Television has just gotten bigger. The 150" plasma Panasonic was unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's approximately eight feet by eleven feet, which means that it's pretty much your living room wall. And if you buy one, you're contractually obligated to change your name to Guy Montag, and start burning away the danger of the written word.
So, bigger televisions. Having one that can literally act as a full wall in your house was inevitable, but is there anyplace else to go after that? Larger walls? Vaulted ceilings with an IMAX look? Or will we next go smaller, and actually have these televisions wet-wared into our retinas, complete with a thought-activated HUD that allows for channel switching and, of course, picture-in-picture.
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Maybe televisions have become the 21st century's car, in terms of penis enhancement. Where once a person had to drive a Hummer in order to make up for his (or her) perceived shortcomings, are we now at the point where televisions are our phallic substitute of choice? And what's considered good? (Specifically, where does 50" sit on the bell curve. I seriously need to know this. For a friend.)
Television left the days of black-and-white behind long ago. The days of the cathode-tube are already almost behind us. The days when the square screen, the 4:3 aspect ratio, and pan-and-scan movies are just a quaint memory are fast approaching. And soon after, networks themselves may find themselves an obsolete idea. The irony here is that while the size of our TV sets has been rapidly growing, the size of the network audience has been in just-as-rapid decline.
The medium is changing, and not just in terms of the size of its display. But the bigger-is-better mentality has to end at some point, or at least take a backseat to a focus on what's on. (Video games can't take up all the slack, god bless 'em.) This isn't Panasonic's job, I understand. They don't actually produce content (yet). It's our job, the jobs of the networks to evolve, or get out of the way for the next generation of programming. We'll see what happens, what comes, in the next decade. And in the meanwhile, our TVs will just get bigger.
Which just make the wasteland seem that much more vast. -- Teague Bohlen