March 14, 2008
My Response to the "1, 2, 3 Challenge"

Considering our interest in the past few months in the history of ideas such as "viral marketing" and mimetics, I thought I'd take Henry Jenkins up on his spread of what he is calls the "1, 2, 3 Meme." According to Henry, from his post earlier this week:

Here's how it works:

  • Look up page 123 in the nearest book

  • Look for the fifth sentence

  • Then post the three sentences that follow that fifth sentence on page 123.

I decided to look at the books that I've been carrying around in my bag, and give three examples from the books I've looked at most recently as well.

Here they are:

"Fans are asked both to evaluate and predict: "Will Shana's (Susan Kelly) love for Father Jim (Peter Davies) ruin any chance of happiness she may have with Mike (James Kilberd)?" (Soap Opera Digest, August 27, 1985: 71). These opinions are frequently formalized into polls, so that fans can compare their opinions with those of others. Thus the article about the rival AMC heroes quoted above ends with a ballot form so that every reader can contribute to answering the question, "Who is the sexiest guy in Pine Valley?". John Fiske, Television Culture.

"What Sigmund Freud and others have termed scopophilia, the pleasure of looking, is the "fascination of watching without being watched, seeing without being seen" (Whetmore and Kielwasser 1983:112). Conceptualizing the female viewer as voyeur draws on Laura Mulvey's seminal article "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," in which she argues that Hollywood films perpetuate gender inequality by positioning the women as object of the male gaze; even female film viewers who take the active stance of the voyeur experience the passive stance of "to-be-looked-at-ness" (1975:11), inherently objects for other (male spectators). Mulvey has been criticized for making it difficult, if not impossible, to conceptualize the female viewer in any other way but as an absence." C. Lee Harrington and Denise Bielby, Soap Fans: Pursuing Pleasure and Making Meaning in Everyday Life.

"Superbarrio, Ecologista Universal, and the other social wrestlers used the wrestling mask as a Rechtian device: not merely a means of calling attention to the artifice of theater, but as a w ay to call attention to the artifice and alienation of the dominant system, and to enable the oppressed to underrstand it, and thus work for its overthrow. Lucha libre's potential as political theater even lay in the name of the genre: lucha, glossed as wrestling, also means struggle. Social wrestlers merely shifted the ground of struggle from the arena to the lucha social." Levi, Heather. "The Mask of the Luchador: Wrestling, Politics, and Identity in Mexico." Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling, Ed. Nicholas Sammond, pp. 96-131.

As you can see, seems like my list ended up being fairly stereotypical for my M.O., considering that all three "page 123s" deal with soap operas or pro wrestling in one way or another. Ironically, the section from Harrington and Bielby's book that answers this meme doesn't mention soaps at all, although the book as a whole is about soap operas, while the section from John Fiske's book on page 123 deals with soap operas in particular, while only a small portion of his book talks about soaps. I recently spoke to Henry Jenkins' class on pro wrestling, and used an essay from Steel Chair to the Head as their reading for the day.

Long story short, whether you are interested in these two particular topics or not, these are three books I highly recommend for anyone interested in the study of popular culture, media, entertainment, and fans.