How to Write (Smart) About Pop Culture | Jennifer Keishin Armstrong | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Lecture #1: Writing (Smart) About Pop Culture (4:34)

    • 2. Lecture #2: Analyzing Good Examples of Pop Culture Writing (9:51)

    • 3. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted (2:22)

    • 4. Mary Tyler Moore Show: Three Things You Didn't Know (2:53)

    • 5. Lecture #3: Dos and Don'ts of Pop Culture Writing (10:01)

    • 6. Lecture #4a: Taking Pop Culture Writing to Book Level (9:49)

    • 7. Lecture #4b: Taking Your Pop Culture Writing to Book Level (3:11)

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About This Class

What did Beyonce's Super Bowl performance mean to feminism? Is Girls great art? How does binge-watching TV shows change the way we interpret them?

Pop culture drives national conversations like never before, thanks to social media and blogs. That means there are more opportunities than ever to write about the TV shows, movies, and music you're passionate about -- and you can go beyond the mere who-are-you-wearing/who-are-you-dating fluff that dominates so many entertainment-driven sites and publications.

I've spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, and write for several publications, including Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. I've provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&E, and ABC. In this class, I'll be sharing my pop culture writing secrets with you so you can begin writing brilliant pieces of your own.

If you want to make a living -- or even just an online splash -- by writing about your favorite stuff, this is the class for you.

In this class, we'll look at some of the best pop culture writing out there, from the likes of The New Yorker,, and The AV Club. We'll talk about ways to keep up with the latest in entertainment, the elements of a "smart" pop culture piece, and how to expand these ideas into book form.

In this class, you'll work to develop your own essay, blog post, or article and submit it for feedback from myself and your classmates. 

Hope to see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

New York Times bestselling author


A New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of seven pop culture history books, including Seinfeldia; Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted; and Sex and the City and Us. Her forthcoming book When Women Invented Television will be published in March 2021. Her work appears in many publications, including BBC Culture, The New York Times Book Review, Vice, New York magazine, and Billboard.

