shadowkat: (tv slut)
[personal profile] shadowkat
1. Question: Are any television shows worthy of obsession?

Answer: Probably not. Doesn't keep me from obsessing about them, though. Or anyone else for that matter, apparently.

I don't know. This Sat, I had a conversation about how I was going to try to be less judgmental about things and people. But it's really hard to do, since "judgment" is prevalent in our society. I'm not talking about being constructively critical or critical, but judging. I'm finding it tough to do.

When I was obsessed with Buffy, I remember being embarrassed about it. I was very judgmental of myself. Why this show, I'd ask myself and not something like the Sopranos? Or Six Feet Under? Or the Wire? (Okay, I was briefly obsessed with The Wire...so never mind). I didn't go to conventions. Just obsessed online, and wrote lots of meta on it. Nor did I bother with autographs. It was the story and characters that obsessed me, and the writing. Something about it grabbed me by the jugular and would not let go. Perhaps, it's because it more than anything else at the time -- spoke to what I was feeling, and could not express after 9/11 happened and everything I knew and thought I knew turned inside out and upside down.

I remember being obsessed with Battle Star Galatica, the first version, when I was a child. Loving it in that weird way that you fall in love with a piece of art. But I didn't write about it. I just couldn't wait for the next episode. I had a crush on Apollo, I was 12 years old.

And Farscape, much later of course, something in it spoke to me -- but it was short lived. I did buy the DVDs. But I didn't rewatch them and rewatch them.

I remember when I was 13, I was obsessed with the Hobbit, the animated film, the book, and even was in the play at a Children's Theater nearby during the summer.
It spoke to me.

As an adult, I've been obsessed with fare that most would judge me harshly for, hell they already have. And I think there's something to be said for not giving a shit what other people think. People either get it or they don't. Regardless of what you are obsessed with, whether it be The Godfather movies, Star Wars, Star Trek, a series of classical novels, Shakespeare, funky shows about gangsters, video games, petunias, cats, daytime soaps, vampires, television shows, or comic books, I'm not sure it matters. If it makes you happy, cheers you up, pushes the black clouds away...does it matter?


2. Question: What qualifies as kid fare and adult?

Answer: I've been wondering about this for a while now. I will go through the children's shelves in book stores, and while much of the books on the shelves are obviously kid's fare, such as Goodnight, Moon. Other's I wonder about from time to time. Peter Rabbit has some disturbing bits in it. As does The Hobbit and Harry Potter, and Twilight.


Some books I honestly think are adult and kid, Huckleberry Finn and Animal Farm come to mind. As too does The Jungle Book, Fairy Tales, and The Hobbit.

And then there are television series...apparently people think if teens or kids are the main characters - it's a children's show? Except Vampire Dairies, Buffy, The 100, Game of Thrones, Glee, all struck me as adult fare. Sure some shows are obviously kid fare such as Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, Bear in the Big Blue House, Sarah Jane Adventures...but others, like Doctor Who, Star Trek, Buffy, the Hunger Games, and The 100 do not feel like kid shows to me, they feel very adult.

I know I watched The Muppet Show, which people thought was a kid's show. It really wasn't. It has a lot of subtle political and sexual satire in it.

And don't get me started on cartoons. People are weird about them. Some label anything animated as a "cartoon", just as they label anything that is a book with storyboarding or illustrated panels telling a story -- a comic book. It's not. Cartoons also aren't just for kids. Fritz the Cat -- notably was an R rated adult cartoon, as was Betty Boop. Many of the Looney Tunes cartoons are very adult, as are some of the Hannah Barbara. Bulwinkle was an adult political satire. The Family Guy is for adults.

What's always annoyed me about it -- is this: if it is kid's fare, and you are an adult, there seems to be something automatically wrong with you enjoying it. Several literary writers have blogged and written essays in mags about how it is wrong somehow to enjoy children's books as an adult. That somehow you should be reading much harder or loftier fare, as if such a thing exists. How dare you read and be obsessed with Harry Potter! When you should be reading...I don't know Gone Girl? The latest National Book Award Winner?

Why is that?


3. Television Reviews well sort of...

* Doctor Who - The Lie of the Land

Don't have a great deal to say about this episode. It was okay. I thought it was better than last week's episode, less obvious plot holes. But I also felt like I've been there done that...which was the problem with this particular arc, well amongst other things.

I did like some things about it, which are spoilery, so beneath the cut:



* The Doctor and Missy's discussions were rather fascinating. How she suggests that he kill Bill, no worse, make Bill a brain dead husk to defeat the monks - for the greater good. Which is a concept of morality that science fiction has been fiddling with forever.
It's very Machivellian - the ends justify the means. It is also a nice twist on Bill's choice, she chose the Doctor and doomed humanity. So here, Bill must sacrifice herself for humanity or the Doctor sacrifice Bill for humanity. "The needs of the many outweigh the few" -- Spock states at the end of The Wrath of Khan, but Kirk apparently disagrees and hunts a means of saving Spock.

