(number one million and nine in a continuing series)
(1) I just overheard a young woman on her mobile phone saying It was a brilliant film, really really good, it ticked all the boxes, whatever emotion you wanted, it had it. This is depressing because a lecturer in TV studies told me recently that the reason TV drama is rubbish these days is because of reality TV changing the way that we make and understand narratives - because you can't plot reality TV round events, you have to structure the episodes solely around the emotional ups and downs. And now fictional drama has begun to privilege emotion as the primary narrative drive, too. Which hypothesis is, by the way, borne out by every episode of New Who that Russell T Davies has ever written.
So this explains a lot about why so many of my students find it so difficult to talk about the words on the page in front of them, rather than going straight into generalities about the meaning of the text or how it made them feel. Because pop-culture these days is often not rewarding the kinds of reading that follow structure and plot and respond to well-crafted, intricate, sense-making narratives. Films? They might as well be mood organs!
(2) Andrew O'Hagan wrote an essay on the decline of the English working-classes in the Guardian review recently, which I did not read, and then Tim Lott wrote a very long letter to the Guardian in response basically saying that the Scottish working-classes were much worse so there. But what was incredibly revealing about this letter - gah, I don't seem to be able to link to it, if anyone can find it please let me know, or otherwise I'll just have to copy bits out when I get home and find it - was twofold; Lott says
(a) that the English are 'naturally dominant' in Britain because they comprise 84% of the population in the British Isles, and that this isolates them; and
(b) that it is harder to be a member of the dominant culture because you are not cushioned by oppression.
Cushioned by oppression! It's brilliant! By which I mean it's one of the neatest expressions of one of the stupidest ways of thinking I've seen in a long time. The idea that dominant groups are not 'cushioned' by constant reflections and reminders of their own rightness, their own normality, their own obviousness, their own naturalness. Instead members of oppressed groups, living in cultures which constantly remind them (us) that they (we) are wrong, abnormal, surprising or unusual or unnatural or in need of explanation and justification, are 'cushioned', by... I'm not sure. The sense of specialness that this gives us? The way we are protected from isolation by sheer lack of numbers? Hmm.
Anyway, thank you, Tim Lott. I have been trying to put my finger on a particular strand of dominant-culture apologia for a long time now, and this crystallizes it for me.