First, I know some of you BJ regulars dislike posts on culture that don’t have a direct political angle, so I’m sorry for this, but I think culture is an inescapable part of politics and really need to say this. I also know that this topic has been discussed to death, but I do feel compelled.
Alyssa Rosenberg writes about the anti-Girls backlash and specifically references a much-discussed comment from the AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff. Both Rosenberg and VanDerWerff rightly lament the ubiquitous misogyny and sexism which cloud any discussion of media by and about women. I agree with almost every individual point, and this kind of cultural commentary and pushback is essential. And yet there’s another level of consciousness that they don’t meet, and that’s actually connected to why I don’t like the show.
I’ve only seen the first three episodes, but that was enough. For me, it’s really very simple: I am absolutely bored to death with stories about upper class educated white people struggling to find themselves after college. Is there a story that has been told more often? I would guess that there isn’t. It’s a mini-genre all onto itself, and an absolutely inescapable one. An endless number of movies comes out, year after year, about this topic. Probably half of all sitcom pilots produced have this general plot. Publishing houses are choked with pitches and manuscripts, written by affluent educated strivers, about affluent educated strivers, for an audience of affluent educated strivers. It is unavoidable, and I’m sorry, I’ve just had my fill. It isn’t just the same themes and the same attitudes, presented again and again. It’s the self-aggrandizing pretense that we’re all supposed to care, the utter lack of self-awareness in assuming that nothing could be more endlessly fascinating than watching affluent kids trying to figure out who they really are. I have run out of artistic empathy for such people; it’s just been exhausted through repetition.
That’s an aesthetic preference and it speaks to nothing more than my idiosyncratic tastes. But there are issues here. Rosenberg says that “The geography of Hannah’s world isn’t boundaried by the countors of her body.” That’s true; it’s rather boundaried by the provincial and myopic perspective that late American capitalism has granted its educated youth, a group of people that is on balance tiny and yet which exercises immense influence on our culture. Rosenberg praises the seriousness the show demonstrates towards Hannah’s desire to be the voice of her generation. She’s right to say that many would dismiss this desire because of Hannah’s gender, but she fails to mention that both the character and the actress have the opportunity to consider the possibility because they come from a particular social class. Were Dunham herself in every other way, identical in looks and smarts and drive, but had been born in rural poverty in Appalachia, Girls would not exist. Rosenberg praises Girls for allowing the women characters to transcend the stories typically permitted them. I read that and think, if Girls represents a broad narrative perspective, heaven help us.
Saying that artistic existence is better than artistic nonexistence is indeed very thin gruel, and I affirm and support the specific criticisms that Rosenberg and VanDerWerff are making. This is not a “no, but,” but rather a “yes, and.”
We have developed, in the past decade, a massive infrastructure for analyzing art and media, and particularly popular media. It is rather breathtaking, really, just how much content is being produced, endlessly picking over movies, music, and television. And yet I find a depressingly small amount of it bothers to interrogate the issue of class, both within the art and within the commentary itself. What goes unsaid in all of the endless recaps and reviews is that the people who write such things almost all come from a particular narrow demographic, and the people who make shows like Girls, and most of those who watch them, are from that same demographic. It’s all a closed loop. Of course, these shows and movies are beloved by the crew at the AV Club. There are by and about people just like the crew at the AV Club.
Look, there is no sense in which I’m saying that Roesnberg or VanDerWerff should not make these arguments in order to prioritize class issues. We have to argue for both. To do so, we’ve got to expect people to expand their capacity for empathy and identification beyond what they know personally. In my experience, people like VanDerWerff can generate passionate anger over the marginalization of someone like Dunham precisely because they can identify with her; he knows people like her, so he can feel for her when she’s insulted. More difficult is confronting the problems of people who are nothing like you, and more, of demanding to see media that concerns people who aren’t even present to be disrespected by shithead commenters. The current failure, in pop culture and pop culture commentary, is one of the moral imagination.
Left unanswered is the question of whether a culture that produces so many shows like Girls, and the limited perspective such shows engender, can accommodate such an expansion.
Freddie is boring me. Blogospheric navel gazing is neither entertaining nor informative.
Forum Transmitted Disease
No point in selling to folks who have no money.
The “Friendsification” of media for consumption shall therefore continue.
I don’t like the show because a) the subject matter is boring as hell, and b) the acting is, IMO, very poor. Granted, most of what I have seen is from the previews and the tail end while I am waiting for the GoT replay, but it seems like Dunham needs to end every sentence with “Meh!” Examples that come to mind are her less-than-panicked reaction to her father lying unconscious on the bathroom floor, and the absolutely terrible “band” that played the “song” about Dunham’s character’s diary.
At the risk of stratifying marginalized and invisible people, your point and particularly your headline would apply 1000x to trans* people.
In fact, a plurality of feminist women, gays, and other marginalized people often think trans* people are fair game. What good is being oppressed if it doesn’t trickle down?
I get sick of hearing this, too. I believe in the empowerment of ALL people. The people with the most power in a system should be at the forefront of this, because they have the most power to change the system. So Freddie, I appreciate the sentiment, but I can’t help but agree with schrodinger’s cat on this one. It’s boring.
Forum Transmitted Disease
And the haters shall hate, but this is so much more important than politics. A media that only gives a shit about young rich white people naturally drives the process that turns a political system into one that only gives a shit about young rich white people.
Not the other way around. The narrative always drives the discourse.
It amazes me when I hear folks ask “how did things get this bad?”
Turn on your fucking TV, the answer is shining right in your face.
Haven’t seen Girls but your point is why I have so little use for TV and popular culture. It’s repetitive and mostly pointless. What shows are well written, directed and acted? And cover some/any topic not covered to death. Pretty short list isn’t it?
Girls is on HBO, a premium cable channel whose viewership even for its hit shows is less than 10 million. Why are we discussing this? I don’t see this as a great sociological problem.
P.S. I am too cheap for HBO or cable. Have never seen Girls and don’t plan to.
I am still watching, and it has gotten a little better, but the simple truth still remains: The show has not presented any reason why I should give a fuck about any of the characters.
@gaz: I am curious. Outside of Garp’s Roberta Muldoon, has there been a prominent trans character in popular film or television?
I turned off my TV at least 15 years ago. I can’t recommend this enough.
Fuck Television. It does actually rot your brain.
I watched it and it is terrible, that people point to it and say how fucking offal it is has made Dunham the creator of this crappy ass show the HBO’s Rebecca Black. Dunham is on the TV/Radio weekly it seems crying about how mean people are to her, and she is just following her gut. W followed his gut on Iraq… Fuck her and this show.
Freddie, you had me at this:
That’s it, exactly. It’s a class issue, not a gender one. Period. Often these overlap but here it’s quite possible to say that this show chronicles “white people problems” many people, regardless of gender, don’t give a fuck about.
@Egg Berry: Not that I’m aware of. There have been a few good movies, but they are foreign.
That said, I’m not sure, as I tend to avoid the boob tube.
ETA: I could be snarky and mention Jerry Springer…
@Egg Berry: Donald Trump is the only one I can think of.
I’ve never posted here before, but Freddie, I have to say I think this is a fantastic, insightful post.
@gaz: Almodovar films, for sure. American film doesn’t have too much courage in that direction, to say the least.
I did forget Frank-N-Furter.
My So-Called Life. I hated this show. I Don’t Care About Whiny Privileged Children Who Think Being Told No Is The End Of The World. I’ve seen this trope over and over and gets no less boring. When they deal with real poverty, with going to bed hungry during college because you have to make that stipend and work paycheck last for the rest of the week-so only breakfast and a late lunch-then they can talk. Throw in that it’s always the white upper middle class being depicted and you just want to scream. Jayzus, don’t make me miss Rosanne and Grace Under Fire.
But that means I would miss out on Futurama, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Doctor Who…
And I just got addicted to Bollywood a year ago. Nu-uh. Not giving that up.
@BGinCHI: That’s precisely who I was thinking of when I made my comment. I own all of his major flicks except Skin
Don’t you think you’re being a little selective in the shows you pick out?
A great corrective to this trend was the program “Friends”. A gritty, up from the street long-form narrative of a handful of people who could only rely on their wits and the ties that bind because friendship. That and Love Sidney.
It’s not Friends with fewer guys around and no laugh track.
It’s Rachel from Friends with fewer guys around and no laugh track.
Forum Transmitted Disease
@gaz: 2003. Almost ten years now.
Of course, you still can’t avoid it. Remember Orwell’s telescreens? Couldn’t turn them off and all that? Shit, we have a populace that will kick your ass if you try to turn it off, and where the only thing that could cause a full-scale rebellion against the government would be if someone did manage to turn them off, even if for only one day.
Anyway, you run into it everywhere, and do you ever catch yourself looking for a moment and wondering “how on earth can people let this shit into their minds?” It is literal brain poison, rewiring your thoughts and your beliefs and you have no idea that it’s happening.
Not rot. Reprogram.
