Author Archives: ac07kn

Gen Kill and Reality

In television the issue of defining an author is a difficult task. This is especially true when the show has been adapted from a novel. Franklin’s article highlights some of these issues. Largely, I would say that both Simon and Wright are the authors of this series as much of the material has been adapted directly from the novel, but as Simon notes in the other article, he has put his own dramatic ‘flare’ on the series to make it  TV- appropriate. One thing I disagree with in Franklin’s article is that she says “Actually, it’s a little surprising that Simon went for this material at all”. I didn’t think it was surprising at all given that Simon’s area of specialities lies largely in television based out of journalism, which Wright’s series is. Also, as I noted last week, there is a very apparent chain of hierarchy within the series, which is also a theme in many of Simon’s works. Overall, I think that Simon is fooling himself if he believes you can have a journalistic piece without bias, and one of the biggest mistakes he made was removing the ‘reporter’ character so much from the series. In the novel, this character served to help readers identify with a world they are otherwise alienated from, and I think this was what made the subject matter so shocking and relevant. It allowed us an insider perspective and someone to identify with, whereas in the series the reporter is given little credit or intelligence. I think that Simon’s goals for un-biased television are helpful in keeping the series realistic, but even he cannot deny the need to adapt the novel in order to make it more watchable. By adding these dramatic elements, he has contradicted himself in his quest for realism, but also made the show more successful.

Generation dull?- where is the action?

Though this series is completely different in subject matter than our other series’, there are several similar elements. As army and police work are in similar discourses, this series could probably be most easily comparable to them. Firstly, the description of rank is similar. As within all power structures, there is a clear hierarchy of command. Yet unlike the blurred lines of the drug world, the army has distinct titles for each member to place them within the hierarchy. The other similarity I found was the use of dark and inappropriate humor. As with the condescending cops on the other series’, the army members use racial slurs and derogatory terms to exert their masculinity. Similar to the war on drugs, these soldiers face the same reality as those in the  lower ranks on ‘the streets’ in the drug trade, that life could end at any time. The only difference is, they are provided with a heightened sense of awareness and simple tools to defend themselves as fighting is the sole mission, there are no drug deals to distract them. Overall, the show seems to drag a bit with no clear climaxes, which is also like the rest of the series’ we have watched. As such, the emphasis seems to be on following the everyday activities versus the high-action drama that most war films feature. To further this, there is the classic reporter character in the show so we get the same perspective we did with Simon on Homicide and the ‘rookie’ characters in all the other shows. Through the reporter we are able to identify with being new to this world and learn as he does. Overall, this series seems very interesting and I find the subject matter more intriguing for some reason, perhaps because it centers around a war I personally feel connected to, versus a world of homicide or drug trade, which I am largely unfamiliar with. It will be interesting to see how the series progresses when the elements of drama finally show themselves.

The Wire- A modern day Greek Tragedy?

I found Hornby’s interview with David Simon to be very interesting in several ways. Firstly, it is one of the first times all the series we have watched and read are linked together as all of the authors and producers had a hand in making The Wire. This also makes The Wire the most extensive example of auteurship in the course so far. By having us examine all of The Wire writer’s previous works (Clockers, The Corner, Homicide) we are able to look into The Wire, consciously picking out auteur elements from each of the auteurs we have already encountered. For example, perhaps Ed Burn’s involvement on the Corner helped to influence the more personal look into the lives of members in The Streets. However, what I tought was most interesting was the way Simon described the writing style on this show as being heavily influenced by all of the producer and writer’s background experience in novel-writing in journalism. In this way I understand his comparison of the show to a ‘modern day Greek tragedy’. By having a group of professionals trained more in journalism than television, we have ended up with a television show that is designed like a novel. As Simon put it, they ‘say what they want to say’ and don’t worry about trivial television elements like big boobed women and flashy scenes to draw the viewer in. This no-bull attitude is one of the most important auteuristic elements in the show because it has completely influenced The Wire’s overall style. This also contributes to its lack of ‘happy-resolve’ that most television shows are fond of. As a journalist, Simon knows that in the real world, it is not always a happy ending. I think that these elements have made the show much more realistic and that this has greatly affected their popularity. Arguably,  in this way The Wire could be said to be one of the first influences of today’s reality TV, and perhaps even more realistic, though based around fiction. Overall, the interview was an excellent insight into how David Simon considers himself an auteur and the elements that have influenced his auteuristic touch.

De-Sensitized to Sexuality?

While I cannot say that I am in totally agreeance with William’s notion that The Wire features gay undertones, the presentation of sexuality in general is interesting. When one turns on a television program today they are generally immediately blasted with elements of sexuality of some sort or another. Even in cop dramas today such as CSI there is a plethora of sexual content present, though it is not always just heterosexual. However, in The Wire there is little sexuality present, aside from the homosexual. It is rare that we see a man and a woman together in a sexual way, but we are allowed to see both a lesbian and a gay relationship. While this does not mean every character in The Wire is secretly gay, it is interesting to note the lack of heterosexual sexuality within the representation of coupledom. I would argue, however, that the point of this was to forward Simon’s ideas of a ‘new sort’ of program that would push boundaries. Perhaps heterosexuality was just another controversial element he chose to include to ensure this program was distinct from classic cop dramas. Regardless, I think these intentions were somewhat lost on us as viewers of the program today as we are so used to seeing these subjects come up in our television shows that the majority of us might not have even noticed these undertones, were it not for Williams’ article.

