In “Television as a Cultural Form,” Newcomb and Hirsch reference Marshall Sahlins in their assertion that “Those who create for such media [television, film, magazine…] are…“hucksters of the symbol.” They are cultural bricoleurs, seeking and creaking new meaning in the combination of cultural elements with embedded significance. They respond to real events, changes in social structure and organization, and to shifts in attitude in value” (563). They further describe writers, producers and programmers as “cultural interpreters”(563).
I agree with the concept that television producers and writers are “cultural interpreters.” Modern television is heavily influenced by news and cultural events. One of the more recent examples is Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live.” One of the most iconic lines from Fey’s portrayal of Palin was “I can see Russia from my house.” In Fey’s memoir “Bossypants,” she explains that her caricature of Palin was so well-regarded that many people became confused as to what Palin said in real life vs. what Fey made up.
Modern television consumes news and cultural events and retools/reinterprets it as material for comedy, satire and social commentary. Presidential debates and snafus are lampooned on late night talk shows and by comedic hosts such as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. Futhermore, shows such as “Father Knows Best” have been rendered obsolete by shows like “Girls,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Sex and the City,” “Broad City,” and more, which can all be considered shows that disseminate a very pro-feminist, empowered message about women being free to try and experiment with different things the way men do. Although we’ve made strides in regards to representation in sitcoms addressing social and political ideas, television as a whole remains very static and homogenous.