Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Suicidal zombies and science fiction saviours.

The first frenetic day of term! I always need a walkman to drown out the chatter: today, the CD of R. Crumb’s banjo music from this fine book (my new Bible don’t you know) and a Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band Cd I don’t have from the library. It was a day of ‘attending’* 3 meetings, teaching 2 classes and giving 1 paper, all on 2 hours of sleep, an equation for much pale-faced grumpiness and demented phasing in and out of conscious existence like some sort of suicidal zombie. The first bit of fun for the day was a student who asks me where my office* is and what my office hours are!. I just smiled with incredulity and told him. The Jimmny inner monologue went: "So, I’ve been sitting in a wee room from 11-1 every Tuesday for the last term, staring into space, hoping that some of my students would come by, ask me a question thus making this voluntary act of education all the more worthwhile, and at the last class you want to fucking talk to me—to ask about top tips for exams no doubt, my top tip...read some fucking books!".

Surprisingly, the bad classes just underline the real love I have for my subject--yes, even despite my procrastination tactics, which this weekend involved watching films and shows I had bought here**: The Independent & Wet Hot American Summer on one disc for £1! (both pretty good for 50p each!), and Gen X Cops II and Sworn to Justice, same deal (I would have felt ripped off if I paid 2p for this crap), oh and a video of Cleopatra 2525, just because Gina Torres is in it, one of the reasons that I love Firefly so much. A reason the Badbrute clocked right away, he knows me so well, for his sins.

Anyway, I taught TV studies class on cult TV and Buffy today. Here’s a wee example of the an indicative intellectual exchange:

Me (hapless earnest goon): Had everyone seen Buffy before yesterday’s screening?.
One Girl: No I hadn’t.
Me: well, what did you think?
Girl: S’alright.
[end of intellectual conversation, Vicky Pollard eat your heart out]

I was trying to apply this to my own era of cult TV, if I was in a class ten years ago that discussed Quantum Leap, you wouldn’t have been able shut me up, and still can’t—I have subjected more than a few to my theories on Quantum Leap. Apart from superheroes, my other great love is time travel and parallel dimension movies. I attribute this not only to my childhood love of dinosaur movies and The Time Machine but also to the first media studies essay I ever wrote, on La Jetée, one of the best films ever made, with lines that will haunt me forever. Science fiction ideas always keep me going, for every moment of poverty, despair or loneliness one endures there is a previous self amazed and what could happen and a future self laughing about the good old days. These two feckers ensure an existence. For every 'you' that got to work safely today, there's another 'you' in a parallel dimension that got run over (maybe)...by a big dinosaur driving a big Wellsian time machine..(also, maybe).

Don’t worry, there'll be more perverse prurience soon no doubt. As the great Bill Hicks said: "there’ll be more dick jokes coming soon, we pull our chutes and float down to dick joke island together, OK? And we will rest our weary heads against the big, purple, thick-veined trunks of dick jokes."

*I say my office but it is shared with about 10 other associate tutors so it’s my office for about 2-3 hours a week, I should really put up some dodgy superhero posters.

**Christ! I don't know what's sadder, actually buying audio visual entertainment in Poundworld, or actually confessing this fact.


Caddy Powers Jr said...

Ahhh Quantum Leap. Great show. Still remember the pain of the 'I got a leap left for Al'line and that last caption on screen in the final episode.

I know it can cause some controversy among some Sci-Fi fans cause of its perceived right wingness. But in my book even if you do think that it doesn't change the fact that the show was excellent.

BTW do you teach QL too in cult TV? That would be so cool ... as would a few classes on the Prisoner just to teach these young ones a real lesson.

Lorcy said...

Maybe some day I'll get to teach/create a cult tv course, I'm teaching an Intro to TV Studies module and it was just one week on cult tv. I did manage to show them some Prisoner earlier in the course though, as it is one of my favorite shows--and they need to see it, they can't even remember the X-Files!.

laura said...


would you teach a course on comedy shows with a cult following? i would love to take a class that examined and deconstructed the ideas and methods employed in such shows like "in living color", "the upright citizen's brigade", "reno 911!", and the eddie murphy years of "saturday night live".

i would love to read about a treatise on the idea of humor and what forms our idea of what humor is. it is a very imprecise art form, and most people would rather study and analyze drama, neglecting to acknowledge that comedy is one of the most difficult and elusive arts to practice and perform. timing is an instinct that must be honed and applied liberally, with no set rules on how to execute properly.

but hey--i loved quantum leap too. i like that the main character was forced to experience life in the physical shell he happened to jump into at the time.

Lorcy said...

Hiya Laura,

Actually a friend of mine does teach a sitcom course here, but yep it would great to teach more stuff on comedy generally, including the perverse comedy of weird sketch shows like Chris Morris's Jam and the uncomfortable sitcom Peep Show.

Speaking of Saturday Night Live, I saw the Christopher Walken sketch where he's Bruce Dickinson producing 'Don't Fear the Reaper' with Will Ferrell on cowbell, I can't stop laughing at the lines:

"FELLAS...take it easy...I put on my pants...just like you...one leg at a time...but when they're on I make gold records"

"FELLAS...it was soundin' great but..I coulda...used a little more cowBELL"

"Guess what! I gotta FEVER...an' the only prescription is more Cowbell"

I'm a man of simple pleasures...

Caddy Powers Jr said...

Any sitcom course must included the only new sitcom in the last ten years I've fully backed: Spaced.

Genius. Pure Genius.

Also the fact that people have fogotten the X-Files ... bar first two seasons and the Darren Morgen episodes and maybe a few others ... no bad thing.