Author Archives: catbread

After David Misch’s talk today, do you feel any differently about authorship?

I loved the presentation today given by Reno! I’m thinking about going into animation so what he talked about in paritcular really interested me…But his experience as an executive producer was also interesting. I thought it was strange how many shows have smaller writing teams now than in the past due to the economic restrictions. His struggles with the network were also interesting.

Edit: Wtf it’s David Misch, not Jeff Reno. Turns out both worked on Duckman AND Mork and Mindy. Figure that one out

Same message as in The Wire?

Like in The Wire, I feel like it’d be safe to say that in Generation Kill we are also looking at the power dynamics in a specific ‘community’. The diversity of emotions pertaining to the situation in Iraq is amazing and sometimes disturbing to watch.

But are we told the same message that maybe there is no  hope in fighting whatever it is we’re fighting? In The Wire corruption existed on both the police force and in the drug and black community focused on. But from both sides we were characters that, at least from their point of view, were fighting for what seemed to make most sense in their own world.

So is it comparable for this show? The power dynamics in Generation Kill are so interesting: so many people in high positions simply screw up, make the wrong decisions, or blame problems on others. The situation in episode 2 dealing with the lack of battery supplies for the marines was very strange for me–I would think that in any situation that enough supplies wouldn’t ever be squandered for men/situations that didn’t need them. The show brings to light how so many glaring problems in the military go unseen by others.

The scene from episode 1 that really disturbed me was how the men responded to the letters they received from children in the United States. The foul way they talked about the little girl and her letter was kind of shocking. At least based on pop-culture depictions of people in the military, I was aware it was a hyper-masculine environment, but not the point of suggesting having sex with a pre-pubescent little girl.

Many of the men shown simply don’t care for the war, and many thirst to kill. I feel like the show really doesn’t try to ‘teach’ the audience anything, which is refreshing–but in the show’s aim in trying to be realistic, does it show a bleak situation that has no hope of being truly resolved?

The Williams Article – a spectacular incite on scopophilia and the black body in media

Based on a few comments I see here, it seems that people find issue with Williams article. But for many reasons I found it to be brilliant–not necessarily because of the points that are made, but simply for the fact that they are made.

How the black body is depicted and received by audiences is a topic rarely talked about whenever I have discussions about film or television, so it’s refreshing whenver this rare topic does come up in a class of mine. The psychoanalytical mindset of Williams can be offsetting to people who are determined to destroy any sort or Freudian interpretation of media. But I love how he brings up the fact that the spaces many of the black male characters in the show exist in can be interprested as being homoerotic/places for intimate homosocial relations.

Of course this doesn’t mean that the creators of the show INTENDED it to be this way…But I often feel like taking into consideration a creator’s “intentions” for a work can make viewers blind to how it can, nevertheless, be interpreted (and consequentially affect) large audiences.

I especially feel like William’s exploration of black male homosocial relationships to be important, as I feel like it’s a topic that’s (especially in hose communities) is avoided like a plague. I also feel like the same should/can be applied to female relationships in shows, but often that’s overlooked.

Baltimore and never ending problems

I’m not sure whether or not I enterpreted the end of the first season with hope or with cynicism. In Kinder’s article “Re-Wiring Baltimore: The Emotive Power of Systemics, Seriality, and the City,” she says that at the end of season 3 that the series rasies itself to “a systemic level of tragedy
(54). I find this statement to be true at the end of Season 1 except that it’s probably less emotionally jarring at whatever happens at the end of Season 3. Avon is arrested–but only for drug charges. Once of Avon’s men is arrested for a few murders, but some of which he obviously lies about. D’Angelo goes back on giving the police as much information as they need. As we discussed in the class, the actual scene where Avon is arrested is incredibly anticlimactic.

So as an audience, how are we to interpret the situation in fictional and real-life Baltimore? The Kinder article and quotes from Simon suggest that the show’s investigation of the failure of America’s long-standing institutions helps move toward a solution toward problems. But does it? The cyclical death and rebirth of drug traders/sellers  seems to show that it will continue to be a problem in urban communities, and the power structures of America’s police crews and government officials seems to only promise that those who do not compromise get fired or moved to another department. Throughout Season 1, does Simon offer any hope or means of fixing our broken institutions, or does he simply shed light to educate us as viewers?

Director’s Commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, and additional material on DVDs.

I find it interesting that with the increasing availability of space with the invention of DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, that distributors find more and more ways to fill that new space. For some reason it bothers me usually when there’s an insane amount of additional features–not because I find this unnecessary, but they (1) are usually more in quantity and quality and (2) give me high expectations for EVERY DVDs to have adequate bonus features.

