Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for March, 2011

Budget Cuts…

Posted by valflop29 on March 31, 2011

Budget cuts.  Not the term anyone working on a soap opera wants to hear.  I enjoyed reading Sara Bibel talking about 2008 being a year to remember.  I found it amazing how openly she discussed being let go from Y & R and All My Children (which every onece in a while could use a few better lines).  I liked reading about the Wrtier’s Strike from a writer’s point of view. 

I had no idea that the breakdown writer position was cut out of several soaps.  That is intersting and it makes me wonder if we could have noticed a change if we had been looking for it at the time. 

It also makes me wonder if the other writers have taken on more responsibility without extra payment or if it has been a bonus in both work and money.  Or has the step in the writing process been removed completely?  So many—well all soaps have been suffering.  I can’t imagine All My Children without Susan Lucci or Y & R without Eric Braeden.  Unfortunately, letting go og long time characters/actors has worked for soap budgets in the past and is always a possibility for shows in the future. 

If this is the case, I am not sure if there is much hope for the world of soaps.  Budget cuts have been made in different places around a soap; shorter time for taping, cheaper wardrobe, smaller choice in set and scenery.  These are just a few aspects that are getting the short end of the stick.  Hopefully there will be a future for soap operas.  A good and long one.


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Facts and Figures

Posted by corydcooper on March 29, 2011

I’ve always tried to be a logical man. Thinking with the facts and truths of research to back up my actions. I guess that’s why I liked Lynn Liccardo’s piece “Who Really Watches Soap The Daytime Soaps.” Right off the bat, she lets you know that this piece is about statistics, and my heart starts to race.

Her article gives an insight into the demographics of the soap opera viewer. Where they come from, their income, age, employment, and gender are all major factors in viewership. Basically, a Man named Bradley S. Greensburg did demographic research about daytime soap viewers. His information showed that the amount of viewers in 1994 was down and declining. Statistics from Mediamark Research Inc., on the other hand, refuted his findings showing the numbers as higher than previously reported.

What bothers me though, is that in the article there is a disagreement about how the data was collected. While Greensburg’s data was collected using money from Michigan State University, the data for MRI was collected from a telephone survey that wasn’t specifically focused on collecting data about soap operas. It’s this sort of  discrepancies in the data that undermine the entire research. Soapoperadigest.com released a survey in 2007 regarding specifically soap viewers, and was answered primarily by fans who visited their site. With such a sampling, it’s really hard to get a better reading on the viewers compared to other viewers.  What’s needed is a voluntary survey for viewers to take regarding their viewing habits, and not about the specific shows they watch, in order to really base daytime viewing demographics on anything substantial.

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Telenovelas and Ugly Betty

Posted by jyoung1363 on March 29, 2011

I’m not sure how I feel about Jaime Nasser’s piece.  Most of it was news to me, as I was not an Ugly Betty viewer, but I didn’t know that the American show had been adapted from the original Spanish version…so, to any UB watchers, how did you feel after reading this?  Did you already know it was an adaptation?  Has anyone seen the Spanish version and how it compares?

I was kind of disheartened to learn that Spanish telenovelas operate on such a low budget and have an almost low-class stigma attached.  The same could be said of many American shows, but at least they aren’t so blatantly “cheap” to those who watch.  I mean, the Bold and the Beautiful is a success overseas, but I wonder how it compares to the native shows of the countries in which it airs.  Perhaps in France or England (I’m guessing here, I have no clue where B&B airs), it is viewed as a low-quality American show…hmm?

I was also kind of shocked to read that Ugly Betty creators felt the need to “explain” the show’s format to American audiences–we are definitely not so thick as to ignore its similarites to American soap operas.  That part of this piece was almost amusing in the dumbing-down of a show so it would make sense to obviously uniformed or ignorant (sarcasm, LOL) viewers.  Oy, what a slap in the face…

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Tristan Rogers Piece “Perspective” p

Posted by elizabethbartsch on March 25, 2011

In his piece,  Mr. Rogers speaks of how he believes that soaps will be a thing of the past in less than 50 years and that while cancellation of a soap series was always something that was possible,  it is now something that isn’t whispered about or hidden but instead out there in the open for all to know about.

He believes that because soaps are operating on the same premise they were many years ago,  they are failing to attract new viewers.

My question is this:  is it too late for soaps to turn themselves around and why?  If not,  what can soaps do to re-invent themselves to gain additional viewers and stay afloat?  Can the web be used to draw in more viewers and if so,  how?   Has reality TV replaced the soap stories for potential younger viewers?

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Perspective with Irwin and Cassata

Posted by valflop29 on March 24, 2011

When I read Irwin and Cassata’s State of U.S. Soap Operas ( The Survival of Soaps)I found myself agreeing and coming to realizations with many of the things that they mentioned.  The history that they brought up in regards to the O.J trial was interesting to me.  I was six years old during the O.J trial and obviously paying much more attention to Barney and Big Bird instead of Brooke and Ridge.  My point is that I highly doubt I personally was affected by the coverage of the thirty-seven week trial.  What I am sure of is that my mother’s watching of soaps probably was.  What I found most interesting, that was something I had never thought of was the fact that people were given a dose of reality t.v. throughout the trial.  I agree that this is not to blame for the ridiculous amount of crappy so-called ‘reality’ t.v. that is on today, but it definitely contributed. 