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1. Lecture #1: Writing (Smart) About Pop Culture (4:34): - Hi, - guys. - Welcome to my skill share class about writing smart about pop culture. - My name is Jennifer Cation. - Armstrong and I will be walking you through these lessons in a couple of different video - steps. - So the 1st 1 is going to be about kind of figuring out what you want to write about, - because that's what is most important. - You can't do anything until you figure out what you want to write that. - So the first thing you want to do is just think about what your passion about which is the - fun part, - right? - You think about what you like to watch, - what you like to listen to you. - You know, - whether you're most interested and knowledgeable about movies or television or books. - Think about all of those things. - You know, - of course, - you can combine them and you don't have to stay Justin TV because that's what you've - decided. - But a lot of times, - it's easier to kind of gain the global knowledge you need about an industry if you - concentrate on one or a few of them instead of trying to know everything about everything. - So what you have that figured out also think about the more specific things you like within - those genres, - you know? - Do you like comedies? - Mawr? - Do you like hip hop those sorts of things again. - Of course you can cross pollinate and you can combined things that's completely allowed. - There are no real rules here, - but it will help you to kind of figure out beforehand what you're gonna be writing about - and what you want to concentrate your knowledge. - So once you figure that out, - another thing to think about is what bigger issues in the world you care about. - Of course, - pop culture is very important in itself, - and there's nothing wrong with carrying about that. - But you know, - you maybe you just care very much about the artistic expression and history of a certain - kind of pop culture, - and that is a completely legitimate thing to concentrate on. - You know, - critics do that all the time. - Some people know a lot about something like the history of hip hop music, - you know, - and that is a great area of expertise, - so that's great. - But you can also think about if you have specific causes that you're really interested in, - You know, - whether it's women's rights, - racial issues gay rights. - You know, - there's lots of different things of environmentalism can even come up a lot, - you know? - So any of those things that you really care about in the world and are also passionate - about that's just gonna add to both Be sort of feeling of importance in bigness of your - pieces in the world and also, - you know, - cut across audiences, - reach new audiences and fuel your own passion about what you're writing about so that it's - not just about you know, - what Britney Spears was wearing in the word show or something like that. - You know, - um, - this will give you this sense of sort of gravitas and at smart that we have in the - parentheses in our class title, - but probably should be far more important than just a parenthetical. - Yeah, - for instance, - what I've done is mostly written a lot about women's issues in pop culture. - I run a website called Sexy Feminist. - So clearly I am an out and proud feminist so that influences love my subject matter - decisions. - You know, - I've written about things like the feminist issues in the TV show girls. - You know, - the grand feminist implications of Beyonce at the Super Bowl. - And, - of course, - I wrote an entire book about The Mary Tyler Moore Show in general. - But also a lot of it has to do with this shows impact in the feminist movement of the 19 - seventies and also how it was influenced by that movement. - So those are the kinds of things that can give you more meat to chew on in your block posts - or your articles or even for entire books. - And especially if you're going to write an entire book, - you have to have a lot to talk about. - So think about all of those things, - and that's sort of your first step in your journey toward then, - combining these things so that you can write smartly about pop culture. - And in the next segment, - we'll look at a few really great examples of this 2. Lecture #2: Analyzing Good Examples of Pop Culture Writing (9:51): so forgive me. I will be looking down a little bit at my iPad during this part so that I can read you some examples. I do want you to Kidman. First of all, a few more tips when you're thinking about your subject matter, and these will play out in the examples that we're about to look at, Um, first of all, think about you know how you can analyze things through larger lens like we talked about in the first video. You know, think about big issues, but also, you know, just making sense of something that fans may have noticed lately. Trends are very, very big. People love to read about trends, So think about those kinds of things, like if you go to the movies, you notice something unusual going on that's going on across many different kinds of movies . That might be a trend, and maybe there's something you can look into. We're gonna look at an example of that in a minute. Another thing you can think about is if you notice emotional reactions to some big event. I'm thinking of, of course, the recent Beyonce's Super Bowl extravaganza and how excited and intends some of the reaction was, if you look at Twitter, you can often tell what things should be that you wanna discuss in black post the next day because that's gonna be hot on the Internet on, especially if you can take it forward a little bit beyond just Oh, my gosh, that was amazing. Her. I hate Beyonce and this confirms it. You know, you really want to be able to explain why there