Latest Posts

The 7 Blogging Rules I’m Always Breaking

Lately I’ve been thinking about all of the sort of universal blogging and social media marketing rules that I should be following, but don’t. The truth is, I break most of these rules despite knowing that they would surely improve my blog. But is Catch-all successful already? Well that depends on how you define success…

In almost every way you look at it, my blog isn’t successful. I’ve been working on it for years and it hasn’t taken off yet and may never. But that’s okay, because I like writing and blogging and for that reason I consider it a triumph in my own terms. Catch-all is a place where I can share my writing, thoughts, and photos, and people will either read, look at it, and share it, or they won’t. And that’s okay.

Though I’m still trying to figure out what the identity of this blog truly is and how to best support it, I’m also just enjoying the journey and not giving it much thought. But after working on this list it became clear that if I do ever want Catch-all to be more than it is right now, I need to get to work…or, uh, maybe just keep doing what I’m already doing? Like I said, it’s a journey so we’ll see.

7 Blogging Rule I’m Always Breaking:

1. Have a clear focus! 

The tagline for Catch-all is “film, television, pop culture, & nearly everything in-between,” and I feel like that last part is a bit of a cop-out because “nearly everything in-between” isn’t specific at all…and that seems to be where most of my posts fit in. Recently I’ve written about tech-anxiety, my frightening experience with a medication’s side-effects, and why listening to records is fun. I’m definitely not focused.

2. Know your audience!

With a blog as all over the place as mine is, how can I know my audience? I mean, I literally have no idea what Catch-all readers have in common other than the fact that they’re down to read about a variety of topics?

3. Be consistent!

Obviously I’m not consistent thematically, but I’ve been doing better about posting regularly and have decided that Tuesdays are my posting sweet spot. I may even add Friday’s into the mix soon too. Of course adding Friday posts would be me not being consistent, but again, that’s the trend here…

4. Engage with other blogs and bloggers!

I am so bad with engaging with other blogs and bloggers. Sorry guys, don’t take it personally! It’s just that I barely have enough time to work on my own blog right now, but I do know that I need to make an effort to engage, read, and share more of other people’s work.

5. Post multiple times per week!

Yeah, I’m only posting once a week right now, so I’m definitely not following most blogging advice posts, which recommend posting at least three times a week and ideally every day. There’s no way I have time for that, and I don’t think I even have enough to write about…

6. Be sure that your social brand is the same across all platforms!

Now this one is really difficult for me because I find that each platform suits a different approach and a different aspect of my personality. I’m recently back on Instagram (yeah, I mean you should at least consider following me) which I like to think of as a sort of photo archive, so I plan and post with intention. Twitter, on the other-hand (ooh follow me there too), is a bit more goofy and loose, and I’m pretty political as well. Honestly, I don’t even have a consistent “social brand” across all of my posts on Catch-all, which range from super casual like this one, to more academic or creative.

7. Set goals for your blog!

A lot of blogging advice sites recommend setting weekly, monthly, yearly, and even long-term goals for your blog, but I’ve never set goals and probably never will. If I were blogging as part of a bigger business, I absolutely see the necessity of setting goals. But with a blog like Catch-all – where I’m posting basically whatever’s on my mind each week – I can’t imagine what short-term or long-term goals would even look like. Thoughts?

__________

If you’re a blogger at any stage in the process, do you follow most of the go-to blogging rules? And if not, have you found that breaking them has helped you grow your voice or audience?

Calling All Vegans!

If you’re vegan and use YouTube as a resource for recipes and information, please reach out to me! I’m preparing to present on Veganism & YouTube at the Pop Culture Association and American Culture Association national conference in San Diego this April, and am looking for insight from vegans who include YouTube as part of their online community.

If that’s you, please respond to the following questions using the contact form below.

Be sure to include your name, age, gender (man, woman, or gender non-conforming), location, and how long you have been vegan. If you were vegetarian before becoming vegan, be sure to include the number of years you were vegetarian before transitioning.

  • Did watching a YouTuber or specific YouTube video influence your decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle? If so, what YouTube channels in particular?
  • How often do you consume vegan material on YouTube? What channels do you watch and why? What sort of content are these YouTubers providing for you (i.e. recipes, lifestyle tips, animal cruelty information)?
  • What other materials do you credit to influencing and sustaining your vegan lifestyle? Any particular books, magazines, bloggers, websites, organizations, or documentaries?
  • Do you have a strong vegan community in your personal life (friends, family, etc.) and are you involved in any vegan lifestyle or activist groups? Or, on the other-hand, do you not know any vegans in your personal life and live in a place where there is little opportunity to meet other vegans?

