Category Archives: Digressions: PRO

Executive Omission

David Hesmondhalgh’s mammoth, brilliant, funny, and carefully argued The Cultural Industries (3rd Edition) articulates its plan to explore the changes in Cultural Labour (among many other things) during the post-1980 era, both explaining and evaluating the changes and continuities within institutions and the texts they’ve created.  That’s great; H continues, categorizing cultural laborers as Symbol Creators, Technical Workers, Creative Managers, Unskilled Workers, and Owners and Executives.  When he gets to the detailed analysis of these groups, though, he spends the lions share of his time on Symbol Creators (as Makers of Texts) — and winds up ignoring “Owners and Executives” completely!

 

Am I supposed to take this personally?  I spent more than half of my 25-year career as a “cultural industries executive” (I prefer the term “Culture Industry,” but that’s a rant for another day) — so, David, what am I, chopped liver?

 

“Weird Al” Yancovic, “Take Me to the Liver”

(Starts at about 3:30)

 

Rev. Al Green, “Take Me to the River”

 

Talking Heads, “Take Me to the River” (from Stop Making Sense)

 

  • They make a nice chopped liver sandwich [Kenny & Zuke’s, pdf]
  • Like Bubbe made, only better — and they dare you to finish it [Katz’s Deli]

 

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Everyone’s a critic

According to David Andrews, “Personal taste isn’t the province of the film scholar.  It is the province of the mainstream film critic” (Theorizing Art Cinema, 33).  In other words, instead of constructing elaborate theories of or rationales about why the movies we love are the best ones and the most worthy of watching — that is, the movies that we think should be the most canonical — scholars should ward off the temptation to “articulate or defend that very personal form of connoisseurship” in favor of being “more detached, telling us what is going on and how that relates to what has gone on in the past” (33).

 

Well, sure.  But I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.

 

My (academic) career traveled an old-school (ahem) route from the English Department to Film Studies to Media Studies, and many of my (aged) colleagues followed a similar route (kids today, they seem to jump right into “media studies” or something comparable).  The chief reason for people to spend a decade in grad school studying literature, as I recall, was that these folks loved to read the stuff; further, they (that is, the PhDs I left behind when I jumped into the Media Industry proper) specialized in the books they liked to read most.  Nobody suggested that the Dryden scholar, for instance, should be more “detached” and shouldn’t like and advocate the (unreadable, imo) works of the Restoration; in fact, text-based “taste hierarchies” were sort of expected of ’em (and part of how profs would compete and attract grad student followers).  For film/tv acads that trickled into the electronic disciplines from literature, then, the whole point of being in film and tv is to study (and champion and pontificate about) things they love most (full confession: in my own case, I preferred watching Hitchcock to reading William Dean Howells).  Yes, Andrews is right: it is “better” to step aside from the tangentially related discipline of “film (and tv) criticism” to be more critically removed — well, better if you’ve got an agenda grounded in Cultural Studies, Marxism, Political Economy or some other discipline that treats creative works as means to an end, texts to prove larger socio-political-cultural points (and Andrews’s unspoken assumption is that one should).  But didn’t “aca-fandom” make the (ivory tower) world safe for personal taste?

 

Interestingly enough, the “detached” perspective Andrews advocates seems to be more descriptive of my former colleagues in television: it is the hallmark of a good tv programmer, as an example, that his or her personal preferences do NOT get reflected in the acquisition or scheduling of anything on a network (and the reverse — that revealing one’s taste on-air via scheduling or acquisition is a sign of amateurishness — is also true).  And for the record: I think Andrews might be a lot more believable on this “detached” score if he didn’t keep advocating the (crappy, at best) films of softcore “art-cult” filmmaker Tony Marsiglia — but to each his own, right?

 

Chantal (Marsiglia 2007)

Maybe you’ll love it?  Even more than Showgirls?

 

And I hope my (middlebrow? nobrow?) roots aren’t showing, but my favorite film in this sorta genre is Coyote Ugly:

 

 

  • I’m a Radley Metzger fan — where can I find me a copy of Anna Biller’s homage to his work, Viva?  Andrews makes it sound like fun! [YouTube]
  • Andrews’s book about soft-core sounds pretty fantastic too.  I’ll be checking it out post-comps! [Amazon]
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Supreme Minister of Gender-Reassignment Calypso Ditties

A perplexed Louis “The Charmer” Farrakhan riffs on the then-current Christine Jorgensen sex-change story, asking the question on everybody’s/nobody’s mind, “Is She Is or Is She Ain’t?”

 

  • The Christine Jorgensen Story theatrical film, 1970 [YouTube
  • Let Me Die a Woman (Trailer for Doris Wishman’s 1978 shockumentary) [YouTube
  • “The Origin of Love,” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001) [YouTube
  • “Christine Jorgensen Is Back at 55 — As a Singer,” Weekly World News, March 24, 1981 [WWN]
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Late-Night Abjection: Wallowing in Moral Turpentine

I’ve been spending the last few hours wallowing in the world of renowned philosoper, metaphysician, and podiatrist Brother Theodore (1906-2001).  Do yourself a favor: quit Keeping Up With the Kardashians and start Turning On to Brother Theodore.  From Letterman, if you can believe it:

 

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Indeterminacy in Paradise

CBS experiments with multiple endings for Hawaii Five-O, allowing viewers to vote for the ending they’d most like to see.

 

Doghouse:

The Dark: (from 1980)

 

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The Nets Are Alright

… the Cable nets are, that is. SNL Kagan released their Economics of Basic Cable Networks Report today.

Per the Kagan Report, “Cable network equities have been volatile recently as some investors ponder what impact the still-weak economy will have, but this segment continues to see strong performance.”

For more details, visit SNL Financial.

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Lashing out at fans

Japanese pop sensation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has a new video out called “Tsukematsukeru”; the song is about false eyelashes (at least according to the blogosphere), and, sure enough, KPP wears three sets of ’em in the video.

And what if you find yourself, like, really into the triple-stacked eyelash look? Well, fortunately for you KPP just happens to be selling false eyelashes, in convenient 3-paks. Ain’t product integration grand?

…and if you’re brain isn’t throbbing quite enough after “Tsukematsukeru” and you’re craving a tiny bit more of a migraine, this video, for KPP’s megahit “PONPONPON,” should help you achieve maximum freakout:

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Better Living Through Television

Ralph and Ed peer far into the future (and yes, “Better Living Through Television” is the actual name of the episode).

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