Moving on to the next point I enjoyed was that of the webisodes.  I really do believe that this can help a show.  The fact of the matter is that it is all in how you promote it.  Several shows that I have watched will give a teaser of the webisode at the end of the actual show right after the credits.  Or it may have its own link on the show’s website and even have its own 10 second commercial spot on the station.  Webisodes can be quite hilarious, depending on the show and worth watching.

I find Project Daytime fascinating and love the ideas that were given on health, aging, and families.  as far as health is concerned the most illnesses I feel like we see with the exception of a character having cancer in many soaps is pregnancy, which obviously is not an illness.  It just seems as though pregnancy and what happens throughout or after are the big health storylines these days.  Although B&B has done a wonderful job with the no smoking campaign and the lung cancer story with Stephanie.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the subject of families.  I come from a mixed up blended family, that was a traditional family at first, then became a single family home, to again become a family, but with a step parent.  I think that these are the traditional families of today.  I’m not saying that all marriages end in divorce, I certainly hope not.  I just see more divorced families (especially on soaps) than happily married families.  I will say that on soaps, I don’t really feel like any one is a family.  People make the connections, oh that’s my daughter, or I am  so and so’s cousin, but it doesn’t really seem like a real family.  It’s more like they all know each other and pretend they are related somehow.  I just think that soaps could do a better job at presenting people as a family.

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Soaps on Life Support?

Posted by chriskennysmith on March 23, 2011

In the William J. Reynolds piece he makes the comment, “The American soap opera is… on life support.”

This line has sort of been sticking in the back of my mine. I watched the Bold & the Beautiful today and wonder when its end would come. I wondered if eventually all soaps would eventually collapse from networks like ABC, NBC and CBS and end up of their digital channels, online or YouTube only.

This is sort of like watching the final pop stars with actually talent whither from the spotlight. You hardly see anyone on the Billboard who can actually hold a note to the greats (I’ll let you pick your own).  Instead you have Rihanna, Katy Perry and Ke$ha blazing the scene while Beyonce stands as the only one among her peers who can still blow and smash a #1 hit. It’s like the sudden uprising of reality shows. Where is the actual entertainment from talent? Pretty soon MTV is going to become RTV.

Do you guys believe this is a temporary thing and that soap opera can find their way back to their former Glory or are times completely changing this generation’s taste in entertainment?

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No News Is Good News?

Posted by meganserio on March 22, 2011

I thought that the C. Lee Harrington reading was really interesting. I can’t recall a specific time that a “special news brief” interrupted my soap viewing, but I’m familiar with the disappointment of an episode being canceled for some reason. Of course, I would complain about it. I want to watch my soap, and someone’s interfering with it!

I liked this quote from the reading:

“I don’t know why they don’t have the press conferences during prime-time… When it’s something really important (yeah, like once every century) and everyone needs to see it, prime-time would be better.”

I can agree with that. Broadcasting things like press conferences during prime-time would certainly be more logical than broadcasting them midday. I mean, most people are at work or school at that time, and even though some schools want students to know what’s going on in the world and let them watch, I can’t say that for every school and certainly not every workplace. My high school did, but that doesn’t mean anything. It was a pretty laid back school, they let us watch really important sports events. Yeah, that’s crucial.

But while I agree with that… I also don’t?

As a soap fan, I completely understand the frustration of missing an episode of say… The Young and The Restless… because that soap airs at the time that live press conferences are normally broadcast. I would hate to miss a day of lies and scandals and dirty looks because of a press conference that may not be directly important to me. But when it comes to other things? A bombing? A hurricane? Something potentially detrimental to my safety? I’d like to know about those things.

There was a tiny portion of the reading that I thought was very well put and very, very true.

“Admittedly, they very ‘non-routineness’ of non-routine news means that newsworkers cannot plan when it occurs; they cannot schedule hijackings, bombings or natural disasters to fit scheduled news hours. Most of these events occur during the day simply because that it when most activity occurs, both governmental and the sorts of everyday activities that can contribute to catastrophe.”

THANK YOU. It’s not like reporters are deliberately trying to sabotage your entertainment. They can’t control what goes on and when it happens. They aren’t plotting against you because they know you’re watching All My Children and they don’t think that soap is worth anything because General Hospital is much better. I mean seriously, how could you watch that? Such bad quality. Yeah – that’s not how it is. It isn’t their fault.

