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Can you please help me understand a few sentences? Options
riverbottom
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 3:06:38 PM
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Joined: 10/29/2018
Posts: 7
Neurons: 150
Hello everyone. I'm a non-native English speaker. I'm reading a book about the Simpsons now. I hope you can help me understand a few sentences.

Quote:
The Simpsons ran its unprecedented and unequalled course in the 1990s. The show found the tender underbelly of American culture, pulled no punches, and used its tremendous media platform to make sure everyone saw the body blows. It mocked everything: religion and politics, unions and corporations, marriage and children, you name it. Even subjects not usually considered much for comedy (the space program, child abuse, feminism) were the subject of merciless satire. It made headlines regularly, for doing everything from defaming New Orleans to becoming a part of one of Bush the Elder’s 1992 re-election stump speeches


I suppose the phrase 'tremendous media platform' means The Fox Broadcasting Company. Is that correct?

Quote:
As part of the original contract, drawn up when FOX was still a fly-by-night operation, The Simpsons had total immunity from network interference. The only people who were allowed to decide what happens in Springfield were the ones in the writers’ room. That freedom allowed the show to become what it was, but it also concentrated enormous responsibility on the ever changing writing staff. Whatever they came up with was what got animated and ended up on screens all over the world. So while the protection from management interference gave the show unprecedented creative freedom, it also meant that any disruptions among the writing staff would have enormous effects on the quality of the show. For good and ill, The Simpsons was entirely its own creation.


I suppose the phrase 'any disruptions' means fight and instability. Do I understand correctly that phrase?

Quote:
Twice in Season 10 Homer falls out of the sky. The first time he crashes through a skylight and lands in bed with movie stars; the second time he falls out of a plane and gets dragged through a field of rose bushes before landing at Marge’s feet, bleeding and broken. A program that once showcased the whole family and an entire city of supporting characters became the kind of one trick showbiz pony it had satirized so brutally in Season 5’s “Bart Gets Famous”. The Season 10 writing staff, largely untested and less experienced than at any point in the show’s history, was increasingly leaning on Dan Castellaneta’s ability to scream.


I don't understand what does the phrase 'one trick showbiz pony' mean. Have you any idea? Please educate me.
FounDit
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 6:05:49 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,091
Neurons: 52,657
riverbottom wrote:
Hello everyone. I'm a non-native English speaker. I'm reading a book about the Simpsons now. I hope you can help me understand a few sentences.

Quote:
The Simpsons ran its unprecedented and unequalled course in the 1990s. The show found the tender underbelly of American culture, pulled no punches, and used its tremendous media platform to make sure everyone saw the body blows. It mocked everything: religion and politics, unions and corporations, marriage and children, you name it. Even subjects not usually considered much for comedy (the space program, child abuse, feminism) were the subject of merciless satire. It made headlines regularly, for doing everything from defaming New Orleans to becoming a part of one of Bush the Elder’s 1992 re-election stump speeches


I suppose the phrase 'tremendous media platform' means The Fox Broadcasting Company. Is that correct? Yes.

Quote:
As part of the original contract, drawn up when FOX was still a fly-by-night operation, The Simpsons had total immunity from network interference. The only people who were allowed to decide what happens in Springfield were the ones in the writers’ room. That freedom allowed the show to become what it was, but it also concentrated enormous responsibility on the ever changing writing staff. Whatever they came up with was what got animated and ended up on screens all over the world. So while the protection from management interference gave the show unprecedented creative freedom, it also meant that any disruptions among the writing staff would have enormous effects on the quality of the show. For good and ill, The Simpsons was entirely its own creation.


I suppose the phrase 'any disruptions' means fight and instability. Do I understand correctly that phrase? Yes.

Quote:
Twice in Season 10 Homer falls out of the sky. The first time he crashes through a skylight and lands in bed with movie stars; the second time he falls out of a plane and gets dragged through a field of rose bushes before landing at Marge’s feet, bleeding and broken. A program that once showcased the whole family and an entire city of supporting characters became the kind of one trick showbiz pony it had satirized so brutally in Season 5’s “Bart Gets Famous”. The Season 10 writing staff, largely untested and less experienced than at any point in the show’s history, was increasingly leaning on Dan Castellaneta’s ability to scream.


I don't understand what does the phrase 'one trick showbiz pony' mean. Have you any idea? Please educate me.

