As I watched my Nonna trace back to the 1950’s to recall her first childhood memories of television, I could sense the nostalgia in her excitement filled eyes. I interviewed her at our dining room table, surrounded by her five grandchildren, all-listening intently.
“In my small town in Italy, there was only about 12 or less families who owned a television, they were very special to us”.
As we were taken down memory lane, Nonna described her family home in Italy as small, but beautiful. “We were a very poor family, my parents and two sisters lived in a two room house. We could not afford a television, so my sisters and I regularly went across to my neighbours of an evening to watch their television”. Nonna explained that her neighbours television room was situated on their outside veranda – “We only watched the television in the summer time, because they had more variety of shows then. A wooden casing held up the television and we would all huddle around it together”.
Nonna’s most prominent memory of television was watching ‘Canzonissima’ every Sunday night. “It was an Italian singing show that we liked very much, it was special because it was brand new – we looked forward to it every summer”. I sought to find a video of the show, and discovered timeworn videos on YouTube. Nonna was ecstatic to say the least. She could not believe that footage of her favourite show was on the Internet. I think she wanted to take my laptop home and watch ‘Canzonissima’ videos all night long.
Livingstone (2009) depicts that television begun its career in the main collective family spaces as it brought family and friends together – much like Nonna explained. However, as time progressed television played a distinct role in the history of individualisation – “I had first though to argue that for its first twenty years or so, television brought the family together, but then, from the 1970’s onwards, it began to pull them apart again” (Livingstone, 2009, p. 6). Although televisions today are commonly situated in collective family spaces, they are also positioned in individualised areas such as bedrooms, therefore shifting away from shared viewing towards privatised viewing (Livingstone 2009, pp. 5-6).
Although television may have added to the history of individualisation, I believe that it has always connected families and friends together. Whether television is viewed individually or as a family, it is a platform that can create a discussion at a later time. I can not count the number of times I was sitting at the table with family or out with my friends and someone says “Oh my gosh, did you see that show the other night? How good was it!?, What did you think of it?” Additionally, whether consumed individually or together television creates discussion, furthermore providing individuals with a sense of connection and commonality.
Livingstone, S (2009), ‘Half a century of television in the lives of our children’, The ANNALS of the American academy of political and social science, 625: 151-163.