You know how shows like Arrested Development get cancelled, but shows like Two and a Half Men get renewed season after season? Well one day, Gallatin student David Bergmann hopes to keep the Tobias Fünkes of the world on the air, and the Charlie Sheens in rehab where they belong. He has carefully constructed a concentration in Keepin’ It Real: The Sociology of the Entertainment Industry (yes, the pronunciation spelling is official) with an Entertainment Media Technology minor in Stern in order to prepare himself for a career in whipping the entertainment industry into shape. He takes classes in entertainment and media studies, politics, television writing, acting, and public opinion.
In the interview below, Bergmann explains what it means to keep it real, and it doesn’t include emoticons or the Grammys.
Annie Werner: Where did you get the idea to call your concentration “Keepin’ It Real?”
David Bergmann: Actually, it rose out of an idea in high school—I founded a “Keepin’ It Real Honor Society” in response to all the other ridiculous honor societies at my school. We had like 12 different ones like the “History Honor Society” with a whole bunch of members that did absolutely nothing. KIRHS actually got things accomplished around the school.
AW: Like what?
DB: For instance, there was a school store that hadn’t been open in years, so I got my people to do it. Or we’d assign people to walk new students around the campus. That kinda stuff. Not bloated, obnoxious stuff just to put on your resume.
AW: What qualified someone to be a member of the honor society?
DB: Oh. We had an 8 or 9 page criteria form explaining what we did or did not want in a member. There was some crazy stuff on there, too—one section was dedicated to analyzing how a person used acronyms and emoticons on instant messenger. That shit was important back then. Very telling.
AW: So how does all of this relate to your concentration?
DB: Well, the title was there first. I mean, I always knew what I wanted to study, but I wasn’t exactly sure. I know that “keepin’ it real” had something to do with it, and when I went to orientation it was still fresh in my mind. Everything I study has something to do with TV, music, and movies, but the fundamental thing behind the concentration is this: it’s all art, but let’s keep it real—some of it’s bad art. It’s kind of about popular culture and the effect of stupidity on it.
AW: Do you feel like you have a higher taste level than most people?
DB: It’s not like I think God ordained me with this amazing taste, but, yes, better than most people. I understand that there is no right or wrong necessarily, but I truly feel that I might be a bit more right than other people, and I think there are enough people out there that agree with me.
AW: That’s fair. What’s your favorite TV show right now?
DB: Probably something on HBO. It used to be Flight of the Concords, but now I’d say Eastbound and Down.
AW: Why do those shows “keep it real?”
DB: Because it’s not like American Idol in the sense that people don’t understand how full of shit that show is. All the people in the top 10 of that show already have contracts with the company to go on tour and do whatever the show says when the season is over. It drives me crazy. Why do people like that so much?
AW: What do you think is the worst television network on TV?
DB: Well some programming just isn’t for me—WB11 and the CW are not for me. I’m not their demographic. I’m more of the “Adult Swim” demographic. My style of keepin’ it real isn’t necessarily universal. I would hope it’s not. The basic thing I’m looking at is just quality, a study of taste. People always say that in matters of taste there is no dispute—but I think there is.
AW: Do you think the entertainment industry keeps it real for the most part or not?
DB: Definitely not. Did you watch the Grammys? For instance, MGMT was nominated for Best New Artist—and good for them—but Oracular Spectacular came out in January 2008. Best New Artist? Really? Not only that, but the year before, the Best Remix award went to Justice’s remix of Electric Feel. So clearly the Grammys knew that they were around last year. That’s not “real.”
AW: So if you could sum up “Keepin’ It Real” philosophy in three words, what would they be?
DB: I couldn’t imagine summing up my entire concentration in three hastily assembled words. I dunno. Relevant, hopefully? Unpretentious? Entertaining? I feel like I can’t do this without sounding like a dick
AW: Don’t worry! I won’t make you sound like a dick.
DB: Haha, good. I’m trying not to do that myself.