Friday, January 28, 2011


Message on sign:


January 26 - January 28, 2011

Other signs on the Quad:

- "Ban the Bag Showdown High Noon Thursday Jan. 27 Red Square"

- "Yoga Marathon: free lessons"


The sign reminded some people of the Magritte painting of a pipe under which was written: "This is not a pipe

One person was reminded of the song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Some said there wouldn't be any reason not to show it, or that they would show it because it would be ironic to do so.

Some replies to the question: "Why would it not be shown?":

- there are no cameras here

- it's not an important enough story

- they can't make any money or improve their ratings by showing it

- it tells people not to show it so they don't

- it's a privacy issue

- it can't possibly be shown at all because there are some kinds of understanding or interpretations that cannot be expressed or shown in any way 

Of the more than dozen people I asked, none had seen the film Network.

Several people couldn't figure out why the sign wouldn't be shown and agree to go away and think about it and come back and tell me what they'd thought. Some came back but, no one figured out what I was getting at.

To explain my interpretation of the sign, I asked people whether they ever saw criticism of television on television. They said some shows criticize other shows, but no one on TV ever tells you to turn it off, with the exception, according to one student, of Nickelodeon one day a year when they broadcast only a message on the screen telling people to go outside and play. I asked whether any professor ever suggested to them the university was a waste of time. Some professors might say the university was not the right place for some people, but non-tenured professors would be risking tenure if they said something like that. The sign suggests that there are some things that you will not see on TV, and therefore television executives would be motivated not to show the sign for fear the audience would start to wonder whether they're shown everything they should be shown.

For a complete transcript of discussions with people about this sign (or at least as complete as memory would allow), see here, January 26-28.

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