Week One Reflections

Lecture Key Concepts:
Our first lecture on Television Cultures was fairly introductory and outlined what kind of capabilities we can assume to possess by the end of this semester. Some key things that were said:
– We will be approaching our analysis of television shows much like films were analysed in Introduction to Cinema Studies. This is good news as I’ve already got a lot of lingo under my belt from said course.
– We broke down the definitions of ‘television’ and ‘culture’ and, as can be expected, there is no single definition for either.
– Brian offered a variety of suggestions for blog posts. Some of these included:
: straight-up analysis of scenes from TV shows.
: personal reflection on theories and opinions discussed in lectures, tutes and blogs.

Screening/s from the Lecture:
Hollywood: The Rise Of TV:
I was honestly enthralled by the documentary shown in the first lecture. It was interesting to get an insight into the television medium directly via the commentary of producers, writers, directors and other media professionals.
This is not to say I agreed with all points made in the film. Early on, NYPD Blue co-creator Steve Bochco suggested that television allows for a “tapestry of story and character… inconceivable in any other medium”. Are novels not a medium? My attention instantly turned to my current TV obsession and fantasy epic  inspired by the George R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire novels: Game of Thrones. Having both watched the first two seasons of Game of Thrones and read halfway through the first of Martin’s novels, I can say that the former is a superbly abridged version of the latter. If anything, then, novels allow for Bochco’s TV “tapestries” to be expanded upon given the production constraints a TV series possesses that a novel does not.

Readings Assigned:
The past is another country – Graeme Blundell:
“… the idea of film – small sheets of plastic that recorded images when exposed to light – became obsolete… Somewhere towards the end of the decade we passed that defining moment when the public was unable to tell the difference between a movie or TV show originating on digital video or 35mm film.”
The death of the book in relation to Internet’s emergence seems applicable here. With the Internet came e-books, blogs and more readily accessible and practical means of obtaining knowledge. In the shadow of the Internet’s emergence, some media commentators believe that books are appealing less and less to audiences world wide. Similarly, the affordances of shooting digitally are eclipsing those of shooting on 35mm film and, consequently, we could see the disappearance of 35mm film more rapidly than the book. This is alarming for people that hold to traditions of cinema – those who fear we will come to forget our film ancestors such as the Lumiere brothers. As long as we’ve got the likes of Quentin Tarantino around though, it looks like we’ll be constantly reminded of our filmic origins.

“I also liked Big Brother for the way the show blurred the conventional boundaries between fact and fiction, drama and documentary.”
In a way, the “conventional boundaries between fact and fiction” were experimented with in a far more sophisticated manner at the start of the millenium. Davids Simon and Mills’ 2000 HBO miniseries The Corner, a precursor to The Wire, used seemingly authentic interview material during the prologues to each episode. These interviews were in fact scripted and the interviewees were actors who had roles beyond the prologues.

Why Do I Love Television So Very Much? – Alan McKee:
I find that, in general, McKee undermines what he is saying through his hypocrisy: he attacks the attitude of superiority associated with art in a tone so overt that I feel he is advocating a similar mentality be attached to television. That being said, McKee does touch on some points I agree with but unfortunately doesn’t go into too much depth anywhere.

Television truly is “cross-demographic” for its episodic nature. Each episode sees an opportunity for a niche audience to be appealed to, particularly in the sitcom.

Why Study Television?
According to Drake Bennett’s article, studying television can support a great range of subjects studied at university. Film studies, media studies and “social science disciplines” have become involved with studies of The Wire for its multi-faceted realism. From a television studies perspective, it seems important to study this form of media for its impact on culture inside and outside of academia.

Blundell, G: ‘The Past Is Another Country’ in The Australian, January 19, 2011. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/the-past-is-another-country/story-e6frg8qo-1225991177193. Viewed July 21, 2012
McKee, S: ‘Why Do I Love Television So Very Much? ’ in Flow Journal, March 9, 2007. http://flowtv.org/2007/03/why-do-i-love-television-so-very-much/. Viewed July 21, 2012
Bennett, D: ‘This Will Be on the Midterm. You Feel Me?’ in Slate, March 24, 2010. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2010/03/this_will_be_on_the_midterm_you_feel_me.html. Viewed July 21, 2012.

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