Thank you so much!

Watch Abha Dawesar’s TED Talk: “Life in the ‘Digital Now'”

I don’t often watch or listen to TED Talks, but when I happen across one while endlessly scrolling online or listening to NPR – like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” – they always seem to emerge at the perfect time in my life. And I love novelist Abha Dawesar’s “Life in the ‘Digital Now,'” not only because she’s brilliant and speaks to so much about our digital lives that I’ve been trying to grasp, but her talk came into my life at the exact moment I needed it.

I’m currently taking an entertainment business class at USC about digital technology and the entertainment industry. For the most part I thoroughly enjoy the course, but I wasn’t prepared for all of the focus on futurism and our likely destinies as tech-obsessed individuals and societies. Taking this class has made me realize that talk of a hyper-technological reality is personally anxiety inducing. And visions of a world filled with AR, VR, and AI are absolutely terrifying. I may be typing this blog post using WordPress on my laptop, and I have tons of tabs open for Gmail, The New York Times, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Outlook (seriously, I have that many tabs open), but I’d still describe myself as somewhat tech-averse. Technology absolutely shapes my daily life and is something I feel grateful to have access to in its many forms, but thinking about wearing Google Glass and living in an augmented reality, or paying for something with my thumbprint, is almost so scary for me that I have to avoid thinking about those things.

So what’s the issue? I should just avoid these “future of tech” questions altogether, right? Well at least for the next few months that’s completely out of the question, because this business class features a futurist or technologist giving a talk in nearly every lecture. And what they’re predicting and describing in each and every class is like a waking-nightmare for me.

**AUDIBLE SIGH**

After one particularly stressful class, I turned on NPR on my drive home and TED Radio Hour was on. The talks where tech related, and Adam Ostrow’s speech was already underway. As the editor in chief of Mashable, Ostrow’s an expert on social media, the web, and the potentials of our digital future. His talk, titled “After Your Final Status Update,” focuses on how social media has transformed our relationship to those who’ve died. Oddly enough, the night before I watched “Be Right Back,” a Black Mirror episode in which Domhnall Gleeson’s character is killed in a car accident and essentially brought back to “digital life” by a tech company. Because he had shared so much of himself online (his image, voice, stories of his past, etc.) the company was able to piece a new version of him together. I was terrified by the idea and glad that although it seemed at least somewhat realistic (we do share so much of ourselves online) I couldn’t imagine anything like that actually being within reach.

(You may be wondering why someone who’s afraid of technological-futurism is doing watching Black Mirror, but I’m drawn to things that scare me and it’s a damn good show!)

Fast-forward to Ostrow’s talk, and he’s explaining that a sort of digital posthumous life – like the one I watched unfold on Black Mirror – is possible in the future. And that’s obviously not the kind of thing a person who’s anxious about that stuff wants to hear.

So I’m driving home and freaking out and Abha Dawesar’s talk comes on after Ostrow’s. In her speech she describes the distinction between biological time and digital time, and our need as humans to put down our phones and tune out tech distractions sometimes. Her talk gave me hope, and also put into perspective my own need to step away from my devices sometimes and just live, breath, be human, and live fully in the moment. And because our day-to-day reality is so tech-driven, it seems that we all need a reminder sometimes that we exist in a biological world, not a digital one.

Watch Dawesar’s TED Talk and share it with your friends and family. I think it’s something we all need to hear.

Spring Break in Tucson

When this posts I will hopefully (sorry, I’m superstitious) be in Tucson, AZ for the week. Living next to the state you originated from – though worlds away – is nice in that if I need to come home or want to, I can. Other than money or time off, there isn’t much that stands in the way of my ability to go home. There’s no massive divide of time, distance, or red tape. When I miss my family or friends back in Tucson, I just imagine a map of the U.S., and how close I really am to them. I’m also grateful, especially in these politically turbulent times, that I don’t face the absolute inability to see my family or place of origin that millions of others do. The pain that they experience on a daily basis is truly unfathomable. And knowing that borders are just unreal, imagined lines, surely makes the distance even more insufferable.

