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October 1992


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Bjorn Sorenssen <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 12 Oct 1992 14:01:20 +0100
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Gorham A Kindem writes:
>How did we get from the word "soapumentary" to "soupumentary"?
>Is the latter a truly postmodernist pastiche or simply a
>misspelling, a telephone chain game mistake, or a Rosanne
> Rosannadanna (Saturday Night Live) misunderstanding?
As the original perpetrator I can assure my good friend Hap Kindem
and others that it is indeed an accidental misspelling, but as a
certain old Viennese doctor taught us , misspellings arent truly
accidental. "Soup" is, in Norwegian, apart from the commodity found
in Campbell cans, also a synonym along the lines of the English
"mish-mash" - denoting several ingredients thrown together, and I
guess that the heterogenous character of this documentary subgenre
was at the bottom of this slip of the word processor.
	As to his questions "What precisely
do these series and soap operas have in common?  Aren't
the conventions as well as the audience assumptions and
beliefs concerning these programs radically different from
daytime soap operas?" my answer would be that conventions and
audience assumptions just *appear* to be different. The attraction
of prying into other peoples life seems to be a central common denominator
for both genres, and the establishment of an aura of authenticity adds
an extra titillating ingredient. There is a longstanding tradition in
"shockumentary", with perhaps the "MONDO CANE" films as the  foremost
	Now I have no doubt that the idea behind programs like AN
AMERICAN FAMILY were quite different, but from what I have read about
the series it seems evident that the introduction of a camera team to
the family in question functioned as a catalysator for the inherent
conflicts in that family.
	On that background I am a little amazed that the film has not
raised more fundamental debate on a theoretical level. (Bill Nichols refers
only briefly to the film in his "Representing Reality".
	But maybe the fact that I havent actually seen the film has
led me to raise far too high expectations as to what could be derived
from the film?
	"THE REAL WORLD"  sounds interesting,too. Does anyone have any
idea whether it has been aired on MTV Europe?
Bjorn Sorenssen
University of Trondheim, Norway