Friday, December 16, 2016

Show Notes For HMOTD 034: The Lady From Chicago

2:00 "...hear me roar!" Can we call Helen Reddy's 1971 "I Am Woman" the pop culture equivalent for women to James Brown's 1968 "Say It Loud – I'm Black And I'm Proud" for African-Americans? Reddy's song was released in 1971 but it wasn't until it was used over the closing credits of a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 1972 comedy film Stand Up And Be Counted and re-released as a single that it entered the popular imagination. By winter of 1972, it was a #1 hit and an anthem for the women's lib/feminist movement in America. So by 1981, its somewhat square aesthetic is automatically associated with a certain brand of feminist activism from the previous decade, and it can be used as the title to a sitcom episode with no explanation on its context... and maybe a tiny bit of implicit commentary on Bailey's brand of activism being outdated?

3:05 "Pseu...donymous?" Hey, I'm not going to pull a Les on the air if I can avoid it. How many times have you said "pseudonymous" out loud, hmm?

[Rob: My mnemonic here is "Pseudonymous Bosch," one of my daughter's favorite authors.]

7:45 Victim-blaming: The point about blaming Jennifer being awfully close to blaming Joan is an excellent one by Rob. In speaking from Jennifer's perspective, I may have given the impression that I thought Joan's abuse was Jennifer's fault, and nothing could be further from the truth.

8:35 Battered women's center: From my own personal childhood memories of TV and movies, the 1980s is when awareness of the issue that was then called "battered women," and what is now more sensitively called "domestic violence," began to rise. The Burning Bed, a 1984 TV movie dramatization of the Francine Hughes case starring Farrah Fawcett-Majors, was a signal event in television history and a huge ratings bonanza for NBC. It raised awareness, but was also slightly sensational and exploitative, which seems to be par for the course for these kind of issue TV movies in the '80s.

9:20 The first half of the episode: It really is unfortunate that this episode takes the left turn it does, because otherwise I'd say this episode sits in a mid-to-top tier in WKRP as far as comedic content is concerned, probably because of how "modern" the editing feels (which we talk about at about 14:15 and onwards).

11:58 "The fact that it's Herb's idea..." I really wish we'd explored further the idea of advice shows being exploitative, and specifically exploitative socially and economically. It gets me thinking of the vogue for "talk shows" on TV, the line that Phil Donahue started in the 1970s that expanded into Oprah, Sally, Geraldo, Maury, and yes, former Mayor Jerry Springer in the '80s and beyond. What began as a way for the public to meet with people and confront issues they might not ordinarily encounter, ended as sensationalist schlock which, most of the time, expressly exploited the working class and pushed controversy and staged conflict as a way to get ratings. There's another '70s/'80s hinge argument to be made here, I think.

13:00 et subseq."You want me to need you." Ugh. So bad, so creepy. It really sucks to hear the Big Guy so oblivious to Jennifer's emotional needs. But, as we talk about throughout this episode of the podcast in both episodes of WKRP, while it's not entirely unexpected given Arthur's character and the state of male emotional intelligence at this point in history (and yes, probably still), it still sucks to hear the decent, kind Big Guy be so presumptuous when it comes to women's roles and agency in both Jennifer and Bailey.

17:22 Emotional labor: It won't take much for you to search the web for thinkpieces on this concept of emotional labor. This Guardian piece is pretty good, as it explores the greater sociological impact of women being "naturally" associated with emotional labor, which is really at the root of the whole problem, given patriarchal society's belief that such "natural" tendencies are not worthy of financial renumeration.

[Rob: And here's a piece making my point about women in academia doing all the "service" work. This is certainly true where I work, though I have always tried to do my share of the metaphorical dishes. The "administration" post (clever euphemism) I just stepped down from was in fact about 75% emotional labor.]

19:50 "I forget which episode." It was when we covered "Most Improved Station," the last time the station needed a good dose of emotional labor. Who solved the problem in that episode? Jennifer, of course, by expressly and explicitly making the station feel like a "family."

22:08 "Men's rights," Elliot Rodger, and men emotionally supporting men: This piece and this piece were both just so important for me in understanding why we as men can't constantly go to women for emotional support, especially when it comes to when women are hurting terribly. If you're a guy, and you want to be helpful to women in navigating these issues and taking some of that burden away? Read that article. And share it. And talk to your guy friends about your feelings. I know it's hard. I know I haven't done what I committed to do 3 years ago. It's a constant struggle.

25:25 Finding some laughter: We talked about the downbeat trajectory of Season 3 WKRP in our Monday Post.

