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Lecture 8: COLD WARRIOR TV/CAMELOT TV (PART 2). In This Lecture. PART ONE: Colorblind Bromance PART TWO: Race Reception The Link: Negotiating Racial Change. PART ONE: Colorblind Bromance. ESSAY: Harolovich, “I-Spy’s Living Postcards”.

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in this lecture
In This Lecture
  • PART ONE: Colorblind Bromance
  • PART TWO: Race Reception
  • The Link: Negotiating Racial Change.
essay harolovich i spy s living postcards
ESSAY:Harolovich, “I-Spy’s Living Postcards”
  • While reading essay, consider how I Spy both succeeds and does not succeed at creating a color-blind male partnership.
haralovi ch essay a close reading
Haralovich Essay:a “closereading”
  • Strategies for your own essays
  • Cultivating critical thinking skills
  • defining complex terms
  • “unpacking” complex quotations from Haralovich and other theorists that she cites.
what is critical thinking
What is “critical thinking?”
  • Laundry List Essays: high school and lower-division level
  • Critical Essays: upper-division college
  • Juxtaposition is a “position” (remember nuance)
  • Does Mary Beth Haralovich take a position about I Spy?

“Each week, I Spy dramatized this effort to create harmony between two seemingly incongruous goals: social justice and global hegemony.” Mary Beth Haralovich

  • “incongruous”: incompatible.
  • “social justice”: equality between races
  • hegemony: dominance of white western values.


what s a critical argument huh huh huh
What’s a Critical Argument,Huh Huh Huh
  • Nuanced: never one sided
  • Grounded: as much as possible, admits its own blindsides, limitations and biases.
  • Researched: constructs arguments via textual analysis and/or ethnography.
  • Theoretical: based on theoretical concepts.
  • Specific: does not trade in “hyperbolic” overstatements.
i spy a point of view
I Spy a point of view!
  • I Spy is the greatest show ever made. (hyperbole)
  • Everyone thinks I Spy is great, but I don’t. (anti-conformist)
  • I love I Spy because it’s so stupid and cheesy. (ironic, kitsch)
  • I Spy has stood the test of time because the people who created it were really talented. (modernist)
  • I Spy is full of stereotypes: a, b, c, d (laundry list.)
  • I Spy is both stereotypical and progressive because of the reasons Brad and the essay mentioned: a, b, c, d (regurgitation)
  • In the late 1960s, I Spy attempted to create a color-blind narrative in response to the civil rights movement in the U.S. While its portrayal of a friendly white and black partnership was progressive, aspects of the text perpetuated old racial divides. (critical)
design your world the meta lesson
Design Your World (the meta-lesson)
  • (on people who appear to be deficient at their jobs) “They don’t have a good generalized approach to problem solving. They’re not thorough. They don’t consider all the possibilities. They don’t prepare themselves with the right information and so forth.” (Stanley Kubrick)
don t forget about culture
Don’t Forget about CULTURE!
  • It’s called Television and Cultural Studies.
  • TV shows in dialogue with the eras that created them (artifacts)
  • TV shows in dialogue with subsequent eras (trajectories)
term historiography
TERM: Historiography
  • History + biography: A “biography” of the text in relation to various historic epochs.
  • Specific historical eras influence how a text is produced and/or viewed.
  • I Spy could not have appeared in the mid-fifties.
  • I Spy means something different today than it did in the late sixties.
go to i spy it s all done with mirrors
Go to I, Spy: “It’s All Done with Mirrors”
  • (Please view “It’s All Done with mirrors.”This episode of I, Spy addresses issues of racial tension and cold war paranoia.)
term intertexual
Term: Intertexual
  • Deriving meaning from other texts.
  • Viewing this episode from our current historiographical position, there is an “intertextual” joke in the casting. What is it?
archie the commie
Archie the commie!
  • Carroll O’Connor would later appear in All in the Family as Archie Bunker, a bigoted character who feared all foreigners. In I Spy he is playing a Russian scientist.
stories are equipment for living kenneth burke
“Stories are equipment for living.” Kenneth Burke.
  • Narratives do cultural “work.”
  • Creating a believable black and white American male partnership was a challenging job.
  • How does I Spy’s narrative meet this challenge?
how i spy attempts to make a color blind male partnership
How I Spy attempts to make a color-blind male partnership
  • U.S. seen as inherently progressive and tolerant “free country.” U.S. racism blamed on Russians.
  • Alternate Others (Russians, woman, third world citizens)
  • Homo social bonding (what’s with all the Bromance beefcake?)
how i spy fails to make a color blind male partnership
How I Spy fails to make a color-blind male partnership
  • Opening credits
  • First person singular title
  • Asexual Scott
  • Robinson’s “sexual tourism” (white imperialism)
why is scott s sexuality problematic
Why is Scott’s Sexuality Problematic?
  • Interracial taboos
  • Threat of hypersexualized black man

“The point of seeing the racing of whites is to dislodge them/us from the position of power, with all the inequities, oppression, privileges and sufferings in its train, dislodging them/us by undercutting the authority with which they/we speak and act in and on the world.” - Richard Dyer

