Today I’m wearing the mountain lion T-shirt I bought in New Mexico on our 21st century Joad Road Trip here. Although I do love cougars, and this shirt is the comfort garb I needed today, it is somewhat ironic. My friend Laura turned me onto the Amazon subculture of commentators on nature/mystical/mountain men T-shirts. It’s hilarious stuff, like this one: “When I think of Las Vegas I think of two things: Tigers and Elvis. Since The Mountain Tee-shirt Company doesn’t make an Elvis shirt, I opted for the XXL Tiger tee-shirt when I made my trip. I like the way it fits snug while I am on the dance floor and the orange makes me stand out for all of the ladies. In fact, I met my third wife wearing this shirt. Although, now I need to order a new one because she got it in the divorce.” Would love to know how this subculture got started. Convergence in action?
I couldn’t find the shirt I’m wearing at Amazon, perhaps because it’s discontinued. (I got it on sale. My irony budget is very small.) I’ll try to post a picture to it later.
Dean Gillman was right about one thing in his SJ MA dinner rant last night: The Daily Show is at heart a critique of the news media as much as it is of the state of politics. Jon Stewart himself constantly disavows that he’s presenting news. The core of his show is the re-presentation of stories, the skewering of how the media handles — or mishandles — events, not just the events themselves. His calling card is the montage of the news, his ultimate weapon the clip. Stephen Colbert, of course, has taken this parody critique of broadcast media to the nth degree, casting himself as a better-looking Bill O’Reilly.
But I would argue that just because it’s about the news doesn’t mean it’s not news. There’s a lot of non-satirical media programming about the media that I think still counts as news, such as Robert Hernandez’s favorite, On the Media.
Speaking of The Daily Show, whatever happened to Rob Corddry? He was my fave.
Now roll the clip:
Oh, how we love to hate and hate to love our teenage girls. Miley Cyrus’s “pole dance” at the Teen Choice Awards Aug. 9 has ignited the predictable outrage that occurs whenever oversexualized stars cross a line of acceptable pop tartiness. I’m not actually going to defend the artist sometimes known as Hannah Montana. The dance was a pole dance in the sense that there was indeed a pole, but the idol of millions of young girls and boys (including my son Cole) only vaguely pulled one pelvic thrust. She’s no Britney Spears, or Courtney Love. The performance was more of an affront to pop songwriting than to moral decency. Yeah, pairing the Disney icon with a stripper’s, er, tool was some boneheaded — or should I say bonerheaded — producer’s bad idea. But it’s not exactly Nipplegate.
I do defend our right as journalists to discuss the performance. She may not speak to Howard Gillman, the dean of USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Science, who cited the performance as an example of misguided journalistic priorities at a dinner for us Specialized Journalism MA students last night. But for better or worse, she is one of the most important pop cultural figures of the last few years. Just ask any tweenager. As a cultural critic, I think it’s vital to discuss not just the “quality” music I’d like everyone to listen to, but also to look at what the mass media is foisting upon the public — and point out that Disney divas now seem to be doing the bump and grind. Or not.
Video copyright Fox.
Here I am, 22 years later, back in school. As part of my first class for USC, I have to blog! My fellow students — a really interesting, diverse group, let me add — welcome to my blog. And my friends and readers, please feel free to comment on what we’re studying here. Some of it will be of great interest to you other journos.