And to end this post, here is my most favorite line from the reading, which I find to, uh… have some merit:

“All My Children will be on next week and the week after that and the week after that…”

(But on a side note, does anyone think that Thomas is asking for it when he repeatedly tells Ridge that Ridge would’ve done the same thing if he was Thomas’ age, or that he in fact did do that when he was that age? I cringe every time he says something like that. Despite the fact that it is true, it’s disrespectful to say that to your father, and I wouldn’t mind if Ridge delivered a roundhouse kick to Thomas’ face if he ever said anything like that again. Which is bad parenting, of course, but you don’t say something like that to your parent!)

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Its a woman thing…

Posted by craiglonas on March 22, 2011

Through reading some of the Baym literature and also reading “No Politics Here” I have noticed Feminism and arguments about fandoms being a prevalent topic. I also have started to research fandoms for my term paper and wanted to discuss the nature of fandom demographics.

It is easy to pigeon-hole media into certain types of people but it is obvious through our class experiences that many view soaps as a feminist text. I disagreed wholeheartedly at first but I have begun to realize more about WHY this idea has merit. From a feminist stand point, females are taking the time to make decisions for themselves about stepping away from all other aspects of life to “liberate” themselves to the world of the soap.

However there have also been resounding evidence that there are still a sizable group of males that watch soaps and contribute to the fandom. (Aside: A super masculine fictional character Gregory House will postpone medical work to finish his soaps.) So when are soaps going to be able to get to the point that they start warping from feminine texts to human texts.

I am going to begin researching the LGBTQ community and its involvement in fandoms as well as as the reactions to storylines that reflect LGBTQ issues and characters. I hope this will give me a better insight on things…

From “No Politics Here”

The answer is simple: because its a woman thing…. Powerful women in leading roles don’t appeal to most men. …. I will not buy a … soap magazine if a man is behind me in the checkout… as quite a few times men have made comments like, “Do you really read that garbage?” I shrug, “No, I just look at the pictures. I read Playboy for the really informative stuff.”

With that being said, I believe that soaps need to hit a point of being universal. Soaps need to reach out to men, women, black, white, young, old, and anything else I missed (see Lady Gaga’s Born This Way lyrics) and reach out to those demographics that are there… but not being recognized.

From this point on… as a 21 year old male I can honestly say I love B&B and want to devote more time to watching other soaps. But at the same time… I want the soap industry to devote to me. I want this industry to start becoming more along the lines of my demographic and others. I wonder if this is even possible.

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The Comeback You’ve All Been Waiting For…

Posted by chriskennysmith on March 22, 2011

It’s me! Finally returning to the blogs from a hectic two weeks working with a couple of media outlets for internships. Also, I fell asleep with gum in my mouth while I was finishing up a review an now there’s gum all over my laptop. Also, I won’t be in class because I’m once again covered in hives up my back and legs.

So that’s the news on me… and speaking of news I had a few things to fuss about on the Harrington piece. I don’t really like that he sort of outcast news as semi-irrelevant because some studies say that it isn’t likely for the average viewer to retain even a low percentage of the information that they see. Obviously, if someone sits and watches the news, interested or not, their brain is subconsciously storing the information. It’s like watching a soap for me. I don’t particularly enjoy it like I would other serialized type dramas, but I would never say that they are instantly forgettable. I pretty much had adopted characters and personalities into my mind after one or two episodes.

I also found this piece a little difficult to follow when it came to the part on whether are not certain scenes had aired and how people could access the footage or dialog. Is anyone familiar with how this works? I know that sometimes if a show ran a scene on the east coast the received some sort of backlash, it could be cut by the time it reaches its debut on the west coast. I know this could be talking about if soaps were canceled because of a live event being shown at that time, but being show in other time zones during their regularly scheduled times. I just am not really familiar with how the network makes up for it’s lost airings.

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Soap Opera Comics

Posted by corydcooper on March 22, 2011

Today, I would like to bring to your attention another genre of drama that has been around for almost as long as the daytime serial. That’s right: Soap Opera Comics! This type of media shows up in the Funnies section of newspapers every week, but there’s nothing funny about them. They are meant to be a serious illustrated story that doesn’t have a definite ending. Comic strips like Rex Morgan M.D, Judge Parker, and Mary Worth have been around for many years (almost since the beginning of radio shows).

The thing about these strips is that they were easily accessible by everyone who purchased a newspaper. You’ve probably seen them as well in a extended Sunday edition, or a shortened daily edition. Since almost everyone bought a daily newspaper to read about current events, they probably had a bigger audience. However, they have probably dwindled in readership as other forms of drama and media became more prevalent.

Nancy Baym’s “Tune In Log On” discusses soap fandom and how it relates to an online community. After doing a quick Google search, I can’t seem to find anything specifically regarding soap comics as a popular discussion on message boards. If anything did show up, it was more of a general topic or quick question, but nothing delving into the comics themselves like you might see in “Batman”. This leads me to believe that they are discussed at home and with close friends more often than being talked about by fans around the world like other comics.

Has anyone else had experience with these comics? Skipped over them for the latest Garfield or cruised by them on the way to the classifieds?

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