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Posts Tagged ‘ratings

“Civilization impairs physical fitness”*…

 

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American opera singer Roberta Peters (second from right, on table) works out on strength training equipment as her trainer, Joseph Pilates, stands on a table beside her. Also in the room are PIlates’ wife Clara (right) and her own, unidentified trainee (standing), February 1951.

 

By the early 1930s, Pilates was challenging the norms of physical culture in New York, advocating for holistic movement and upending ideas that athletic mastery — whether throwing a baseball or standing en pointe — could be achieved solely through those sports alone. He shaped a new vision of the body; abdominal muscles were not merely a source of core strength, he explained, but the basis of respiratory control, and while most trainers focused on major muscle groups, he sought to activate the equally important connective musculature to lengthen the entire body. At the same time, Pilates began teaching expecting mothers. Conventional medical knowledge long forbade exercise for pregnant women, but that started to shift as many women found the exercises helpful in regulating breath and regaining muscle tone.

On any given afternoon in his studio, you could find an eclectic crowd, from Broadway actors and ballet dancers to lawyers and housewives, all breathing rhythmically as Joseph or Clara led them through various exercises: the pulling of ropes atop structures that resembled patient beds at Knockaloe, measured twisting of the body, extensions of the arms and legs, and circular motions from the hips. For some, the practice was integral to their careers; for many, it simply offered a curious respite from the world, a place to feel their bodies engaged in measured, reciprocal movements at a time when the strains of the Great Depression, and later the terrors of the Second World War, fell over New York and the whole country. Indeed, there was comfort in the opportunity to tend to one’s body as an anatomical creation with underlying principles, and dubious clients were often convinced by Joseph’s playful analogies. “Take a horse,” he’d often say to patients. “If a man wants to race him, he keeps him in top form. He makes the horse move. Why not keep humans in top form, too?”…

Interned during WWI, circus entertainer Joseph Pilates used found materials and his fellow prisoners as his test lab, and imagined an exercise system that would captivate millions: “The Acrobatic Immigrant Who Invented Pilates in a Prisoner of War Camp.”

* Joseph Pilates

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As we bear down on breathing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that The Motion Picture Production Code was instituted, imposing strict guidelines on the treatment of sex, crime, religion, and violence in film in the U.S.  Popularly known as the Hays Code, after Will H. Hays, who was the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA, AKA the Motion Picture Association of America) from 1922 to 1945, it had become largely unenforceable by the late 1960s, and was abandoned, replaced by the MPAA rating system.

Motion_Picture_Production_Code source

 

 

Written by LW

March 31, 2020 at 1:01 am

“If you want to use television to teach somebody, you must first teach them how to use television”*…

 

One day in the mid-1970s, my mother received an offer she couldn’t refuse. She’d been contacted at random by a now-defunct television rating service (not Nielsen, which still records the nation’s tastes): Would our household like to participate in a socially important project?

Justice and fairness were my mother’s favorite concepts; freebies, her ultimate weakness. That meant yes, we did want to participate. The rating service promised that our viewing habits would help shape the national television landscape. Presuming our superiority was a habit my mother had long indulged, and she believed we could lead the way for the nation—by providing an example of responsible viewership and even saving some underdog programs with our attention. Having married an underdog, and being in the process of mothering several, she decided that covert boosterism of one show or another within our general viewing patterns would provide moral satisfaction and a sound contribution.

But her motives were not entirely noble…

You’ll laugh; you’ll cry…  but mostly you’ll laugh: How to be the top-rated television-viewing family in America– “Our Imaginary Brother Only Watches PBS.”

* Umberto Eco

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As we game the ratings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that The Miss America Pageant was televised for the first time.  The winner, Lee Meriwether, went, immediately after passing on her tiara, to The Today Show (as a “Today Girl”).  She subsequently appeared on TV series ranging from Leave It To Beaver and Dr. Kildare to The Fugitive and Barnaby Jones.  She also appeared in a number of films, probably most notably as the replacement for Julie Newmar as “Catwoman” in the 1966 Batman movie spun off of the successful TV series of the time.

Trading one tiara for another…

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Written by LW

September 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…*

 

Buzzfeed’s intrepid Kate Aurthur dove into a full week’s output from Nielsen, searching for the bottom of the television ratings barrel.