An interesting phenomena is that shows like this closely reflect the lives of the white upper class humanities majors who write for the enterprises who are critiquing this drek.
Of course many of them love this stuff. It is their lives, with better furnishings and fewer cosmetically challenged friends.
@gaz: I’d say I learned more from his early films about the whole subject than anyplace else. He’s always been a brave film maker when it comes to sexuality. I’m speaking as a straight white dude, of course, so ymmv.
These visual, narrative representations of same-sex, transgendered people that allow the normative culture to identify with them helps progress the culture, I think. We need this stuff out in the media.
Which is another reason why shows about whinging rich kids isn’t doing anyone any good. And if it was really good entertainment, no one would be having this conversation. It’s not like we’re going to bitch about the politics of “Arrested Development.” It’s too damn funny.
I am rediscovering Hindi films, just saw Devdas, and Dil Se. What do you like?
@Jeff Spender: I still indulge. That’s what the pirate bay is for. No commercials and I get to pick what I am subjected to, and limit it to what I can stand.
That said, even then, and among shows I like, I can’t help but find tones of racism, misogyny etc in most television. Take for example Lisa Gay-Hamilton’s “Rebecca Washington” character on “The Practice”. Probably the sexiest character on the show, and yet she never had a date. The only time dating was even brought up with her is when she was asked if she was a lesbian. Meh. Mexican television is pretty bad too, a lot of times, so it’s not just us.
“The Wire” was actually the closest thing I ever saw to a major show that managed to keep all of the characters on basically even ground (in terms of how they were portrayed and humanized.). I tried getting into Treme, expecting more of the same, but I just couldn’t connect with it.
@Soonergrunt: I could never get the popularity of Friends. It was like an unfunny version of Seinfeld. Every other woman had that damn Rachel haircut in the 90s. I am glad to see that finally its popularity seems to be waning.
It’s Rachel from Friends with fewer guys around and nothing to laugh at.
I’ll assume you are being clever.
Haven’t seen Girls.
But this silly show has been hyped about speaking for a whole generation of women. What the hey? That claim is naive, mistaken, perhaps arrogant, and might be stupid.
There are young women who deal with real issues, sometimes wisely and sometimes not. Some of these issues don’t care what color you are or your gender or whether Daddy had money. Life itself is just one damn issue after another.
One dramatic performance simply cannot speak for everyone.
What nauseating tripe.
whenever anyone criticizes _a_ TV show, it becomes an indictment of TV as a form, and people are just compelled to jump in and say how they don’t even own a TV, how it’ll rot your brain and that it’s a vast wasteland, etc. etc.
It’s like saying the presence of Twilight novels means novels are all worthless, or a Pauly Shore movie means all cinema is pointless. People ONLY say that about television, that’s so amazing to me.
Mad Men, the Wire, Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Rome, Deadwood, Lost, BSG, Breaking Bad, Buffy, West Wing, the list goes on – just within the last decade or so, there’s lots of magnificent television shows out there, most of which you can DVD or Netflix. I would hold them up against any other medium for quality and depth of storytelling.
Girls isn’t to my taste, haven’t watched it, but holy crap the cineaste snobbery around TV that still persists is just hilarious.
I assure you, my indictment of television has nothing to do with a particular show, and everything to do with the endlessly vacuous bullshit that it spews on nearly any channel you can name.
Lisa Gay-Hamilton has been wasted on several shows, I believe.
ETA: I mean her talent has been wasted. I know how people here read things.
@Forum Transmitted Disease: Careful…you’re veering dangerously close to Onion territory. ;-)
@Cargo: I don’t have cable because I don’t get it in the boonies where I live. I am thinking of going in for a satellite dish since I want to see the Olympics.
Meanwhile, I is on your intertoobz being a snob.
Dil Se. Good stuff. I lived with an Indian woman for a year (who to this day is one of my dearest friends) and she introduced me to so much. I discovered the awesomeness of Shah Rukh Khan.
Right now I’m putting aside time for Kites. My Name is Khan. Karz was good (Rishi Kapoor).
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was fun. Actually, one of my favorites is Om Shanti Om–it’s so much fun. And have you seen the Dhoom! movies?
I haz teh Netflix. It’s great. Seriously. Since I produce creative work, I can’t bring myself to pirate it.
I have to say that Girls is possibly the worst show I’ve ever seen HBO put on. Not just for the class issues, but for the sheer whinging, self-absorbed, unfunny bullshit that Lena Dunham has her characters do.
Lena Dunham has to be the least interesting, least talented people I’ve ever seen succeed.
Freddie, the way you constantly call people “strivers” is really grating, off-putting, and awfully privilege-y. Just saying.
Oh yes. Earlier this month, I was telling my daughter about “Good Times” (don’t remember why it came up); she couldn’t believe it was on TV. A show about actual working class/poor human beings. On food stamps, unemployed for more than a 1-2 show arc, etc. You know, real life.
Jesus Christ, why are people obsessed with this stupid show?
@Jeff Spender: I have seen Karz but not the other ones you mention. I just saw 1947, Earth, pretty heavy stuff. If you like Shahrukh, you should see Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na. It is one of his earlier movies.
Have you seen Lagaan?
@Jeff Spender: Netflix mostly doesn’t have the shows I tend to like. I pay for cable, but I don’t watch it, so I guess in some small way, I’m doing my part.
I keep checking in with people I know that have it. When it starts to run a bigger selection, I’ll cancel my cable and run with Netflix. It’s not there yet.
We mostly use our cable for Univision and other spanish language channels.
My tastes generally run eclectic. Also, advertisements are a dealbreaker for me. I’d rather pay extra cash.
@gaz: that’s what tivo is for, cutting through the bullshit. it’s not like 20 years ago when you had to flip through channels and see what was on at that time. now you can pick and choose from everything.
television in terms of available shows and quality of content has never been better, if you choose to look, i guess just being willfully glib and turning up your nose is a lot easier though.
OH! The first whole Bollywood movie I’d ever seen was called “Three Idiots.” An amazing film–highly recommend it.
“ALL IS WELL!”
@Linda Featheringill: It’s not even that it’s been hyped as speaking for an entire generation, it’s that it’s terribly written, acted and shot; that the people on it are so personally hideous that I would quite literally cheer if this stupid season ended with all of them drinking bleach in a mass suicide pact.
er, “boundaried?” Seriously? Bounded, mate, bounded. Beyond that, right on. Life is too short to waste it watching this kind of stuff.
The politics of Arrested Development were actually hilariously subversive. No show could possibly be more meta in its critique of media and culture. Most obvious case in point: Franklin–the only prominent black character on the show–is a puppet of a heedlessly entitled rich white dude.
I’m guessing that the reason people don’t bitch about the politics of Arrested Development is that it, ironically, lacked pretense. I know nothing about the relative pretentiousness of the show to which Freddie refers here.
@Jeff Spender: My husband was recommending it, he saw it on his flight back from India. He is uber critical about everything and usually is not a great fan of Hindi movies, so it is on my must see list now.
@Cargo: Even if I had a DVR, it’s faster for me to get my content pre-cut through the pirate bay.
Go ahead and think I’m glib. I really don’t give a shit. I didn’t make my assessment of television through some overnight revelation, but rather through repeated exposure to bullshit until I got sick of it. And I don’t object to the form. I object to how the form is being abused.
I hope you continue to enjoy Toddlers in Tiaras, etc.
Thanks, but I’ll pass.
You apparently missed the whole “George W. Bush Administration” thing.
EDIT: I give up on trying to fix this stupid block quote. Then again, I’ve always been good at failure.
Game of Thrones is one of the very best TV shows ever, but every other HBO show that they incessantly advertise for several minutes before actually starting GOT (Girls, Veep and whatever that awful TV news show is called) are just unwatchable, as far as I am concerned.
That’s it — I’m definitely making a point to get into “Girls” now. My wife loves it, but I haven’t really found the time to watch it regularly. But the self-congratulatory purism of you people is driving me into the figurative arms of Lena Dunham.
@cckids: a bunch of Good Times episodes are on the net somewhere. Don’t remember where though.
Okay, I’m not a TV watcher. But if this show is as unoriginal, as bad, and as unloved as everyone says (calling its star and creator HBO’s Rebecca Black — ouch!), it will shirley die of its own suckiness before too many more episodes have sullied the coax cables of America. And then some other collection of cow pies aimed at Affluent White College Kids shall briefly take its place, to be picked over by the cool AWCK pop-culture critics. Denunciations such as this may well be correct in every particular, but are likely wasted on such ephemeral dreck.
I have a more interesting question: when did you change your nym?
So logically the next step for Dunham, a gig writing op-eds for the Washington Post?
@Egg Berry: Outside of Garp’s Roberta Muldoon, has there been a prominent trans character in popular film or television?
Does Mrs. Madrigal in Tales of the City and its sequels count?
And oops, I guess that was a spoiler.
@rea: That right there is the problem. Fuck the Crying Game, etc.
