If you want an amazing breakdown of The Scandal That Should Not Be Named, check out ALOTT5MA’s life cycle of a celebrity scandal. Day 820 (the final day) is perfect, as is the reference to UPS 2-day shipping. And remember that Friday is Unfollow That Dude Day.
The Boston Globe looks back at the Real World‘s influence on television on the eve of the premiere of the show’s 25th season. The article is as formulaic as the show itself has become; it hits all the right notes about hot tubs, young, inquisitive virgins corrupted by more worldly housemates and the city as cast member and traces the RW style to such unlikely shows as the mockumentary-style Modern Family and The Office.
The biggest gripe I end up having about these kinds of articles is that they argue that the Real World invented reality television. It didn’t. It refined it and made it palatable to a younger audience. The idea of “reality TV” before was more along the lines of Unsolved Mysteries, Cops and America’s Most Wanted. The Real World took the conceit of PBS’ An American Family and soaped it up further. PBS always insisted AAF was a documentary, but it was received as a soap. It also sparked an entire media conversation about family values, which I analyzed in my master’s thesis, comparing it to another influential MTV reality show, The Osbournes.
It’s good that Globe writer Matthew Gilbert acknowledged An American Family in his piece. It often is forgotten when people write about the history of reality TV, but with the upcoming HBO film about the making of the series, expect a ton of think-pieces in the next few months about the series’s influence. I just hope this means that it will be available on DVD or Netflix.
I have a friend who is a copy editor at the New York Times. I’ve begun to think of her as my “grammar consultant” (and she will probably be acknowledged as such in my dissertation). I e-mailed her the other day to ask her opinion about the possessive of “Red Sox,” something I’ve discussed here and asked about on Twitter. She didn’t know off the top of her head what the NYT style is and suggested I try to avoid it as much as possible. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid this quandary throughout my dissertation. My advisor asked me to consult Chicago and MLA, but they’re no help either.
Enter Google Reader, and this blog entry from NYT‘s “Bats” Blog: “Needing Snack, Red Sox’ Pedroia Hits Concession Stand.” I feel vindicated! The “x” makes it a colloquial plural, and Red Sox’s just looks weird. Maybe this is the exception that proves the rule?
This is how I know my dissertating phase is on its way to being over. I am sweating details like this obsessively.
I swear I’ll write about non-Sox content soon. But you should really check out the above-linked story. It’s a great example of the “summer camp” feel that Spring Training coverage has in the beginning. Everyone is loose and willing to ask ridiculous questions about a player ducking out of the clubhouse to grab a few hot dogs. Plus, you have to love that Terry Francona asks, “What did the little rat do?” in reference to Pedroia.
When I looked at Facebook this morning, an old friend from college had requested her friends reveal what their next “reckless world takeover move” would be and what song would provide the soundtrack. I replied that I would be finishing my myth and identity chapter, and it would have to be accompanied by the Dropkick Murphys’ “Tessie.” Because I am currently in a stylistic quandary about possessives, I Googled to check the spelling of “Murphys” and came across the video for their new single, “Going Out In Style.” I have a feeling that this video warrants a mention in my conclusion because of the visuals and the song’s chorus:
You may bury me with an enemy in Mt. Calvary/You can stack me on a pyre and soak me down with whiskey/Roast me to a blackened crisp and throw me in a pile/I could really give a s–t, I’m going out in style!/You can take my urn to Fenway, spread my ashes all about/You can bring me down to Wolly Beach and dump the sucka out/Burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while/I could really give a s–t, I’m going out in style!
The song is a raucous, punk-rock Irish jig, and the video features cameos by Boston comedian Lenny Clarke, Bruins legend Bobby Orr and Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. It is a celebration and representation of a specific aspect of Bostonian culture: not the Brahmins, but the working-class, white, Catholic denizens who reside in the city and its neighboring towns. These folks are the cultural shorthand for Red Sox Nation and resemble the idealized version of Boston in most mainstream media portrayals of the region.
The Murphys have become a “house band” for Red Sox Nation in many respects. In 2004, the band recorded a cover of the Red Sox fight song “Tessie,” which featured backing vocals from Sox players, including the “Judas” Johnny Damon who would later sign with the Yankees. It became a theme for the 2004 “Reverse The Curse” season. Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon uses their 2005 single “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” as his intro music when he approaches the mound. You may remember it from The Departed (and The Simpsons used it in their Departed spoof, “The Debarted”).
As the evidence suggests, the Dropkick Murphys are Boston personified. Which is why I’m dumbfounded when players from other teams use “Shipping Up…” as at-bat or celebratory music. Boston is in the title of the song! The guys are always decked out in Sox gear, and cameos by local celebrities are de rigeur in their videos. I’m fascinated by the idea that people can divorce this from the catchy riff, but I guess that many people don’t see pop culture phenomena through the same ritual/myth/Red Sox lens that I currently do.
But I hereby declare: The Dropkick Murphys are the official house band of Red Sox Nation.
MLB.com has video of outtakes from the 2011 Red Sox Picture Day. It’s fun to see how the media promo sausage gets made. Highlights: Tim Wakefield asking if something is about “Tweeter,” meaning Twitter, not the bankrupt electronics chain, Dustin Pedroia getting testy about copy and Kevin Youkilis’ attempt to read a Spanish-language promo while David “Big Papi” Ortiz chuckles in the background. I’m getting pretty excited for baseball season. You?
I set up this site a while ago as a place to yammer about media, but it’s obvious that I’ve been letting it languish. My pal Beth decided to embark on a puntastic “Forced March” in which we and others agree to blog every day for the month of March (or Spring will never come).
I’m going to try, but this is going to be tough since I’m in the thick of dissertating, with drafts of two chapters due this month. But expect some ranting about the media exploitation/fascination with Charlie Sheen, the Red Sox’s (or is it Red Sox’ — I’m struggling with this stylistic issue and have consulted my copy-editing expert pals, but more feedback truly is appreciated) spring training season, whatever issue I have with NY1 at the moment and other media-related content.
Despite my immersion in the theoretical worlds of myth, ritual, social memory and baseball coverage, I’m still watching a lot of television and listening to a ton of NPR. (Fun fact: my cats love Fresh Air, and we leave NPR on for them when we’re going to be out of the house for a significant amount of time. Yes, I’m That Guy.)
There’s a whole post in me about Andre Dubus III’s new memoir Townie. Consider that a tease for later today (ambitious!) or tomorrow.
Let’s do this.