Monday News: TV becomes more like books, “labia lipstick” WTF, writing Les Mis, and Little Golden Books birthday
How watching a TV show has become more like reading a book – I can’t be the only one who has replaced some reading time with binging on television series. You cannot really control for individual speed with TV watching, but the idea of binge-watching as commensurate with reading makes a lot of sense, and the fact that it has resuscitated many older television shows and movies suggests yet another form of competition for our entertainment dollars and allocated hours. The lure of being able to complete an entire story in a condensed timeframe, along with the synesthetic appeal of visual media may also make it more, rather than less, difficult to innovate with enhanced content digital books.
Binge-watching has been around long enough to be an American institution, according to 2016 data from consulting company Deloitte, which reported that 70 percent of TV viewers now binge-watch shows. In that way, says Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, TV shows are consumed now like books – stop and start whenever you please and, in the case of watching an old show, know a conclusion is coming when you want it.
That shift in audience consumption creates new longevity – a.k.a. classics in the book industry – for shows that ended years ago on broadcast or cable TV. There’s now a deep archive – or library – of old TV programs instantly available. And it doesn’t matter to viewers that “The Sopranos” or “The Wire” hasn’t been on the air for years and that there are no signs of revival or new installments in a series. – Christian Science Monitor
This ‘Labia Lipstick’ to Glue You Shut During Your Period Is Absurd – It’s difficult to discern the best (aka the worst) aspect of this story, but it may be the inventor’s disbelief that he is being criticized for his PATENTED-without-actual-testing (WTF, feds?!?!) “lipstick.” I don’t know why I’m surprised, given the unbelievably slow and kind of horrifying history of the tampon, but I am. Beyond the health risks, body shaming, anatomical and historical ignorance, and offensiveness of the name (Mensez), the Kansas chiropractor who had this brilliant idea is clearly winning the admiration of many women around the world (not):
[Dan] Dopps says he’s worked on the product for years, noting that several manufacturers have expressed interest. He also created a Facebook page that has now been removed after it fielded plenty of negative comments.
“Yes, I am a man and you as a woman should have come up with a better solution then diapers and plugs, but you didn’t,” read a remark from the now-unavailable Mensez Facebook account, per The Wichita Eagle. “Reason being women are focused on and distracted by your period 25% of the time, making them far less productive [than] they could be.” – SELF
How Victor Hugo came to write “Les Misérables”, his magnum opus – Interesting coverage of a new book on Hugo’s writing of Les Miserables, including it’s incredible size, lengthy time in development, composition, and printing, and its reception. The book is David Bellos’s The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Miserables, and will be published in March. Yet another reminder that popular fiction is not an invention of the 20th century.
Around 65 film versions (the first in 1909) make “Les Misérables” the most frequently adapted novel of all time. The first stage musical opened in Philadelphia in January 1863. Since 1980 Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s operatic melodrama has been performed more than 53,000 times in 44 countries and 349 cities. Yet, from the outset, adapters and translators cherry-picked elements from their supersized source. British admirers had to wait until 2008 for a complete English text of the novel in the order in which the author had planned it to be read. Even to lovers of “Les Mis”, Hugo’s world-shaking blockbuster can feel like a lost continent. . . .
The editing and printing of the precious manuscript depended on the schedules of Queen Victoria’s Royal Mail and the Guernsey steamer timetables. In 1861 “the biggest deal in book history” saw Hugo paid the equivalent of 20 years of a bishop’s stipend: enough “to build a small railway”. By late 1862, the year of publication, Charles Wilbour’s English translation was reported to be “the largest order ever placed for a book in America.” – The Economist
‘The Poky Little Puppy’ And His Fellow Little Golden Books Are Turning 75 – Anyone remember these from childhood? Now published by Penguin Random House, Little Golden Books were originally just a quarter and had a distinctive gold design on the very thin binding. I haven’t seen one in at least a decade, and I wonder how the quality has changed. Anyone read the originals and then have their kids read the later editions?
Diane Muldrow, an editorial director at the current incarnation of Golden Books, says the publisher drew on two talented pools of artists: animators who wanted to leave the Disney studios and commercial artists fleeing the war in Europe. Teaming up with an equally creative team of writers, Muldrow says, they came up with a sophisticated product in a deceptively simple package.
“I think that sense of motion and wit — it really shines through the books,” says Muldrow. “When I think of these famous Little Golden Books — like Tawny Scrawny Lion, Scuffy the Tugboat, The Shy Little Kitten — these books have a wit to them, a slyness that I think was very rare at the time. It’s lasting.”
In the 1960s Golden Books drew criticism for their lack of racial diversity, and the creative teams behind the books worked to make them more inclusive. In the ’70s, Golden Books began getting some competition from inexpensive paperbacks; by the ’90s, the company went bankrupt. – NPR
The most mind boggling part about that glue, for me, is that I can’t figure out what he thinks would happen to the blood or how this would be different than a “plug.” (Ignoring that the “plug” absorbs stuff, because he clearly did not know that.)
I can’t get over the name, Mensez. Men says what exactly? This one needs to go onto the scrapheap and fast.
I don’t know what surprises me less, a man who doesn’t know a damn thing about menstruation, a chiropractor who doesn’t know a damn thing about a health issue, or a man who responds poorly to criticism from women about women’s health issues. He’ll probably run for office just to get revenge.
We’re just jealous we never thought of holding the blood in until it rots and we all die of sepsis.
I converted to menstrual cups a couple of years ago. They’re not problem-free (nothing is—even menopause has its drawbacks!), but I find them less internally irritating than tampons, at least.
Re patented: a patent is issued for original ideas. It gives inventors control over use of the idea. It doesn’t have anything to do with testing to see if the idea is safe or not.
tl;dr alert: Data mining discussion ahead. Certainly detailed and probably tedious.
Do better, Christian Science Monitor. First, the data are from 2015; the Variety article they link to is from 2016. Deloitte does this survey every year and the 2017 results haven’t been issued yet. Second, while I’m sure there are other binge-watchers like you, Robin, i.e., avid readers who have shifted some of their reading time to TV watching, I’m also sure that most of these people are just watching TV in a different way. Instead of having the networks decide their afternoon or evening or half-day of TV, they’re choosing from Netflix or Amazon or Hulu.
Here’s a link to Deloitte’s executive summary of their survey (you have to download the pdf linked on the right). The binge-watching data are on pp. 14-16. The 70 percent figure represents the number of respondents who said they binge-watched at least once a month. The numbers of people binge-watching once a week are stable at 31 percent from 2014 to 2015, with the growth across the two years coming from the rare bingers moving into the once-a-month category. The average number of episodes watched is reported as 5 (the range is 4-6 across age groups). In terms of bingeing, that’s the equivalent of watching a couple of football games on a Sunday. Actually, less than that, since football games take over 3 hours each.
On to what they binge on. Drama is the most watched category at 53 percent, with comedy next at 19 percent. If we split the reality TV show number (7 percent) in half, assuming some are watching hour-long shows and others half-hour shows, and we add the cooking show numbers to the half-hour slot, we get about a 60/40 split between hour and half-hour shows. So the 5-show average doesn’t mean 5 episodes of 1-hour (or 44 minute) shows per binge. It’s more like 60% 3.5-5 hours, 40% just under 2 hours. Now we’re looking at an evening’s TV-watching in the 70s, 80s and 90s (and probably most of the 21stC as well).
Now look at the “multitasking” data on p. 16. That’s where you see what else people are doing while they are binge-watching. And guess what. Most of them (more than 75 percent) are doing things unrelated to the show. They are surfing the internet, checking in on social media, texting, emailing, etc. etc. In other words, they mostly aren’t sitting there glued to The Wire (which they should be, it’s a fantastic show). They’re doing other stuff while keeping one eye and both ears on the screen. Just like the majority of TV-show watchers in any era.
So for the most part, for most people, bingeing on TV is not the new reading-a-book. It’s the same old watching TV, just with the choice made by the individual at a streaming site rather than a network over the air.
Last spring I had the opportunity to visit a display of original Little Golden Books art and read about the artists. I thought I was well grounded in the genre, but there were many, many titles I’d never heard of. I still have some of my originals and have shared many with my grandchildren. The books may be of another time, but the artistry is timeless.
I have great fondness for Little Golden Books and would love to see them available again. I also miss Classics Illustrated comics. I learned so much from those slim little “graphic novels”, and they inspired me to read many of the books they were sourcing–Jane Eyre, Ivanhoe, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Tale of Two Cities, Greek Mythology and more. I wish I could have them to use now with the children I tutor in reading.
@YotaArmai: Novelty is definitely one of the criteria for the issue of a patent, but if this is a utility patent (which would be my guess), it also has to be useful, which implies that it actually works. Honestly, this thing just raises my ire about the patent system in general.
@Variel: No effing kidding.
@Sunita: Thanks for the data dive! I can only speak for myself here, and in that regard, it’s not just about venue but about how I can watch an entire series at once. That change has altered my experience of television in a significant and substantive way, because it more closely mirrors the experience I have when reading a book. It’s not a precise correlation, of course, but since I’m the person who often waits to buy a book series until I can read it as a whole (or mostly), the immediate availability of a whole series or a whole season of a series has even changed what I watch, not just where and how. I think that might be incidental to your criticisms, but I just wanted to clarify re. what I connected to in the article.
Do you remember that teen boy internet troll who went viral a few months back for posting that women are dirty and disgusting, etc., for having periods at all; that they (we) should be able to control our bodies and “bladders”? This “Mensez” guy is kind of the adult version who wants to both shame and make a profit. How ignorant are males about menstruation and women’s bodies, anyway? Is the blood supposed to magically disappear while we’re glued shut? Along the lines of what Ren Benton said, he must also be ignorant about little things like, you know, sepsis.
On a much happier and less infuriating note: I had no idea about the Little Golden Books illustrators’ backgrounds. No wonder the artwork was so beautiful.
Golden Books are awesome. The new ones have kept the same timeless style and art, but the quality of the spine sucks. I have some from the 50’s and they can be read over and over. The new ones bend a bit easier, and the staples and glue only last a handful of years. That being said I love that they are reissuing some old rare titles.
Mendez…seriously? What an idiot!
@Janet: I can definitely see how a finished TV series can feel a bit like a finished book series, and if you prefer to wait until the series is finished then the similarities increase.
The US TV industry was later to the closed-ended series model than the UK market, which has shorter seasons and often fewer of them (either because the show wasn’t picked up for more seasons or the creators didn’t want to do more). So, for example, The original Office is 2 seasons and a Christmas special and that’s it. Also, there are more series with season arcs (Slings and Arrows, the fantastic Canadian show, is a great example). Of course we did that here (think Buffy and the Big Bad of the season, with the Monster-of-the-Week episodes sprinkled in alongside the arc), but we are more known for our endless meandering plotlines.
I still think TV is getting closer to watching a movie, or a movie series, in terms of story arc and time commitment, and I think the bingeing format is even more of a threat to books/reading than the usual video fare. The more people get used to watching narrative and being able to multi-task while doing it, the more reading will require a type of concentration that feels unfamiliar. Even more people will lose mastery of an important cognitive process, not to mention a way to develop powers of concentration.