I liked the discussion at the end best. It actually made the episode for me. And changed my mind about Missy/Master -- where she states that she remembers the names and faces of everyone she's killed and there are so many...how he didn't tell her about this. Tears streaming down her face. He says how this is actually a good thing.

The writer's of Doctor Who are obviously not pro-death penalty and believe in redemption -- I agree with them for the most part. Death solves nothing, unless someone is a threat and there is no other way to stop it. But I'm not sure about redemption. I've met and seen people who...well...can a sociopath truly change?

* Bill's ability to free the world by focusing on her own reconstructed memory of her mother...a memory constructed largely from photographs provided by The Doctor.
Focusing on a pure, loving memory of someone who cared for her without wanting anything in return breaks the monks spell. Demonstrating that they didn't understand love completely. Or rather they don't understand "unconditional love".

* Nardole and Bill's banter.

That's it really. Didn't like anything else.



* Riverdale

Two episodes left. I'm enjoying the series. It's beautifully shot and has an amazing color scheme. The production, set design, cinematographer, editors, makeup and costumes are doing a great job. The only weak points are well, the direction and writing...which is rather limp. But I'm enjoying it.

It has a graphic novel feel to it. Jughead is my favorite character. The actor is doing a great job...emoting. And I love Skeet Ullrich as Jug's dad "FP". Molly Ringwald, who plays Archie's mom, looks weird. Has she done botox or plastic surgery? Her face is oddly stiff and lop-sided. It's admittedly odd to see her as a Mom, but then it is also odd to see Luke Perry (who played Buffy's high school boyfriend Pike in the Buffy movie) as a Dad, and Ringwald's hubby.

I like the tone of the series and find it captivating enough to stick with.

*Still Star-Crossed

Well, I'm not sure it's very good, but it is definitely intriguing. (Reminds me a bit of Reign actually in quality - so more a CW series than an ABC series...). But it is intriguing enough to hold my interest at any rate. It focuses on the twenty-somethings in the cast. But I like Grant Bowler's turn as Montague. Head, I'm on the fence about at the moment. The casting is the most diverse and colorblind that I've ever seen. They have interracial couples all over the place and aren't blinking an eye. Romeo is black, with a white father, white cousin, and in love with white Juliet, who has black cousins. It's startling because a mere ten years ago, such a thing was...well rarely done.

Don't get me wrong, I love it. But it surprised me a little. Time was, the networks would have prohibited it. And this is on a major network - ABC.

The first episode pretty much retells the Rome and Juliet storyline, except from Benvolo (Romeo's confidante) and Rosalind's (Juliet's confident) perspectives.

And it changes a few things from the Shakespearean version which I found intriguing.



Here's how the show differs:

Instead of Juliet's nurse helping her, her cousin, Rosalind who is both a servant and a Capulet does. Rosalind and her sister Olivia, after their parents died, were taken in by their Aunt and Uncle (Juliet's parents) and forced to be servants. Their Aunt was apparently jealous of their mother for marrying their father. Their Aunt went for the richer, titled brother (Anthony Stewart Head) instead of the brother she loved and is blaming them for her mistake.

Romeo's father, Papa Montague, has manipulated his son into falling in love with Juliet Capulet. He paid the Priest to ensure their union. With the view that once she got pregnant with his son's child, he'd have a Capulet under his family name. But alas, the Priest gave them poison and they died. He's not happy with the Priest. That's a nice twist. And it works. Montague came from the labor class and worked his way up to the elite. But he's still frowned upon.

Romeo and Juliet both take the poison. She doesn't kill herself with his dagger upon waking, he has enough poison left in the vial so she can die too.

Paris happens upon Romeo entering Juliet's tomb and they fight. Romeo stabs Paris in the stomach. Paris survives and is taken in by Juliet's mother, Lady Capulet, who is frantically trying to nurse him back to health. Olivia, Rosalind's sister finds them and asks to be his nurse.

Meanwhile, Rosalind is in love with the Prince of Verona. (The father died leaving the nation in his son and daughter's hands. The daughter is the more pragmatic of the two.) But after Romeo and Juliet die, the Prince decides to marry her off to Romeo's cousin Benevolo. Neither are happy about it. They argue constantly. This to stop the incessant rioting and fighting that has been happening since R&J's deaths.

Everything else is pretty much the same.

Paris isn't the son of the Prince of Verona, like he was in the play, but a neighboring territory. The rulers of Verona are worried about other territories in Italy invading them, like Venice, the Medicis, etc. So they need to quell their infighting, or they'll be defenseless.

What is intriguing is that the story is obviously not going to be about racism, because that does not appear to be an issue here, but about classism, gender inequality, and power politics.



The only drawback? It feels like a CW teen show. Not that this is a huge problem. But ...I wish it focused more on the older characters.

