Zeitgeist and other signs of the times

So it occurred to me that the last time we discussed zeitgeist was in the context of Republicans ignoring “Girls” at their peril due to its zeitgeisty reflection of our times.  I’d pretty much forgotten about it (the zeitgeist and Girls…) until I saw today that the season premier of Duck Dynasty drew a cable record 11.8 million viewers.

Just for grins I searched for “Girls ratings” and right up top was this story from the LA Times:

There are two ways to look at the ratings for the season finale of HBO’s “Girls.”

The old way would be to see that 632,000 people tuned in on Sunday night at 9 p.m. to watch “Girls,” which is a decline of almost 40% from last season.

But that won’t really tell you how many people ultimately saw the show.

For a more accurate reading, one has to include the two other times HBO ran “Girls” on Sunday night. Do that, and the number grows to 1.1 million.

But even that won’t give you a real sense of the audience for “Girls” because numbers from HBO On Demand and HBO Go are not factored in. Nor are numbers from people (like me) who recorded “Girls” on their digital video recorder and then watched the show later.

Throw all those numbers in and the episode ends up averaging about 4.6 million viewers, which is on par with its first season.

Another way to look at is that almost twenty times more people took time out of their day to drop their asses on the sofa and endured numerous commercial breaks to watch the season premier of Duck Dynasty.  Which says nothing about zeitgeist.  Reality television is the zeitgeist of the Obama years if you ask me.  We’ve got the ultimate reality show president aimlessly trying to remain likable while ham-handedly attempting to accomplish tasks he is ill-equipped to competently perform.

Frankly, imagining it’s just some Truman Show like illusion is all that keeps me going.

In other zeitgeist news, two celebrities were allegedly treated rather shabbily by employees of public businesses much to their chagrin.  Obnoxious harpy Oprah Winfrey recounted her recent brush with racism while publicizing her new movie about racism.  It seems a store clerk working for a ritzy boutique in Switzerland steered Oprah away from a handbag she asked to see by telling her she couldn’t afford it.  Imagine!  Telling one of the richest and most powerful women in American media she can’t afford a handbag solely because she’s black.  That kind of behavior is unacceptable in America today.

I assume Switzerland is an upscale suburb of Beverly Hills.  Because the relevance of a perceived racial slight that occurred in Europe to race relations in America would be retarded, at best.  Since Oprah is obviously a pretty sharp cookie I’m going to say it’s grotesque and malignant.

Then one of the aforementioned Duck Dynasty stars, also while publicizing his show, was escorted out of a New York hotel by one of the employees who believed he was one of the homeless.  A clear cut case of class discrimination.

“The first thing that happened to me at the hotel was I got escorted out,” Robertson said, joking that it was a “facial-profiling deal.”

Robertson said that the hotel employee simply didn’t know who he was.

“I asked where the bathroom was and he said, ‘Right this way, sir.’ He was very nice,” Robertson explained. “He walked me outside, pointed down the road and said, ‘Good luck.’”

Robertson continued, “So I circled back around and my wife said, ‘What happened?’ and I just said I just got kicked out.”

Robertson took it in stride and didn’t blame the employee for the incident. Robertson continued to stay at the hotel despite the incident.

At least he was spared the indignity of being recognized and discouraged from looking at a $38,000 purse because he’s black.  Or worse, what if the Swiss clerk didn’t recognize the most powerful and wealthy black female media mogul in the United States – if not the entire world?  Those duck fellas do look like homeless folks but there’s only one Oprah.

I’m not sure which scenario would be more shocking.  Either way, I’m very disappointed in America.

Anyone up for a diversity reality show where we follow around a gender-balanced group of aggrieved EEOC/OFCCP protected class people while they point out and kvetch about all the perceived slights they receive each day?  I believe it will perfectly capture the zeitgeist.

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  • Lawrence Westlake

    Good blog post. Sadly most (nearly all?) of the audience won’t get it. A zeitgeist of the times, as it were. Speaking of which, if you added up every fringe element of the Internet/academia/talk radio demographics — libtards, Paulbots, birthers, truthers, other conspiracy theorists, washed-up Hippies, perma-students, trust fund babies, anti-Republican and non-voting conservatives, etc. — they’d amount in the aggregate perhaps to 10-15 million people. Thereabouts. Maybe substantially less. Roughly the same number of people avidly tune into “The Voice.” Back in the day “American Idol” drew twice that number. Ironically enough that perspective would escape the rabid chattering classes, on all sides.

