Author Archives: payton15

Where is this all leading to?

At the end of today’s discussion, I wonder what the future holds for television. How much interactivness will become too much between viewers and a series? Gossip Girl allows viewers to receive identical texts that the characters received that help connect storylines. A few years ago One Tree Hill had viewers vote on whether or not one of the main characters cheated on his wife. What is this all leading up to? A world in which the viewer will become the author and Hollywood writers simply start the story by providing characters and some character background? What do you think?

Simon changing Evan’s work

I hadn’t questioned the authenticity of the miniseries until I read the readings assigned for today. Now that I look back on the miniseries Simon does put his ideas about the corruption of institutions in the series instead of trying to portray a realistic version of Evan’s book.

In the DVD extra feature interview one of the marines said they wished the series didn’t speak so negatively about the superiors in the unit since it’s wasn’t the same portrayal in the book. Is it because its Simon’s beliefs embedded into the series? Is this fair to Evan?

In the reading Beyond the Choir: An Interview with David Simon, Simon admits that he had to change Evan’s work for the purpose of effective storytelling. In this section of the interview he does praise himself a bit too much. When discussing why he changed Ray Pearson’s speech to “if Sadaam had invested more in the pussy infrastructure of Iraq there wouldn’t be a need to go to war” instead of his NAMBLA speech was because of his obligation to step in as a filmmaker. Personally, I would rather watch the Pearson’s genuine monologue instead of Simon’s version even if it appear to be less funny. Simon appears to think of himself as a filmmaker now instead of a journalist which is a characteristic of himself that he might have lost as he continue to produced miniseries for HBO. Even if Pearson agreed that Simon’s version of his speech would be something he might have said, I feel that this is an example of Simon manipulating the story to produce a series that would be a hit so that Simon can be credited. Or am I just looking too much into this?

Reporter POV

I’ve really enjoyed reading Generation Kill because of the character of the reporter. For some reason I am intrigued by the way the soldiers interact with the reporter. In the beginning some of the characters are skeptical towards him but then they warm up to him. But what I want to focus on is how the reporter is portrayed in the series. I think Simon does a good job portraying a man who is from the outside world being taken into a strange unknown world of the Marines. His facial expressions in the series almost mimic the way the viewers respond to what they learn from the series. I must admit that when the soldiers were singing pop songs I laughed at the same time the reporter did. But I wonder what it would be like if Simon had made the viewers the reporter. What if the series was all in Point of View shots? If the soldiers were talking to the camera and the reporters voice responded? I think it would be an interesting way to film the series in and might offer a different experience for the viewers than how the series is filmed. Thoughts?

Will the real Baltimore stand up?

After reading all of the assigned readings for today, it was nice to finally be able to hear from the man himself. Yes, David Simon actually has a voice. I feel like everything we have read this far is written with previous feelings about Simon. But now I understand where previous authors have gotten their notions about Simon from. In his interview he appears as a man who wishes to make vengeance against his old job. But more importantly, I feel that I gained a sense of where Simon was coming from when he chose to portray distorted systems in Baltimore.

But what impressed me the most about his interview was his response to the controversy over filming in Baltimore. I understand the Baltimore is essential to the series but as I watch I tend to forget that the series is in Baltimore. You all might not agree with me on this. I agree with Simon that the series can take place in almost any urban area. It would be interesting to watch the series take place in “the traditional dominate locales of New York, Los Angles, Washington, Chicago” but an important characteristic of the show is that it removes itself from the those areas. I appreciate the series more so because it’s not filmed in an area with unique culture (i.e. New York’ as a financial capital) so that the series can focus on important issues. This is what makes the series rich.

 The interview reflected the corrupt institutions Simon depicts on the series. I was surprised to read that the mayor at the time of the airing of the first season wanted Simon to film else where. I don’t think that the series has the intention of bashing Baltimore but rather wants its audience to acknowledge the corrupt institutions in places like Baltimore. The mayor wanted Baltimore “out of The Wire business” until Simon reminded him that if the series were to be filmed in Philadelphia they would get the money but would be depicted as Baltimore. Honestly, the series would have been strange if all the characters were relocated to Philadelphia in the beginning of the third season. Can you imagine it? Me either. This story reinforced the complex and corrupt political institution that really exists in Baltimore. Did the mayor not learn anything when he watched The Wire?

Lenny and Carl

After leaving today’s class discussion, there was one question that continued to linger in my mind throughout the day. It was the question of what is the purpose of homosexual ambiguity on a television series. The example that comes to my mind immediately is the characters Lenny and Carl from the hit series The Simpsons.

Lenny and Carl are almost seen together when either of them appear on screen. Residents of Springfield acknowledge that there is homosexual tension between the characters but rarely do they directly say that the two men are homosexual. I remember an episode where Marge told Homer not to push Lenny and Carl into anything because they have to work it out themselves. In an episode that parodies VHI’s Behind the Music the actor Bart Simpsons said that he had paid people to kiss for entertainment. Immediately the character zooms in on Carl and Lenny sitting down outside Moe’s Tavern. Carl tells the camera that Bart was going around the city asking people to kiss. Then Lenny turns to Carl to say, “Hey, did we ever get that money.” The camera moves on to a different subject matter.

