In the opening sequence of this season’s Survivor television show, Survivor Caramoan, filmed in the Caramoan Islands of the Philippines, presenter Jeff Probst began his presentation of the program standing heroically atop a narrow rock spire, helicopters speeding past his precarious aerial perch.
Viewers naturally wondered: How on hell did CBS ever get Jeff Probst up there?
Happily, CBS has provided a 2:11 video demonstrating exactly how it all was done.
In this individual segment of a four-part series, Hector Ó hEochagáin (I think that would be “Hector O’Hogan” to you or me), as part of a personal investigation of important aspects of Irish life, goes out fox hunting with Ireland’s illustrious black-and-tan Scarteen pack.
The principal characters of Girls: Allison Williams (Marnie Michaels), Jemima Kirke (Jessa Johansson), Lena Dunham (Hannah Horvath), Zosia Mamet (Shoshanna Shapiro)
Kurt Schlichter, at Breitbart, issued a manifesto yesterday, demanding that conservatives take Lena Dunham’s appalling and bizarre HB0-comedy-series seriously.
There’s plenty about Girls to annoy conservatives, yet this often creepy, usually skeevy, critically-acclaimed HBO series is also a test for conservatives.
Will we finally heed Andrew Breitbart’s warnings about the importance of taking pop culture seriously or just keep fiddling as the culture burns?
If conservatives are going to be in the popular culture – and act to change it – they can’t simply ignore shows like Girls that capture the zeitgeist, even if the zeitgeist makes their skin crawl. Season two is well under way, and conservatives need to participate in the discussion.
Girls is about four young, aimless college grads living in New York. Think of Sex and the City, except Sarah Jessica Parker has doubled her weight, dresses like a potato sack and fancies herself the voice of some undefined generation. There’s sex and nudity – just not hot Homeland sex and nudity. This is the first show in the history of cable television where male viewers actively root for the heroine to keep her clothes on. ...
So, why should conservatives want any part of this?
The answer, if the fact that the show can be pretty amusing isn’t reason enough for you, is that conservatives need to be a part of big cultural events if they want to be a part of culture at large. But that begs the questions of why we conservatives would even want to be part of the culture at large. It’s a cesspool. And there’s an answer for that too – so we can participate in changing it.
I’m not sure what exactly Mr. Schlichter believes conservatives ought to do. Purchase half-an-hour of weekly air time after each Girls episode broadcasts to have some white male conservative of mature years offer a lecture on sexual morality?
Develop an alternative series, to be titled Good Girls, to be broadcast weekly on the Hallmark Network, depicting four religiously observant, socially conservative, and rationally behaving young ladies conventionally employed in Omaha, Nebraska or Salt Lake City?
Myself, I do undertake the effort (and it takes a bit of an effort) to watch the series. It certainly does have some moments of effective humor and amusement, but the life-style and perspective of the millennials depicted is actively embarrassing to watch. Lena Dunham’s frequent nude scenes and the regular depictions of inept, unsatisfying, and sometimes aspirationally perverse sex persistently gross one out. The viewer is left rather baffled at Dunham’s self-deprecatory exhibitionism, and winds up shaking his head and wondering: Do people of her generation routinely view themselves as that stupid and incompetent? And, if they do, why would they make a television program and tell everyone? There are no answers.
I suppose all we can do is write these sorts of editorials, marveling aloud, and wondering what the success and popularity of a television series like that tells us about just how far the Abendslands have Unterganged.
One correction: Oberlin is not, definitely not, an Ivy League school.
As to how it happens that our own Blue Ridge Hunt was recently filmed hunting at Persimmon Hill by a Korean NBC station for its news coverage. Principals featured included: retired Huntsman Chris Howells (releasing the hounds from the hounds truck), MFH Linda Armbrust and Huntsman Dennis Downing (both briefly commenting), and Charlie (dashing gallantly through the countryside).
Television’s Mythbusters had one of their experiments, apparently testing the velocity or the penetrating ability of a cannonball, go severely wrong. The projectile, intended to penetrate multiple barrels of water and a cinderblock then wind up buried in a hillside on an army base southeast of Oakland, instead sailed over the Diablo foothills and went right into the suburbs.
The misaimed cannonball went straight through the front door and the interior and exterior walls of one house in Dublin, California, then flew across a busy highway (luckily missing the passing cars), and took out the slate roof of a second house 50 yards away before coming to rest in a third family’s minivan.
I bet that program’s insurance will be markedly more costly next season.
Clay Shirky, in a new book titled Cognitive Surplus, maintains that the post-WWII age of suburbanization was one of those eras of abrupt, dislocating social change which left Americans morose and seeking for self-medication just like 18th century Englishmen driven by economic change from the countryside to the city.
They used gin, a new, potent yet inexpensive distilled spirit, whose method of production had arrived from Holland as part of the the fashionable baggage accompanying William and Mary. Americans used television.
Shirky contends that the Internet is bringing about the end of the age of self-narcotization via sitcoms and game shows. Leisure time sucked down the television time sink, the cognitive surplus simply wasted previously, will instead be transferred to more useful and communitarian activities (like writing Wikipedia entries and blogging) and a wonderful new era of transparency, creativity, and productivity will bloom.
Hmm. I wonder if he has ever heard of World of Warcraft.
Jonah Leher brings formidable Friedrich Nietzsche to television’s defense.
I would disagree. In some peculiar way, if I hadn’t watched and re-watched The Sopranos then this sentence wouldn’t exist. (And I would have missed out on many interesting, intelligent conversations…) The larger point, I guess, is that before we can produce anything meaningful, we need to consume and absorb, and think about what we’ve consumed and absorbed. That’s why Nietzsche, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, said we must become a camel (drinking up everything) before we can become a lion, and properly rebel against the strictures of society.
In the 1950’s ABC television Close-up! documentary series, John Daly interviews Vladimir Nabokov and Lionel Trilling, pt. 1—5:41 video—pt. 2 5:51 video
Nabokov lispingly delivers dismissive apothegms in an effete and frivolous style inevitably reminding one of Anthony Blanche, while Trilling is earnest, grave, serious, and sometimes just a bit obsequious.
“I don’t want to touch hearts, and I don’t even want to affect minds very much. What I want to produce is really that little sob in the spine of the artist reader. I leave the field of ideas to Doctor Schweitzer and Doctor Zhivago.”
“It was fun to breed her in my laboratory,” says Vladimir Nabokov of Lolita.
I’m not sure what those two guys have to do with one another, but the video is amusing, Karen and I both like Joss Whedon’s shows (Dollhouse not so much), and I tend to feel a personal responsibility in blogging to include as much Glenn Reynolds-friendly libertarian nerd culture material as possible. Besides, when I blog it, that means I don’t have to email it to friends.
Ronald Reagan takes on James Dean in 6:03 video highlights from 1954 GE Home Theater drama “The Dark, Dark Hours.”
Appropriately enough, Ronald Reagan is a physician defending decency, home, and family. James Dean (who would get killed in an accident with his Porsche 550 Spyder a little over nine months later) plays a youthful criminal. 1950s criminality is represented as childishly impulsive, weak, neurotically insecure, and determined to express a transgressive subcultural identity by the use of hipster slang and a loud musical background of progressive jazz. The same dramatization would not be much different today in most respects. The criminal youth, of course, wouldn’t be white and blond. The music wouldn’t be jazz and the modernist patois would be different, but the same kind of childishness and the same sort of futile attempt to obtain respect through violence would work exactly the same way in an updated version just fine.