Friday, August 10, 2007

A Monster Blogger Interview: Cultural Learnings

You all know Myles from Cultural Learnings. He has written a lot about Jericho and has often visited the CBS board. He recently wrote an article about the Jericho Baby Boomer fans and he has one out today that you can find here.

I thank Myles for being kind enough to grant my interview and I found it fascinating as I'm sure you will. Enjoy!

1. When did you become interested in all the TV shows you write about?

This is a tough question to answer (And you had to go and start with it, Jane!), because it really differs for the show. For a show like Lost, I was hooked from the first airing of the pilot. For a show like Veronica Mars, I started watching five episodes in after hearing good things. Meanwhile, for a show like Weeds, I watched the first two seasons this summer and eagerly anticipate its third. It's really an issue of context.

However, to better answer the question, it happened when I went away to University. There, unconstrained by a full day of classes every day, I basically began to view TV as my method of using my free time. I'd stay up late to watch recorded episodes, keeping the volume down low so as not to bother my neighbors. Plus, when you're on a university campus, television becomes as much as shared experienced as a personal one. We still gather to watch shows like American Idol or Lost, and in the process television becomes more than just media; it becomes part of our daily routines, our daily schedules.

And, well, there just wasn't any looking back once that took place.

2. How many TV shows do you personally watch?

Eep. Okay, so I wasn't going to do the math, but I figure that at some point my friends and family will stage an intervention and will have the data anyways. So, as far as my admittedly rusty math skills can approximate, I watch about 25 shows on a regular basis. Toss in a few semi-regular ones, some classic shows I'm catching up on, as well as the new fall shows debuting (I'm currently hyped about ABC's Pushing Daisies and NBC's Chuck), and it will probably crack 35.

3. What's your favorite show or should I say favorites?

I'm a sucker for mythology, so Lost is what I would consider to be my favourite show to watch, discuss, and blog about. I view myself as an analytic individual, so Lost is basically my dream show: complex narrative, complex character, and then totally unexplainable phenomenon just dying to be explained. There's so much meat on those bones, and it's like I'm magnetically drawn to attempting to chew at it.

As I ponder whether that metaphor has something to do with some sort of repressed animalistic tendencies, I'll cheat a little and note that I'm also fond of 30 Rock (Comedy), and Dexter (Cable). So there's a drama, a comedy, and a cable program. I figure that's a fair balance, if not necessarily a fair answer to your question.

4. Have you watched Damages with Glen Close? Like it?

I've had the pilot sitting around since it debuted last week, and I hadn't gotten around to watching it until I read this question. I went back and watched it, and for the record I'm fairly impressed. I've watched a lot of summer shows this year, but this one had twists and turns that even in their predictability were wholly satisfying.

The show has also built up a strong mythology, something that I (As stated above) am a total sucker for. I read a lot of reviews previous to watching it, and I kind of agree with their comparison to Alias, a show I quite liked. It has the same sense of dread where you know the lead character is making mistakes, playing her cards the wrong way, and you're compelled to tie your own sanity to that of her character.

I'll have more to say about the show at Cultural Learnings in due time, when I start recapping the Summer TV season in all its glory, so stay tuned!

5. You've written a lot about Jericho. How do you think the fans are doing now as far as using the internet? You did an article on that.

I have, indeed, written a lot about Jericho. It's been a whirlwind journey: admittedly, I started the whole thing with a dramatically different tone compared to where I sit today. However, I've always felt that my role as a TV blogger, or as a blogger in general, is to provide an avenue for discussion. This doesn't mean saying negative or positive things, necessarily, but offering up the ability for others to say whatever it is they want to say.

And I think that this is why bloggers were so important to the campaign to save Jericho: because they provided a medium for fans to have their voices heard. What I have tried to do in that regard is provide that platform: I've worked with the Boomers who have worked tirelessly to save their show, I gave fans a chance to voice their opinions to Emmy voters, and I've tried to assist in any way I can with getting the word out there.

