Joseph Cernik

Editor, Missouri Policy Journal. Chair, Department of Public Affairs & Administration. Professor of Political Science & Public Administration. Lindenwood University.

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics


    Is it Possible to develop a good "feel" for a TV show from the first few episodes?

    It is possible to look back after the first season of a show and develop a feeling that it was a good show, or even after several seasons. But, when a show first appears on TV and all that exists are those first few episodes, maybe no more than the first two or three, then what type of opinions can develop about it? It is possible to talk about a "tipping point" what something starts to take off, but here, at the beginning, the tipping point might not yet have been reached. Early on character development, character interaction, plots, story lines might be seen in different ways then might be the case after the show has been on for a longer period. When a show has been on for a season or more, the audience has more of a history to draw upon in how they see character interaction and plots develop, that is not there with only a few episodes. Those first few episodes can begin to lay the foundation for what is to come and, perhaps, it is how the audience speculates about where they think the show and its characters might be headed that matters in determining if viewers see a show as having the potential to be a good show.

    • This is definitely an interesting topic! And definitely something that would be interesting to look at. It would be interesting to talk about the difference between shows that try too hard and those that bring you in slowly. – ChaosMistress5817 2 days ago

    Is it possible to like Gone With The Wind while still realizing the often Mythic Image of the South it Presents?

    Gone With The Wind (1939) can be seen as a good movie. But, at the same time, it presents an image of the South which was never true in the first place and which presents slavery in almost passing reference ways. There is this time before the Civil War where, we are to believe, that the South had an ideal existence. Seeing the movie from the present, makes one quite aware of what is left out and glossed over and makes one want to go "Wait! Stop! Go back!" How can we and should evaluate the movie today?

    • It is important as always to remember the framework of literature, that it is a fiction and GWTW was always framed as a historical romance that drew on some elements of the civil war, but largely was about the journey of Scarlet O'Hara through a changing period. It is a story about the dangers of unrequited love and unrealistic ideals, but also about strength and resolution. In many ways the representation of slavery in the film/book needs to be balanced against the fact it is told from the perspective of a woman in that period, most of which had the same rights of slaves in the time. Scarlet is also an unreliable narrator as she perceives the events around her from a very self-centered lens. However, all in all it is still an interesting text to discuss. – SaraiMW 4 days ago

    Sharknado: Camp on TV

    Sharknado is suppose to end its run on TV with the release of the sixth in the series of made-for-TV movies. These movies can best be described as "camp" which might express the poor quality yet, at times, hard to resist desire (or curiosity) to watch them. Camp and television have had a long relationship, with shows such as Batman and Gilligan’s Island in the 1960s to Charlie’s Angels and CHiPs in the 1970s and 1980s best described as camp. What is it that attracts viewers to camp TV? Is there a clear dividing line between comedy and camp?

    • A bit of a historical background and theoretical framing of the concept of 'camp' will be required. Otherwise I think it is a fair discussion to have. It could be widened further to generally look at the appeal of what is such an odd series of culturally successful TV movies. – SaraiMW 1 week ago
    • This can be a very topic to talk about it. Not every piece of entertainment has to aim to thought-provoking high art, that's why Camp exists. It's entertainment junk food that only aims to keep people entertained. Also talk about how guilty pleasure and camp can go hand in hand – cbo1094 4 days ago

    How have TV Westerns changed since the 1950s and 1960s?

    Hell on Wheels (2016) with Colm Meaney and Deadwood (2006) with Timothy Olyphant represent a scattering of western shows over the past decade or so. In the year 1959, for example, there was Rawhide (with Clint Eastwood), The Californians (with Richard Coogan), The Rifleman (with Chuck Connors) and Bonanza (with Lorne Greene) and several more. What changes have taken place to reflect greater sensitivity to issues that were not always addressed in earlier Westerns? Is it possible to say that more recent TV Westerns have improved upon earlier ones? If so, in what ways?

    • Already addressed (with political undertones and and analysis): 1) 2) – L:Freire 2 months ago
    • "Justified" with Timothy Olyphant (2010-2015) and "Westworld" (2016-present) are also golden examples of a modern take on the Western genre. – ValleyChristion 2 months ago

    The Enduring Three Stooges

    Moe, Larry, and Curly (forget Shemp, Joe Besser, Curly Joe) made movies between 1934 and 1946 and still are popular today. Almost anywhere in the country a TV station is running Three Stooges short movies. A song called "The Curly Shuffle" was made in 1983. Sam in the TV series Cheers frequently referred to the Three Stooges. MASH had an episode in which three Korean doctors were referred to as Moe, Larry, and Curly. A movie was made in 2012 and one is scheduled to begin production in 2018. Why is there such an enduring affection for these three characters more than seven decades after Moe, Larry, and Curly made their last short movie?


