Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Dealing with Obesity

It’s only been a few months of me living exclusively with high definition grade content material, but it’s been enough. Going back seems as attractive as going back to live in Israel; it’s amazing how easily one can get addicted to upscaling and Blu-rays. Yet I realize I’ve been privileged: my parents, living in Israel, still get most if not all of their content through their standard definition analog cable box.
Change does happen, though, even with my parents. A couple of weeks ago my sister informed me my parents bought a new huge flat panel TV. I asked if they’re happy with it, and the reply was that everyone is, other than my mother who doesn’t like the picture and keeps complaining that everyone’s fat. However, everyone else liked it a lot: my brother told my mother she just needs to get used to it, and my sister doesn’t understand what my mother’s problem is; as far as my sister was concerned, she could sit and watch TV all day long with such a great TV as the one my parents bought.
I, however, quickly realized what my mother’s problem was. It’s very simple: My parents’ new TV is a widescreen TV with a ratio of 1.67 of screen width to screen height. However, the analog TV programs they’ve been getting out of their cable box are still not widescreen. That is they’re of a ratio of 1.33 width to height. In order to fit the squarish picture over the entire wider screen, the picture has to be stretched, hence the notion of everyone being fat.
I have explained this to my sister and told her the solution is to use a TV viewing mode that places black bars on the left and right sides of the picture. This preserves the picture’s original proportions at the cost of some unused screen real estate.
My suggestion was dismissed, though. And that really got me annoyed: my mother was onto something here, a genuine problem, yet she was silenced because of the majority’s ignorance. They, the rest of the family, were too fascinated by this new TV to allow themselves to realize its picture was distorted. They, the rest of the family, were raising arguments of authority (e.g., we know better than you because this is a new TV) to silence a genuine observational argument. The power of ignorance!
I didn’t give up. I called my mother, who told me pretty much the same story my sister did: everyone other than her is happy with the new TV, everyone is telling her she’s a fool. I was even more annoyed.
This particular story has a good ending. I told my mother what the problem is and told her exactly how to circumvent it. Next time I called I talked to both my parents, who told me they did what I asked them to do and that the picture they’ve been getting since is nothing short of astonishing. Everyone likes the new TV now.
That’s great. But just how many times do we let ignorance prevail? How many times do we accept arguments from authority, be it from the Pope, the Prime Minster, or the Rabbi? And how many times do we let those arguments cover what is really there?


wile.e.coyote said...

it is nice that your perants spent some money to buy a flat TV, what happened the old one broke down?
As I see it in 99% of Israeli's TVs the picture is wide screen and the brodcust is old format, why to waste so much money and not use the entire screen, go figure.
there is no option in israel to get wide screen beodcust with most of the channels (other then 4 channels that no one sees)

Moshe Reuveni said...

There are alternatives of which you must be aware: DVDs have generally featured widescreen anamorphic picture since conception, and there are also internet downloads.
That said, I think salvation will come to the State of Israel once leadership is elected not on the basis of how they are going to crush the Arabs but rather on the basis of their humanist policies.

P.S. I have no idea what my parents did with their old TV. It wasn't bad (and you know I don't think that highly of "flat" to consider it an advantage), but being 20 years old it lacked in the connectivity department.

Uri said...

believe it or not, many viewers I know would rather have fat people on their TV than black stripes on the sides.
Otherwise they feel as though the screen is wasted, or something.
Actually, the most popular settings seems to be a zoom that shows thin people with no stripes (but of course less of them).

Moshe Reuveni said...

That's another issue.
Personally, I prefer to see films the way they were made (as in, see them in their original aspect ratio).
My question to those that prefer to have the screen "full of something" is simple: what would you do if you were sold with a TV with a screen 50 times as wide? Stretch the picture so that it looks grotesque? Zoom in till you see just 2% of the frame?
What's wrong with having bars on the side anyway? Given them being black they don't distract or anything.
But that's just me and my problem with ignorance. In my parents' particular case, someone noticed a genuine problem and others mocked her as if there was never a problem; it's different to saying "I realize I'm missing on something but I still prefer to avoid the black bars".

For me now the conflict seems quite stupid given that we've been entirely widescreen for the last four years or so.