Peacast II - Way Way Way Out Of Date

by Wardog

Wardog discovers a peacast that rolled under the sofa.
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(MP3, 55:39, 128 kbps, 49.93 MB)
This is slightly embarrassing but I was tidying up my electronic files and I discovered a Peacast we recorded a year or two ago. So, err, here it is. I'm sure it'll polish up fine if we brush the dust off it, and we never talk about stuff that's actually happening now anyway.

So, in this peacast we discuss Sherlock Holmes (the movie, not the BBC series - yes, this was recorded that long ago, Damages and Madmen.
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Comments (go to latest)
Alasdair Czyrnyj at 20:28 on 2011-04-18
Um...how exactly do you lose a podcast?
Wardog at 20:51 on 2011-04-18
If you're me, incredibly easily. This is certainly not the first.
Ash at 20:54 on 2011-04-18
I think you should have waited until the movie sequel came out so you could have pretended to have done it on purpose.
Alasdair Czyrnyj at 01:31 on 2011-04-19
Okay, I've listened to the peacast (which you should totally do more of, BTW), and I was interested in your discussion of Mad Men. As a Canadian who hasn't watched the show, I'm not really qualified to say much about what the show's trying to do, though it always seemed to me to be a portrait of a society in transition from the somewhat static, conservative, kinda hypocritical entity that was late New Deal America to...whatever the hell it is we have today.

If it's of any help, university prof and blogger Scott Eric Kaufman has done a number of posts discussing the series, and while the majority of them concern how the show is shot, his earliest posts discussing the characters and their significance is quite insightful.
Wardog at 11:22 on 2011-04-19
Omg, I can't quite believe people actually listen to our adventures in podcasting.

We did actually stop watching Mad Men about halfway through the second series because our polite English bewilderment go the better of us and we were honestly bored. I guess the transitional aspect didn't really come through to us very clearly but, as we said, it was completely alien to us. I mean it seems like it's full of characters who run afoul of the idea that our ideas and values - like THE AMERICAN DREAM ZOMG - are packaged and sold to us, just like anything else, and that this is meant to blow the audience's tiny mind ... but I'm just sort of "well, yes."
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 13:34 on 2011-04-19
Nice peacast! I liked the whole absurdity about Professor Moriarty's chalk on sleeve, but as I recollect, he was a professor before he came to London. He had the chair in mathematics in a university, but because he had criminal blood, he became bored and had to skip town to London. It's interesting to think what he got up to while teaching mathematics, there is something funny about it.

As to Mad Men, I'm not from the US, but from Finland, but I still liked it after a while. It's a slow show and a bit boring at times, but I think that's one of its strengths. It takes its time to just show time passing and people being people.

I'm of course not trying to say that you were wrong if it didn't work for you, but I think my own appreciation arises from a different viewpoint to the show. I got the impression that besides being boring, the main point with you was that it is alienating and if it is about criticism of the american dream, it is a bit redundant from a British point of view, when you don't subscribe to said values anyway. And that you didn't know what to make of it. But I think this quality is too something I foind so very interesting. I don't think the show is meant to be categorized, or if there is a category, it is historical drama and its style is very naturalistic. So while it can be said to be about the american dream and its discontents or the implicit falsehood of our consumerism or about the birth of modern america or about the slow rise of female empowerment in professional circles, I think it s not needed to know what it is about, because it tries to describe this all through observation and impartiality.

I know that the script writers will have their agenda and it is not truly accurate or impartial, but it does seem to refuse to judge the characters. So in that way the whole question of Don Draper's moral failings and hollowness is just a depiction of a state of being and does not need an answer or even judgment. He is lost in a world which offers only one path to happiness and he lacks the strength and courage to find his own meaning in life. So for me a lot of this is not a lack of characterization, but the refusal to be simplistic or try to explain anything to the viewers, rather to keep you thinking. Similarly with Peggy and Pete. Why should it be explained why she was attracted to him, even if he is a prick. I mean, people do weird things and we don't necessarily know why. So instead of lack of characterization, to me it just raises a question about Peggy. Why does she act the way she does? Why any of them do? Partly because people are more defined by the society they live in than we usually think, perhaps.

I don't mean, by the way, that viewers should not judge the character's morality, merely that because the style is naturalistic, karma will not bite in a concrete way, but rather more tragically, since no one becomes happy through their petty acts. I'm going to stop rambling. I think I need to have a blog or something... but anyways, it was a good peacast!
Wardog at 09:33 on 2011-04-20
Thank you:)

I liked the whole absurdity about Professor Moriarty's chalk on sleeve, but as I recollect, he was a professor before he came to London

I'm pretty sure he was a Professor but the idea of him simultaneously teaching and plotting CRIME was hilarious :)

It's a slow show and a bit boring at times, but I think that's one of its strengths. It takes its time to just show time passing and people being people.