    • Brucehenry

      You’re a hoot.

  • MichaelLaprarie

    This clearly illustrates a truth that the chattering class will never admit – the media/entertainment complex that has appointed itself “club bouncer” for “what is hot and what is not” in popular culture only represents a very narrow sliver of American society.

    “Girls” is the hottest, most talked-about show on cable among the chattering class, yet for every viewer who sat down and watched its season finale, 18 viewers sat down and watched the premier of Duck Dynasty. And we still don’t know the TiVo/on-demand viewership yet for DD, but I’ll guarantee you that the number of views at least doubles, if not triples when those numbers are factored in.

    Yet who will get the star treatment at all the cocktail parties thrown by media critics, entertainment editors, and Hollywood celebutards? And who will get mistaken for a homeless man and get thrown out of a posh NYC hotel?

    That pretty much tells us everything we need to know, doesn’t it?

    • Commander_Chico

      True, but one factor is purchasing power demographics.

      In the market, one household with an income of $200,000 is worth more than four households making $40,000.

      The “chattering classes” are the upper classes – they have the money. This is one reason why wide swaths of America, e.g. older people, rural working people – don’t get much programming.

      Of course, with 400 channels, everybody gets something – it just won’t get talked about much in the NYT.

      • jim_m

        Excepting the fact that average household income runs around $38,000 and a household income over $200k puts you well inside the top 5%. So I don’t have 4 households to your 1, I have 10+ to your 1. Aggregate income maters hence Girls is on its way out and Duck Dynasty (as repulsive as that show is) is rising.

        Girls was never about a broad appeal (pun not intended) it was about promoting a very narrow world view shared by left wing elitists. Girls was nothing more than a polemic meant to steer society into a left wing view. It says far more about the morally bankrupt left than it does the rest of our nation.

        • Jim,

          The way to enjoy Duck Dynasty is to understand that they are all millionaires and that they are mocking the expectations and prejudices of the producers of the show…

    • Brucehenry

      And the latest trendy restaurant in New York will be talked about and analyzed by what you call “the chattering classes” despite the fact that McDonald’s gets vastly more numbers of customers. So?

      What’s with the class envy? “Girls” is, or styles itself as, “art.” Duck Dynasty isn’t and doesn’t. It’s apples and oranges.

      Folks who style themselves as cultural critics will have something to say about “Girls,” whereas they’ll have little to say about just another redneck reality show like Honey Boo Boo or Swamp People. If they do say anything it’ll be about that kind of show as a genre. And they’ll use that word: “genre!”

      This is just another variation on the theme of “them college fellers think they’re sooo smart.”

      BTW the guy from Duck Dynasty DOES look like a homeless guy. And he knows it.That’s probably why he’s not pissed.

      • What irks me is people trying to define the zeitgeist of today. Call me in twenty years when we have a little history and perspective in the rearview mirror. Nothing on TV or in today’s pop culture can be a reflection of the zeitgeist because the zeitgeist can’t be defined without being looked at historically.

        Dig, 1920s – roaring 20’s speakeasys and flappers. 1930s – Great Depression. 1940s – the war years. 1950 – the baby boom and Leave it to Beaver. 1960s – civil rights and hippies. We know the zeitgeist of those times by looking back at what is easily remembered about them.

        So my opinion that Black Flag perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the ’80s is belied by the fact MTV, hair metal, and Michael Jackson ruled the music scene and even they, within the greater context of the decade, wouldn’t be the first thing most people would offer up if asked about their memories of the 80s.

        From a culture war standpoint though – regardless of genre – almost 20 times more people watched a bunch of squirrelly, homeless-looking, not taking themselves seriously, Louisiana coonasses who value family, faith, and hard work as much as they do having fun than the Girls season finale. Set a cable record for viewers.

        What does that mean? Other than there’s a market for family values type shows, who knows? Well, except there are a heck of a lot more people in America who watch goofballs than watch pretentious bints.

    • We thus see our soi disant cognoscenti (and his tarbaby acolyte) rise in defense of a soi disant cultural elite.

      • Commander_Chico

        A guy who uses the term “soi disant” whining about elitism.

        • Mocking, chicka. As much of that as you get you should by now be intimately familiar with the feeling of it.

  • jak

    I cant belive there are that many ignorant people that would watch that shitty show,or any show on comercial tv for that matter.