might have been such a strong reaction to such a phenomenon. Um, you don't want to force too much, you know, into your pieces. You don't have forced analysis, analysis and opinion just to kind of attract block traffic, as many people do. You may notice. And I have shared with you a black post that I wrote about just that phenomenon that is in the resource is section. But you know, as long as you read into your passion and your writing about stuff you feel genuinely about , you're not just whipping up emotion. Teoh, get the traffic. You'll be just fine on also, just think about what you're talking about friends that goes back to the Twitter thing. But, you know, people are posting like crazy about something on Facebook. If it's actually coming up in riel live conversation, which some people still have, you know, in person conversation. If you notice that happening, that might be a good topic for you to explore. A swell. So think about ways you can kind of take those things and then explore them, you know? Why is this happening? How is it happening? What does this mean? Those air sent sort of the big questions that you want to look into answering with what you write. So I wanted Teoh do a little bit of reading through. You guys can read the entire piece. Is I posted about them in the resource section. But I'm just gonna read the beginnings of two fairly recent pieces that I think work really well and also, by the way, are in very respected publications. So clearly, you know, we're in the right direction here. You're not just gonna be writing for in Touch Weekly or something like that. If you write about pop culture, I promise you, um, the first peace is a next day blood post from The New Yorker about the Oscars, and if you will recall. If you're into movies and you watch the Oscars, you may have noticed there was a lot of vitriolic reaction the next day to sex Seth McFarland hosting and kind of the sexist nature of almost all of what he did. So this is from that. And what I really liked about this piece is it takes. It does a lot of the things we just talked about, right. It takes the very intense reactions, a lot of people and tries to explain them. And it even went a step further. I mean, I think it was pretty obvious from the start, you know, with that, and we'll be talking about this when I read this, but that we saw your boobs skin made it clear from the beginning. You know, no one was unclear about what was going on. It was sexist, but this took it even a step further and tied it into the discussions going on about women in the workplace. Right now, Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean in all that good stuff in it, and it works. She she wasn't forcing anything, so I'm just going to read you the 1st 2 paragraphs, and you can kind of state watching the Oscars last night, men sitting through a Siri's crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self satisfied self, Seth Macfarlane. That would be to use enough. But the evenings the sovereignty involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the academy could possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour and started with a number called We Saw Your Boobs. We Saw Your Boobs with the song and dance routine, in which Macfarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movie is in which their breasts were visible. That's about it. What made it worse was that many of the movies mentioned, if not all, were pretty great. So would Brokeback Mountain Monster's Ball Monster, the accused virus and not exactly teen exploitation pictures. The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth Macfarlane, but rather to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you're making art. The academy, through my far lands, seem to say, but all we and the week was resolutely male, really see is that you got we got you to address the joke's on you At a moment when Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, talks about how women have to lean into the workplace, Seth McFarlane pops up from behind to say, So we can see your boobs so you can see she's time this into a lot of broader issues. She also kind of doesn't call back to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosting the recent Golden Globes and doing really great job of it. So there's a lot going on here, and the more you can kind of tied together multiple cultural elements, the better off you are. See, just in these 1st 2 paragraphs, we've got the Oscars and Seth Macfarlane. But we also have, you know, some contacts with movies and how serious they were and also bringing it into the Cheryl Sandberg discussion and whatnot. So those are the sorts of things you want to aim for when you're trying to write smart about pop culture going to read you. One more example in this video, and this is from the Atlantic, and this is a piece called Wire. Why are romantic comedy so bad? that's got a lot of pick up and play, which is always a good thing. You know, people. Lots of people were talking about it, and basically the writer set out to explore exactly the question, and that's why we're meant to come. Use of that. And it's something that I think a lot of us have been talking about, kind of amongst ourselves likely to go to another Group. B. If you even confined a romantic comedy and you walk out kind of like What is going on? Do you guys remember when we used to have when Harry met Sally? So he really dug into it and tried to explain why this might be happening. So this is the 1st 2 paragraphs. The romantic comedy has fallen on tough times. After a decade of essentially printing money, the genre abruptly ran out of box office. See em in 2012 I would argue, possibly earlier as the producer Linda host a room, a romcom, joy and Sleepless in Seattle. How to lose