In Beatriz Colomina’s “Domesticity of War,” she maps out the domestic sphere as a militarized response to the American desire for private, protective spaces post-WWII. She asserts this point by compartmentalizing the clear divisions between interior and exterior spaces that exist within suburban homes (living rooms, backyards, etc.), further asserting military instructor/contractor Jay Swayze’s point that the true Outside is “anything not enclosed in the shell” (pg 6). From this argument comes Colomina’s thesis that screens, starting with the mass consumption of the camera, serve as windows into the exterior world, creating the illusion of control and thus safety. Naturally, television screens are the ultimate illusion in that it exists as part of the architecture of the home, much like a cabinet which symbolically represents “protection, shelter, refuge, safety,defense . . . and also about display, show, parade, [and] spectacle” (19). Listing the example of many first time television owners purchasing TVs to “attend” John F. Kennedy’s funeral, Colomina creates a convincing argument for asserting television as a vehicle for engaging with the outside world from the privacy and safety of one’s own home.
After reading this article, I came to agree with Colomina’s point and found it fascinating that American suburbia, and the items that exist within it, are structurally influenced by the impact of war. It also made me wonder if the popularity of the multi-cam sitcom was a response to the limited, often domestic settings shown in these types of programs because they made viewers feel safe while validating their desire to stay home. Also, maybe if watching TV gives off the impression of looking into an outside world, then perhaps multi-cam sitcoms, with their digestible characters and story lines, existed to make outside world look less threatening.
Moreover, the progression from television to computers also came into my mind as the internet allows further engagement with the outside world. Just as TV allowed viewers to attend JFK’s funeral, the internet allows people to engage in social interaction without the threat of the unknown that comes from leaving your house. With that, the internet can also offer more exterior engagement, and thus the opportunity to leave the private space, than TV because you can directly engage with people, not just pre-packaged content. We see this with online activism leading to physical, political marches and thus the internet, and whatever screens you access it on, can merge the inside and outside worlds more effectively.