* Nashville

Hmmm, I'm really enjoying the new writers of this series. The show's quality has improved. Also certain storylines have opened up. It's not predictable and has surprised me time and again. Completely different show than the past several years. Instead of a soapy melodrama about the music industry, it's become a relatable drama about the country music industry.

There are some...sentimental moments, but nothing too manipulative and overall it worked.


What surprised me was that Juliet's Gospel album failed, but they didn't focus on her whinging and throwing a fit, but on her understandable struggle to process it. It also demonstrated the narcissism of that industry. Juliet has spent her life trying to please others. She cares what people think. She reads the reviews.

But the people who helped her on it, think it was good and don't understand why this matters.

Flip to Maddie, who Juliet is now managing. And Juliette pushes Maddie to change how she is singing a specific song, that it needs more of a hook. Maddie has her boyfriend listen to it and he prefers Juliet's version. Maddie is upset. But Clay is good with her -- he conveys that she should do what she feels best with her music, not what anyone else thinks is best. Write and sing for yourself, because at the end of the day you aren't going to please everyone. There's always going to be people out there who hate it. Or don't get it. But if you don't...

Meanwhile her father tells her...that music is not a solo thing. Even her mother didn't own her own sound or voice. She had collaborators, producers, managers, and other musicians involved in various ways. Also the fans have input and interact with it and have a say.

I liked how the writer's explored it. Without falling into soap cliche. They explored a real issue in the industry in a relatable way. From four different perspectives. Maddie listens to both versions and finally, on her own, chooses Juliet's.

The other story that could have been cliche but isn't was Daphne, who has realistically fallen into a depression after her mother's death. And can't quite cope. Her depression is realistically portrayed.

Then there is Scarlett, Gunner, and the Baby -- which predictably turned out to be the British music producer's kid. I could see that coming. But they did play down the soap elements and cliches. Gunner stepped up, but struggled. Her real problem is going to be the baby's father.

Overall a good episode. The series continues to deliver, and is much better than it was before. A rare example of a television series benefitting from new writers and a bit of a reboot.

Are any television shows worthy of obsession?

Date: 2017-06-05 07:44 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Answer: Probably not. Doesn't keep me from obsessing about them, though. Or anyone else for that matter, apparently.

As long as it is a harmless obsession (i.e. not stalking the actors) then surely all is good. Is anything ever worthy of obsession, in the sense that its own merits make it somehow elevated above other things to legitimise the obsession? Surely obsessions always come from the obsessor not the object of that obsession, and so they can only be judged as worthy by the person doing the obsession.

I think obsession is a character trait inside all of us. I think in origin it is the trait that allows humans to focus on a particular task and keep returning to that task when we would otherwise get bored. Obsession is thus a useful survival trait. But if taken too far it can become a hindrance, blinding us to alternative possibilities and narrowing our thinking, which is why we also view it as a dangerous thing, that verges on a sin.

I think humans have lots of these janus-faced characteristics because the nature of our ecological niche creates a complex need for constant tension between stability and change, so most humans have tendencies towards both and are aware of that tension.

I'm not sure it matters. If it makes you happy, cheers you up, pushes the black clouds away...does it matter?
No. I am positive the answer to this question is no. Or rather it does matter - it matters in a positive way because it brings pleasure :D

Indeed I go so far as to believe that if somebody else is obsessed with something it is always worth checking that thing out at least once. Sometimes you get a miss (I will never, ever understand why people watch sports) but sometimes you find an unexpected gem (I found Supernatural because a friend pretty much threw the show at me until it stuck and I only started watching to please her, but now it is one of my major obsessions).
Edited (because I can't spell) Date: 2017-06-05 07:45 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
We have one or two minor celebrities in the village and their stories of stalking behaviour from obsessed fans are horrible. :(

It is really sad some people can't seem to draw that line, but I guess it is a very big world so their actual numbers are tiny.
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I find the response boxes okay. Maybe it is browser or theme dependent?

I can't spell for toffee so I am utterly reliant on spellcheckers. My nightmare word is 'bureaucracy'. I tend to just throw as many vowels at it as possible and hope the reader can cope, because spellcheckers seldom have a clue what I mean.
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I very occasionally end up watching cricket, because there is something hypnotic about watching each ball and seeing what will happen this time. Also the strategy can get very exciting. But something like a football match or tennis is bewildering to me. I get playing sport, but watching other people play is weird.

It may make more sense to obsess over one, like Supernatural, that has no end in sight. ;-)
Ha ha. Well it is certainly convenient that I got hooked on what turned into the longest running American sci-fi show ever. :D

I'm alarmingly fickle. It's rare that I will watch any television show past 5-7 seasons.
I think part of the fandom gene is that we obsess like crazy about something for a few years and then move on. Buffy consumed my life for a few years, now I look back and wonder why.

