Tagged: television

Right as the rain

Naive realism is a negative wish-fulfillment.

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The latest episode of “The Newsroom” has come under criticism. In the main, the critics reflect (and their criticism exhibits) the assumption that the fictional program is a direct expression of Aaron Sorkin’s opinion on whatever topic/issue is addressed in the narrative. To those critics, I would ask:

When characters express opposed opinions in scenes, how do you know which one is Mr Sorkin’s? If they are all Mr Sorkin’s, then he would rightly be diagnosed with DID (as would all writers).

From a literary-critical perspective, this variety of cultural criticism — the predominant form that popular cultural criticism takes today — is intellectually deficient. It is wrongheaded to reduce the “narrative” to the “author’s opinion.” This typically occurs when the “narrator” is assumed to be the author’s voice or when all stories are assumed to be autobiographical. However, the insistence on this lazy reduction does serve journalistic purposes (as clickbait) and political purposes (as a shaming device).

Over there over here

Americans have always had an inferiority complex vis-a-via the British, considering the latter to be the epitome of civilization while the former have never shed their rustic manners and nouveau riche disposition. It is no wonder that the British accent is perceived to bring class and gravitas to the products of the American culture industry. Even when the accent is repressed, filtered through the lingo of the urban streets (Elba and West in The Wire), infused with brooding biker menace (Hunnam in Sons of Anarchy), or flattened into a monotone military cadence (Lewis in Homeland), the chance that it might “pop out” at any moment titillates the average American viewer. Even a fake British accent suffices: Peter Dinklage’s (Game of Thrones) career has skyrocketed largely because Americans believe he is a British actor.