      The End: How TV Shows End, the Good and the Bad

      Seinfeld ended oddly, it was difficult to feel as though the main characters were likable, Medium ended with a feeling of completion, and The Sopranos ended with a feeling of ambiguity (essentially choose what happened). Is there a good ending? Can they be done differently?

      • There needs to be a clear basis to how you judge a "good" ending. The sources you choose will need to include audience and critic feedback, as well as research to understand how networks vs streaming cancel their shows. This could be a really interesting read if it takes the time to analyze the above concepts. – Nicholas Bennett 1 month ago
      • I think it will be helpful to consider what alternate endings some of these shows could have had. If they had had another ending would they have been more coherent or consistent as series? Some of these criteria might make sense. Did the shows subvert not just expectations but consistency as well. How much were the showrunners aware of their ending before the show was well underway? – Zander Jones 1 month ago
      • It might also be useful to discuss how important (or not) an ending really is. Does a fantastic series become instantly ruined with an unsatisfying ending? Should the ending pander to the audience or serve the story and characters faithfully? It would also be interesting to consider the opposite argument. Can a slam-dunk ending make-up for a sub-par series? It would be important to analyze the type of series and what the end game is for a sit-com versus a thriller like "Lost" or "Breaking Bad." – zbalog 3 weeks ago
      • Make sure to explain criteria for what is good, bad, etc.. but really interesting topic! – Sean Gadus 3 weeks ago

      Tweeting: When it Matters

      This will certainly be Donald Trump’s legacy: He elevated it to a level where it cannot be ignored. But all tweeting is not the same: Some tweets carry more impact than others. Is it only because of who is doing the tweeting or is there more to it? Are there ways of tweeting where the one tweeting can increase their chances of it mattering? Part of issue here is developing a method to study the impact.

      • I just noticed a number of graduate students on this site. Here's an opportunity to structure a course. – Joseph Cernik 2 months ago
      • Another point: Structuring a course. There's no reason to simply follow the chapters in a textbook. Determining how to structure lectures and discussions can be tied to your particular research interests--which leads to publications. Talk your interests out with your students, let them see how you start to develop your original thinking. Students should not just see the end product, but how you got there. – Joseph Cernik 2 months ago
      • Another important element to address is the absurd number of bot accounts found on Twitter, and how these influenced and perhaps continue to influence conversations. – LaPlant0 1 month ago

      Dirty Harry: A Guilty Pleasure where the Simple Solution Persists

      Clint Eastwood in five movies between 1971 and 1988 (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool) did what has to be seen as a guilty pleasure: Here was the law dispensing justice in a way that often bypassed the complexities of the legal process and in the end the problem was solved. Villains came across in these movies often as caricatures where the audience could easily get behind Harry as he did his thing. When looking at these movies from the present, in one way, they seem to come from a different era, a different time, yet, at the same time, the simplicity of justice seems to echo Donald Trump’s approach to basically any policy he wants to address: There will be no consequences, we do something and suddenly the problem is solved and America is a better place. If only things were that simple, the Dirty Harry legacy lives on.

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        Latest Comments

        A remake of a TV series that was superficial and nonsense in the first place (Baywatch) versus a remake of a move (Planet of the Apes) make drawing conclusions difficult. This is a good essay that gets you thinking about remakes, some I liked (The Mummy) some I found just not so good (True Grit).

        Rise of the Remakes in Hollywood

        A good analysis.

        Eat Drink Man Woman vs. Sense and Sensibility: A Feminist Observation

        I like this essay. My children, particularly my daughters, might find it interesting since their mother died when they were young.

        Missing Moms and the Fairytale Characters Living Without Them

        A good essay. I always enjoyed watching Sesame Street with my kids, it helped me to teach them counting and the alphabet.

        The Successes and Failures of Sesame Street and Arthur

        A good perspective. The few times I’ve managed to watch one of these shows with this article as a background I might see them differently.

        The Power of the Confessional: Strategy and Complaining on Reality TV

        An interesting essay. I have a daughter who is a therapist and recommended it to her since she has several young girls as patients.

        Mean Girls, Social Media and Adolescent Body Image

        An essay I enjoyed and I have recommended it to several in our university English Department: Just an interesting twist on how to look at writing.

        Walking and Writing: The Effects of Exercise on Creative Thinking

        I was thinking in terms of me usually in an antique mall buying a comic from the 1950s or 1960s, forget all the more modern ones. Superman and Batman from the 1960s, I still enjoy them.

        The Social Stigma of Comic Book Reading