Patricia (52) is originally from Brazil and has been living in Australia for 22 years. She was brought up in a fairly large family with 5 brothers and sisters. She was around 8 when the first television came into her household and you can tell that it was quite the event, but at the same time, they stuck true to their upbringing before the television came. Nonetheless, her experience with the television is such a contrast to the modern day type. I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with Patricia and the following extract is from a voice recording that I took during the interview.
From what I remember, we only got a television in the late 60’s. The brand was a “telefunken” from Germany and it was colour. That for us was truly amazing, watching the Television in colour, wow. In Brazil, having a television definitely represented your social status because Brazil is a country that is strongly divided by class. In fact, thinking about it now, I think that not much has changed in that sense. Even when my brothers, sisters and I were little, we never really watched much television because since the television was new, we were so used to playing outside to entertain ourselves. But when we did watch the television it was at night time to watch soap operas. We loved the soap operas because it is a very big part of the Brazilian culture. Sports also (mainly Soccer) were a huge part of my families television culture. When we watched television it was all together as a family. We enjoyed watching variety shows the most. Where there were people dancing, doing silly things and where there was a live audience. Those sorts of shows to us were amazing because there was so much atmosphere. Some of the shows that I used to watch were “buzina do chacrinha” and “fantastico”. Even though you wouldn’t have thought so, but sometimes we did watch the television whilst eating because my father had to watch the news. When he didn’t have anything to watch, we were never allowed to sit in front of the television whilst eating because the kitchen wasn’t close to the living room so we had no choice but to sit at the table. Plus, before the television came, we were always sitting at the table together so it would have been strange to get into the habit of starting to sit around the TV.
I then asked her how certain behaviours in her household had changed since the introduction of their television, “I don’t know why but the television for me was never a big part of my life, nor was it a big part of the lives of my brothers and sisters. Only my mother who had to constantly watch her soap operas because in Brazil, it was a big topic of conversation amongst the mothers and women. I guess if they did not watch their soap operas and reported back to their friends, they would either have no friends left, nothing to talk about or be looked down upon.”
When asked about the amount of nudity and/or sex in the programs Patricia swiftly responded with “No, no, no! There was hardly any sex or nudity on the television back then! That would have been utterly inappropriate. I must say, I do like Game of Thrones, but if my Mother saw the amount of boobs on the screen as I do, my god, I don’t even want to know what she would do. Back then, society was definitely much more traditional and since the television was a symbol of status, anything like nudity and sex in quite a conservative society would bring down the class of owning a television. You can see how this has changed over the years as the television has been around for quite a while. Since everyone has one or two or three, there is little prestige. And since we are not going to sit around all day watching just soap operas, I guess the program creators need to keep the entertainment fresh and shocking. Now it’s not so much about the TV box itself, much much more so what we watch on it. I’m sure that now the topic amongst the middle aged mothers and women now is about My Kitchen Rules or Desperate Housewives or some garbage like that. In saying that, I hate reality TV. It’s so fake and there is no excitement watching it because you know all these people are fake. It’s nothing like watching a live studio audience show like what I used to watch.”
Patricia concluded by stating that the television of today has been over-run by the internet, “The amount of access that we have now to everything online has taken away the special feeling that I had when I got to watch the television back in the late 60’s. It’s a shame but that’s the way the media works!”