Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Questions

Getting you ready for another weekend of NFL playoffs (which I’m sure are a big whoop in the rest of the world), here are some Friday Questions.

Adam is up first.

When people have found out that you're a professional comedy writer, have they tended to do the feedback and criticism thing in real life? Telling you what would have made "Frasier" funnier, and sure everybody says this "MASH" episode is a classic but let me tell you what's wrong with it, and why couldn't you guys have made Carla a lesbian? Why the homophobia? And so on.

Sometimes when mingling with strangers I don’t tell them I’m a TV writer — for just the reasons you described.  I say I write tech manuals.  They drop the subject real quick. 

It is annoying when they offer suggestions on shows I’m on, but worse is they’ll give me suggestions or criticize shows I’m not associated with.  “Hey!  Why is BIG BANG THEORY lousy this year?”  “I don’t know.  I never worked on BIG BANG THEORY.”

But people generally are complimentary.  Or they’ll say, “I never watch MASH but my grandparents loved it.”  That gives me a real warm feeling.  

There have been occasions where people have given me spec scripts.  This even happened at a high school reunion.  

And when my father and I were making funeral arrangements for my grandmother the mortician pitched me a movie.  I should have said I was a tech writer that day.

msdemos asks:

In searching your name on IMDb Mr. Levine, I noticed that there are a number of "Ken Levine's" listed, each one differentiated with a consecutive Roman Numeral. Is there, or isn't there a rule that applies to individuals having the exact same name in the entertainment world......or no, is that something that some just do on their own in order to avoid confusion with others that may have the same name?

I hadn’t noticed that but I guess it’s to distinguish one Ken Levine from another.  What Roman Numeral am I?   Does my bio say I was emperor of Rome?  If not, who do we contact to add that to my listing?

Douglas Trapasso has a long question.

The vibe I get frequently through your blog is that "stuff" just simply had a higher inherent quality three or four decades ago it doesn't matter the category - music, movies, burgers, etc. Pre-Nixon crap at least -tried- harder to be decent compared to Y2K crap.

I'm in my late fifties now and falling into that same rabbit hole myself, maybe it's inevitable. Can -anything- brand new approach the first time you heard "Born to Run" or saw a production of "Hamlet" or the movie "Citizen Kane"?

Here's the question: Has this -always- been the feeling? Were your elders in the entertainment world when you came up equally dismissive of the generation behind them? And is that tension what ultimately fuels the best art/pop culture going forward?

I would say, to a certain extent, that it’s the same with every generation.  My parents hated my rock n’ roll, their parents probably hated their jitterbugging (and they were good jitterbuggers).  

I think every generation feels the best music ever is what was playing when they were in high school.  (And some generations would be wrong to think that.) 

As for movies and TV, will today’s fare stand the test of time the way some shows and films of the past have?   Will there be the equivalent of THE GODFATHER or BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI or CASABLANCA from this generation of filmmakers?  Only time will tell.

I don't know if there's a "tension" per se.  Each generation wants to make their own mark and that's the way it should be. 

If there is one difference between the current generation and those of the past (and I know this is a gross generalization), is that I get the sense this generation has little regard for what came before they were born.  Older generations — certainly mine (Pleistocene Era) — took great interest in the music, films, and TV of the past.  

There is so much amazing stuff out there.  But it might be in black-and-white, or it might not fit the PC standards of today so it’s dismissed.    

We boomers watched old movies.  We had to.  That’s all that was on TV.  But we loved them.  And we were introduced to worlds and artists we had never seen.  There’s a treasure trove of material just waiting to be discovered.  Treat yourself if you haven’t already.  

And finally, from DBenson:

Did Cheers ever consider bringing back Coach's daughter?

Not to my knowledge.  That episode with Coach’s daughter (played beautifully by Allyce Beasley) was a little gem.  And I think the feeling was we weren’t going to top it.  Plus, Allyce soon became a regular on MOONLIGHTING so I don’t think she would have even been available.  

What’s your Friday Question? 


Dave Dahl said...

Older coworker: I just don't get the appeal of Ryan Seacrest.
Me: That's what your parents said about Dick Clark.

ClioBC said...