If it weren't for the internet fandom, I'd have stopped obsessing over Buffy about five years prior to when I actually did.
Hard for me to say what would have happened. Prior to Buffy I didn't know such a thing as fandom or fanfic existed, but then I only looked on the internet because I was obsessed in the first place.

I'm usually done at two seasons, because the characters aren't evolving enough for me
Is this affected by if you are watching each episode as it is dripped out versus if you are binge watching? I would imagine many shows are fine if viewed once a week that would be intolerable in a binge.

I also require a strong female character be in there somewhere at some point.
Fair enough. I probably wouldn't watch if there was no strong male character, but luckily no show in the history of television has ever lacked a strong male character so I'm not restricted.

Supernatural finally lost me, because the female characters dropped by the wayside
I admit I was very sad when they killed Charlie. Most of the other females were just passing minor chars, however much they meant to the boys in-show, but Charlie was brilliant and it felt such a waste to kill her. I keep hoping they will find a way to bring her back. But I am an incorrigible optimist who keeps hoping they will find a way to bring John Winchester back.

it's rare for me to stick past six or seven seasons, unless the show evolves and people/characters change a great deal -- which only happens with serialized television shows, like Grey's Anatomy or a soap opera.
I've only watched a handful of shows that went on longer than that, simply because most of them get cancelled. British shows are never that long lasting, Doctor Who being the only exception. Of the American shows I think only Stargate and Bones lasted more than 6 seasons. And they both definitely deteriorated by the end, but I stuck with them because I like to complete sets of things so I would have felt it wrong to just give up.
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Btw -- it's based on a Bill Paxton movie that was a lot darker. Can't remember the name of it.

I didn't know this. I spent a bit of time googling to try to find out which movie you meant but couldn't work it out.

I knew and I didn't, if that makes sense? I was into comics, and would notice it popping up on the letters page or discussed in comic stores. Or I noticed it with Star Wars and Star Trek, but I never really was involved with it. Even Buffy, I knew it was there, but wasn't involved until the sixth season.
Comics seems to be the gateway drug for a lot of fannish things. I never knew comics existed because you really only get comic shops in big cities so I had never seen one.

here were like-minded folks who felt the same way I did. And loved what I wrote about it...
Pretty much the same here. I googled James Marsters to find out what nationality he was, because his weird accent was driving me crazy (I thought he might be South African or Australian) and found all these people talking about the show in the same way I thought about it. I got hooked on meta discussions within a couple of weeks.

The whole idea of fanfic appalled me when I first heard about it on a Buffy message board. The idea of stealing other people's characters and ideas was so clearly BAD!!!! So I read some to find out what the fuss was about. And then I realised they were writing things in the wrong way because clearly they hadn't watched the same show as me. So I actually started writing fanfic not to fix the show but to fix other people's fanfic. Then I got hooked on that too.

I think the interaction is about 90% of the fun.
Yes :)
I'm enjoying Doctor Who so much more since I started talking about it here.

I wonder if that's ingrained in us?
I suspect so. Looking back I was drawn to the alpha male characters and apprentice alphas, and I identified with them right from the very first show I obsessed about (the old Batman and Robin). I enjoy watching lots of other types of character, including women, but it is the alpha male that will first catch and hold my attention - if I don't like him, I probably don't like the show.

Depends on why you read/watch something I guess.
It maybe depends on if you watch to identify with a character or observe a character.

Sometimes characters that attract me are generic rather than a specific representation. I like almost any version of Robin Hood. Almost any version of Batman. Almost any version of James Bond (one must obviously draw the line at Lazenby).

Okay, you guys have some really long running series! As far as I know, only a few of our soap operas and Doctor Who are as long lived. Most British shows only last a few seasons at most because actors and writers want to move on. And of course most shows have far, far fewer episodes. A 'season' of three or four episodes would not be at all unusual. You probably don't get to see many of those because it doesn't fit well with the formats needed by your channels.

One advantage is it gives our actors much wider experience of different roles.
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
That is cool. One of the things I liked about early seasons was they would sometimes explore how the boys' actions came across in the normal world.

Over the seasons, John Winchester's character was changed (in absentia) from just being obsessed to actively abusive of the boys.
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I've added it to my Amazon wishlist :)

What qualifies as kid fare and adult?

Date: 2017-06-05 07:58 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Interesting thoughts. And I was surprised by some of the things you list as being even possible contenders for kids fare (Animal Farm, Game of Thrones) which goes to show how subjective these things are.

I think there's something to be said for not giving a shit what other people think.
I have lived by this my whole life :D As I get older I find it is sometimes worth giving a shit because other people's viewpoints can be useful, but never exclusively so.

I watched The Muppet Show, which people thought was a kid's show. It really wasn't. It has a lot of subtle political and sexual satire in it.
I have never had the chance to watch the Muppets and I really regret it. The more I hear about it the more I realise it is Important.

