On Reality TV and Being Broke

“If even college grads can’t make it in NYC, what chance do WE have!?”

I don’t make the money I used to. Yea I uh, I’ll just leave it at that. But what it’s meant for my media consumption is more reality TV and less fiction (or more TLC and less AMC). Especially fiction centering on people roughly my “peers”; the 30-something, big city, single-ish. Seeing them at bars, concerts, and dating; it’s kind of unbearable, because I can’t afford to do any of those things anymore. The solution: people-watching that doesn’t trigger any I-miss-my-old-life feelings. This includes the Amish (“Return to Amish“), long-haul shippers (“Shipping Wars“) and the little women of NYC (“Little Women: NY“). Oh and tugboat operators on Lake Michigan (I forgot the name of that one). Fiction that’s distant from my lifeworld – as Habermas might put it – like Downton Abbey still won’t do, because, to be embarrasingly candid, there’s still some measure of dramatic tension relating to sex and flirtation. I don’t need to be reminded of any of that. Right now, anyway. Pathetic? Yea. Sad? Mmhm. In any case reality TV also has the benefit of being a better window into real, actual phenomena, despite its obviously corrupted form. So that’s what reality TV has to do with being broke. As for being broke and watching TV generally, well that’s becoming Sociology 101. Poor people watch a lot more TV than their richer counterparts. But note the negative correlation between TV viewing and income appears to have more to do with educational background, for which income is increasingly a proxy. Poor educated people – think liberal arts majors who went to a ho-hum state school – are probably substituing the maintenance of a rad Tumblr page for Netflix more often than their neighbors in some soon-to-be-gentrified corner of America.

“Beyond Clueless”


That’s the title of a new-ish documentary, narrated by Fairuza Balk of Return to Oz and The Craft fame, about the high school experience as depicted in film. Funny thing is, there are no movies from the last ten years featured. In watching it yesterday, the most recent film I saw discussed was 2004’s Mean Girls.

Seems we’re deep into the age of teenagers as characters in fantasy and sci-fi flicks. But before they were werewolves, vampires and victims of dystopia, high-school age people were…high-schoolers.


Via economist Chris Dillow I discover this Guardian piece by George Monbiot claiming that,

There is an inverse relationship between utility and reward. The most lucrative, prestigious jobs tend to cause the greatest harm. The most useful workers tend to be paid least and treated worst.

He then gives the example of a home care worker to make his point. “See? Medical care is undervalued by society.” But according to a 2014 list of most prestigious jobs, doctor comes in first place. And of course it’s common knowledge that doctors make good money.

So much for Monbiot’s thesis, as it were.

(As for why home care workers don’t make much money, see Econ 101.)


In an Alternate Universe Progressives are…

…singing the praises of a diverse Silicon Valley. After all, Asian-Americans are greatly overrepresented there, which is a huge win for diversity when you consider that Asians – stretching from India to Korea – represent roughly half the world’s population. But as occurred to me while watching a Bloomberg TV segment in which Asian-Americans in Silicon Valley were mentioned as merely an afterthought to SV’s “diversity problem,” nobody much cares about this particular form of non-white representation. But it’s massive:


This gets to another point. Discussions of X race’s representation in X industry to make the point of (an implicitly unjust) racial disparity will often shift from general representation to e.g. representation among the leadership or executive class. And if that manages to make the numbers look OK, then references will be made to a firm’s user base (e.g. Twitter vis-a-vis African-Americans) to suggest bias, if percentages within company/without company aren’t roughly comparable.

I’m not sure if it’s the media’s basically negative orientation or progressives’ at work here. Likely “diversity” doesn’t mean what it appears to mean, taken at face value. One possibility for the prevailing narrative regarding Silicon Valley and diversity is the idea that capitalism and racism go hand-in-hand. While it doesn’t in fact work out this way in an age of globalization, the temptation to link a highly visible and well-heeled industry (or what PandoDaily calls “the new power”) to bigotry is too great for many a left-leaning journalist to resist.

Chris Rock on Israel

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This tweet from Chris Rock shows that the “dual loyalty” crowd doesn’t just encompass gold bugs and fans of Alex Jones. It’ll be interesting to see if and when the somewhat esoteric issue of US support for Israel becomes a big deal for the typical American (or what Mencken derisively referred to as the “booboisie”), for whom celebrity opinion matters much.

UPDATE: This is from a Chris Rock parody account, it turns out. Dar! I fucked up. But I’m keeping the post up as a reminder to be a little more discerning next time.