OK, so I’ve just spent a number of hours on domestic flights, the kind that show sitcoms on screens down the middle of the aisle. (Which is why I was too tired for Friday Night Music — next week). I didn’t listen to any of the dialogue – I was reading – but I did find myself watching some of the acting. And with the sound off, you can really see just how artificial the conventions of sitcom acting are: the telegraphed double-takes, the faux-angry declarations of the men, the perkiness of the women, etc., etc. – none of it resembling at all the way real people behave. It’s an art form, if you like, that’s as deeply stylized and full of conventional signifiers as Kabuki theater or Chinese opera; the actors might as well be wearing ritual masks representing their alleged characters and emotions.
It’s also, of course, a cultural form that’s very, very stupid.
I just spent a few hours looking at economics textbooks, which is why I'm too tired now to write anything coherent. Of course I didn't read the words - I was busy watching my favorite sitcom - but I did look at the pictures. I noticed that they were not only rare but deeply stylized, with a whole lot of big X s on otherwise unadorned graphs.
All in all, a deeply stupid science.