Morning Ed: Entertainment {2018.08.08.W}

[Et1] Anne Holmquist argues that classic cartoons helped make the unwashed culturally literate.

[Et2] My mind has difficulty processing the concept that comic books (as opposed to comic book properties like movies) are doing really well. The last comic book shop in town actually closed last year. This is the story I am much more familiar with.

[Et3] For Deadspin, David Bixenspan writes about the fate of Brian Christopher and the state of entertainment wrestling.

[Et4] I don’t know, seems to me like there is a big difference between not having a book in you and not having a best seller.

[Et5] Richard McKenzie wrote about his lunch with Mr Rogers.

[Et6] Urban Meyer may be in some real trouble, but Art Briles is coaching again (in Italy).

[Et7] Publishing sales are going up! Digital audiobook sales are going up more… but ebook sales continue to fall.

[Et8] Phoebe Maltz Bovy writes about trends in women’s entertainment and how the work/family/life prioritization is treated therein.

[Et9] I understand concerns over PC and everything, but puppets or not Punch and Judy really are problematic.


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Will Truman is the pseudonym of a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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29 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Entertainment {2018.08.08.W}

  1. Et1: Classic cartoons did contain many cultural references that imparted some knowledge of literature and music. However, when these cartoons were made these references were part of the broader culture. There also seems to be not much of a leap from learning about the Barber of Seville in a Bugs Bunny cartoon to wanting to watch the actual Barber of Seville opera.

    Et2: From what I’ve read, the trade paper back collections of comic books are doing well but the individual issues are not selling because modern readers see them as not enough product for their cost.

    Et4: I can buy an argument that most people don’t have a book in them because most people lack the writing ability to turn out a novel even if they have the ideas in their head. There is a lot of bad writing out there.

    Et8: These concerns seems to be the concerns of a women who are educated and talented enough to pursue an interesting career in the big city but still get limited by certain biological aspects. Women who aren’t that educated or talented are not going to have these concerns because their prospects are limited. From what I can tell, a lot of commercial women’s entertainment does not really deal with women that are realistically stuck in low end options. Even if the woman is in a worker class job like being a waitress have the aspiration, ability, and attractiveness to go to entertainment. Men’s entertainment is just as bad but does seem to contain a greater share of genuine uneducated and not talented male protagonists.

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      • A few years before Bug was born, I saw a Punch & Judy at a neighborhood fair. After the show was done, one of the troupe came out and talked to the kids about the play. Only took maybe 5 minutes to ask the right leading questions of the kids to make sure the correct message got driven home.

        The kind of thing early childhood educators should be perfectly competent to do once the puppeteer has completed his performance (rather than asking the puppeteer to alter things to suit sensibilities).

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          • I’m sure many do.

            But my point is, rather than attempting to remove the problematic part of something, or shoehorn in some hamfisted attempt at diversity, take it for what it is and use it for a teaching tool. We are supposed to learn from our history, not gloss it over.

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      • When my siblings and I watched Punch and Judy as children, and then acted stuff out afterward, Judy always fought back and usually won. Which, sure, not ideal, but actually better than 1) what happens in the story, which implies it’s pretty clear what the problem is in the stories; 2) what actually happened in our house, which is that we had a Punch with no intervening narrative about how wrong he was, and no one to stand up to him.

        I’m not saying teachers should have to deal with the ruckus that ensues after a Punch and Judy show as kids break out into misbehavior to deal with the frustrations of being trapped in a school alll day AT ALL…. but when considering the dangers vs benefits of any children’s entertainment, it’s important not to have some sort of idealized child in one’s mind, vs. remembering that while MOST kids may (if one is in a lucky part of the world) be safe and happy at home, not all kids are coming at narratives from that particular starting point. (This is a big issue when parents try to censor children’s books that don’t suit for their own kid, over the objections of the librarians who are more familiar with the student body as a whole, so apologies if I seem overbearing at the moment.)

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          • Yeah, I didn’t see Oscar’s comment when I wrote mine…. I agree that would be the best approach, as long as the educators don’t (as mine often did) manage to lie about what happens to kids in the context of “guidance”. Nothing like “of course this isn’t something anyone actually DOES” kind of guidance to make an abused kid feel invisible – I have a lot of memories of being told in “special programs” in elementary school, for example, that if I was being abused I should “tell mommy and daddy right away”. Uh, thanks, grown-ups, pretty sure they already know.

            really good guidance, though, is incredibly good and affirming no matter who the kid is receiving it.

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  2. [Et9] There was a puppet show that played at a couple of the music festivals we went to last year that I was really glad not to see back. Not at all as bad as Punch and Judy, but still somewhat violent, and all about a boys vs girls dynamic, full of exaggerated gender stereotypes, etc. Done by a couple of white dudes, because of course it was.

    What I particularly disliked about it wasn’t the show itself, it was how the kids played after the show. They were riled up, shoving, calling names, every game was boys vs girls (I’d hate to have been a genderqueer kid on that playground). We had to watch very closely and intervene a fair amount to see that nobody got physically hurt. There were hurt feelings but you can’t as easily do much about that.

    Beforehand they’d been playing all kinds of games, some boys and girls playing together, and nobody was coming away angry or crying.

    But the kids loved the show itself – it was well executed, if obnoxious in content – so it wouldn’t have been right to prevent our daughter from going to see it.

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  3. Et5: Given what this world is, every time I see a story related about Mr. Rogers, I admit, I confess, I think “oh Lord, is this gonna be the one that destroys the image I have of him?”

