A blog about blogging

Apologies in advance for going a little meta here- I’m about to blog about blogging.

Anyway, as I was waiting for an Important Phone Call, I ended up amusing myself by watching an episode of House. I was never an avid week-to-week watcher of the show, but despite it trying its best to be complex, it’s really a show you can drop in on at any episode and not be totally confused by.

The episode in question is called “Private Lives,” and it’s from the episode’s sixth season. In it, House and co. treat a famous blogger. “Interesting,” I thought to myself. “I wonder how stereotypical this blogger will be.” The answer to the question- WAY stereotypical.

It was apparent right from the first scene, as the blogger sat in semi-darkness, typing a mundane anecdote about her fighting with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend then comes into the room, and she accidentally lets it slip that she blogged their argument. He gets pissed and says something to the effect of “I don’t want you blogging about me, delete it.”

It only gets worse throughout the episode. A reader of the woman’s blog comes to visit her in the hospital, and the two women are on their laptop, with the reader reading the blogger’s blog. At that point Wilson says “You know you’re in the same room, right?”

Later on (potential spoilers if you must see episode six, episode 15 but haven’t yet) the woman finds out she needs a new heart valve, and must decide whether to get a valve from a pig (which would allow her to have children, but she’d need surgery again in ten years), or to use a plastic valve (which could be used indefinitely but would require meds that would cause birth defects). Her boyfriend puts in a passionate plea for the pig valve, the blogger for the plastic, so to tie-break their argument, yep, she asks her readers for advice. They were supposedly the ones who convinced her to become a vegetarian, so naturally they choose the plastic valve.

What all of this illustrates (there’s way more blogger stereotypes in the episode but I don’t want to write about any more of them) is that TV shows and movies still don’t know how to accurately portray people who blog for a living or hobby. Yes, there are definitely some bloggers who are probably like the House character, but don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.

There are plenty of amazing, passionate people who blog about things other than every mundane aspect of their personal lives. I think of people like Steve Munro, a transit blogger, a guy who is super active in the Toronto community. He’s an expert on the stuff, but he’s certainly not a shut-in. Or I could even talk about my friend Steph, who has a wonderful website you should all look at called Snacking on Sunshine. She blogs about food while having amazing adventures in London, England (or wherever she is now).

What House also did is make it look like people who blog about everything in their lives are bound to get a lot of readers. People with such general-interest blogs rarely amass a huge following. For every one person that gets famous blogging, there are hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of blogs that are read by no one or few people (this blog probably falls a little more to the latter category, as you might guess).

Will an accurate portrayal of a blogger ever exist on TV or in the movies? Probably, and the most accurate portrayal of a blogger would be to cast a regular person, not someone who must grab their laptop after something momentous happens.

7 thoughts on “A blog about blogging

  1. minoad

    I think I see a corollary here between TV and blogging. TV creates very two dimensional characters on purpose. They do it for ease of consumption and because they have a limited time frame to present. Think of how every dad is a moron or every teenage girl is a basket case. When a show breaks those roles to be ‘edgy’ it simply reinforces the fact that those roles exist.

    I have just started blogging. In fact, part of the reason I came to your blog was to learn how to do it better. When I started blogging a month ago, my posts were sometimes in the 11 page range. A few friends of mine read them and said, “cut down on the number of words”.

    This is the corollary i see. TV uses cliche attributes on a blogger because they don’t have the time or fear that their viewers cannot consume a truly multi-dimensional character. Bloggers (I’m using that term loosely because I am including myself in that set) have the exact same problem due to an intentional limiting of word count in order to keep people interested.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I am just exploring the idea now, so please let me know if i made any logical mistakes. This is coming from the top of my head as a result of reading your post and may not be completely thought out.

    1. glasspaperweight Post author

      Wow, thanks for the very thoughtful comment! I definitely hadn’t thought that way, and you’re totally right about the similarities between TV and blogging. I’ve always been bothered by the internet’s seemingly-inherent dislike of long-form writing (I want to strangle someone when I read tl;dr) but I recognize that people don’t necessary go online to read pages and pages of text. So yes, definitely House simplified its blogger character because developing the character would eat away at time better(?) spent on other things.

      1. minoad

        I read something a long time ago. I don’t remember the source, but it stated that Hollywood writers would love to show unattractive actresses for the character development process. Because the studios think that people will not come if the actresses aren’t hot, the writers use other methods to show imperfections. Because of this every hot, quirky girl in a movie who needs to show some imperfection is always clumsy. They did a montage of a couple of dozen different romantic comedies were the female star was talking about being clumsy or stumbling down the street.

        I find the idea of retaining the idealized version of something but using a stand in of some sort an interesting method to show multi-dimentionality without needing to spend a very large amount of otherwise useful time on the initial character or idea development. I wonder if there is a way to correlate this to blogs.

        As a final note, because these methods are usually so ham handed, I rarely watch TV any more. A few shows have successfully broken the mold, but they are not the norm. I think the show ‘Bones’ has done an amazing job at flipping the male/female assumptions that audiences expect without insulting their intelligence. The show ‘New Girl’, ironically starring the ‘Bones’ actresses sister is one of the most ham-handed attempts i have ever seen, in my opinion. I feel like the writers on this show take an obviously extremely attractive actress, throw a pair of glasses on her and say, “ooo, look how plain and quirky she is! We are such a mold breakers!”

        My whole point, which got a little side tracked over that last rant is, “Can we use these methods in blogging to use a preexisting template in someone’s head about a subject in order to save time and word count, without falling into that ham handed trap?” Basically, what is an example of ‘Bones’ in the context of blogging without becoming ‘New Girl’?

      2. glasspaperweight Post author

        That’s a very interesting question, and something that I feel like I’d need to take time to think about.

        Interesting that you mention New Girl, which has actually become one of my favourite TV shows now. I think it started off exactly as you said, putting hipster glasses on Zooey Deschanel and trying to make a comedy about her being quirky, but it has since done a great job of developing its other characters, and as their relationships become more defined and their characters get more fleshed out, the show seems to get better and better. I can’t comment on Bones since I haven’t seen it, but it’s an interesting point you make.

  2. minoad

    Understood. Apologies about ripping on ‘New Girl’, I only saw the first couple of episodes. Those first two episodes made it a perfect stand in for my point.

    I am not even sure how to define the metrics to see if this is done right in a blogging context. I’m hoping that blogging is like any other skill and will simply develop over time. I’m taking classes on Illustration and Journalism to try to make myself a better blogger. Hopefully they will pay dividends.

    1. glasspaperweight Post author

      That’s always good, in terms of the classes you’re taking! I just finished journalism school myself, and a lot of the stuff definitely improved my writing and such. At the time the Online Journalism course was a little weak though, so I didn’t quite learn as much as I could have. But yes, you’re definitely taking the right courses! Hope it helps you out.

  3. Pingback: And Our Hurtful Games Shall Come to a Truce | Michael Writes

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