For example, your average action movie may have 5-minutes interviews with the actors, behind-the-scenes footage showing how special effects were done (Don’t you want to know how Davy Jones’ tentacle beard was made? If not, you will now), and if you’re lucky, a director’s commentary. With so much room to cram extra ‘goodies’ with, I feel like many DVDs go overboard and give viewers only small clips of interesting material to make buying the DVD more worth while.

And thus is born the expectation of ALL DVDs to be the same way. But when I rented the Brokeback Mountain DVD, there was no director’s commentary–which INFURIATED me. But had such a thing never been used on DVDs, I wouldn’t have cared.

Where do these NEEDS come from? Never after watching Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End did I think, “I wish I knew how they animated Davy Jones’ beard.” But like on many DVDs today, on Pirate’s DVD there’s an extended section on how special effects were made, which usually are fairly interesting. The Watchmen DVD apparently has a lot of extras including bio clips on the fictional characters, a short, fictional documentary about part of the movie’s universe, and I even think an animated feature based on part of the graphic novel. The same has extended to television shows.

Did distributors purposely create this need, or was it born from the desires of avid DVD collectors?

The characters in the Wire…

I find it kind of unfortunate, but after watching the first episode I feel like I despise most everyone. Most of the police department seems either corrupt, ignorant, hungry for violence, or silently accepting of all that happens around them. The characters are given the cynical flair that most police officers and detectives are given in cop dramas, but for The Wire I just feel distanced. The drug dealers’ world is interesting, but I feel nothing about the familial bond between the shooter at the beginning and his uncle. Of course I’m sure it will take time for me to get accustomed to the characters, but when watching the first episode of Homicide I felt more like I cared about one of the characters.

Does anyone else feel similar, or just think the show just gets better as it progresses? How is character development handled after the starting point the audience is given?

Annotated Bibliography: The Sopranos

In my paper I want to focus on how The Sopranos depiction of Italian-American psychosocial dynamics (life/culture/masculinity/femininity) is affected by David Chase’s authorship as well as it airing on the HBO network. David Chase identifies as Italian-American himself, and also grew up in New Jersey. He claims to base the series off his own experiences. Did Chase have advantages/freedoms in his authorship because of his background? What about in relation to HBO airing dynamics?

(1) Vincent, Christopher J. Paying Respect to the Sopranos: A Psychosocial Analysis. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2008. Print. The author focuses on the psychological progress of Tony Soprano through all six seasons. He also talks about how there are unique representation of modern family dynamics, organized crime, contemporary American society, and mental health. For my research I think this would be a great source for defining specific psychosocial definitions Chase puts into the show, and how they can be interpreted.

(2) Greene, Richard, and Peter Vernezze. The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill Therefore I Am. Chicago: Open Court, 2004. Print. Both authors talk about how morals, philosophy, identity, and ethics are constructed in the show. I feel like it would also help in my exploration of what ideas/ideologies of Italian-Americans the show tells the audience, and what further implications those ideas mean in the fact they originated from David Chase’s own perceptions.

(3) Bondanella, Peter. Hollywood Italians : Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos. New York: Continuum, 2004. Print. The book goes into detail about the history of Italian/Italian-American depiction in cinema and television. I feel like the final chapters of the book (which focus on The Sopranos) could be helpful in putting my research into a historical frame of reference. For example, perhaps David Chase incorporates parts of Italian-American culture that are also dominant in contemporary media but not *past* media because of certain trends.

(4) Levin, Gary. “Stars, creator dish on ‘The Sopranos’.” USA Today 23 Jun. 2008: 03d. Print. The short article has quotes and interesting tidbits from the show’s actors and creator, David Chase. What’s most interesting is that David Chase is repeatedly quoted as being surprised that a lot of his audience disliked the ending, saw it as disrespectful as his characters. He is also surprised that people wanted to see Tony be killed on-screen. I want to investigate why he feels appalled that audiences would want to see Tony die, and why he *didn’t*. Is the last episode a case of authorship where priority was given to what the author wanted? If David Chase was on another network, would the ending of the show been as ambiguous?

(5) Chase, David. “The Sopranos.” Electronic Media 28 Oct. 2002: 23. Print. The short article is a statement by David Chase about his experience in producing the show at HBO. It’s a very positive perspective of the authorial process. For my paper it may be helpful in showing more of Chase’s perspective on producing the series.

