Trump, Streep, CNN, Press Conference and Nixon

Trump has motivated me to work on my video editing skills. This is the first fruit of my labor. It basically just strings together some TV clips with some thoughts of my own intertwined.

It isn’t anything special, but I wanted to try and make a few points.

Trump definitely mocked the disabled reporter. Before his impression, he says “you’ve got to see this guy”.

Meryl Streep discussed her concerns at the Golden Globes and Trump responded on Twitter.

Instead of conducting his press conference in a way that would make Meryl Streep appear like an “out of touch liberal” who is a sore loser, he gets in a shouting match with a reporter from CNN and wouldn’t allow him a question. It’s like a kid poking you in the eye on the play ground and then running before you can react.

Trump demonstrates no humility, and I worry that he could never see himself as having done wrong. He has done nothing to bring people together and still rubs his victory in the face of others.

He shows no signs of talking less as President.

I end by drawing a comparison with Nixon who hated the media as well. Trump will have to be very careful as President as his relationship with the press is already strained.

 

Unfortunately, America has always accepted lies as truth

There’s been a lot written about today’s social feeds serving as news providers imperiling democracy as people no longer base their opinions on truth but on lies. Unfortunately, America, and societies all over the world, have accepted lies as truth for decades at the very least.

I say that with the JFK assassination in mind. There’s no better example of lies being accepted as truth. Sure people will cite polls suggesting that Americans doubt the findings of the Warren Commission, but when someone asks Siri or Wikipedia who killed JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald is said to be the lone assassin. It is quite clear this is false, yet there is little up roar beyond dedicated JFK researchers. Most people simply don’t care.

Why do we accept lies as truth? Because it is easy and comfortable. We don’t like hearing facts that make us question how we view the world. People simply will not search for news that upends lies that they have come to accept as the truth.

Are legitimate journalists from reputable sources the answer? Nope. Need proof? Good, don’t just take my word for it. Journalists take the easy route all the time. The JFK assassination is just one example where the media are all too willing to spread government lies that do not add up to reality. Consider the build up to the Iraq War? Where were journalists questioning the official government statements then? The beauty of the American media is that they appear to be neutral entities dedicated to finding the facts. The facts they rely on are those provided by government agencies and major corporations. Press releases make the job of being a journalist much easier, and it may be a pipe dream to expect journalists to question press releases like they do unsubstantiated sources. Public relations divisions of government agencies and corporations ALWAYS have the ear of the media.

Here’s a truth bomb for you: no one does more work than they have to especially when that work penalizes your career. The journalist that publishes the first story that breaks open a scandal (think Watergate) is lauded. We want the latest news, not the late news.   Because of the demands of the job, it is understandable that a journalist would rather go ahead and produce the article expected by the editors than attempt chasing down a story that may not be a story after all. All the while, the media can appear as separate entities since they are not state owned, but information coming from the state is the media’s lifeblood. When the state lies, the media lies ignorantly along with it claiming to help inform the public.

Why we shouldn’t worry about fake news

We shouldn’t worry about fake news. There. I said it. Why? IT DOESN’T MATTER. People believe what conforms to the world they view as reality. Anything that does not fit into that puzzle is discarded and ignored.  There could be an article that proves beyond a doubt there is no god, and people would still believe in god. Why? It is too unsettling for people to live a life in which there is no god since they have believed from a very young age and have structured their lives around this belief. God exists to them even if there is not really a god out there somewhere. Fake news is not the problem in my eyes. The problem is a lack of understanding within society of its own self. We need to come to terms with the fact that people are still animals who are programmed by our society. Within America, we are programmed to consume. Consume what? The individual has power by choosing what to consume. Very few people choose to consume things that do not agree with them in some way. Consider your friendships. Your friends more often than not see the world the same way as you….that’s partly why they are your friends. They are also the ones most likely to change the way you view the world. Not an article you read on a news site or this site. Why? Because it is much more difficult to dismiss a puzzle piece (view of reality, information, fact, idea) coming from a friend who you respect and have invested your own emotions and time in. What we really need to stop are friends who spout bullshit! People will consume what they want no matter what Facebook plans to do to combat fake news. If they inadvertantly read something that is contrary to their beliefs that construct reality, they will just ignore it.

What are the CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation? To me they peddle falsehoods to the congressmen and the public, but very few people are concerned about them. They likely do more harm than any fake news article ever has by influencing actual laws being made. I ignore them because I view society differently. That’s a topic for a different day though.

