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7

Bad TV

0
terms
4
notes

Would #metoo jump the shark?

Long Chu, A. (2018). Bad TV. n+1, 31, pp. 7-13

9

[...] in the very act of delivering on its promise to make people feel political, woke TV accidentally proved that political was something you could be made to feel. [...] the political is essentially a special effect, a trick of the light, TV magic. The full discomfiture of this claim can be shrugged off as long as you maintain the fantasy that somewhere out there, in the bleeding wilds of the world, there exists a secret glade called Politics where the gods of history dance. This will let you cleanly cleave the world in two: true and pretend, genuine leftism and performative wokeness, real life and the stuff of television. The scarier thought is that feeling political is all that politics is. In truth, you can’t book a direct flight to the political. There are always layovers in aesthetic form: in tone, mood, shape, and everything else a work of art might employ to try to get you to feel part of something bigger than yourself.

The other way to say this is that politics is just a very special episode of belonging. Belonging is television’s forte. Television was never just a box; it has always been primarily a social event. When Adorno complained that television was a “substitute for a social immediacy,” he had forgotten that every public is a fantasy, projected by rituals and shibboleths that if held up to the light just so will, like the medallion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, point the way to God. This applies as much to the halo of national pride that in 1969 descended, like Apollo 11, onto the rapt faces of viewers at home as to the numberless moons of fandom now wandering the internet’s night sky. Mediation, televisual or otherwise, has always been necessary to make the leap from me to you, individual to group. All communities are imagined, as Benedict Anderson taught, simply because they could not be otherwise.

—p.9 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] in the very act of delivering on its promise to make people feel political, woke TV accidentally proved that political was something you could be made to feel. [...] the political is essentially a special effect, a trick of the light, TV magic. The full discomfiture of this claim can be shrugged off as long as you maintain the fantasy that somewhere out there, in the bleeding wilds of the world, there exists a secret glade called Politics where the gods of history dance. This will let you cleanly cleave the world in two: true and pretend, genuine leftism and performative wokeness, real life and the stuff of television. The scarier thought is that feeling political is all that politics is. In truth, you can’t book a direct flight to the political. There are always layovers in aesthetic form: in tone, mood, shape, and everything else a work of art might employ to try to get you to feel part of something bigger than yourself.

The other way to say this is that politics is just a very special episode of belonging. Belonging is television’s forte. Television was never just a box; it has always been primarily a social event. When Adorno complained that television was a “substitute for a social immediacy,” he had forgotten that every public is a fantasy, projected by rituals and shibboleths that if held up to the light just so will, like the medallion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, point the way to God. This applies as much to the halo of national pride that in 1969 descended, like Apollo 11, onto the rapt faces of viewers at home as to the numberless moons of fandom now wandering the internet’s night sky. Mediation, televisual or otherwise, has always been necessary to make the leap from me to you, individual to group. All communities are imagined, as Benedict Anderson taught, simply because they could not be otherwise.

—p.9 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago
10

[...] A woman with the pseudonym Grace told the lifestyle site Babe that Ansari had pressured her into a blow job and kept wheeling her awkwardly around his apartment looking for a space to park his dick. Everything was consensual-ish. “You guys are all the same,” she had told him, “you guys are all the fucking same.” The internet went up in flames. Harassment in the workplace was one thing, but a national referendum on heterosexuality? What were we supposed to do, not have sex? Bari Weiss, with the New York Times feeding quarters into the back of her head, figured that if Grace had been assaulted, so had every woman, including Bari Weiss, which obviously wasn’t the case. Someone in the Atlantic compared Grace to the weak female protagonists of the moralizing chick lit of the Seventies, at once slutty and hapless. Suck it up, honey. Spit it out. Call a cab.

the quarters line is amazing

—p.10 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago

[...] A woman with the pseudonym Grace told the lifestyle site Babe that Ansari had pressured her into a blow job and kept wheeling her awkwardly around his apartment looking for a space to park his dick. Everything was consensual-ish. “You guys are all the same,” she had told him, “you guys are all the fucking same.” The internet went up in flames. Harassment in the workplace was one thing, but a national referendum on heterosexuality? What were we supposed to do, not have sex? Bari Weiss, with the New York Times feeding quarters into the back of her head, figured that if Grace had been assaulted, so had every woman, including Bari Weiss, which obviously wasn’t the case. Someone in the Atlantic compared Grace to the weak female protagonists of the moralizing chick lit of the Seventies, at once slutty and hapless. Suck it up, honey. Spit it out. Call a cab.

the quarters line is amazing

—p.10 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago
11

GOOD TV, OF THE LONG-FORM, narrative sort, is believable. Believability is never about reproducing reality. Time travel may be believable; a kitchen sink may not be. Believability is, essentially, an aesthetic of proportionality. It consists in the invention of an imaginary but plausible relationship between character and plot: that is, in negotiating some kind of correspondence between the squishy sentimentality of interiority and a few discrete, relatively high-impact events that interrupt, like meteors, the atmosphere of everyday life. In the land of television, critical acclaim is handed out to whichever shows manage to bridge these twin peaks most attractively. Usually, this means keeping the writing within a few standard deviations of the premise at hand: no secret clones, unless it’s Orphan Black; no acts of God, except on The Leftovers.