    Fortunately that has not come to pass yet. I hope it never does. I hope I am underestimating the ability of humanity to produce a uniformly decent person because it seems I get shown the ugly underbelly of people so much.

    And I admit I think a lot these days about what he might think about social media (which existed before his death in 2003 or so, but it was not to the extreme then that it is now) and politics and….oh, just everything.

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    • There’s only one thing that’s scuffed up my image of him a little bit, but I find it quite forgiveable and fold-into-the-whole-able. (Considering the times, he may even have been right. Then again, maybe not.) And I’ve been looking pretty hard since I figured out he was my idealized male parental figure….

      I think you can feel safe.

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      • If it’s the thing about him asking Francois Clemmons not to go to gay bars, I’ve seen it, and….I’m inclined to think of it as “he did the best he could within the times the way they were.” In fact, right now, I’m not sure there wouldn’t be major outrage from some segments of the population if a person from a well-loved children’s show was seen at a gay bar or a Pride rally or some such.

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        • Yeah, but not so much the gay bars as the “you cannot wear an earring on the show, I accept you but we can’t let people know” more general policy. I mean, you can’t wear an earring on the show?? I understand the hesitation but it’s also a matter of forcibly closeting someone who until then was very natural and open about his sexuality. I think Clemmons has the right attitude, which is to say it was uncharacteristic, that at times Mr. Rogers was unpleasant about his sexuality even though overall he let love win, but that overall it was utterly forgivable. (I’ve read – though I don’t have links to – some interviews that Clemmons gave in gay media some long time ago, after Mr. Rogers died but before the current wave of tributes, in which he was a bit more blunt and critical about some of their interactions around him being gay. Nothing shocking or at all hateful – no now-sekrit revelations, just – of course – more detail than what he would give to mainstream publications about someone he cherished who *was* more forward-thinking about sexuality than the vast majority of ministers at that time.)

          I mean, there would also be – and there was!!!! – major outrage from some segments of the population in seeing him hang out with Francois Clemmons and share a wading pool with him, and yet he didn’t let that stand in his way. He welcomed that sort of controversy, with Clemmons, as with other people, but he sometimes made Clemmons feel a bit sad and unwanted because of being gay. Not all the time or even very much of the time… but sometimes. Which to me says he had more hang-ups about gay people (even his friends) than he did about African-Americans, and, well, didn’t almost all forward-thinking people then.

          I wasn’t an adult in those times, and he did so, so much more good than bad. I didn’t say it made me stop idealizing him, just that it put a bit of tarnish on the 90-foot bronze statue of him that lives in my head :). I don’t mind, truly, it makes him more like a human being and less like an imaginary friend…

          My point was to reassure, not to trouble, your confidence :)

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    • Make Socialist Realism Popular Again. Its surprising that conservatives would be into an aesthetic style really popular with Communists or maybe not. They would rather have Putin be President than a Democratic politician.

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      • I’ve noticed how the graphic language of politics speaks more clearly than the actual texts.
        Like how all the graphics of magazines and websites from National Review, Federalist, Quillette and so on all draw from the same well of 18th. 19th century pen and ink drawings, of neo-Classical buildings, statues, and busts of bewigged men in frock coats.
        The text may speak in bland universalities, but the graphic language points to a very particular and specific notion of what the just ordering of the world would be- whose culture and what group would hold power is very clear.

        I don’t really have a read on how leftist graphics work, if only because they seem so ordinary; they use the same san-serif fonts and type layout and graphics that any website anywhere uses.

        But I could just be the fish that doesn’t know the water.

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        • Kinda like our serifed fonts, dirigibles, monocles, and penny-farthing hearken back to that time?

          There are a lot of reasons for nostalgia for a more ordered and thoughtful way of speaking, even among the far more leftist set. I don’t think that, by itself, it really proves anything. (Check out the sheer amount of steampunk written by people of colour sometime….not just as an example, but because most of it is a lot of fun.)

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    • , considering the social media posts I see of wrestlers buying BMW’s or in some cases, high end expensive supercars with their Wrestlemania checks, the vast majority of the WWE roster is perfectly fine with that arrangement. The ones who aren’t will leave and either end up like Cody Rhodes or…Damien Sandow.

      Also, your statement is actually part of the reason why the WWE isn’t so great these days, putting aside the booking issues and oversaturation. Wrestling has never been about the “greatest wrestlers in the world” being the top guys. Otherwise, Brad Armstrong would’ve been more than a midcarder.

      The problem today is we have a generation of guys who spent way more time watching Japanese tapes learning how to do cool moves than watching old Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, or Jim Cornette interviews. Outside of The Miz, John Cena, and maybe Ambrose or Samoa Joe I don’t think there’s a person on the current roster who actually has the charisma or mic skills to actually bring people to the arena if they were transported back to 1985 and had to get people to the Mid South Coliseum or Greensboro Arena weekly.

      Which honestly, the WWE probably likes. They have a bunch of guys who will never be bigger than the company and plenty of money from Fox and USA.

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  4. [Et2] The piece on the comic industry seems to devoid of useful numbers and full of quotes from people pitching their product. And the premature news of the death of the comic book is all Dr. Fredric Wertham’s fault? Yikes!!!

    Here are last year’s numbers: Comics and graphic novel sales down 6.5% in 2017 Sales at comic shops were down 10%. Book channels (like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) had sales fall 1%, which might be misleading given Amazon has been deeply discounting graphic novels by as much as 96% below sticker. They may be selling more units, just as non-sustainable prices.

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