 

 

Why I appreciate HBO’s West World

I consider West World to be one of the best television series at least through season one. It has nothing really to do with the over arching story. For me, the power of West World lies in what it says about humanity and technology. In a society where almost everyone is self obsessed taking selfies, this show asks what’s the difference between you and Siri. We tend to consider ourselves as special, unique, and creative because we are conscious and exercise free will. West World pops that bubble by suggesting that there is not much difference between us and technology once it starts to remember. The technology today may not be there yet, but it is easy to fathom a day where Disney no longer hires people but programs machines to interact with tourists.

West World evokes such thoughts because we never know who is a human and who is a machine. Some characters, like Dalores, are obviously machines, but even when we know “what” someone is, the series invites us to imagine and explore the difference in being of humans and machines.

Don’t watch video if you have not made it to the 8th episode and don’t want a plot twist spoiled.

In what ways are we programmed like the machines in West World?

(Warning: Long winded answer where I wander to and fro to make my point.)

Well, from the very start of our lives we adapt and learn from the environment we are raised within. We are programmed to behave a certain way in school, at home, and with friends. We learn that some thoughts, words, or actions are “bad” and come to associate them with shame. Some people never quite learn to do so because their social environment does not induce them to feel shame. If you could get away with anything (which you can in West World) and pay no consequences, why not murder someone who bothers you? That’s a drastic action, but we are programmed in a sense to talk about or avoid certain topics. When first meeting someone, most people probably avoid talking about politics or religion. Why is that? I think one reason is that these two aspects of someone’s identity are deeply ingrained and are difficult to change. How do people arrive at their political or religious beliefs? Is there a true religion? If our religious beliefs are largely a result of what our parents believe and expose us to, are some people just unlucky by being exposed to the wrong religion? There is no true religion. Religion in a sense is like part of our programming. Each comes with a set of rules and guidelines to abide by in order to live a holy life. When we don’t live up to expectations, we feel shame.

Shame is an emotion that we come to associate with being “wrong”. When a teacher called on you in school after you were daydreaming, you likely felt a degree of shame. People who slander or bully homosexuals induce shame in their victims for being homosexuals. Society (and myself) believe the bullies should be the ones who feel shame because sexuality has much to do with experiences one has in life (environment). Despite what some (including my parents) may believe, there is no natural sexuality. For many men, their sexuality isn’t as strict when they are imprisoned. What has changed is their environment. But hetero men don’t go to prison and instantly fancy men. It takes time to adapt and break down the wall that they have spent much of their lives building between hetero and homo sexuality. Prisoners have a difficult time realizing a heterosexual lifestyle in prison and thus adapt.

Take any part of you: gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, occupation, class. With each part of an identity, there are expectations, opportunities, restrictions, biases, and prejudices that are bundled along with it. America is yet to have a woman President of the United States, so being a woman thus far in America has meant that person won’t be President. Over Christmas my family was discussing the election, and my step aunt mentioned her nieces or grand daughters being so excited that Trump was elected. I said that was sad to have girls at such a young age enthusiastic about a sexist being elected and that I would have liked to see Hillary elected because it would be good for girls in this country to see a woman elected so they might believe they could be President one day. A woman my age said that she felt she could be President. I didn’t say this, but I thought how ludicrous.  What fantasy world do you live in after this last election? Any woman growing up hoping to be President has to deal with being labeled a bitch for governing the same way as her male counterparts.

I got off topic there for a minute, but the point I want to make is that categories impact people in ways that we don’t perceive and are taught to see the effects as natural. These categories program us much like the characters in West World. If more people could realize that they are no better than anyone else and that where they are in life is due more to the environments they have been placed in than to hard work and ingenuity, we might be able to solve some problems within our society before its too late.

Westworld’s Rich Symbolism

These are just some of the things I have picked up on after two episodes have aired. I highly recommend you watch Westworld if you have not yet. When/If you watch, pay attention to the following:

piano notes westworld

Automaton piano – notes arranged on paper as vertical dots that tells the piano to play a particular key. The notes are like robots going through their narrative routine.

Fly swatting – distinguishes humans from robots. I understand why  robots wouldn’t kill the flies when being worked on in the real world as the flies would be a living thing and the robots are forbidden to inflict harm. In Westworld though, I suppose flies could have gotten in and with new guests. It isn’t clear if any files were put into the world as robot flies. We see them constructing horses in the lab. They could have created flies too. It is pretty clear though that swatting flies indicates robots behaving against their programming norms.

cattle lead by Judas

Herding cattle – robots are like the cattle. Deloris will likely be the Judas she describes in episode 1.

