Thursday, October 26, 2006

Television as 'Cultural Center' in an Age of Audience

Michael Kackman (University of Texas-Austin)- Professor at U of Texas and he is interested in television in US broadcast history. I would like to use this question to think through industrial modes of production and critical modes of analysis that we use. What would we use this as a place of thought. Most of this has been through through in terms of normativity and evn the popular terms of discuss is stll normative. This goes back to the mass society debates. What happens to this when audience segmentation happens and cultural moves happen -- is it still political in the old ways. What happens here as a culturally binding force and tv's normativity and these debates aren't happening in the ways of thinking about national identity and the like.

Hollis Griffith (Northwestern University)- A PhD student at Northwestern and is interested in a gender studiesn in media. My interest in this issue deals with citizenship are so frequently reductive and have to do with the national imaginary. When do we think about this in the terms of the issue of gay cable networks and what it means to be part of the consumer citizen at this point in time. How are the two intermingled in the opening window in the niche cable project.

Allen Larson - Media Policy and Religion. The slice of the project that he wants to think about thyis porject is how the idea of the consumer that is fundamentally different than when television began. Let's link this up to other issues in public media policy arguments and what kinds of policy issues work. One of the things I am interested in as well is the idea of nets being liberated from advertising regimes and the idea -- income streaming being the key here. I am also interested in the way that there is no more mass marketing everywhere and this is key in a way to have a new apparatus that works for some and not others. The Billboard and the web portal begins to be the key when each are dealing with captive audiences. The in-between place becomes the key (ed. note, the foyer). What would it mean to limit and fight over the "in-between" spaces". Local content then becomes the issue.

David Marc (Syracuse University) - Is interested in television in a number of television subjects in American culture. Is affilated with Syracuse. I have always been interested in democracy and the issue of exlusive and inclusivity. In particular the way that television allows for aesthetics to enter the audience. The chopping of the audience and the political gang war mentality seem to contribute to two different worlds. This is key to understanding to television, at least old tv, as a homogenizing force. Television becomes a compromised narrative and what you would think about it and take what you would want. In the old media you might have old tools like "objectivity" and this is not necessarily the case now. How is it putting us at war with each other.

David Thorburn (MIT)-- Teaching at MIT and is interested in romanticism. Television from a humanistic perspective. In the 1970s I was on a panel with Horace Newcomb and either he or me was that it would not be too long that people would feel nostalgia for things that others showered with contempt. One of this has to do with the consensus function that seems to be lost. However, one of the things that needs to happen is that we realize that this is a fact of old media. The system of consensus narrative is key. All societies have a space, typically centralized, where society makes itself. In earlier societies there were these things that happened and we should examine these earlier societies. For Thornburn in the past this was Shakespeare's cultural theater and this was a place of high contempt. Actors were equated to prostitutes and it was only after its time that we see how people looks at this. The prose narrative was a place of contempt, but now the narrative is showered with praise. The contempt in each case was that the systems of storytelling were accessible, and they created an aesthetics that was key. I believe that 200 years from now Television will be talked about as really great -- the MTM show, MASH, All in the Family. The same was true of film. Television had a consensus function and it was key that we acknowledge the consensus meanings of all media. The 20th century will be known as the era of film and television. BTW the Sopranos was the only cable program to generate larger audiences than broadcast counterparts. Television will play in a vestigial with the consensus system.

