January 6, 2006

THEY'D GET 100 FOR MAGNUM P.I. (via Robert Schwartz):

A Very Long Disengagement (MARK BAUERLEIN, January 6, 2006, The Chronicle Review)

Last spring Nielsen Media Research reported that the average college student watches 3 hours 41 minutes of television each day. "It was a little more than I expected," a Nielsen executive told a reporter, and a little more than professors care to see. But the networks have complained for years that young-adult programs attract more viewers than the ratings have previously indicated. Nielsen traditionally bases its count on household viewing, but many students watch TV shows in a different way, and the trend is growing.

The Wall Street Journal described one example: "Every Thursday night at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Theta Xi fraternity brothers and their friends cram into a common room for their favorite television show. It can be a tight squeeze, with as many as 40 people watching at a time.

"The big attraction is 'The O.C.,' Fox's soapy drama about the lives of teens in upscale Orange County, Calif."

The ritual is a common one on campuses today, and it has precursors. I remember it back in college in 1980, when the Luke and Laura affair on General Hospital caught on, and in the 90s when Friends lured into the lounges undergrads and, surprisingly, grads, too. Now, female students gather for airings of Friends spinoff Joey, while ESPN's SportsCenter pulls in massive numbers of twentysomething men.

That is far from the customary image of a loner freshman zoning out in front of the screen in his dorm room. Ever since Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (1953), media critics have believed that watching the boob tube "atomizes" individuals, so that even when viewing the news they have no real social engagement. The college ritual of The O.C., March Madness, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and other favorites reverses the process, and television watching isn't the only leisure habit shifting from "isolationist" to collective.

Which is why Academia declared war on fraternities--it needs the students atomized and completely dependent, something fraternities prevent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2006 4:16 PM

the networks don't want to know their true viewership numbers, hence the archaic nielsen setup.

Posted by: toe at January 6, 2006 6:30 PM

I liked it better when I was in college. We used to get together to watch Maverick, Paladin, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Wagon Train, Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen Show, I Love Lucy, that Rod Serling Show, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Playhouse 90. Good days and good times.

Posted by: dick at January 6, 2006 7:11 PM

When I was in college in New Orleans from 1983-1987, the only television I saw was sporting events. I had much better things to do even though there were some good shows on television. However, when I started law school in 1987, I believe I watched every single Cheers rerun in the course of approximately 2 months. It was in syndication on two different stations and they ran three episodes per day.

Posted by: pchuck at January 6, 2006 7:21 PM

I had fun at Syracuse in the 1970s going into the student lounge at the library and turning on the CBC station out of Kingston, Ontario, when the Canadian channel would be running a high-profile U.S. show like M*A*S*H a earlier than it would air on CBS. The look on some of the faces entering the lounge and seeing what was on the TV (and then usually looking at the clock on the wall or their watches) was interesting, to say the least.

Posted by: John at January 6, 2006 9:45 PM

This is merely more evidence of cultural decline (to the extent that it's true)

The other night I waterboarded 20 seconds of "fear factor" and decided that anyone who watched it would have lost 10% of their IQ points by watching the entire show. (Calculate your brain loss over a whole season)

The OC is only slightly less damaging.

Who writes this s--t? What manner of beast watches it?

Eons ago there was a Star Trek Episode about a brain wave generator that put you in a suggestable state. The bad guy was left alone with nothing or no one to "suggest" anything - and died.

TV apparently serves the same function for these college spendbots. I'm using my son's college savings to start the kid up in a business. College is apparently a complete waste of money.

The fact that the excerpt ends with "collective" is instructive. Public Schooling, TV, and parents dumb enough to allow society to "socialize" their kids have turned generations into ant farms.


Posted by: Bruno at January 7, 2006 12:45 AM

Bruno: College is not about education. It is just a credential one needs to get a job.

Posted by: Bob at January 7, 2006 1:03 AM

When did academia declare war on fraternities?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at January 7, 2006 12:28 PM

The '70s--when the co-ed mistake was made.

Posted by: oj at January 7, 2006 12:44 PM

i like Magnum but those shorts have to go. uhm, that didn't come out the way i meant it but you know what i mean.

Posted by: toe at January 8, 2006 12:32 PM

Robert - The war on frats became the hip crusade in the 1990s, around the time that Women's Studies was conceded to be an actual subject and departments thereof appeared. Its real motivation was sadism, hatred of men, and a desire to exercise power for its own sake. The official reason was that frats got women drunk and then had sex with them, as if that never happened at the bars off campus anyway.

Posted by: Tom at January 9, 2006 3:56 PM
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