A "one-trick pony" has become an idiom based on the idea that a pony in a circus could only do one trick, and became boring. Here, the idiom is used to show how the same idea is used over and over (Homer falling out of the sky). They are saying the show became a kind of one-trick pony; the same thing the show made fun of in Season 5. There is also the criticism that the season 10 writer's, who they say are untested and less experienced, became boring also because they depended so much on the scream.

We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
riverbottom
Posted: Monday, October 29, 2018 6:26:49 PM
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Joined: 10/29/2018
Posts: 7
Neurons: 150
I've got it now. Thanks a lot.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 7:37:18 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 14,975
Neurons: 46,942
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
I'm glad that Foundit explained the one-trick pony expression - though I could have picked up the meaning from the context, it's not a phrase used in BE.

However, I don't see how - or where - one could get the impression that the "tremendous media platform" that The Simpson's has attracted came from Fox and it's viewers? I thought The Simpsons brand of satire was anathema to Fox? All the things that The Simpsons parody and have fun with are the kinds of things that Fox supports - besides which they don't seem to understand the "merciless satire" which has made the show internationally famous and loved? Why on earth would they, of all people, provide a 'tremendous media platform' to a show they abhor?

To me that makes no sense: it was the show itself which earned this almost-global "platform" as it is broadcast all over the world on hundreds of different channels. It was never broadcast (or referred to?) on Fox.

I would also disagree that 'disruptions' in this context has absolutely anything to do with "fighting" though "instability" is valid. They're talking about the writing process: - things that could "disrupt" the smoothness of that process could be the illness/death/breakdown/quitting of any of the writing team. Each episode depended on the writing team: if anything at all happened to even one person in that team it could have spelt disaster for the show. The point of the paragraph is to show the vulnerability and "chancy" aspect of the show's production: if anything happened to even one member of the team it could have ruined the show.
riverbottom
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 8:43:35 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 10/29/2018
Posts: 7
Neurons: 150
Romany wrote:
I'm glad that Foundit explained the one-trick pony expression - though I could have picked up the meaning from the context, it's not a phrase used in BE.

However, I don't see how - or where - one could get the impression that the "tremendous media platform" that The Simpson's has attracted came from Fox and it's viewers? I thought The Simpsons brand of satire was anathema to Fox? All the things that The Simpsons parody and have fun with are the kinds of things that Fox supports - besides which they don't seem to understand the "merciless satire" which has made the show internationally famous and loved? Why on earth would they, of all people, provide a 'tremendous media platform' to a show they abhor?

To me that makes no sense: it was the show itself which earned this almost-global "platform" as it is broadcast all over the world on hundreds of different channels. It was never broadcast (or referred to?) on Fox.

I would also disagree that 'disruptions' in this context has absolutely anything to do with "fighting" though "instability" is valid. They're talking about the writing process: - things that could "disrupt" the smoothness of that process could be the illness/death/breakdown/quitting of any of the writing team. Each episode depended on the writing team: if anything at all happened to even one person in that team it could have spelt disaster for the show. The point of the paragraph is to show the vulnerability and "chancy" aspect of the show's production: if anything happened to even one member of the team it could have ruined the show.


Thanks for your explanation about 'disruptions'.
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 1:06:40 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,091
Neurons: 52,657
Romany wrote:
I'm glad that Foundit explained the one-trick pony expression - though I could have picked up the meaning from the context, it's not a phrase used in BE.

However, I don't see how - or where - one could get the impression that the "tremendous media platform" that The Simpson's has attracted came from Fox and it's viewers? I think you misunderstand. The author of the book never said The Simpson's achieved its "tremendous media platform" because of the Fox Broadcasting Company. The "tremendous media platform" is television itself. However, it was, indeed, the viewers on Fox that skyrocketed the show to its place as a media icon from its beginning.

I thought The Simpsons brand of satire was anathema to Fox? All the things that The Simpsons parody and have fun with are the kinds of things that Fox supports - besides which they don't seem to understand the "merciless satire" which has made the show internationally famous and loved? Why on earth would they, of all people, provide a 'tremendous media platform' to a show they abhor?
This just goes to show you that much of what you have been told, and may believe, about Fox is not accurate; as is nearly everything that the media reports.