  • Why does Haralovich include this quote from Dyer?
  • Is she claiming the text of I Spy views “whiteness” as Dyer says it should be viewed, as a culturally specific category?
  • Or is she pointing out its failure to do so?
term whiteness
Term: “Whiteness”
  • Identifying white people as a cultural category rather than a transcendent “invisible norm” hovering above all categories.
  • What is the point of making this distinction?
  • What happens if we fail to make it?
brain washing or at least white washing
Brain washing or at least white washing?
  • This episode is about conditioning a white American male to fear a black American male.
  • It presumes that this is an unnatural state and that their bond remains so strong even brainwashing cannot break it.
  • Is this convincing?
  • What hoops does the narrative jump through to persuade us of this premise?
  • Does this episode, ironically enough, function as a kind of mental conditioning and propaganda?
reception studies
Reception Studies
  • “Hypodermic Model” vs. “agency” (self-determination)
  • Can these views be reconciled?
stuart hall 1932 present
Stuart Hall(1932-present)
  • Jamaican cultural theorist living in UK.
  • “Encoding and Decoding”
  • Encoding: media produced to encourage “dominant reading” often in line with hegemonic norms.
  • Decoding: however, audiences can read three ways: dominant, oppositional and negotiated.

Julia is an American sitcom (NBC)1968 to 1971.

  • It starred actress and singer Diahann Carroll.
  • Carroll plays widowed single mother named Julia Baker.
  • Her husband, a fighter pilot, had been shot down in Vietnam.
  • She was a nurse and was raising a young son named Corey.
julia and race
Julia and Race
  • One of the first weekly series to depict an African American woman in a non-stereotypical role.
  • Has been criticized as unrealistic.
  • Also seen as too “color blind,” too eager to promote assimilation into white culture.
term assimilation
Term: Assimilation
  • The merging of traits from previously distinct cultural groups.
why is assimilation problematic
Why is assimilation problematic?
  • Accomplished by nonwhites conforming to white norms.
  • Masks ongoing social imbalances. (She’s doing fine, so all other black people should be.)
  • Distorts reality (Julia as single mother, nurse in fancy apartment.)
  • When one culture is assimilated into another, what do they lose?
  • If the dominant groups dictate all social norms, should oppressed groups be automatically equated with things outside social norms? (keep in mind, some norms serve a positive social function, i.e. the incest taboo.)
  • If essentializing (stereotyping) is problematic and assimilation is problematic, what would a fair and accurate depiction of racial difference look like?
  • Is it easier for members of certain groups to portray racial difference?
the unloneliest night of the year
“The Unloneliest Night of the Year”
  • (Please view “The Unloneliest Night of the Year.”This episode of Julia addresses issues of single motherhood, social integration and assimilation.)
more questions
More Questions:
  • Is the show Julia entirely color blind?
  • How is the text constructing black masculinity?
  • Black femininity?
  • Black sexuality?
  • Have “real black people” been depicted on television yet?
  • If stars aren’t performing blackness, do they have to perform whiteness?
aniko bodroghkozy is this what you mean by color tv
Aniko Bodroghkozy: “Is This What You Mean by Color TV?”
  • “By looking at Julia as a symptomatic text--symptomatic of the crisis in race relations and its concomitant representations--we can see how a document of popular culture can serve as a piece of historical evidence, embodying within itself tensions working their way through American society at a particular moment.”
term symptomatic text
Term: symptomatic text
  • A media text reflecting various characteristics of the era that produced it, and expressing competing perspectives.
  • Essay calls Julia “symptomatic of the racial tensions of its time.”
  • Contrast an analysis of hegemonic norms with power flowing only from the top down. This view focuses on social struggles rather than attempts at consensus.
term ethnography
Term: ethnography
  • The study and systematic recording of human cultures.
  • Like life, messy, contradictory, imperfect.
  • Examining letters written by viewers and sent to the creators of Julia, Bodroghkozy performs a kind of ethnography.
  • Whereas textual analysis explores culture at the level of textual representation, ethnography explores culture at the level of audience reception and human interaction.
encoding and decoding julia
Encoding and Decoding Julia
  • “Recent work in cultural studies has demonstrated that meanings are not entirely determined by the text of by its producers. As Stuart Hall’s ‘encoding-decoding’ model has shown, readers of a text are active agents and need not accept the meanings constructed by the text producers.”
julia dominant reading
Julia: dominant reading
  • The character Julia is free of stereotyping a positive role model for all African Americans.
julia oppositional reading
Julia: oppositional reading
  • Julia depicts an African American sacrificing all sense of cultural identity in an attempt to assimilate with white culture.
julia negotiated reading
Julia: negotiated reading
  • Julia is progressive inasmuch as it depicts a self-reliant African American single mother, but problematic in that her lifestyle is unrealistically upscale.
it s a bird it s a plane no it s super negro
“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s ‘Super Negro!’
  • The essay speaks of Carroll struggling with the responsibility of being depicted as a too perfect character or “super negro.”
  • Like Diahann Carroll, other groundbreaking African Americans such as Sydney Potier and Barack Obama have faced similar challenges.
  • Upon reaching for new cultural status, they are tasked with representing their entire race with dignity. Fullfilling this role means adopting an almost superhuman public persona.
black reception vs white reception
Black Reception vs. White Reception
  • Key difference: black viewers want to work on the show. Why?
do it yourself ethnography
Do it Yourself Ethnography
  • Go to a party and listen to people talking about media texts. What are they really doing?
  • Media is about identity. The shows we watch define who we are and who we want to be.
channeling identity
“Channeling” Identity
  • In constructing media, we construct ourselves.