Hi Ken - There are a whole wide swath of youtube videos out there of 20somethings and younger reacting to 'classic' music, TV, film, etc., and just looovving them. I also work with a lot of young 20somethings, and I can say from my experience, with respect to popular culture and art, most of them when made aware, are ENVIOUS of what other generations had, and wish they could find that for themselves now. That to me is the biggest difference with this latest generation - and it's something that I think all of us suffer from now: it is SO much harder to get out of the algorithm/mainstream. Think of all the hyperlocal scenes that would slowly build up into an alternative scene - all of those get blown up too soon into a worldwide viral TikTok phenomenon, and die on the vine. So, it's there -it's just harder and harder for anyone else to find/see it.

Michael said...

I have read comments regarding homophobia in "The Boys in the Bar". I was in my early 20's in 1983, and I remember the episode as very pivotal to my burgeoning understanding that gay people are just people trying to live their lives. I grew up in a very small town where 'gay=child molester'. Shows like Cheers helped me see the world differently. I guess my point is: one person's perceived homophobia is another person's door to empathy.

VincentS said...

I know that "warm feeling" all too well. I was speaking to a young lady about the original STAR TREK and she said she had never seen it but that her father was a big fan. Then she said, "William Shatner was middle-aged when he did the show, right?" I replied that he was in his mid-thirties and she said, "That's middle aged, isn't it?"

VincentS said...

The answer to the second question is that mainly applies to unionized actors. Actors in he performance unions do not want to be confused with actors with the exact same name so the actors who join unions with names of living unionized actors must either change their names (e.g. Michael Keaton's real name is Michael Douglas and Fanny Flagg's real name is Patricia Neal) or vary their names in some way, hence Michael "J." Fox, George "C" Scott, etc.

Darwin's Ghost said...

According to imdb, you are Ken Levine I.

How does it feel to be number 1?

There are seven altogether. Ken Levine VII produced something called
The Hawaiian Legends: Live in Concert.

Mitch said...

I'm sure you get a lot of stuff thrown at you. As a computer guy, I get a lot of stuff asked of me about computers (Hey, would you mind stopping by and seeing why my laptop is so slow? etc.). Back in the days when you could work on your own cars, mechanics got a lot of that too.

But a question like “Hey! Why is BIG BANG THEORY lousy this year?” is asking about your opinion of the show, doesn't seem so offensive. But if they follow it up with, "I've got a spec script that would improve the show, mind reading it, and then give it to them?" Then it is too far.

I think you should accept the spec scripts printed out, then you mix with wax and roll into a log. Makes a great fire starter. Directions are on the web.


Jonathan Weiss said...

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its Class of 2022 next week. Thankfully, this is Barry Bonds last shot at getting in - I find it humorous the BBWAA voters that are in favor of Bonds getting in are willing to overlook his cheating/steroid use but never had to deal with him as a player. At least half the reason he's received such poor HOF numbers is because of how much of an unmitigated jerk he was to the media. Did you cross paths with him? Any stories (I assume that since you spent a majority of your time in the AL, that he wasn't around a lot)?

Oliver said...

I get the sense this generation has little regard for what came before they were born.
Yeah, I sense that too, and I only just turned 50, so I acknowledge myself to be a youngster still. But my guess would be that it is the sheer amount of cultural stuff that you get today ANY MINUTE that amounts to such hights you can't climb over to have a look at stuff that was on in the 80s. or even before that! Every minute someone uploads 2,5 years worth of film or something on youtube alone - when do you ever come around to watch "Casablanca"?!

Jeff Boice said...

Wasn't just old movies on TV- there were the old Warner Brothers cartoons (pre 1948) that aired on the local station kiddie shows every weekday afternoon. Didn't realize until much later that the Termite Terrace writers lifted many gags straight from the popular radio shows of the time- Fibber McGee and Molly being a favorite. And all those popular 1940's songs- The Five O'Clock Whistles on the Blink! Then there were all the World War II references- with Adolf making an occasional appearance.

Craig Gustafson said...

ClioBC commented on the huge amount of YouTube videos showing young(ish) people watching older movies for the first time. I've gotten slightly addicted to these.

1. It's fascinating watching people viewing "Casablanca" for the first time and genuinely not knowing how it's going to turn out. And arguing about it.

2. It's interesting and a bit dismaying when they're watching "Airplane!" or "The Naked Gun," and not knowing the background or names of any of the actors. Robert Goulet appears - "I don't know who this is. Am I supposed to know who this is?" Once-topical jokes die a sad death. I want to suggest Laurel and Hardy or the Marx Brothers to them and see what happens.

