I am confused and here is why
This week’s articles were short, and the lazy girl in me was happy about that. But they were also deeply confusing, and my lack of sleep is certainly not helping me understand them more. My colleagues shed some light on these articles today, which was much appreciated. When I read other people’s blogs, I feel like they are nice, concise, essay-like trains of thought. Mine reads more like a rambly stream of consciousness daydream. I hope you will still tolerate me.
To close-read a few bits from Raymond Williams:
“The magazine, invented as a specific form in the early eighteenth century, was designed as a miscellany, mainly for a new and expanding and culturally inexperienced middle-class audience.” (193) This is interesting, and reminds me of when we learned about the invention of ‘pamphlets’ in high school social studies. Usually for the middle class, often used as a vessel for political propaganda, pamphlets served a very specific purpose when they first appeared. The idea that magazines were also created specifically as an accessible way to get news and culture stories is an enlightening one.
Also, how can magazines be both a ‘specific form’ and a ‘miscellany’? By definition, a miscellany is “a mixture or collection of different things” (Merriam-Webster online). Is it specific in its mixing of content? This seems to match the current magazine format, although typically one will get a magazine of a specific ‘genre’, if you will: sports, entertainment, television, style, etc. Is a magazine still aimed at the middle class? Probably – and it separates those of us who read Forbes, Time, or National Geographic from those of us who prefer Cosmopolitan, People, or Sports Illustrated.
“A ‘natural break’ became any moment of convenient insertion.” (195) This follows an explanation that initially, between acts of a live performance, there was an intermission. In fact, old movies still have an ‘intermission’ break in them. One that comes to mind is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – my sister and I have watched this a number of times with our parents and we always comment on the fact that it has an ‘intermission’ halfway through, at the most exciting plot point (to keep people watching).
I learned in music history that initially, performances of multi-act operas would have intermission entertainment as well, in the form of more lighthearted music. These days, it is rare to go to a live performance (of a play, or an opera, or music) and not have an intermission. But are these added at the moments of most ‘convenient insertion’? For instance, if you watch a YouTube video that’s longer than 10 minutes (or something like that), you get an ad right in the middle, regardless of whether or not it’s a ‘convenient’ place. Do new media forms like YouTube ignore this notion of a ‘natural break’ because going through every 10+ minute video would be too time consuming? Or is it the lack of personal connection (eg. no ‘editor’ on these videos like in TV programs or movies) that results in the random commercial?
Similarly, when watching a movie on TV, they seem to add an ad (ha ha) every 5 minutes, and they are timed so randomly that it becomes aggravating. Is someone going through the movie and deciding when an ad needs to go in to fit the predetermined time slot? Or is it on a clock, and every x minutes, an ad is triggered? Or is there some horrible, awful person sitting behind a desk cackling as they cut to a commercial in the middle of a character professing their love?
“Of course the films were not made to be ‘interrupted’ in this way.” (196) I am going to take this out of its old-guy-airplane-movie context and just throw it into the TV-desk-person analogy. In this day and age, isn’t everything made to be interrupted? If we know that a movie will be shown on an airplane, on Netflix, on TV with a zillion ads, then surely things are now made with the knowledge that interruptions will happen.
How does this relate to the fact that millennials cannot do only one thing at a time? My 13-year-old sister and I frequently sit together ‘watching TV’, but we are also on our phones/iPads/laptops. My parents chastise us for being on ‘too many devices’ at a time, but I think it’s characteristic of our generation to be listening to music and reading a book and having a conversation with a friend and texting four people and eating a bagel and thinking about homework. It’s a scary thing, and it makes me wonder what our children will be like. Then again, maybe it’s just me and my inability to focus on one task. I’m digging my own grave. Ah well, at least I’ll still have that bagel.