Horace Newcomb (University of Georgia)- A director of the Peabody awards, numerous books. It's the something that David Marc talks about the previous modes of consensus narrativs is key. The central factor begins for us to think about the transition period as more fragile. One of my concerns for the consensus narratives is that these new techs are so fragmentization is such a problem. Think about this we lost Jim Carey and George Gerbner who each celebrated the power of the consensus narrative. What these scholars knew was there was a way that worked to challenge us in a way that looks at each other. Gerbner's work on content analysis was something I didn;t agree with but we may not have been so far apart. Roger Silverstone was a major scholar that asked us to think about how we come together and that deal with moral and ethical questions. Television was important to me because it was dealing with a consensus narrativization. Still I don't think Tv rules our lives and I do not think that democracy hinges there. yet it strikes me that it changes from the idea of the forum and David Marc's essay on Melodrama is a key one. What are we movibng to now? Maybe a newsstand or a warehouse or a library. If I go to the food channel I am looking for specific things and specific items and we are moving to a literary model. The channel is now the key. I mean, I "Tivo" old issues of the New Yorker that I fall behind with. What does it mean to have 20 million people watching a show now that it did at the 3 net era. It doesn't mean the same thing. I also think that the programming is better than it has ever been. I leave aside the newer media... that's fo rthe students.

Victorial Johnson (University of California-Irvine) -- Film and media studies. Interested in the film and television in the Midwest. Is interested in hip hop aesthetics in ESPN. I am obsessed with the objects that are hugely popular thjat are never discussed. For instance you have an institutional way that allows broadcasters to move their products in economically less markets to access cultural producst like sports. You can read this in a way that allows us to invest into the media in a way that is classed and is geographic and these all too often fall to the wayside when new media is falling to the wayside. Another way that this is happening in reality TV as a cultural forum. Think about SCMS in a way that nobody knew about sports and this is a place of a way claiming identity. CBS and NBC havce explicitly claimed sport as a place where they claim to continue dominate. There is still a site that has a politics about class and territory.

Moderator -- A question for Horace -- What is at stake in a new decentered television . Does an open society need this consensus narrative

Horace -- I have never seen an open society. What does that mean? I mean, I always liked TV cause it gave me a common center and the one that Thornburn didn't talk about this is in terms of religion.

David Marc -- Wlat Whitman says we need a shared medium in Democratic Vistas and Whitman felt that we needed to create an aesthetics of excellence that reaches everyone

Thornburn -- There is no way to have a society without a consensus function. We look at this in the Bible and religion and, indeed, this is what happened with the theater (early theater reenacted the Bible). There is, of course, no true consensus and this key. Think of Williams in this way. The consensus is a place where the discussion about what we want is in play. One problem with our conceptualizations is that we always thought about this is that our systems were never truly democratic, however there was a responsibility played in this. There are all kinds of functions that work to aggregate the culture, sports is one of them. We will continue to see this continue to do this in television, but only in vestigial ways. People need ways to organize their sense of belonging

Allen -- I think it is possible that when people look at how this war support dwindled some credit will look at YouTube. The Major Nets lost their credibility on the war. Think about Alternative media. This doesn't always mean politics. It could be alternate means of creations. YouTube postings by military personnel are key here and we need to let it be ... let it grow and this key even for Mill and Locke and their politics of libertarianism.

Michael -- I think what you are saying is a reminder that this is not a thing but a process. Where is the anti-war movement? While we can say that there was a movement that penetrated TV in Vietnam, how do we map this onto this with Iraq. We are at a point of public opposition in roughly the same way. And it is not as visible on TV or in the street

David -- But look at Fox News and...(cross talk) Fox is somebody's center

Thornburn -- There is a key difference -- now political figure was against the war -- students were against the war

Horace -- yeah but we also had seen the Civil Rights movement on TV

Michael -- What is a mobilization? And there may be more blood in the streets

hollis -- Lets think about defining the center. The center for Fox is, yes, someone's center, and the idea of the center is key throughout. The television exists as a discursive generator and mythmaker. Minority groups will always been angling for a positionality in it

Horace -- Look at issues of being in the margin and pushing in and everyone will have a center -- look at this from an issue and fundamental changes are the key for making us think differently. How long does it take for the new model to come in.

Thornburn -- Let us think about the half life of platforms. Novels a couple hundred years, movies 50 until TV, TV 40 until cable... now this seems to be out of control -- and this is very unsettling.