As I work my way through my last semester of graduate school, I’m trying to build a more efficient, sustainable, and enjoyable day-to-day life. This is by far the least stressful semester I’ve had, but knowing that I’m about to be out of school and thrown into the “real world” again is anxiety inducing. In addition to my own concerns about student loans, health insurance, rent, bills, and getting a job, the realities of our political climate seem even more insurmountable. I’m trying to take everything one day at a time, but even that sort of patience gets difficult.

So that’s where spring break comes in. I’m taking this time to spend with loved ones and relax. Although I’ll still be on social media and engaging with our ever-changing political news, I’m going to disconnect a little and create some distance between me and my phone. This past week I’ve been spending considerably less time on Twitter and have been feeling happier and healthier. I can’t help but think that there’s a connection there.

I’m trying to be good about setting a strict blogging schedule, so I’ll see you back here next Tuesday for the newest post! In the meantime, check out my most recent post, Fun with Vinyl, and some links that have been popular lately including Who Says It Has to Be Modest? from my friend Lacey Bonham, and On Nostalgia & the Home in ‘Fuller House’, and The Decay of Cinema, or a New Cine-love? from me.

Have a great week!

❤ Julia

Fun with Vinyl

My boyfriend and I, after years of wanting one, finally invested in a record player. Though I’m guilty of romanticizing records, I can’t help but adore them. Albums are fun and beautiful. Rummaging is an adventure. Listening is an experience.

Not only do vinyl records produce a spectacular sound, but they require an active listener. The Spotify experience, for example, is wildly different. I can just put on an artist, algorithmically driven radio station, or expertly curated playlist and listen passively for hours. But with records you’re constantly flipping sides, changing speeds, and pulling the disks out of their sleeves and slipping them back in again. You’re picking dust off the stylus, or wiping smudges from the vinyl grooves. This interaction with the physicality of the record itself is also something I appreciate about vinyl: that it’s tangible.

I can hold an album in my hands and examine its cover or the dips that circle its surface. I have to move each record from one spot to another with delicate precision. I clean them often. To actually hold onto the medium from which my music comes from is something I didn’t realize I was missing. In our digital, cloud-based world, holding a thing in its precious physical realness is kind of magical. And as we build our record collection, I feel like I’m taking part in a personal preservation effort.

Another part of the magic in record listening and collecting is the adventure of perusing record stores. Each store, like every record, has its own story. Some are wide and expansive and others are small and tightly packed. There are more expensive stores and cheaper ones. Some specialize in particular genres, and others seem to offer a hodge-podge. And while each store is different, they all share a communal spirit between customers and employees; we all enjoy music, but we also revel in the same tangible, active experience that records provide.

There’s also an undeniable nostalgia associated with buying and listening to records. I can’t help but feel connected to the youth of my parents when I hear the stylus hit the vinyl with a faint scratch and start playing. Or when the record ends and the arm picks up and returns to its original position. And while I’m actively against the perils of celebrating nostalgia too much in our society and popular culture (in that we seem to be resisting progress as a result of an idealized past) I can’t help but appreciate the connection I feel to a different time and place when I’m listening to The Doors, Thelonious Monk, The Clash, and Outkast. Even contemporary records – like Beck’s Morning Phases or Beach House’s Thank Your Lucky Stars – feel nostalgic simply because of the medium.

So while slowly building a record collection does take time and money, it’s an investment that’s thoroughly fulfilling. Whether digging through bins, listening, or flipping a record and pressing play again, there’s an attentiveness and a physicality to the record experience that I simply can’t shake.

Positive Change as an Individual

In these socially and politically tumultuous times, I think it’s important to reflect on what we can do as individuals to contribute to the greater good. While significant change is enacted by policy-making, progress within one’s lifestyle and personal relationship to society as a whole is also essential in creating change. Below is a work-in-progress list of ways I think an individual can create positive change. While I’m sharing this on Catch-all, it’s also a personal reminder of the many ways I can use my individual power for good. This list will always be evolving, so please comment below with any suggestions you may have.

