Tag Archives: Big Bang Theory

TV Moment: Big Bang Theory and hard-working brains

TV MOMENT: posts about Television programs, shows, issues, from an academic point of view. Ergo, sometimes, big words! I’d love to hear your opinion and comments, and not just academics ones: in this blog, Media Fans (aka geeks) are more than welcome 🙂

TV MOMENT:Big Bang Theory Rocky Montage

(the link takes you to YouTube, embedding was not available by request)

I only recently started watching The Big Bang Theory TV series. My initial hostility was biased: “Not another ‘funny white hetero losers’ sit com, please.” Due to external circumstance, a couple of weeks ago I happened to watch two episodes (in the UK, on the E4 channel at 6pm). Then I watched the episodes on the following day. And the following day. And the following day.

And I was hooked.

In terms of funny, white, hetero, losers:

-it is funny. Where does it come from? For me, Sheldon’s literal interpretation of the world; seeing my hobbies both validate and ridiculed (that visual representation space is always, always ambiguous); getting the geeky references so familiar to me (and if not familiar to me, familiar to other geeks I know)

-it’s mostly white (I can see the in my mind the post colonial essays on Raj and his – alleged? – Americanization, his family’s Skype conversations making for a global communication world, his sister inhabiting an uncertain disruptive space between tradition, culture and emancipation…and so on)

-hetero…again, there’s that annoying, ambiguous visual space where you can see heterosexual couples following the dictates of society, but you also have (because producers are smart and clever and know the wider the audience, the better) the somewhat obligatory bromance and different takes on hetero-activity – Sheldon and Amy’s relationship develops along very peculiar trajectories.

-losers. Uhm. I’d say no, but apparently it doesn’t matter if you have friends, hobbies, a good job. The contemporary take is that you’re a loser if you don’t have a girlfriend (again, heternormativity at work), which is a big part of the show’s premise.

Back to the fabolous clip from the show: Big Bang Theory Rocky Montage

This moment made me laugh out loud.  Eisenstein’s theory of montage (Soviet montage theory) considered editing a method of juxtaposing shots to derive new meaning that did not exist in either shot alone. Not just one shot after the other in a chronological and causal relationship, but one shot on top of the other, one shot against the other.Thus creating a new text, a new meaning.

In this clip, Sheldon and Raj are standing still, rigid, staring at the equations-filled whiteboard. The montage matches several shots of them occupying different spaces in the office but always, always in unique relation to the whiteboard, with the theme from Rocky’s training exercises (Eye of the Tiger by Survivor). Which is an energetic, pulsating, adrenaline-infused rhythm, whose connection with the film Rocky and his hard boxing training evokes the idea that Sheldon and Raj’s brains are, in fact, hard at work, with all the sweaty pathos of the boxer Rocky, but not an inch of movement (apart from the painkiller request, a brief pause of silenced music).


The Comedic Paradox at work, and brilliantly so: repetition, inversion and the comedic paradox (as initially argued by French philosopher Henri Bergson in 1900, in his Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic).

“Life presents itself to us as evolution in time and complexity in space. Regarded in time, it is the continuous evolution of a being ever growing older; it never goes backwards and never repeats anything. Considered in space, it exhibits certain coexisting elements so closely interdependent, so exclusively made for one another, that not one of them could, at the same time, belong to two different organisms: each living being is a closed system of phenomena, incapable of interfering with other systems. A continual change of aspect, the irreversibility of the order of phenomena, the perfect individuality of a perfectly self-contained series: such, then, are the outward characteristics–whether real or apparent is of little moment–which distinguish the living from the merely mechanical. Let us take the counterpart of each of these: we shall obtain three processes which might be called REPETITION, INVERSION, and RECIPROCAL INTERFERENCE OF SERIES. Now, it is easy to see that these are also the methods of light comedy, and that no others are possible.”

And there I was, laughing, as these two brainy physicists were stuck in a staring contest with a whiteboard, a matter of life and death to them, the most serious of task, over and over (repetition), highlighted by the music recalling Rocky (inversion: not muscles, but brains working hard) and the overall effect, the paradox, is created.

I’d love to hear comments and opinion on this post, the Big Bang Theory or anything else you feel relevant 🙂

ETA: This post is also my April 12 entry for MNINB’s April Platform Challenge!



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