@Amir Khalid: I haven’t, I mistyped, I blame kitteh, she was walking on my keyboard.
I haven’t seen Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na, but there’s another early Khan movie called Deewana that was good. My Indian friend was TA for a film class which focused on Hindi films and I watched this with her class in one of the large lecture halls (she actually asked me to set it up for her, given my experience for bringing my XBOX into the lecture halls and playing it whenever I could).
And I think Lagaan is definitely one of my favorite movies. It made cricket make sense in a way that British TV never could.
Uh, no, apparently you don’t pass, you just kinda freeload. You attack the medium but continue to enjoy its fruits, which is kinda like Ayn Rand attacking the welfare state while taking her Social Security. You just don’t want to have to support the shows you like by watching the ads, which frankly, makes you a parasite.
Either quit or honor the necessary bargain for your entertainment.
I didn’t say she was the most incompetent person, now did I? ;)
Girls = Mumblecore Seinfeld.
Marcellus Shale, Public Dick
television, even hbo doesn’t do poor, or even middle class well.
in developing a character, most of the short hand they use, job, location, the routines, the friends with unlimited time to happen to be in the scene, and their jobs etc…its a middle class life to start with. than the logistics of location shooting, mean they use spaces that make it a top 15% of the country endeavor almost by default.
look at the honeymooners type show louis ck tried to pull off before his current show. that was sparse and poor, and limiting.
@rea: We’re not “spoilers”
We don’t exist to throw cisgendered people off of their game.
We are not liars and cheats.
Fuck that show, and fuck that stereotype.
In terms of class-related TV shows of recent vintage, wouldn’t “The Wire” count?
@Damien: I guess I should stop paying for my cable subscription then.
Thank you! I have never seen such a hilariously misguided gnashing of teeth over a TV show, or over TV in general, than I have in this thread. Lighten up, Francis.
Atrios had an interesting post earlier today in which he asks for a recommendation for a show that is good enough to not completely insult one’s intelligence but not so good that you can’t do the internet at the same time and not miss anything important. My reaction was, isn’t this where television more or less tops out? I mean, even with the Official Best Shows on TV there isn’t a one of them where you can’t go take a shit for ten minutes, come back and ask what happened while you were gone, and not be up to speed with a dozen word explanation, is there? That’s just the structure of the medium. Whereas if you take ten minutes out of Rashomon or 2001 and try to get an explanation of what you missed, you’re screwed.
@Cargo: I’m with gaz on this one. Since I left standard television behind about 8 years ago, my life has undeniably changed for the better. There’s something about not having a big box of flickering meth to come home to at the end of the day that makes you actively seek more creative, fulfilling ways to spend your time. And makes you much more selective in other ways too.
Truth be told, before I cut the chord, I might have agreed with you that Tivo or DVR or whatever was the solution. Not now. If there’s good content out there, DVDs will show it to me. And DVDs take a little more work–and, therefore, a little more active will–to acquire.
@slag: You’re exactly right: the pretensions are all based on who the main actors are related to.
Who said they watch Toddlers in Tiaras? Oh, that’s right, nobody. What sanctimonious horse shit.
@slag: I own several shows in packaged DVD form. I even bought the deadwood box although it was cancelled.
True I don’t buy all of them, but for the memorable shows, I have no problem shelling out for the packaged set.
ETA: The only real problem I have with them is that you usually have to wait for the show (or at least the season) to run it’s course. I’m willing to wait for them, but TPB makes it so I don’t have to. I prefer to rip video from DVD myself, rather than rely on the half-assed rips you can get online, but I live with them just the same.
Kingdom Hospital was the first show I bought on DVD, because I couldn’t even find it on TV. Since then, I’ve decided that I like them a lot. They are convenient, and consistently hi-def. I own Sopranos, I own The Wire, and others. My next purchase will probably be Breaking Bad.
Not to mention the aesthetic critique offered here is fucking dumb. Whether comedy or drama, I’d venture to say that half the great art of the modern world has been about the dissolute, empty, vacuous lives of the rich and upper middle class. We can justifiably argue for more art that addresses itself to issues of class, but to preemptively dismiss “Girls” or any other show because it depicts the lives of wealthier people misses the boat completely.
As Roger Ebert likes to say when evaluating movies, “It’s not what it’s about. It’s how it’s about it.” If you don’t like “Girls” because you don’t think it pulls off whatever it is it’s trying to do, then fine, but to criticize subject matter and simply stop there is taking a pretty thin approach to art.
@gaz: Joss Whedon is my weakness. Also, Ugly Betty seasons 1 and 2 (I have no idea what, if anything, the trans community thinks of this show–feel free to educate me). Plus, the aforementioned Arrested Development.
@Yossarian: Exactly. I think the show is pretty funny (although this comment thread is giving it a run for its money), and the characters are supposed to be unlikable.
@Bhall35: It spoke to one of the worst examples I’ve seen that speaks to my earlier point. In your rush to judge me as sanctimonious, you overlooked the larger point that I made earlier – the one that statement was a direct example of. Take it as sanctimony if you must. It was a rhetorical device. Who said I didn’t mean what I said, that I hope they continue to enjoy it? And no thanks, but I’ll pass.
And since we’re rushing to judging, do you consider Cargo incapable of responding to me themselves? Who said they wanted or needed your defense of them? Nobody, that’s who.
@slag: I like the original Ugly Betty. The Columbian Novella on which it is based. I haven’t watched the US one – Yo soy Betty, la fea (“I am Betty, the ugly”). My wife turned me on to it, and it’s a good way to for me to polish my spanish as well =)
@gaz: I wasn’t even aware I was defending anybody, I just pointed out how ridiculous your “rhetorical device” was. I don’t participate in the TV threads too much, and you’re exhibit A as to why I don’t. Cheers.
@gaz: When I heard that it was based on a telenovela, I immediately wondered whether the title is as paradoxical in its original Spanish as it is in American English. Do you happen to know?
@Bhall35: And yet, here you are.
Take your own advice, and fuck off.
Is that another of your patented “rhetorical devices”? I should be taking notes.
The characters are supposed to be unlikeable, yes, but there are ways to handle that. Breaking Bad for example, has a main character that is supposed to be unlikeable for the sheer fact that he’s making meth, if not his outright villainy.
However, I want to spend time with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. I want to see what happens to Vic Mackey and Shane on the Shield. But I only want to see all the characters on Girls lie down and die.
@slag: I mentioned it in the prior post translated “I am betty, the ugly” – and yes it is sort of paradoxical, insomuch as the story of the ugly duckling is paradoxical, I guess, if that’s what you are asking.
I hear the show follows the same basic arc, but I’m guessing they differ dramatically on the details. As I said, I’ve not watched the US version yet – I’m still trying to fumble my way through the spanish one =)
@Bhall35: No, that statement was to be taken in precisely the spirit in which it was presented. Generally you can read “Fuck Off” in that manner.
I hope that helps clarify my position.
ETA: If it doesn’t, variations on the phrase may include, but are not limited to:
Get the hell out of here, etc.
Forum Transmitted Disease
@Damien: Fully agree. Claiming to not watch TV while bragging about your terabytes of Pirate Bay shows isn’t exactly what I’d call “not watching TV”. The commercials aren’t even the most destructive part of the media machine, they’re just the medium for it being financed.
@EdTheRed: It’s the Onion’s world, I just live in it.
@gaz: Sorry. A better way to ask my question would have been: Is “betty” slang for “beautiful/attractive girl” in Colombian culture as well?
@slag: Oh, well, for that I’ll have to ask my wife.
@Forum Transmitted Disease: FTD: I pay for cable TV. I pay for TV on DVD even.
I wasn’t bragging about TPB. The networks get their money from me in any case. As far as the ads? as I’ve mentioned on previous thread somewhere, I have a visceral response to advertisements that tend to make me far less likely to buy a product when they shove the same commercial down my throat over and over.
The fact that I use TPB, among other things is not something I was bragging about. You’ll not that I did not say Look at my terrabytes of TV shows, I am superior!. I stated that I use TPB. I won’t apologize for using TPB. If netflix had the selection, I’d use them, but they do not.
Furthermore, the fact that I use DLNA means that I do happen to have a large amount of media on my hard drives. Movies, TV etc. If you’d ever like to comb through my collections, you’ll note that they are by and large, quality rips that I created myself from the DVD source material. Certainly not all of it, but enough that anyone who cared to comb through my collection would have a hard time prosecuting me for piracy, since I own the rights to watch nearly everything I keep around. The few I don’t watch repeatedly tend to get deleted , not because I am exquisitely moral, but because I’d run out of hard drive space.
So, let’s recap shall we?
I pay about $100 a month in combined cable TV, and internet.
Off the top of my head I own at least a dozen box sets of shows I watch. Do you really think I’d openly state that I use the TPB if there was any real possibility that I could get prosecuted for piracy? Seriously?
I have the legal right to engage in downloading what I watch, and plenty of networks get a slice of my dollars one way or another, particularly HBO because flipping through my collection of DVD boxes, you’ll see HBO’s logo on most of them.
