OaEcy7K9    kz54fhc8wg1@hotmail.com Fecha  02/14/2015 13:26 
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I teach first year media students at Emerson College AND teach a csoure on Buffy. So I wanted to express my solidarity with you on this issue. It's one that comes up from my film students and even from some colleagues. Here's my theory of what it means to take television seriously, strongly influenced by Stanley Cavell's Pursuits of Happiness.I have a roommate who has a t-shirt whose message seems relevant here: "Actually, I like crap." I'll go one step further: Television is our greatest truth.Taking television seriously seems difficult--for it is one thing to love something, and quite another to respect it. The television we're talking about here is not even something high-minded in a low art form. It is not sad and boring, not foreign, or silent. Discussing them with seriousness requires putting them back into our memory on screen. Its words pass and are meant to pass without notice, but on another viewing resonate and declare their part in a network of significance.The study of television is the study of that which is quintessentially American. To do so requires that one check one's experience, a process we might liken to the empiricism practiced by Emerson and by Thoreau. Or we might recognize that television with its ingratiating urge to communicate clearly relies on recognition and revelation. There is something so deeply important about video, and about television, that it requires explanation. To suggest that what is common sense isn't, is, after all, the point of education. The empiricism of Emerson and Thoreau requires consulting one's experience and subjecting it to examination and of momentarily stopping, turning yourself away from your preoccupation and turning your experience away from its expected habitual track to find its own track. Without this trust in one's experience, expressed as a willingness to find words for it, without thus taking an interest in it, one is without authority in one's own experience. And what dominates our experience is media. Radio is the most profitable medium in the U.S., but television still dominates media consumption patterns. According to Nielsen statistics cited in TV Dimensions, media saturates our environment: 28.8 hours a week for TV, 22 hours/wk for radio, 11 hours/wk on the internet, etc. One is faced with a choice in such circumstances. One can declare that this means that now, more than ever, we ought to hold fast to the old ideas of realism, print and the actual. Or one can learn to appreciate the significance, the power, and the beauty of television. It is the only real revolutionary thing a media consumer can do with television: deny their lie that "it's only entertainment" so that you can ignore its omnipresence. (It's as foolish as if one were to say, "Myself, I pay no attention to ads.")Those who are satisfied they know what television is, who have a final answer: that it is a commodity like any other or a visual medium of popular entertainment... Well, anti-intellectualism is no more or less attractive here than elsewhere. Stanley Cavell, who's been very influential on my thinking for the case for popular media, writes, In my experience people worried about reading in, or over-interpretation, or going too far, are typically afraid of getting started, of reading as such, as if afraid that texts like people, like times and places mean things and moreover mean more than you know. This may be a healthy fear, that is a fear of something fearful. Still, my experience is that most texts, like most lives, are under-read, not over-read . This is suggestive of a pervasive conflict suffered by Americans about their own artistic achievements, a conflict that might be described elsewhere as America's over-praising and undervaluing of those of its accomplishments that it does not ignore. But perhaps Emerson, in The American Scholar , is the best one to blow the trumpet to rally television majors: I ask not for the great, the remote, the romantic; what is doing in Italy or Arabia; what is Greek art, or Provencal minstrelsy; I embrace the common, I explore and sit at the feet of the familiar, the low. Give me insight into today, and you may have the antique and future worlds. What would we really know the meaning of? the ballad in the street; the news of the boat; the glance of the eye; the form and the gait of the body;--show me the ultimate reason of these matters; show me the sublime presence of the highest spiritual cause lurking, as always it does lurk in these suburbs and extremities of nature To take mainstream television seriously requires a continued search for a new intimacy in the self's relation to its world, the perception of the sublime in the everyday. Without that sensitivity, one is bound to be blind to some of the best poetry of television, to a sublimity in it.The most, and perhaps only, democratic thing about American television is its declaration that the common man and ordinary woman can understand and appreciate the best the medium has to offer. Indeed, to even recognize such programs, one must be familiar with the entire mediascape. Only in such low forms as television (and radio, and film, and new media) do you find the belief that the ordinary, unschooled person can rise to the occasion of Homer's raging urgencies, Archie Bunker's mad rants, the wordplay on Buffy, the glances of the eye shared by Scully and Mulder, the form and gait of Kramer's body, the Machiavellian politics of Survivor, the calm patience of Mr. Rogers or the peculiar innocence of Sesame Street at its best.Again, with the Emerson, this time from "Manners": I have seen an individual, whose manners, though wholly within the conventions of elegant society, were never learned from there, but were original and commanding, and held out protection and prosperity; one who did not need the aid of a court-suit, but carried the holiday in his eye; who exhilarated the fancy by flinging wide the doors of new modes of existence; who shook off the captivity of etiquette, with happy, spirited bearing, good-natured and free as Robin Hood; yet with the port of an emperor,--if need be calm, serious, and fit to stand the gaze of millions. Cavell uses this quote to describe Cary Grant and Barbara Stanwyk. But does that not perfectly describe Xander Harris? And Veronica Mars?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
 

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