*FYI, bogus “statistic” for hyperbole’s sake
So, I just read three blog posts in a row (having followed some linkage here and there) in which the authors and their commenters were asserting their *difference* in the academy because they are “normal” people who watch TV, and like popular music, and see big summer blockbusters, and read popular magazines and novels, and so on and so on, unlike the rest of snobby academia with their classical music and life without TV and canonical novels and French art films.
Apparently these bloggers (and I’m not linking to them because I don’t want to seem like I’m picking on them) live in a parallel universe of academia that is not my universe. I don’t know if their world is Bizarro World or if mine is, but in mine, the people without TVs are in the minority.
As for the rest of us, all we ever do is talk about TV and music and Harry Potter and whether or not we agree with the casting decisions for The Hunger Games movies and what not. In grad school, my friends and I got together every Thursday night to watch Friends through ER (yeah, that’s how long ago I was in grad school) and then later we had Buffy nights. And Oscar-watching parties and Super Bowl parties. I mean, that’s the stuff we have in common across our various subfields and disciplines. The shared interest in pop culture is part of the glue that cements my relationship with Bullock, too. I mean, sure, our taste is geeky and isn’t exactly in line with what’s at the very top of the charts (for dog’s sake, we just watched the entire two-season run of Sports Night on Netflix and he’s a freakin’ *Cubs* fan), and yeah, you could *totally* ascertain our class and race from our tastes (we like Stuff White People Like) — though I’m pretty sure I’d throw off the gender-guessers. And sure, I like plenty of foreign films. I can even say with a straight face that I’m more of a Truffaut gal than a Godard gal, and that right there puts me in a certain class of reverse-snob snobby snob, or something, but then I think Steven Speilberg would say *he’s* more of a Truffaut guy, too, and I like Speilberg, too, and I don’t think you can call liking Speilberg snobbery of any kind. And you know what movie I’ve liked best of all this year so far? Super 8. (Hey, exec-produced by Speilberg! Directed by JJ Abrams, who got his start in….TV!) But I’m definitely not part of the “Oh, I don’t even own a TV” ilk. Hell, I was *raised* by TV. My mom got cable so that Sesame Street would come in more clearly, since the PBS station’s signal was low and we were out in the ‘burbs. And Bullock and I have a honking huge one in our family room.
At first, I kept thinking things like “Well, maybe it’s because I’m medievalist and we’re already odd” or “Maybe it’s because I went to grad school in LA” or “Maybe it’s because Bullock started off thinking he was going to follow his dad into advertising or work in TV” or “Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger” or “Maybe it’s because we’re GenX” or so on and so on, but every time I answered each explanation with “But no, that doesn’t account for [insert a dozen or so people here].” In fact, right now, thinking of those of you academics who might be reading this, I think *two* of you have said you don’t own a TV or maybe have a bad, old one that gets one channel or something (and hey, I still love you, but it does baffle me a little bit). Well, there may be others, but then you watch all your TV via bit torrent or something — I’m not counting you. And I have one colleague whose tiny, broken-down TV is used only for watching baseball. So, that’s *three* people I can think of, and I know a lot of people in academia.
And actually, my *students* — normal, everyday people going to their normal, everday regional public university — are the ones less likely to watch a lot of TV and see a lot of movies (in the theater, anyway), but that’s because they’re too busy taking 5 classes and working 40 hours a week, and too poor to afford cable or movie tickets.
Maybe these bloggers (and their commenters!) who feel so out of it work (or in one case, worked) in universities with more old money? Or just more old *people*? Or do you think they might be projecting their anxieties (class anxieties or imposter syndrome or something)? Or am I just lucky not to be wherever they are? Or am I just clueless? What gives? (Oh and I know at least one of these bloggers was in English, so it’s not a disciplinary thing, either.) Any idea?