Mibbitmaker said...

"Yes, Mr. Levine, you can list yourself as 'emperor of Rome', right here below where it says, 'tech writer'."

As a kid in the 1960s and early '70s, I loved watching the 3 Stooges and Laurel & Hardy, and even really enjoyed the (Hollywood)'30s-ness of them. I appreciated the World War II theme in the Stooges and Popeye cartoons (we didn't get non-colorized pre-1948 Looney Tunes until the '80s on cable and home video). There were reruns of recent fare like McHALE'S NAVY and HOGAN'S HEROES on in those days, after all. It's too bad a generation or two can't grasp earlier stuff than their own era... though there is hope on that front in ClioBC's comment.

Unknown said...

My kid is 18 and she definitely appreciates older media, books and plays including many from even from before my era. She loves Monty Python, "Singing in the Rain," "Casablanca," old Agatha Christie movies, the 1970s "Three Musketeers," the Colin Firth version of "Pride and Prejudice," and the original Austen, Shakespeare, "Princess Bride," "Buffy," "Star Trek Voyager," the Beatles, Stones, and all the great 1980s music and movies. We did prime her for the music by giving her our old cell phones already loaded with our music so she is a fan of AC/DC, U2 and REM. She complains why the modern Batman movies can't be like the 1960s tv version. (She hates grimdark.) She has been working her way through our suggestions such as "Terminator," "Alien," "Airplane," "Hunt for Red October," "Lost Boys," "Real Genius," "Dirty Dancing," "Star Gate," etc.
Do not despair--many just need to be exposed which is a good parent/aunt's job!

Unknown said...

My kid also has loved the Marx Brothers from a very early age. She never cared that it was in black and white.
Kathryn a Librarian

Buttermilk Sky said...

An undertaker pitching a movie while you're trying to arrange a funeral? Come on, that has to be a one-act play.

Michael said...

I'm a history professor. I specialize in 19th century US and the American West. But if I'm introduced to someone just as a history professor, the chances are good I'm going to get asked something like, "How did Hannibal cross the Alps?" I feel for you, Ken.

Jeff Boice, there's an incredible background to a lot of the gags. All of the directors loved silent movies and acknowledged their debt to Chaplin and Keaton. In the post-1948 world, Robert McKimson in particular liked to parody TV shows, and two stand out. One is a series about the "Honeymousers" that Jackie Gleason reportedly objected to, then saw it and fell in love with it. The other is "The Mouse That Jack Built." Through Mel Blanc's connections, they got Benny, Mary Livingstone, Don Wilson, and Rochester to do their own voices, and, for the punch line, filmed Benny at his house. Benny's requested payment: A copy of the cartoon.

Greg Ehrbar said...

"Consuming content" is just like consuming food or going on a trip. You can skip the steps and let someone else choose it and make it for you, or you can take the time and effort to look into various options that you will not only enjoy more but will open up possibilities you never realized. It's like touring Europe from a bus with a scripted spiel or visiting a film studio on a tram with created experiences or walking through it with someone who works there.

There is little excuse nowadays for checking around because of the internet and how it cross-references. Like you Ken, I loved all eras of entertainment as a kid and still do. I am diving into silent and foreign films lately and between TCM and HBOMax, there is a lot to see but I'm going to look into that Kanopy thing next. When you really have to focus on the titles and actions, you can't let your mind wander. That's called "interactive" viewing.

Everyone who reads your blog is like Yogi Bear (as if I have to remind anyone of his motto), so of course, we all go the extra mile and seek out more than we are spoon-fed. There will always be young people who do the same. The choices are vast, but the resources are easier to access. Mainstream will always capture the biggest numbers for better or worse, but it has to in order to supply the next batch of "content" (ugh, that dry word) for tomorrow's (yech, here comes another one) "portfolios."

thomas tucker said...

Maybe my kids, who are in college and high school, are unique, but they love older comedies like Midnight Run and Blazing Saddles. They also love 70's music and know the lyrics better than I do because speaker quality is so much better now than it was in the 70's! They even listen to Frank Sinatra. I'm glad I taught them something valuable.

Tom said...

I recall reading somewhere Allyce Beasley saying she barely worked for two years after her Cheers appearance until getting cast on Mooonlighting.

Ray said...

Let's Go Brandon!!!

VincentP said...

