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January 14, 2014 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-14

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8 -- Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Michigan Daily -- michigandailycom

8 - Tuesday, January 14, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

TV NOTEBOOK
Flailing ABC: the new NBC

PIVOT

Joseph Gordon-Lovin it,
Gordon-Levitt
creates a 'Hit'

Variety show puts
authentic spin on
reality TV
By GRACE HAMILTON
Daily Arts-Writer
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's new
variety show, "HitRecord on TV,"
challenges the conventions and
structure of
popular tele-
vision today -
and promises HitRecord
a season full of
pleasant sur- 011 TV
prises, laughs
and possibly Pivot
some confus- Saturdayat10 p.m.
ing graphics
sequences.
The first episode is set to premiere
on Saturday, Jan. 18 on the Pivot
network but is already available
online. Gordon-Levitt offers much
of the same quirkiness that audi-
ences have come to love in his
acting, which offers a far more
revealing portrait of him in the
role of artist, as well as entrepre-
neur.
Gordon-Levitt founded HitRe-
cord with his brother in 2005. In
2010, it was launched as an open,
collaborative production company,
meaning anyone is free to con-
tribute on a given project, which
includes short films, music and

books. The TV show is an exten-
sionofHitRecord'sonline presence
and provides a more structured
platform for the projects.
Each episode will be guided
by a specific theme - in the pre-
miere episode, it's "The Number
One." The broad and abstract idea
is explored in an equally abstract
way, including clips of inter-
views with people discussing first
impressions and first times, mus-
ings on the number one itself and
Gordon-Levitt's own personal
commentary. His additions are
sincere and there is no option but
to like him - regardless of your
feelings about the show. Much of
his commentary is given through
talking into a hand-held camera,
giving the show a close, intirmate
ethos.
The episode is like an extreme-
ly crafty homemade video, held
together by an over-arching con-
ceptrather than anepisodic narra-
tive arch. The 22-minute length is
perfectly appropriate.
What is particularly special
is that the episode reveals the
enormous complexity building a
project from thousands of con-
tributors. Credit is given where it
is due; to the actors, visual artists,
musicians and the faces of the nor-
mal people whose ideas inspire the
themes and messages of the show
in the first place. For example, the
audience meets Roswell Gray, a
site contributor whose story about

the first time she saw stars was
adapted into a short film, starring
Elle Fanning and James Patrick
Stuart - oh, and contributions
from another 1440 people.
The result is thoughtful and
elegant. There are corny moments,
but they maintain tastefulness
and a sense of aesthetic beauty.
The episode contains two other
films put together in the same
fashion, with topics ranging from
the Pando Forest to songs about
loneliness. Each collaboration has
an entirely different approach and
style, demonstrating the nearly
unlimited range of possibilities
available for episodes ahead.
This show is an ambitious proj-
ect to bring to TV. The viewing
experience is fun and thought-
provoking, in many ways more
similar to perusing a museum or
listening to a podcast than watch-
ing a TVshow. The interesting aes-
thetic provides the show with its
charm; however, it may not fit well
into any of the pop culture themes
that dominate most successful TV
programs today. It is likely the gen-
eral audience may not understand
its charm, or if they do, consider it
reason enough tokeep watching.
Nonetheless, the show is a tes-
tament to the power of new media
age and the internet's ability to
bring together the talent of people
across the world. The product is
well-executed, entertaining and
most importantly, different.

By ALEC STERN
Senior Arts Editor
For years, NBC was the butt
of every joke about broadcast
television. Failed programming
and questionable decisions kept
the once-venerable Peacock
in fourth place for years. And
while NBC isn't out of the woods
yet, it has been the number one
network for the past two fall
seasons. Conversely, ABC has
quietly been on a years-long
downward spiral, begging the
question: is ABC the new NBC?
ABC chief Paul Lee
approached this television sea-
son with an interesting strategy.
In a bid to mimic the success of
cable series, most notably "The
Walking Dead," the Alphabet
Network planned to break up the
seasons of a number of its most
successful programs: two batch-
es of 12 episodes to air in the fall
and the spring, with miniseries,
reality shows and event pro-
gramming to bridge the winter
gap. By only the second week of
January, however, it's looking
less and less likely that ABC's
gamble is going to pay off.
With many of its signature
programs, including "Once Upon
a Time," off the air from Decem-
ber to March, alot of pressure is
being put on its new crop of win-
ter series, and the initial results
have been extremely disconcert-
ing.
While ABC's strategy was
certainly innovative - reaping
the benefits of airing its flagship
series uninterrupted and sam-
pling more series in the process
- it has simply taken ABC out
of the television game for the
winter. Even repeats of "Grey's
Anatomy" and "Scandal" would
bring in more viewers than the
new Thursday night lineup, con-
sisting of the low-rated "The
Taste" and "The Assets," which
posted one of the lowest debuts
in the history of broadcast tele-
vision and was pulled after just
two episodes.
Unfortunately, ABC's troubles
go far beyond its scheduling mis-
steps. The network hasn't been
able to launch successful shows
for some time now. Whereas
ABC was once home to some
of pop culture's most revered