a guy in 10 days told New York magazine Culture Block in December. It's the hardest time of my 30 years in the business. In a departure from February's Gone by the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day this year were devoid of a single helping of romantic frost featuring Drew Bear or or Kate Hudson or any of the multitude of Jennifer's No. 51st dates. No Fools Gold. No, he's just not that into you. So what happened? Arrangement explanations has been offered from studios evermore obsessed with blockbuster franchises to a generation of movie goers less starry eyed than their predecessors. But this line of inquiry misses the point. The proper question isn't why haven't romantic Cos why have romantic comedies suddenly stopped being profitable? But rather, why have they been so lackluster for decades? Exactly the fact that the 2009 Catherine Hybl vehicle, The Ugly Truth, made a great deal of money in no way alters the fact that it was atrocious. I am not, by nature, a cinematic decline ist, and it's true that classics of the genre have been sprinkled across the years, from the bitter sweet out of Annie Hall to the ascending optimism of when Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman to the raunchy recitations of Judd Apatow. But when one thinks back on the works, reliable, insured out by the likes of Tracy and Hepburn and Grant and the other happen. It's rather hard not to get dispirited. So this then goes on. This is a very long piece. This goes on to basically end up positing that the reason romantic comedies are not so great these days is that romance has fundamentally changed. And we don't have as many barriers to say, getting together and living happily ever after like Romeo and Juliet did, or that sort of thing. You can debate amongst yourselves or your friends whether or not that is something you agree with as the main reason. But it's certainly an interesting hypothesis, and he backs it up and he walks through a lot of other interesting cultural phenomenon along the way. So take a look at those two pieces and think about, of course, again, how you might be able to emulate some of those things and you're in pieces 3. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted (2:22): - I was really excited. - Teoh Look into writing a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show When I was interviewing a lot - of current female comedians, - mostly Tina Fey and Julia Louis Dreyfus, - they all cite the Mary Tyler Moore Show as their inspiration. - And I thought, - you know what was going on here? - That so many women now really looked up to this particular sitcom. - And once I looked into it, - I also found out that it was one of the first shows to hire many women behind the scenes to - write for it as opposed to just the token one or two. - And that seemed to make all the difference, - I think, - and women of the time really responded to it and related to it and still look to it today - for inspiration. - M. - I merrier. - Roda is something that often comes up in the course of discussing the Mary Tyler Moore Show - . - I think we all identified more with one than the other, - and I would say that I grew up as a merry I was a very good girl, - but I really aspired to be Rhoda, - and I'm happy to say that I think I grew up to be more of a roda, - a little more out spoken. - She had great fashion, - said. - She was really artsy. - She was very cool, - and I always always wanted to be here. - And I used to wear headscarves when I was about five years old, - hoping to some day be a school issues. - I believe that Mary Richards would not necessarily have called herself a feminist at the - time that she was on the show. - But I think that she learned a lot of lessons through what we saw in the show. - That probably would have led her to eventually identify as a feminist. - I like to believe that she would be out there somewhere right now, - kind of rabble rousing, - even in her latter years. - I think a lot of television shows in the last I'd say 10 or even 20 years really, - really hard back to Mary Tyler Moore Show, - and we've seen an explosion of them now in recent years. - Specifically, - the show's about single women kind of making it on their own in the city and everything - from 30 rock to now. - The Mindy project, - I think, - really reflects that 4. Mary Tyler Moore Show: Three Things You Didn't Know (2:53): - My name is Jennifer Cation Armstrong, - and I'm the author of Mary and Lou and Rodent had a history of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. - And I'm gonna tell you three things that you may not have known about The Mary Tyler Moore - Show. - Even if you're one of its biggest fans. - The first thing is that actually, - perhaps its biggest fan of all time is named Joe Rainone. - He started writing them letters when he was 20 years old and an accounting student from - Rhode Island. - Every week, - he was going to write a five page typed letter that would analyze that week's episode, - and he thought, - you know, - he might be giving them valuable information and feedback. - He started doing that, - and about halfway through the first season he got a birthday card from them, - and then he asked if he could come visit them on the side. - He has got a little bolder and they said yes, - and they actually invited him out for a week to care of him and in fact, - stayed in touch with him until the end of the show, - and he was able to come back for the finale. - The second thing is that producer James L. - Brooks, - who was very afraid of speaking in public, - it should be said, - was invited to speak on a panel with Gloria Steinem at a huge feminist conference in Texas - about women in the media and had, - you know, - almost a little dust up with Gloria Steinem. - That