The fact that I refuse to be force-fed media on somebody else’s terms seems to be a big problem for some of you. I’m not quite sure why that is. Maybe you should examine your own motivations. I’m not ripping anyone off.
I’m with you. TV has been excellent for the past decade or so. If you know where to look, you can find finer acting and screenwriting than 90% of what you’ll see on the big screen. I hate these false hipsters with their disdain for a medium they admit to not knowing the first thing about. Because they’re so super smart and superior to the rest of us, apparently they judge via the thoughts in their big giant brains and not by actually observing like the rest of us dimwits.
Hatred of the poor is an American value. I don’t know if I coined that phrase, adapted it from something similar, or just outright stole it, but I believe it to be true and significant regardless.
Wait a second! Weren’t you among those who were criticizing online videos for not being books recently? You were simultaneously accusing TED video viewers of being snobs while snubbing your nose at them for not reading entire books on all those topics, if I remember correctly.
@gaz: If this is how you conduct yourself after you got rid of your TV, I’m afraid to ask what you were like before it.
I thought that and skinny jeans were what made true hipsters?
Thank you. I had exactly the same reaction.
@geg6: I don’t think I’m superior. I just got sick of the bullshit, and I take an active effort to eliminate advertisements from my life. Turning the TV off is a huge part of that. I can’t speak for everyone here, but for me, I don’t really care enough about opinions of me to paint myself as superior. You’ve read way too much into what I was saying. Maybe it was my crack at Cargo – if so I should have been more clear. To wit: Fuck anyone that has a problem with me turning my TV off. Fuck them with a sharp stick. That is all.
My disdain for TV comes from the mountain of shit they shovel at me, given half the chance. I don’t like it. I don’t object to the form itself. I do object to the vacuousness of the majority of programming I find on it when I do turn it on. It’s generally awful, in my opinion. If “Girls” is a reflection of that, it would not surprise me at all.
BTW: Hipsters usually hate me – maybe because I can pull off tight jeans – or maybe because I know how not to wear them (around my ass). So the hipster remark is particularly comical. Thanks for that.
If you’d written this a week ago, I’m not sure if I would’ve agreed.
But the last episode of Girls contained a joke about doing crack. Crack! One of the characters thought she was smoking pot, but actually smoked crack, and she freaked out. “Don’t tell my mom”, she said. The she ran down the street half-naked and everyone laughed and no harm was done.
I remember thinking for a second that it was sort of funny that she smoked crack, and then I wondered why there are so few jokes about crack in popular culture. Then I remembered that it’s crack! I mean, crack was and is a horrible epidemic that killed a lot of people, primarily poor African Americans. Crack is worse than 9/11, IMO.
You can make a joke that involves crack in the right contexts, but this wasn’t one of those contexts. The crack epidemic should be a sensitive subject like AIDS and 9/11. And it is a serious subject. Most comedians won’t and don’t go there. But Girls did go there without a hint of self-consciousness. (There are at least two ways to do that kind of comedy acceptably. 1. You go over the top and recognize that the joke is offensive a la South Park. 2. You explore the fact that the characters live a lucky, privileged life where crack is a joke to them in the narrative of the show.)
@Bhall35: Just as rude. Thanks for asking.
Unless I like you.
Maybe it comes from taking no end of shit from nearly everybody IRL. I’m used to being snarled at, and I respond in kind.
Or possibly, and even more likely, maybe it’s because I’m a jerk by nature. I assure you, in any case, that neither you, nor TV had anything to do with it.
If this was supposed to be your underlying point, I don’t think anyone would really have a problem with it. But that ship sort of runs aground if we go back to the top of the thread here:
“Fuck Television” is quite a bit broader than saying “Fuck anyone that has a problem with me turning my TV off.” And they mean two different things.
You also don’t help your point when a large part of your argument is this:
Neither do the rest of us. But we simply ignore it. Contrary to what you imply, it is quite possible for someone to turn on a TV and not watch Toddlers and Tiaras, opting instead for, say, Sherlock (to use an example that doesn’t have commercials, seeing as you have an unnaturally visceral reaction to those as well).
But the short of it all is, I think you’d do well with a little less hyperbole. It just sets you up as an easy target when people can’t tell if you’re being serious or not.
@slag: People tend to slip in and out of this depending on the thread.
I think it has a lot to do with sacred cows.
Flaying them, in particular. Grilling them up and serving them with a side of coleslaw.
Anyway, it’s always interesting to find out what people’s sacred cows are. Mine tend to be issues of gender, privilege, racism, brown people in the third world, rape, and advertising. I’m sure there’s more.
For some it’s apparently TV in general, or “Girls” in particular. Whatever.
Waylon Jennings Bryan
I love how so many people apparently think that Lena Dunham is the first ever connected-as-shit person born into relative affluence to make a TV show or movie.
I’m kind of overloaded on these sorts of conversations, myself. No offense to you, Freddie: I think it’s pretty well written. But whenever someone says “The media doesn’t focus enough on Social Group A”, the response is always, “Yeah, but what about social groups B C and D?” And it’s not like I’m trying to dismiss people: it’s because lots of people have good arguments about exclusion and stereotypes that it’s so taxing. I’m getting closer to saying that people just shouldn’t bother trying to divine lessons about what we should do in the real world from fiction: too much gets lost in translation.
jake the snakw
@Sentient Puddle: So if i said fuck network television and cable television it would have been different? If so, maybe I should have said that in my original post.
As far as ignoring advertisements? I don’t believe that’s possible. I tend to agree with the advertisers, and the folks at adbusters on this. It infects. It’s impossible to tune out when you are being literally bombarded with it.
Probably. But oh well. 95% of the regulars here have taken their turn at that here at BJ. I’m no better. Sometimes, I’m a lot worse than many. * shrug *. I’ll take my lumps.
Where I got pissed, actually pissed, was the accusations of thievery. Chances are (and admittedly I’m basing this on how many commenters here at BJ have stated they are broke as fuck) – is that I probably spend more on TV than many people here, despite the fact that I use an alternative medium to get my content.
What? Aren’t you familiar with the terrifying struggles of writers as they struggle to write? I can’t see how you missed that, since it seemed to be the subject of every damned book I was forced to read from 8th grade onward.
@Spaghetti Lee: Getting back around to the original topic, I have to say I agree with you, and you stated what I clumsily attempted to say towards the beginning of this thread far better than I did.
I think the show’s somewhat funny, and somewhat good. I understand Freddie’s “I’ve heard enough about the problems of college-educated white 20-somethings” critique, but I do think it misses an aspect of the show. Hannah, a bright college educated 20-something, has held two jobs during the show—one that didn’t pay her, and one where she was forced to endure relentless sexual harassment (indeed, her willingness to submit to this behavior seemed to be the main job requirement).
Her parents have stopped supporting her, so the options presented to her are the following:
1. Continue subjecting herself to harassment at work.
2. Move back in with her parents (they’ve made it clear that’s an option, its the ‘we pay your rent’ thing that isn’t OK anymore)
She’s gone with option #3.
Anyway, I think the show’s demonstrating that its rough for everybody out there. If Hannah can’t find a job that suits her very low requirements, who the hell can?
I’m not saying the show’s a great work on par with The Wire, or something, but the backlash against it has surprised me.
@Waylon Jennings Bryan:
I speak as someone pretty much exactly as you describe, doing what you describe: my problem is not with Lena Dunham accomplishing these things because of her station. Frankly, that’s just how things go in this business, and if I pitched a fit every time some no-talent hack kid got his own movie I’d never make it.
However, my problem is much simpler: I object to her being placed on a pedestal as some kind of comedic genius commentator. Crappy shows come and go, but a crappy show that gets elevated to “art?” It’s an insult to the Golden Age of TV we’re actually living in.
And to @gaz, it is very, very simple: you do not have an inherent right to be entertained. You have purchased products with specific costs and approved uses. That you have made these purchases does not excuse your other thievery.
Just Some Fuckhead
We need more detective shows and hospital dramas. I can never get enough of cops and doctors, my two favoritest things in the world.
I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to unpack that if you want me to understand what you meant. What entertainment am I having delivered that I have not purchased?
Sometimes I’ll watch something before I decide if I like it. If I don’t, than it gets shuffled into the dusty corners of my drive. The minority of TV that didn’t is generally things like the season of Robin Hood on the BBC that I forgot to delete. That kind of thing. (I just deleted it now – serving the dual purpose of freeing some precious space, and satisfying your moral indignation, feel better yet?) Oh, I also watched some stuff that comes from FX – a cable TV channel that I have, and that I pay for. But looking now, I see that I don’t even have any of that. Maybe it’s because my 1TB of storage doesn’t allow for it.
Considering my TV gets turned on very infrequently, and yet I pay dearly every month, what do you suggest they do to reimburse me? (FTR: this is snark, I do not expect them to do this)
Furthermore, I *could* paint you as a thief in the same vein, since I know for a fact you read Krugman and others aggregated from pay-for-play news sites that you do not reimburse, not to mention the myriad of cable show clips you watch (do you have cable?) that are aggregated on various blogs. Not to mention Youtube, etc.
