Thinking about my last post, I realized how ridiculous a laugh track is. Zizek glosses over it with that quote I provided last time; the laugh track basically serves as way for us to realize something is funny and react to it without actually having to react. That is the ridiculous part; the ridiculous part of the laugh track is how far out of touch from reality it is. TV shows are there to mimic reality to the point where we can identify with the characters to the point where we escape reality for 22 minutes. However, there is no laugh track in reality. Take my life for example, I say something funny every 5-10 minutes, yet I don't have a third party watching me and laughing on demand; I have to work for my laughs. The laugh track, in the context of the show, seems to make perfect sense, but how can that be? No joke can be queued up for laugh; if the home audience doesn't laugh then the joke isn't funny.
This line of reasoning led me to the realization that the audience plays a huge part in the making of modern television shows. Not the live studio audience of past shows, but the audience of every man, woman and child watching from their home. We have obtained the status of Zizek's Other. TV Show actors "try to fill out the unbearable gap of 'che vuoi?', the opening of the Other's desire, by offering [them]selves to the Other as the object of desire." (116) I see this most clearly demonstrated by The Office and Seinfeld. Seinfeld is subtle in the way Jerry always seems to crack that half smile when he says something funny like he knows someone is out there watching and laughing. The Office is blatant; the characters constantly look to the camera as if to say "Hey You! Did you just see what happened there?! I am not the only one witnessing this craziness!" And we, the audience, eat it up as if to reply, "Yes, we can validate your appeal. Michael Scott is crazy!" This is great stuff.
To go back to line from the first paragraph, I mentioned how we give ourselves over to the show for that 22 minute span. We live vicariously through the actors. Now, if you will grant me that we, the audience, are the Other to the show's actors then this idea of the Other's relation to the actor should follow:
"This lack in the Other gives the subject â€“ so to speak â€“ a breathing space, it enables him to avoid the total alienation in the signifier not by filling out his lack but by allowing him to identify himself, his own lack, with the lack in the Other." (122)
Now I might just be reading into what I want to read into it, but I get the sense that the Other can fill his void with the help of the subject, or in this case the actors. The parallel between The Other and the television audience is startling to me. We are the gods of the television world, their sole aim is to please our every desire and then fill in for us those points we miss in ourselves. I find that to be really cool.