Wednesday, April 8, 2015

HMOTD 002: Scum of the Earth

Mike and Rob unpack WKRP in Cincinnati episodes 3 and 4, “Les on a Ledge” and “Hoodlum Rock.” Discussed: gender panic, hilarious suicide attempts of the 1970s, unconvincing rock star debauchery, and the punk rock car.
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  1. See, now I need to go back and carefully review "Les on the Ledge," because I'm 99% sure that he never actually denies being gay.

    It's not impossible I'm mistaken, but I was listening for it. Other people assure him they know he isn't gay, and he doesn't correct them. But he doesn't say "the truth is that I am not gay." What he says that the truth doesn't matter, that what matters is his reputation.

    1. There *is* ambiguity in Les's reaction and denial/non-denial; I rewatched pieces this morning looking for good screenshots for our Friday post. His reaction to being "outed" is so negative and its subsequent "black mark" on his reputation is so strong that it's easy to miss that he never out-and-out denies he is gay. He says, "Does that even matter, people think what they want to think. When this gets out, the truth won't make any difference." It's interesting and very easy for us to read as a desperate denial when it's really more a reaction to the rumormongering.

    2. As a fan of Community, I always feel it's important to consider the context and intentions of the showrunners, and I don't think there's any deliberate signal within the episode that Les is, in fact, gay, and that that's something that went over everybody's head. The audience is clearly intended to infer that the accusation is a false one, but on the other hand it seems super unlikely that it's mere chance in the writers' room and the editing bay that resulted in the lack of a firm denial from Les.

      I can't be bothered to track it down now, but somewhere on the internet there's a convincing article with some clips from TOS about how a couple of Kirk-Spock interactions were tilted to suggest that their relationship wasn't purely platonic. A couple of interactions out of the hundreds across the course of the series, and only noticeable if you were looking for them (much like Les's non-denial only jumps out if you're looking for it), but still, almost certainly not there by 100% accident.

  2. Re: Scum of the Earth and not being threatening. Dumping a salad on one's head is silly, and not threatening.

    But these guys had also tossed the promoter out of a moving car, set fire to the broadcast booth, and thrown a waiter out of a hotel room.window.

    "What floor are we on?"

    "The first floor."