What's always annoyed me about it -- is this: if it is kid's fare, and you are an adult, there seems to be something automatically wrong with you enjoying it.
Yes :(
This saddens me and I refuse to be bound by it. There are several brilliant writers who were published too late for my childhood and I am not going to deny myself the pleasure. I also revisit many of my childhood authors, both to reread the ones I knew as a child and to explore their other work. I just finished The Blue Hawk by Peter Dickinson in fact, and I got so much more from it as an adult than my earlier readings. Everything from my appreciation of the language to my understanding of the religious and political background had matured. (Also one really annoying detail - I now know enough about birds to know it isn't a hawk that he is describing! But it doesn't matter because the falcon that he describes is sooooo much better than a true hawk.)

Any good piece of literature can work in this way, regardless of the alleged target audience. That is almost the definition of high art that you get something new from it every time simply because you yourself have changed. I like the quote about Hamlet (I don't know who said it) 'You don't watch it for a few years, and when you go back you find he rewrote it'.

somehow you should be reading much harder or loftier fare, as if such a thing exists. How dare you read and be obsessed with Harry Potter! When you should be reading...I don't know Gone Girl? The latest National Book Award Winner?

Why is that?

It is because many people suffer from an intellectual inferiority complex. They do not trust that their own judgement is valid so they wish to read what others, preferably professional others such as critics or professors of literature, have judged to be good and valid. If something is for kids or from a 'lesser' genre like sci-fi, fantasy, romance or thrillers, then it is by definition 'inferior' and they are afraid to be associated with it.
Edited (because I forgot the last question, which is the most important) Date: 2017-06-05 08:03 am (UTC)

Re: What qualifies as kid fare and adult?

Date: 2017-06-05 05:29 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Having been an English Lit Major, I got over it fast.

Ha ha.

I've learned as much from a romance novel as from a classical literary novel. Or a science fiction pulp novel as a literary one.

I have no education in literature at all, so I'm entirely self-taught, and I am self conscious about that when discussing literature in fandom (fandom seems to be stuffed with English Lit graduates). But I would never let it affect what I read. Reading is for pleasure, not to impress other people. And when I write I draw mostly on what I have picked up from reading not from the scraps of literature theory I have picked up.

It's not unlike the Television snob, who says, in a bragging tone, I never watch television, it's beneath me.
ha ha, yes. Years ago I had the person beside me at a dinner actually say they only had the television 'for the news and the wildlife programmes', which was so cliche I burst out laughing. I then said I watched a lot of TV and enthused wildly about some show at length. His snobbery was either only skin deep or he was a very forgiving and curious man because we ended up getting along very well.

I think that compulsion does to an extent come from a superiority/inferiority complex of sorts.
Yes, I think so. People who have done well for themselves but have limited formal education very often are incredibly shy about this sort of thing. Some in a sweet way, some in an annoyingly reverse-snobbish way.

As if what we read or watch defines who we are or is something to brag about?
Maybe for some people it is something to brag about. After all, literary novels are much harder to read, Shakespeare is incomprehensible to many, the Opera requires a greater level of concentration than a pop concert - and so on. So it is an accomplishment to read or attend such things if you ever had to struggle to understand them. They are marks of belonging to an elite club, and that does define us. They just don't realise there is a level above that where you don't need to brag or worry about what culture you enjoy because it is all so easy and always has been.

And now I'm bragging ;)

Doctor Who - The Lie of the Land

Date: 2017-06-05 08:29 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I agree with pretty much everything you have said. Some good Missy/Doctor and some good action, otherwise nothing to speak of.

I liked the discussion at the end best. It actually made the episode for me. And changed my mind about Missy/Master -- where she states that she remembers the names and faces of everyone she's killed and there are so many...how he didn't tell her about this. Tears streaming down her face. He says how this is actually a good thing.
Yes! That was a brilliant moment. And it makes me think of all the other conversations they must have had over the last seventy years to get to this point. He is doing so much more than just keeping her in a box :)

The writer's of Doctor Who are obviously not pro-death penalty and believe in redemption -- I agree with them for the most part. Death solves nothing, unless someone is a threat and there is no other way to stop it. But I'm not sure about redemption. I've met and seen people who...well...can a sociopath truly change?

Yes, because people do grow and change with time and experience. So there is always the hope of redemption even if the frequency is incredibly low. We all struggle all the time to change ourselves for the better, and little by little we do change. Just not always as fast or as far or in the direction we had hoped for.

I think Missy can be redeemed, but she won't end up like the Doctor, and her earlier speech about if she is to become like him it will take a very long time is putting him on warning of that. In fact considering how very narrow minded the Doctor can often be, I think I will prefer the redeemed Missy to him. Spin-off show, maybe?

Re: Doctor Who - The Lie of the Land

Date: 2017-06-05 05:41 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
It's an interesting choice to redeem Missy, as opposed to just killing her or keeping her as the recurring villain like they've done with the Master.