  • Ask more questions! Think critically, engage with new ideas, listen to your peers, confront your own problematic assumptions, and always look beyond the surface level
  • Cultivate a community of friends and family who hold you accountable for your actions and words
  • Support businesses owned by immigrants, women, people of color, members of the LGBT community, etc.
  • Support the work of diverse journalists, artists, authors, and filmmakers, etc.
  • Question the status-quo
  • Avoid fast fashion and purchase your clothing from companies that provide their employees with fair wages and safe working conditions (start by watching The True Cost on Netflix and check out this Ethical Shopping Guide)
  • Re-use and recycle! Buy reusable bags and water bottles, donate what you no longer want to use, buy second-hand whenever possible, and always recycle glass, plastic, and cardboard
  • Boycott companies that Trump is financially involved with, as well as those who advertise on Breitbart (download the Boycott Trump app for iPhone or Android)
  • Vote! Vote! Vote! And remember, all politics is local
  • Understand your privilege and fight to protect others
  • Go vegan for the environment, animals, and your health (read Russell Simmon’s book The Happy Vegan, watch Cowspiracy on Netflix, and learn more about factory farming and environmental destruction)
  • If you can afford it, donate to global, national, regional, and local non-profits that support your values. If you can’t donate money, consider donating your time to a cause you find worthy
  • Eat at local restaurants whenever possible
  • Always keep learning – read, watch, listen, and exchange ideas with others
  • Speak out when you see someone being treated wrongly!
  • Reduce your consumption: actively avoid buying things that you don’t necessarily need
  • Don’t use products that are tested on animals (see this list of brands that test on animals, as well as those that are cruelty-free)
  • If you want a pet, adopt, don’t shop!
  • Practice self-care: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

What are additional ways  in which you think an individual can enact positive change? Let me know in the comment section below. 🙂

Resistance Podcasts

Here’s a list of some of the resistance-related podcasts I’ve come across in recent weeks. My favorite so far is BloomCast, by civil rights attorney (and fellow vegan) Lisa Bloom. Please be sure to share any relevant political podcasts that you’ve been listening to in the comment section.

And for additional resources check out this post, which I’m continuing to update.

Keep resisting! ❤

Riding the Pacific Surfliner

This past weekend I rode Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego & back. Here’s a diary entry-style post about my experience:

From industrial neighborhoods to the ocean, journeying on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles to San Diego takes you through some of California’s distinct landscapes.

Leaving from Union Station in downtown LA, the first views from the train are what I’d describe as hyper-industrial: cement trucks, train cars, wires, fences, and giant warehouses that are either overwhelmingly grey, or dotted with colorful graffiti. It’s dirt, metal, and cement for miles. The illicit art on buildings and walls – ranging from indecipherable messages to exceptional works of art – interrupt the monochromatic dominance of the landscape.

Oddly enough, I think there’s something particularly beautiful about Los Angeles’ industrial and warehouse districts. The area isn’t at all glamorous, but the beauty is in its history and scope. Downtown LA is home to global industries and distribution centers. It’s where clothes are made and shipped internationally, and produce is organized and distributed across North America. Downtown is a hub of commerce, engineering, and production, and I can’t help but be entranced by the magnitude of what happens there. I also simply find beauty in these parts of town – the industrial outskirts – where stark, oversized buildings, steel train tracks, and the quietness of an area mostly uninhabited somehow reminds me of the Southern Arizona desert.

After riding through downtown and South LA, the train heads to suburbs beyond Los Angeles County, stopping in Fullerton, Anaheim, and Irvine. These are areas of Southern California that I’m less familiar with, but from a surface level judgment I’d describe them as “so-cal suburban.” These cities are quite different from Los Angeles, with more parking, more Walmarts (I’ve actually never seen a Walmart in LA), and probably more affordable housing. These areas remind me of many Phoenix suburbs that work exceptionally hard to be “nice,” and as a result seem to lack the type of character that I value most in a neighborhood or community.

Further south the train ventures past farm land, military facilities, rows of houses, and eventually meets the Pacific Ocean. It’s just north of San Diego, in cities such as San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, and Solana Beach, where the train hits the water and suddenly rushes past cliff-side mansions. As the train veers towards the coast, extreme wealth suddenly becomes palpable. But what I appreciate most about California beaches (beyond their immense beauty) is that they’re accessible to all, regardless of income (read: Public’s right to beach access gets state support).

Shortly after passing through Solana Beach we made our way into downtown San Diego. While I’ve done the drive from Los Angeles to San Diego a few times, I much prefer taking the Surfliner. On the train you can read, work on your laptop, listen to music, and enjoy the scenery. During this particular trip, I took pleasure in the opportunity to observe the changing Southern California landscape from an interesting vantage point. Trains often go through areas that people may not otherwise traverse; from the backs of warehouses to quiet canyons. And as a result, from my train seat I can observe the intricacies and details of California’s urban and organic landscapes…a view that I quite enjoy.