To be honest, I'm always slightly dubious of this sort of defense... I mean I think it's perfectly possible to have a slow-moving show full of people being people that is not *also* boring. Not that I'm trying to undermine your appreciation of the show or anything :)

And please don't worry - we'd both value some positive perspectives on Mad Men simply because we were so alienated by it. And you do make a good case... although all the things you describe do remind me, more than anything, of this absolutely spot-on parody. :)

I think I need to have a blog or something...

You could always write for us ;)
http://ruderetum.blogspot.com/ at 10:38 on 2011-04-20
It is spot-on! Could be that the whole show is just an excuse to show some really iffy stuff and explain it away as an accurate depiction of times past:)

To be honest, I'm always slightly dubious of this sort of defense...


Yes. It's actually a bit dishonest too, as it could be taken as an attack disguised as a defense. 'The reason you don't like something is the reason that it is good', it not only turns tables in a sense, but also gives the impression, that the reason for dislike is somehow a failure in the dislikers mind.
Leia at 09:43 on 2011-04-27
I'm pretty sure he was a Professor but the idea of him simultaneously teaching and plotting CRIME was hilarious :)


In the first script treatment, the cab scene had Moriarty actually sending off a post to the Astronomical Society before he queried Irene on her interview with Holmes. Pity that it wasn't actually filmed. Missed Moment of Hilarity, I say. I enjoyed the film from the perspective of someone who had read the Sherlock Holmes stories fresh from Agatha Christie and was disappointed that they weren't really 'fair' mysteries, more like adventure stories with Sherlock showing off at the end. So the movie got that part right - the adventure bit with the audience not really meant to solve the crime, just be dazzled by Sherlock's genius. I'd be looking forward to the sequel even more if Adler's role hadn't been reduced to just cameo.
Robinson L at 00:00 on 2011-05-31
Lovely podcast, as always.

Sherlock Holmes

I quite enjoyed this movie, too, for what it was. I must admit though, I did not find Watson a show-stealer at all. While I agree that his character was very well-handled, and Jude Law turned in an excellent performance, to me he felt overshadowed by Robert Downey Jr.'s Holmes, Mark Strong's Lord Blackwood, and even Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler.

Damages

Dan: Mysteries don't work if you suspect that they're arbitrary, I think.

My dad was telling me a couple months ago about watching a film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and he made a very similar observation. I think he may've been making a sweeping statement about all mysteries—how you get to the conclusion and the detective explains who did the crime and how and which evidence was genuine clues and which was red herrings. He said he felt like the author could just as easily rearrange the evidence to have it fit any other suspect (rather like the conclusion to the movie Clue).

I don't think I'd agree with this as a blanket statement, but I completely agree with your more conservative observation, Dan.

Haven't seen it, but I can confirm that “john” is indeed US slang for the customer of a prostitute. It's also slang for a bathroom but—to paraphrase our esteemed editor in a much later podcast—more in the sense of “it's in the slang dictionary” than “this is a term I've actually heard used in this context.”

Mad Men

Never seen this one, either, and I've always suspected I'd find it pretty boring, so I doubt I'll ever watch it. I also react to the assertion that “the American Dream is actually a load of bollocks” with a “well duh,” but coming from country where it is so prevalent, I guess I have some respect for a TV show which is willing to point it out.

I'm curious about Dan's statement that he's “pro-advertising.” Your point that “everything is advertising” is well-taken, Dan, but wouldn't you agree that some advertising is harmful when it's disingenuous, overly manipulative, or obnoxiously ubiquitous? I would say that it is, and that much of current advertising displays all three qualities.

Your bad America accent is great, Dan, and probably much better than my faux-British accent.
Dan H at 09:40 on 2011-05-31
I'm curious about Dan's statement that he's “pro-advertising.” Your point that “everything is advertising” is well-taken, Dan, but wouldn't you agree that some advertising is harmful when it's disingenuous, overly manipulative, or obnoxiously ubiquitous?


Some advertising is harmful, clearly, but so is some fiction - I just think it's very easy to assume that advertising is innately immoral, which I don't think it is. In particular, I don't think that being "offensively ubiquitious" is a problem - advertising is how a whole lot of stuff gets paid for and I don't think that's an issue at all.

Basically I think ad men are like lawyers - it's easy to think of them as amoral social parasites, but actually they do perform a useful function.

He said he felt like the author could just as easily rearrange the evidence to have it fit any other suspect (rather like the conclusion to the movie Clue).


