Archives for Television

Addiction

Are Our Emotions Cranked To 11?

Have you been watching "Downton Abbey" like the rest of us?

Think about the Dowager Countess of Grantham, marvelous Maggie Smith. When she doesn’t like something, she gets a face like a cat that’s smelled something bad. And you get the message.

If you read authors like Edith Wharton and Jane Austin, you know there’s not a lot of bellowing and stomping around. Hearts are broken, fortunes lost, people became ill, or bereaved, despondent...
Continue Reading

Consumer Behavior

Why Stacy and Clinton May Be Right

I love me some What Not To Wear —or any makeover show, for that matter. I get a kick out of watching Stacy and Clinton take frumpy dumpies and zazz them up into snazzy sassies. I don’t always agree with the styling (what is this obsession with flat irons?), but usually, the afters are lots better than the befores.

Women on these show who start out resistant to the makeover process often argue...
Continue Reading

Cognition

Creativity Under Pressure In The New Media Landscape

“The Internet has ruined everything,” my husband likes to grumble.

In some ways, he’s right.

The Internet has laid waste to newspapers and threatens traditional publishing in all forms. It sucked the money out of the music industry. It's killing off traditional bookstores--even the superstores that killed off the small independents.

New technology has opened up forms of expression to people who had been blocked by gatekeepers, but at the same time threatens to drag down the...
Continue Reading

Anthropology

Why Women Aren’t Funny

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a great story about celebrities trying to win the New Yorker magazine’s cartoon-caption contest.

And the operative word is “trying.”

Zach Galifianakis got so frustrated, he finally gave up. Roger Ebert tried 107 times. Maureen Dowd wrote at least one caption I think was funnier than the winning caption. Remember that as you read the rest of this post.

I entered the contest once and never again. The more...
Continue Reading

Cognition

How Pavlov Messes With My Happiness

This article about “Happiness Hangovers” --about the letdown we often feel after good times-- sparked a little discussion on my Facebook page about the tick-tick-tick of the clock on the TV show 60 Minutes. The sound is, several of us agreed, a Pavlovian stimulus that triggers the here-comes-Monday blues.

Do you think the producers know how bummed that sound makes us?

The damn happiness hangover.

I start worrying about happiness hangovers while I should still...
Continue Reading

Books

Everyone Can’t Be Famous (Not Even for 15 Minutes)


In about the year 2047, I think we’ll see a lot of glum middle-aged people.

A recent study shows that television shows preferred by tweens (ages 9 to 11) have increasingly focused on the aspirational value of fame.

Fame topped the list of values recognized in the top two shows for tweens in 2007 ( American Idol and Hannah Montana), up from fifteen (out of sixteen) in 1967 (Andy...
Continue Reading