30:40 Miss Lonelyhearts: There really is nothing new under the sun, is there? The social and economic dislocation people were feeling in the late '20s/early '30s is actually super reminiscent of the '70s/'80s... and the mid-'10s, now that I think about it. And of course I was reminded by the debut of Season 2 of the TV adaptation of The Man In The High Castle that Miss Lonelyhearts plays a role in Philip K. Dick's 1963 novel.

31:35 Ann Landers and Dear Abby: Original Ann Landers Ruth Crowley gave way, Arlene Allen-style, to Eppie Lederer in 1955. Eppie's twin sister Pauline Phillips took on the moniker Dear Abby in 1956. Interestingly, the sisters were first-generation Jewish-Americans who grew up in the likely very white Sioux City, Iowa in the '10s and '20s.

Also, we didn't get into advice radio and TV show hosts like Dr. Ruth, Dr. Laura, Dr. Drew and Dr. Phil in this episode, which was probably a tiny bit of a misstep on our part. Suffice to say that the plot of "Ask Jennifer" exposes the benefits and faults of trusting people in media for advice pretty well on its own.

35:57 Talk Radio: Man, how many edgy shock jocks in the '90s used this bit from the Talk Radio trailer? I also watched Talk Radio in college, and it had a profound effect on me. It's a fantastic movie, Eric Bogosian's signal achievement, and it's more pertinent than ever today. "WKRP. Now why don't they make more of 'em?"

40:44 "I have big business for LUNCH... We need a plan, we need to ORGANIZE." No comment here. I just wanted to see those words in bold type.

42:45 How the team gets onboard: Our discussion of fraternal organizations, the third space, and social capital is in one of our finest episodes, HMOTD 007: Nowhere Band.

44:40 Scollay Square: There is no greater representative of Dirty Old Boston than the final years of Scollay Square before the construction of the Central Artery and City Hall Plaza, two projects that cut the very beating heart from old-time Boston.

45:15 "What's in an Old Fashioned?" Tragically, I forgot that an Old Fashioned is whiskey, Angostura bitters, sugar, and water, with an orange peel and a cherry. Simple, classic, over a hundred years old and already "old fashioned" then.

46:40 "The intelligent man always fights for the lost cause..." Jotting #30 from e.e. cummings.

48:33 Tanner '88: Probably due a rewatch and reassessment. Sometimes I think Robert Altman's most underrated period of creativity was the 1980s. Secret Honor, Tanner '88, the hidden gem of Streamers and the weirdo alternate-universe '80s teen comedy O.C. and Stiggs. Er, we'll leave out Popeye.

50:39 "...and of course Jennifer can have whatever she wants." Hah, Gordon Jump just sort of sneaks this in. Beautiful.

55:45 Losing activist fervor from the '60s to the '80s: I'll just mention two things here that we've mentioned before: our hippie-to-yuppie conversation from HMOTD 014: We Don't Know Any Chad, and this delightful and somewhat sad article from Howard Hesseman's Head of the Class years about his newfound yuppie-dom in the '80s. "I’ve become the person I used to make a meager living satirizing." Ouch.

57:25 Bailey's monologue: My heart breaks. Just listen to it. And I'm somewhat a fan of Brutalism!

59:42 "The Big Guy is showing his patriarchal ass in this pair of episodes." Surely, the best turn of phrase I have ever coined during this podcast.

1:07:37 "Save the Union Terminal": First of all, here's Jerry Springer's immortal 1973 single, "Save the Union Terminal." It'll catch right in your brain. And here's a quick-hit piece on Jerry Springer's activist efforts.

Here's the site for the Cincinnati Museum Center, which is undergoing more restoration right now as part of the ongoing Union Terminal building work. If you'd like to contribute, you can help Save the Hall of Justice!

And speaking of the Hall of Justice, the reason why the Superfriends' HQ was inside the Union Terminal? Is the same reason why the Bradys went to Kings Island... the long 1970s tentacles of the Taft family and Taft Broadcasting. Who were bought out in 1999 by? Clear Channel/iHeart Media, who we discussed in HMOTD 025. Wow.

1:13:00: "...the wild and woolly real estate market of 1980s Manhattan." If you have 3 hours to spare, please watch Adam Curtis's new film HyperNormalisation, which features the New York City of the Hinge Years as crucial to understanding how finance has us all in its grip in 2016. You should also watch his All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace if you liked our discussions of Cold War technocracy, the counter-culture, and places like Esalen.

1:14:04 "I went to the public library to try to make sense of all the madness. The place was boarded up!" Again, no comment necessary. I still remember the original timeline, too, Doc.

1 comment:

  1. This episode made me think of the story of the old Cinci library book stacks. The sad story has been well documented: