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Bloggingheads 12-29-2009 10:03 AM

Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 

brucds 12-29-2009 11:54 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
This is a pretty generationally myopic, self-centered discussion. We don't have The Wire because Ygliesias watches shit on Netflix or his iPod. The Wire was the unique evolution of creative talent honed on '90s broadcast (Homicide) nutured by an equally unique creative environment made possible by the 1970s innovation, cable TV - and the HBO overseers in particular. It would have happened without Netflix or video-on-demand. And youngsters like Yglesias would have picked up on it sooner or later and marched down to the video rental store to get it on cassettes.

There is a certain amount of technological determinism at work in the evolution of great art, but I don't think that any great insights have been discovered here. The Simpsons - which orginated over 20 years ago - are the top-selling TV-DVDs and the most popular video-on-demand are all feature films. I'm wondering if these two even know many of the best hours of television drama ever created were broadcast in the 1950s - a number of which were actually made into feature films AFTER they were written for television series. And if the names Brando, Dean, Newman, McQueen, Steiger, Lumet, Altman, Pollack, Frankenheimer, Serling, Vidal, Chayefsky ring a bell - they were all there.

David Edenden 12-29-2009 12:28 PM

Shock and Awe ... Nude Bloggingheads!
 
In this age of shock jocks, celebrity scandals and meltdowns, the only way that Bloggingheads can get more traffic is "Nude Bloggingheads"

My nominees are for:

"Girl on Girl" - Anne Althouse vs Megan McArdle

"Homoerotic" - Robert Right vs Mickey Kaus

"Solo Performers" - Christopher Hitchens

Note: the joke is ... only the headshots are shown!

brucds 12-29-2009 02:18 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
The discussion of hip-hop was not satisfying, and I don't know shit about hop-hop...BUT...hip-hop sales took a bigger hit than most music sales in the "aughts" and it was hardly the decade in which it became immensely popular among white folks. (I won't even bother to go into what's inept in the attempt at a historical touchstone referencing the Rolling Stones.) I have a weird feeling that what we have here is a discussion of what was unique about the "aughts" by a couple of erstwhile critics who don't know much at all about anything that came before.

Hate to be an asshole, but if we're supposed to listen to cultural criticism please make it worthwhile.

nikkibong 12-29-2009 02:26 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by brucds (Post 144305)
The discussion of hip-hop was not satisfying, and I don't know shit about hop-hop...BUT...hip-hop sales took a bigger hit than most music sales in the "aughts" and it was hardly the decade in which it became immensely popular among white folks. (I won't even bother to go into what's inept in the attempt at a historical touchstone referencing the Rolling Stones.) I have a weird feeling that what we have here is a discussion of what was unique about the "aughts" by a couple of erstwhile critics who don't know much at all about anything that came before.

Hate to be an asshole, but if we're supposed to listen to cultural criticism please make it worthwhile.

I completely agree. (Except with the Stones comment.) The caucasian embrace hip hop thing dates back to at least the late '80s! I know that, and I was born in '86!

Where the hell is Armond White?

brucds 12-29-2009 03:01 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
nb - the Stones comment is inept because it's just an allusion to a cliche that defeats any further analysis. Motown predates the Stones and Beatles, and Uptown R&B featuring black artists in elaborate productions was major in the early '60s. What the Stones did was bring a blues sensibility - music that most black folks considered retro by the mid-60s - back into pop. Many black artists, who were charting before the British Invasion, felt like it swept them off the charts. The black artists who benefited from the Stones - and a lesser extent the Beatles - were the pre-pop older blues guys, typically clustered around Chess Records. That's fine - I love that stuff. But black artists like the Drifters were very big in studio, producer-driven "pop" music of the early '60s, and their influence was diminished by mid-60s "white guy group" rock. This bloggingheads is just shot through with lazy assertions.

harkin 12-29-2009 06:30 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
I still remember my disappointment the first time I saw The Wire after people whose taste was usually rather solid told me how great it was.

I couldn't say it any better than Jeopardy Green Room did in Race Reality And The Wire, or, Watching Liberal Porn On Sunday Nights.

I don't watch a lot of network/cable drama or comedy because after viewings of every lame 'next best thing' like Deadwood, Big Love, Lost, 30 Rock etc I've almost given up. What one of my friends described as the 'most real' show related to television production he'd ever seen (Sports Night) looked IMO more like a Lifetime Channel estrogen-fueled emote-fest.

