Opinion: Seeing history through a television set

Megan L. Brown

Megan Brown

Megan L. Brown is a junior journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

On Sunday, Sept. 22, television celebrated the 65th Emmy Awards hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Although the night attracted its largest audience since 2005, there were many upsets during the three-hour time slot.

Awards seasons have always meant a great deal to me—I mean, I’ve had my Academy Award acceptance speech written out since I was 10-years-old (just in case). Celebrations such as the Emmys, Golden Globes, the Academy Awards and the Grammys give a glimpse of hope to us that maybe someday that could be us.

It’s not just about the awards shows that make television worth watching it’s about how much the media can provide for us.

I’ve been alive 21 years, and I’ve seen so many fantastic, and also tragic events on the television screen. For example, the horrific day of Sept. 11, 2001. Right before my eyes were the scenes of planes crashing into the World Trade Center. I’ve also watched the inaugurations of both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Broadcast journalists such as Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric have been on the scene for breaking news and other events on my television screen during my lifetime.

There’s a certain connection or sense of fulfillment that comes with watching television. Watching or hearing something from the TV may trigger a memory and take you back in time.

During Sunday’s Emmy Awards, they did just that. Six-time Emmy-nominee Don Cheadle took the stage to present a moving tribute for the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the role all of the television coverage played in identifying the frightening and fateful day.

Cheadle started JFK’s assassination tribute by saying “that was the moment when the television generation came of age. More people got information from TV, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march. TV gave way to laughter from Dick Van Dyke, Andy Griffith and Lucille Ball — and soon after, they shared grief.”

He went on to speak about a lighter moment in TV history the first time the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964. This was one of the most memorable moments in music and television history. It also identified a vast connection between television and the impact it had on its audience.

“National tragedy gave way to another event, and a dark cloud was suddenly lifted, making it OK to experience joy again. Seventy-three million viewers underscored the immediacy of TV and the impact on our society. TV has the power to engage, inform and unite. It remembers the past, celebrates the present and anticipates our future,”Cheadle said.

In 1963, our society was able to see such iconic figures like Martin Luther King Jr. presenting new ideas and marching for what he believed in and the tragic event of JFK’s assassination.

Through television we’ve been able to see this footage for years and are able to pass it along to new generations.

It is important for the people of this generation to realize what an immense impact television has had on our society. Television is how we’ve had enjoyment for several decades and has given us opportunities to see events in a different perspective, as if we are actually there witnessing the good and the bad.