So It’s Come to This: An Antenna Clips Show
It’s Spring Break for us here, hence a slowdown in publishing. But just like any bad eighties sitcom, there’s always the clip show, so we thought we’d remind you of what’s been published here this year. Perhaps you missed something, or perhaps you want to revisit old favorites and chestnuts, while you read up on the very recent posts about SCMS.
Our more recent column, The State of Reality TV, has already seen eight posts. Derek Johnson kicked things off by discussing Kid Nation and its “elementary school primer” on the governing logics of reality television. That was followed by Jon Kraszewski’s piece on the pain of watching The Bachelor in a season in which its titular character seems only too aware of the pain of dating, dumping, and being dumped. Myles McNutt then asked “when in the world is Project Runway?,” asking after the “vast proliferation gap between Project Runway and its international adaptations.” Next, Sharon Ross celebrated Joel McHale’s The Soup and Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea Lately as shows that discuss reality television with considerable wit. Max Dawson discussed the reduced production costs of Survivor and the resulting strategy of relying upon Russell Hantz for everything. Jennifer Clark followed this by examining what a Pauly D (Jersey Shore) and Farrah Abraham (Teen Mom) union can tell us about reality television in general. Lest you thought we were done with Jersey Shore, Amanda Ann Klein then analyzed “compulsory masculinity” on the show, a hypermasculinity invited and required by the casting process. Most recently, Erin Copple Smith looked at the production of reality on Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?
Our earlier column, Late to the Party, has sadly attracted less writers (consider this summer homework, everyone, okay?), but yielded three posts this side of New Years, first when Evan Elkins got around to listening to Steve Martin’s classic stand-up comedy albums. Ethan Thompson’s Blackadder-inspired thoughts are discussed below. And Bill Kirkpatrick’s viewing of Dirty Dancing led to a series of thoughts about the framing of working-class masculinity and cringeworthy music. (For those wondering where the discussion of contemporary femininities was to match all this discussion of masculinities, see Louisa Stein’s excellent pair of posts on Pretty Little Liars).
From dirty dancing to dirty politicians, another series of posts was unplanned, when the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, waged war on labor and labor fought back. As the ensuing protests made news around the world, or at least resulted in pizza orders from around the world, some of our local community wrote about various aspects of the protests on Antenna. Jonathan Gray kicked things off with a stub explaining what was happening. Rob Asen and Karma Chávez offered deeper analysis, on embodied voices and public screens respectively. Finally, Amy Tully discussed the construction of collective identity amongst the protesters, and Myles McNutt offered a series of his fantastic photos of the protests.
Before there were protests in Wisconsin, though, there were the protests in Egypt, and Tarik Ahmed Elseewi offered two posts on these, first on Egyptian state television’s role in reporting on them, and then with a reflective piece on why the protests were happening. Elseewi looked to multiple screen narratives to make sense of what’s happening in Egypt, and in this regard echoed Ashley Hinck’s similar interest in how we can use fictional worlds to interpret real ones, expressed in her post on Harry Potter fan activism.
Harry wasn’t the only Brit making a guest appearance on Antenna recently, as Brit-American televisual commerce has also been in the air. Eleanor Seitz wrote about brit-lit fantasies and their American fans, asking “why do these fantasies of bygone eras continue to capture our imagination?” Ethan Thompson asked why American television hasn’t followed Brit television’s lead in developing many period sitcoms. Anne Helen Petersen and Faye Woods wrote a pair of posts on Misfits, the first on the experience of watching the British show in the US, and of needing to watch through a lack of knowledge of cultural and industrial context, the latter providing some of this context. Kristina Busse insisted that we think about time and timing in adaptation, with reference to Queer as Folk and Being Human. Kyra Glass von der Osten examined the hoopla and controversy surrounding the American version of Skins. Myles McNutt examined another controversy resulting from something wicked and British this way come — Ricky Gervais and his hosting of the Golden Globes — in a post that opened up into a wider discussion of the role of the Globes. And, unless all these posts had you thinking media only moves from British television to American television, Erin Copple Smith discussed an “internal” move, looking at The Game’s move from The CW to BET and what this means for the future of “diversity” on broadcast television, while Chiara Bucaria wrote a pair of posts on Glee’s move to Italy and its new paratextual entourage.
Granted, Ricky Gervais may’ve ruffled some feathers, but it’s not as though we shouldn’t have seen it coming. Jennifer Smith, however, examined the news media’s inability to let comic book fans be blindsided by character deaths, as she discussed its spoiling of the Human Torch’s death. The news’ reporting of flaming death of another sort was on discussion in Trevor Blank’s retrospective of the Challenger Disaster (yeah, I went there with that segue. Sorry. I’m a bad human) on the event of its 25th anniversary.
1986 transports us back in time to a period of time that’s relevant for two other posts. The mid-80s were, for one, when television studies was born, or at least according to a forthcoming book by Amanda Lotz and Jonathan Gray. But what is television studies? Lotz and Gray discuss in their joint post. The mid-80s were also the heyday of Donkey Kong, another ordeal involving giant apes and ladders that must be climbed. But it’s still going, and Amber Watts discussed Steve Wiebe’s 2011 defense of his Donkey Kong hi-score, and Wiebe’s many fans.
Going further back in time yet still, Bradley Schauer examined contemporary fandom and appreciation for the infamous Charlie Chan films, reviewing Yunte Huang’s book on Chan. For all those other fans of the 20s and 30s, Antenna also included a piece from Matt Stahl examining Boardwalk Empire’s use of media artifacts.
And last, but certainly not least, you could go back or forward in time again and again, but nobody would be a better guide to what you missed in media news than Christine Becker, whose What Are You Missing columns here, here, here, and here were all wonderful, including even more links than this current post.
To quote the recaps for Glee, “and that’s what you missed.”