I think that sexual preference status of Lenny and Carl is left ambiguous for comedic purposes. Viewers get hints that can help them indicate an answer to what Lenny and Carl are to each other. The series has produced shows where Lenny and Carl live in separate apartments with their “girlfriends”. What I agree with most of what was said in class is that if a viewer is looking for homosexual hints in any series they can probably find it. That’s true for the Simpsons because Lenny and Carl don’t always perform feministic actions that might portray them as homosexual. Their actions almost mimic those of Homer Simpsons who might be considered the most stereotypical “man” on the series. (Although there is an episode where Homer thinks he might be gay and moves into an apartment with two other homosexual men.)

Even one of the most anticipated episode where the a character was going to come out of the closet as same-sex marriages became legal in Springfield did not comment on Lenny and Carl. The bets were high on Lenny and Carl being the couple that would come out about their sexuality. Instead it was Patti, Marge’s sister, who proclaimed her love for another woman. (But if you have seen this episode you will remember that the woman turns out to be a man.)

Do Matt Groening and the other creators of the series use Lenny and Carl to make a statement of men being forced to keep their sexual preference a secret if they are homosexual? Are they really gay?

Feelings toward The Wire

I found the Kinder reading particularly interesting as it claimed The Wire as striking because of its depth of “its systematic analysis of urban corruption in Baltimore and the emotional power it elicits”.  I agree with the way it describes the series but I had not thought about the intertwining of the two tactics as I watched assigned episodes. What I find appealing about the series is its ability to reflect the corruption of different institutions in Baltimore but it was hard for me to find an emotional connection to the series initially. Although I found the show intriguing because I wanted to learn more about the complexities of fragmented worlds, I didn’t feel that I was gaining an emotional attachment to the show. I thought McNulty was an ass that the bigger boss wanted out of the force. But there wasn’t a point where I felt sorry for any of the characters until the last episode I watched.

 It was the episode where Kima got shot while working undercover (sorry if I spoiled it for anyone). At that point in the show my mouth just dropped. I felt so sorry for her. Then I began to have feelings of sympathy for the rest of the detectives when I watched their response. The scene that was most powerful to me was when the detectives were listening to the recording of the incident and McNulty feels so guilty that he begun to vomit after hearing the gunshots that entered Kima’s body. The Polan reading gives a good analysis about McNulty as a character through out the series but it was this point that I begun to feel an emotional connection to the show.

 But was this Simon’s intent? When creating the series did Simon want us to feel connected to the characters or is this just part of good television? To me, the previous readings suggest that Simon created the series for viewers to acknowledge the corruption in the different systems involved in urban corruption. I think he does this when he shows the urban corruption in Baltimore through out the series but was the emotional aspect a way to draw in viewers? Or is the emotions produced by the viewers a result of our acknowledgment of the intense corruptions in the different institutions? I believe that the Polan reading suggested that the overall theme of the series suggests that feelings were secondary to Simon’s intent. The reading claims that the in the series most of the characters in the series chose truth over emotion. But than maybe the viewers are suppose to believe McNulty who might be the protagonist and choose emotion over truth?

Renting DVD box sets

As I read Publishing Flow, I began to question the effects of renting establishments (Blockbuster, anyone?) on the DVD box set. Kompare briefly mentions these establishments when talking about VHS, but not on his section of the DVD box set. The last time I visited a Blockbuster (years ago) I noticed that they rented out DVD box sets. Customers are able to rent out an entire season of their favorite series for a week period. I assume that Kompare would argue that a week period would not be sufficient time to fully enjoy the box set but it could be enough time for a customer to watch all of the episodes of the season, including the bonus features. And since renting establishments have started to evaporate, it is fair to argue that they haven’t played a big impact on the sells of the box set. But this makes me wonder, why is it that this system hasn’t been successful? Granted that a week renting period causes an inconvenience onto the customer because they have to return the set, it is still a lot cheaper to rent the sets than purchasing them. Customers are still able to admire watch the good quality of the DVD box set without having to spend a lot of money. But for some reason I found it strange when I saw that I was able to rent DVD box sets even though renting the sets would be less painful for my wallet than purchasing them.

Annotated Bibliography – The Simpsons

Collins, Ben. The Simpsons Archive: Episodes by Writer. 2003. website is an article of the episodes listed by writer. The site is going to be helpful for me to know which episodes to watch and analyze that have been written by writers who have branched off into celebrity status. When I analyze the episodes, I will look for themes and comedic styles that let the viewers know who the writer was that wrote each episode. I am particularly interested in episodes written by Conan O’Brien, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. 

Gray, Jonathan. Watching with The Simpsons: television, parody, and intertextuality. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2006. Print.