On Nostalgia & the Home in “Fuller House”

Nostalgia-TV has had a recognizable presence in the American televisual landscape for the last decade – from Hawaii Five-O (1968 – 1980, 2010 – present) to Dallas (1978- 1991, 2012 – 2014), and beyond – but in recent years, producers and networks have turned to reboots and revivals more than ever before, as the film industry follows suit. This trend towards remakes and spin-offs seems to reflect an economic model – one that depends on a preexisting audience as an example of profit potential – but nostalgia’s marketability extends beyond those parameters. As a result of revisiting an idealized past, nostalgia-TV relies on capturing the attention of viewers for whom the past is romanticized and may represent a more stable time. In particular, the recent rebooting of popular family and child-oriented 90’s series seems to tap into a specific audience with newfound political and economic power. Netflix’s Fuller House (2016 – present), a reboot of Full House (ABC, 1987 – 1995), offers an example of a series intended to rely on a passive and non-critical viewer, who sentimentalizes the memories of their childhood and the domestic space of their past. Netflix appears to have a particular interest in re-envisioning popular 90’s children’s shows, with their forthcoming talk show series Bill Nye Saves the World, a tribute to PBS’ Bill Nye, the Science Guy (1993 – 1998), and The Magic School Bus 360°, a digitally updated version of the Canadian-American animated series The Magic School Bus (PBS, 1994 – 1997) 1, 2 . Beyond the lack of economic risk that remakes deliver for Netflix, the recent proliferation of reboots seems to be due, at least in part, to the marketability of nostalgia to a fragmented and disenchanted portion of young adults for whom the past is idealized. This relationship between creator and consumer is further complicated by Netflix’s ability to use data to decipher what subscribers are interested in viewing. Partially as a result of the datafication of users, Netflix debuted Fuller House on February 26, 2016, the Full House spin-off series that creator Jeff Franklin had been pitching to networks for over seven years 3 .

Full House, which originally aired on ABC from September 22, 1987 to May 23, 1995, tells the story of Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), a widower, and his immediate and extended family and friends. Along with his best friend Joey (Dave Coulier), and brother-in-law Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), Danny raises his three daughters in their home in San Francisco. Each episode follows a similar plot pattern; while the extended Tanner family have their issues, nearly every episode comes to a calm resolution in the living room, where this non-traditional family gathers on the couch to talk things out and discuss what lessons they’ve learned. The living room, kitchen, and children’s rooms serve as spaces in which the viewer can transmit themselves into the construction of the idealized American home. Fuller House continues to use these exact spaces as sites of nostalgic recognition, where the now adult viewer can embrace their sentimentalized past.

Fuller House follows Danny Tanner’s eldest child DJ Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), who is now a widow herself and raising three sons. The series chronicles a new construction of the Tanner family, as DJ moves back into her childhood home and raises her children with her sister Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), who has a teenage daughter herself. This return home is reflective of an economic condition that many young adults can relate to, and it also romanticizes the childhood home, which, in the case of Fuller House, remains largely unchanged. This lack of change not only serves as a comforting antidote for DJ’s challenging adult years, but as a relief for viewers who may feel disillusioned by the current social and economic conditions of the time.

In The Nostalgic Revolution Will Be Televised by media scholar Ryan Lizardi, a chapter from Remake Television: Reboot, Re-use, Recycle (edited by Carlen Lavigne), Lizardi examines the ways in which nostalgia-TV constructs an audience void of critical engagement with the contemporary media product or its relation to the past or its formative conception 4 :

“Contemporary media trends have increased the tendency to construct nostalgic subjects as subjectively fixed on their own affectively charged media pasts. These viewing subjects are not encouraged to be engaged citizens who can compare the past to the present and gain knowledge from the juxtaposition of continuities and discontinuities. Rather, the consumer of televisual nostalgic media is presented with a flattened distinction between the past and the present. Texts and brands beloved from the past are presented as persistently relevant and activate a yearning for an eternal return to the same,” (37).

Lizardi argues that the nostalgic media product erases almost any meaningful social or historical context, and that the necessary release of childhood texts is subverted by “consistently encouraging the consumption of their contemporary remake counterparts,” (37). Though this notion that nostalgia-TV discourages the release of one’s past – particularly childhood – may at first appear inconsequential, the longing for audience members to return to adolescent texts signals a resistance to change. And the impact of this regressive attitude surely has the potential to percolate into other aspects of society and personhood, beyond the individualized TV- watching experience.

