Monday, February 2, 2015

CORE RESPONSE 1: Installing the TV Set

First and foremost, as a comedy writer, I have to take umbrage with Spigel's use of the word. After watching that episode of The Goldbergs, I can say, without a doubt, that it is not now, nor was it ever a comedy. Putting an ugly hat on a woman doth not a comedy make.
Second, I found this article to be quite interesting, specifically the idea of the television set as a window, and as a means to conquer space. Growing up, my grandparents had a tv that was a large piece of furniture that sat right on their lime green carpet (I'm old). I remember my brothers and I huddling around that thing-- trying to get as close to it as possible. It was just instinctual, but when I think back about what we were trying to accomplish-- I think we were trying to have that small screen fill up our entire field of vision. Block out everything else so that we were completely immersed in whatever it was we were watching (A-Team, probably). We were literally trying to delete the space between our eyeballs and the stuff on the screen so that we were one. Then my grandma would yell at us that we were sitting too close to the TV and had to move back because of all the radiation. I'm surprised Spigel didn't bring up the radiation fear in all her talk of "gaze" and dystopian discourse-- or was that just my grandma?
I find the concept of the window into other worlds, other lives, other realities fascinating. If part of the appeal of television is that in our isolated suburban lives it connects us to others, and as diverse an 'other' as we want, I will never understand why people choose to immerse themselves into horror, heavy dramas, or thrillers. It doesn't have to be utopia, but why would anyone want to be somewhere horrible? Voluntarily?! It's especially interesting to think about the rise of the "unlikeable protagonist" in this fashion, and why it's been such a struggle to get them on TV. In that context, it's similarly strange that I sit in front of a giant 65 inch television and invite Paddy's Pub, a filthy, derelict bar and a group of horrible people into my home every time I watch It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.


  1. Andrea, I too glued my eyeballs to the TV and even sat in a weird position ( my pediatrician called it "W" sitting.. with my legs positioned in a W so I could jockey into the perfect eyeliner of the TV... apparently it ruins your posture and knees for life).
    I am with you on the window to the other worlds however, I will speak to the window into the heavy drama or thriller venue... it is as you say " a diverse other." Whenever we see something we can't fathom (think, car accident... when everybody slows down for a moment to stare and TRY TO SEE what it is even though they know it might be terrible, or that really strange person walking on the street you triple take on) you cannot help but look away. You stop. You stare. You wonder... in this way, a character or a world even (like Walking Dead? or even Mad Men) it's a glimpse into something that is not our present life but something about it echoes. The unlikeable protagonists play out some kind of bizarre fantasy that we would NEVER dream of doing in real life. But for a character to do it-- it's less of a risk for us. But as a viewer of these worlds, we're oddly paired together. We watch their lives and in a sense participate in them.

  2. Well, it's especially interesting when you also consider some of the Freudian stuff in Mellencamp's chapter-- that comedy provides a way to obtain pleasure despite anger, injury or pain. Wouldn't any reasonable person prefer and choose laughter over an unpleasurable emotion? Apparently unpleasurable isn't a word. But the point remains that I find it totally irrational that people voluntarily tune in to a program where they are choosing to feel the bad emotions of others that they don't have to instead of avoiding them with laughter.