In general, we associate books with smart people and television with… less smart people. Spend all day at home watching TV and you’ll be brain dead, but spend all day reading books and damn, you fancy. There are shows that are for the “smarts” (your Breaking Bads, your The Wires) and books that are for the “not smarts” (your 50 Shades of Greys, your Twilights) but all in all, general consensus is that books, good, TV, bad.
Nobody brags about not reading any books. You don’t run into hipsters at parties being all like “oh books? I don’t even own one, I’ve never been much of a books person.” And when people talk about their TV habits it’s always with a little shame attached, “I watched the entire first season of Real Housewives of NYC last night because my life is meaningless and no one loves me.” Don’t get me wrong, there is science behind the books, good, TV, bad argument, and how you brain is activated while you’re reading versus when you are watching something, but at the end of the day, books and TV are both about learning and escaping from reality.
In the olden days, back before television and sexting, there were books, and I’m sure some kind of note delivery service for hand drawn pictures of penises. The “television” of the olden days was plays and musicals. Books and live theater used to be equals, both regarded with the same highbrow approval. Today, plays even surpass books in their eliteness. Why is this? Take the camera away from any episode of Full House and what does it become? A play, a story acted out in front of a live studio audience. And yet, television is still the red headed step child of entertainment. Is this because you are around other people and you can’t, or shouldn’t, get away with not wearing any pants? You can read with no pants and it is just as solitary, if not more so, than watching television.
A good book really only needs one thing, good writing. That’s all that’s in a book, words. You just need one person and a good editor probably, maybe even a team of editors, and that there’s a book. A good television show needs so much more than that. Take The Wire, a show that many argue is one of the best television shows of all time. And yes, it is a good television show because of the good writing, but also because of everything else that goes into making a show; acting, production quality, marketing, Kraft service, etc. And still, these people don’t get the same respect as “real” writers. An Emmy ain’t no Nobel Prize.
I read more books and watch more TV than anyone I know, and I get the same pleasure and education from both mediums. I am just as happy watching a 90 Day Fiancé marathon as I am reading some good Toni Morrison. At the end of the day you can spend all day reading or spend all day watching television and you’re still not doing shit, get your lazy ass outside! Just kidding, Modern Family is on.