Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Review: Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad by Brett Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Martin explores the history of dramatic television in the last two decades, defining it as the third golden age of television. The title refers to the defining feature of this third golden age in that both onscreen in the form of lead characters and off-stage in the form of the rise of the "show-runner" writer is universally male. In tracing the history of many of the most famous and genre-defining shows, Martin shows how the leading characters (Tony Soprano, Vick Mackey, Don Draper, Walter White and others) are men in constant desire of power in a variety of forms and willing to do harm to achieve it. They are contrasted with often more complicated but still flawed creators and writers who are also trying to leave their own mark on the world. Taken together, the book holds up a fascinating mirror to the American culture and in particular, males. It's a nice slice of Americana, gender studies (though not necessarily too overt), and cultural history.

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YouTube Killed The Television Gods

2010 marks a major shift in viewing trends among Americans that will most likely grow worldwide by the end of the 2010s to be a more dominant market share of leisure time.  Apparently, 2010 marked the first year that more people prized their Internet over their television.  Beyond a doubt, I'm in this camp.  My television hasn't been hooked up to cable in over a year and I don't miss it a bit.  I watch movies from Netflix and the library on the television; or now that Netflix has expanded its services; I can watch their "Watch Instantly" selection on my television through the use of my Wii.

So why the shift?  Convenience is an obvious answer.  Why situate my life around the TV to catch the programs I want; when I can call them up at will online.  Sure, there are devices (VCRs in the old days; Tivo nowadays) that can do this, but in both cases they require additional contraptions, costs, and programming.

But another answer that speaks volumes about what's going on, comes from Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus.  The 3 Stooges video below taken from YouTube (side note:  my favorite 3 Stooges skit of all time; I remember almost crying in hysterical laughter the first time I saw it),  is not the same 3 Stooges video that I've seen at least 3-4 times on the 3 Stooges Marathon held annually on New Year’s Eve (and no--there's no commenting on that facet of my life).








Ok, let's take the obvious difference; the quality in this instance is by far less than what you would see on television.  Ok.  TV: 1.  Internet: 0.  Yet, the quality has the potential to improve or on other sites be better than somebody's home recording; so not all is lost.  The other difference is convenience.  Inevitably, people reading this watched (if they watched it) the clip at very different times with variations of hours, days, months, possibly years.  That's definitely a point for Internet.  To add to that, if you watch it to the end or are watching it on the YouTube site; when you get to the end, you get like-minded and relevant recommendations; something that rarely occurs on TV.  I get to the end of a show, and besides an onslaught of commercials, I'm hit with a show or range of shows that have no consequential relation to what I just saw.

But one of the cooler things to come out of video sites is the level of interactivity.  I can share them directly and indirectly.  I can email the link to a friend; whereas I would have to call a friend to tell them to turn on the TV "right now."  OR I can post them to various social networking sites as part of my social history for current and future connections to enjoy and appreciate (or groan as the case may be).  I can (as I did here) embed them into my blog and other areas and in doing so, have some control over the size, border, and other material.  I can bookmark it for continued enjoyment.  But the most interesting is that I can comment on it.  I can have a dialogue with others who have viewed this.  This makes viewing much less a singular event and more of a social event or also an engaging event.  Just like when friends sit around to watch a movie (maybe a la MST3K style), the comments section of these videos allow for a asynchronous discussion that is sometimes irrelevant but can also impart answers and information people are wondering about with regards to the video.

To come back to my name-dropping of Clay Shirky, whom I've used in other posts, I think this is why the Internet is gaining ground; convenience + meaning making/engagement.  TV for many has been a one-way relationship that though enjoyable still limiting and unfulfilling in many regards.  After all, many of us sit down to watch TV to "tune out" of the world.  To put our minds on hold which just doesn't sound like actual contentedness, but distraction.  This offers the option of engagement which for some can mean substantially more.

So what does this mean for culture at large?  The fact that it's risen so fast also speaks to an improvement of access for many people which can be attributed to the cheapening of electronics from cellphones to laptops.  The convenience, engagement, and yes, the cost factor, all play an important role in influencing such trends.  There’s also the interesting dynamic that so many people are becoming more engaged with their entertainment and one wonders what media engagement/entertainment will look like in the future.

QUESTIONS

In what ways have your entertainment consumption changed over the last 10 years?  Do you find yourself participating in blogs, chats, comment features, Facebook debates with relation to your entertainment?  What does this do for meaning-making and significance of the entertainment being discussed?

What are other levels of engagement and meaning-making that are found throughout the Internet with regards to our entertainment?  How do we bridge gaps between ourselves, that which we enjoy, and other people?



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.