How does "Televistas" by Bruce Dawe relate to consumerism?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Dawe, one of the conditions of the modern setting is the presence of commodities having supplanted a domain of human affection.  "Televistas" reflects this.  The discussion of love and human emotion can only take place in accordance to the consumerist venue of television.  The opening of the poem relates to consumerism by making the boy and girl products of different television manufacturing companies.  Human identity and its complexities are reduced to " Sanyo-oriented" and "Rank-Arena bred."  

Their entire relationship spans and relates to the television programming.  The innocence of love is reduced to cartoonish exaggerations, such as Bugs Bunny and Tweety Bird.  Love and its primal need to be expressed is done so Right between the Carol Burnett/ And the David Nixon Show."  The act of communion between both lovers lies in sharing "a Samboy,/ Crunching in the afterglow."  Consumerism has enabled love to develop.  Dawe is making a statement on how we as human beings are no longer in control of the medium of television and its communication of consumerist notions of the good.  It is in control of us, reflected in the poem.  Consumerism has made the experience of love calculated, focus group tested, and "brought to you by" coporate sponsorship. Television has become the background of the young lovers' lives, something that tells them what to do, think, buy, and eat.  Human voice has been replaced by a consumerist one even in the most human emotion of "love."

Both lovers do not seem to be emotionally invested in one another. They construct reality in accordance to what is featured on the television and presented to them in consumerist society.  Like objects, both are shown to be overcome by consumerism.  The lovers are only able to connect to one another through it.  The ending is one in which their love is bound until the next television show.  This helps to convey how Dawe is pleading for stemming the tide of consumerist consumption in order for individuals to reclaim some sense of activity over their lives.

martyweis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Dawe’s poem “Televistas,” the flow of human desire is dictated by television and the consumer culture that it props up. “Televistas” is a posthuman love poem in which the traditional form of the quatrain is ironically employed to illuminate true love in the age of consumerism.

While the poem begins with the couple’s first encounter, we quickly realize that it is anything but romantic. The characters are not introduced as people but instead in their relationship to objects: “She was Sanyo-oriented, / He was Rank-Arena bred.” As the poem progresses, so does their relationship. Importantly, however, their relationship is not mapped onto romantic acts so much as it is their consumption of television and the commodities that it advertises. In place of a first kiss, the couple instead falls in love and shares a Samboy.

In fact, their relationship has been hollowed of anything that might be traditionally identified as love or romance. Dawe’s poem is very much about the shape of romance in the age of consumerism: a shape that has been filled by whatever is advertised between programs. This process of hollowing out is mirrored by the very form of the poem. Although its ABCB rhyme scheme formally situates it as a ballad, the lines are filled with dissonant-sounding phrases, such as the above-mentioned “Sanyo-oriented” and “Rank-Arena bred.” Dawe’s poem reveals that although we still have the narrative of love formally, its content has been replaced by patterns of consumption.