The huge number of reissues and box sets released on CD or DVD over the past several decades has helped younger people such as myself (once I actually was younger; now I'm 66) appreciate artists of the past, both in music and movies. Sony's work on Frank Sinatra's Columbia catalog from the '40s has illuminated this overlooked part of his career, and numerous pre-Code box sets has won the early '30s era a legion of fans who are surprised by the frankness of those films compared to post-Code output (after mid-1934).

Andrew said...

I had that experience watching CASABLANCA with my two daughters, who were mid-teenagers at the time. They had heard the name, but that was all. It was such a pleasure watching it with them, almost like it was a new movie. At the end, my older daughter's jaw dropped. "You mean... he doesn't go with her?" She almost cried. It was a beautiful moment, and led to a great family conversation about what truly matters in life.

Tim W. said...

Ken, it might hearten you to know my 17 year old daughter, as well as my 20 year old, to a lesser extent, loves music from seemingly every era since the 1950s. I joked with her one time while driving and listening to one of her Spotify playlists that anyone hearing it would assume it was mine.

Matt said...

I am a firm believer that each generations music and writing is pretty much the same as the past . A little is great, more is good, but most sucks.

The difference is how easy is it to get the great and the good to market.

Also movies might not be the same quality of writing as the past, but I think TV dramas over the last generation have never been better (I will not say the same thing for comedies.). And it is because the best writers have moved from writing The Godfather to writing the Sopranos. Game of Thrones was better than any fantasy movie for 6 seasons.

Matt said...

I was watching a Columba from the early 70s the other day (on Peacock, which is free) and it was directed by Nick Colasanto. I know you have mentioned that he had directed, but that was the first thing I had seen (unless he directed Cheers episodes). I thought it was cool.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Remember what I mentioned on another comment section recently this it seems like it's always the period of time between the tail-end of one year and the very beginning of the new year is when there seems to be the most significant celebrity deaths? Today serves as a reminder of this theory, as we've just lost two more familiar fixtures in the entertainment industry: one of the hardest rockers from the 70s, and a sad clown comedian of the 90s . . . I am speaking, of course, of Meat Loaf, and Louie Anderson. Apparently Louie had been battle cancer for a while, but there has been no cause of death released for Meat Loaf (though it's suspected to be COVID-related since, apparently, he was an anti-vaxxer).

Jahn Ghalt said...

Regarding music, films, and TV, Ken wrote:

I get the sense this generation has little regard for what came before they were born.

My "kids" (now 25 and 26) may be outliers. They both like "old" movies, TV, and popular music. One says they "feel sorry" for their friends who don't know the music they know (having dipped into the CD collection over the years). My daughter says she watched Gone With the Wind four times by the time she turned 13. Both shake their heads when I say I haven't seen Citizen Kane.

This generation can't remember a time when literally millions of songs were not available through various devices. They are doubtless distracted by the current explosion of new film/TV content.

None of this touches on YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, video games, etc. etc. etc.

It would be interesting to gauge the "little regard thesis" - with quizzes, surveys, and the like.

Jahn Ghalt said...

So many lovely comments about exceptions to the "little regard thesis" (which, nonethless, may actually "prove the rule").

Ken posted a reaction video to a Sinatra classic - about 2-3 years back. The "kid" was seriously impressed - and did at least one other video about another Sinatra song.

I sought out others. Perhaps the most notable was one about a young man, so impressed with movement one of LVB's Fifth Symphony, that he showed the goose bumps on his forearm to "prove it".

Call Me Mike said...

A few months back, I was talking to a neighbor about a groundhog I saw go under their house. Her teenage grandson jokingly said they need to give it a name, and of course I said "Phil."

"Yeah..." the grandson said, getting a distant look in his eyes, "like from that old movie, right?"

OLD movie! The pain! The pain!

But, credit where credit is due, he got the reference.

Charles H. Bryan said...

A possible Friday Question: How much more difficult is it to write dialogue for characters who have probably grown up hearing (and potentially having their own speech patterns and idioms being shaped by) TV characters? I think of Frasier and Niles, who very much went to their non-television cultural references and speaking styles.

Do you have to just pretend that haven't had that exposure or influence? Or do you find that television, despite how pervasive it is, hasn't really affected people's conversation all that much? (And, granted, there's a greater and greater likelihood that conversation is influenced by online sources.)


Mike Chimeri said...

