses the n-word 110 times instead of 10? Would it be less offensive if there were fewer instances of the word?

But even more importantly, as the interview with Tarantino below reflects, the “excessive” use of the n-word in Django Unchained is not actually excessive, because “no one can actually say with a straight face that we use the word more than it was used in 1858 Mississippi.” And to me, this is the overriding principle in terms of censoring film and television–and creative productions in general: if it’s something that the character would say, then they should say it. You have to be truthful to the characters you write.

One of the most interesting aspects of this interview is that, in response to the Drudge Report posting a splash page of Tarantino across the top of its front pages with the n-word written below it seven times, Tarantino indicates that they were trying to offend him. An ironic state of affairs when you consider the fact that many see Tarantino himself as the one who is being offensive. His reaction to this intended slight is incredibly admirable–he doesn’t let it offend him. He simply says that what they did was ridiculous, and he can’t take it seriously.

What do you think of the controversy surrounding Django Unchained? Check out the interview with Tarantino here.

Quentin Tarantino Isn’t Fazed By ‘Django Unchained’ N-Word Controversy
Kevin P. Sullivan @ MTV

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It should come as no surprise that Quentin Tarantino‘s latest film — which we’ll remind you is a slavery-era tale told in Spaghetti Western style — has stirred up some controversy. What is slightly shocking, however, is that much of the controversy is coming from media coverage of “Django Unchained” as opposed to the movie itself.

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