There are many channels in the United States, from the massive (USA, CNN, etc.) to the tiny. So many, in fact, that it does seem possible that at some hours of the day, no one — as in zero humans — is watching them. It’s also possible, of course, that this is where the problems of Nielsen Media Research, which has a monopoly on quantifying ratings, show themselves. If 324 ordinary Joe Shmoes — or 4,000 — did, in fact, watch one of the shows below, but none of those Joe Shmoes is in a Nielsen household, then those viewings do not register. Or, as Nielsen put it when I posed this question to them recently, the shows at the very bottom of the weekly cable list, the ones that get 0.0 total viewers, do not meet “minimum reporting thresholds.”

And yet, it does stand to reason that with hundreds and hundreds of available channels, there could be instances every week when not a single soul is tuning in to certain shows. When there are no longer broadcast networks and cable channels, and everything is digital and on-demand, we can look back at this period and marvel at its ridiculous economics.

I took a random week (Feb. 25-March 3) and delved into what sorts of shows — and cable channels — are members of the Zero Club. I excluded paid programming. And that left 35 shows that got zeros. You did not watch them. I did not watch them either. But here they are…

#1-13 

“WPRA Today,” RFD (Feb. 25, 6:30 a.m.). And 12 other shows on RFD.

What does WPRA stand for, you ask? Why, it’s the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. And there is a show about it. Having not previously known about channel RFD, which bills itself as “Rural America’s Most Important Network,” I am now obsessed with it. (If you are curious what RFD stands for, it’s “Rural Free Delivery,” and as for what that means, it’s so complicated there’s a whole explainer about it on the website.)

RFD focuses on agriculture, equine issues of the day, lifestyle, youth, and livestock auctions. Unfortunately, my cable provider, Time Warner Cable, does not feature RFD — like I needed another reason to hate Time Warner Cable. (Dish and DirecTV customers, I am jealous of you, and I am coming over, k?)

But RFD may want to reconsider their programming mix, because there were 12 other RFD shows that also got zero viewers: FFA Today (Feb. 27, 4 a.m.), Ken McNabb (Feb. 28, 6 a.m.), All Around Performance Horse (Feb. 27, 6 a.m.), Presleys’ Country Jubilee (Feb. 28, 3:30 a.m.), Dennis Reis (Feb. 27, 6:30 a.m.), Julie Goodnight (March 1, 6:30 a.m.), Voices of Agriculture (Feb. 27, 4:30 a.m.), US Dressage (Feb. 27, 3:30 a.m.), Little Britches Rodeo (Feb. 27, 3 a.m.), Ren’s Old Time Music (Feb. 25 and 26, 5:30 a.m.), Chris Cox (Feb. 26, 6 a.m.), and Campfire Café (Feb. 25, 3:30 a.m.). Nielsen families! I call to you to watch these shows! In the middle of the night!

Check out chokes from ESPN, VH-1, Fox, and the rest of the list at “The 35 Least-Watched Shows on TV.”

* after George Berkeley‘s famous thought experiment: “But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park […] and nobody by to perceive them. […] The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden […] no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.” From A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710).

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As we prepare to dive, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that the first U.S. patent for a combination lead pencil and eraser was issued to Hyman L. Lipman, of Philadelphia, Pa. (No. 19,783).  Lipman’s design reserved one-fourth of the pencil’s length to hold a piece of prepared india-rubber, glued in at one edge; the balance, conventional graphite “lead.”  So, sharpening one end prepared the lead for writing, while sharpening the other exposed a small piece of the eraser.

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Written by LW

March 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

Shadows on the wall of a cave…

Detail

2000 films.  20 genres.  100 years… The History of Film.

Created by Larry Gormley, the timeline…

…chronicles the history of feature films from the origins in the 1910s until the present day. More than 2000 of the most important feature-length films are mapped into 20 genres spanning 100 years. Films selected to be included have: won important awards such as the best picture Academy Award; achieved critical acclaim according to recognized film critics; are considered to be key genre films by experts; and/or attained box office success.

It is resolutely seen through the eyes of a U.S. cinema-goer (so misses many European, Latin American, and Asian candidates); but still, much fun!

 click here for zoomable version

Special exuberant extra:

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As we shake a little extra salt onto our popcorn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1968 that the Motion Picture Association of America’s film-rating system was introduced.  On the heels of the release of films like The PawnbrokerBlow-Up, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, MPAA President Jack Valenti was under pressure from studios and exhibitors alike to find a replacement for The Hayes Code, which had been in effect since the early 30s.  The result was the G- PG- R-X rating system that lasted until 1990, when X was replaced by NC-17.

For a peek behind the curtain at how this self-regulatory system does (and doesn’t) work, readers can screen Kirby Dick’s doc, This Film is Not Yet Rated.

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