On Cord Cutting

It’s been a little while since I wrote one of these, mostly because I’ve been lazy.  I probably could have written something short, but I hate the idea of writing just because one can.  Also I did have work and personal things to do, so my time hasn’t exactly been my own recently. But something has been on my mind, and the path is a little meandering, so bear with me.

I never really got into Youtube in the same way most of my social circles and family have.  I’m a huge fan of it as a medium and how it enables people to talk about whatever they damn well please (within reasonable constraints) and grow a base of fans, viewers, haters and trolls.  But despite that, I’ve never been an avid viewer and I’ve never really understood the appeal.  This has been changing recently because of two Youtube channels: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Nerd Writer.

I can’t watch the former on regular TV because premium American channels aren’t available in Japan (not that I would pay for it in Canada either; my frugality is beside the point), but with the Daily Show having been handed over to a new generation of comedians, John Oliver is my preferred personality to watch from that previous generation.  Also, he was amazing to watch on Community, so he basically gets me as a viewer for life.

The latter is a recent discovery which I stumbled on while looking into the art and style of cyberpunk.  The Nerd Writer is done by Evan Puschak, a geek like myself and so many others of our generation who does a masterful job of breaking down topics in art, science, film and pop culture into interesting discussions.  His voice is very good for the tone and mood of his videos, the subject matter and writing are great for people like myself that appreciate and prefer the use of a higher level of vocabulary, structure and discussion of interesting ideas.

This comes up largely because my students constantly ask me about what I watch on TV, to which I have to constantly answer “I don’t watch TV”.  This is a bit mind blowing for them as Japan hasn’t reached that point yet where viewer numbers and dipping as the younger generation cuts the cord.

Part of this is because so many people rent prefab and furnished apartments out here that come with free cable (much to the chagrin of cable companies here who want us to pay and frequently harass us at our doors and outside our buildings), and it’s also in part that anyone who isn’t renting an apartment for work probably has a family and a house which needs cable.  Everyone has a TV and watches TV shows, and my counter culture is exacerbated by the fact that I also don’t have a phone number and I’m a foreigner.  It’s as if I’m intentionally pressing all kinds of buttons to seem more like an outsider.

Which, let’s be honest, isn’t difficult for me.  At a little over six feet, about around 95 kilos, curly brown hair and a beard, I’m a bit like the moon walking bear awareness test.  Japanese culture, and so much of Asian culture, doesn’t encourage standing out unless you’re doing it for a very particular purpose(cosplay, maid cafes, festivals, etc).  And me trying harder to stand out goes so against the flow that it’s no wonder so many are a little flabbergasted.

Wait, where was I going with this?

Right, lost my train of thought there.  Ah well, at least this talk about Japan was something different.


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