It’s Time to Fill the Graves in, It’s Time to Move Along…

WARNING: you are looking at the first line of a very lengthy post, written by an adult, about puppets. You may want to turn back now…

Look. We all have strong feelings about cherished childhood memories. Certain books and movies and toys gain a nostalgic glow over the years, hiding the truth that they were just stupid ways to keep kids amused.

Star Wars is a movie for kids, and it’s very stupid. But it might be very meaningful to you – a key part of (the story you tell yourself about) your childhood. “It was the first movie that made me want to tell my own stories“, or “It was the movie that made me want to learn more about space“, for example.

The Transformers are a bunch of toys that can either look like OBJECT A, or like a badly deformed robot with bits of OBJECT A sticking out of its head. They made a movie, based on toys, as a shameless way to sell more toys that Christmas. (“Kill off one character, then introduce at least three more… kids are gonna cry, but they’ll sure as shit want new toys from Santa!“) But maybe you’re a grown-up living in 2015 who still loves to collect and play with Transformers, because unlike most of the crappy action figures from that era, they moved and did things and were sometimes voiced by Eric Idle (or Orson Welles…) in a movie. That’s a pretty cool memory, right?

So let’s start with the obvious: the Muppets are a bunch of goddam sock puppets, and no sane adult should hold strong opinions about them, right? Read More

All The News That’s Fit To- Ahh Who Cares, Just Show Me That Pooping Hippo Again…

This is not a post about pictures of dead babies.

There have been quite enough white men writing articles about dead babies and how courageous it is to show these photographs to as wide an audience as possible…

This is a post about journalism and the internet. Turns out, there’s lot of the former ON the latter, even though many who use the latter seem oblivious to the existence of the former.

Case in point: how many times have I heard or read some variant on the following:

“Wow, that dead Syrian child is really upsetting to look at… Why hasn’t the Western Media been talking about this?!”

Well… the Western media HAS been talking about this.

You just didn’t see it on your Facebook timeline until last week.

Sort of like how there was lots of discussion and analysis of child soldiers before you saw that Kony2012 video.

And ALS existed before you saw people dumping ice water on their heads. Read More

Mad as Hell: An Angry Prophet Denouncing the Hypocrisies of Our Times?

Last year, I wrote a piece on this site about teaching the same course, over and over and over. I argued that repetition can be a useful tool for developing one’s skill as a lecturer, allowing for polished ‘bits’ to emerge, similar to stand-up comedy.

Well, one of the downsides to all this repetition has to be that I end up watching the same media clips and documentaries over and over and over again too. I try to keep things somewhat lively by switching clips, but a few media texts have become canon in my teaching.

Whenever I get a course involving media history, and I have a week to talk about writing and the printing press… I show The Name of the Rose. It’s awesome, it features a painfully young Christian Slater, and it illustrates really nicely how books ‘make’ a new kind of human being.

Whenever I get a course involving contemporary media production and the way in which the internet has blurred the boundaries between consumers and producers… I show RIP! A Remix Manifesto. It’s a great mash-up of a documentary, introducing students to the tangled and insane history of copyright laws.

And whenever I get a course where I am free to talk about television, as an industry and as the set of audio-visual texts that continue to form the heart of our global media experience… I show Network. Read More

Seth MacFarlane, The Onion, and the fine art of Mansplaining.

Yes, yes… it’s been a veeery long time since I’ve posted anything here.

Well, instead of simply writing about WHY I haven’t posted (major health issues, holidays, and an insane teaching load this semester), I’ll just dive right into the post-Oscar media frenzy. Read More

2012: Just like the Mayans didn’t predict…

Jamie’s 2012 Media Resolutions: Read More

Woe Is Me: The Unending Suffering of a Guy Who Ate Pie for Breakfast at 11am

Earlier this week I found myself in my natural habitat – a Starbucks. Say what you will about their coffee (mediocre at best), they have free wi-fi and comfy chairs. I wrote much of my MA thesis at the North Burnaby Starbucks in Kensington Square, and I am on track to repeat with my doctoral dissertation.

I add a hint of variety to my weekly routine by working at hipster-infested indie coffee shops too, where the coffee is better, the music louder, and the chairs far less suited to prolonged sitting. It was in the pretentious little coffee shops in Toronto that I began to recognize a particular kind of behaviour (apologies to my good friend who helped crystallize these thoughts… you know who you are…). In certain types of coffee shops, I am now on the lookout for grad students performing the role of The Suffering Grad Student. It’s a brilliant bit of acting, and I encourage you to observe it when you can.

At my usual Starbucks this week, I sat next to two of the finest specimens of The Suffering Grad Student I have ever seen. Their performances were breathtaking. And infuriating. And deeply worrying.
… shit… do I REALLY look like that to other people?
… and if so… how have I NOT been punched in the throat by a complete stranger? Read More

Breaking Bad – My Painful Addiction

AMC’s Breaking Bad is the best show currently on TV. Period.
Now that we have that out of the way, some ideas to consider…

*** If you aren’t caught up with at least three full seasons, ‘Spoiler Alert’. Read More

TV is for Learning: Why Postman’s Future is so Unfriendly

Working in and around Media Literacy, as with any field, I run into a number of ideas that just refuse to go away. Bad theories and writers who practically haunt the field, continually finding new ways to make themselves relevant or hip.

Case in point: this cartoon, which pops up with a maddening frequency. I see this linked on Facebook or Twitter every few weeks, in an effort to remind the world that Neil Postman sure was a grumpy, elitist tool. Oh, wait… I mean, the cartoon is supposed to remind us that Postman was a prophet, and that our world is really quite a terrible place to be.
Read More

Hey Vancouver – I’m Your Biggest Fan!

In the ongoing fallout from last week’s ‘event’ in Vancouver, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the highly contested term ‘Fan’ as it relates to this mess. As was expected, the good tax-paying Vancouverites have rallied their wagons, insisting that ‘professional rioters’ are to blame. (What in the hell does this even mean?)

REAL fans wouldn’t do that. REAL fans showed up the next morning to clean up the mess.

Watching the live footage unfold on Wednesday, I certainly started to fall into that trap myself, insofar as I believed that those directly responsible for burning and looting probably didn’t care very much about the actual hockey game. But really, who gets to decide what constitutes a ‘real’ fan, and why? Read More

iPhone Ghouls and Nostalgic Hooligans, Unite!

As with my post-election hangover (of sorts), I feel compelled this morning to write a few quick notes about the colossal media failure surrounding the ‘riots’ last night.

First and least importantly… that may have been the first good hockey game of the series. Few penalties, relatively exciting throughout three periods, and another stunning performance from Tim Thomas.
And I really do want to applaud the majority of fans in attendance. After a few beer bottles hit the ice (mostly in response to the NHL Commissioner, I think…) the crowd applauded their home team, they applauded the Cup itself, and they recognized a brilliant effort by the Bruins generally, and Thomas in particular.

Outside, however, things got nasty.

Local and national media struggled to use the term ‘fans’ last night, because as we all know ‘fans’ are noble, and can NEVER be idiots in their spare time. Read More