I owe my being to the sports and the documentaries, the movies and the series, the news, the reality shows, the comedy, the drama, and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of idols. For a couch potato, the 21st century is television paradise. This is the golden age. This is the Promised Land.
On an occasion such as this I should, perhaps, start from the beginning.
So, Mr. Toastmaster let me begin.
I am a child born in the black and white television age of the 1980s. Thirty years on, with the possible exception of Riaan Cruywagen and Larry King so much has changed. The life of a couch potato wasn’t always as rich and glamorous as it is today. Black and white TV demanded that one’s imagination was always at work. At some point to have TV for twenty four hours a day was unthinkable. In the early days, when the clock struck midnight the transmission went off and the screen would be filled with bands of colour which in some ironic way only served to remind you of the contrast between television as it was then and reality.
Thanks to inspired scientists and engineers, research into improving the life of a couch potato forged ahead. The ever present naysayers said black and white television couldn’t be improved upon, that colour couldn’t be broadcast in real time, that standard definition was the ultimate human achievement. Thanks to people who don’t accept the status quo we have moved from watching 50 shades of grey to the kaleidoscope that is high definition.
As I stand here today I am proud to call myself a couch potato. At times and in fear, I have wondered whether I should succumb to the pressure society exerts on my kind and abandon my proud heritage. But this is all I know. This is what gives my life purpose. This is the reason I wake up in the morning if I sleep at all. Opinion makers continue to depict my brothers and sisters as overweight, lazy sub-humans who can never muster enough strength to leave the comfort of the couch. We are viewed as people whose only movements are necessitated by nature’s call. I fully embrace all the names that people have called me over the years. But I know that none dare challenge me when I say – I am a proud couch potato.
In my veins courses the proverbial blood of television. My mind and my knowledge are formed by the news and actuality shows of today, through the discovery channel, I have experienced the trials and tribulations of our times. Through the history channel I have experienced world war one and its second season, I was with Neil Armstrong when he took one small step for men and one giant leap for mankind. I watched as the twin towers went up in smoke on September 11. I absorbed every punch in the Rumble in the jungle when Ali was declared heavyweight champion of the world. Being part of all these events and in the knowledge that none dare contest my assertion, I shall claim that – I am a couch potato.
Today I can pause and rewind live television. With the advent of curved television sets, I feel that I have almost come full circle. Today I can record shows to my heart’s content. The fullness of my life was once defined by a 32cm tube. Today, I find solace in my better than real life ultra-high definition television. This new life however is not devoid of its own challenges. The biggest of which is finding enough hours in the day to catch up on all the drama, the sport and all the reality shows.
To my fellow couch potatoes I say, take pride in the trivia knowledge you’ve amassed over the years. Whatever they may call us, whatever studies they publish on the negative effects of binging on chips, soda and movies, however much extra weight we carry from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of needless dieting and exercising, I implore you, fellow couch potatoes to remain seated, to be one with the couch, and to paraphrase Steve Jobs, to continue to make a dent on that couch because today, it feels good to be a couch potato.