Zoe’s Desk | Submitted For Your Perusal.

It’s a neat trick on Fincher’s part. It’s difficult to render knowledge work cinematically (quick, what’s the last great movie about writing you remember seeing?), as opposed to physical work which more readily lends itself to Rocky-style montages, but Fincher has figured out a way to short circuit the process. Like all good filmmakers, he knows that if he gives us the signs, we will fill in the rest.

America’s favorite joke is anything but funny – Salon.com

Without the foil, we would have to face our own poverties, our own barbarism, our own shelteredness, our own actual lack of sophistication.


The problem with a stereotype is usually not that it is completely inaccurate, but that it identifies a feature as relevant or important for irrelevant reasons and, in so doing, makes it difficult for the person or entity to break out of the stereotype and beyond it in observers’ eyes, which makes an authentic relationship with the stereotyped person or entity impossible.

Filed under: rednecks, stereotypes

America’s favorite joke is anything but funny – Salon.com

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the history of the hillbilly in America. – Slate Magazine

The hillbilly figure allows middle-class white people to offload the venality and sin of the nation onto some other constituency, people who live somewhere—anywhere—else. The hillbilly’s backwardness highlights the progress more upstanding Americans in the cities or the suburbs have made. These fools haven’t crawled out of the muck, the story goes, because they don’t want to.

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and the history of the hillbilly in America. – Slate Magazine

Wehr in the World: 30+ hours of TV later…

Justin Wehr on how Community is awesome and so is TV but…

I don’t mean to be another pretentious I’m-above-TV guy, because I’m not. TV is above me. It dominates me, it makes me want to do nothing but sit in front of its glowing glory. In a real way, it scares me, because it shows me how powerless I am. […] The danger of TV and of passive entertainment more generally is not just that it takes time away from better things. The real danger is that it makes better things seem harder.

A couple months ago I set aside Sunday mornings as a sacred, no-interference-allowed time for books and nerdery. It’s a guaranteed 3-5 hours of learning. No regrets whatsoever. And then on Sunday afternoons I watch/play sports because that’s what you do.

Wehr in the World: 30+ hours of TV later…

Upping the Antihero – The New Inquiry

The old cop who chafed at institutional limits has undergone a neoliberal transformation: The result is a new kind of series that we might call the consultant procedural. A derivative of the cop and private investigator procedurals, the consultant procedural starts with some sort of institutional disqualification and follows the central character as he or she ports unmatched professional skills from job to job.

The consultant procedural! This is brilliant.

Upping the Antihero – The New Inquiry

The Gollum Effect

Extreme couponers, if you count the value of their time, basically make a modest living doing below-minimum-wage marketing work for the coupon-based marketing universe that welcomes them as raving fans.

From the point of view of the stores, far from being hostile opponents in some asymmetric game of chess, these are merely cheap and committed marketers. They are encouraged to model, in extreme ways, the very couponing behaviors that the marketing machine wants others to emulate in less extreme ways.

Which is exactly what happens. So long as you and I casually clip and use coupons, inspired by the extreme couponers in our midst, the grocery stores still comes out on top. If the extreme couponers’ leadership behavior were to actually lead to large-scale loss-driving sedition by too many customers, the store could easily staunch the losses overnight, by making minor changes to coupon-redemption rules.

I hadn’t thought about it this way.

The Gollum Effect

Rural purge


The “rural purge” of American television networks (in particular CBS) was a series of cancellations between 1969 and 1972, the majority of which occurred at the end of the 1970-71 television season, of still popular rural-themed shows and shows with demographically-skewed audiences. (via sleevia)


Rural purge

The Mad Men Account by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books

Although I can’t vouch for anything beyond the second season, Mendelsohn’s critique seems fair. (via)

Worst of all—in a drama with aspirations to treating social and historical “issues”—the show is melodramatic rather than dramatic. By this I mean that it proceeds, for the most part, like a soap opera, serially (and often unbelievably) generating, and then resolving, successive personal crises (adulteries, abortions, premarital pregnancies, interracial affairs, alcoholism and drug addiction, etc.), rather than exploring, by means of believable conflicts between personality and situation, the contemporary social and cultural phenomena it regards with such fascination: sexism, misogyny, social hypocrisy, racism, the counterculture, and so forth.

A few years ago, I read a collection of Mendelsohn’s criticism, most of it anyway, and found it quite enjoyable.

The Mad Men Account by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books

Explaining Wagner’s Relevance To Soccer | The New Republic

A soccer game is a Wagner opera. The narrative sets up, the tension builds, the music ebbs and flows, the strings, the horns, more tension, and suddenly a moment of pure bliss, trumpet-tongued Gabriel sings, and gods descend from Olympus to dance—this peak of ecstasy. During these moments, I no longer am my usual self, no longer human. I am connected to life. Call it bliss, call it ecstasy, call it what you will. In that moment, I not only see God, I am God. I am not only connected to life, I am connected to my TV!

Explaining Wagner’s Relevance To Soccer | The New Republic