We ARE out of touch with America: OTI’s POPULAR Popular Culture Survey Results
September 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm #26105
it highlighted The Big Bang Theory as the most popular POPULAR show watched by Overthinkers, all 445 of those who replied (lovely N, if I may say so), and those who wrote that may find this article interesting: http://butmyopinionisright.tumblr.com/post/31079561065/the-problem-with-the-big-bang-theory
Especially if one considers that if the Nerd-Jock spectrum is a thing, Chuck L0rre surely lies far on the nerd side.September 13, 2012 at 3:32 am #26125
I skimmed part of the post (towards the middle) but I would say that while I’m sure a lot of the points are valid, you need to examine what the audience might be getting out the experience, other than A) being so happy to see themselves represented they ignore the flaws or B) indulging in self-loathing behavior.
My immediate assumptions are that they either understand the mean-spirited nature of the show but don’t identify with the nerdy characters (Like, oh, that socially awkward character reminds me of the person I work with but not me, even though I’m a fan of X, Y, Z. I have an appropriate level of fandom and do well in social situations so I laugh at this parody of the stereotypical nerd.) or they there is a disconnect with the implied audience and the actual audience. Perhaps the show intends that you side with Penny and feel superior, the way the first page of Pride and Prejudice sets you up to side with Mr. Bennet over Mrs. Bennet. But if people really identify with Mrs. Bennet, it’s possible that they might subvert the intent of the author (or in this case, the show creators). I’m going to make up an example because I don’t watch the show. Let’s say character A references something nerdy. The creators may expect you to laugh simple at his nerdiness. But the viewer may laugh not at the reference, but at the fact that the character is randomly making the reference at an inappropriate time. I don’t know. I think it would be helpful to ask fans why they’re fans.
The only thing I’m familiar with is the soft kitty song, which I discovered when I was buying nail polish.September 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm #26162
Well I think he rather gets what I was having trouble articulating for myself. I was very much into BBT at first, but I gradually became more and more uncomfortable with it, too. And actually, the part about ASD and Sheldon not being cannonicaly on that spectrum (but exhibiting tell-tale signs) is how I felt, too, and I think what drove me personally over the edge into the discomfort zone. I have a brother with autism and have worked with kids with autism before- I saw them in Sheldon, and to see the way he’s set up as the bad guy/asshole/etc. all the time made me feel dirty for even considering enjoying it.
So I’d say, perhaps, given the nerd-jock spectrum you mention, Tim, that Cat’s onto something with the self-loathing thing. Chuck Lorre is a nerd, but he hates himself for it and wishes he was a cool jok-type, instead. So he ridicules his “own kind,” so to speak, under the auspices of championing. It’s self-deprecating humor being turned into the entire premise of a successful television show. And it’s rather terrifying to think of it that way. It’s psychologically and emotionally damaging, or at least I think so.September 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm #26175
Wha-? Gab, I wasn’t talking about self-loathing at all. That was from the article Tim linked.
To take my two examples again, let’s say that Chuck is a nerd. But he doesn’t see himself as the stereotypical nerd. So he sets his audience up to laugh at what they can all acknowledge is stereotypically nerdy behavior taken to the extreme. It is not ridiculing one’s own kind but the extreme individuals in one’s community whose behavior may or may not be accurately portrayed. It’s a farce. Is anyone really as bad as the characters in a Restoration comedy? Maybe. Maybe not.
Again, the other option is that his intention was to ridicule nerds but that the actual nerds do not see it that way. Instead of believing the characters are mocked for their nerdiness, they see the characters as being mocked for the social awkwardness. Or something else. Whatever. It is in the mind of the author that the nerdiness and social awkwardness are inextricably linked. For instance, take the example of any innocuous comedy like Friends or Three’s Company. What really separates that type of humor from Big Bang Theory? Isn’t it then reasonable to conclude that an audience might not see the characters as being flawed because of their nerdiness but because of whatever human neuroses etc. causes the same problem on other shows that are not about nerds? If anyone else has a better grasp of the disconnect between the implied reader and the actual reader, feel free to jump in.September 17, 2012 at 7:19 am #26194
“Again, the other option is that his intention was to ridicule nerds but that the actual nerds do not see it that way.”
This is interesting – how does it compare with Romantic Comedies demographically targeted at women that nevertheless do not do right by them?