ASC
Even Olivia Pope couldn't fix ABC.
series, stemming from the 2004- to turn things around.
2005 season when it debuted Perhaps ABC's most egre-
"Lost," "Grey's Anatomy" and gious problem is not being able
"Desperate Housewives," the to find a suitable companion for
network has continued to strug- its biggest comedy hit, "Modern
gle, simply pandering to its core Family." Instead, Wednesday's
female audience with titles like 9:30 p.m. timeslot has become
"Killer Women," "Revenge" and a revolving door of lead-outs,
"Betrayal." each less compatible with "Fam-
Luckily, it's not complete ily" than the last. It's possible a
gloom for ABC - the network slightly more edgy family com-
did give birth to "Scandal," the edy like "Trophy Wife" could
red-hot political fixer series that work well in the half-hour, but
has risen from little watched ABC continues to go for quirky
drama to full-fledged television "Friends"-like comedies -
phenomenon. If only that were "Cougar Town," "Happy End-
enough - as any ratings enthu- ings," "Don't Trust the B---- in
siast knows all too well, today's Apartment 23" - none of which
are still alive at the network.
And after the lackluster perfor-
mance of Rebel Wilson's "Super
ABC struggles Fun Night," the network will try
again with "Mixology," a high-
to follow up concept comedy that takes place
ntly over the course of one
past hits night.
p _ _ABC has a long way to go.
Whereas NBC has "Sunday
Night Football," "The Voice"
phenomenon is yesterday's plus the Olympics and the Super
trash. Compared to "Scandal" Bowl every few years to keep it
's almost 10 million viewers per afloat, ABC lost "Monday Night
week, "Desperate Housewives" Football" years ago to sister-
was averaging upwards of 23 network ESPN, and has seen its
million viewers in its heyday, biggest reality competition hit,
with its season one finale cross- "Dancing with the Stars," fade.
ing the 30 million mark. This is And as long as its primetime
not to take away from "Scandal" slide continues, ABC could find
's phenomenal success, both crit- itself in an even worse situation
ically and commercially, but just than NBC. While all eyes have
to highlight the changing nature been on the Peacock for years,
of broadcast television. It's going it's ABC who could soon find
to take a lot more than "Scandal" itself under the microscope.

CO MM U N ITY C U LTU RE NOT EBOO K
'Instant Narrative' puts
museum goers on display

LITERATURE NOTEBOOK
A fan's case for the classics

By GIANCARLO BUONOMO
Senior Arts Editor
For many students, it seems
that their major is simply ameans
by which to do something - and
maybe not much more than a job.
Many biology majors plan on
attending medical school, many
Ross students want to enter the
business world, and so on and
so forth to the point that you
can almost predict someone's
career based on what they study.
But classics? Studying Ancient
Greek and Latin? Why the hell
would you want to do that? I'm
a Comparative Literature major,
and much of the subject's course
material involves the classics.
I often get asked why I study
them, and to be honest, have
even asked myself the same
question. Well, I've come up
with an answer; I study classics
because I like them.
I'll start by addressing some
of the "practical" reasons that
are given for studying classics.
First, my absolute favorite; the
old "study Latin if you want to
be a doctor because so many
medical terms are Latin," dic-
tum. I've never understood the
logic behind this, yet it seems to
be included in any exhortation
to study Latin. All I'll say is that
this makes as much sense as tell-
ing someone to brush up on their
Spanish before atrip to Chipotle.
Then, there is the slightly
more tolerable idea that studying
Greek and Latin helps your ana-
lytical skills. Unlike the former,
this is actually true; taking a
sentence from Plato's Apology of
Socrates and keeping track of the
articles and pronouns - while

trying
- doe
power
sharpn
word p
suffice
So,
cal" r
classic
What';
selves,
manyc
main r
whilet
becaus
effecti
a disti
a body
must
re
from t
of the1
and pe
ens, w
comple
others
we not
oeuvre
drafts,
ing to
know t
author
you as
work m
ily mea
surabli
culture
I do
that y
sics s

