September 13, 2007
C3 Community: Jason Mittell on Canon and Tenure, Edery on Violence, Kozinets on Britney

Starting a large round of updates after a hectic week, I wanted to point the way tonight toward a variety of interesting pieces that has been published around the C3 community. There's been plenty of intellectual energy flowing across the Consortium's Consulting Researchers and Alum, so I wanted to point my way toward a few of the highlights from their recent writing.

A couple of pieces that really jumped out at me came from Jason Mittell's Just TV. Jason writes about the recently published list of the best 100 television shows of all-time, according to Time (look here). Jason muses about the use of these lists at all. The AFI's Top 100 Films in 1996 can be debated for its authenticity and credibility, but the truth is that it greatly influenced a generation of movie viewers as to what the "canon" would be. I know that I, along with a generation of my friends, waded through movie history with that list as a guide.

What is the purpose of such a canon?

For all its faults, lists can provide a body of work to act as a sample that then encourages viewers to move outward from, even as the idea of a canon is somewhat problematic. In the case of this list, there are of course plenty of television shows on the list that I don't feel particularly compelled by, but likewise several shows I find conspicuous by their absence. Sports are represented by The Super Bowl, ABC's Wide World of Sports, and ESPN's SportsCenter. Sketch comedy is highlighted by Saturday Night Live. There are a couple of news programs on the list, as well as a couple of animated series. The biggest problem is the sporadic international shows listed. I would have just dropped the facade and considered it a list of the top American shows.

But even that would be problematic, of course. Commenters on Jason's page point to missing shows like The Rockford Files. I find The Andy Griffith Show conspicuous by its absence. I would make a strong case for Curb Your Enthusiasm. And I would contest the choice of General Hospital as the token soap opera on the list. Sure, General Hospital's Luke and Laura became a cultural milestone in the late-1970s, but soaps were a part of television from its very beginnings, so picking General Hospital seems myopic for me. I would argue that As the World Turns is the most historically significant show just by being the top-rated soap for 20 years, generating numbers no daytime show could hope for today, and then staying in the game for so many years since then. I'd also argue that Red Skelton should be on this list, or at least Uncle Miltie. And, of course, pro wrestling is not even up for consideration, it appears.

Meanwhile, Jason also has a brilliant piece relevant to many of the academics working in the space that the Consortium focuses on, entitled Online Publishing and the Tenure Question.

Over at Game Tycoon, David Edery muses about the purpose of violence in media products and cases in which there really isn't enough meaningful violence. He makes the case that the realistic depiction of violence can be a powerful learning tool in some cases, using films like Saving Private Ryan among his examples.

Meanwhile, since I haven't found much to say about the MTV Video Music Awards and Britney Spears, I thought I would point my way toward Rob Kozinets' Brandthroposophy, where Rob weighs in on the Britney Spears and Mattel controversies.

Finally, the latest round of the Gender and Fan Studies discussion over at Henry Jenkins' blog has started. This week, the 15th round features Bob Rehak and Susan Scott. The first part of the conversation is just being published here and the second round will be available here in the coming days.


On September 15, 2007 at 12:04 AM, lynn liccardo said:

just posted re the time list on jason's blog, but i did wanted to follow up on your comments re the soap aspect of the list.

in agreement that the choice of general hospital is myopic (and obvious:), and yes, atwt had a much greater influence on how soap developed. but given the brevity of poniewozik's commentary, no mention of selection criteria and lack of any real context for the list, i actually think he made some interesting points here regarding the selection of general hospital


Lynn, I agree that there's more justification here than for a show like Felicity, which was more along the lines of believing one of those late 90s teen dramas should be included, and this happened to be his favorite. Especially for the generation he's from, it's undersatndable why Luke and Laura would stick out in his mind.