Recommended daily reading – 14 September

From today’s feeds and a few other places I went to today:

I’m behind the curve on this discussion, but I finally went to David Bordwell’s blog entry on why he doesn’t watch TV after having read Jason Mittell’s response a few days ago.

As Bordwell acknowledges in an update, Mittell gets that Bordwell’s reasons for not watching much television are not arguments for other people to not watch TV or for scholars to stop studying the medium. Mittell boils the differences between the two, Mittell studies TV, as one of personal taste or interest. Long form vs. short form. Visual art vs. narrative art.

This passage from Bordwell’s post jumped out at me:

I see the difference between films and TV shows this way. A movie demands little of you, a TV series demands a lot. Film asks only for casual interest, TV demands commitment. To follow a show week after week, even on a DVR, is to invest a large part of your life. Going to a movie demands three or four hours (travel time included).

What struck me about this analysis is how different my own reaction is. The episodic nature of TV, even a complex and layered show, makes me choose TV watching over films at home most of the time. I look at films as requiring intensive involvement. There are television shows I can watch readily while doing other things, and I will watch TV repeatedly in ways I don’t watch most movies. Films I mostly have to watch or not watch.

I think one reason for this is that I am drawn to film for visual interest. There are TV shows where I can mainly listen to the dialogue or wait for specific moments, but when I watch a film, I want to be rapt. And any film that I am not at risk of being absorbed by, I tend not to being compelled by to begin with. With television, there are programs for which I set everything else aside, and there are those that I watch more casually. I rarely actually watch movies in a casual way (and I understand that I am probably using these terms at least slightly differently from Bordwell, but I still find the question of which medium requires more of an investment interesting and one that can be considered from different angles).

I don’t have a preference for either medium personally, and thus far my professional engagement has been more with film than TV. In that regard, I think that Bordwell’s comments about the differences in the nature of the investment in each are apt; I probably am daunted by the commitment that scholarly television studies would require to a single show or genre, not to mention the challenge of actually going into TV production, which is where my study of film has taken me.

Following yesterday’s DC Women Kicking Ass interview, Kelly Thompson points to a redesign of DC’s 75th anniversary logo that replaces the four men on the official logo – Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and The Flash – with four women – Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and Black Canary.

Thompson takes issue with Black Canary, and seems to be suggesting Batwoman in place of Batgirl, or maybe it’s just open to interpretation who that is exactly, but understands the visual appeal of Black Canary and her fishnets in silhouette.

As her own pause before coming up with Catwoman as an alternative implies, it isn’t easy to select four women for the logo. This is not so much for lack of cool or good characters, but because there are too few ‘iconic’ women in the DCU, which is more a comment on the U than on the women. Of course one of the reasons the official design is under question is that once you get past Superman and Batman, it seems like any number of characters could be included, male or female. So, why there are no women is a natural question to ask.

Finally today, one of Renee French’s strangely cute birds with sticks.

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