In Inside Prime Time 5 , media scholar and sociologist Todd Gitlin argues that while remakes have their economic benefits, they also reflect an individual and societal “hunger for a stable world,” (77). In Fuller House it is the return to the domestic space that signifies this stability, as the home is coded as safe and nearly unaffected by time. The series rarely brings the characters outside of the home, creating a vacuum in which social and political circumstance is invisible. Additionally, change is merely represented through the alteration of the family dynamic, rather than the transformation of the world outside of the home. Much like the original series, Fuller House’s emphasis on family within the domestic space illustrates Lizardi’s notion that nostalgia-TV constructs a flattened and passive relationship between the viewer and the socio-political context of the series’ past and present.

The immediate, nearly duplicate relationship between Full House and Fuller House is established in the series theme song and title sequence, in which aspects of the original opening are remixed for a present-day audience that affectionately identifies with the series. The opening song features the same lyrics as the original, but a new singer and tempo change give it a modern-pop twist. The title’s identical yellow font hovers above the Golden Gate Bridge – a near replica of the original opening – and furthermore, the name of the series itself is only slightly altered.

The audio-visual introduction of the spin-off immediately signals to audience members that the show intends to uphold pre-existing iconography that’s intrinsic to the original conception of the series. In addition to the visual and auditory consistency of the show (which similarly features laughter and “awes” from a live audience) the characterizations, stories, and plot structures follow an established formula which fans are not only familiar with, but likely expect to be upheld.

Though the series’ original adult cast members are only featured as guest stars in Fuller House, their returns in various episodes stand in as reminders of the ways in which the world of Full House remains unchanged. Danny, Joey, Uncle Jesse, and Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin) each return a few times in the 13-episode series and re-establish their dominant and fixed character types. Though new lead characters are introduced to the series as DJ’s three sons and Kimmy’s daughter, the periodic returns of the older cast members indicate that many things are still unchanged despite the progression of the household dynamics. Though twenty years have passed since the show’s conclusion, Uncle Jesse remains just as obsessed with Elvis Presley and Joey is still a complete goofball. In addition to Fuller House’s reliance on the return of these recognizable characters, the focus of the home (specifically the unchanged home) is a significant aspect of the show’s production of nostalgia.

Both Full House and Fuller House predominantly take place in the private domestic space. The characters are most often seen inside the home, which establishes a sense of safety and seclusion from the outside world. Many of the episodes from the original series’ eight season run conclude in the living room – a convention which is maintained in the spin-off series. Six of the 13 episodes’ end in the living room, two in a bedroom, and one in the kitchen. Of the episodes that come to an end outside of the literal walls of the home, only three end in the family yard; one in the front yard, and two in the back. The dependence on the domestic space seems to not only be a production choice based on cost, but one which reaffirms traditional family values and conceptions of the American home.

In Television, Memory, and Nostalgia 6 , film and television scholar Amy Holdsworth points out the close relationship that nostalgia and television both have to the home (97). While young fans of the original Full House most likely watched the series in their childhood living rooms, as they grew up (along with the cast) TV-watching trends evolved substantially. Now, the contemporary viewer of Fuller House may be watching the series on a laptop in their bed or on their phone as they’re taking public transportation to work. But despite such significant changes in the life of the audience member, the living room in the series is unaffected by the passing of time. Fans can find comfort in recognizing the blue and white couch in the middle of the Tanner living room, the dark wood staircase in the background, and the art that covers the walls. Not only does the set remain mostly the same, but the characters and the episode structure does as well. In regards to nostalgia’s dynamic with television, time, distance, and the home, Holdsworth writes:

“As a form of longing that does not seek restoration, it is balanced in the play between the past and present, sameness and difference, recognition and estrangement. This is a dynamic which similarly captures the iterative motions of television as an ebb and flow, moving back and forth,” (97).

In the worlds of Full and Fuller House, sameness mostly endures despite the constantly changing outside world. Though this style of nostalgia-inducing TV is marketable in part because of its balance “between the past and present,” Netflix also had the benefit of seeing the success of a pre-existing spin-off series that was similarly manufactured.

