Sunday, November 07, 2010

I Want to be Promoted

Blame it on Tenured Radical. She jumped onto the Xtranormal bandwagon earlier this week with a side-splitting text-to-movie cartoon about a tenured professor demanding a raise from a priggish, tight-fisted department chair. Her directorial debut followed on the heels of the brilliantly sardonic tale of a naive yet determined undergraduate seeking a letter of recommendation from a jaded professor, "So, You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities." Finally, at the end of the week, thanks to Facebook, we stumbled across a masterful bit of dreamwork, "One Professor's Fantasy," which finally answers the question, "What would you say to slacker students if you were supremely clever and didn't give a rat's hind end about what might happen if you said what you were actually thinking?"

We're thinking it's just a matter of time before the Academy Awards adds a new category, "Animated Short Films by Disgruntled Academics." That's why my typist spent most of this week -- when she wasn't teaching, presenting a paper, preparing for a dissertation defense, or conceding defeat in her campaign to become governor of Maryland -- working up Roxie's World's first foray into video blogging. Hey, she set up a YouTube channel for us and everything! Our debut film is a heart-breaking work of staggering silliness also focused on life after tenure in the age of Excellence Without Money (™RW Enterprises, LLC).

Couple o' things you need to know before you gather 'round the laptop for your first viewing of "I Want to be Promoted":

1. The soundtrack for the film would, of course, be this song, which has been banging around in Moose's head for the entire week as she fiddled with Xtranormal's not especially user-friendly interface. Please click on that link so that the song will move out of her head and into yours. Please. Give a working girl a break, will ya?

2. The film is a work of fiction. Totes. Swear to dog. It depicts a conversation that never took place between two people who do not exist, though the clever might detect an allusion or two to this also fictional work. That means the Huck Finn rule applies:
PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
Interpret at your own risk.

3. Despite being a work of the imagination, the film makes reference to certain true facts of academic life, most notably that standards for tenure and promotion have changed significantly over time and vary widely from institution to institution. As for the claim that as late as 1969 a third of American professors did not have PhDs, we ran across it in Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University. Page 121.

OK, kids. It's time to press play! Be kind in your reviews, and then run on over to Xtranormal and get in on the action yourself. Ballots for next year's Oscar noms go out December 27! See you on the red carpet, darlings. It's never too late to become a star, is it? Is it?


  1. The sequins on Professor Sawyer's reading glasses are awesome! Here is my first Xtranormal:

  2. Hilarious, CPP, and delivered with your usual Anglo-Saxon panache. Maybe we should put together a disgruntled academic film fest. I think that would be fricking brilliant, except it would be yet another act of professional service for which we would never be compensated. Damn.

  3. For those who don't know, "that motherfucker Scarpa" is Tony Scarpa, head of the Center for Scientific Review at NIH, and "that motherfucker Insel" is Tom Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health.

    And yeah, a disgruntled academic film festival would be totally fucken hilarious!

  4. That was terrific. I've sent it off to my academic comrades.

  5. HEE-hee. But, seriously Roxie: will it do you any good to get promoted now? At my uni, we've got no raises--not even merit raises--and pretty much no nuthin'. So hanging out at Associate Proffie seems to me to be among the most economically and personally rational things I can do.

    I'm going to have to check out those little movie dealies. Except the only movies I'd want to write would be pretty much libelous. . .

  6. As you know, Historiann, I am a dead dog and therefore not in need of a promotion, alpha dog of heaven being the highest station to which I would ever hope to aspire. And Moose, of course, is NOT the subject of this film, but, as it happens, she is in a position vaguely similar to that of Prof. Sawyer. Imagine! QTU has been giving promotion raises, but there isn't merit money, so it doesn't make sense to bust one's butt to get work into print. When merit is applied retroactively, you never get as much, the bloom being off the rose and all.

    So, yeah, let's all spend our days blogging and cartooning and becoming intertoob superstars. Beats workin', right, pal?

  7. Just discovered you - and I like your spirit.

    here's one of our films:

    and our blog:

    We're a small community college in ultra conservative Orange County, California...



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