Monday 23 May 2011

'Trash' TV vs. 'Trash' novels. There seems to be a difference.

So, for some reason I love watching 'trash' on TV, but don't very much enjoy reading 'trash.' No, I'm not saying here that trashy TV or book content is only fit for the garbage, what I mean by 'trash' is easy-to-watch/read commercial content that allows one to tune out and get a quick thrill without too much thinking being involved.

One example: The Twilight movie.

You will NEVER EVER catch me reading the books. But you know what? The first film was on TV the other night and I was engrossed. I was tired from my long working day, eager to put my feet up and switch off my brain. I was so into the film that I even snapped at my Sig.Oth when he tried to speak to me while it was on. I wanted to hear every single word. I wanted to forget EVERYTHING that was going on around me and focus primarily on the TV screen. Why does TV trash give me such a thrill, and book trash make me turn up my nose? I have no idea. Does anyone else have a odd preference like this?

As I said the other day, in my POP post that blogger made disappear for a whole day and lost everyone's comments on, I like to read books that are meaty, books that go deeper than the action. Yes, I do thoroughly enjoy reading chick-lit now and again as much as I enjoy watching chick flicks (Talli's Hating Game being a perfect example. Was such a fun read, you should check it out if you haven't yet!), but most of the time I want literary fiction to sink my teeth into.

But watching Twilight made me wonder whether this aversion to reading trash was real or something I've come to believe without really testing out. So I picked up 'Shiver,' (is it even considered an easy read? It seems easy to me) which I bought because a friend of mine insisted I'd like it despite me not liking vampires or werewolves or being a very big fan of YA fiction, and began reading it the same night when I went to bed, hoping to prove myself wrong. But unfortunately, I was right. I couldn't get into it. It felt really quite flat to me compared to watching something like that in motion on screen. Now, I'm not putting down the writing or author here. I'm sure it is great for what it is and it has its market. I'm just not a part of that market. I've finally realized that it's not my imagination. But it still is mind-boggling as to why I get into TV trash so much ...

How about you? Do you feel differently about watching and reading 'trash'? If so, why do you think that is?


  1. Isn't it just that it takes more effort and requires more input from you to read a book? Watching a movie/tv show is a much more passive exercise.

    Is passive exercise an oxymoron? I think it might be.


  2. hahahaha - I think I'm the opposite. I'm not into trash TV, at ALL. I read the Twilight books and while I enjoyed the story, wouldn't claim it as brilliant writing. The movies, though, drive me crazy. I can't tell you if it's the dialogue or the acting, but it comes across to me as phony baloney. Gimme an easy breezy book anytime.

  3. I guess it depends on what you consider trash TV. I don't watch a lot of television. I like both fast reads and more literary commercial reads. If it's too literary with no plot I tend to lose interest fast.

  4. To be honest, I've never really thought about whether something was easy to read or otherwise. I love a wide variety of writing types from chick lit to Shakespeare. I do break down when I read types of stories. For example, if I have something that is difficult to read, requiring a lot of thinking OR if it is an immediate suck-me-in-so-I'm-lost-to-the-world, I won't read them on my commute to work.

    There are authors I won't touch if I've found I can't get into their stories in the first place. Stephenie Meyer is one example of this. Could not get past the first few pages of Twilight. I tried the movie twice to see what the fuss was about, but fell asleep both times. It just did not grab me. And I love vampires and werewolves.

    I also have this quirk about shows that should be instant watches for me, but I never get into for one reason or another. Example, being a lover of vampires, you'd think I would have watched the shows Moonlight and Vampire Diaries. Nope, could not get into either one. And yet, normally I hate anything to do with spies and the government yet I'm hooked on Burn Notice,a drama about an ex-spy and how he tries to figure out who blacklisted him. I have the strangest tastes sometimes and there's just no logical explanations. Great post!

  5. I know what you mean. I think it's not only less of a time commitment to watch TV or movie vs. reading a book, but we can be passive instead of active. Reading means we create the pictures. If it's not that exciting of a plot or the characters fall flat or the writing isn't great, there's less of an incentive.

    That said, I will not see the Twilight movie.