still seems to kind of haunt him. - Steinem was moderating a panel, - and she started off talking about how Mary Richards had asked for a pay raise to equal that - of her male predecessor but didn't get it. - A lot of feminists felt like Mary Richards was not enough of a women's libber for that time - to be the representative of women on television. - So Steinem kind of went after the show a little bit for that and the fact that Mary - Richards still called her boss, - Mr Grant, - when everyone else just called him Lu. - The third thing is that Ed Asner, - who played Mr Grant, - was a gruff Midwesterner when he came to the show and had some old school ways about women - , - and, - in fact, - admittedly said that he had some misgivings about having women writing a lot of the scripts - for him. - But He eventually learned a lot from being on the show and from having women right for him - . - He thanks a lot of them in his Emmy speeches later and eventually came around to really - being an actual card carrying feminist and delivered the National Organization for Women's - 20th anniversary broadcast. 5. Lecture #3: Dos and Don'ts of Pop Culture Writing (10:01): I'm just going Teoh run through some do's and dont's with regard to smart pop culture reading. Of course, these things are just my opinion, as all things in pop culture and reading are always someone's opinion. But I'll tell you a little bit about what I think, what I've learned in my 10 to 15 years, how long it's been now of writing about this stuff. So I would say, First of all, some of these are gonna be review, but it doesn't hurt. My first big do is to make a fresh argument or 0.1 of my sure that this isn't something that everybody saying otherwise. What about right? And it's tougher and tougher these days. Everyone's running around blowing about everything all the time, especially about culture. So look at what else is out there before you start writing her before you pitched editors and try to formulate a new opinion point, you know, a new, even just a new way of looking at a new entry point, something to add to the discussion. If you remember from our last video, for instance, the Oscar post we look at didn't just say, Hey, the Oscars were sexist. They tied it into a bunch of other phenomena going on at the time as well, like Cheryl Sandberg's book. So that's sort of what the ultimate goal is to tell us something we don't already know. I know it's hard, but I have to drive. Another thing is to do thorough research and reporting. I am a big fan of reporting, so I am always talking about it in all of my classes. And I just you know, I think it's really important. Whether trained reporter or not, we can all do it. All you have to do is ask questions and look for the answers and make sure that the answers are accurate and trustworthy as possible. But you do have to do a little bit of research. You can't just lag around about things, and you're opinions because you know people don't know you, so they don't know why they should listen to you. Whether you're an amazing expert on this topic or not, you need to have facts to back up your opinions. You can't just say this is great or the socks. You have to tell us why you have to describe what happened and you have to give us context . You know, if you can kind of go back in history, sometimes in pop culture, tell us what came before it. That could be great. Tell us what kinds of effects this thing might have in the future. That's great. Do some interviews. You can interview people who are experts in sociology or psychology or the people behind the making of the shows or movies or music that you're talking about. There's a lot of ways to give context and get statistics, you know, viewership, readership numbers. Any of those things can help kind of round out a story, depending on what your point is. But you really wanna have that feeling that you did your homework because that is how people are going to believe you. The last do that I have kind of goes along with that, which is to check for fat. Check your facts. Please don't just use Wikipedia, that is, it's a great resource, but notoriously unreliable. So if you get stuff from there, just make sure you check it elsewhere. Same thing goes for just random blocks you've never heard of, you know, the more sort of reputable the source, usually the better off you are. At least it looks a little more defensible right when you say I got my information from The New York Times rather than I got my information from Susie's block. So keep that in mind after you do your research. If you're gonna use a fact double check it just to make sure there's tons of misinformation out there, especially in the realm of pop culture routing right. Which reminds me, maybe try to stay away from too much repeating of unreliable, nefarious gossip type things. Hopefully, none of us here or even, you know, wanting to write too much about gossip. I know I have a severe distaste for it, for the most part, but there's a fine line between pop culture and gossip at some point, and we have to talk about certain things like Brad and Angelina there together. We know how they got together, you know, But just make sure that you're not just repeating unsourced things you saw on TV. For instance, just you want to be fair and careful, it's possible, and just to keep up your own reputation and make sure that you give credit when you get your information from, say, another BLAWG, especially people really tend to like when you give them credit and a link to them and often will call you out if you do not give them credit and tow them so you don't want to be , you know, stealing other people's information that they got from their hard won reporting without giving the credit. So keep all those things in mind, and then I have