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PBS - Kellyanne Conway
Roger Almendarez

Thank you for your post! I enjoyed your framing of “post truth” as “the cultural logic of late racism,” and I would venture further that this cultural logic extends beyond racism to various forms of oppression.

Although your post focuses specifically on how the concept of “post truth” interacted with voters of color, your linking of “post truth” to a cultural logic of oppression also invokes discussions of post-modern subjectivities.

As Jameson explained, Western Culture entered into a phase of “post-modernity” that de-centered the subject, leading to a crisis where “truth” became merely a relative position and not an apriori distinction. Chela Sandoval also greatly points out that this particular “post-modern” subjectivity is very similar to that experienced by post-colonial subjects.

That being said, post-modernity—in liberating the oppressed through the de-centering of power—inevitably led to our contemporary moment of “post-truth,” where hegemonic power re-captures dominance (ala Gramsci) by sanctioning the use of rhetorical tools like “alternative facts” that can co-exist alongside reason and established knowledge, legitimizing hypocritical and unreasonable positions.

I call this inevitable because, by de-essentializing “truth,” post-modernity sanctioned moral relativism and meta-modernist (http://www.metamodernism.org/, which I denigrate a selective post-modern philosophy, out of fear) conceptions of self-justified, personal “truths,” which can now been seen as having as much relative value as those truths espoused by more traditional forms of knowledge creation. However, I will admit that there is something liberating (albeit sinister and very Dennis the Menace-y) about not having to justify eating meat while believing in universal equality.

So, just as post-modernity promised freedom, it also paved the way for this moment of increasing oppression. Unfortunately, I think we’ve only just entered this particular phase and can expect the next 20 years to be replete with a bludgeoning force that authorizes”post truths,” furthering majority agendas and marginalizing the rest.

In the age of information, it appears that in popular culture it matters less what is “right” and “true” and matters more that we can find greater bulks of data. Being in a marginal subjective position myself (although, nowadays, who isn’t?), I propose a strategy of data dumping, where we oppose this dominating force by generating more, and more, and more information, including misinformation—just not in our scholarship or tax returns.

Matthew Thomas Payne

I don’t know exactly what to expect when I started the clip; I suppose something more akin to [adult swim]’s other late-night fare. I was struck (in a good way) by the animated video’s playfulness and its careful, mannered construction. It has a storyline of sorts without being necessarily “narrative.” I also dug the pulsing visuals that matched the beat of the music. So much of what appears on [as]’s late-night programming block reads as unfinished and exploratory. It’s nice to see an exacting and experimental work occupying that same space. Here’s hoping that Off the Air can continue to promote solid examples of animation style and technique.

Matthew Thomas Payne

I enjoy the way that so much of [adult swim]’s original programming—especially its stand-alone projects like “Too Many Cooks” or “This House Has People in It”—fully invests in its foundational, fictional conceits, only to ride them into the ground. This narrative self-destruction not only grants these texts with critical, meta-level layers of meaning (e.g., its fun to be media savvy and literate), but this technique also suggest a willingness to take an idea to its logical (or illogical conclusion). There is something pleasurable and gratifying about watching this quasi-punk rock aesthetic play out on basic cable.

Andrew Seroff

I didn’t really have the length to go into form or style (just narrative), but they are more than critical for the success of the short.

Andrew Seroff

Their narrative techniques fit well and are no doubt enhanced by the persona that Adult Swim employs and the form in which their content is distributed, especially in regards to getting attention from the media and fans.

David Gurney

I agree that this fits very well with Adult Swim’s approach to parody: replicate aspects of a familiar televisual form, seize opportunities to reveal its potential fissures, and fill them with content that is absurd and/or inappropriate. However, part of what made this so successful in online circulation is that it took one particular era (80s/90s) of a formal convention (the intro sequence) and parodied it in a way that echoes the digital form of the “supercut.” Of course, it also introduces causal narrative threads into it (i.e., Bill the Killer, the malady “intronitis,” etc.) that offer some fragmentary rationale for this collection of components from different genres, but it nonetheless uses its autonomy as a project as a way to bring in a quality unlike most of what airs on Adult Swim. Others of the “infomercials” have taken the aesthetic(s) in different directions, but none quite as successful in their viral recirculation.

Wolfgang Boehm

Too Many Cooks does seem to be almost a summary of the Adult Swim ethos, not only in content but in distribution. I first saw it on a trending article on social media that said something along the lines of, “Adult Swim released this in the middle of the night, with no explanation. What’s it mean??” This seems to be a consistent trend with Adult Swim programming. Put something ridiculous on a late night time-slot, provide no advertisement nor ‘explanation,’ wait to see how the Internet responds. Not only does this model allow the network an avenue to experiment with programming in a relatively safe way, but I’d also argue that this is one of the key ways they generate their ‘cult’ appeal.

Felix Brinker

Thanks for this great post, which points out nicely how exactly Snyder’s film tries to stick close the comic book’s aesthetics. I personally liked the film a lot when I saw it in the theatre back in 2008, but I have also aborted several attempts to re-watch it in the years since—mostly because even the theatrical cut is far too long for my taste. But I also think that the cinematography at times makes it appear as if the film is moving along at a glacial pace. Therefore, I am not sure Snyder’s attempt to approximate Gibbons’s aesthetic is ultimately very successful. What I find more interesting, however, is that this attempt at a close adaptation of a comic book aesthetic happens at all. In 1989, Tim Burton could still claim that his Batman was “too big a budget movie to worry about what a fan of a comic would say”—a statement he made to justify some of the artistic liberties he took in making the film. 20 years later, however, Watchmen is sticking so close to the source material that it might feel annoying. How would you explain this shift? Or do you think that this is just a question of Snyder’s personal filmmaking style?

DC Rebirth
Felix Brinker

Thanks for the great post which, I think, usefully points us the significant fact that superhero comics not only tell their stories serially, but are (and typically always have been) the result of serial production—in the sense that they are commodities produced by a number of different people in a complex division of labor that might change over time, under market conditions that might also change.

Your post also points me to something that has always bothered me about Moore’s complaints about the comics industry. From his earlier work at DC to Watchmen and LXG, Moore has build his career to a significant extent on his ability to re-invent, modernize, and deconstruct figures and plots invented by other authors. For decades, he has done so within the heart of a comics industry that has a.) always tried to aggressively market its properties across various media platforms b.) periodically revived and rebooted older or ‘classic’ characters when it seemed opportune to do so. DC has been part of the Warner conglomerate since the 60s; Marvel has licensed all kinds of superhero properties for other media, not to mention merchandising, at least since the 70s as well. Along the same lines, the constant drive to reboot and reinvent superhero characters in comics, as well as attempts to make them profitable in other media are a thing that dates back to the Superman craze of the late 1930s and early 40s. And, arguably, much of Moore’s most celebrated work is a direct product of this serial logic of superhero comics, in which incoming authors present a new twist on decades-old materials that were originally invented by someone else. Because of this I can’t really take Moore’s complaints about the commercialization of the format (which has always been blatantly commercial, including Watchmen) seriously. The quote by Moore you selected also seems to champion an idea of authorship that isn’t really appropriate for a multi-authored, commercial and serial product like superhero comics. I would argue that DC’s attempts to tell new stories about the Watchmen characters aren’t categorically different from what Moore did when he still worked for DC—Moore might just be a better author who has more interesting stories to tell. As much as I like his work, he some times just seems like a cranky old man. What do you think?

Geoffrey Henry

Thank you for your post, Leslie. I really enjoyed it. I also agree with your comments concerning true crime stories in general and The People vs. O.J. Simpson in particular.

When watching movies or TV programs based on real-life crimes, I have noticed the same things about these texts as you. First, I have noticed these texts take some liberties with the facts of those cases. I have also felt these texts have greater leeway to take these liberties because of their status as dramatizations. Ironically, this issue came up during a discussion in one of my classes about The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Many people in the class argued that because the series was a dramatization, it did not have the expectations of truth as did the documentaries on the subject. Thus, your response reminds me of other thoughts I and others have had on the subject.

I also agree with your thoughts about the portrayal of Marcia Clark in the limited series. I avidly watched The People vs. O.J. Simpson during its run on F/X. I also remember the original media coverage of the trial and of its principles, including Marcia Clark. I too noticed that the limited series represented more facets to her than was apparent during the original coverage.

On a final note, I am glad someone wrote about The People vs. O.J. Simpson. I wrote one of my final term papers on this program, so I enjoy seeing another person’s thoughts on the text.