To me that makes no sense: it was the show itself which earned this almost-global "platform" as it is broadcast all over the world on hundreds of different channels. It was never broadcast (or referred to?) on Fox.
Did you miss this part?
Quote:
As part of the original contract, drawn up when FOX was still a fly-by-night operation, The Simpsons had total immunity from network interference.


This would tend to indicate that it was broadcast on Fox from the beginning.

I would also disagree that 'disruptions' in this context has absolutely anything to do with "fighting" though "instability" is valid. They're talking about the writing process: - things that could "disrupt" the smoothness of that process could be the illness/death/breakdown/quitting of any of the writing team. Each episode depended on the writing team: if anything at all happened to even one person in that team it could have spelt disaster for the show. The point of the paragraph is to show the vulnerability and "chancy" aspect of the show's production: if anything happened to even one member of the team it could have ruined the show.
Here is another case of reading into the post some things that are not there. The author of the book never mentioned "fighting" or "instability" at all. That is entirely your own conclusion.

Only "disruptions" without defining them are mentioned and that any such disruptions "would have enormous effects on the quality of the show [for good or ill]"; a conclusion you also reached at the end of your paragraph.



We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2018 12:38:47 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 31,025
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
FounDit wrote:
The author of the book never mentioned "fighting" or "instability" at all. That is entirely your own conclusion.

Not Romany's conclusion - riverbottom's in the original post.

Quote:
I suppose the phrase 'any disruptions' means fight and instability. Do I understand correctly that phrase?


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
CamNewton
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2018 11:14:37 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 11/25/2018
Posts: 19
Neurons: 69
Location: Asheville, North Carolina, United States
riverbottom wrote:
[quote=Romany]
However, I don't see how - or where - one could get the impression that the "tremendous media platform" that The Simpson's has attracted came from Fox and it's viewers? I thought The Simpsons brand of satire was anathema to Fox? All the things that The Simpsons parody and have fun with are the kinds of things that Fox supports - besides which they don't seem to understand the "merciless satire" which has made the show internationally famous and loved? Why on earth would they, of all people, provide a 'tremendous media platform' to a show they abhor?

To me that makes no sense: it was the show itself which earned this almost-global "platform" as it is broadcast all over the world on hundreds of different channels. It was never broadcast (or referred to?) on Fox.

The key here is that Fox Broadcasting Group - the broadcast network - and Fox News, the conservative news channel, are as separate from each other as they are from, say, 20th Century Fox (the film studio) - or Sky Sports. Same parent company, but totally independent and autonomous units.

Though of course Murdoch is a conservative and many of his properties have a conservative tinge, the brand of conservatism associated with Fox News is specific to that organization and has more to do with Roger Ailes, the staff he built, and the ideological audience they cater to. On a practical level, Fox News is a cable channel, available only in cable packages.

The Fox network, meanwhile (formally Fox Broadcasting Group), is a US-style broadcast network slash content producer, and is apolitical.

Sidebar on the nature of networks: A network consists of several hunded independently-owned over-the-air stations that have "affiliation agreements" to air the content of a given producer corporation - and, if they choose, to self-brand accordingly. In addition, local stations also buy supplemental programming from independent producers, produce their own programming, air local sports, sell time for infomercials, you name it. So, for example, if I turn on my TV right now and go to channel 10, that's WGHP, a local station which is a Fox Broadcasting Group affiliate, branding itself as Fox8 (no relation to the Australian entity of the same name). Right now, it's airing some paid programming - i.e., a decision by the local station that it would do better just selling this Sunday morning air time to a third party than using Fox content (like a Simpsons re-run) and trying to sell ads around that. Starting at 10am, we will be shown NFL and NFL-adjacent content, which dominates US TV on Sundays. This is Fox content - a no-brainer for the affiliate to air, especially since our local team plays at 1pm. Then, at 6pm, we'll be presented with the local news, which is a product of WGHB, and branded as "Fox8 News". Fox News, right? Nope. Even though it's news, and it's on a Fox affiliate, and it's branded as "Fox8 News", this is actually an independent (and apolitical) news program produced by WGHP for local consumption. Absolutely no cross-over with Fox News. Confusing indeed.

Meanwhile, if I flip over to channel 40, which I decidedly won't, that's Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel and home to all of the conservative pundits you know and love. It's just a separate beast that happens to be owned by the same folks.