Tangentially, I believe that despite it being possible to draw a nerd-jock continuum (based on the metric of values mind over body or body over mind, ignoring of course the need for very specialised brains to be a good sportsman vel sim)), but that in terms of ‘communities’ or identity nerd culture is heterogeneous.
Maybe Chuck is coming from an Aristotalean standpoint, as he rewards Penny for learning some geekiness and punishes Sam Anders and similar for being idiots – she is the most favourable character, and then followed by Leonard, because they are the most middling.September 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm #26201
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to assume you mean the romantic comedies that unfortunately come across as misogynistic or that don’t portray women as normal human beings or reward selfish behavior… OK, you know what, romantic comedies have a lot of problems. XD
Anyway, I think the difficulty there is you need to generalize across a genre. There are some atrocious romantic comedies written by men. Oh, well that’s simple, right? Those men are just misogynists. But then why do you see some of the same problems in romantic comedies written by women? Is it a genre convention? If so, what is the audience getting out of it that they expect to get out it? That is, does the audience actually want to see those aspects that others might view as negative? I feel like this could somehow relate to 50 Shades of Gray but I’m too tired to work it out right now.September 18, 2012 at 7:36 am #26223
On 50 Shades I fall into this camp mostly https://twitter.com/50shadesabuse
What I think you could argue is the genre (female-targeted erotica) is not so much the issue as the principle extant example (50 Shades). Similar with geek-comedy, perhaps.
What other examples do we have of this? Action-packed historical epics if 300 is the principle extant example?September 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm #26236
I don’t know too much about erotica (though my impression is that a good deal of it does focus on power dynamics, debasing one character in the sexual relationship verbally or physically, and making the language so explicit that it either becomes confused with the romance or supplants it… whether or not it becomes a 50 Shades of Grey level of abuse) but I will say that you’d be surprised how many romance novels where the goal is clearly “romance” and the authors make a point of bringing up “love” and the merits of the relationship either have uncomfortable gender politics or are outright misogynistic. And it goes beyond historical accuracy. Of course, there are also a ton that a badly written. Taking a completely different example from what I’m reading right now… it’s kind of up to the reader as to whether they want to read Jane Eyre as a romance or not and see Rochester as a positive influence on Jane.
I’m confused as to why you’re bringing up 300? Is it an example of not doing right by the audience? Because unless the target audience was historians, I think they did fine. (Again, assuming this is true because I haven’t seen 300.)September 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm #26246
And now for my spiel n romantic comedies. I’m gonna weigh in on the because rom-coms are one of one of my obsessions. I think the issues of BBT’s aim at “nerd” audiences and rom-coms aim at women are too far apart to equate. BBT theory, I would argue, is a reaction to a subculture, with its own ethos and aesthetics, that was starting to realize its own economic and artistic influence on the main-stream culture. It was one medium’s ( the sit com) attempt to use (embrace or exploit, depending on how you feel about the show) a subculture. Rom-coms on the other hand are a genre of movies that have been historically sold to women — not a subculture, but rather a category of person that makes up more than half of the world. This My theory is that since rom-coms are one of the very few genres that, by convention, have women as, at least, co-protagonists and often explore topics of gender, women who are woefully underrepresented as protagonists in movies, may gravitate to them. This gravitation is taken by risk averse, prediction crazy Hollywood execs to mean preference. This means that rom-coms are targeted in a way to make them seem “for” women. Because of these ad campaigns more women will see these movies than men rom-coms and pretty soon a feedback loop is created. Movies that have women in the lead and/or are about gender and relationships get labeled “chick flicks.” Some, maybe even most, of them will have mysogynist, subtext/text/overtext, but it will not be as misogynist as the fact that a whole genre has been carved out “for women” and that, moreover, it is one of the few genres that’s allowed to explore topics of gender.September 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm #26247
Dean even though you pointed out that you can’t equate the two because rom-coms are appealing to such a larger, more diverse group, I think your explanation past that point is still a little simplistic. I really do not think that rom-coms are meant to target ALL women. They are definitely meant to target a subset of the female population. The smart films either focus right in on a target audience (mother, working woman, etc.) or focus on the romance to avoid alienating viewers with specific character traits. Then there are the films like “I Don’t Know How She Does It” which I assume try to tackle too many issues (I’m assuming this from the title). And I think it’s significant that a lot of the protagonists fall into character types. Those types, their level of assertiveness, type of humor, etc. is meant to appeal to a certain audience.
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