Can YOU handle the truth?

In her article Kinder makes a very bold statement that The Wire has exposed corruption within the justice system and ‘demanded reform’. Yet has The Wire actually facilitated change? I would argue that, while fictional television serves as a reference point for real life, it is rarely taken seriously in society. For me personally, watching this show confirmed real-world truths that I am already aware of, but did not give me any immediate desire to go out and change structures that have been in place for centuries. At most, watchers of The Wire might have been made more aware of these sad truths and members of the justice system, more aware of the people’s awareness. Yet in order to create reform, the show would need empirical evidence in the real world. Without such references it remains a purely fictional worked, only based off of what are supposedly reality in the daily lives of Baltimore-dwellers. I will agree with Kinder in that The Wire is more accurate and progressive than shows such as CSI, but in the end CSI is still making the big bucks, and therefore appealing to a larger target group. This then begs the cliche question: can we handle the truth? Or would we rather watch a show where the police are the good guys, the criminals are always bad, and the mysteries are always solved? However, Kinder also notes that The Wire’s subject matter helps to raise important issues of race and class. In issues such as these I do believe television is successful in aiding change. In another class we discuss how television played a major part in the Jacksonian era and eventually helped to forward the civil rights movement. As representations become more diverse and widespread, television helps to form and change ideas about social issues. Though many still take issue with some things that can be seen on television, we are definitely approaching a more progressive age in which television helps lends its voice to the lesser represented. The Wire may have been one of the first steps down the long road that is social and racial equality and representation in a media- driven world.

TV Time

Kompare’s article was interesting as it brought up several themes we’ve been discussing in class. Most interesting to me was the concept of ‘broadcast flow’, which television has historically been based around. Yet with all the changing technology, flow has arguably been offset in many ways. Kompare discusses the DVD, which has been a major player in this disruption. Now, viewers don’t have to wait each week for a new episode, they can simply point and click to any of them on a disc. This I would argue, has brought television into the realm of film. The disconnect however, lies in the fact that television shows are designed in such a way that they constantly feed off of the one before and end with links to the next. They also feature many repetitive elements to remind the viewer what has happened previously. As a result, networks such as HBO have begun designing shows that run smoothly from one to the next, which is basically creating a set of long films. With this new dynamic it will be interesting to see how future generations separate television and film as separate discourses, now that basically the only element keeping them apart is time.

Gossip Girl- Annotated Bibliography

Gossip Girl- Annotated Bibliography

1. Berman, M. (2008). A work in progress. Mediaweek, 18(39), 8.

Just in time to save their decline in viewer-ship, the CW has found its niche: teen girls. As a result they have started producing shows, such as Gossip Girl, to cater to this niche. This new target group is part of the network’s long-term plan to promote viewer-ship and it is therefore important to cater to this audience.  This theme in the article will help my argument that, largely the television adaptation caters to teenage girls, by altering many of the characters to be more glamorous and relatable.

2. Consoli, J. (2008). Mass appeal. Mediaweek, 18(34), SR2.

With the declining economy, TV networks are finding it difficult to produce the funding needed to advertise their shows. The article goes on to discuss how HD is seen as a method to draw viewers back to television sets, yet it leaves out the most critical new advertising medium: the internet. I will use this article to discuss how the internet has created a cheap and easy way of large-scale advertisement and how Gossip Girl producers have capitalized on this inexpensive marketing tool.

3. Creeber, G. (editor). (2001). Television genre Book. London: British Film Institute.

This book is an introductory to television studies, and provides an in-depth examination of the various television genres. In particular, there are chapters dedicated to teen-dramas and reality TV. Both of these will help to further my knowledge of Gossip Girl’s drama elements and expand upon how the online-factor has arguably made the show similar to reality TV. Particularly, by understanding the stylistic elements that make a teen-drama, it will offer insight into why certain changes had to be made from the novel to the television show to fit these requirements of genre.

4. G.W. &  Gilbert. R.R. & Selnow, G.W. (1993). Society’s Impact on Television: How
the Viewing Public Shapes Television Programming.
Westport, Ct.: Praeger.

This book’s primary focus is on the outside factors that effect television shows, specifically the structures that effect a show’s production. There are several chapters that break down the multitude of outside facets that go into the making of a television show. Chapters seven and eight are particularly relevant to my study as they discuss advertising pressures on tv shows and the newest pressure presented by the online world. I will use this novel to examine why adaptations take place, specifically focusing on the changes that are made when they do and the causes for such alterations.