"Don't miss our next tech manual..."

William C Bonner said...

I graduated high school in 1985, and most of my music purchases at the time were already on CD. (non-purchases were often tapes recorded from radio or friends libraries)

I have often thought about how going to digitally stored music that doesn't degrade changed music forever. The fact that most new music is streamed instead of locally owned is only a minor change, as long as it's all still available.

Albums go out of print, but if it's digital, a perfect copy can be made and duplicated as many times as you want. All of the analog media before degraded each time you copied it, or even each time you played it.

Steve said...

If I find out that someone is a Doctor I do tell them that I have a boil that I would like them to look at.

Unknown said...

A twenty year old student just told me yesterday that she is hanging on to her physical media. She already has figured out that a favorite movie or song can disappear on streaming platforms but if she owns it, it is hers to keep. The odd thing is that vinyl, high quality master sound tape, and film even have a longer shelf life than the plastic that CDs and DVDs are printed on. Disks may only last decades; the other formats can last a century. Digital can degrade even in the cloud,and sound, image, and movie files can be corrupted. I still have files on 5 inch floppies-it will be difficult to find a machine that can read them.
Paper is one of the most stable mediums. If acid free and stored in a dark, low humidity environment, it can last millennia.

Kathryn A Librarian

Mike Bloodworth said...

Why is "American Auto" so unfunny?
Just kidding. Well, only partially.

I think you're listed as #I because you're a La-vine and all the others are Le-veens.


Gary said...

As a certified old curmudgeon, one of the things that really bugs me is when a current recording artist breaks a sales record held by Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, or anybody from the pre-digital era.

In "my day" if you wanted to own a single or album, you had to save your money, drive to the store (or get your parents to drive you), buy it with actual money, then bring it home. That was a lot of effort, but nobody thought of it that way because we knew nothing else. So when a song or LP went gold or platinum then, it really meant something.

"Nowadays" all it takes to own music is a click. There's no effort required at all, so naturally sales of anything by any famous artist will instantly skyrocket. So there really is no comparison at all to the "good old days."

I've explained this to my adult children and they reluctantly agree. Thanks for letting me vent!

Randy @ WCG Comics said...

As someone mentioned, there is a LOT of content out there compared to when I was a kid and young adult, and way more channels and platforms. Not everyone is into pop culture as my immediate close friends and me, and I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone not being familiar with older music, films or tv shows; yes, it's fun and an opportunity to share and explain my enthusiasm for these things (if the other person seems receptive), but it's not a reason to feel smug or superior about it. Back in college in the 1980s, I remember our student union showing films like High Society, which played to a packed house...but that was a generation that had more of a shared sense of pop history with limited tv channels, not the high number of streaming services and other platforms that cater to different tastes and niches. There's plenty of great content being produced today and the older stuff is now accessible if you want to find it. But if I don't like something, I chalk it up to not being the target audience (after all, I'm no longer part of that desired demographic anymore!). There's way more choice and great content being produced. How I feel about something is on me. I've exposed and told my kids about some of my favorite things, but they also enjoy things that I don't appreciate or understand like they do--and that's fine and how it should be!

Ere I Saw Elba said...

I've used variants on the "I'm just a tech guy" thing for years when I don't want someone picking too deep into any creative issues. I mean, I actually am a tech guy, so call it a lie of omission.

As for the sparing use of guest characters on shows, I agree that it's wise just to use them once or twice, and once you've nailed them, just leave it for posterity.

Hey, by the way Ken, can I get your feedback on this new screenplay? What do you think about the latest Spider-man film? And why didn't you make Woody gay on CHEERS?...

ScarletNumber said...

There is more than one person who thinks Reverend Jim went on to be a showrunner on Frasier before co-creating Modern Family. They are not related, as the father of the latter was a sitcom writer who wrote the famous Chuckles the Clown episode of Mary Tyler Moore.

Darwin's Ghost said...

Ken, did you ever spin any Meat Loaf records back in your DJ days?

And did you ever meet Louie Anderson?

Hope you'll write something about them in the coming days.

Breadbaker said...

Germane to the comments on The Boys in the Bar, I think. Contestant on today's Wheel of Fortune has been a vegetarian her whole life. Instead of celebrating this, Pat Sajak keeps asking things like, "not even a hot dog?" He could have asked something like, "what's your favorite meal?" or said, "I'll bet you have really low cholesterol." Instead, his message was "you're a freak. Why don't you change to be like me." He's usually pretty gracious but this was tone deaf.

sanford said...