Yes, it is. I am very much looking forward to seeing how it will play out.

Stories don't follow the same rules as real life (I have yet to meet a real person with a character arc) so redemption is definitely a possibility. They might also go the 'ha, fooled you, I'm still evil' route. That might work better for the kids and would keep the Master/Missy character available as a nemesis. We shall see.

In reality, psychopaths and sociopaths don't tend to be redeemable, mainly because they don't possess the capability.
I wouldn't begin to claim to know enough about the subject to contribute sensibly. I certainly have never met a real diagnosed one, let alone a convicted criminal one. I just have a, perhaps rather naive, belief that the human brain is a remarkable organ, astonishing in its plasticity, and capable of rewiring itself to a truly astonishing extent. So surely there is always some hope? Small, maybe laughably minuscule, but surely always there.

I have a friend who works with the probation service helping convicted criminals recover from drug addiction. He says that age has a lot to do with it - they get to their late thirties or forties and they want to change and start to find change possible. The younger ones, under exactly the same programme of support and supervision, keep re-offending.

Re: Doctor Who - The Lie of the Land

Date: 2017-06-06 01:43 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
You are a writer. Generalising is just summarising and repackaging the complexity of life, which is part of a writer's job. :)

Still Star-Crossed

Date: 2017-06-05 08:41 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
This show sounds... complicated. But also with potential. I do hope I get a chance to see it somehow.

The casting is the most diverse and colorblind that I've ever seen. They have interracial couples all over the place and aren't blinking an eye.

This maybe comes in through the Shakespearean theatre connection. Shakespeare (in this country at least, and I know a lot of our shows travel to the States) is normally cast in a colour-blind fashion, sometimes to the point of genetic impossibility. It works because most Shakespeare productions step outside realistic norms and into a universe of their own rules.

Romeo is black, with a white father, white cousin
This wouldn't worry me unless Romeo's mother was also white. In a TV show I want a higher standard of reality and in-world logic than I am willing to accept on stage. But maybe that's just me.

Romeo's father, Papa Montague, has manipulated his son into falling in love with Juliet Capulet. He paid the Priest to ensure their union. With the view that once she got pregnant with his son's child, he'd have a Capulet under his family name. But alas, the Priest gave them poison and they died. He's not happy with the Priest. That's a nice twist.
That is a really nice twist! I wonder if as the show goes along they will twist it further and reveal that the Capulets also had an agenda.

What is intriguing is that the story is obviously not going to be about racism, because that does not appear to be an issue here, but about classism, gender inequality, and power politics.
Oh that sounds so crunchy and I really, really want to watch it! But I share your surprise that an American show is ignoring race and discussing class. When Americans decide to discuss class in their literature it is always really enjoyable and explores the subject in a beautifully subtle way (I am thinking of Supernatural and Suits), but they do it so rarely.

I wish it focused more on the older characters.
Well if it survives, and if the older actors are better than the younger ones (which they probably are just thanks to experience) then if things follow the normal course of events they will just quietly take over the show. They will keep the pretty young things to maintain their original audience and use the intriguing older ones to build the audience.

Re: Still Star-Crossed

Date: 2017-06-05 05:07 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Tybalt was her cousin, not her brother
That is as Shakespeare has it, actually. But if there was no brother in the family a first cousin could well mean as much to Juliet emotionally.

And they make a point of how children are pretty much commodities, to be traded for land, title, advancement. Which is interesting...and fits that time period. Marriages are arranged.
Are they trying for an accurate period setting or is it a generic fantasy middle-ages? Because if they are trying to make the setting period accurate then I would have big issues with the colour-blind casting. I hate that, I think it's racist. Also most TV shows are dreadful at every aspect of historical accuracy so the bugs become too irritating very quickly. I actually prefer fantasy pasts like in Merlin. Then they can tell all the stories they want, cast them as they please, and still include all their historical tropes of choice without causing annoyance.

The romance genre is obsessed with class, often to the exception of all else.
Another genre I'm not familiar with. But a class focus makes sense.

I think because often class and gender politics go hand in hand?
Well they obviously don't have to, but maybe they often do if class is explored through a (heterosexual) romance lens, since by definition to do that you will have a male and female from different classes.

Sci-fi also will delve into class more, over here.
I really haven't noticed that, and I watch a fair bit of sci-fi.

Mainly because class is different here -- it's based on "wealth" and how it was obtained....Europe looks at it more from an aristocracy perspective, which we don't quite understand over here.
Years ago I described a theoretical show in which Buffy was set in the Uk and how the class differences between the characters would mean the kids had never met one another. This prompted a very interesting discussion where most of the Americans agreed with one another that their class system was very different to our own. However, one woman spoke to me in PM, explaining that she came from the US upper class and that the system I was describing was in fact very similar to her own experience of class - just that most Americans of lower classes were oblivious to this fact. Anecdotal and I have long since lost touch with her, but from other friendships I do get the general impression that the higher up the system you go, the closer it all becomes to our class system, with inherited culture being as important as inherited wealth. So that someone of the upper class culture will remain part of that culture even a couple of generations after the wealth has been lost. That is close to aristocracy.