—p.11 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago

GOOD TV, OF THE LONG-FORM, narrative sort, is believable. Believability is never about reproducing reality. Time travel may be believable; a kitchen sink may not be. Believability is, essentially, an aesthetic of proportionality. It consists in the invention of an imaginary but plausible relationship between character and plot: that is, in negotiating some kind of correspondence between the squishy sentimentality of interiority and a few discrete, relatively high-impact events that interrupt, like meteors, the atmosphere of everyday life. In the land of television, critical acclaim is handed out to whichever shows manage to bridge these twin peaks most attractively. Usually, this means keeping the writing within a few standard deviations of the premise at hand: no secret clones, unless it’s Orphan Black; no acts of God, except on The Leftovers.

—p.11 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago
12

This is why the case against #MeToo rested, ironically, on charges of disproportionate response. Calm your tits, its critics said. Most men aren’t monsters. Most things aren’t rape. Of course, the thing about moral panics is that it takes one to know one. Women are panicking, they said, panicking. But it’s genuinely worth considering whether panic is the only form of publicness available to the airing of sexual grief. Sexual harm is constituted by the impossibility of its being proven. Outside of statutory provisions around age, consent is basically immaterial. Rape and its cousins are ultimately determined not by the presence of physical violence but by the victim’s mental state. Of the latter there can never be direct proof, only secondary indicators. Sexual assault is therefore, by definition, all in your head. Hence the slogan “Yes means yes,” a spell for conjuring a world where people always say what they mean and mean what they say. But usually, they don’t — and usually, they can’t, since people are rarely any more transparent to themselves than they are to others. Events are not self-narrating. Violence is rarely realistic. You’re expecting a break, but instead you get weird, curved continuity. Someone missed their cue. That can’t be the line. What did he just say? Where are we going? Did I ask for this? No one calls cut. No one checks the gate. Not knowing what happened becomes part of what happened.

It is impossible to have a proportionate response to something that never, strictly speaking, occurred. That’s why the beautiful risk run by all the public blacklists, unchecked facts, and internet yelling that coalesced alongside the due-diligence journalism like #MeToo’s evil Twitter twin was its wholesale refusal to play ball with believability’s evidentiary regime. No smoking guns, no blue dresses. Saying so would be proof enough. This was breathtaking, the way the open maw of deep space is breathtaking: nothing, catching fire. Nuance exists, obviously. We’re big girls. Women hoard subtlety in a world where belief is something you have to save up to buy. This is a secret of femininity: paying careful attention to the world’s complexity can mean letting it walk all over you. But to admit this was to concede too much. We deserved some recklessness. It can look like violence when women afford themselves the luxury of generalization.

—p.12 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago

This is why the case against #MeToo rested, ironically, on charges of disproportionate response. Calm your tits, its critics said. Most men aren’t monsters. Most things aren’t rape. Of course, the thing about moral panics is that it takes one to know one. Women are panicking, they said, panicking. But it’s genuinely worth considering whether panic is the only form of publicness available to the airing of sexual grief. Sexual harm is constituted by the impossibility of its being proven. Outside of statutory provisions around age, consent is basically immaterial. Rape and its cousins are ultimately determined not by the presence of physical violence but by the victim’s mental state. Of the latter there can never be direct proof, only secondary indicators. Sexual assault is therefore, by definition, all in your head. Hence the slogan “Yes means yes,” a spell for conjuring a world where people always say what they mean and mean what they say. But usually, they don’t — and usually, they can’t, since people are rarely any more transparent to themselves than they are to others. Events are not self-narrating. Violence is rarely realistic. You’re expecting a break, but instead you get weird, curved continuity. Someone missed their cue. That can’t be the line. What did he just say? Where are we going? Did I ask for this? No one calls cut. No one checks the gate. Not knowing what happened becomes part of what happened.

It is impossible to have a proportionate response to something that never, strictly speaking, occurred. That’s why the beautiful risk run by all the public blacklists, unchecked facts, and internet yelling that coalesced alongside the due-diligence journalism like #MeToo’s evil Twitter twin was its wholesale refusal to play ball with believability’s evidentiary regime. No smoking guns, no blue dresses. Saying so would be proof enough. This was breathtaking, the way the open maw of deep space is breathtaking: nothing, catching fire. Nuance exists, obviously. We’re big girls. Women hoard subtlety in a world where belief is something you have to save up to buy. This is a secret of femininity: paying careful attention to the world’s complexity can mean letting it walk all over you. But to admit this was to concede too much. We deserved some recklessness. It can look like violence when women afford themselves the luxury of generalization.

—p.12 by Andrea Long Chu 1 year, 3 months ago