The whimsical 1980 film The Gods Must Be Crazy begins when, flying high above the Kalahari Desert, a pilot throws an empty Coke bottle from his plane, sending it hurtling downwards to a remote tribe.There, the tribespeople find many uses for it, beating maize and smoothing animal skins with it, using it to entertain the children as a toy and an instrument, and using it as a weapon, as both a club and a slingshot. Just as the bottle introduces the tribe to a consumer society, it offers viewers a fundamental rule of this society: use changes essence. Coca-Cola makes bottles to store its sugary beverage, but having served this purpose for the pilot, the intended use becomes irrelevant for its subsequent life in the Kalahari. By contrast, televisions (we hope) do not fall down on us from the sky, nor do they arrive in our livingrooms without any clue as to their appropriate uses.As with the Coke bottle, too, we can only use television and television entertainment in certain ways (for instance, we cannot easily use a 32-inch plasma screen HDTV to beat maize). Nevertheless, as Amanda Lotz suggests, television is never just about
wires, metal, and glass, nor is its entertainment just about production, industry, and intent: its essence is what we make of it. Television entertainment only becomes important to any individual or community when it is used. Consequently, to understand television entertainment’s many roles in society, we must understand why it is consumed, how it consumed, and with what affective relationship.