Latest Blog Posts

by Elizabeth Wiggins

9 Aug 2010

From 16 and Pregnant

While it’s possible to level many criticisms at MTV’s current programming – the lack of music on “music television”, the disappearance of my childhood VJs, to name a few – the network’s development of serious documentary-style reality programming is adding some unexpected depth to its schedule. Tapping into the fraught battleground of teenagers, sex, and teen pregnancy, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom attempt to turn an honest eye towards the day-to-day struggles of American teens – particularly teenage girls – as they become living consequences of the unresolved debate over teenagers’ access to information about sex, contraception, and romantic relationships. 

The popularity of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom (season two debuted July 20 and continues to follow Maci, Amber, Farrah, and Catelynn from season one of 16 and Pregnant) speaks directly to MTV’s desire to participate in thoughtful storytelling and to a real social need to discuss what, exactly, teen pregnancy looks like, what social forces prompt it, and how it can be prevented.

by Nathan Pensky

5 Aug 2010

Explanation is usually only necessary when a joke isn’t readily funny. However, some A-material contains narrative layers of nuance which defy a single pass. One such moment happens in the season four premiere episode of the American version of The Office.

In “Fun Run”, the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflen Paper Company is all atwitter over the recent accident of a co-worker. Branch manager Michael Scott has made the office’s scare with vehicular manslaughter his latest pet project, mainly because his was the vehicle and he the man who almost did the slaughtering. Though Meredith, Dunder Mifflin – Scranton’s resident alky, survived being hit by Michael’s car with only minor injuries, her hospital stay fortuitously allowed doctors to diagnose and treat a much more serious Rabies infection. In other words, had it not been for getting hit by Michael’s car, Meredith probably would have died.

by Joseph Fisher

5 Aug 2010

Image from the front page of the Cupcake Wars website

George Edergly Harris III in Heaven have we ignored the legacy of the 1960s? If global catastrophes like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent BP Oil Spill, and the depletion of the Arctic ice pack have not demonstrated how deeply we have misunderstood the ideology of flower power, then a quick peek at your weekly Travel Channel and Food Network programming guides should accomplish that in an instant.

by Rachel Michaels

4 Aug 2010

Benedict Cumberbatch as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson

The BBC’s three part series Sherlock embeds Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson firmly within the London of 2010. This Holmes and Watson are not relics of the British Empire but thoroughly modern men thriving in our fast-paced, modern world. They have the contemporary tools of texting, GPS, email, the Internet, PDAs and, of course, forensic science at their fingertips, but it is how Sherlock uses these tools that continues to set him apart as the world’s only “consulting detective”.

by Beth Greaves

3 Aug 2010

Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) and DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) in BBC1's Luther

I was inspired to write this article by fellow PopMatters blogger, Andy Johnson, who mentioned in his article the large number of negative complaints that BBC crime drama Luther has pulled from national publications such as the Radio Times. It has been accused of misogyny of the first level—the consistent brutalization of women onscreen. Admittedly, Luther has done something to deserve this title; the third episode of its six-episode run featured a woman held captive in a freezer by a sadistic Satanist, and her sustained physical and psychological torture was graphically shown.

I’m responding to the consistent “How could you do this to women?” air of such complaints. Yes, Luther showed horrific violence perpetuated by men upon women, as have shows like Wire in Blood before it. Yet there has been very little mention of the almost feminist bias shown by both Luther and other television shows.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article