It *is* a common flaw with a lot of mysteries, particularly "British" style mysteries which are supposed to be all about the puzzlebox. Sometimes, though, that's absolutely the point (a lot of American detective fiction, for example, makes a big thing out of the evidence not necessarily pointing to anything conclusive - The Thin Man is a good example).
Arthur B at 10:16 on 2011-05-31
Some advertising is harmful, clearly, but so is some fiction - I just think it's very easy to assume that advertising is innately immoral, which I don't think it is. In particular, I don't think that being "offensively ubiquitious" is a problem - advertising is how a whole lot of stuff gets paid for and I don't think that's an issue at all.

I'd also point out that we're living in a time when more people are suspicious and cynical about advertising than ever before. Decrying advertising as some sort of slick mass mind control ignores the fact that a greater and greater proportion of the market is media-literate these days and people are generally aware that advertising is intended to sell you something and is liable to be biased and not give a complete picture as a result. And yet, it's precisely that media-literate "I'm too cool to be a sheep" demographic that you see strolling around clutching a Kindle and listening to their iPod using their Dr. Dre brand headphones.

At the end of the day, advertising wouldn't work unless people actually wanted some means to find out about the hot new products and saw a value in putting down the money for big-name products. You might argue that some products are only cool because advertising declares them to be cool, but even if that were so there are people whose desire to be cool is sufficiently high that the fact that "cool" is defined by ad men isn't a problem to them. And I think it's very easy to overestimate the impact of advertising on a product's reputation: yes, the iPod has benefited greatly from the advertising surrounding it, but if the sound on it was lousy and the battery life was only half an hour and the clickwheel had a tendency to fall off and its design was appallingly ugly then I don't think any amount of advertising would have saved it. I tend to believe that advertising can send a good or even average product into the stratosphere but I don't think it can lift a genuinely poor product from the gutter.
Robinson L at 20:30 on 2011-06-08
Some advertising is harmful, clearly, but so is some fiction - I just think it's very easy to assume that advertising is innately immoral, which I don't think it is.

All right, Dan, I'll go along with that.

I don't think that being "offensively ubiquitious" is a problem

Okay, you're probably right. I think I did have a (badly articulated) point there, but I don't think it's worth pursuing.

advertising is how a whole lot of stuff gets paid for and I don't think that's an issue at all.

Well, just to be ornery, I could reply that just because advertising pays for it, does not automatically make advertising a good thing. Whether it's good or not that advertising (as opposed to something else) pays for those things is probably a discussion worth having, but I don't feel like pursuing that one just not either.

@Arthur: I was listening to a discussion recently – I think it may've been the “Fighting Fantasy” podcast – where you were talking about the Placebo effect and how it works even when you know it's a Placebo. As I understand it, marketing works pretty much the same way: it can successfully manipulate you even when you recognize you're being manipulated.

And I don't really care about the products the advertising sells – I care about the mindsets it sells. In the Podcast, Dan reports on a snip of dialogue from Mad Men where a woman tells the main character she's never married because she's never been in love, to which he replies “That's because your idea of love was created by people like me”/paraphrase. (I'd also throw in a host of moviemakers, writers, church officials, political officials, and so on, but I definitely think advertisers are culpable along with the rest of them.) I saw a documentary a few years ago which pointed out that a lot of modern advertising is based around fostering a sense of dissatisfaction. People buy more products if they feel they're missing something important in their lives, and that shopping is the answer. I do think this attitude is at least somewhat prevalent here in the US, and that many advertisers are complicit in creating and maintaining it.

There's also Jean Kilbourne, who's released a series of videos called “Killing Us Softly,” where she points out how mainstream advertising (at least here in the US) reinforces unhealthy attitudes about sex, gender, sexuality and race. And I do take issue with that.

This isn't a blanket condemnation of all advertising, but as Dan says, “Some advertising is harmful, clearly.”
Sonia Mitchell at 00:26 on 2011-06-09
I tend to believe that advertising can send a good or even average product into the stratosphere but I don't think it can lift a genuinely poor product from the gutter.


High profile products, maybe not. Boring everyday things like vales or skip removal... unless they're so abysmal there's a scandal, I think a modest spend in the appropriate directories would keep you going.

I'd also point out that we're living in a time when more people are suspicious and cynical about advertising than ever before. Decrying advertising as some sort of slick mass mind control ignores the fact that a greater and greater proportion of the market is media-literate these days and people are generally aware that advertising is intended to sell you something and is liable to be biased and not give a complete picture as a result.


I'm not entirely sure that's true. For the media-savvy portion of the public you're talking about, I think trends towards interactive marketing (most obviously social media) have caused guards to drop a little. I agree with Robinson that even if you know it's happening, it still holds true and you get a good feeling about a certain product or company. If they act like they're your friend (provided they do it well), it sort of rubs off.
Ash at 09:26 on 2011-06-09
I can think of at least one advertisement that I saw on TV that was the opposite of harmful.
Dan H at 09:27 on 2011-06-09
High profile products, maybe not. Boring everyday things like vales or skip removal... unless they're so abysmal there's a scandal, I think a modest spend in the appropriate directories would keep you going.