I am a few years older than you. It was a while before I started appreciating the music and movies that my parents watched. Of course that is not to say that I still think 60's music is still the best. Long after we are gone some some one will still be listening to the Beatles and others of the 60's

YEKIMI said...

Does my bio say I was emperor of Rome? If not, who do we contact to add that to my listing?

Julius Caesar. Although you'll have to use a Ouija board. Don't mix them up with Little Caesar, you'll just get a pizza from them.

Pat Reeder said...

I submitted this comment yesterday by cell phone, but apparently it didn't get through, so I'll try again, and sorry if it shows up twice:

When I saw this post, I had just finished reading an article that said 70% of the streams on major services were of "old" music, from Creedence to the Police. The top 200 most popular current songs accounted for only 5% of streams.

My wife is a Grammy voter, so I recently had to listen to what are considered the best "songs" of 2021. After that ordeal, I can readily understand why so many young people prefer the Beatles. My niece's favorite singer is Bing Crosby. Last year for Christmas, I paid to refurbish a 1920s floor model 78 rpm crank record player my late dad had originally restored and gave it to her family with a stack of 78s. She loves and plays it all the time. She says that now she has entertainment whenever there's a power failure.

This Christmas, I made memory sticks with about 500 of my digitized classic rock albums on them to give to all my nieces and nephews. I'm trying to impress on them not to depend on streaming services because unless you can hold your music in your hand, you don't own it, and it can be taken away or bowdlerized at any time.

msdemos said...


"I hadn’t noticed that but I guess it’s to distinguish one Ken Levine from another. What Roman Numeral am I? Does my bio say I was emperor of Rome? If not, who do we contact to add that to my listing?"

You're #I, my friend, and always will be! Thanks for giving me a laugh, and making my day !!


BGVA said...

I turn 40 this year. While I can appreciate the current stuff I still prefer the entertainment I grew up on in the 80s and 90s, although I always wished I could've grown up in the 70s. As I got older, I'd hear from current teens who wished they had grown up in the 90s, and now there's teens who wished they could've seen the 2000s. I guess it's all a cycle.

The thing about today's media is we're so oversaturated that nothing really stands out longer than a week; nothing is timeless. The newest Spiderman was big at nobody's talking about it anymore. Compare that to something like Independence Day or Titanic, which dominated the box office for the entire summer and winter respectively. Everything feels so forgettable nowadays...I couldn't even tell you who won what Emmy in the last decade.

Greg Ehrbar said...

According to USA Today, one of those pie charts they use shows that Disney+ viewers overwhelmingly watch classic Disney "content." The other programming was represented by slivers in comparison.

Just because you see certain recent properties and personalities constantly made visible "in your face" does not necessarily mean that there is not a substantial number of consumers who seek out what they choose anyway. True, there are numbers to support the popularity of such things, but rarely see numbers to see how the back catalog is doing when "return on investment" studies prove that archival materials sell with little or no marketing support. It's called "low lying fruit." The assumption is that people will seek them out anyway and the current initiatives are what get millions in visibility.

People are watching much more classic stuff than we might think, probably more than it is hoped we might think. That's why great stuff never seems to go away. It can't and won't because it outlasts current initiatives.

What I do not understand is that now, with the billions of losses over the past two years, has it dawned that a new business model that supports and adds visibility to BOTh the classic and new cannot co-exist. Maybe it has and it is under discussion, perhaps there is resistance--as if the clock will magically turn back to the way things were. Sometimes the answers are right in front of you and either you cannot see it, or someone is standing in front of it.

Peter said...

I offer succor. I am a college professor and a parent to a 15 year old. My girl has become an enormous fan of swing music (mostly due to Captain America, admittedly). She also has created eclectic playlists to celebrate things she loves like Halloween Horror nights at Universal. These are sometimes a musical survey of popular music from the 30s to today. And Stranger Things--surely quality television--introduced her to 80s pop, punk, and fashion.

As for my students, many of them are thoroughly familiar with classic rock and a fair sampling of entertainment from past generations. I am surprised by what they know. And also what they don't--many are blissfully unaware of politics and current events.

