Monday, September 28, 2009

Being Real on reality TV

Sometimes I think that the more obnoxious, mean, and stupid reality shows are, especially the competitive ones (what are the most over-the-top ones we can think of? Surreal World is pretty bad. For example, there was the time when Vern, who plays mini-me, got drunk. and the [whatever] of Love ones are too) the more "real" they really are. I feel like that when I'm in one of those moods where I'm feeling down on people and judgmental about them--when it seems like every third person I see is throwing candy wrappers in the street or swearing loudly at their kids or cutting me off with their BMW in the crosswalk. That's when it makes sense to me to see people acting the fool, exploiting each other, playing off stereotypes, and selling themselves short, all for a little bit of money. When I'm feeling like that, those shows can sometimes seem like an honest reflection of the way most people really are. But...


Blog assignment for Friday, 10-2

LCers - This week, let's write about "Reality TV." You can write about any of the shows we talked about in class last Friday... or if you can't think of any, you can write about the episode of "16 and Pregnant" we saw. Write on the following question: How "real" is reality TV? So you'll want to think of some ways it is "real," (more real than other kinds of TV?) or some ways it's not real. (Unreal? Fake?) Practice using examples from shows to support your points. For example, students in previous classes have had a good time with "Flava of Love" or "Rock of Love" with this one. If you think hard, there are some ways that even something so ridiculous as that show can be said to be "real" (Realistic?) OR I'll bet you can think of some ways that even a documentary on a serious subject, like "16 and Pregnant" can be a bit unrealistic. We want to move beyond last minute thoughts and get some good ideas down, but this is still an informal assignment. DO spend some time thinking and writing about this (and taking notes watching TV if that helps you. DON'T worry about being "wrong." DO try to develop your ideas with examples. DON'T worry about grammar. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Straight Outta Iowa

I like all kinds of music--punk, jazz, rock, whatever--but lately I've been listening to lots of rap. Sometimes I feel weird about it because I'm not very hip-hop looking, sounding, or acting. I first got into it in about '86-'89, through the Beastie Boys, N.W.A., Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee, Whodini, Cool J, and Native Tongue groups like Jungle Brothers, Tribe Called Quest, and especially De La Soul, who I still love today. I especially love sampling--grabbing bits and pieces of other songs, sometimes very unfunky songs, and rearranging them and/or scratching them to make them funky. For example, De La Soul managed to sample such square groups as Hall and Oates and actually make them funky. Another thing I love is that rap has always valued free speech. Sometimes that involves saying things that are controversial or offensive, but it's a place where people can express themselves without limits. A lot of the resulting free speech I choose not to listen to because I think it's hateful and unnecessary--for example songs that express hatred for gay people and even advocate violence against them. On the other hand, some of that speech takes place in songs that are undeniably funky, like Ice Cube's "Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself." I do like that song even though I think some of the things he says in it are just wrong to say.

I mostly listen to music on iPod (or on vinyl or through the computer at home) but when I'm in a Zipcar, I get to check out what's current on PGC or KYS. I like when they have DJs (like Quicksilver) actually mixing, on the lunch hour or after work. Does anybody know what time those shows are on or whether I can get podcasts of them? Not only is it fun to hear the DJ mixing, but they play old stuff you don't usually hear on the radio. But sometimes I get self-conscious when I pull up to a stoplight with the bass bumping, and I turn it down so I don't look like the guy from Malibu's Most Wanted.There's a hip hop show on WPFW (88.9) every night at 11, but I'm usually sleeping.

I also love to go see live music at clubs, especially the Black Cat. I've hardly seen any hip-hop shows live at all. I mostly go see punk and indie bands from "back in the day" (and kids, my "back in the day" is BACK. in the DAY.) I last saw the Waco Brothers at Iota on my birthday over labor day weekend. They're a country-punk-commie band with songs about unions. It was an afternoon show, so I could get home for dinner with the family. Before that, I saw the Breeders at the 9:30 club. That's Kim and Kelley Deal, twin sisters from Ohio, one of whom was in the very successful 80s-90s alternative band The Pixies. The other is a former drug addict, and her sister taught her to play guitar to give her something to do, and now they're a band. That was great too. They just played again at the Black Cat, but I didn't go. It's just too hard right now with my daughter, plus I only get to really hang out with her on the weekend and I don't want to miss that time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blog assignment 9/25/09

This week's Pop Culture Learning Community blog assignment is about music. What music do you listen to? Why? Where? How? Etc. Be sure to mention a particular song somewhere in your post. We will read each others' blogs in class on Friday and comment on some of your classmates' blogs. Of course, you can always comment on each others' blogs in advance of Friday.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Watching TV this week

Watching TV ain't what it used to be.

I used to kick back, enjoy a cold beverage and some chips, flip through the digital listings, and set reminders for all manner of great viewing: sports! (not just football and hockey, but curiosities like Australian rules football and soccer.) Movies! (not just new movies but movies I'd seen again and again, like Pulp Fiction or Full Metal Jacket. IFC and Sundance, I love you.) A full hour of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert every night. Seinfeld and Simpsons reruns virtually whenever I wanted.

But now things are different. I have a daughter who goes to bed by 9:00 pm, and we still live in a one-bedroom apartment. I won't get into how this particular routine was decided on, but what it means is that we put baby Daphne to bed in the living room, where the TV is, and we go into the bedroom at 9:00. I've never been a TV-in-the-bedroom kind of person, so I don't see any TV that starts after 9:00. Further, when I do watch TV before 9:00, I'm never JUST watching TV. I'm either watching Daphne, which means reading with her, walking around and around the kitchen island with her, keeping her from banging her head into everything... or if I'm not on baby duty, I'm cooking or cleaning.

That means my attention is fragmented, which I don't get all the way into any TV show. Take the Redskins game last week for example. Normally, I'd be watching closely, ready to break into the theme song from Benny Hill as the latest bunch of multi-millionaire underachievers wearing the racist logo fall behind by a couple of touchdowns, then get it together just enough to make a frantic comeback in the second half but still lose. I'd be waiting for that entertaining shot of the latest coach/savior rubbing his face with his hands. (Norv Turner was my favorite--he always looked like he needed a laxative.)

Well, maybe not watching as much TV will make me a better person, less likely to take pleasure in the failure of others.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog Assignment for 9/18/09

This post is the blog assignment for the Fall 09 "Don't Believe The Hype" popular culture learning community. It is due on Friday, 9/18/09.

By friday, write a blog entry of at LEAST one well-developed paragraph on the following general topic: What thoughts do you have about the TV you have watched this week? (You can write on anything related to this topic that you want. If you want, use pictures, links, whatever!)

On friday, we will be looking at each other's blogs and commenting on them. Prof. Wahl and Prof. Simon will be doing their own blog entries too.

Have fun!!!


I ride the S9 now, not the S2. That changes everything.

the "9" busses are the express versions of busses on select routes. They make fewer stops, there are fewer riders, you get there faster... plus all the "9" busses are the new fancy ones with comfortable seats.

SOOOO much less interesting. Fewer drunks, crazy people, cross-cultural interactions. I don't even have to wear headphones anymore.