Bringing the World Into Your Living Room: A Parody of TV Utopias
An important set of topics recurring in our readings is how television has been imagined to be a sphere of liveness and presence, offering an (almost) instant and (almost) unmediated access to reality. It is supposed to overcome physical distance, and thus, in a way, override certain bodily and material-financial limitations on part of the viewer.
I would like to offer an example of a self-reflexive parody of TV utopias (which example also illuminates some of the social and cultural aspects of watching television in Hungary in the late 1960s): the very first episode of a highly successful Hungarian sci-fi-comedy animation series revolving around the life of the Mézga family*. They are a white, lower-middle class nuclear family, who are able to communicate with their distant relative living in the far future, whom they regularly contact to ask for his help in all sorts of everyday matters. In the very first episode called “Tele-Repair” (1968), their television set won’t work; after some failed attempts, Köbüki, the distant relative from the future, sends a device that “broadcasts reality-images”…
The episode is 24-min long and comes with English subtitles (while a great deal of humor is lost in translation, the translator still did a great job), but the most relevant, 1-min long scene starts at 22:43.
*Actually, there have been several different animation series with different titles using the same characters in 1968-9, in 1972, and in 1978, and a couple of more episodes were made in the 2000s that have not gained, however, much publicity, let alone popularity.