The three best shows I've seen in the last 20 years were the first three years of The Sopranos, just about every season of South Park and The Larry Sanders Show.

otto 12-29-2009 06:46 PM

Priorities
 
If you can only find time to listen to one Federal Management correspondent for Government Executive, make sure it's Alyssa R.

brucds 12-29-2009 08:08 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Harkin - would you please warn readers the next time you link to an essay that's blatantly racist ? ("In order to secure social peace society would have to nurture the kind lie that blacks were equal in their cognitive abilities to whites...") Puke-worthy.

claymisher 12-29-2009 08:10 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by brucds (Post 144320)
Harkin - would you please warn readers the next time you link to an essay that's blatantly racist ? ("In order to secure social peace society would have to nurture the kind lie that blacks were equal in their cognitive abilities to whites...") Puke-worthy.

Oh, there are PLENTY of racists on this board. Don't get them started.

Jyminee 12-29-2009 09:02 PM

Alyssa is dead wrong...
 
about "Josie and the Pussycats." It's a solid B+ movie, has some pretty good pop songs (a few of which I, a grown man, have on my iPod), and is an amusing satire of corporate branding in entertainment.

kezboard 12-29-2009 09:50 PM

Racism-roll
 
The risk of falling into a snakepit of racist drivel simply by clicking on an innocent-looking link is unfortunately one of the hazards of the bhtv forums. It's kind of like being rickrolled, except not funny.

rcocean 12-29-2009 10:19 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 144315)
I still remember my disappointment the first time I saw The Wire after people whose taste was usually rather solid told me how great it was.

I couldn't say it any better than Jeopardy Green Room did in Race Reality And The Wire, or, Watching Liberal Porn On Sunday Nights.

I don't watch a lot of network/cable drama or comedy because after viewings of every lame 'next best thing' like Deadwood, Big Love, Lost, 30 Rock

You're wrong about "Lost" my friend - its excellent. "Mad Men" has also been good - so far. Found the link interesting - BUT - you should put up a warning: "Not suitable for small children - or Clay"

look 12-29-2009 10:35 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by brucds (Post 144295)
This is a pretty generationally myopic, self-centered discussion. We don't have The Wire because Ygliesias watches shit on Netflix or his iPod. The Wire was the unique evolution of creative talent honed on '90s broadcast (Homicide) nutured by an equally unique creative environment made possible by the 1970s innovation, cable TV - and the HBO overseers in particular. It would have happened without Netflix or video-on-demand. And youngsters like Yglesias would have picked up on it sooner or later and marched down to the video rental store to get it on cassettes.

There is a certain amount of technological determinism at work in the evolution of great art, but I don't think that any great insights have been discovered here. The Simpsons - which orginated over 20 years ago - are the top-selling TV-DVDs and the most popular video-on-demand are all feature films. I'm wondering if these two even know many of the best hours of television drama ever created were broadcast in the 1950s - a number of which were actually made into feature films AFTER they were written for television series. And if the names Brando, Dean, Newman, McQueen, Steiger, Lumet, Altman, Pollack, Frankenheimer, Serling, Vidal, Chayefsky ring a bell - they were all there.

Homicide was excellent, but I thought it became self-indulgent the last couple seasons, so I lost interest.

I guess it was Hill Street Blues that started off the gritty police drama with hand-held cameras and cut-away shots. Then Homicide, then NYPD Blue (great opening music), now The Wire, which I haven't seen.

kezboard 12-29-2009 10:48 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Found the link interesting - BUT - you should put up a warning: "Not suitable for small children - or Clay"
That's really disgusting.

AemJeff 12-29-2009 10:53 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 144335)
That's really disgusting.

It's a game with these guys. It's like seven-year-olds using bad words they only vaguely understand.

Ray 12-29-2009 11:36 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 144330)
Found the link interesting - BUT - you should put up a warning: "Not suitable for small children - or Clay"

Huh.

Well then! Why not weigh in?

Harkin's a racist. No one disputes that. The essay he linked to is racist. You found it interesting.

Here's your big chance: do you think that blacks are born inferior to whites?

It would be really great if you had the guts to answer honestly. That would be great!

rcocean 12-29-2009 11:36 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 144335)
That's really disgusting.

Keep posting Kezboard, one day you'll say something interesting. Maybe, you could start by posting something longer and more complex than a bumper-sticker. But you managed 3 words, so that's better than usual.

powerof2 12-30-2009 01:05 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Well, ya know, I hit the stop button, ya know after, ya know 30 seconds or so of listening to well, you know.

claymisher 12-30-2009 01:09 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 144336)
It's a game with these guys. It's like seven-year-olds using bad words they only vaguely understand.

