Friday, February 23, 2007

‘Nurse, this man has telemedicolexical neuroabdication!’

It’s a cliché that television rots your brain. When people say this, they’re usually lamenting the low intellectual quality of most of the stuff that gets broadcast – Neighbours, Big Brother, ITV Evening News – and how too much consumption of this dross erodes the viewer’s IQ through lack of loftier stimulation.

But I think there’s another way TV can rot your brain. It occurred to me while watching ER the other day.

ER, by televisual standards, is intelligent. It’s not so highbrow as to deter a large audience, but it’s a good deal better than most of the stuff you see (or haughtily decide not to see).

However, there is one problem. It’s a medical drama, so as well as the personal plotlines, character development, exploring social issues etc, there’s a whole load of doctor talk.

There’s dialogue like ‘Blood pressure is 60 over 80’, ‘200 ccs of dilithium, stat’, ‘We need to do a translobectic epidermal’ and ‘No, if you devitalate the splenetic valve, you’ll give him endoglobular agonitis!’

You see, I don’t know what any of this means. And not only is it way over my head, but they say it all so damn quickly that I don’t even have the opportunity to work out what it might mean. I know that there’s no chance of my understanding it, so I don’t even try. I let it wash over me and just enjoy the sense that it’s all jolly clever and exciting.

And that’s what rots my brain: not exposure to idiocy, but the gladly resigned embracing of incomprehension.

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