11 January 2015

Nothing TV

I like to do as little as possible after Christmas, especially this year when I could say 'so long' to the social whirlwind and sit back and enjoy doing nothing. So,  I was delighted this holiday when I stumbled upon Fireplace TV.

Initially I had it on to keep me company as I wrapped gifts and drank champagne, but then I started having it on all the time. Not having a fireplace of our own I quickly grew to love the sound of crackling, and the flicker of light. I found myself fixated many times by the quivering flame.

Nothing happens on this channel! There is no plot, no cast, and no drama. Remember how Seinfeld was a ‘show about nothing? ‘ Well that is an edge-of-yourp-seat thriller compared to Fireplace TV, where, if you’re VERY lucky, you might see a burning ember floating towards the chimney.

I was doing some yoga stretches yesterday, when Jim wandered into living  room and asked if he could change the channel. I told him no. He gave me the same look he gives me when I’m watching ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and asked why I wanted to waste my time watching a fake fireplace.

While I recognize that this may slightly weird for me, for Norwegians it is a national obsession.  Over half the population tunes in to nothing! It all began in 2009 with a five-day broadcast of a cruise ship traveling up the West Coast of Norway in real time. More than three million people tuned into watch – and that is over half the population!

Following the smashing success of a cruise ship doing nothing, Norway followed it up with a 10-hour train ride, 18-hours of salmon spawning, and nine-hours of knitting. Each marathon was a massive hit, pulling in eager audiences from a tiny rich country where everybody wears wooly sweaters.

So I looked into why it was so popular. Our lives are busy (obviously) and we’re surrounded by bite size nuggets of information constantly being hurled at our brain. So Slow TV (as it has been dubbed) is a chance to calm down. It’s the opposite of instant gratification.

There is another theory though, that maybe we watch things because we’re waiting for something to happen. While I continued , Jim plopped himself down on the sofa. Twenty minutes later Jed, who seemed slightly hypnotized, lay down in front of the TV. We carried on quietly for a while until Jim sat upright. ‘Janet, look!’ he shouted. ‘I saw a hand!’ 

Brimming with excitement, he told me that a human hand holding a poker had emerged from the right side of the screen and prodded a log! He could barely contain himself. ‘Come Sit Down and Wait!’ he said. ‘We might see it again!’

So we did our favorite things. We sat with our pets doing nothing, and watched a roaring fire on TV.  Hoping something might happen, content if everything stayed the same.

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