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I watch a fair amount of television, and I am interested in analyzing television in both a pragmatic and critical manner, i.e. a sociological reading of television. Such readings are attempted often in media studies, studies in contemporary culture, studies in popular culture.

Any discussion of culture cannot escape discussions of power, representation, and politics; and there is no shortage of philosophical, social theoretical, and critical literature out there to point out the impossible complexity of the groups of groupings that entertain forms and types of cultural products:

The heirarchy of texts and interpretations, the use of subversive readings and the practicality of such subversion, the theme of ‘popular culture’ as ‘secular religion’ -or maybe, and here I’ll go out on a limb, a reassertion of a paganism indigenous to European culture come Ameropean -with American products sometimes (and I don’t want to over-emphasize this as a generality) retaining puritanical and messianic recreations easily allegorically related to Judeo-Christian constructs (which themselves never really escaped certain signifiers of pagan spiritual disposition; Christian tradition especially literally occupying pagan sites with their own churches and cathedrals all carved nice and neat with pagan style gargoyles and the assertion of protestations and factionalising in the face of a policy of linguistic and canonical domination).

Yeah. That’s one sentence.

This means a literature survey and discussion of the relations of popular culture, media, religion, representation, and politics. It also means brainstorming…and harvesting questions. To begin I’ll search for articles dealing with paganism and popular culture, since it seems a sufficiently narrow place to start and I doubt I’ll find many dealing with both together.  

I also wish to open up a discussion about different persistent types of television shows.

citizen/super hero and and/or light sci-fi : the 4400, smallville, heroes, lost, medium,

sci-fi: Star Trek, Stargate, Farscape, Battlestar Gallactica

medical/social serial drama (tragic-comic): ER, judging amy, grey’s anatomy, scrubs

class comedy and adolescent/adult identity: gilmore girls OC, one tree hill

alternative-traditional family sitcoms: will & grace, friends, etc.

reality makeover: Extreme Home Makeover

Of course this is just a scheme and boundaries are not hard. For example, Smallville could fit in ‘sci-fi’, ‘citizen/superhero’, ‘sexuality sitcom’, ‘social serial drama’, or ‘adolescent identity’: depending upon the sample of shows and scenes selected. Moreover, I know there are many types of shows that even this broad construction of categories leaves out, crime, investigation, and mystery serials/dramas, among many others. 

I am going to pick up Extreme Home Makeover as my first case study here, since the show really is starting to scare me for reasons to be made more clear to myself and in text down the road.


One Comment

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