to find the finite verb works of literature, because the
as sharpen some mental classics themselves are (for the
s. However, if it's mental most part) great works of litera-
aess that you desire, cross- ture. Seldom will you find a book
uzzles and sudoku should that describes warfare as well
. as Homer's Iliad. On the light-
what's left if the "practi- er side, do you remember the
easons for studying the gimp scene in "Pulp Fiction?"
s aren't, well, practical? An eerily similar scene happens
s left is the classics them- in Petronius' Satyricon, a work
and there aren't that almost unrivaled in its lewdness.
of them. This is one of the Admittedly, much of the
easons I think it's worth- power of classical texts gets lost
to study the classics - not in translation, and so it might be
e it would be more time- worth your time to learn Greek
ve, but because there is and Latin. But they take years
nct pleasure in studying to master, and require regu-
of literature where you lar work to maintain. Reading
accept some limitations translations is better than not
reading them at all, and every
semester the University offers
several courses where you read
Plato is still classical texts in translation.
So at the very least, take one of
levant today those.
Original or translation,
though, there remains the
dreaded question, which I've
he start. For example, out heard asked countless times:
hundreds of plays written after 2,000 years, is there any-
rformed in Classical Ath- thing left to say about the clas-
e only have a little over 40 sics? And yes, I'll admit that if
ete texts and fragments of there was some secret code in
. With modern authors, Oedipus Rex or the Aeneid, some-
only have their complete one would have found it by now.
, but also interviews, But a classical text isn't a jar of
journals etc. It's refresh- "meaning" whose sides must be
sit down with a text and scraped bare. Susan Sontag once
that out of everything this wrote that "the function of criti-
'produced, this is all that cism should be to show how it
nd everyone else have to is what it is, even that it is what
vith, and yet from this eas- it is, rather than to show what
asurable canon, an immea- it means." And for each indi-
e influence on western vidual reader, from antiquity to
e has taken place. the present, how the classics are
nt want to give the idea what they are, and why they are
ou should read the clas- meaningful, has and always will
lely to understand later be different.

By REBECCA GODWYN
Daily Arts Writer
At their core, art museums are
largely impersonal. Unless a visi-
tor feels particularly connected
to a piece of artwork, it'svery easy
to feel disconnected - and over-
whelmed by the vast collection of
paintings and sculptures that line
the walls. But what happens when
the visitor becomes the art?
The University of Michi-
gan Museum of Art (UMMA)
attempts to answer this question
with its new exhibit "Instant Nar-
rative" by Dora Garcia, running
through April 27. The exhibit is
part of a larger showcase called
"Affecting the Audience." The
point of "Instant Narrative" is to
have someone write a continu-
ous narrative in real time about
the museum visitors, thus making
each person the subject of the art.
The story is then projected into
the gallery space for everyone to
read.
As a writer, I was intrigued to
see how individuals would react
once theylearned they were being
watched.
I mentioned the exhibit to a
couple friends and theyexpressed
interest, so when I decided to go
severalofthemtagged along.From
the moment I entered through the
front doors, I'd become a part of
the exhibit. The story was pro-
jected onto a blank wall making it
impossible to miss and on it were
the remnants ofafdifferentstory -
a story that I wasn't a part of, not
yet anyway.
In the corner, tucked behind
the doors and out of immediate
sight to the visitors, sat a young
man at his computer. To those not
aware of the exhibit, he appeared
to be just a student working on a
paperor aproject, but Ididn'tmiss

his wat
tive eye
He had
charact
thinkin;
write.
My fi
on a b
projecte
the rest
jacket,s
down,
attentio
reading
describi
who ha
Accordi
girls ha
and ha
her pho
small sc
I
ex]
for
e
Even
talking
seeingt
the wa
Knowin
movem
me tak(
at my p
other f
Seeing I
ions ab
ness an
the clo
weirder
I was
control.
doing

chful gaze or his inquisi- things, in essence dictating where
s as he scanned our party. thestorywouldgoand what would
just been given two new be written. Or I could remain an
ers and I could see him observer, opening myself up to
g about what he wanted to being imagined and described in
whatever way the author saw fit.
riend and I went and sat I chose the latter, because I knew
ench, directly facing the that at some point new characters
;d screen, as we waited for would enter the story and they
of our group. I took off my would take the author's focus.
set my dripping umbrella The other members of our
and finally focused my group finally arrived and as
n on the screen and began expected, they took the focus
several new sentences of the ever-changing story. I
ng two attractive girls explained to them what was hap-
d just entered the museum. pening and they joined our bench
ngto the screen, one of the so they too could watch the story
d taken off her blue jacket unfold before them. But as I
d immediately pulled out looked around, I realized on this
ne andbegan scanningthe rainy afternoon there weren't
'reen. many people in the museum and
I soon became very much aware
that every noise we made, every
" movement, was up for grabs.
nnovative Soon, however, another man
hibit makes entered and he began wildly
swinging his coat around. It was
a dynam ic obvious he knew what the point
of the exhibit was and had chosen
XperienCe to manipulate it to his own enjoy-
ment. He paused at the end of his
little outburst and watched the
screen gleefully to see the result
The author didn't disappoint -
though I knew he was there's no way he could ignore
about my friend and me, such an act - and after the man
the words projected onto saw himself on the screen, he was
ill was beyond uncanny. content and continued on hisway.
g that he had followed my After a while, my group grew
ents to the bench, watched tired of the story. But even as we
e off my jacket and look left, the story continued on. The
hone to check where my exhibit has a chance to be quite
riends were was weird. wonderful, given an audience and
him add in his own opin- a set of excellent writers. And even
out my level of attractive- though it was strange seeing my
d what he thought about life written down as I was living it,
thes I was wearing was I still enjoyedthe experience quite
r. abit. Anyone who wants a chance
at once vulnerable and in to direct his or her own story
If I wanted, I could begin should visit the exhibit - I highly
outrageous and bizarre recommend it.

I

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