a few doughnuts. I personally feel like, you know, it's best not to be too petty, mean or superficial. These are all easy things to fall into when you're running about pop culture. You know, we are trained in our society to not think of our celebrities as people we have. It's a strange thing. We tend to think of them as both gods and goddesses, but also people we can just trample all over because they're not riel. And they do have feelings, I swear, and they may very well read what you write about them. We should not give you a heady sense of power so much as just a consciousness to make sure to be. It's fair to them as you would be to anyone else. I think we've all seen, you know, terrible things said about people like Kim Kardashian, for instance. That's been a big thing lately, and people feel like because they they don't like her. They've decided they don't like her, even though they've never met her in person, that it's OK to say mean things about her. They There's this feeling out there a lot that these people put themselves out there so we should be able to say whatever we want. But I would like to encourage you as much as possible to not be, you know, not be sort of personal about it, not being mean about it. And, you know, similar enough similarly, not be superficial in the way so many other people fall into like calling Kim Kardashian fat because she's gained weight because she's pregnant. That is not cool, and that's certainly not of a mind with the idea of smart pop culture, right and we want to stay away from that. So the only thing we want to be reading about I think with regard to that is maybe if you were examining why other people are doing that that falls more under the room of media criticism, and it's certainly fair game at some point when it becomes really ubiquitous. But, you know, just keep all that in mind. As I said, you want to make sure not to repeat unconfirmed rumors. I mean, that goes for certainly gossipy stuff, but any kind of unconfirmed rivers you want to watch out for. There's a lot of those in Hollywood, both with regard to, say, symbols, next project, and also with regard to their personalized to just try to be careful. And these people, I will tell you. You know, they do have high powered agents and attorneys and things like that looking out for them, and you never know who might run across, say, a block post. You wrote about someone they are watching, and you may get a phone call, so you want to stay as clean and straight narrow as possible so that you could say, Actually, I got this from this source, and it's reliable and the war that you can sort of defend your own actions, the better off you're gonna be. Plus you just just be a good person and I would say my last big don't is just I've written about this lately. Just be careful. Not Teoh star, ascribing too much wait to pop cultural figures, for instance, the example. I've used a lot recently as Beyonce. There's been a lot of talk about Beyonce in the last several months, and especially around the subject of feminism and like, you know, while it's interesting to talk about her in the realm of feminism and what she represents and why so many women respond to her particularly powerful image, for instance, it's also important not to end up essentially blaming the decline of feminism on Beyonce A . Just as, say, the quintessential example back in the nineties when they put Time magazine, put Ally McBeal on the cover and asked if she was the death of feminism. Of course she's not. She's out real. So you know, lets you know. You have to just be careful to not sort of blame these people and stop at just, you know, make it like, Why is Beyonce doing this instead? And why is she taking down feminism? You know, and said You might want to look at what she means to women and feminism. And then if there are problems associated with her, maybe you look at the societal ways we can fix them. I think Rihanna is another good example recently of, you know, let's not blame her for all of domestic violence and what she has personally gone through if we all know what she's gone through, and certainly we can use her story as a teachable moment. But instead of blaming her, we could look at say, the remedy is perhaps, that we could use in our society to stop domestic violence or change how we talk about it. So keep all of those things in mind, and when you're writing, your piece is hopefully that will keep you on the right track. 6. Lecture #4a: Taking Pop Culture Writing to Book Level (9:49): - Hi there. - I'm Jennifer Cation Armstrong. - Welcome back to our fourth and final in Summon to video for How to write Smart about pop - culture. - The last thing I wanted to talk about is how you can take your pop culture ideas to the - next level and consider perhaps writing entire book about it. - As you know, - one of the reasons I am doing this class is I recently wrote a book about the Mary Tyler - Moore Show called Mary and Blue and Rodent 10 which is out now. - And I was able to sort of take a bunch of ideas that had been percolating in my head for - some time and bring it all together in this one project. - You know, - my love Feminism came out in being able to tell the story of this show that became an - iconic show for feminists because it ran at the time of the women's movement in the 19 - seventies win. - This was a huge source of discussion, - so I was able to talk about all that. - I was able to tell the stories of a lot of women just coming up in the comedy at a time - when they weren't so welcome there, - and this all sort of came together in a show that I love since I was a kid. - So it's absolutely possible, - though I certainly wouldn't recommend reading a book about everything that you are - passionate about. - Something Zehr block posts of Things