(6) Pristone, Joseph. “David Chase.” Time 9 Jul. 2001 : 74. Print. The article talks about how Chase’s own Italian-American heritage makes the show realistic. I think this would give me great backing on Chase’s own *specific* cultural experiences that make the show more ‘realistic,’ and perhaps give me ways to analyze why these specific things are what he found to be most important to show audiences what a real Italian-American family is like.

(7) Lavery, David. ” David Chase, The Sopranos and Television Creativity.” Television Quarterly 2002: 10-16. Print. This review of the show goes into detail about David Chase’s life growing up, as well as his authorial power in producing the show, and how that led to his success. After reading the article, I feel it could offer me more important information about David Simon’s upbringing and authorial power with HBO to back up my paper.

What happened to the actor?


I’m wondering about the role of Touhey in the novel. I wonder if he’s supposed to be a parody of David-Simon like figures, or if he’s a purely original creation of Price. It’s interesting to look through the eyes of an author as looking through the eyes of ANOTHER potential author. It’s especially interesting to see thatPrice creates characters highly critical of this figure that’s more of a nusance than anything else. Is it a critique of people outside of the worlds of Rocco and Strike–their lack of understanding? Does it go further and criticize how people may displace themselves from the communities they analyze (for example, Touhey looking at the drug and police communities as only fodder for his film), only to let them know that they, too have their weaknesses? For example, Touhey is revealed to be an alcoholic. Then Touhey just seems to disappear from the novel entirely. I’m not sure what to make of his absense from the rest of the novel since I assuemed he would play some larger role in Rocco, if not Strike’s, life. Was this just a narrative decision on Price’s part, or does Touhey’s disappearance have further implacations for the meaning of the book?

Term Paper Proposal – The Sopranos and the incorporation of minority cultures in television

So I just recently finished the last episode of The Sopranos, and I must say…I don’t regret one minute of the 86 hours of my life that show has taken from me.

One aspect of the show I always found intriguing was the latent discourse about Italian and Italian American culture in America, in particular within a crime syndicate. Several episodes have been devoted to issues such as whether or not Christopher Columbus was Italian (as well as what colonialization means from modern-day Italian Americans), the gender roles Italian men and women have to play within their families (as well as those that defy it–poor Vito), as well as how depression is looked at within their culture. And not only did the show incorporate Italian American culture, but Black urban culture as well.

For my paper I want to focus on how television authors incorporate minority cultures into television. I would like to incorporate The Corner into this as well, but perhaps I can just focus on The Sopranos. I always find myself in a position to be particularly critical whenever telvision shows incorporate specific perspectives of culture, as well as what it means for the authors involves who are most likely NOT related to the culture at hand.

I’m not entirely how to bring in authorship theory more into my research, and I feel like for the length of the paper, combining The Sopranos and The Corner may be too much. Help?

Honesty in Narrative

I’m not sure if anyone else feels the same, but the “presence” of Simon and Burns in The Corner (the book) compared to the TV show seems much more obvious and intrusive than their presence in Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

For example, early in the novel, the authors go into detail about DeAndre’s style of clothing. They say that he’s:

“a study in urban conformity, and within minutes, he is primed and dressed to match the set: a black puff ski parka left open to flap in the breeze, a thick blue and white flannel shirt worn outside over-sized jeans that ride low on the hips, the requisite high-top Nikes that go for upwards of $125 a pair…

…By the time he gets down the block and around the corner, it’s afternoon and the fiends–white boys coming north from Pigtown, those of his own hue rolling down the hill from monroe Street…

…By and large, teh Mcullough boy is a study in a lower key” (20-21).

The writing itself seems so stilted and dishonest. I feel like if both Simon and Burns presented themselves as outsiders looking into a world they most likely had little to no experience in INSTEAD of as omniscient narrators attempting to show an objective view of the world they were in, the book would be less painful to read. Up front I want to say I most definitely appreciate the fact that there’s a popular non-fiction book about inner-city black communities that doesn’t demonize people involved, but instead I feel like the tract the authors took in this case is just tricky ground. For a subject matter like this, I wouldn’t write about DeAndre’s attire in lengthy blocks of prose that virtually takes all of the humanity out of why DeAndre dresses the way he does. Using the phrase “those of his own hue” is just awkward.

Oddly enough, I find the show to be so much more enjoyable and honest. Is it because the director is a Black man that also was born and has history in Baltimore? I feel like that most likely is a huge reason. The characters I see on the show remind me so much of Black people I’ve known in my life/in my family that often it’s painful to watch this show at all. It touches me in a way that few shows do, and it mostly has to do with the fact that I feel like its portrayal of characters is the most honest I’ve seen in a long time.

What do you think of the differences between the book and the show, as well as the issue of “honesty”?