“I’ve written four books about Britain since the ’50s, and pop culture always played a big part in those books. So they were always sort of very broad, panoramic political and cultural histories. And I always thought it was a really interesting topic: how Britain went from being a country that really prided itself on its economic and imperial dominance to one that had reinvented itself as a kind of cultural power. So, the fact that I do television informed the book to some extent, as well as the work I’ve done for the newspapers. I’d say it’s made me very conscious of how historians like me write a lot about politics but the reality is that for most people, politics doesn’t play a very important role in their lives, whereas pop culture does. TV is part of our common currency in a way that politics just isn’t. I thought this would be a good way to explore Britain’s national experience in the last century or so, as well is how Britain has been perceived.”
A month ago, a billboard advertising Lifetime’s latest cautionary tale-style movie, to join the ranks of such films as The Bride He Bought Online and I Killed My BFF, appeared on Hollywood Boulevard. Although some past Lifetime movies have drawn some media attention prior to their release–The Pregnancy Pact, in particular, gaining a serious online following before it even aired in January of 2010–the attention this new film, A Deadly Adoption, received had nothing to do with its uncanny resemblance to real events (though both films claim to be inspired by true stories). Instead, it was the two heads hovering at the billboard, over a pregnant woman standing on a dock, which propelled the Internet into wild speculation. At the helm of this Lifetime movie, both looking a little resolute and a little alarmed in profile on the billboard, were comedians Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig. The tagline: “The birth of a plan gone wrong.”
As Game of Thrones approaches the finale of its fifth season, the show faces an interesting dilemma. It has caught up with its inspiration, George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and is set to outpace it in the upcoming sixth season, venturing into territory that the books have not yet explored. While Martin stated in an April 2015 interview that he hoped the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, would be published before the series premiered in 2016, the likelihood that the seventh book, A Dream of Spring, will be written before the series exhausts the material of The Winds of Winter is close to impossible.
This past semester, I asked the undergraduates in my creative writing class to name the materials they felt were absolutely central to the class and the readings they felt had not earned their place on the syllabus. Overwhelmingly, my students cited a particular prose poem for the second category. While they could not find anything stylistically, technically or pedagogically wrong with it–in fact, most enjoyed the poem–they found the subject matter too trite for a college class. The poem was Kate Durbin’s “The Hills, 5,” the subject: reality television.