  6. One person's trash is another person's treasure. *grin*

    I'm actually the opposite -- I have much less patience for TV "trash" than I do for ... well, let's call it "light reading." Different strokes, and all that. :)

  7. Yeah, at this point I don't watch tv at all because I have no patience for it. I'd much rather read even a trashy book than watch most television. However, it also sounds like your definition of "trash" is quite broad if you're tossing Shiver in there with all the rest. It just goes to show the diversity of taste and preference out there--and thank goodness for that, right? Otherwise, life, and the literary world, would be pretty boring.

  8. I have no patience for either. I'll put down a book and turn off the TV if my interest is not peaked in the first few minutes. You've brought up an interesting topic! Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Monday! :o)

  9. Mood is right - watching is passive and easier to do. If I'm tired, a really intricate and detailed novel is more than my brain can handle. But I don't want it too simple either.

  10. I agree with Mood! You can switch off your brain when you watch TV, and be distracted by colour and movement! When you read, and you don't like what you're reading, it becomes a wasted effort.

  11. I'm the opposite. I don't mind the easy reads, so long as I adore the characters I can read just about anything.

    For me, something about seeing a book described as "literary" makes me wary of reading it, unless I know the author or it comes highly recommended. I think because I've read a handful of books labeled as such where the prose was beautiful, but NOTHING happened. Yet, at a coffee bar, I can sit around for hours discussing theories and whatnot with friends without it leading anywhere.

    I say we're all entitled to enjoy our "trash" in whatever form works for us and not feel bad about letting the others go by. ;o)

  12. "Trash" on television is a different beast from its literary equivalent. For TV, you're entirely passive. Your brain just needs to remember that this hot guy is different from that one, and you're all set.

    With the books, you have to play an active role. First, there's the action of reading. Then there's the active participation of your imagination, which has to be inspired by the words. TV gives us everything visual, so your imagination isn't engaged.

    I used to watch Gossip Girl religiously until my hubby pointed out that every episode had the same outline. But before that, it was my "trash" of choice, and I couldn't live without it. I think I have a higher tolerance of "trash" fiction (I certainly am not a literary fiction writer), but I can't live without my bad TV. It's so easy to just let them tell you a story that you don't have to think about--and you wouldn't want to think about if you had to :)

  13. I need engrossing writing, no matter the genre.

    The trump card a movie holds, though, is that it is VISUAL!

    Comedy and action in a movie are completely different than comedy and action in a book.

    For instance, nobody wants to read a fifteen-page car chase scene.

    But a fifteen-minute movie car chase is sorta short.

    Likewise, nobody wants the movie version of a fifteen minute dialogue inside someone's head.

    But a fifteen-page flashback for a key character in a book is all too common.

    You're not comparing the right things, is all.

    For me, trash tv is something that is neither VISUALLY nor emotionally nor intellectually satisfying, no good soundtrack, no special effects, etc. All those reality shows come to mind -- there is simply no entertainment value in them whatsoever, at least for me, and I find their drama trite.

    Same with books. If they lack the key elements I expect in a book -- good writing, strong characters, intelligent dialogue, witty banter and exciting twists -- then it's trash, at least for me.

    But one person's trash is another person's gold, so to each their own. My wife loves those reality shows, and so I try not to dog on them too much. She likewise is not much of a reader.

    I do like Idol and Stars, though, as much as I hate to admit it. Because they both have good music, and are visually satisfying.


    - Eric

  14. I can be in the "mood" for either trash tv or books. Funny thing is, I can't predict when the mood will hit me and if I'm not in the mood, I don't have an attention span for either. Some days though, they're all I want. Go figure!

  15. Thanks for the shout-out, lovely! :) I love trash telly. I think it's because I'm so brain-dead by the end of the day, I can't handle anything else!

  16. I'm not a big fan of trash TV. Usually I feel like I've wasted a huge chunk of my time after spending an afternoon watching soap operas. I was into them for about a year after my first kid was born but then I started turning the TV off in the afternoon because I couldn't stand being hooked soap operas. Now I never watch them.