The Simpsons is strictly a product of the Fox Broadcasting Group - as created and managed by an independent production company - and is aired by its hundreds of network affiliates. Its relation to Fox News is basically like your relation to your second cousin. (Thank God.)
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2018 11:50:13 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
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CamNewton wrote:


Meanwhile, if I flip over to channel 40, which I decidedly won't, that's Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel and home to all of the conservative pundits you know and love.


While true, it's not quite the complete picture. Fox News isn't just the home to "all the conservative pundits", they do also give voice to those on the political Left.

In fact, this formulaic approach is what I find so annoying about the channel and can barely tolerate it. The host will spend several minutes setting up the topic, then bring on the guests with opposing views, spend several more minutes setting up the topic again, then allow each guest to pontificate their political talking points, only to repeat the process on the next topic. I find it repulsive, so I get news from other sources and avoid opinion shows as much as possible.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
CamNewton
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2018 12:03:13 PM
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Location: Asheville, North Carolina, United States
FounDit wrote:
CamNewton wrote:


Meanwhile, if I flip over to channel 40, which I decidedly won't, that's Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel and home to all of the conservative pundits you know and love.


While true, it's not quite the complete picture. Fox News isn't just the home to "all the conservative pundits", they do also give voice to those on the political Left.

In fact, this formulaic approach is what I find so annoying about the channel and can barely tolerate it. The host will spend several minutes setting up the topic, then bring on the guests with opposing views, spend several more minutes setting up the topic again, then allow each guest to pontificate their political talking points, only to repeat the process on the next topic. I find it repulsive, so I get news from other sources and avoid opinion shows as much as possible.

Quite true - left out a lot of detail because the post was already getting very long!

When it comes to the "voices on the political left" they air, I do tend to find that they're either a.) centrists with some history as Democrats who come on pretty much exclusively to bash the Democratic party and conveniently echo Republican talking points (i.e. Lanny Davis types), or b.) weirdos and losers, selected specifically as convenient strawmen.

There are exceptions, but IMO they curate their selection of go-to left-of-center guests to be as offputting and ineffective as possible in actually speaking for anything resembling the left.
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2018 8:03:19 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,091
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CamNewton wrote:
FounDit wrote:
CamNewton wrote:


Meanwhile, if I flip over to channel 40, which I decidedly won't, that's Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel and home to all of the conservative pundits you know and love.


While true, it's not quite the complete picture. Fox News isn't just the home to "all the conservative pundits", they do also give voice to those on the political Left.

In fact, this formulaic approach is what I find so annoying about the channel and can barely tolerate it. The host will spend several minutes setting up the topic, then bring on the guests with opposing views, spend several more minutes setting up the topic again, then allow each guest to pontificate their political talking points, only to repeat the process on the next topic. I find it repulsive, so I get news from other sources and avoid opinion shows as much as possible.

Quite true - left out a lot of detail because the post was already getting very long!

When it comes to the "voices on the political left" they air, I do tend to find that they're either a.) centrists with some history as Democrats who come on pretty much exclusively to bash the Democratic party and conveniently echo Republican talking points (i.e. Lanny Davis types), or b.) weirdos and losers, selected specifically as convenient strawmen.

There are exceptions, but IMO they curate their selection of go-to left-of-center guests to be as offputting and ineffective as possible in actually speaking for anything resembling the left.


I have in the past seen a few centrists (a refreshing change) and some real weirdos and have to wonder how much their presence is a function of who on the Left is willing to come onto the Fox News shows. Nowadays, someone might possibly be putting their life at risk by doing so.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
CamNewton
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2018 8:50:23 PM
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Joined: 11/25/2018
Posts: 19
Neurons: 69
Location: Asheville, North Carolina, United States
FounDit wrote:
CamNewton wrote:
FounDit wrote:
CamNewton wrote:


Meanwhile, if I flip over to channel 40, which I decidedly won't, that's Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel and home to all of the conservative pundits you know and love.


While true, it's not quite the complete picture. Fox News isn't just the home to "all the conservative pundits", they do also give voice to those on the political Left.

In fact, this formulaic approach is what I find so annoying about the channel and can barely tolerate it. The host will spend several minutes setting up the topic, then bring on the guests with opposing views, spend several more minutes setting up the topic again, then allow each guest to pontificate their political talking points, only to repeat the process on the next topic. I find it repulsive, so I get news from other sources and avoid opinion shows as much as possible.

Quite true - left out a lot of detail because the post was already getting very long!