Boy Meets World (1993 – 2000) which also originally aired on ABC and then lived on in syndication, was followed by Girl Meets World (2014 – present) a spin-off series airing on Disney Channel. Similar to Fuller House, Girl Meets World tells the story of the now-adult- once-adolescent cast of the original series, who have a child of their own. Interestingly, both spin-offs also focus more on women and girls than their foundational texts, though they do mainly uphold the traditional values of the original series’. While Girl Meets World’s programming on Disney Channel signals relevance for a more youthful audience, rather than nostalgic adults, the series provided a successful example of the type of spin-off Full House creator Jeff Franklin was pitching to networks 7 . In addition to the proven success of a similar spin-off series, Netflix is also able to utilize subscriber data to develop a slate of original content that their audience is theoretically interested in.

Neta Alexander’s Catered to Your Future Self: Netflix’s “Predictive Personalization” and the Mathematization of Taste, a chapter from The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st Century 8 , examines CineMatch, Netflix’s first algorithm designed to determine subscriber taste and provide recommendations for users. In the chapter Alexander explains that Netflix creates original content based on the data collected from the site’s subscribers/viewers. Though most of the company’s analytics and data-driven information is kept completely under-wraps, one can assume that the decision to produce Fuller House, as well as the Bill Nye and Magic School Bus spin-off shows, is due to Netflix’s ability to produce a quantifiable measurement of viewer’s longing for the past. Based on the spin-off’s popularity on social media, coupled with the fact that it was picked up for a second season, it seems that Fuller House was quite successful, despite the inability to know the actual series ratings as a result of Netflix’s secretive policies.

Based on a study done by Variety during the summer of 2015, Fuller House was the most talked about reboot in development online, followed by The X-Files, The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air, and Xena: Warrior Princess. The study examined the popularity of television reboots in development, television reboots not in development, and movie-to-TV reboots spanning mentions across over 600,000 websites between June and September 9 . Susanne Ault of Variety writes, “In the sea of nostalgic TV reboots in the works, “Fuller House” is riding the biggest wave of online buzz” – a wave which seemingly sustained itself enough for Fuller House to continue on for a second season.

The show’s sophomore season debuted on Netflix on December 9, 2016. The second season is “holiday-themed,” featuring episodes centered around Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve 10 . As an example of a recognizably nostalgic text, the decision to focus multiple episodes on holidays – which culturally signify family, tradition, and the home – is an fascinating and unsurprising choice. It seems that beyond the familiar ways in which Fuller House produces comfort and stability for their viewer (through constructions of the unchanging domestic space, family structure/characters, and formulaic storylines) season two attempts to take the return to childhood memories one step further by incorporating stories that revolve around holidays celebrated in the family home.

Returning to Ryan Lizardi’s examination of nostalgic texts and uncritical viewership in The Nostalgic Revolution Will Be Televised, Lizardi points to the existence of what he calls “playlist pasts:”

“…remakes and other nostalgic television programming/advertising mark an individual and solipsistic yearning that is flattened on and focused through a mediated history by constructing our past as comprising only the constellations of text we individually loved as children, which I am calling our ‘playlist pasts.’ We may all have a different ‘playlist,’ but repetitively consuming this type of media encourages a melancholic concentration of libidinal energy of the individual nostalgic text and takes focus away from a comparative view of history,” (37).

It seems that by focusing on individualistic experiences – pulling together a variety of childhood texts that constitute personalized “playlist pasts” – the viewer becomes unable to examine the text beyond their own singular experience. This individualized and highly subjective relationship between the nostalgic viewer and nostalgic text, coupled with the reboot’s near-elimination of temporal context, creates not only an uncritical viewer, but one who may be incapable of looking outside the self.

Aside from the concerns brought about by what Lizardi refers to as a “subjective hypernostalgic worldview,” (40), what about the issue of stasis? If viewers insist on returning to the past – specifically an idealized version of their childhood – what does this imply about the individual and society as a whole? Beyond the marketability of nostalgia, why are creators and consumers constantly referring back to stories that have already been told, with characters that are readily identifiable? Why do these reboots avoid commenting on the socio-political changes that occurred while the series was off-air? And furthermore, why are those now nostalgic adults who were children in the 1990’s being aimed at as ideal audience members, most notably by Netflix?

In Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia 11 , sociologist Alastair Bonnet references the “dangers of stasis, or failure to change,” in his examination of nostalgia, society, and politics (3). If the television texts being revisited time and time again remain unchanged, and if their relationship to history remains unchanged, then is the viewer actively challenging the necessity of change as well? And if the audience does find comfort in the nostalgic media text and remains somewhat stable and fixed, is this lack of inertia in the best interest of television producers and networks?