In terms of taste, they appear to appreciate great stuff, perhaps in ways my previous students (Gen X) often did not. I've shown them some short award-winning films, some very artsy, I have collected from the Internet. I have showed both Her and Ex Machina, to great appreciation.

In terms of what is being produced today, I do believe we have seen some amazing products in relatively recent years. For example: Breaking Bad/Let's Call Saul, Mad Men in drama; Kimmy Schmidt and Schitt's Creek in comedy; and for entertainments in fantasy and scifi, The Witcher, Carnival Row, The Man in the High Castle. I will add Enola Holmes as a feminist revisionist detective romp. That's a sampling of what comes to mind.

Bill said...

I'm late Gen X but I think people younger than me still appreciate older things. Just offhand, Golden Girls, Friends, Fleetwood Mac, and Queen are all very popular with people too young to have been fans of them when they came out.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

I think there may be a reaction to a surfeit of mediocrity, whether conscious or not. Audiences of all ages are more sophisticated from easy access to a wide spectrum of media and there's no basis for allegiance to any product just because it's new.

I know that during lockdown I've been catching up with a lot of great TV shows from the 80s and early 90s that I didn't watch when they were first broadcast because I was too busy with FT work, night classes, relationship, etc. I just wasn't in the TV-watching habit. But I loved going to double or triple features at movie revival houses. If I craved entertainment I was more likely to go out to the Golden Nugget (Chicago) for people watching at 1 am.

I've been watching Cagney & Lacey lately, what a great show that I never caught during its first broadcasts. Sharon Gless has a new book out now that I'm looking forward to reading.

Rob said...


Just finished a full MASH binge years after I regularly binged the three reruns aired daily on our local stations. I noticed in the episode where the 4077 is excited to get a copy of the "banned in Boston" Moon Is Blue, the soldier who gets them the movie (and is helped by Hawkeye's magic placebos) has a single labeled binder that says F-K. Since it's so easy to read and there isn't an A-E or L-Z, it appears that it might be its own little joke on the censors.

I'm curious if you ever snuck something into the background or had a little dirty joke that slipped by the censors.

D. McEwan said...

"ClioBC said...
Hi Ken - There are a whole wide swath of youtube videos out there of 20somethings and younger reacting to 'classic' music, TV, film, etc., and just looovving them."

This is a phenomenon I just blundered into a few days ago, young folks sitting listening, AMAZED, to classic entertainment. Last night I watched a pair of black (All the "Reactor videos" I've found on You tube feature black reactors) men in their late 20s watching Abbott & Costello (Clueless enough to introduce them as "Abbott and Cestallo") do "Who's on First." It absolutely kills them, and the taller one finds himself announcing "Third Base" in unison with Abbott each time the routine rounds the bases again, and then falling over laughing.

(I'd love to have a "Reactor" video of my late mother watching "Who's On First." When it would play, my dad and I would laugh, and Mother would look disgusted, and complain yet again, "How you can laugh at that MORONIC STUPIDITY is beyond me!" A video of her reacting to it would be a symphony of eye-rolls, disgusted looks, derisive snorts and interjections of "God, how STUPID!" watching my devout Christian Science mother calling some else "Stupid" was the endless irony of my growing up. She was The Black Hole of Calcutta calling a kettle "black.")

I recommend Shawn & Mel: (A black married couple. "Mel" is a woman) watch "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." They've clearly never heard a note of it before, nor know a thing about it. Everything about it is ASTOUNDING to them. Shawn is cute as a button and I enjoyed watching his big eyes practically pop out of his head with amazement at every musical change. (As opposed to another reactor I watched listen to that same song, whose take-away from the lyrics was "That lion sleeps wherever he wants, near the village, in the jungle, anywhere he wants.")

Dave Wrighteous said...

In regards to the generational question, I came up with something I call Youtheory, which is "Today's youth aren't stupid, but they don't know shit". And by that I mean anything said, done, written, acted, filmed or created before they were born. I believe that that willful ignorance of past culture stems from the information overload of today firing so much stuff at these folks faces there's no time to look backwards. With all the "OMG, did you binge this/that show yet?!?" stuff, who has time to go backwards and spend time on Casablanca or Citizen Kane or, God forbid, the commitment of time Lawrence of Arabia requires.

tavm said...

So today's generation will more likely see the "special editions" of the original Star Wars trilogy than the versions we knew when they were first released.

Bruce said...

I told people I worked in Waste Management. End of conversation.