Deep truths you can discover in Andy Samberg videos by mattsteinglass

I have officially lost my mind: I am starting to perceive deep thematic arguments on political and emotional themes in Andy Samberg “Saturday Night Live” videos. First it was the relevance of “I Threw It On the Ground” to the health-care debate and the Tea Party movement — people so infuriated by the attempts of others to give them something nice that they could really use that they hurl it to the ground, taking the offer as an insult to their status as responsible adults and proclaiming “I ain’t a part of your system, man!”

Then it was the sequence at the end of “Like A Boss” where Samberg straight-up denies that he said he sucked his own dick — something he just said, with graphic representation, ninety seconds earlier. It occurred to me that the appropriate ending for this skit would be for the interviewer to ask: “Are you seriously going to sit there and deny that you said something to me which I heard with my own ears just ninety seconds ago? Because if you are, then you’re hired!”

And now it occurs to me that the sequence in “I Threw It On the Ground” in which Samberg protests “This ain’t my dad! This is a cell phone!” is actually a pretty authentic representation of society-wide angst over relationships that are increasingly mediated by technological go-betweens.

Like I said: I’m out of my mind. Time to go to sleep.


TV me by mattsteinglass
October 15, 2009, 11:18 am
Filed under: Environment, TV, Vietnam

I will be on PBS’s “Worldfocus” tonight (Thursday), reporting on improved cookstoves to fight global warming in Vietnam. The show airs in New York on WNET-13 from 6-6:30 pm, for other times in the US consult the website.

The piece is a 3-minute short I produced with the excellent documentary filmmaker Ted Burger, whose work on Buddhism in China is completely amazing and hopefully will be available on the internet soon.

Add: Direct link to the segment here.

Mad Men In A Good Place: How Did People Sound In 1963? | The New Republic by mattsteinglass
September 2, 2009, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, TV | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mad Men In A Good Place: How Did People Sound In 1963? | The New Republic.

John McWhorter is right that Peggy Olson’s line “I’m in a good place right now” is probably anachronistic, though I’d be curious to hear more about beatnik lingo of the late ’50s and early ’60s. But McWhorter is wrong about this:

In Sunday’s Mad Men episode, therefore, when Jennifer Crane gets up and takes her husband over the Drapers’ table saying “I want to” see how they are, crisply pronouncing want separately from to, it’s false. That woman, even with her poise and aggressive social aspirations, would have said wanna just as we all do when we are not reading from text or laying down an answering mcahine message. The want to would have been all the more unlikely from someone who had had a drink or two (especially the stiff ones still ordinary on Mad Men as opposed to today’s Chardonnay).

The clear pronunciation of the final “t” and the separation of the two words are exactly the way my mother talks. She grew up in the Bronx in the ’50s and would have been 21 in 1963. I’ve subsequently met other women who grew up working-class Jewish in New York in the ’50s, like Jennifer Crane, and many of them have exactly this deliberately crisp elocution. That’s because they wanted to sound like Audrey Hepburn. It’s aspirational pronunciation, and it is exactly what one would have expected to hear from someone like Jennifer Crane trying to fit in at a country-club dinner in 1963. (My mother also tried to teach me to pronounce the “h” in “whale”, to enunciate the “t” in “forty” rather than letting it slide to a “d”, and so forth.)

On the show, Roger, Don, and the other men are less crisp and artificial in their pronunciation than the women. And that’s right on, too. Men, like JFK and Robert S. McNamara (in the example McWhorter uses), didn’t have to be quite so careful about how they talked. Women did.