are long article and some things are book. - If you get lucky, - one of the things you come up with or many of things could end up being a book. - But there are some things to think about as you pursue that as an option. - First, - I really recommend looking at pop culture, - great pop culture books that tackle similar topics or tackle topics in a similar way to - what you might want to dio. - So some of my examples when I was pursuing this but project were easy writers. - Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind It's one of my favorite books of all time. - It is a really intense, - intensely researched, - rich narrative about movies of the 19 seventies, - and it was the first thing that made me think. - I wonder if I could write about television in the 19 seventies because it was a similar to - it was obviously the same time, - but they you know, - TV face different issues, - then movies at the time. - And so I I started thinking about it then and also I just thought, - Gosh, - if I ever write anything remotely similar to this book would be thrills. - It's a really great book on. - I hope That's, - you know, - maybe someday I will get close to being as great at this as Peter Biscuit, - another book that inspired me a lot. - Waas this book Fifth out you find AM, - which is about the making of breakfast at Tiffany's. - And that was the first time I really thought about doing a book about the Mary Tyler Moore - Show. - Specifically was when I saw this book in the bookstore. - Actually, - still remember that I was at the Burns Noble in Midtown, - and I saw it, - and I was actually leaving the bookstore with a different book, - and I came back and got mine again and bought this one because as soon as I saw that this - was a book about Brexit Japanese, - which I love, - but also how it shaped the modern American woman, - I thought, - Oh, - there it issue. - No, - If you focus on specific one specific show, - maybe that makes a difference. - And, - of course, - I'm interested in women's issues. - So Mary Tyler Moore show it made sense to me. - So I really did look a lot of those two books and kind of pattern to the way that I - approached the topic. - After what they did. - I haven't sat and broke down. - You know, - they're chapter structure and how they did it, - because I keep like that. - But you might want to consider doing similar things, - depending on what you want to write about. - Another good recent book. - This with This really was not related to my book, - but I just finished reading a book called The Holy or the Broken, - which is about the song Ali. - Leah. - That's it. - It's about one song, - which I thought was kind of amazing, - but he really pulls it off and ends up telling a story about kind of the meaning of music - in our lives and how we take it on and interpret it. - Our store sells regardless of what the original intent of Assam waas. - You know, - it was a Leonard Cohen song that was long for gotten and then covered by Jeff Buckley, - and then it was still even then wasn't discovered for a while, - and now it's one of the most covered songs currently. - So it was about kind of this evolution and what songs mean to people at different times in - their lives and in in different eras and how arse interpretations mean everything and sort - of even ends up talking also about how this song very much affected the lives of the people - who performed it. - So I thought that that was really a fun new perch and risky. - But then he think he pulls it off, - and it's worth looking out, - especially if you're interested in reading about music. - So do all that. - I always recommend reading as much as possible in your genre. - If this is something you want to do, - especially a book length, - you should always know what's out there. - And it's all about seeing what other people are doing and kind of making it your own - imitated my one of my first writing teachers in college, - told us, - read and imitate, - and I've been doing out of our senses so far, - it's worked out, - so I highly recommend that. - But then also, - when you're betting your own idea, - you want to think about whether or not you have enough for a book. - That's really the key here, - right? - So first of all, - are there a lot of good characters? - You need good characters to carry a book, - so that's the first thing you need is to make sure you have a great cast. - Essentially, - the next thing you have to think about is it. - Especially if your book is dependent on interviews, - then you need to figure out whether do you think you can get access to these people? - It's always very tricky when you're pursuing a book project that has to do with famous - people. - You could never be quite sure who's gonna participate. - In a lot of times, - you can't find out for sure until you have the book deal in hand, - because why would they talk to you if you're just a random person? - But if you can try to suss it out at least a little bit, - or maybe find access Teoh essentially a lower level person. - You know a person who is this famous but was involved in the project. - Maybe you can start there and kind of get them to introduce you into the circle slowly, - but you want toe, - especially if it's your first book. - Make sure that you have some reason to believe that you could talk to these some of the key - people involved. - If that's what you're planning to dio, - maybe you're doing more research based book and you don't need to do that. - Wish can be a great option, - especially for a first book. - Another thing you want to think about that is whether there's a story there. - You know, - of course. - Oh, - you know, - you could be really interested in the television show Friends, - but you still have to figure out whether there's a story