5. Heide, M.J. (1995). Television Culture and Women’s Lives. Philadelphia, University of
Pennsylvania Press.

This novel is a collection of women’s stories of their struggles and how television helped them negotiate the issues in their real-time lives. Primarily, I am interested in the discussion of women in relation to soap operas and dramas. This will help my study by fleshing out why women and young girls have become the target audience for stations such as CW. By discovering how such television effects women’s everyday lives I will make the argument that they are a perfect target for such shows as Gossip Girl, and how networks have arranged these shows to appeal to them.

6. Osgerby, B. (2004). Youth Media. New York: Routledge.

This book discusses how various forms of media effect youth culture and provides a theoretical understanding of said mediums. Several chapters discuss the target youth market and how advertising has changed throughout media to capitalize on such groups. One chapter in specific, chapter nine, discusses the shift into cyberspace and what this means for youth cultures and media texts. This chapter will be especially useful in my examination of Gossip Girl’s online world and what this has done for the show.

7. Ouellette, D. (2009). OMD. Mediaweek, 19(24), AM17.

This article discusses ‘mobile-viewing’ and how this new phenomenon has added largely to the success of Gossip Girl by linking viewers personally to the show. This has raised issues of Ateurship because it allows for viewers to take part in the show personally and add their own views. This article will be beneficial to my study as it will help me examine how teens are interacting virtually with the show and the success of these tactics changes the dynamic of television as a whole.

All of my formatting got mixed up when I posted this, I hope this will not lose me marks but if so, i can send the copy of it formatted properly. Thanks!

Striker’s Stature- Adaptation loss

After watching Spike Lee’s movie and reading Clockers the novel, it is indisputable that there are some major differences. I found this especially interesting as I noticed the adaptation was drastically different, as opposed to television series we’ve seen previously, which tended to follow the book more closely. One of the largest differences I saw was in narration. In the novel Strike is the primary narrator, whereas in the movie there is little telling of character’s internal thoughts. This is interesting because in the novel, Strike seems to think himself more mature and a loner from the group. Whereas in the movie we are given the view that everyone around sees him, which is much less mature and much more ‘one of the boys’. This, in a way, changes the context and who we identify with. In the novel we come to think of Strike as the father-like figure whereas in the movie the only instance of this is Strike’s attempt to take Tyrone under his wing, which still seems childish and more like a big brother figure than parental. Overall this serves to give us a different look at one of the main characters in the novel. I think this issue is one of the largest ones raised when turning novels to films as it is near impossible to avoid changing character representation without offering a complete thought process of each character during the show, which would take far too much time. It is in this way certain elements from the author’s original works are lost in the adaptations.

Clockers- a Homicide-Corner Hybrid

Clockers is an interesting blend of both Homicide and The Corner. In this series both the police and the felon’s perspectives are shown. Yet the largest difference I noticed was the music. Music plays a huge part in this series, almost always complimenting the images with a separate soundtrack. Beside the dialogue there is generally a song playing that serves to create a certain mood. Iy makes the show feel somewhat like a musical. The opening shots are interesting in that they are a series of murder scenes put to music that doesn’t seem to fit the images quite right. Brief flashes of crime scene tape reminds us of the opening scene for Homicide, but there are much fewer cuts to other scenes. It is almost art-like how the bodies are displayed to music one by one, very different from the harsh, cold body shot scenes in the other two series’. This show is HBO worthy in its presentation.

Subject matter-wise there are similarities as well. The same dry humor is used by the cops at the murder scenes as in Homicide. Similar to The corner, humor is also used by men on the street when threatening each other to degrade someone or when defending themselves to cops. Unlike both there is a certain sentimental attachment to both the neighborhood and the police force as the viewer is shown both sides more equally that the one side or the other shown in Homicide and The Corner. So far the issues seem to be more similar to the ones in The Corner, as the writing style of the Clockers novel. Very factual and descriptive, Clockers mirrors The Corner’s one character sees all narrative style with Strike.

Overall, I am interested to see which series this book will end up being more like as it seems to draw elements from both.

Gossip Girl and Adaptation- Essay Proposal

For my second assignment I would like to evaluate the series “Gossip Girl”, primarily the first season. This series is especially interesting to me as before the show aired, I had read the majority of the Gossip Girl book series. In my discussion I will start with analyzing the differences in the television adaptation from the novels. It seems there has been many changes made in the interest of commercialism and I will expand on why I think this is and what it means for the show.  Secondly, I will discuss the series’ serial nature and how this is important for the building of suspense in the show. Within this discussion I will take into account the show’s beats, arcs and episodes as discussed in Newman’s article. I will also look into the Auteur aspect of Gossip Girl as I am interested to discover if the producer of the show’s style is part of the cause for such drastic changes in the television adaptation. I will argue that he has attempted to place Gossip Girl in the popular ‘teen drama’ genre of today by turning it into New York Upper East Side’s ‘The Hills’ or ‘The OC’.  I am interested to see how these ideas will progress as I am still working on what direction I want to take all of this information. Any commentary would be appreciated!