Friday, December 21, 2007

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Why there will never be a fake reality show about academia

Earlier this year I explained in laborious detail why the academy was not a fertile ground for a reality show.

Undaunted by this pronouncement from on high, some Harvard graduate students have come up with a brilliant end-run around this dictum -- an Office-like show about the academy (hat tip: CoreEcon):

If you're in the "field," as it were, I dare you to watch this and not laugh (my favorite part -- the third flash card).

I am curious whether those not in the social sciences will find it as funny. My guess is "no," but I'll leave it for the commenters to decide.

Either way, there are two lessons to draw from this video:

1) Harvard grad students have way too much free time at their disposal.

2) Firing political theorists is always comedy gold.

UPDATE: Henry Farrell draws other useful lessons.

posted by Dan on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM


Yo, Ethan, if you act quickly you can be the first to identify yet another egregious typographical gaffe by your esteemed professor. Hint: it appears somewhere towards the end of this post.

posted by: nova on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

Hah!! You're too late, it's been fixed.


posted by: Dan Drezner on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

Yeah, I don't think many outside the social sciences will get all of it. "What are the policy implication of the policy?" nearly had me crying.

In defense of theroists, I'll point out that THIS theorist is currently the only one working in his office this Friday.

And of course I've spent part of that day doing this.....hmmm....

Gotta run.

posted by: Rich Horton on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

Well, as a Drezner fan with no connection to academia (I work for a large software company), I freely admit I don't get the video at all. All the characters seem pointless. Fire the lot.

We restructure everything every year just to keep people unattached to turf. Anyone invested in an org structure is second-rate; good people rise to the top regardless of structure. If it's different in academia, too bad for academia...

posted by: Mike on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

As a film special effects student, I'm going to have to add a third lesson:

Harvard grad students do not know how to light people so that they look good on-camera. They also do not know how to avoid shaky footage. (hint - it's called a tripod)

posted by: crane on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink] an IR academic, albeit from the other side of the pond, I'd say this is more whimsical than funny.

Funny. This is funny.

But I guess it does say much about politics or academia. Unless we're talking the "policy implications of EU policy" (yeah, that is a good line tho').

posted by: Theo on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

Oops - sorry. Should read: "But I guess it does NOT say much about politics or academia."

posted by: Theo on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

It looks like those tenured profs - especially the thespian - who are welded to the wall will undergo a loud emotional reality check upon the downsizing, if that does occur.

posted by: Jack Coupal on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

As an Army officer and Biology major, none of it really hit home. Though, when I saw that guy playing solitaire, it brought back instant memories of stepping onto the floor of a tactical operations center in Iraq and observing the computerized matrix that had been established to give the battalion the capability to do umpteen hundred things. Aside from the stark contrast of the TOC with the patrol base that we operated from in an abandoned building in the middle of a dust bowl, I was awed by what appeared to be a complex, high-tech network that appeared to be the central nervous system of the battalion. But after one look at the computer monitors, I quickly realized that it was nothing more than an overpriced lounge where staff officers played solitaire, watched movies, and grew angrier with each passing day that they were not out in a line unit, doing what they signed up to do.

I'm sure that anyone who watches this clip, whether it resonates or not, could think of a way to apply an Office spoof to their own workplace.

posted by: Saint in Exile on 12.21.07 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

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