arc behind it that can carry an - entire book. - You know, - you have to make sure there's points of conflict and things like that. - Once I started looking into The Mary Tyler Moore Show, - I found out that, - for instance, - they had a very hard time getting the concept together for the show because it felt too - controversial. - Still, - at the time to have a single independent woman over 30 on television. - It was scandalous, - and in fact, - they originally wanted the creators originally running to make her divorced. - But CBS would have none of that because it's very scandalous. - So you know there's a story there. - They had a really disastrous first taping up their pilot episode. - There's a story there. - They then went on to eventually become one of the most beloved and recognized shows along - the way often. - But we're both at odds with and of a piece with the feminist movements, - so there's a lot going on there. - Plus, - there were a lot of young women who wrote for the show, - and it was the first show, - one of the first shows they were wrote for. - And it was definitely the first show to hire many, - many women behind the scenes. - So you know, - they all have stories of conflict with sexism and things like that. - And, - you know, - the show ends up being this triumphant show that goes on for seven seasons, - wins all kinds of words, - is on all kinds of bestseller lists but eventually has to go off the air. - You have started preserve its own reputation before fading away, - but also because of the family, - our commitment to play and changing what we watched on television from kind of the stuff - that push the envelope more Teoh the Fluffy or stuff like the Love Boat Love the Love Boat - . - But so you understand. - So those are the kinds of things you want to look for. - There's an actual There's some story there to actually tell, - as opposed to Just then. - We all made a great show and looked happily ever after. - So that's another thing you want to look for. - And within that you want to make sure there are some really nice scenes. - You can kind of play out things like the bad first heaping of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, - where everyone thought they were doomed. - That's a scene you can imagine it. - You have to think of it. - You know, - we're all pop culture geeks here, - So think of it like a movie. - Think of what scenes that you would see in the movie about this, - and that's That's what you want to be bringing to life 7. Lecture #4b: Taking Your Pop Culture Writing to Book Level (3:11): - There's also the issue of kind of having a theme or a bigger point. - Me and we talked about this throughout this class, - but it's even more important when you're writing an entire book because if nothing else, - eventually you're gonna have to do publicity for the book. - And people are gonna say, - Why did you write this book? - And you don't want to just say right because that show was funner. - I enjoy rap music or whatever it's It's more than that, - right when a bigger point. - And in this case, - my mirror point was about how the women's movement and actually I think this shows as an - example how all movements are shaped by certain shows that come along or other pieces of - pop culture. - They come alone and kind of become iconic because of their intersection with a certain - movement or a certain cause, - whether or not they went Teoh. - And this also ends up being a story about how a classic happens and the having the right - people at the right time with the right resource is on the right network with a big enough - viewership to continue on for seven years, - and I do think a huge part of its iconic nous is the independent woman angle. - So you wanna have bigger themes to be reaching for throughout your nervous? - Well, - so that doesn't feel like Why am I reading this book? - You know, - So if you have, - if you feel like all of that is kind of percolating at all, - absolutely laid out before you re imagine. - Start working on. - But But make sure there's something there, - Then you can sketch out a little bit of an outline and see if you feel like you have enough - in terms of you know you have it. - You're gonna have to have probably like at least 10 tractors, - right? - Just isn't ballpark figure, - depending on how long your chapters are. - So see if you think okay, - are there at least 10 chapters here? - And when you sketch out what those would be trying to imagine them is chapters and see if - they would really hold up for a whole chapters like those air again. - Let's just say at least 10 pages, - though that's only getting us what 100 pages at that point. - So let's say 20 pages, - 30 pages, - so you have to make sure that this is gonna hold up at book length and then, - you know, - you can start research, - which is actually really, - really fun. - If you're doing if you're ready to write something, - really, - you're really passionate about which I definitely recommend. - If you're reading a book, - you are going to be living with this for a least a year of your life, - actually at least two years, - because you're gonna have to promote it. - So you better be really excited about it for a very long time so that you can dig into the - research, - which means, - you know, - consuming a lot of this thing that you love looking at its examples of similar things, - digging into books and old newspapers and magazines, - Googling and having a great time. - So that's the really fun part. - You can start there and, - you know, - see where it takes you. - And hopefully it will be to a great smart pop culture book. - Thank you so much for being with me, - and I will be on the message boards throughout the class periodically to answer any - questions you have. - Thanks