This book will be helpful in discovering what is it about the show that allows it to be popular for so long. Gray discusses how the show is able to be a part of three genres (the sitcom, ads, and news) and be successful. He also writes about the relationship between the text of the series and the show’s audience. This will be a good source to use when I begun to write about how the series is so distinct from others and why the writers might want the series to be involved in different genres.


Kolbert, Elizabeth. “At Work With: Matt Groening; The Fun of Being Bart’s Real Dad”. New York Times. 1993

The characters from the series are based off of Groening’s own family. This New York Times article gives Groening the chance to talk about his inspirations for the characters and what were his intentions when writing the series. He says that he wanted to write something that wouldn’t be able to be taught in high school due to the excessive amount of foul language. This article made me think about how much a writer/creator can put them into the project. Groening mentions how every week he gets offered to develop cartoons and storylines. He gets to make the ultimate decisions. I am thinking about using this source in an argument to talk about the reason The Simpsons is so popular is because its writers have complete control over their work. They don’t have to include as many suggestions into their series as in other series we have talked about in class. 

Owen, Rob. Gen X TV: The Brady Bunch to Melrose Place. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1999. Print.

Although there is only a small section of this book that refers to The Simpsons, the section refers to the large amount of influence that the show has over other forms of media. The book claims that if something is made fun of on the series than it was seen as a part of popular culture. I think there is something to be said of the amount of authorship control the writers have to intertwine the series with current trends and fads. The writers are able to use the shows sarcasm to express their feelings about certain topics.

Turner, Chris. Plant Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation. Da Capo Press, 2005. Print.

This book discusses the origins of the show. Matt Groening developed The Simpsons as a response to not offer control of another comic, Life in Hell, to Fox. Groening wanted the writers of the show to have complete control over everything Simpsons in order to express the true vision of its creators. I am planning on using this book to discuss the foundation of the show. Along the lines of why and how is the show able to commit to adult humor but is an animated television series.

Waxman, Sharon. “Simpsons Animated Gay Nuptials, and a Debate”. New York Times. 2005

The New York Times quoted different opinions about The Simpsons having aired an episode about same sex marriages. I find it interesting that the president of the Parents Television Council criticized the show and said “I’d rather them not do it all.  You’ve got a show watched by millions of children. Do children need to have gay marriage thrust in their faces as an issue?” First off, the show is the highest rating prime time series for people between the ages of 19-49. The series isn’t meant to be a children program. The assumption is that since the program is an animated series, the show is meant for children. This article made me think about the challenges the writers have when faced with writing for an animation series. Since the characters are cartoons, many people will assume that the program is suitable for children.

Wright, Jean Ann. Animation writing and development: from script development to pitch. New York: Focal Press, 2005. Print. 291-292

The section of the book I will like to focus on is under the title “Prime-Time Animation”. The section describes how prime time animation shows are writing differently than other animations shows. Each episode has a showrunner who oversees the writers. The scripts tend to be less visual and the comedy is centered on the characters. The scripts are written by committee. After one writer has written a draft of the episode, a group of staff writers will meet to work together. Or the group of writers will work together to brainstorm ideas and assign one writer to produce the script. It’s interesting to know how distinct prime-time animation series are written when compared to other series.

Music in Clockers

Although music can help provoke an emotion from the viewer in a film or television series, I felt that some of the music played in Clockers made scenes awkward for me to watch. Music is played a lot during the film and most times it doesn’t come from a radio in the scene. The music simple begins to play on its own so that it’s not mean to be coming from the world of the film. Instead the music is meant to help the scene but I found it to be quite strange during certain times.

For example, the music in the opening credits of the film doesn’t seem to correlate with the images being shown. The music is upbeat although we are being shown images of being who have been shot. The images are quite gory and instead of thinking about the seriousness of what we are being shown, the type of music being played made me feel confused about Spike Lee’s opinion about death in drug wars.

The scene is similar to the end credits of The Corner. After watching the intense struggles endured by the characters on The Corner, we hear upbeat music while watching old pictures of the people the characters are based on. From our discussion in class we had decided that the music from the credits remind us that we are watching a television program instead of a documentary. Than what is Spike Lee trying to make us think during the intro of The Clockers? We know that the film is based on a fiction novel so we don’t have to be reminded that what we are about to see is not based off of true events.

Clockers P.O.V.

Pierce’s writing intrigues me in Clockers because of its distinct writing style. By having dual point of views during the book allows us to see two different worlds simultaneously. This allows us to contrast and compare both of the worlds. Who are the protagonists in each end of the conflict? The victims? The bystanders?  My answer to these questions tends to change as I continue to become involved in each world. Clockers is almost a mix of The Corner and Homicide because it portrays the realistic struggles faced by drug dealers and homicide detectives. It feels as if I am reading two books in one.

The point of view style also makes it distinct that the role of the viewer is to be the observer. In Homicide the television adaptation and book made the viewer feel as if they are one of the detectives on the squad. But Clockers makes it very clear that we are just the observers since we observe two different worlds simultaneously. Pierce doesn’t write as if we are one of Striker’s friends that he works with or part of any legal squad.