I think when people talk about the evils of advertising, they're generally not talking about skip removal. And presumably if skip removal firms were really *that* bad they'd all go out of business.

I agree with Robinson that even if you know it's happening, it still holds true and you get a good feeling about a certain product or company. If they act like they're your friend (provided they do it well), it sort of rubs off.


That might be true, but I think consumers are more fickle and more savvy than people give them credit for.

There's nothing intrinsically evil about the fact that people feel good about companies whose products they use. Hell a lot of us *explicitly* make decisions about what to buy based on what companies we want to support - a lot of people bought the Witcher II at release because they wanted to support CDPR for example.
Arthur B at 10:16 on 2011-06-09
If they act like they're your friend (provided they do it well), it sort of rubs off.

Yeah, but if they let you down badly once you're not going to get fooled again, are you? Maybe the advertising is enough to convince you to give them that first opportunity to fail you, but then again even in a world devoid of advertising you wouldn't necessarily have found out about their failings until you had direct experience of them.

Well, you might get word of mouth warnings... but you can get those in a world with advertising too, and if you ignore the advice of your trusted friend in favour of buying into the advertising, who's to blame for that? (Hint:
you are.
)

And if a company does provide you with the services you requested from them and manages to do it without screwing up, what's the harm in them putting on a friendly face? What, are we going to expect people to adopt a cold and uncaring stance in commercial transactions for the sake of some misguided idea that somehow it's bad and wrong to try and present yourself in an attractive and appealing manner?
Sonia Mitchell at 15:05 on 2011-06-09
'There's nothing intrinsically evil about the fact that people feel good about companies whose products they use.'


'And if a company does provide you with the services you requested from them and manages to do it without screwing up, what's the harm in them putting on a friendly face?'


I wasn't saying it was evil or harmful (I'm a marketeer. It's my job to persuade people to like my company, and that sits just fine with my conscience). I was suggesting that it's a bit of a myth to think we're too modern and aware to be taken in by good advertising. I'm pretty sure several generations before us have thought the same.
Dan H at 15:19 on 2011-06-09
Ah, okay, I think I was conflating your position and Robinson's (which seemed stronger). I think it's something of a truism that we underestimate the effect of advertising on ourselves, and overestimate its effect on other people. We assume that people who like things we don't like wre taken in by the hype, while at the same time getting totally stoked about things we do like and assuming that these reactions are purely our own.
Arthur B at 16:15 on 2011-06-09
Ah, okay, I think I was conflating your position and Robinson's (which seemed stronger). I think it's something of a truism that we underestimate the effect of advertising on ourselves, and overestimate its effect on other people.

Yeah, same here.

Though I still maintain that advertising isn't actually strong enough to counteract personal experience; if a product or service lets you down badly and you keep going back to it that's all on you.
Robinson L at 15:00 on 2011-06-10
Though I still maintain that advertising isn't actually strong enough to counteract personal experience; if a product or service lets you down badly and you keep going back to it that's all on you.

Fair enough, Arthur. I don't dispute that.
Ash at 13:51 on 2011-10-25
This is way out of date but this video on gendered advertisements is quite interesting.
Robinson L at 18:06 on 2011-11-05
Ash: This is way out of date but this video on gendered advertisements is quite interesting.

This is slightly out of date, but thank you Ash for sharing the video. Good stuff. In fact, that whole channel is pretty fantastic. Thanks.
http://murderershair.livejournal.com/ at 20:33 on 2012-05-17
Lurker from New York City delurking very late to say, I swear we do lock our doors in real life! It's just those crazy television people who don't. Or, on a more meta level, I recall Ellen and what's-his-nuts were supposed to have just moved to Manhattan, so clearly, they came from someplace where burglars just didn't exist.

It's fantastic to hear other people as confused by Mad Men as I am, though being American, I unfortunately have no cultural excuse for my failure to get what it's all about. I am weirdly fond of Trudy Campbell though.

(Awkward sidenote- my real name is Zoe, so when you said 'why is Zoe banging him' I did a huge doubletake)

I have to assume that Mad Men's appeal is mainly nostalgia, at least going by my parents, who are big fans (and were born in 54 and 56). But it seems like a pretty bizarre kind of misplaced nostalgia, because both my parents had fairly shitty childhoods in ways that were very different from the shitty childhoods on Mad Men.

It's all very funny because Mad Men has caught on so fiercely in clothing design particular in NYC that I can't look at the show without thinking about the Banana Republic ads for "the Mad Men collection" and all the references to Don Draper as like this amazingly suave guy everyone wants to be in the papers, and I can't help but feel like I watched a totally different show, because to me Don seemed like a boring douchebag.
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