But all of it is no good if people aren't out there looking for a platform. My article on the subject was designed to try to get people engaged again, aware that the war is not over by any means. I would hate to see such a hard-fought campaign fail to follow through on its initial potential, and so I've tried to keep blogging about Jericho as much as possible over the summer, on a consistent basis.

But sometimes, and I hate this fact, it seems like it almost isn't worth it: it's not an issue of disappointment over blog statistics (It's not as if I make money off of them), but rather an issue of whether or not people are fighting for what they believe in. The more I see people disassociating themselves with the campaign, the more my subconscious stops viewing it as a legitimate subject.

And I don't want that to happen, so I still believe that more people need to use the internet to, at the very least, try to let others share in that passion. Some of you (Including you, Jane) have done a fabulous job with keeping it up, but strength comes in numbers…they were there once, they can be there again.

And here I go prattling on. Let's move on to the next question before I start making no sense.

6. What made you decide to start Cultural Learnings? It's one of my favorites.

First off, thank you for the kind words. Cultural Learnings is an interesting beast. I started the blog based on a few of my university courses that seemed like they would be requiring some form of journal articles or similar little opinion pieces. And, I figured, since my brother and other people I know have blogs, I might as well have one as well.

The academic application for the blog went out the window about two weeks later, and slowly but surely I started blogging about television, for the most part. The way I look at it, the people around me usually have to listen to me rant about TV shows after we watch them: now, they have a choice as to whether they get my opinion or not.

As the site has evolved, it's become about pretty much exclusively television, and that level of focus has brought me closer to I guess what I want to be doing. I'll be working on my undergraduate thesis soon, and I'll actually be writing about Battlestar Galactica (Which was oh so close to making it into the favourite show list above). So really, to that extent, maybe the blog has been a form of research and practice all along.

7. Any comment you want to make?

First, I would like to thank all of the Jericho fans who have visited Cultural Learnings, even those who yelled at me (Those were fun times). It's been a tremendous journey, and I am proud to have been a part of all of this. I started this entire journey having given up on Jericho in November, but now you've convinced me to give it a second chance. And for that, I am most grateful.

If you, Jane, or anyone else ever wants a platform to have your voices heard as Jericho heads towards its second season, never hesitate to send me off an email.

Thanks, Myles, for watching Jericho and for being a friend to fans.


erika said...

Oh Myles, we love you so! Anyone helping to keep Jericho in the discussion is A-OK with me. I too am a huge TV watcher, and I feel better knowing that I am not the only one obsessed with the boob tube.

Another great interview, Jane!

Jericho Saved said...

Thanks Erika for commenting. I appreciate it.
He is great, huh?

terocious said...

It is very interesting what Myles said about people disassociating with the campaign and how this undermines his perceived legitimacy of the topic. I think the longer something continues the more likely it is that there will be schisms. The CBS Jericho message board is a good example. If you start reading in any folder you will find screen names and avatars of people who no longer post there. There are a lot of them. I know the nature of group dynamics is that people will leave. I also know the excitement of the nuts campaign has given way to a daily grind of overcoming obstacle after obstacle as we try to get people into the show. Perhaps the lack of a definitive BAD guy is hampering our efforts. If so, I would say that we should consider bad luck our nemesis. I think that Jericho has had and continues to have terrible luck.

Jericho Saved said...

Thanks for commenting terocious. I agree. I think a lot of people considered 7 new episodes a success and left to do other things. Maybe some are just taking the summer off. Some were angered by the fact that not everyone can get recognition for everything they do.
Yes, it is more of a daily grind now. I remember the anticipation when we were waiting to see what CBS would do. There was a surge of adrenaline over every little thing.
I also agree about bad luck. Nielsen's, not being counted, lack of communication from CBS, pre-emptions- all bad luck. I, for one, am willing to fight that.