One other element here in “Trumpiness” is the authoritarianism. To be clear, so far, Trump has only managed to appeal to a large but vocal minority, one that is attracted to his bluster and his grievance-based claims of white male victimhood. The coverage is superficial, perhaps, but I would also say that when it “digs deeper” and someone like Chris Matthews refuses to relent, it still becomes caught in a cycle where Trump can claim to be a victim of a “mean” and “biased” media.
Great post. I think you really nailed what I was alluding to at the end of my post for yesterday about the superficiality of the news as revealed in its coverage of his doctor’s report. What your clip, and the contextualization of it, demonstrate is that Trump, with his Trumpiness, simply represents the larger societal shift toward a society of spectacle. Trump is the embodiment of our profit centered, spectacle-based “news” system, thus is very difficult to use it as a tool to critique him.
I am not sure that number three is really a key feature itself as much as a symptom of a larger shift in audience needs. It seems to me that the skepticism of political media is actually an increased desire for escapist entertainment born of social instability and a feeling of impotence. Officially the U.S. has “recovered” from the collapse of 2008, yet most people have not seen their lives improve significantly, the systems seems to be very much the same as it was leading up to the crash, and people feel like those folks meant to fix the system (whether tea party folks on the right or “progressives” on the left) have not been able to do so. Trump and his Trumpiness are products of a social moment as much as a media moment. Perhaps if Bernie Sanders had been able to capture similar media attention, rather than getting largely shut out of the media for the first half of his campaign, his brand of leftist populism would have reached folks in the way that Trump’s “rightist” populism has.
Ross, yes I think that there are good parallels between these different affective paratextual experiences. In all of them, serialization is important - they build on pre-existing franchises that, for both DOCTOR WHO and TWIN PEAKS, have had long dormant gaps to cultivate fan interest. So much of our affective thrill links anticipation for the new with nostalgia for the old, especially the experiential feeling of the old having been new. This musical clip similarly is built upon my initial viewing of the series, contextualizing the score and letting me relive its emotional power.
For me, TWIN PEAKS season 3 is wrapped up in my viewing history of having been a college student during the original, and my collective viewing in a dorm lounge is what TWIN PEAKS means to me - and now as a college professor, I want to vicariously watch my students experience the new season in an entirely new medium context. (I discussed this nostalgic viewing memory in this conversation with Dana Och and Amanda Klein - and Derek Kompare brings out the DOCTOR WHO parallel in the comments! http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2014/10/11/debating-the-return-of-twin-pea...)
I agree with what Jason’s saying here. I’m sure I’ve read some work discussing how the audiences for teen-orientated dramas assume that the primary viewers for these shows are older ‘youth’ segments (possibly mid-to-upper twenties) and this feeds in to the intertextual strategies used.
Writing from experience of using PLL for teaching about TV genre, I screen the prom episode from series one to my students because of its inclusion of multiple horror intertexts towards the end and the majority of them don’t pick up on these. Is there perhaps an industrial assumption that their primary target audience is too savvy in terms of their audience’s assumed knowledge of texts, codes and conventions?
Thanks very much for posting this, Jason. It’s a really insightful argument and I think there’s a lot of mileage in trying to approach paratexts in affective terms rather than solely discussing ideas of pre- or post-interpretation. I wonder how to go about analysing this from a methodological perspective. For instance, how to capture and debate the ‘thrill’ I experienced earlier in the week when the first official Showtime poster for TP was released? I’m also taken back to seeing the first trailer for the new Doctor Who back in 2005 and the excitement that generated… Obviously, the two examples mentioned here are more overtly ‘promotional’ than this clip but I think the interweaving of fan subjectivity, affect and paratexts is a really interesting pathway.
One element I find interesting about this allusion is how unselfconscious it is, not calling attention to itself in any playful or overt manner. Given that the young PLL target audience in 2010 would be highly unlikely to know TWIN PEAKS, I’m curious how the intertextuality plays for fans. Is this a shoutout to the demographic beyond teen girls, a dog whistle for older viewers who might be savvy to TV history that PLL is acknowledging its own antecedents and offering appeals to the parents of the core audience? If so, it reminds me of the “kidult” appeals that are typical in children’s media, where offering something distinct for parents is a crucial way to secure a family audience (think the parodies on SESAME STREET or sophisticated references in Warner Bros. cartoons). Does this strategy seem to have worked for PLL?
That is a great question. I cannot speak to any specific Bernie ads, but since Ferguson where has been a visible resurgence of Afro-Arab solidarity around issues of racial oppression and empire. I say resurgence because this predates the twentieth century (Lubin 2014; Feldman 2015). Of course, these solidarities are both strengthened and complicated by histories of black Islam (Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali etc) and the fact that a significant portion of U.S. Muslims are black even though the popular media collapses Arab and Muslim.
I think the association between the series and the woods/trees is one of the most enduring things I remember. The scenes of the wind blowing through the trees always seemed really creepy and I think also leads back to the horror genre and its use of the woods as a place of potential danger although TP always managed to subvert those more obvious expectations and associations really well.
Thanks for this, Karra. The video works well to bring the points that you’ve made to life. Have you seen the new official poster that Showtime has released over the last 24 hours? Seems that the iconography of the woods and forest will remain as important to the new episodes as well.
It is interesting that this ad’s visuals also allude to black communities (both in images of people and signifiers of hip hop and African identity). Does other Sanders material attempt to draw parallels between the oppression of Muslims and the oppression of blacks?