Sorry bub, your moral indignation won’t get much traction with me.
@Just Some Fuckhead: MOAR dark comedies. =)
I’m not going to argue that anyone has to like “Girls,” because that’s a matter of taste and not everything will appeal to everyone. It’s going to be a show with a small audience by definition.
But I do find it fascinating that this deep, deep concern about how classist a particular piece of entertainment is only arises when it’s a woman who created it. I don’t remember people who were upset that Jason Reitman was a director’s son and therefore Thank You For Smoking or Up In the Air had to be dismissed out of hand.
I guess it’s just a co-inkydink that this subject only arises when the work we’re talking about comes from Sofia Coppola or another privileged woman. Funny, that.
Myself, I’m just wondering how someone who clearly watches plenty of TV can say “turn your TV off, that rots your brain” with a straight face.
No. Wrong. Forget that shit.
They don’t like what you write?
There’s this exotic new invention. It’s called the PgDn key. Tell ’em to use it.
Bravo. Exactly right. Go for it.
The issue with the so-called “backlash” against Girls as far as I can tell is simply that some folks have noticed that the show channels the massively puritanical body-hating sex-fearing subterranean foundation of American culture. All the women on the show despise sex, consider all men creepy and subhuman, and feel humiliated and disgusted by being forced to A) have anything to do with men, B) especially to have sex with men, and C) to place themselves in a position in which men might pay unwanted attention to them, or suggest having sex with them.
Since America is a sick twisted culture that loathes the human body and fears and despises any form of sensual pleasure, it stands to reason that there must be a ferocious pushback against anyone pointing out these aspects of Girls.
That’s what the brouhaha is all about, AFAICT.
Oh, and incidentally…the more furious the controversy, the better for the creator of the show, so it’s all good. More flagrantly misogynist comments on obscure forums? The show’s creator and stars will weep about that all the way to the bank.
Few people outside of LA or NY realize that nearly everything you watch on tv or the movies is created by a tiny, tiny handful of people who live within a zip code or two.
Here in LA, most tv writers, producers, and directors live within a 5 mile radius encompassing Brentwood, Encino, and Studio City.
They all go to the same parties, send their kids to the same schools, eat at the same restaurants and marry the same people.
Thats why every tv family lives in a suburban house that looks like the San Fernando Valley, and speak with the same accents and use the same cultural references.
In Hollywood, this incestuous inbreeding is called “authenticity” or “semiautobiographical.”
You can’t conceivably be equating fair use of media for critique to you downloading illegally. And I don’t watch anything illegally, whether on this blog or elsewhere, precisely because to do so would make me a hypocrite.
Let me break this down for you, pahtna: you pay for cable, therefore you have purchased the right to view your shows on cable. You have paid for DVDs, therefore you have the right to view your DVDs. If you’ve purchased your media in digital format, you have the right to view it digitally, but neither of your previous investments mean that you have purchased the right to download the shows illegally. Is that clear enough?
@Mnemosyne: I had no idea it was created by a woman, have never watched it, and don’t plan to. I also didn’t comment on it directly though, so maybe you have a point.
I for one, *did* criticize “The Practice” for it’s 2 dimensional representation of the “Rebecca Washington” character (a black woman, portrayed by an actor who I happen to think is wonderful). I am not a black woman, FTR. I’m pretty certain that The Practice was created in large part, by a white man, though. FTR, I’m not a white man either.
I’m not so sure, in this case whether or not you are reaching or not. I think if you were to say that criticism of this variety often comes from people who are white and male, than I couldn’t argue with that. The opinions of white males are pretty over-represented, IMO.
@Mnemosyne: I think there’s some of that. I think there was also a lot of euphoric critical coverage of the show before it came out, including “best new show” and “voice of a generation” stuff. I’m hard-pressed to think of a show with that kind of glowing critical reception that doesn’t have a furious critical minority attacking it.
Of course, it’s unquestionable that there’s sexist critics of the show. Throw a rock at an average comment thread and you’ll find someone saying “Girls sucks because Lena Dunham isn’t hot enough to be naked on my TV”. But I also think the show’s defenders have taken these sexist criticisms (which show up in the dregs of the Internet for any show that a woman has written for, starred in, or watched) as a reason to mount a crusade in the show’s defense.
I think the gender/sexism angle is why you’re seeing so many critics writing huge manifestoes either for or against the show. But not just because the critics are sexist, but because any serious critic of the show is going to spend a lot of time explaining just why they’re not a sexist.
Though you tend to be on the wordy side, every once in a while you cut right to the chase.
@Damien: Well, allow me to formally invite you to police my content.
And bullshit that you don’t watch things illegally. The frequency of videos removed for content violation on the internet is legion. If you use the internet you have done so yourself. If you want to wave that over my head, then I hope you stay the hell off of youtube. The difference between you and I, is that I’m mindful enough to admit it, and I delete what I do not watch. I pay for what I do watch, and then some. If a few slip through the cracks, it’s generally not for long.
Also, would you like to share with me the link that says distribution mechanism constitutes how I am allowed to watch something, because I haven’t seen it. On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of copyright law that states that I have a right to “back up” digital copies of my media. I’ve done so. I am free to watch whatever the hell I’ve paid for, whether it’s on my hard drive or on a DVD.
Just because you are a thief doesn’t mean that I must necessarily be one. Yes, there are a lot of videos taken down from the internet for content violation, and I admit that I used to frequent those kinds of things, but for the last 3 years at least, I’ve made a serious effort to avoid violating copyrights. Why? Because my own livelihood depends on respect for the rule of law in this regard, and I can’t justify ignoring it.
Further, you defeat your own argument with your final sentence: yes, you are free to watch your own DVDs, whether on the disc or your drive. 100% true. However, I believe your wording is telling:
You aren’t paying for your TPB thievery, thus QED you should not be free to watch it.
I find it curious that you continually try to drag me to your level by insisting that I really actually do steal media. Hell, man, I bought Photoshop!
@Djur: My criticisms of network and cable TV center mainly around two things:
1. The endless barrage of advertisements that constitute nothing more than mind-pollution and do little more than serve to justify the explosion of an entire industry we could do without.
2. “Push media”. Shoving eleventybillion bits of content at you that you would have been better off not knowing about. The myriad of “reality” TV bullshit for starters. 900 channels of junk that you have to rearrange your life for if you ever want to watch the few things that may be decent or informative. The signal to noise ratio is so astoundingly low as to make the entire thing basically useless. Admittedly, were it not for Google, I’d level the same criticism at the internet itself.
@Mnemosyne: “I don’t remember people who were upset that Jason Reitman was a director’s son and therefore Thank You For Smoking or Up In the Air had to be dismissed out of hand. I guess it’s just a co-inkydink that this subject only arises when the work we’re talking about comes from Sofia Coppola or another privileged woman.”
The difference is that Thank You For Smoking kicked massive ass and Up in the Air was at least competent entertainment. I don’t think you can compare Reitman to female versions of Pauly Shore.
@Djur: Being of the “the medium is the message” school of thought, I do think there’s a big difference between actively seeking out targeted, specific forms of entertainment/education and just setting your Tivo to whatever sounds good. I know it sounds like a thin line, but having experienced it myself, I’d say the difference is actually huge. For me, it’s about not having a default option. All options are going to take some element of thought or planning, so I almost always make a different choice than I would if I had streaming or pre-recorded television.
That said, I have never been to Pirate Bay, to my knowledge. I’m just assuming it takes some seeking to get to.
@gaz: That’s more useful than “Fuck Television”. For what it’s worth, Girls is an HBO show, which means it’s mostly free of both of those things.
@slag: There’s nothing stopping you from being selective in what you watch with your DVR. There’s also nothing stopping you from being indiscriminate in what you download — the more sophisticated file-download software is as convenient to use as any cable service’s On Demand offering.
@Damien: I am free to watch anything I’ve paid for, whether it came from the TPB or not.
I bought Earthling (David Bowie) album twice. After the disc getting damaged for the second time, I downloaded it. I’ve already PAID for the right to listen to it. That’s what you are buying. You are not buying the physical medium. You are paying for the right to view (or in this case listen) to it. If you want to provide a link to support your claim, fine. Otherwise, get bent.
Can we get back to first principles here? What in the world can it mean for you to say that you shut your TV off 15 years ago because it’s just shoveling shit at you constantly if in the next breath you say how much TV you watch and even that you PAY FOR A CABLE SUBSCRIPTION?
So, because you have a subscription to FX, that entitles you to save to your personal hard drive anything that has ever been on FX? Do you check their listings to make sure everything you download has been on the air while you have had your subscription? If you download a movie that aired on FX, do you make sure to download the version edited for television? You see how this devolves into something ridiculous very quickly, don’t you?