At least we don't have to watch them eat.

ledocs 12-30-2009 03:16 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
OK, I'll pass on this one, based upon the prior instantiation, which was meandering and uninteresting, and the comments of bruceds, whom I don't know, but who sounds like he knows what he's talking about on this occasion. If Alyssa could be hooked up with Megan, there could be an all-pseudo-Valley Girl intellectual diavlog. "Like, like, like, what's up with that, I feel you, like, like, like."

One thing I really cannot abide is people talking about music who don't know shit about music. That is the worst. Can't say that that is the case here, but it probably is.

However, I do think it is important that bhtv appeal to the young urban professional class, so please keep the hits coming.

ledocs 12-30-2009 03:32 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
On "The Wire," two thumbs all the way up from our household. We have it on DVD. I've watched some episodes twice. It does seem more contrived the second time through, it's still a television melodrama, not cinema verite, but it's quite good. I think David Simon's comparisons of his work to classical Greek drama are stupid and over the top, but it's a great show. A black guy I know who lives in a working-class black neighborhood in Oakland, CA likes it a lot. He's a lot closer to the ghetto than I'll ever be. This guy walks around with a serious guard-dog. So, as I say, it's not reality, it's a melodrama, but it's close enough to reality to be a great TV show, and the writers have devoted a lot of time and finely honed craft to character development, story arc, and so on, it's very engaging.

One thing that happens the second time around, I think, is that Stringer Bell seems considerably less sympathetic. On the other hand, there will never be a more sympathetic killer than Omar. I just heard about an armed robbery of a marijuana stash in our region of rural France. Had to think of Omar.

Ocean 12-30-2009 07:51 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
After the other recent pop culture diavlog, I realized how little I know about it. I coped with the fact that diavlog took the space of Saturday Science, and tried to think about it as positively as I was able to. I optimistically considered it an opportunity to identify an area of my most complete ignorance and perhaps learn something new.

After listening to this one, I'm starting to have the strong suspicion that there are good reasons why I'm not interested in this kind of diavlog. Here is a sample of the depth of the commentary. Alyssa, whom I like otherwise, is making the point that it's great that young people are grouping around pop culture themes. She sees this as some kind of enlightening phenomenon (?).

I think it's sad that the standards for young people are so low as to think of this as a positive movement. I would think of the same as something that young people should move out of as quickly as possible and into something of relevance to their lives or their communities.

Additionally, I noticed that this kind of diavlog has the effect of making supposedly intelligent diavloggers look... less intelligent.

Sorry, it was disappointing, at least for a middle aged immigrant woman who used to spend time during her youth talking with her friends about the end of existentialism, the future of social democracy or space exploration. And a bunch of other topics like that. Of course Harry Potter hadn't been written yet...

Francoamerican 12-30-2009 12:11 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 144378)
After the other recent pop culture diavlog, I realized how little I know about it. I coped with the fact that diavlog took the space of Saturday Science, and tried to think about it as positively as I was able to. I optimistically considered it an opportunity to identify an area of my most complete ignorance and perhaps learn something new.

After listening to this one, I'm starting to have the strong suspicion that there are good reasons why I'm not interested in this kind of diavlog. Here is a sample of the depth of the commentary. Alyssa, whom I like otherwise, is making the point that it's great that young people are grouping around pop culture themes. She sees this as some kind of enlightening phenomenon (?).

I think it's sad that the standards for young people are so low as to think of this as a positive movement. I would think of the same as something that young people should move out of as quickly as possible and into something of relevance to their lives or their communities.

Additionally, I noticed that this kind of diavlog has the effect of making supposedly intelligent diavloggers look... less intelligent.

Sorry, it was disappointing, at least for a middle aged immigrant woman who used to spend time during her youth talking with her friends about the end of existentialism, the future of social democracy or space exploration. And a bunch of other topics like that. Of course Harry Potter hadn't been written yet...

An ocean separates me from Ocean, but I share her opinion. This dialogue was about nothing and came as close to saying nothing as is possible in human speech. Admittedly, I know nothing about contemporary American pop culture. So that makes three nothings. Ex nihilo nihil fit.

ledocs 12-30-2009 07:15 PM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
I ended up listening to this after all, primarily because my wife wanted to hear it. In this episode, it is true that Alyssa favors the interjection "you know" and barely indulges in "like," which Yglesias uses quite a bit.

