Jan. 14th, 2011

janegodzilla: (fail hero)
The Map of Metal is my current favorite thing. Before I found it, I had no idea that sub-genres like "neo-classical metal," "symphonic black metal," and "folk metal" even existed. But now I know, and it makes me happy. *devil-horns*

(Seriously, though, neo-classical metal is all kinds of amazing. Electric guitars plus harpsichord? YES PLEASE.)

I'm reading a really fantastic book right now called Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, by Jennifer Pozner. It's a critical examination of reality television -- especially the ways in which it portrays women and people of color -- and what I'm really digging about it is that she's taking an intersectional approach and addresses classism, sizeism and ageism as well as sexism and racism, and also looks at the way non-straight and/or non-cisgendered folks are othered or outright erased. She also addresses the way shows that otherwise get these things right (Project Runway is one of the examples she mentions) still emphasize rampant consumerism and spending as both ideal and normal, and how even though most (if not all) reality tv is sold to the audience as "real people doing real things," much of what the audience sees is manipulated or outright manufactured. It's a fascinating, incredibly comprehensive book, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in examining contemporary media narratives.

I do have a few caveats. My one big criticism of this book is that as comprehensive as her research is, Pozner hasn't addressed issues of ableism. She's talked about why it's problematic that women of color are so often framed as "crazy" in reality tv, but doesn't talk about why the "crazy" label is damaging to people with genuine mental illnesses. She also hasn't addressed why the differently abled -- both physically and/or mentally -- are rarely (if ever) present in these shows, nor why it's problematic that their narratives (if they are present) are almost always framed in terms of their differences. I haven't finished the book yet, so it's possible she'll address these things farther along, but the rest of it is just so outstanding that it's really disappointing that she hasn't brought this stuff up yet.

The other thing I'd like to note is that it's a very US-centric book, focusing largely on US shows and audiences. I don't mean this as a criticism, since one of her major arguments is that the way these shows are packaged and sold to people blinds them to a lot of the current economic and social realities, or confuses them about the exact nature of these realities (for example, poverty in reality tv is shown as something that individual people struggle with -- something that can be "fixed" -- and not as a massive systemic issue that intersects with various -isms and the availability of jobs, food, educational opportunities, health care, etc.). Had she tried to look at the reality tv of other countries (and whether it's from those particular countries or imported from places like the US), I think some of her central points about the way certain social issues are sold to audiences might've been diluted. That, or the book would've been enormous, heh. The focus on the US might make it a little less interesting to non-US folks who'd like to explore their home media narratives, but I still think it's worth checking out.


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