At least have the forthrightness to say that you’re flouting the law and don’t really give a shit about it. Or that you are using a definition of “legal” that doesn’t really conform with the way that human beings use words, generally.
Also, if you pay for cable, you’re paying to support Toddlers & Tiaras. Enjoy.
@Djur: That’s true. But that’s not the difference to which I was referring. The difference is one of convenience.
Like many others, I think that the convenience attribute drives a lot of what we consume in our culture. We’re overfed in a lot of respects–media being only one of them. So, sometimes, making things a little less convenient has a value in itself. Personally, I see media as one of those things. This is not something I necessarily would have foreseen when I had television. But I see it now that I don’t have it.
@Djur: FTR, I’ve been actively monitoring Netflix to watch their catalog. If they can expand it well beyond where it is last time I checked, include more foreign shows, and more of the lesser watched but much loved programs (seems to be the kind I usually tend to enjoy – unfortunately for me) I’d snap it up in a heartbeat. It’d be way more convenient for me to deliver Netflix right to my television than it would for me to go through the various contortions I must make to use my existing setup.
If I wasn’t paying so much for cable just to get the occasional Mexico news broadcast, I may have done so already.
For now though, I’ll stick with what I’ve got going on. It works for me, and if somebody decides to try and prosecute me over it, well I guess I’ll take my lumps. I’m pretty safe anyway, considering the majority of my content I still have the physical media for. Probably the largest thing I don’t yet is breaking bad – I’d prefer the box set – and apparently I’ll have to wait for season 5 to be done before I get that (assuming that will be the finale) They’ve already got my money earmarked though. Hell, if they don’t like that, they can sue me. I won’t lose any sleep over my current methods.
@Damien: Actually, I believe gaz is right that if he (gaz, is that the correct pronoun?) owns a copy of the work, downloading it without paying is not a problem. I am not a IP lawyer and it has been years since I had a course in this and I am too lazy to look it up, but, IIRC, if you own a dvd and it is in your home and you download a pirated copy to watch on your laptop in a hotel somewhere, you are okay.
Do not rely on this as legal advice.
Also too, I watched an episode of Girls for the first time this weekend and I found it funny. I won’t seek it out, but if it is on I would watch future episodes.
@Omnes Omnibus: Well, if you met me in person, calling me “he” might make you a bit more uncomfortable than it would make me, as I’m used to it – esp on my laser days when I have to grow whats left of my facial hair) (being trans* and all), particularly online. I tend to roll with it.
Generally, people would take one look at my tits and think otherwise, by YMMV =)
@gaz: That’s why I asked. I try to abide by an individual’s personal preference. You know, following Oscar Wilde’s maxim that a gentleman never offends anyone unintentionally, and all that.
Shorter Gaz: TV sucks, and I haven’t watched it for 15 years. But now I’ll occupy fully half the thread talking about it.
As someone noted earlier, it’s tiresome fuckwits like you that ruin TV threads.
Freddie, I think there’ve always been shows as vapid and uninteresting as Girls. It’s just that Girls happened to hit at your particular saturation point.
I think the timing of a show, wrt our own lives, makes a big difference. Someone upthread mentioned how My So-Called Life shared a lot of the qualities that annoyed Freddie about Girls. And I can completely see that, now. But at the time? I couldn’t imagine a better show on TV. I’ll always have a soft spot for it. That doesn’t mean the criticisms aren’t valid – it just means that I was the right audience for it, at the right time. So I imagine that there are quite a few people out there for whom Girls is My So-Called Life. Weird to say that, but I’d bet it’s true.
@Omnes Omnibus: Generally, she. And I do appreciate you asking. It doesn’t hurt either way, but pardon me if I came across snarky in that respect. Seriously, I appreciate the question. =)
That’s not what I said at all. Since you can’t be bothered to actually read what I said with any kind of context, and I’ve posted too much on the subject already, go ahead and continue blathering.
@gaz: No prob.
@Fargus: I already expounded in on my distaste for television, and why I specifically don’t care for it, on a previous comment up thread. If you can’t be bothered to read what I wrote specifically in this regard, that sounds like a personal problem. Don’t make it my problem.
ETA: In fact, it’s right above where you started spewing.
Here’s a tip: Read, then spew, not the other way around.
You said you watched some stuff from FX, a TV channel that you have and pay for. I was inquiring as to the limits of what you’re allowed to download from The Pirate Bay, since you didn’t really make that clear. Did you ensure that all of the stuff you downloaded that had been on FX was stuff that had specifically been available to you to watch while you had had access to the cable channel? Do you really think that this kind of argument (it was once on a cable channel that I have in my package, so I have the right to download it and save it to my hard drive) is persuasive?
And I still haven’t really seen an answer to what it can possibly mean that you turned your TV off 15 years ago but still have a cable subscription and watch a bunch of TV.
Yes, you expounded on that and then talked about how you still pay for cable and buy DVDs of television and download television from the Pirate Bay. So what in the world does it mean that you “turned your TV off 15 years ago”?
For once I would like to read a critique of this show (pro or con) that discussed whether the show made the writer laugh.
I like Girls because I think the characters are funny. It’s really that simple.
@Fargus: FTR, the cable is primarily at my spouses request, and for my roomates. I’ve indulged in a bit of news from Mexico here and there. Some of us don’t live alone. – usually when my wife is watching and says something like “holy shit, look what’s going on in Oaxaca!”, i’ll tune in for a few minutes.
Psst: right here
You mean the comment where you bemoan advertising, and then talk about how TV is worthless because a lot of it is crap? I don’t think either of those points is in dispute. But I don’t understand how you’re making this critique of “TV” where you seem to mean “all the stuff I don’t like about TV,” all the while excluding stuff like Deadwood and Breaking Bad from your definition. If you watch Deadwood and Breaking Bad, you watch TV. And good, because they’re awesome.
Look, you don’t need to be an asshole. I’m happily married as well. I’m legitimately confused about your saying the medium of television is completely worthless and in the next breath saying you enjoy a lot of television.
@Egg Berry: Not in scripted TV, no. But on reality TV, yes. There was a trans girl on one season of America’s Next Top Model. And while they did make a point of letting everyone know she was transgender, they also did try to treat her just like one of the girls. So if we’re talking pop culture TV, that’s something.
To add to the trans character discussion, it was just a one-off episode, but there was an episode of Veronica Mars where a kid is looking for his father and finds out he’s had a sex change, and the show handles the character in a mature, adult way, and pretty much entirely without judgment. But that’s not surprising, considering VM was one of the most openly liberal shows I’ve ever seen.
These old man problems are so Loose Butthole.
Oh, bs. One of the most brilliant lines in film, from ‘Heathers’:
“They had nothing left to offer the school but date rape and AIDS jokes.”
And thus did Christian Slater justify a double-murder. You can most certainly joke about crack, AIDS, 9/11. Whatever. ‘Girls’ is never going to have the cultural relevance that ‘Heathers’ does, that’s the issue.
Good God there’s a lot of self-righteous in this thread.
@Fargus: You’ll have to scroll up further for that, but it’s there too.
@gaz: No… we watched the Mexican re-make of it, “La Fea Mas Bella.” You just don’t know your Mexican Spanish from your Colombian Spanish. It’s okay. I still love you. :)
I started going back through, but the signal to noise ratio in your comments makes it hard to discern what the answer to this question actually is, or what you think it is. It seems that you disapprove of all the trappings of television (advertisements, shows you don’t like, etc.), so you choose to get it through alternate means. Great. That’s fine. But if everybody followed your model and bought on DVD after air or illegally downloaded, then there would be nothing to buy on DVD or illegally download. I don’t like advertisements, but sometimes I can swallow the fact that they’re the price of admission for some storytelling that I love.
I don’t have cable anymore, but when last I did, it was pretty much solely so I could watch Breaking Bad the second it was on, commercials and all. Now that I don’t have cable anymore, I am going to buy the episodes online and watch them the day after they air, rather than engage in some silly rationalization about how illegally downloading it would just be shifting a purchase I intended to make in the future.
@gaz’s wife: Lol, okay, I suck. It’s in spanish and you told me it was Mexican, but then I googled for the title (since I forgot) – and teh googlez claimed Columbian. How many remakes of this show exist?
@Fargus: Good for you. I’ll pretend I care for just a second, so you can feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Okay, I’m done pretending.
@Fargus: In gaz’s defense: we never had cable. We didn’t own a TV. Then we got married and we both had to make some concessions. I do think gaz is a bit ridiculous on the “I don’t watch TV” what-have-you but I do provoke a lot of it by watching utter crap.
It must be sad being you. I hope things get better, really and truly.
ETA: Sorry, that’s nastier than I ought to be. I just don’t see why you need to lash out like fucking CRAZY at everybody. There’s a conversation to be had here, but you seem to be actively pushing everybody out of it. I think you’ve got interesting stuff to say, but you make it really hard to want to hang out to see it. That’s all.
@Fargus: gaz has a sad ‘cuz America’s Next Top Model took over media space that should’ve rightly been used for “quality” programming.