    As for books, I assume you mean genre fiction when you say trash books. For the record I've yet to see any Twilight movies, but I did read all the books. I have a tendency to switch back and forth between escapist genre trash and really good stuff that makes you think. It all depends on my mood.

  17. I’m not a great fan of trash in any form but you do get to a point when all you are capable of doing is sitting and watching rubbish on the box until it’s time to go to bed. Which is why I know more about shows like Drop Dead Diva than I really would like to. Besides as soon as a decent show comes on it just gets cancelled so why hold out any hope? I was surprised to hear that Lie to Me had been axed this year. I’d always thought it managed to tread that fine line which is why I suppose they got three years out of it. There are decent shows out there but you have to search for them. Quality is no guarantee of success. If anything it can sound a show’s death knell.

    I never read trash. I’ve been sent a few novels that aren’t to my personal taste but they usually have some redeeming features. I do look at some of the stuff that’s going straight-to-e-book these days and I think about the straight-to-video films that sprung up in the seventies and I can’t help but think: Here we go all over again.. Someone watched those films and someone will read these books. Just not me.

  18. Very interesting question. I do not like trashy tv AT ALL. When I watch it, I feel like I am wasting time, but I do not judge others who watch it.

    But I also wonder what your definition of trashy tv is, because I watch some reality shows like Top Chef and Project Runway which some might say are trashy. I don't know. For me, I consider Jersey Shore and Housewives of (insert city) trashy.

    Anyway, I don't have a high tolerance for 'trashy' books and they are not my first choices at the bookstore but I can and do read them. I don't consider Shiver a trashy book (but I haven't read it) I just consider it a really commercial book and not in a genre I'm interested in.

  19. The Hating Game was a wonderful book! It's the first and only chick lit I've ever read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. To me, that was an example of being convinced that you don't like something, and then giving it a try and finding out that actually you do.

  20. I loved The Hating Game! I don't normally read chick lit, but I the blurb sounded so good (and Talli wrote it) that I had to!

  21. Hmmm... you've stumped me here. I flew through the Twilight books but the movies made me cringe (fell flat-felt two dimensional)--so I have the opposite problem I guess!

  22. I suppose I'm opposite, too. I love those easy reads. But what I call "trashy" books might be different than what you are thinking of.

    I haven't see Twilight movies, so I can't compare. :) Glad you were able to relax and enjoy, though.

  23. I watch what you call Trash TV/movies because my thoughts are tired and they help relax my mind.

    I enjoy what I call Easy Reads for much the same reason -- time for taking a break.

  24. I once saw a report that said watching TV takes less brain activity than walking. And reading was way up on the list.

    So when you want to put your proverbial feet up, you turn on the trash. When you want to go for a rewarding hike, you pick up a book.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. I more or less the same way. I don't know why. I think it has more to to with style than content though.

  27. I can NOT stand trashy tv. I just can't do it. I laugh at twilight, and I just can't watch soap operas or desperate housewives. I just can't. Books on the other hand, I can handle. I pick up a nice steamy romance every once in a while, or a fun light YA Meg Cabot, and I while I thought Shiver was beautifully written (she is an excellent writer), it flew a bit under my radar but I still liked it. Didn't like the sequel as much. But I LIVE for YA fantasy. That is my passion, and what I write. I don't consider it trashy- I guess what I would consider trashy, simple or for the masses is romance novels, and bestsellers like James Patterson or Nora Roberts. I don't read those at all. Just not interested in those types of adult novels. Sorry, no Nicolas Sparks for me!

  28. ooo... fun stuff! I wonder if there's like some theory you've stumbled upon here, b/c I cannot abide trash TV. I don't even want to HEAR it, and I snorted all through the Twilight movie--all three b/c my dang friends kept begging me to go see the others w/them. They're AWFUL!!! And I'm embarrassed for the poor actors having to say those lines and act so stupid.

    In other news, I could read the books all day... LOL!!! :D (I hope Matt filled you in on the whole Shiver debate ;o) xoxo

  29. I agree with the first commenter. Reading takes a lot more work. TV, you just sit there and turn off your brain. I don't want to read and analyze something that is trash.


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris