Recent Comments

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Jason Mittell

Derek - of course I cannot resist commenting on this! I think you’re dead-on about the meta-pleasures of Lost, which have emerged as a central mode of engagement for the show. In fact the latest episode is all about that meta-engagement (see my blog for one take on it). I think I see this shift-to-the-meta as less of a problem than you do. And the buzz about “Man From Tallahassee” was more positive than most episodes, as both the revelations & new mysteries were provocative. And I wouldn’t put too much faith in the so-called “ratings crash” of the show - given the nature of its fan base, ABC realizes that much of its viewership comes from iTunes, ABC streaming, and DVD sales. It’s in no danger of losing network support…

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In the last year I have spent a lot of time around autistic people and the one thing I can say is that intelligence is never the issue. It’s about communication and for that to be communicated. It gives me hope to see this video has become a breakthrough.

That said, she is fairly high functioning in her Autism. Not as high as say Temple Grandin, who is held up by many as a person that people with autism should look up to. We just don’t know anywhere enough about autism and videos like this have multiple functions in having us rethink issues surrounding mediation.

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Chuck Tryon

I wrote about these videos in my blog a few weeks ago after reading about them on a colleague’s blog. My response to the videos was similar to yours in that I was fascinated by her attempts to redefine concepts of intelligence, identity, language, and personhood.

BTW, my introduction to Baggs came through her video, “Being an Unperson,” which touches on some similar themes.

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Chuck Tryon

Hi Kyle, this comment comes several weeks late, but I just wanted to mention that one of my students was working on a project on Sarah Silverman and found your reading of Silverman’s show especially helpful.

Silverman’s treatment of the discourse surrounding representing gays and lesbians is incredibly complicated, and I think it helped my student to recognize that others were struggling with those complications.

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Kathleen Fitzpatrick

As I told my students, the strangest thing in my experience of this video is that the first thing I noticed was that the mashup had been done with the iPod remix of the 1984 ad, and not the original. On the one hand, I felt super-geeky, having paid so much attention to such a seemingly trivial detail. On the other hand, I keep thinking about that detail and its significance: are there substantive ideological differences between the original Mac revolution and the iPod revolution? The Mac drove personal computing out of the IBM lockstep, allowing users a freer kind of creativity. The Mac popularized the graphical user interface and made, for instance, desktop publishing possible. The iPod, much as I adore mine, has mostly changed the way we carry, listen to, and share music. Is Obama a Mac or an iPod?

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Chuck Tryon

I wrote about this advertisement for Flow, and while I’m fascinated by the reworking of the Apple ad, I think I’m also pretty skeptical about the place of this ad within current political discourse. Still, the implied message (that voters want more control over the political process) seems to have come across loud and clear.

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Michael Z. Newman

I don’t find the working class to be marginal at all on FNL. What makes the show so refreshing is how well realized the working class characters are and how little judgment the narration seems to pass on them. If anything, the show humanizes the working class and makes it seem more multidimensional. I’m thinking not only of Riggins and Tyra and their families but also of Matt Saracen and Smash Williams (black, but still) and their families. That the show even has scenes in Tyra’s house is remarkable—on most shows she would be a more peripheral character, and FNL is ostensibly about boys playing football! Compared with other “quality” TV dramas about high school (My So-Called Life, like FNL written by Jason Katims, and Freaks and Geeks) FNL’s non-middle class characters are much more fleshed out. FNL is more polyphonic, showing scenes in a larger number of locations and involving more peripheral characters in significant storylines. It also shows the flaws of middle class life, esp in the representation of the Garrity family.

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As I watched these clips and as someone who enjoys “Earl”, lives in Ohio, a state that is now number 2 in the US in home foreclosures, I often wonder about whether or not these portrayals are disrespectful or are they attempts to grasp something else: an abandonment of hope for working class futures. In an odd way I would find it a lie to portray Earl and his mates wanting more than a local community since there is no “moving on up” options for so many working class families.

I can’t really comment on FNL — I don’t watch it. But I get something from this clip something of a similar, not same, feel that I get when I watch The Wire: pop music is a crucial semiotic marker of class. As hip hop is a primary element to The Wire, the effective understanding of those other “low” popular musics (metal and country) are almost always deployed as essential to depicting the lives of working class people. Twitty, unlike other dead country stars of his era such as say Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings, had no rebellious cachet. He was the consumate hitmaker, embraced Nashville and lived a somewhat lavish life. In essence, he moved on up. So when our character notes that she wants her “Conway Twitty back” and that they don’t carry him at Target (not Wal Mart), the store that popularizes “yuppie design” and middle-class tastes, I hear not only a longing for Hee Haw (the show he oft frequented), but that those who “played by the rules” would be recognized for their hard work and lives as well as a chance to move on up once again. Heck, it may be a stretch, but there you go.

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Jason Mittell

Nice parallels (& video). I’d extend the analogy in terms of each show’s relationship to its established brand. Both pushed against their previous incarnations’ sensibility and traditions, potentially alienating established fanbases and even major creative figures from the original texts. DS9 was never able to transcend its brand, as the show seemed to always lie in the shadow of other less ambitious Trek programs. BSG has managed to overcome the negative stigmas of the original to appeal to a broad fanbase beyond sci-fi diehards (although I regularly still have to caveat the show to skeptical viewers). It will be interesting to see if DS9 manages to get a retrospective boost as part of Ron Moore’s creative ancestry in the wake of BSG’s success.

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Derek Kompare

Great comparison, Allison, and a cool video as well. DS9 is still my favorite Trek series, for exactly the reasons you cited.

In BG, there is a real sense of Ron Moore effectively responding to the Trek franchise. He and David Eick (as well as a very like-minded cast and crew) have done what the narrative format of DS9 (and other Treks) actually allowed (hypothetically, at least), but the conventions of 90s TV SF (and, specifically, Star Trek) forbade: moral and aesthetic ambiguity. They’ve effectively raised the bar for all future SF TV, as did the original Trek forty years ago.

Still, as you observe, there’s an awful lot already there in DS9 itself that still resonates. Here, I think mostly of the series’ complex treatment of multiculturalism, and its refusal to paint any race or religion (or even individual) in only one shade. Even Gul Dukat had several moments of redemption! All this and that certain quasi-operatic sensibility that the best of Star Trek (and very few other shows) pulled off.

And, damn it, the ending of “What You Leave Behind” (the final episode) still makes me cry. :)