In Still Star-Crossed-- the class distinction is "old wealth/entitled wealth" vs. "new wealth/self-made", which is an American thing.
Yes, it would be very unusual to examine class in those terms over here. Class tensions are done very crudely on the whole, with either a simplistic upper/middle/lower tension scenario, or a battle between those upper-class people who believe in noblesse oblige and those who are snobs. That is why I find the American explorations of class far more satisfying and nuanced on the whole. It's almost as if class is so all pervasive in our society we can't see the wood for the trees.

Part of the reason for the racial diversity/colorblind casting is the show-runner/executive producer - who is Shondra Rhimes. (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder) who is among the few female African-American show-runners on a major broadcast channel.
Cool.

Re: Still Star-Crossed

Date: 2017-06-06 07:47 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Many thanks for this!

(Your numbering went weird btw, but I was able to follow.)

Okay, so your system is based far more around actual wealth than ours. What seems to matter is how much money you have and where that money came from.

Ours class system is more cultural. Class here is a combination of inheritance and education, so money is nice and useful to have but doesn't really affect your class. Maybe more of a cast system than a class system. I have a friend who earns well over 20 times what I do, but we both know I am from a higher class than her and that will be true for the rest of our lives. It takes several generations to move up or down a class. My class doesn't help me pay the bills, but it can help me get a better table in a restaurant. Then she pays the bill ;)

Except at the very top the US obviously does have cast-like cultural distinctions, because they are going to different schools and don't mix much. That was clearly the level my correspondent was talking about.

I also wonder if there might be cast elements at the bottom? Where everyone is poor the fine distinctions of where you came from and what your work is can become terribly important as relative status symbols. It may only be in the melting pot of the middle that it is only wealth that counts, but since the middle is culturally dominant that is what sets the tone.

Re: Still Star-Crossed

Date: 2017-06-06 07:55 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Yes, this definitely sounds like our class system. Where it is purely cultural and nothing to do with what job you do or what you earn.

a sort of careless la di da attitude that my friends who were working class and middle didn't possess

They teach it in nursery school ;)

A lot of it comes from having been sent away to board at a young age, although people who were only day pupils have it as well because it can be picked up from your peers. It also comes from having had a huge range of experience from a young age, so fewer situations feel strange or intimidating. One of the ways in which the Doctor is a genuine Time Lord is his ability to walk into any situation and talk to anybody from any background without ever showing any lack of confidence. Also his tendency to assume he is in charge. And he probably eats his peas off the back of his fork.

Re: Still Star-Crossed

Date: 2017-06-08 11:22 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Not sure what it is like in the UK? But not all public schools are created equal here. Some are much better than others, and where you go is defined by where you live.

Our state schools are very variable. They have improved a lot in the last ten years and some of the inner-London academies and free schools (like your charter schools) are now educationally as good as the best public schools. There are also a very few surviving grammar schools which provide a specialist academic education, and some schools that specialise in things like the performing arts or sport. However, a standard state school in a middle sized town will be churning out a very mediocre education. And the worst sink state schools are frankly dreadful. The small rural schools are often very good but tend to only educate up to 11, with older children having to commute to the nearby town. In the case of the Scottish islands, many older pupils have to board because there is no day school in reach.

So an awful lot depends on your location because you have to be in the 'catchment area' to get into a state school. So people who don't approve of private education (it wasn't only your mother who had that prejudice!) will often spend as much as the school fees would have cost to move to an area with a good state school.

The difference in education was night and day. I went from studying the American Revolutionary War and Civil War for the 15th time to studying the Ancient Greeks, Hebrews and Egypt. I went from doing rudimentary math to algebra. We went from science being a field trip on how to make cider and donuts, to experiments.
This sort of difference is what is so sad and is why one of my biggest political interests is in improving education. The products of our standard state schools have been deprived the basics of a decent education by ideology and lazy assumptions about what children are capable of. It makes me furious. And I have met so many young adults who are acutely aware of how ignorant they are and are desperate to make up for what they have been denied. That generation will probably never make up the difference, but we are at least starting to do something for the younger ones. The educational 'blob' that ruined our schools has begun to be broken.

My brother and I tested horribly on those computerized tests -- we were both dyslexic.
Did they not allow extra time for certified dyslexics?