You’re absolutely right. I don’t need to be. It’s just a pleasant hobby when a bunch of strangers want to pearl-clutch over my low opinion of cable and network TV, or the sanctity of copyright, or the “moral high ground” of allowing themselves to be subjected to endless commercials.
Phear me! I said “The Pirate Bay” ZOMG. Fucking lolz
Oh, believe me, I’ve got no room to talk on utter crap. I tend not to watch it anymore, but I had a regrettably extended period where I watched more VH1 than was healthy for anybody. But that’s part of the landscape of TV, right? It’s not the whole thing. TV includes the Kardashians, but it also includes Breaking Bad. There’s the good and the awful. I don’t have a problem accepting that there’s some really good stuff going on in the medium that isn’t cancelled out by the horrific stuff going on in other quarters.
I would like to quote from this post, and say of it that:
I agree with almost every individual point, and this kind of cultural commentary and pushback is essential. And yet there’s another level of consciousness that [it doesn’t] meet.
That ‘level of consciousness’ acknowledges both that our popular culture is indeed saturated in class disparity, and yet:
1. we have been demanding for decades that all media observers, and particularly “people like VanDerWerff,” address misogyny in popular culture;
2. not every essay and blog comment can address the weight of disparity in attention to the stories of specific sexes / races / classes that infests our popular culture;
3. one small piece’s specific focus on an aspect of said disparity (say, class) can always (and legitimately) be criticized on the grounds that it does not address others (for instance, the culture’s persistent heterosexism and ableism);
4. Said criticism, if made without care and some knowledge of the persons and work involved, can lead to pointless and repetitive victim olympics, defeating the entire purpose of the conversation, and doing needless damage to the progress represented by the initial commentary; and
5. therefore, in making such criticism, one should carefully tend to the beam in one’s own eye, and refrain from needlessly laying specific accusations of shortcoming at specific people without knowing what the fuck those specific people’s shortcomings happen to be. In particular, phrases such as “in my experience, people like VanDerWerff” are truly pathetic, invalid stand-ins for actual reading and actual criticism.
I say this, again, while agreeing 100% with the overall point that it is essential that we achieve greater diversity of class represention in our mainstream popular culture.
As a genre, reflexive and context-free criticism of affluent white ‘strivers’ is getting to be as tired as the overexposure of said strivers’ precious struggling on TV (and even moreso is the rather privileged loading of that term for maximal sneering disrespect.) The insinuation that VanDerWerff and his friends only identify with the ‘strivers’ because he and they are feckless ‘strivers’ themselves would carry a lot more weight with a bit of evidence behind it.
I’m not pearl-clutching over your having one opinion or another. You’re welcome to them. I am just honestly confused that two of the stated opinions seem to conflict with one another, that’s all. I’m interested in how you reconcile them, because whether or not you believe me, I have read all of your comments, and I haven’t really discerned the answer there (perhaps my shortcoming, that’s entirely possible).
I have a lot of disdain for a lot of the distribution methods of television, but I have a lot of love for a good deal of actual television content. It may be that we’re saying something similar and talking past each other.
@Fargus: Apparently because I choose an alternate medium for TV, and push back against any advertising in my life, I’m nothing more than thief. Despite the fact that I pay for my shows, and even pay for my cable.
Look, my initial comment was short, and along the lines of “Fucking TV rots your brain”
If you did actually read all my comments, when I was called out on that, I clarified and said “Network TV, and Cable TV sucks”, I specifically outlined why I have a problem with it, (even linked it for you previously)
I don’t have a problem with some of the shows. I agree with you about shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire and Deadwood, for example.
That said, there is SO MUCH GARBAGE on TV it really doesn’t justify the occasional bright spot. The overwhelming majority of network and cable TV sucks.
And one further point, it is PRECISELY NETWORK AND CABLE NEWS that is absolutely poisoning the well of american politics. I dare you to try to watch the news. I fucking dare you. It’s an embarrassment, and not healthy for this country. So there’s that too.
I don’t use their delivery medium. If I engage in a bit of occasional and temporary theft (and I assure you, it’s temporary, because I watch shows over and over, the shows I watch repeatedly, I BUY), then get the fuck over it. I pay for my TV, and aside from an occasional throwaway show I download and decide I don’t like (boo hoo I’ve watched a few episodes of garbage before I delete) then I think the industry will survive anyway. Comcast certainly will, and so will fox news.
The whole thieving bastard thing is utter bullshit, and nobody that has ever used Youtube more than 3 times can claim they’ve never seen something they were supposed to pay for, but didn’t.
So in the end, I’ll sleep just fine. If you can’t find the consistency in my opinion it’s because you are either not reading me carefully enough, or you are being willfully obtuse, as I’ve clearly outlined my position, and even linked you to it.
Please don’t attribute to me things I didn’t say. I never said anything about you being a thieving bastard. I’m not sure I totally buy your justification about downloading, but my hands aren’t clean there, historically, so I can’t really speak to it. But that was somebody else doing the pushing on you on that, so don’t act like it was me.
I politely disagree that the garbage on TV makes the bright spots not worth it. I’ve seen the quality of the best of TV going up dramatically even as the crappiest of crappy TV has reached new depths of crappiness. But as I’ve got the option of not watching it, I don’t spend my nights wishing that Breaking Bad didn’t exist just so that Jersey Shore also wouldn’t exist.
I don’t spend my nights wishing that Breaking Bad didn’t exist just so that Jersey Shore also wouldn’t exist.
Yeah, as much as I lament the latter, without it the former doesn’t stand a chance. Somebody’s got to pay for all that infrastructure, and it sure ain’t fans of The Wire, even with HBO being as expensive as it is.
All I was ever saying was “hey, all tv isn’t so bad, check out breaking bad, the wire etc” and then you said “fuck you and go watch your toddlers and tiaras, i’mma be here downloading/watching breaking bad”
Actually, @gaz, you’re being an asshole because you’re acting like an entitled, whiny child who refuses to recognize the inherent thieving nature of your ways.
OTOH, you make me proud to be part of a species that can engage in such intellectual somersaults to justify its own lazy, sanctimonious positions. But hey, whatever makes your theft easier to swallow, I suppose.
Two can play the asshole game, thief.
You’re right, that wasn’t you. That was several other posters, one of whom didn’t even have a tenuous grasp of copyright law. But it is a big reason at this point, that I’m pissed over this shit. So I apologize.
We definitely disagree about the delivery medium of television. The way it works now makes people stupid and jaded over the long haul, IMO. We end up talking about the wrong things, focusing on the wrong things, worshiping Mammon, and instilling the wrong sort of wants in our children. I for one, feel that the generational impact of TV is a net loss. I’d like to encourage TV show producers to find another way. Buying the DVD collections, or even ad free, pull-based direct delivery (like what Netflix aspires to) is hopeful. I’ve stated repeatedly now that I stalk netflix, in hopes that it’s catalog makes it viable for me to use. Right now, it doesn’t. I want that to change. When it does, I’ll pony up and cancel my cable.
But please, don’t ascribe to me words I didn’t say, either. I don’t spend my nights wishing that shows like Jersey Shore don’t exist either. But if they didn’t, and Breaking Bad didn’t exist either as a consequence, I’d survive just fine. I’d be reading instead of watching it, and often do anyway. Or maybe I’d watch a good movie.
The current system of cable and TV content is bullshit. We have the technology to do much better, but nobody (consumers or especially the execs) have any interest in changing that.
I’ve been waiting for MBone based delivery for the past 2 decades. Now that those have passed, we don’t really need mbone because broadband has outstripped the need, and Netflix is a step in the right direction. It’s just too early.
I won’t reward the existing infrastructure though, where I can avoid it – as my wife said, I made some concessions because we are married. You can do what you like. I’ll continue to do what I like, based on my own values and opinions of the state of things.
@Damien: I’m still waiting for that link.
But only one of us is any good at it.
Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that you were thinking what I said. It was more a way to characterize what I saw as a “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” situation. Yes, if Breaking Bad didn’t exist anymore, I’d live my life. But I still find plenty of time to read as well as watching television, and I find that the best examples of both are enriching in different ways. I don’t think that the worst examples of either unredeemably indict the form.
@gaz: What link are you talking about? Do you need me to actually cite case law for you?
@Fargus: I’d like to be clear that I never demanded that anybody stop doing anything. I made an observation of my firmly held belief that TV rots your brain (and yeah, I think it does, by subjecting people to so much noise that it’s impossible to filter it all out). I stated that I turned my TV off 15 years ago. It was not YOU SHOULD TOO.
I also stated that nobody seems much interested in changing the way it works.
To be clear, I didn’t tell any one of you what to do, in this regard. That I have a distaste for it is fine.
I’ll indict it, and disagree with you. When I’m prodded I’ll be an asshole. I was an asshole on this thread. That some of this directed at you was more a product of
A) Me being pissed at all the accusations of thievery – which are bullshit, despite what Damian thinks he knows.