Black hats vs. white hats – bad vs. good – white hat cares about how others see him and cannot distinguish between humans and robots. He does not consider harming them to distinguish the two.

black hat or white hat westworld

Levels of the corporate building – lower levels are where robots that are not being used due to malfunctioning are stored. Pretty evident that this is hell. Cooling system has broken.

Memories – usually daydreamy nightmares of previous traumatic experiences in Westworld

Dreams – always nightmares for robots. These nightmares often involve the Ed Harris character terrorizing families, mothers, women, children

Guests (newcomers) vs. hosts – hosts are there to gratify guests’ desires – which can be through a desire to kill or fuck. The hosts are like us only they seem to lack conscious awareness and even why they attempt to kill a guest, they are prevented from doing so.

Ed Harris character – seems to set out to create extremely traumatic experiences for the robots as he sees this as pushing them towards being human.  He is allowed to do as he pleases without interference from management, and he aims to find the entrance by following the maze map imprinted on the underside of a card dealers scalp.

Children – seem to be kept away from everyone else and seem more aware of the world in which they live. It would be less appealing to audiences too if Westworld were to be a pedophile playground. It isn’t clear if any children were or are actually born in Westworld.

milk westworld

Milk – milk seems to have significance. It may be tied children as one of the robots who just murdered a bunch of fellow robots and pours it down the throat of his victim saying it will help him grow up strong. He does it as if he had a tortuous experience as a child having to gulp down milk. The glass containing the milk also seems significant but I haven’t got any ideas there.

Seeing reflection of self in mirror – looking glass self – helps characters realize their presence in the world
The show has probably the two greatest episodes I have seen to start a series.There is so much to chew on with every scene and the music moves you along as if on an amusement park ride. The music is catchy as hell and I didn’t mind its presence throughout the episodes in which it ebbs and flows between scenes. I do think there will be variations to the music just as we see variations in the robots. It will be interesting to see how these symbols maintain their prominence throughout each episode.

Television as a field from 1951 – 2013

[unitegallery tvmca]

After making some changes to how I quantified the data, I created some charts that will hopefully have a story to tell.

These are some early writings on the above multiple correspondence analyses.

 

During the first period, women averged 5.096 percent of  producers and 9.523 percent of writers

From 1951-1980 men actors and writers are central to the field of television. Their central location indicated that men were present in large numbers across all genres and most shows. Female writers are located in the top left of the graph surrounded by comedy, family, and fantasy genres. Although it may seem to indicate that women dominated comedy, this is not the case. No show out of the nine analyzed during this time period had more women writers than men. Fawlty Towers had the highest percentage of female writers at 50%, and the show with the next highest percentage was I Love Lucy where 20% of the writers were women. The average percentage of women writing for a show during this time period was 9.583. Notice how Fawlty Towers and I Love Lucy are both located in a position where they are farthest from “m_writer” indicating that these shows were where men composed a smaller portion of the writers than other shows which were located closer.

Despite faring better than writers on average, women actors still struggled to find equal representation averaging 30.58 percent of actors. The shows closest to achieving gender equity were most often comedy shows which explains why f_actor is in close proximity. “F_actor” is located on the left side of the chart closer to fantasy, family, and comedy genres than men indicating a more equal gender composition than that found in thriller or mystery.

“F_producer” is located opposite the other female roles on the upper right of the graph. We might be quick to guess that women produce a majority of the dramas. This isn’t the case, however. In fact, the majority of shows during this time period had no women producers credited. The few shows that did    were dramas most often.

From the years of 1981-2000, we see men still centrally located in relation to other positions. Female actors are somewhat closer to the central location of male actors during this second period. Women made up a smaller percentage of actors in sci-fi and family. Across thirty-six shows, women made up 33.43 percent of actors, 14.87 percent of producers, and 18.47 percent of writers.  Multiple correspondence analysis allows us to see what genres and shows

 

In period 3, women composed 35.83 percent of all actors, 24.27 percent of all producers, and 26.50 percent of writers. Clearly, there is a trend of women finding more opportunities that continues from the previous two periods. We can see this change across the three mca charts by looking at how all the “f_(role)” positions move towards the center. Moving towards the center indicates that women were no longer strictly constrained to particular genres or shows.

Why men succeeded in the third golden age of television

Men alternately setting loose and struggling to cage their wildest natures has always been the great American story, the one found in whatever happens to be the ascendant medium at the time. Our favorite genres— the western; the gangster saga; the lonesome but dogged private eye operating outside the comforts of normal, domestic life; the superhero with his double identities— have all been literalizations of that inner struggle, just as Huckleberry Finn striking out for the territories was, or Ishmael taking to the sea. It should have been no surprise, then, that the Third Golden Age of TV began by revisiting those genres.

