Chapter 1 and 2 -Hope D’Orsi (My login isn’t working…)

Curation: Chapter 1 and 2

The first chapter of Television Criticism, “The Work of the Critic” describes generally, what television criticism is, how it works and the ways in which it will be explained throughout the rest of the book. We are assured that anyone can be a television critic if they follow the steps that are laid out in the chapter. First, choose a program. Next, stay alert and attentive to the program and begin to raise questions about the program. Finally, come up with a method to answer the questions. The sequence of criticism goes as follows: understand, analyze, create a critical methodology, interpret, judge, and lastly, communicate.

In the beginning of the chapter O’Donell shares that people who watch television have a scarier view of the world. Watch this clip:

After watching this clip, fear may be instilled in us regarding toilets and perhaps the possibility of getting stuck like this woman. Of course, the odds of this are slim to none. But this show is revolved around suspense and bizarre yet truthful stories, so it is no wonder that people who watch television can have a scarier view of the world.

Shows such as “I didn’t know I was pregnant” or “Untold Stories of the ER” create a sense of uneasiness among viewers because as viewers, we put ourselves in the position of the patient and continue to wonder and fathom how it is these stories come to be, and if we could be the next victim.

A crucial takeaway from this chapter is that criticism is subjective. I find that one of the most prominent examples of subjective television criticism involves politics. For instance, watch this clip, and without filtering your immediate reactions, allow whatever thoughts to enter your mind. (

For most, there were probably immediate reactions to Hillary Clinton and the scandal of her private emails. But, how did Fox News do in covering the subject? Was there data correct? In what ways did they display Hilary? It is easy to allow subjectivity to overwhelm.

Questions from chapter 1: Could it be at all helpful to read viewers reviews? Would these taint critic’s findings?
Chapter 2 further discusses television advertising. It involves the term that was introduced in chapter one of “brand identity” of appealing to a certain group. O’donnell states, “ratings are road maps to patterns of media consumption… they are objects of fear and loathing” (p.25). This is interesting that producers are able to use ratings to identify who is consuming what in the media. Ratings are most likely a truthful opinion, because a review is usually completely voluntary.

The Nielsen ratings are introduced in this chapter and frequently used in television criticism. These ratings are an audience measurement system to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States. In relatable terms, for women anyway, “That great lipstick ad you saw during your favorite reality show- that was no accident- it was informed by big data”, thanks to the Nielseon ratings ( This makes sense, considering this chapter described that advertisements often link ads to shows so that while the women can be updated on the latest L’oreal lipstick while watching Real Hosuewives of Atlanta, men can be reminded that their Old Spice deodorant has run dry and its time to buy a new one after watching Fabio display it on a horse in the Caribbean sea.

Product promotion is also a large part of television advertisement. For instance, view these two clips from America’s Got Talents; there are two different prominent product promotions in each.

Interestingly enough, as seasons continue for shows the mean age of viewer’s increases. I think this has a lot to do with the marketing younger viewers are capable of that older viewers are not. For instance, a college girl is likely to sit around and speak highly of the new Netflix show she started with all her sorority sisters, than a businesswomen who sits an office all day and has no one to tell about the new fabulous Netflix show she started binge watching. The viewers are free advertisers for shows, and it is smart for producers to target this younger group.

Production is the first step of any show, and sadly not all shows make it. It is difficult to determine if a show will be successful because there are so many variables to production and what viewers will find interesting.

This makes me think of shows that continue to air and have seasons but the new seasons never really have resolutions to old problems (Pretty Little Liars, Scandal). Here is a list of shows, with promising actors and actresses’ that never quite made it.

Overall, keeping a show on the big screen is difficult, and relies heavily on us as viewers and similarly, us as critics.

How violence and sexual images on TV affect a brand?

I saw this on AdWeek and thought it really related to today’s discussion of violence in media. It offers an infographic on how advertisers are now starting to shy away from programs that feature explicitly violent material because there have been some correlation between these and negative images of their brand. It’s a neat and quick little infographic that I thought I would share!

Political Ads Through the Years

Today in class we watched following famous campaign ad put out by LBJ in 1964:

We talked about this as an example of enthymeme, a type of rhetoric that lets us “fill in the blanks.” However, there are numerous other rhetorical strategies that can be employed in political ads, and I’ve rounded up a few below.

While you might not realize it today, not all political ads are negative. Eisenhower in 1952 and JFK in 1960 both had catchy jingles to bring in votes.

Of the two, I think I like Ike’s better. It’s just a little catchier. Otherwise, there’s really not a lot of policy discussion going on in these.

Now it’s time to go negative. First up Nixon’s challenger, McGovern, is attacked on his defense spending:

This is a pretty straightforward ad that comes right out and says: “McGovern will cut defense spending.” I particularly like the simple toy imagery here.

