For most of it’s existence, TV was designed to be “one look” entertainment. We were supposed to grasp things the first time, and if it happened that some complexity or nuanced escaped us, well, not to worry. It can’t have been that important in any case. TV was forgettable culture. Tissue thin and completely disposable.
But we are entering into the era of “second look” television. Sometimes this happens because we were making a sandwich or playing with the cat. Never mind, a simple push of the go-back button, and we are caught up.
But some TV is now created with the expectation that we will not and cannot get it the first time. If it pleases the court, I offer the following Sprint ad into evidence
Notice that it’s not just the dialog and foreign language(s) that demand the replay. This ad has got Judy Greer who is fast rising from “sidekick” standing to full blown celebrity. Plus there are parts that make no sense however many times we watch it. (The final moment when everyone looks suddenly at the hamster is wonderful partly because it is inscrutable and permanently so.)
Pam, my wife, and I spend a lot of time freezing frame and going back. “Wait, did she say what I think we said.” Or “Hey, did you notice that guy in the background?” Or “get a lot of this camera angle!” This is what it is to live with Second Look TV and the technology that makes replay effortless.
Indeed culture and technology do an attractive two-step here. The technology makes this possible. Culture (in the form of new complexity) makes it necessary. And so continues our steady transition from a pop culture to a culture, plain and simple.