Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fresh Airs for Television

The luckiest break in my professional career was getting a Carnegie grant at Penn to create the first course on mass culture in an American university (1957). First year design the course. Second, teach it. The third year was a pleasant surprise when the TV Guide publisher Walter Annenberg gave Penn 2 million dollars to found a graduate school of communication. 

“Faute de mieux” I became the gofer to get the school organized. “Gofer”? Go for this. Go for that! A boring job until I persuaded my mentor, Gilbert Seldes to be Dean. I taught media history in the Annenberg School until I was appointed the first director of the East-West Center in Honolulu. Philly was hot Terri Gross had just started one of the greatest series on TV. She knew from thestart how to analyze the gifts of a guest.

One of the most annoying results of my overseas assignments was no access to this series. My German frau finally found an internet medium that brought me back to Terri’s audience. By far the greatest take took place on January 15, 2014 when Lena Dunham was guest. Hear her here

I was unfamiliar with her boffo TV show called “Girls”. She talked with Terri with utmost candor about her sex education limitations.I’m 87 and my own sex education was zero, leading to a divorce twenty years and three kids later. So I’m in no way equal to reporting what took place. It was even too gross for Terri! 

But I urge that this hour long essay be widely promoted in senior high sex and freshman education. With a small brochure to provide deeper understanding. (I spent many Tuesdays in New York flogging BBC films to University TV stations to know how successful this technique of selling can be.) Our pathetic divorce and out of wedlock birth statistics. “Fresh Air” indeed, in a choking atmosphere.

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