It seems that nearly every few weeks or so a new reboot is announced. Recently, reboots are more often than not tailored to young adults, such as the That’s So Raven spin-off 12 . This target audience, in particular, has newfound purchasing power and political influence, yet may find themselves disenchanted by their own instability. The young-adult audience’s possible longing for a return to more comfortable times is supported by the values and structures of Fuller House and nostalgic shows like it, bringing the young-adult back into their comfortable and unchanging childhood home. Within the domestic space DJ Tanner-Fuller is safe and sheltered from the outside world, which is constantly evolving and unstable. Fuller House’s focus on DJ’s homecoming not only reflects real contemporary economic concerns, but also a longing for stability that resonates with young adults across the country.

While Netflix and other subscription providers and networks are scrambling to program reboots because of their built in audience and nostalgic-marketability, what is the risk? If the current trend of audience members yearning for their idealized pasts endures, then reboots and remixes of popular television series will remain economically viable for networks and studios. The question, then, remains: if viewers continue longing for the past and remain resist to change – and producers and networks continue to cater to these audiences – what will this cycle of nostalgia impact beyond the interpersonal experience? How will this desire for stability continue to shape not only television programming, but our world at large?

 

Sources:

  1. Miller, Liz Shannon. “’Bill Nye Saves the World’ to Give Netflix a New Take on Talk Shows.” 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016
  2. Jensen, Elizabeth. “Netflix Orders New Children’s Show Based on ‘Magic School Bus’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 June 2014. 1 Nov. 2016
  3. Sage, Alyssa. “’Fuller House’ Debuts on Netflix: Fans React to the Hit Sitcom Reboot.” Variety. N.p., 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.
  4. Lizardi, Ryan. “The Nostalgic Revolution Will Be Televised.” Remake Television: Reboot, Re-use, Recycle. Carlen Lavigne. Lanham: Lexington, 2014. 37-51. Print.
  5. Gitlin, Todd. Inside Prime Time. New York: Pantheon, 1983. Print.
  6. Holdsworth, Amy. Television, Memory, and Nostalgia. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print.
  7. Yahr, Emily. “‘Girl Meets World’ Review: Sorry, Teens of the ‘90s, This Spin-off is Not for You: The Good News Is That Modern-day Tweens Might Like This ‘Boy Meets World’ Update.” The Washington Post. p., 28 June 2014. Web.
  8. McDonald, Kevin, and Daniel Smith-Rowsey, eds. The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st N.p.: Bloomsbury, 2016. Print
  9. Ault, Susanne. “’House’ Full of Buzz: Social-media Activity Indicates That the Tidal Wave of TV Nostalgia Will Break Well for Some Series, but Not Others.” Variety 23 Sept. 2015: 51. Business Insights: Essentials. Web 1 Nov. 2016.
  10. Khatchatourian, Maane. “‘Fuller House’ Season 2 Gets Premiere Date.” Variety. N.p., 21 Sept. 2016. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.
  11. Bonnett, Alastair. Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia. New York: Continuum. 2010. Print
  12. O’Connell, Michael. “Raven-Symone Exiting ‘The View’ as Disney Eyes ‘That’s So Rave’ Reboot.” The Hollywood Reporter. p., 27, Oct. 2016. Web. 1 Nov. 2016.

Watch “Hate Rising” With Jorge Ramos

I first heard about Univision anchor Jorge Ramos’ documentary, Hate Rising, from an interview on NPR that aired in the fall (listen to Jorge Ramos in Hate, Politics, and the Trump Effect, and To Make ‘Hate Rising,’ Jorge Ramos Spent Time with Hate Groups), but didn’t watch the film until after the election. Surely, seeing this documentary following November 8th had a different impact than it would have had if I had watched it earlier, and post-inauguration viewing will again produce a new meaning.

In the film, Ramos explores the concerning rise in hate in the U.S., speaking with members of the KKK and the “Alt-Right” (a young, tech savvy version of the KKK), as well as those effected by their deplorable ideologies and actions. While Hate Rising is a particularly difficult documentary to watch, I believe it’s necessary in this current political climate to know exactly what we’re up against. And due to the administration’s recent executive orders on the border wall and immigration ban targeting Muslims, this film is more relevant now than ever.

Please watch Hate Rising and share it with your friends and family. Stand up to bigots in your day-to-day life, and vote for officials who refuse to embolden these hate groups.