I do not think it's fair to say that the conversation was about nothing. But it was certainly a very superficial conversation. A large part of the problem is that they do not focus on anything in particular, there is no theoretical discussion of why one might or should take an interest in what they are talking about, there is no genuine sociological or economic analysis going on here, and, most strikingly, there is no analysis whatever of the political implications of anything they talked about. So, from that point of view, I do think it was sort of shockingly bad, since we know that Yglesias, at least, is a fairly keen observer of the American political scene.

I guess I have a few things to say in defense of a better and more serious treatment of pop culture. First is that I think it's now an accepted part of serious historical research that many historians are interested in, essentially, everything. Thus we get titles like "Daily Life in Ancient Rome," "Daily Life in Renaissance Florence," or the series of mainly French surveys growing out of the "annales school" of the history of mores, and so on. Pop culture is an important part of daily life for many people. But here there was no questioning of whom it is important for, why it is important, whether it is important, how its content and significance differ by social class, and so on. There was the one remark to the effect that it provides a way of forming communities or small associations.

Secondly, I don't think one would be entirely mistaken in regarding the bhtv forums as an aspect of pop culture. I certainly often feel that I am being exposed to a sort of reality TV culture here, a place in which everyone thinks he is entitled to the spotlight. So, if that's right, I think it's a bit naive for a commenter here to see himself as somehow unaffected by American pop culture. I realize that what was meant primarily is that one has not seen certain television shows or movies, has not read certain books, is not familiar with entire genres of popular music, and so on.

I do not think one learns anything about whether discussions of pop culture are worthwhile from listening to this. What one learned is that a desultory, unfocused, untheoretical, and virtually apolitical discussion of pop culture makes for very unsatisfying listening. To make matters worse, there was no attempt to justify any of the critical judgments the interlocutors made. Everything was taken as given. It would be much more satisfying for viewers if, for example, two intelligent people who are also big fans of "The Wire" talked at length about why they are fans. Even better would be to hear someone who knows a lot about television history and the economic conditions of TV production talk about the same subject. Of course, it's true that television history probably does not attract the greatest minds, but there are people getting paid to write about and teach this subject in some American universities.

I am fairly confident that Yglesias could do much better than this, but this kind of thing is presumably just a hobby for him, whereas he makes a living analyzing American politics. It is very surprising to me, nonetheless, that he made no discernible attempt to incorporate his hobby into his profession.

uncle ebeneezer 12-30-2009 09:45 PM

Re: Moral Compass of the 00's
 
Matt Y's: Biggest Understatement of the Decade!!

bahiano 01-06-2010 01:36 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
its nice that Alyssa knows a thing or two about Hip Hop.

bahiano 01-06-2010 03:41 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by brucds (Post 144305)
The discussion of hip-hop was not satisfying, and I don't know shit about hop-hop...BUT...hip-hop sales took a bigger hit than most music sales in the "aughts" and it was hardly the decade in which it became immensely popular among white folks. (I won't even bother to go into what's inept in the attempt at a historical touchstone referencing the Rolling Stones.) I have a weird feeling that what we have here is a discussion of what was unique about the "aughts" by a couple of erstwhile critics who don't know much at all about anything that came before.

Hate to be an asshole, but if we're supposed to listen to cultural criticism please make it worthwhile.

I'm 22 and I will tell you, you cannot believe how popular Hip Hop is today. I thought their discussion, while maybe not completely thorough, touched on the obvious fact that Hip Hop took over this decade and that it's cultural influence (for good and bad) is HUGE!

bahiano 01-06-2010 04:07 AM

Re: Pop Culture in the Aughts (Matthew Yglesias & Alyssa Rosenberg)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nikkibong (Post 144306)
I completely agree. (Except with the Stones comment.) The caucasian embrace hip hop thing dates back to at least the late '80s! I know that, and I was born in '86!

Where the hell is Armond White?

Hey nikkibong, I agree that white people been into Hip Hop since it's been around but I think that Hip Hop really did take it to the next level this decade. I mean I can say at BC everyone loses it when Akon comes on (please don't make me defend Akon cause I hate him but still).

I thought they did hit on something though by pointing out how underground Hip Hop is still so ignored, and how success and Hip Hop has caused huge shifts in Hip Hop toward pop. I personally worry a lot about how Hip Hop is viewed and which parts of Hip Hop find commercial success. Sadly I think a lot of Hip Hop is popular like reality TV is, people are drawn to the most extreme and ridiculous characters AKA the lil Jon or lil Wayne effect.

I also think that while Hip Hop rhythms have had a seamless transition into pop, the message and lyrical elements of Hip Hop have been greatly abandoned in it's transition to pop music, speaking now of the Jeremihs and the Soulja Boys


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