When it comes to the "voices on the political left" they air, I do tend to find that they're either a.) centrists with some history as Democrats who come on pretty much exclusively to bash the Democratic party and conveniently echo Republican talking points (i.e. Lanny Davis types), or b.) weirdos and losers, selected specifically as convenient strawmen.

There are exceptions, but IMO they curate their selection of go-to left-of-center guests to be as offputting and ineffective as possible in actually speaking for anything resembling the left.


I have in the past seen a few centrists (a refreshing change) and some real weirdos and have to wonder how much their presence is a function of who on the Left is willing to come onto the Fox News shows. Nowadays, someone might possibly be putting their life at risk by doing so.

How many people have died in the last, say, two decades as a result of "betraying the Left" by appearing on Fox News?

From where I stand, would seem like a fairly small number. 84? 3,401? 3? 0? Seems like the last one, but I don't have it in front of me.
Romany
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2018 6:22:03 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Cam -

Thank you so much for your clear explanation.

As a journalist in South Africa, Fox News were always conspicuous by their absence in that troubled - and frankly dangerous - forum. Yet they would issue "news" on the situation (occasionally) as if they really knew what they were talking about.

It has amused me and my family that recently they issued a piece in which "genocide" toward white farmers was the political imperitive in modern RSA. A completely b.s. scenario was presented culled, obviously, from the small far-right Afrikaans party which has been singing the same tune since the 80s in a rather Trump-like bid to stir up dissention and divisiveness once Mandela had come to power.

Obviously, as RSA is still a very violent society with one of the highest murder and rape statistics in the world. But the violence is not - and never has been - aimed specifically at white citizens. It's across the board with far more black South Africans aiming it each other than at the far smaller white population. Given the comparitively small white population: had it been a racially-activated movement the millions of black citizens could have wiped out the small cadre of Afrikaaners at any time in the countries violent past!

(Ooops. Sorry for deflecting the thread - but was trying to explain how I had come to write my earlier post. Among overseas journos Fox News is anathema.)


FounDit
Posted: Monday, November 26, 2018 6:15:40 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 10,091
Neurons: 52,657
CamNewton wrote:
FounDit wrote:
CamNewton wrote:
FounDit wrote:
CamNewton wrote:


Meanwhile, if I flip over to channel 40, which I decidedly won't, that's Fox News, the 24-hour cable news channel and home to all of the conservative pundits you know and love.


While true, it's not quite the complete picture. Fox News isn't just the home to "all the conservative pundits", they do also give voice to those on the political Left.

In fact, this formulaic approach is what I find so annoying about the channel and can barely tolerate it. The host will spend several minutes setting up the topic, then bring on the guests with opposing views, spend several more minutes setting up the topic again, then allow each guest to pontificate their political talking points, only to repeat the process on the next topic. I find it repulsive, so I get news from other sources and avoid opinion shows as much as possible.

Quite true - left out a lot of detail because the post was already getting very long!

When it comes to the "voices on the political left" they air, I do tend to find that they're either a.) centrists with some history as Democrats who come on pretty much exclusively to bash the Democratic party and conveniently echo Republican talking points (i.e. Lanny Davis types), or b.) weirdos and losers, selected specifically as convenient strawmen.

There are exceptions, but IMO they curate their selection of go-to left-of-center guests to be as offputting and ineffective as possible in actually speaking for anything resembling the left.


I have in the past seen a few centrists (a refreshing change) and some real weirdos and have to wonder how much their presence is a function of who on the Left is willing to come onto the Fox News shows. Nowadays, someone might possibly be putting their life at risk by doing so.

How many people have died in the last, say, two decades as a result of "betraying the Left" by appearing on Fox News?

From where I stand, would seem like a fairly small number. 84? 3,401? 3? 0? Seems like the last one, but I don't have it in front of me.


I didn't say anyone died. I said they might possibly be putting their life at risk. In just the last several months, we've seen elected and appointed officials harassed in restaurants by the Left, their homes vandalized, their families threatened, seen them cornered in the halls of Congress, shouted down in chambers, ran out of town halls and college campuses, seen the Left take over streets, smash windows, destroy cars, set fires, and open fire on Senators playing baseball.

The Left has attacked college professors who don't toe the political line, they call for the removal of those who disagree with them on campuses, and seek to destroy the reputations of any who speak out in favor or support of an opposing view. All this has been done to anyone they disagree with, but you don't see any risk?
I do.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
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