sleeping alone and starting out early

an occasional blog on culture, education, new media, and the social revolution. soon to be moved from http://jennamcwilliams.blogspot.com.

Archive for the ‘fannish’ Category

omg I just talked to Howard Rheingold

Posted by Jenna McWilliams on June 16, 2010

You can keep your Robert Pattinsons and Miley Cyruses and whichever other beautiful prepubescent sexy people you young people idolize these days. My idols are people like these folks:

That guy in the lower lefthand corner is Howard Rheingold, who is by just about all accounts one of the kindest, happiest, most curious, most fascinating, most colorful, and most thought-provoking media theorists around. (If you want proof, take a look at this little gem of his writing.)

Because Howard is kind and supportive of other aspiring intellectuals, I’ve had email conversations and twitter conversations and blog conversations with Howard. There’s this interesting feature of the new technologies that swell around us, see: They efface the distance–perceived and real–between our idols and our selves. If you’re patient enough and quick enough, you can use these new technologies to climb right up on the pedestals your heroes are standing on and tap them on the shoulder.

And today in a webchat I got to talk to Howard–with my voice–about crap detection, participatory culture, and pedagogy. It. Was. Awesome.

It may soon enough be the case that the structures and norms that allowed us to toss up celebrities and intellectuals as cultural heroes–well, it may soon enough be the case that those structures crumble, leaving our heroes in the rubble at our feet. I’m young enough to hope it’ll happen in my lifetime but old enough that I may not be able to fully shake the notion of the celebrity as icon. After all, I grew up alongside this:

And yes, I know that a huge chunk of Americans have never even heard of Howard Rheingold (or Lisa Delpit or Paulo Freire or Jim Gee or Henry Jenkins or Yasmin Kafai) and that these people don’t count as ‘celebrities,’ as least not in the “zomg the paparazzi are everywhere” sense. I don’t care. As Intel explains, our rock stars aren’t like your rock stars.

Posted in academia, academics, awesome, blogging, fannish, Henry Jenkins, Howard Rheingold, Jim Gee, joy | 2 Comments »

ice cold hands taking hold of me: planning for the Supernatural season finale

Posted by Jenna McWilliams on May 7, 2010

Next Thursday, May 13, at 9:00 ET, the season finale of Supernatural will air. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. I’ve spent a lot of time pretending like I don’t care about Supernatural, just in case they find out and decide to cancel it on me as they like to do every time they learn about something I love.

But this is one of the best shows on broadcast television right now, and what thrills me most of all is thinking about how much this show has evolved. In the early days, it really was a show about a pair of ghost-hunting brothers who chased supernatural beings around. It didn’t even appear to be particularly courageous in those early days. The first time Dean Winchester died, back in season 2, he asked the reaper who had come to claim him what death was like. “Oh no,” she said. “No spoilers.” You figure, yeah, nobody wants to touch that one.

I shake my head and laugh in disbelief at 2006 me who thought Supernatural would take the safe road. Since then, we’ve seen heaven. We’ve seen hell. We’ve seen angels and demons and we’ve learned God’s backstory.

And you guys, this isn’t even the neatest thing about Supernatural.

The neatest thing is the evolution of the relationship between the Winchester brothers. They really did have hopes and plans for their lives, and everything got railroaded by a series of events that were out of their control. They hate each other for it, and they love each other desperately. And they squabble, and they nag, and they fight the hounds of hell to save each other, and they act as if they understand each other perfectly, even if they can’t see each other clearly. It’s beautiful and tragic and true to the dysfunction of life.

I wish I could embed an example here, but CW, the channel that airs Supernatural, has found a way to keep most clipes unembeddable. Instead, I’ll show you three clips that I can embed here: The promo that aired before ths season began, featuring Ralph Stanley’s song “O Death,” followed by the trailer for the season finale, also featuring Ralph Stanley’s song. Then the last clip is a music video that aired at the end of an episode this season. I’m including it because it makes me happy.

And here’s the music video.

Posted in awesome, beauty, creativity, fannish, television | 1 Comment »