- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TV social life

“All our lives, we’re plagued by the feeling that we might be missing something, somewhere. … Even if we shun the continual onslaught of news about Justin Bieber’s signature hairstyle or Sandra Bullock’s brand-new, 100 percent authentic third-world infant souvenir, our socially mediated selves push us to keep up. Our personal brands demand that we remain consistent … lest our ‘Followers’ and ‘Friends’ and other demi-associate members of our target demographics start to view us as impulsive, inconstant or — heaven forbid — complicated.

“In other words, we have to keep watching ‘Lost.’ Damn you, ‘Lost’! We went and jumped on your bandwagon way back in the first season, got sucked into your endless jungley maze and suspenseful chords, and waited breathlessly for the next shoe to drop, over and over again. Remember when that was still fun? Remember? Henry Gale’s googly-eyed provocations? Michael shooting Ana Lucia in the gut? The impenetrable, nostalgia-inducing mysteries of the Dharma Initiative? Thanks to the brilliant character studies of the first season (we ignored the dumb monsters), thanks to the genius twists and turns of the second and third seasons, we’re doomed to do our penance as the whole tale unravels in a messy heap.”

Heather Havrilesky, writing on “Help! We’re trapped by ‘Lost’!” on May 8 at Salon’s TV blog

New populism



“Many Americans, a vocal and varied segment of the public at large, have now convinced themselves that educated elites — politicians, bureaucrats, reporters, but also doctors, scientists, even schoolteachers — are controlling our lives. And they want them to stop. They say they are tired of being told what counts as news or what they should think about global warming; tired of being told what their children should be taught, how much of their paychecks they get to keep, whether to insure themselves, which medicines they can have, where they can build their homes, which guns they can buy, when they have to wear seatbelts and helmets, whether they can talk on the phone while driving, which foods they can eat, how much soda they can drink … the list is long. But it is not a list of political grievances in the conventional sense.

“Historically, populist movements use the rhetoric of class solidarity to seize political power so that ‘the people’ can exercise it for their common benefit. American populist rhetoric does something altogether different today. It fires up emotions by appealing to individual opinion, individual autonomy, and individual choice, all in the service of neutralizing, not using, political power. It gives voice to those who feel they are being bullied, but this voice has only one, Garbo-like thing to say: I want to be left alone. … Welcome to the politics of the libertarian mob.”

Mark Lilla, writing on “The Tea Party Jacobins” in the May 27 issue of the New York Review of Books

All lacrosse

“The Duke lacrosse case, often presented in false or misleading terms, provided the preferred frame of reference [in coverage of the Virginia lacrosse-team killing].

“‘The Washington Post,’ after noting that [suspect George] Huguely had commented on the Duke case several years ago, recalled that the charges against the Duke players had been ‘dropped.’ (Actually, the North Carolina attorney general issued a public exoneration.) The AP … reported that the falsely accused Duke players had attended the same prep school as did Huguely. (Actually, only one did.) And Emily Friedman of ABC linked Huguely’s high school to the ‘2006 rape scandal’ at Duke. She didnt explain how the phrase ‘rape scandal’ could describe an event in which no rape occurred. …

“Seeing the national media link their names to an accused murderer because of events fueled by Durham authorities’ misconduct doubtless will fortify the falsely accused lacrosse players’ civil suit against Durham.”

KC Johnson, writing on “Virginia and Duke” on May 6 at Inside Higher Ed

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