The field of television grew dramatically at the beginning of 21st century. With an increased demand for original content came more opportunities to have a show greenlit.  The increase in opportunities were not distributed evenly between the genders due to a dual queueing process described by Barbara Reskin. Within the field of television, there are potential producers of shows and there are programmers of the channels who decide what gets made and what does not. The potential producers are not a homogenous group of individuals. Within the potential producers group there are various ways of categorizing individuals. These categories are arranged hierarchically according to perceived worth or potential by the programmers. The programmers greenlight the shows of the producers in the highest ranked categories first and continue greenlighting shows of this group until it is more or less depleted. It is then that programmers will settle for less highly ranked groups.

The programmers are not the only one whose perceptions matter. The potential producers categorize the channels that programmers represent as well and rank them according to these categorizations. Sometimes these rankings determine who a potential producer will pitch a show to and other times it influences what offer to accept when there are multiple channels interested in a show.

Unfortunately for women, however they may be categorized in other areas, they are generally perceived as rankning lower than men, and this often means they get passed over if considered at all. Making matters worse is the limited opportunities available compared to the size of the pool of potential producers. Because there are so few opportunities available, potential producers usually must take what they can get. This high demand for relatively few positions means that programmers are able to pick individuals who they perceive as being the most capable based solely on the categories that an individual producer belongs. Women are not necessarily perceived as being less capable simply because of their gender. Their gender has impacted their opportunities at every stage of their careers that their resumes may appear to be less qualified. Programmers may not be out right sexists, but the proxies they use to rank producers generally affect women disproportionately compared to men.

The entry into the field of Netflix and Amazon has provided opportunities for women to produce shows in more recent years. As newcomers, these streaming services ranked below traditional television channels for potential producers. The traditional channels having depleted the pool of producers to the point that the streaming services were pushed to gambles in hiring women to produce some shows.

 

Works Cited

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Gendered Roles, Genre, and the Hollywood Reporter Top 100 Television Shows Across Three Time Periods

[unitegallery mca_thesis]

Looking specifically at the gendered positions (squares), the first two analyses show that comedy is more highly correlated with all gendered roles. In the third picture, the gendered positions are no longer concentrated around comedy but are dispersed more evenly between comedy and drama.

If we look at the movement of drama specifically across the three analyses, we see it moves closer to the center and then crosses the dotted line in the third picture to be opposite of comedy. This suggests that drama has become equally significant as comedy over these three time periods. We can see the decline of comedy across the three periods as well. In the first picture, comedy is located well above the dotted line. In the second picture, it has dropped significantly and moved to the right before resting just above the dotted line in the third picture. If we look at other genres located near comedy, we see that these genres become less associated with comedy and more often are associated with dramas by period 3. Romance is the one genre associated with comedy that stays relatively stable between period 2 and 3, and it also happens to be where women are located in positions closer than men.

To me, these multiple correspondence analyses illustrate how drama has become a legitimate television genre from 1951-2013. This is most easily seen by focusing on the male and female producers. In period 1, male producers are much closer to comedy than female producers who are located approximately an equal distance from comedy and drama. Period 2, we see male producers move closer to drama than female producers albeit not by much. Female producers are located closer than men to romance, fantasy, and action during this time. By period 3, male producers have moved to a position where they are closest to all genres except comedy (which has been in decline) and romance.

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Gendered Roles, Genre, and Television Shows from 1981 – 2000

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Television Genres, Gendered Roles, and Shows from 1981 - 2000

Quality television from 1981 – 2000 still centered around comedy albeit drama had begun to gain influence during this time period which is evident from the shorter distance to other locations in the field. Family moved away from comedy somewhat. Men were more likely to produce the quality dramas as the distance is shorter to drama than for women. Action and fantasy were the two genres located most on the fringes. Comedies in general hire more writers while dramas hire more actors.

 Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Gendered Roles, Genre, and Television Shows from 1951 – 1980

Multiple Correspondence Analyses of Television Genres, Gendered Roles, and Shows from 1951 - 1980

Clearly comedy is central to the field of television from 1951 – 1980. Fantasy also had a central location in the field during this time with shows such as I Dream of Jeannie, Mork and Mindy, and Bewitched. All dramas during this time period had a location in the field where it was outside the norm as a quality television genre. Likewise, actors, producers, and writers of both genders were more likely to find work in comedy. Action and adventure were located on the extreme margins of the field.

Male actors were at the very center of the field about an equal distance from both comedy and drama. Female actors were not too far away, but they were more likely to work in comedy shows.