Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Response to WEEK 3 Readings - Raymond Talovera

            This week’s reading delved into the ever so frequent discussion of hegemony within television, its power as a super structure, and how each respective time period featured television programs that reflected their respective zeitgeist.  What is new to me is the position that the shows were not merely taking a side and pushing forth a specific political agenda, but instead as Newcomb and Hirsch suggests, is providing a space for a forum. Rather than looking towards one specific episode to see a show’s standpoint, an entire series can add depth to the conversation.  Throughout its airing, shows often have moments of change through opposing standpoints and shifting beliefs.   Even though not as extreme as primetime television before the turn of the century, few shows today feature this same shift as characters are older, or writers obtain new beliefs or new levels of fame.  I think of even a cartoon like family guy, one that started off with messages and then perhaps somewhere in Macfarlane’s popularity, shifted toward tactless comedy. Also it was mentioned that certain shows ran the risk of complaint and even cancellation when certain topics became a bit too salient, and how in our day and age, with television spreading across multiple platforms and reaching niche audiences, it is much harder to offend.  Often because certain shows may go unnoticed at first by certain groups, as suggested by Hendershot in reference to the show Parks and Recreation, it is easier to push boundaries and go beyond the status quo in ways former broadcast television could not.

            I would argue even further that in today’s television, there are shows that still are trying to take on that traditional patriarchal hegemonic family structure, with often some kind of post racial, neoliberal attachment to it.  I think of shows like Fresh off the Boat and Black-ish, which are essentially the same shows that All in the Family and Father Knows Best are, just perhaps with race being part of the joke more often. In other shows, mostly shows on cable, there are sitcoms that are taking more risks, putting there political agenda in the open through character rants, for example Master of None, where episodes are literally discussions, but favoring a perspective.  Other times shows are so ridiculous that they lose their point all together and try to see how far they can push things.  They both kind of disregard the notion of a forum since one clearly takes a point and cannot in my opinion be argued against by other shows with opposing views, since people may not know about the other show.   The second example in a way destroys the forum by laughing at both sides, such as a show like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 

1 comment:

  1. Ray, I enjoying reading your post and I love the examples you drawn in the second paragraph. I am also astonished by the idea that television provides a cultural forum instead of offering exact solutions to social problems. The episode from Father Knows Best forms an obvious forum because audiences may felt disappointed because the problem is, of course, unsolved. But shows in the post-network era that have niche audience could still provide cultural forums that are not obvious. The niche audience may agree with most of its ideology while not realizing that there is still not a solution to the problem. The old cultural forum with conflict ideas may still present in a subtle way. It reminds me of the one episode we watched last semester from “Transparent.” which I am perhaps not its targeted audience, and I wouldn’t know about that show at all. The targeted audience of that show may notice that the characters are struggling with their real identities and their socially ideal identities, but they did not manage to solve the problem at the end of the episode. The conflict in the social forum is much less obvious than the one Betty faced in “Father Knows Best.” It niche audience may satisfied with the episode, but the show itself does not offer any solution, and that conflict exists. So I think whether or not the TV show is for mass audience in the network era or niche audience in the post-network era, the cultural forum is not demolishing, but simply less obvious to its viewers.