Hollis -- so much of the local coverage is key here -- where is the

Audience -- Who noticed when Bill Maher was takien off ABC and how he is HBO. What happens is Viral now... this is key since the media and the news events ae key throughout and the people got in touch with me and the point is that there is a spiral here .... what is a news story... it is a soap opera story with hard news bars. Television may become the stimulus for a ricocheting effect. When new techs converge means we need a new issues here

Johnson --- As things go more global we get more local intensities. The issue of red and blue states for example is a gross oversimplification here and this is key. This brings us to if not TV what? Does it get back to face-to-face contact

Audience -- Hartley, you guys, Americans are in trouble here since this is an American example. You guys need to think about this. The next central forum has a name -- it is China,

Michael -- Citizenship and nationhood has a problem here. We are so different as to be citizens of different nations. Citizenship is always about alterity and it is a position of saying the center is not where you want it to be. If we overly celebrate this and invoke this. Asserting that the center is wrong

Horace -- yes but this is what the center allowed to happen. It was never deliberative. It was Hollywood. the first example of the vietnam vet returning was in 1963 in a tv episode dealing with PTSD. Nobody would suggest, though, a nostalgia and it was rotten but someone could define it in terms of a media created center. Elihu Katz may believe that the best media system would be one channel

Marc -- Let me think of a new model, not china. Bosnia herzogovinia -- Tito as the center and the net. Well, then you get a huge fragmentation. Communication systems are the key to governing these weird regions in a post Yugoslavic territory.

Moderator -- David Marc says that the category of general interest are no longer a priority in this discussion.

Audience -- I want to respond to Marc and this proliferation of channels is in relatively small hands. Take for instance about temporality -- we are all watching the same broadcast that shows a political differentiation,

Marc -- but this does hold in certain ways. The

Hartley -- yeah but everyon wants to leave yugoslavia -- again, china.

Thornburn --- It is hard to imagine this in a sense about TV and IRAQ - every institution failed

Mittel -- Lets think about Hollis and Victoria -- these people are thinking about microcentering. Fox news is someone's center. And this is a key moment here. Think about -- someone needs to think about that you need to be spoken to and how important to

ELana -- These things are not necc centers but niches and this is a key moment -- this is the sense of being spoken too.,

Thornburn -- one could talk about this in a spoken to in the multiplicity of characters in ALl in the Famioly

Victoria -- where does Niching fail and why and what are those? When does this happen topday with broadcast failure and one of these sports

Audience -- Where does this happen about with community and consensus. All in the Family national community -- centering and community

Audience -- Two observations -- how contested things were in the 1970s -- the nets happened to take over with culture being up for grabs. And this was up for grabs and the points of view were many people being at each others throats -- also, we watch TV -- did it then and do it now. TV is what we do and what we do to process what is important. And that happens today.

Alexander Russo - Look around this in the protests mobiolization that happened with Spanish radio and Mexican DJs.

Audience -- The G word of Globalization has not come up. And this would have been the case until the war came about. Sports brings up the broadcast function ... and the World Cup is the key

Audience -- Are we oversimplifying niches? I mean it's not like HBO is showing one viewpoint all of the time. There seems to be multiple gateway points.

Audience -- I want to problematize further the We aspect -- the We is American. Who is the consensus for? And in this case the point of time where the global consensus never happened. Are we lacking a lack of imganization by defining this as America. Let's think about this in terms of American stories. American stories are still told , but only on occasion.

Horace -- Consensus was Thornburns word -- But I set on Arena -- This is key. I don't put much stock in the news. With the niche communities there is no question that centering works there. There is something that is lacking on top of that. Where do we see our case here as something that was a historical accident and it transformed this country. Look radio is still the dominant form.

Audience -- Perhaps the term here is "classic text" and this is the serial text and how does this operate -- now it is on YouTube and where is this happening. The Colbert Roast has happened--- the text becomes the center that moves through time.

Moderator -- Ok -- we are done, let's drink!

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