Friday, June 14, 2013

Mark the teapartying date

It's happened.

I can't say I'm totally surprised. But it actually happened.

A student cited a television show as a legitimate example of, like, a real phenomenon we are discussing.

Take your favorite ... Law & Order (for law related disciplines), House (for medical), How I Met Your Mother (for, um, social interaction) ... and insert it in this (redacted) flava.

To be fair, Thomas Telly did say it was a fictional example. But then he went on to describe in detail how what was a dramatization of a semi-recent current event was an example of how law/medicine/dating works.

I'll admit, I have occasionally referenced a television show related to our discipline in the context of a better-than-average portrayal of an issue in our area. But I do not hold up The Simpsons as indicative of American family life or Grey's Anatomy as illustrative of the providing of medical care.

Oh, and did I mention, this is a graduate student?


15 comments:

  1. Let's cut to the important issue. Did he format the reference correctly?

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    1. Really, BB?
      That is the important issue?

      ::sigh::

      Yes, it actually was properly cited.

      Delete
  2. I'm not surprised, since even the worst and most ephemeral bits of popular culture are now studied at university. Still, fiction can help illuminate reality--that's why it's so enduring.

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    1. "...the worst and most ephemeral bits of popular culture are now studied at university."

      Absolutely true. Or at least, I hope so, since much of my research is on exactly such ephemeral bits of pop culture.

      Delete
    2. I was thinking the same thing, Wylodmayer!!

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  3. Why am I thinking this is yet another knee-jerk over-reaction from a popular culture-loathing academic?

    Without details to suggest otherwise, I see a tempest in a teapot.

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    Replies
    1. Because perhaps you believe that "reality" television actually is reality?

      Delete
  4. So, my issue isn't with pop culture references per se, but with the inability to recognize that genre conventions will have an enormous bearing on how something is portrayed. I mean, if you don't get that literature, television, film, etc. *mediate* reality according to a set of conventions with their own history, you shouldn't be in grad school.

    The end of my sanctimonious rantlette.

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    Replies
    1. I stand on my desk and applaud FandT.

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    2. Thank you F&T.

      I have told my (middle school aged) child, that while I do enjoy documentaries/docu-dramas, their portrayals often leave me asking "I wonder if that was really how it happened?"

      Case in point, we attended a showing of Red Tails the Lucasfilm telling of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen which was shown in honor of an actual Tuskegee Airman who lives in our area.

      Knowing this was a rare (and soon to be extinct) moment to meet an actual participant in history, I did what I could to learn about the guest of honor. I discovered that not all of the Airmen actually flew fighter cover (the "Red Tails") but the later pilots actually flew the bombers. When I met the guest of honor he was absolutely tickled when I asked him to autograph a photograph of the plane he actually flew.

      I still don't know if there was a near marriage relationship between an Airman and an Italian woman as depicted in the film.

      Delete
  5. For some years (perhaps still), one of my university's intro psych courses had students write a paper in which they diagnosed/analyzed a character in a movie. I can see the reasoning behind the assignment: it gave students a chance to apply the information they'd received, and think/analyze for themselves, without letting them loose on actual human beings (which some of them seem frighteningly ready/eager to do). However, I found it very hard to convince some students who had been through this exercise that it did not involve scholarly research methods in their discipline, and that they could not replicate it in response to the research-based writing assignment in my class. Some of them could be nudged toward comparative/historical approaches ("how has the portrayal of schizophrenia in [name medium] changed over [specify time period]?"), but a significant minority balked at taking even that relatively small analytical step backward.

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    1. CC, I'm familiar with that exercise and, on the surface, it does make some sense. Attempt to introduce a new concept by asking students to use a familiar depiction as an example.

      But as you point out, it is a difficult struggle to convince students that the exercise is a very limited foray into the discipline.

      In this incident (The Myth's snark notwithstanding) the Tom Telly actually was asserting that the fictional portrayal was indicative of the application of our discipline.

      Delete
  6. Ohhh, blahhhhhh -- I have received so many papers arguing that a character is "really" bipolar or had ADHD or whatever. Who knew it was my colleagues in psych unleashing this evil.

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  7. I'm surprised that this is the first time that you've encountered this--dismayed, though, that it was a grad student.

    This happens all the time in the essays I get. All the time.

    It is challenging to live through the decline of modern civilization as we know it and to be aware that we are doing so.

    (Yeah, I'm in a dark place today.)

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