B) You seemingly disregarding comments I made that I felt were very clear. By the time you chimed in, I had already heard more than enough, and probably should have abandoned the thread.
For what it’s worth, I don’t really care what you do at the end of the day. I won’t indict your choice personally. I may insult you if you piss me off, which you did at first (my perception which probably wasn’t justified), and I apologize. I was pissed before you even joined this thread, because by then I was already a hipster, a thief, inconsistent, etc. Still, having taken a deep breath, I’m sorry specifically, for being an asshole to YOU.
We disagree on the system of television as it exists. That much is clear. Still, in the next thread, it doesn’t count for anything.
Aside from the trolls, and the worst among the commenters (like the rape apologists) I reboot and reset on other threads. I have a firm policy regarding that.
This one was my ANGRY thread. I do one of those about once or twice a month.
Also, more for the general thread than anything:
Sanctimony: Insincerity by virtue of pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really.
I assure the thread that my beliefs are in fact mine. I assure the thread that I believe them firmly, and attempt to live by them. I assure the thread that I think cable TV and network TV are basically poison.
To the thread: If you want to participate in that mess, go ahead. But judge me for choosing to do what I do, and brace yourself for my wrath. That’s just how it is.
Again, to you Fargus, I apologize, and I understand that my initial anger at you wasn’t really fair. There were a lot of upthread comments and the points where I think you had missed what I was saying were probably because I wasn’t more clear. I could have handled that better, and I didn’t.
@Damien: I have a limit of 3 times of making a request before telling you to get bent. The last one was the third time. Deal with it.
What link would you like exactly? This is where the communication breaks down. Because you’re asking me to cite established civil case law regarding intellectual property. Did I ever, at any point, say that you ripping your own DVDs was illegal? No, I fully support that.
However, where you appear to be dim is what it means when you illegally download something, i.e. making a copy of something that is not yours. Let me say it as slowly as I possibly can:
THAT. IS. THE. ESSENCE. OF. COPYRIGHT. VIOLATION.
Why do you think TPB has been forced to settle their violations? Why do you think MegaUpload was taken down? Honestly, if you want to contort your misunderstanding of IP law to justify your theft, go for it. But Christ, just admit that’s what you’re doing.
@Sentient Puddle: I’m 97 comments deep and tired of this thread aside from sentient puddles excellent comment. I have never gOtten more enjoyment out of live action TV than shows from the past decade (just finished 4 episodes of Veronica mars), if you don’t like a show don’t watch it.
Both “Bored to Death” and “Girls” are aimed at a very, very small audience that HBO hopes will add subscriptions (hi NYC, where I currently live!), and frankly the former is about 10 times funnier and and a dozen times less realistic. I don’t think people watch shows to relive their own lives but to discover someone else’s. Look, either the show is A good vehicle for carrying the characters and their experiences or it isn’t, I just laugh at the idea that this show has any meaning outside getting paying eyeballs and making people glad that neither they nor their kid is the lead girl. And for what it’s worth, even in the heart of Williamsburg you’d have to dig deep to find a story as discomforting and offputting as this one.
*Also, apologies for odd capitalizations, this is from my eyephone.
Maybe that period should have been a comma. TV hasn’t in fact been excellent for the last decade or so. Reality TV, the banality of most shows, the horrid and ever lengthening of commercials, plus the hammering repetition of them.
Of course if you know where to look you can find good stuff. I agree. But since looking through your average programming list means sifting through mountains of garbage (like 500 channels) in the hopes of finding the one or two good shows that are playing that day (if you are fortunate) involves way more mental pollution than it is worth, I look on TPB instead. And even when finding that one show when you are lucky, you are again subject to a bunch of noise in the forms of advertisements and crap.
It was that banal comment that inspired my vitriol at you.
It’s not ONE show that indicts television. It’s the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of them.
And on ads?
I propose a homework assignment. Watch television for a few hours (either spread throughout the day, or in one go) and count the number of different commercials you see, versus the number of repeats of the same advertisement. You’ll start to see what I mean when I say hammering noise.
I think most people do want to see their stories up there, at least among all the others. Being on TV is, let’s face it, seen as a kind of validation of your place in society; seeing someone like you on the screen not being shit on is essentially an acknowledgment that you or your kind (however you may define that) count–that what you care about counts.
@PanurgeATL: I get the validation part, but I don’t think that that comes exclusively from watching people repeat the exact same experiences you had. I relate to characters “like” me, regardless of whether it is a cartoon, an HBO show, or reality TV (actually, no I can’t relate to that).
Anyways, Freddie and a lot of other folks here have neither the disposition nor frame of reference necessary to enjoy girls. Its a very niche show, so I’m not surprised. I feel like somehow this is being made to be a larger critique of television, which I find to be very good right now (meaning, over the past 5-10 years which is how long it takes me to catch up on television).
Also, the first three books of a Song of Fire and Ice are some of my favorite fictional narrative of… I don’t know when. So if it takes a little Girls to get shows like The Wire, Deadwood, Bored to Death, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos… etc. Then so be it.
Well, I’ll come out and admit I like “Girls.” But then again I’m white and went to college and majored in a humanities discipline and grew up in New York, so there’s that.
@gaz: Most books are vacuous bullshit too, so you may want to consider condemning reading as well. And back before TV most published books were truly awful, not even on the level of a decent sitcom.
In short, anyone who thinks “The Wire” or “Breaking Bad” have no artistic merit is simply a snob.
why you felt the need to comment on a show you no longer watch is beyond me, freddie. oh yeah and i didn’t bother to read the last half of your post or anything past the 10th or so comment to honor your lack of knowledge about something you’re posting.
@gaz: The overwhelming majority of books are worthless garbage – especially if you count the ones that actually sell more than a thousand copies. There is no difference in quality between TV and books, it is simply that intelligent people have an easier time filtering out the crap.
I’m pretty sure that on every TV thread in the history of internet, the “Fuck TV, it rots your brain” is responsible for half the comments.
I’m pretty sure that the fucking TV is responsible for most comments made anywhere
Everything said to praise this show makes it sound repellent
Hell, neutral descriptions of the events within it make it sound repellent
I know plenty of people like the characters; they are hangers-on to my employed, sans rich-parents friends in NYC, and they are pretty loathsome examples of privilege
They all stand a much better chance of finding jobs than the American population at large according to statistics but they would have to move somewhere else to get them and they can’t stand the idea of giving up their perceived illusion of status
Instead they talk shit and steal from each other
After having to put up with the parent-supported acquaintances of my friends in NYC, I can’t think of a better argument against the spread of American culture than the above
Validating these people’s lifestyles is poison for this country
Really what we need (and what we’re inevitably going to get) is a realignment of American values back toward the global norm of twenty-somethings living with their parents until they have the means to set up an independent household
In other words, the major “crisis” of Girls will be revealed as a crock of shit
Jesus Christ but the last 40 comments completely blew away the first 150 in terms of self-righteousosity.
First of all, I don’t get cable so I’m watching shows a year or more old, and a few that I stream online for a couple of bucks – still cheaper than cable).
Well written: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, (back in time) Deadwood, and many others, most premium cable offerings.
Well acted – all the above and Justified (about people of middle class and rural poverty, a different culture than mostly represented), Sons of Anarchy (ostensibly about family, kind of a King Lear, Oedipus vibe), The Killing.
None of these are about entitled, rich kids finding themselves. The bosses in Madmen are part of the upper middle class (a few genuinely rich), but all the workers (and they are prime characters) are middle class or lower middle class. Madmen is about relationships, but it’s also about an earlier culture headed beyond modernity. The changes in culture, in society and the upshot of that. It shows how fast things were moving.
These are only a few. There are many more. In fact, I consider this a golden age in television.
“My So-Called Life. I hated this show. I Don’t Care About Whiny Privileged Children Who Think Being Told No Is The End Of The World. I’ve seen this trope over and over and gets no less boring. When they deal with real poverty, with going to bed hungry during college because you have to make that stipend and work paycheck last for the rest of the week-so only breakfast and a late lunch-then they can talk. Throw in that it’s always the white upper middle class being depicted and you just want to scream. ”
My So-Called Life was about a lot of things. Many of the students were not privileged and seeing the upper middle class kids become involved with them learn from them, witness their suffering as well as their joy was kind of the point. I didn’t watch it from the get go, but there were stories about class, about a young gay man, about drugs, about homelessness, poverty. So, maybe you saw a few where the character may have worried about the prom, but there was much more to it than that. It was also about kids who couldn’t afford the prom. It was about outcasts from that dominant middle class culture.
A) I praised both The Wire, and Breaking Bad. Maybe the reason you dislike books compared to mid-grade sitcoms is because of your poor reading comprehension.
B) I don’t get books shoveled at me. As I said like 30 times prior to your posting, my problem is the push-model and the advertising of TV. Again, apparently you don’t read very well.
@Corner Stone: You are responding to yourself. Here comes the clue by four – Nobody cares what the fuck you think as evidenced by the fact that you are talking to yourself on this thread.