Our public (in the British sense of the word) and independent schools mostly use something called the Common Entrance Exam, which is produced by a central board but marked by each school being applied to. Other schools organise their own exams. So the schools have perfect flexibility to mark and select according to their own needs, nothing is standardised. Also a lot of independent schools don't have any minimum academic requirement at all - after all, there are plenty of thick rich kids out there :D

So the best schools in the country are still the elite academically selective public and independent schools, but there are plenty of other public schools that provide the same cultural experience with a non-academic vocational education. There are also layers and layers of nuance in the exact culture of each school, and the facilities and experiences provided. The differences between public, independent and private schools are all important to people who went to one or the other, even though to outsiders they are all just fee-paying schools. So exactly which school you went to is very important, and is often the first thing people will find out about you at college since it allows them to mentally fit you into an exact slot in their social filing system. And the basic sense of self-confidence is taught at all of them but more so at some than others.

As far as I know, even the very best free schools haven't managed to replicate that self-confidence. They can give an academic education as good, and they teach them wonderful manners (last year I went to a Shakespeare performance that turned out to be a schools' matinee, and the behaviour of children from the free schools was remarkable compared to those from ordinary state or private schools) but the effortless self-confidence still seems to elude them. Maybe it will start to emerge in a few years time.
Edited Date: 2017-06-08 11:27 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-06-05 03:39 pm (UTC)
cactuswatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cactuswatcher
I presume that by kids you mean 'teens.' There hasn't been any evening programming aimed at children on general audience channels since the government decided it would be a terrific idea for local broadcast stations to come up with their own programming from 6:30 to 7:00 (7:30 to 8:00 Eastern time) instead of being forced to carry network programming. Before that, the slot was mandated by the government to have children friendly programming, and often the slot immediately after would have something older kids could keep watching without their parents being worried. The local programming mandate threw all that out the window.

So what's the difference between shows aimed at teens and those aimed at adults? Less and less these days, but... Shows aimed at teens (many of which also encourage adult viewers) have a very unique set up. First of all in shows for teens there are very few adults around. (Very different from adult shows or even 'family' shows!) Mostly the adults are absent or largely ineffectual. You might have someone like Giles tossing out a pearl of wisdom now and then, but the pretend-teens largely are on their own making up their own rules. It's a teen dream world, with the only problems being ones, that teens consider adult. The practical problems real teens have are virtually non-existent. Rarely does someone else's schedule interfere with a teen doing anything, and when it does happen, it's a huge deal. Nobody has any transportation problems. There are always plenty of cars to get teens wherever, and they are always magically full of gas. There are authorities like the police out there in the show, but rarely does anyone in authority show up or say 'you can't do that.' Teen shows live in their own little world where everything mostly runs by adult-like rules, which can be broken mostly without consequence if necessary. Indeed everyone lives by adult rules except for weekend nights which by common consent should get 'crazy' and can get dangerous, if rival teens are met. You can tell Buffy matured away from a teen show, because several of the gang had to go out and get jobs.

The adult show counter-part to the never-never land of teens is having the central characters be very rich so they never have to earn money, just run around and solve crimes, do the marry-get-divorced cycle, travel the world without a care, etc. In adult shows all this is admired. In teen shows, the same kind of wealth is despised.

I would guess you can come up with more 'teen' show cliches if you think about it.

Date: 2017-06-05 06:16 pm (UTC)
cactuswatcher: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cactuswatcher
I'd classify 'tweens' as being a little younger, 11-13, in other words junior high/middle school aged. So I'd agree more with your brother that tweens are a little too young for Buffy.

But that doesn't mean tweens wouldn't love Buffy. What kid that age doesn't look up to slightly older kids and want to take part in things they like?

The shows I've seen that are particularly for tweens, have all the problems tweens have. Tweens can't decide whether they are more children or more grown up and given the day of the week want to be treated like both. Shows for tweens can't decide if they should have stories and action for the goofiest of children's tastes or for more sedate teens. (Books for tweens are somewhat different in character and seem to handle this more eligantly.) Shows for tweens tend to be very preachy, the important values being those from a tween's point of view, and they tend to drift off into silliness as a substitute for comedy. And yes, tween shows are often set in high school or at least with high school age roles. And there are always authority figures lurking somewhere in the background to sort out the worst messes and let the characters know the worst disasters have turned out all right in the end. (Early Harry Potter books, I'm looking at you!) That certainly isn't the case with Buffy, which usually teaches life is real and you need to be able to deal with it yourself.

Date: 2017-06-05 04:16 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: MERL-MerlinSideCut-kathyh (MERL-MerlinSideCut-kathyh)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Ah, someone who's seen Still Star Crossed. I have yet to see the premiere though I've set it up to record. Sounds like it could be interesting. I'll try to see it this week as I'm almost caught up on all the season finales I missed.

Date: 2017-06-06 01:42 pm (UTC)
thedabaracds: (k9)
From: [personal profile] thedabaracds
RE Dr Who: near the end of this last episode, I was practically shouting at the screen: Bill, just wake up the alien guy and say four words: I RECIND MY CONSENT!! Hey, it might have worked...

And why would anyone take advice from Missy without a wagonload of salt... Sociopaths can fake sympathy to get what they want, but once they get what they want, watch out. Actions speak a lot louder then words.



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