Hello! Welcome to my first post. This entry is just going to be covering all the ‘must dos’ as listed here. Entry 1 and I’m playing it safe.
Blundell’s piece about the (rather) recent development of tv from a time wasting machine into a medium which has effectively developed into a sophisticated storytelling device is very agreeable. Blundell highlights what tv has done to prove itself as a medium against all those naysayers who once believed it to be a dead, waiting to be overtaken by internet culture.
My favourite paragraph from this article was when Blundell spoke about his (and my) favourite tv program The Sopranos, he says “[T]he experience was like reading a great novel about the human condition that became more intimate and compelling with every page, even if occasional chapters were missing. I loved its Byzantine plotting, psychological intricacies and the way creator David Chase took risks, asking questions instead of providing answers.” Unlike film where the audience is expecting a neat resolution and resulting satisfaction from their 90 minute commitment, TV programs don’t feel that it’s their obligation to viewers to feed their audience a neat little story package.
I personally am a very selfish movie viewer: if the ending is too ambiguous or not neatly crafted, I leave feeling annoyed. But then I love The Sopranos and I had no issue with arguably their most ambiguous ending of a TV series of all time. Maybe it’s that sense of ‘reality’- life doesn’t always end up neat and happy with credits at the end. Having never studied tv or film to any great depth before my guesses on why this is are just as good as the next guy’s, however I think it has something to do with time- we’re given time to understand the depths of these characters we’ve grown to love and to hate and the simple fact that we feel like we know these people we can trust the realism in the story, that way we come to expect nothing more or nothing less than a sense of realism. I don’t know really, clearly I’m no theorist.
When Blundell speaks about the lack of really engrossing Australian TV productions, I agree. I don’t believe that our rather empty pool of ‘high quality’ TV productions is a failing on our behalf, we are just a small nation, with a much smaller number of TV channels and a much smaller arts community than say our big sister America. Also this ‘sophistication’ of TV is still pretty new, I believe we’ll be okay, in the mean time I’m content with my Game of Thrones, my Sopranos and my Breaking Bad because what make these programs so great in my eyes at least is that we become so wrapped in the story of the characters, that the location is irrelevant.
I really dig this article, though it gets a little bit too ranty- I think personally Alan needs to find new, less ‘arty’ friends, there’s just so much personal opinion going on in here that I don’t really feel like our friend Mr Mckee is trying to persuade us one way or another- I think he’s just letting it all loose. There is one paragraph though that received a little bit of reation from your truly, and that’s this: “I am joyful in the encounters it offers with difference. Because television doesn’t make Art’s claims that those who have different pleasures are inferior. Television is, as John Hartley puts it so well, the ultimate ‘cross-demographic’ medium, the host of ‘the smiling professions’. Television doesn’t want to put anybody offside. Television wants to bring everybody into the audience, smiling.” I call BS. What about The Wire? What about The Sopranos? What about Twin Peaks? I would argue that there is definitely a cultural divide in TV programming, though this hasn’t been proved- I believe that if I went down to a low socio-economic area, let’s say visited the Broadmeadows Centrelink tomorrow (Thursday) and asked what the majority of what people watched, The Wire and other HBO programs loved by intellectuals and faux intellectuals alike wouldn’t rate too highly. The fact that you have to be of some higher economic background in order to pay subscriptions to receive access to these channels shows that TV can (and will) discriminate. TV is one medium but inside that medium there are undeniably huge cultural divides.
Hollywood: The Rise of TV (2005)
I’m keeping it brief now because I’ve written too much already, but basically I thought this doco was a fascinating look into the bourgeoning culture of TV. Though all the TV insiders interviewed in the film have different had experiences working in TV and they all foster different opinions of what’s so great and what’s so terrible about the business, one thing they all displayed, I believe anyway was the underrated-ness of TV as a whole. Though people worship their favorite TV programs, many seem to have for years taken for granted the level of depth and narrative possibility TV provides.
Why TV might be worth studying now in a University context?
I feel silly answering this question now because I think it’s pretty much covered in my previous statements in relation to TV becoming a new, sophisticated cultural medium. Why do we study film? Why do we study literature? It’s all pretty much the same answer as the answer to why do we study TV? They are all (I believe) equally important cultural reflections of our society.
I’m very excited for this semester!