In the next ad, Hubert Humphrey finds Spiro Agnew hilarious:

Unfortunately, Humphrey would never be asked to play the Joker.

If you’ve been watching CNN’s “Race to the White House” series (narrated by Kevin Spacey), these next two ads may look familiar. In the 1988 election, Bush did a great job of first setting the agenda to focus on security instead of economic concerns, where Dukkakis was more confident. The first ad, the famous “Willie Horton” ad, was not actually released by Bush’s campaign. The second focuses on a strong, lasting image with the revolving door.

I’m reminded of some postmodern theories like Postman’s, which focus on separating context from imagery. The campaign also featured what could be considered several “pseudo-events,” including the infamous attempt to stage shots of Dukkakis driving in  a tank.

Next, Reagan takes a different approach, appealing to patriotism.

Clearly, people who don’t vote for Reagan most likely hate America.

To look at a non-presidential ad, in this ad, Dale Peterson wants your vote for Commissioner of Agriculture. This ad has everything. It appeals to patriotism, threatens you with “illegals busting in by the thousands,” and accuses his opponent of stealing signs and taking illegal bribes. He even gets in some ad hominem action, calling his opponent a “dummy”.

My favorite part is the way he silently pulls out the rifle at :51.

Finally, here is what most people would agree is the greatest political ad ever created:

I think this would be considered an enthymeme.

The “N” Word – Political Correctness or Source of Identity

Inspired by the blackish episode, I began surfing the web for more opinions/ discussion about the use of the “n” word. Culturally, debate about the word often happens in the hip hop/rap medium. Our discussion on cultural appropriation in class touched on some of the sources of contention in the debate. While use of the “n” word is pervasive in our society, it is still as taboo as it gets in the discussion of race relations in America; while mention of the word in any room will immediately bring tension, another group takes pride in the ability to reclaim the word.

The discussion on who is entitled to use the word and what context the word can be used is one that I have with my friends often. While I have often thought the meaning and appropriateness of the word is dependent on the cultural context of it’s use, the above video of featuring Chris Collinsworth, an NFL Sportscaster is poignant in revealing the decisive nature of the word in a locker room. While he is clear in forbidding white football players from using the word at all, he appears to offer a less severe warning for African American players. He references to the divisive nature of the word and it’s potential negative impact on the team chemistry as reasons to opt for not using the word.

What do you guys think about Collinsworth’s message? Is he asking too much of white players specifically? Should use of the word be banned in the NFL because it’s a professional organization?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and LGBTQ Representation

tumblr_n605rvdHlw1tbnb01o1_500I LOVE Buffy the Vampire Slayer (evident by the fact that I binged all seven seasons over the summer). Also, Dr Maurantonio and I discussed how this is a thing in the academic field. That said, my favorite character quickly became Willow Rosenberg. (It’s been almost 20 years since the show debuted, but…spoiler warning) Willow starts off as the quirky friend/sidekick to the show’s protagonist, Buffy. However, over the seven season run Willow’s character is developed and in season four, after previously having love interest in two male characters, her sexuality is explored during her time in college. I’ll let the attached link further explore the significance of how her coming out and sexuality are represented in the show, which was a mainstream staple in the late 90s/ early 00s. But, I think this is a nice point of departure to analyze how similar scenes play out in popular media today. (Also, I love Willow but I was initially on the fence about the openly lesbian character being a witch. However, I think it’s a truly beautiful narrative when the larger Buffy context is considered)

NYU’s Professor Portwood-Stacer’s Queer Analysis of Buffy

MTV’s white squad satirical ad- have they gone too far?


I came across this video while searching for more information on the Central Park Five and I think this is a very poignant representation of our discussions we have been having in the last two classes.

This satire video was created by MTV’s Look Different campaign to highlight the issue of white privilege. MTV strategically placed facts throughout the video in a humorous way to help inform us on how real this issue is and how it impacts the lives of the black community.

As you can imagine, there has been extreme backlash towards the video with some arguing that MTV went too far. Those who provided such backlash also argued that white privilege and racism is not a joke. However, an article from The Daily Mail, who believes in MTV’s video purpose, quotes The Huffington Post’s Black Voices saying the video was “painfully honest and all too real”.

This video stung me in the sense that I don’t really know if I agree with MTV or if I thought its humor masked the real issue being discussed. It is definitely a very vivid representation of white privilege and is meant to have some degree of exaggeration. Nonetheless, I’d love to hear some of your comments about whether you think MTV’s video was a good representation of white privilege or if MTV took the content too far?


White Riots vs. Black Protests

This video is something that I came across less than a year ago following events such as the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore protests, and the Charleston Church shooting.  In the video we see how media coverage changes based on race, with one of the best examples being that a gathering of white people is labeled as an altercation or a dispute while a gathering of black people is labeled as a riot.  In watching this video, I feel that it is interesting to see the injustice that is present in media coverage.  Furthermore, after watching a film like Central Park Five, it is clear that not much has changed in the way that the media portrays people of color.  With that said, what are your thoughts on the video and on the topic in general?   

