Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A vast wasteland

Noel and I decided to forgo our annual best-movies-of-the-year countdown for the students. Having participated in compiling the best TV of the decade roundup for the AV Club, we thought it would be fun to share with the students some trends in television and some shows they might not know about.

It shouldn't surprise me anymore, but it always does: My students don't watch much TV. That may sound like it's a good thing. But it shocks me how little interest they have in it. Maybe it's just the vagaries of my upbringing, but I associate an interest in television with a desire to be tuned into the zeitgeist, to participate in a mass event. Is their tuning out a demonstration of disdain for a medium they feel is beneath them, or is it a symptom of their disconnect and isolation?

Happily (at least for a believer in mass culture and the potential of television as a medium like me), the room tonight was full of people who feel strongly about TV, and a few who watch it with almost the level of obsession as we do. One of the reasons I want to teach pop culture -- not just use pop culture in my teaching -- is that I want to assure students that it's okay to take it seriously, that it's a worthy object of study and of passion. If I can make the world safe for one budding fan with both a heart and a brain, then my work here is done.

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