Media fast causes depression, anxiety, jealousy?

As I was looking for some support to put into my paper on our media fast I came across this article that states in it’s tagline, “Going 24 hours without internet makes teens jealous, hostile (study)”

After reading some of the article, there is evidence that being away from phones actually produced a similar response that depression or severe anxiety does on these teens. Over a cell phone, over the internet?  The article mentions there were a lot of failures which is to be expected. Students admitted that going without their cell phones was very difficult.

I know that we all did this and I’m curious to see if you guys had similar issues with your fast experiment. I know personally, I am too attached to my phone. I acknowledge it but I guess that doesn’t make it any better. I think it’s a real discussion that needs to be had for the younger generation because too much media I think IS a bad thing, and could potentially produce a negative impact on people if misused or even overused.

In that same line of thinking, I saw an ad for this tv show today and was wondering if anybody had heard about it? It really demonstrates to me the impact that the internet has on our daily life, even when we think it is a safe space or anonymous zone where we can post freely that which we would rather not say in person. It could potentially be interesting given our class discussions on the internet and it’s presence!


kesha sobs

What is pictured above is Kesha sobbing after hearing the verdict from the judge over the weekend. For the past year or so Kesha has been in an ongoing legal battle against her former producer and alleged abuser, Dr. Luke and the record label Sony. Kesha alleges that Dr. Luke sexually assaulted her and consistently committed emotional abuse to her to the point that she developed an eating disorder after she was told that she was too fat. Recently, she even checked into rehab for this disorder. After hearing the verdict, the industry was in shock. How could the judge side with this monster who took advantage of a young and hopeful rising star? Well, celebrities and fellow women in the industry have taken to social media to voice their support and Taylor Swift has even donated $250,000 to whatever Kesha may need during this time (as she is unable to work due to the fact that she would still have to work with her accused).

The extremely messed up thing here is that this is not uncommon. It is not uncommon for women to feel like they need to lose weight at the advice of their producer or agent. It is not uncommon for assault and abuse to continue to happen. These women and yes, even men, are put in a position where they are at the mercy of those who have the power to make them somebody. It is indeed sad to see these events surrounding Kesha and I can only hope that moving forward she is able to find peace and get back to work with positive people surrounding her.

Supporters on Facebook constantly cite Chris Brown and his incident and how his career did not suffer, and other members of bands (men) who had similar situations but who were allowed to get out of contracts so that they were able to continue their art.

I think the real issue here is that Kesha is not able to continue making music in a safe and reasonable environment, regardless if the accusations are true or false, the court should have given her that opportunity. She has given enough time to this guy and after her real issues that have resulted from working with him (i.e. checking into rehab for eating disorder, this supposed assault) she should be allowed to move on.

What do you guys think about this? Do you think that men have it easier getting out of contract negotiations? Do you think that Kesha should just keep making music in her current contract? Do you think the industry needs to look at a better way of policing this sort of abuse? Also, what about Taylor Swift- when I saw it, I thought that is awesome but then I thought about it from a PR strategy? If you’re going to donate that kind of money to a person, wouldn’t you want to do it in private- or is that just me?

Apple vs. FBI: Fight Over Apple ID Password

Apple vs. FBI

This news story has been all over the place this past week. I found a great summary of what it entails here on Buzz Feed News.

Essentially Syed Farook was one of the San Bernardino terrorists and his phone was confiscated by the government immediately after the attack. His Apple ID password for the iPhone was changed soon after it was confiscated. This meant that the FBI then had no way to access the contents of the phone. Therefore the FBI requested that Apple create a special “backdoor” way to break into the phone and retrieve Farook’s information, which presumably contains details of the planning and execution of the December 2nd attacks that left 14 people dead.

Apple is refusing to create this backdoor technique. The catch is that if the Apple ID password had not been reset by someone after it was taken by the government then Apple would have been able to easily retrieve the information on the phone with an iCloud backup. However, someone in the San Bernardino Health Department did change the Apple ID password and they are claiming that they worked with the FBI to do so, and this thus made it eternally more difficult for Apple to unlock the information on the phone, which in turn caused the FBI to call for them to create a backdoor method for retrieving the information.

Clearly politics and the oligopoly of the FBI and Apple are playing a large role in this case. The political economy of Apple is insurmountable and therefore they understand the implications of creating a backdoor technique to unlock the private information of iPhones. It does make me wonder though if the FBI had the Apple ID password reset on purpose, because they knew that it would mean that they could call for Apple to create a backdoor hacking system that they then could use on many more phones to retrieve private information. Thoughts??

Apple lock