aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
50 years ago: West Side Story opens on Bway
Fifty years ago tomorrow West Side Story opened on Broadway. This is from the 1961 movie.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
The Real McCain explained
I chose McCain . . . very simply, because his level of hypocrisy rises above that of all the others, whether Democrat or Republican. He runs on the fact that he is a “maverickÃ¢â‚¬Â� a “straight talker” a “principled independent.” It is simply not true.
He has switched positions on Bush’s tax cuts, the number of troops needed in Iraq, evolution, ethanol subsidies, Jerry Falwell as an “agent of intolerance,” lobbying reform, even recently on campaign finance reform (presidential matching funds). . . .
I decided it was incumbent upon me to do this, because he is handled with such kid gloves by the media-see Joe Klein’s most recent blog at Swampland, where he says nobody can argue that McCain has not been consistent on the war, something that could not be more false. In fact Chris Matthews has joked that the media is “McCain’s base.” Anybody who watches and reads the fawning coverage, knows this to be true.
Jarvis and Greenwald will be on CNN Sunday Morning tomorrow at 7:30 to discuss “the YouTube campaign.” I’ve set my TiVo.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
YouTube’s no Napster
Mark said YouTube will be "sued into oblivion", and isn’t worth anything. He is wrong, but it does make for a lively conference speech, and good headlines. I was a VP at Napster when we were being sued by the record labels, so I know a little about copyright infringement. YouTube has "significant non-infringing use" which is a proven legal defense against copyright lawsuits. The Sony BetaMax case was won on the basis that video recorders were used for many other legal purposes that demonstrated significant non-infringing use. Sony could not be held liable for the misdeeds of some of its users. It is the responsibility of the copyright owner to identify infringing material and take action to protect it.
I’m not so confident as Don about that “proven legal defense.” Part of me fears that the Grokster decision was just a rest stop for the court on the road to overturning the Betamax decision. But I am profoundly optimistic that one way or another the copyright cartel that has only taken on its potency in recent decades cannot be sustained. These guys or their successor corporations are going to see that it is in their economic interest to do it differently.
I thought Cuban would be among the first; instead it looks to me like he can’t see the forest for the trees:
What is it about youtube.com that has made it so successful so quickly? Is it the amazing quality of user generated content ? Is it a broadband fueled obsession with watching short videos?
No & No.
I don’t know what percentage of YouTube content is user generated, but to dismiss it so blithely is to miss something big. Downloading a song from Napster was never you and me sharing the way YouTube is just exactly that. MySpace gets all the credit but email and embedding is the kind sharing that everyone wants and the reason for YouTube’s meteoric rise. If the court - or some corporate deal - shuts that down, those users will be very angry.
Just like with the VCR they fought so viciously (anyone remember Jack Valenti’s “the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."), they’ll make money from users using that copyrighted content in their remixes.
Cuban sees the Warner deal as Bertelsman and Napster and says it’s too complex and their are too many parties involved. I like to think it might work. I’ve been dreaming of micro-payments since, well, since I signed up for AdSense.
Google had no business model and was unprofitable for how long? Theirs became the model that revolutionized web advertising. Me, I want YouTube’s - whatever it may turn out to be - to be the next revolution. I’m guessing the time is right and Cuban is wrong.
P.S. - Mark has nothing against YouTube.
Friday, September 22, 2006
On PDA (Public Displays of Affection)
I decided to further clarify my position on the air kissers, lest you think me in favor of wild public displays of affection.
Years ago I interviewed the father of a man who died of AIDS. That father was then very active in Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). He told me of his struggle coming to terms with his son being gay; and in that discussion with the camera rolling he very frankly told me, “I just couldn’t get past thinking about what they do in bed.” I didn’t use that clip but I have always remembered his words.
I have to tell you that I don’t like thinking about what you do in bed either. And you probably don’t like thinking about what your neighbors do. Or what your boss does or what your friends do or your family or… So we don’t think about it because we don’t have to. When a heterosexual couple goes too far at the beach or at the movies or in any public place, we are scornful and disapprove because, as is natural and fine by me, we don’t want to see them doing that.
The trouble is that with gay people the threshold is lowered so low as to include my calling my partner “dear” at the breakfast buffet in a family hotel. Heaven forbid I should walk down the Jekyll Island beach holding his hand with our dogs scampering around at our feet. Because we didn’t do that we had all kinds of people approaching us with warmth and friendly camaraderie. Why is it that all of that should go away if I dare hold his hand or call him dear?
Now I think gay people feed into this syndrome too. What too many of us do is assume that its true that the only thing that we gay people have in common is our sexual orientation; we deny and debate if there is any such thing as a distinctive gay culture. I’ve argued again and again over many years that there is a distinction between homosexual acts and a gay identity.
I believe being gay - coming out, accepting and openly embracing that orientation - is a choice, the healthy choice. It’s a choice that forms the basis of the shared history and experience at the root of our gay culture. And that experience - as with women or African Americans or any ethnic identity - has little or nothing to do with any sexual act. I’ve certainly known people who have come out as gay before ever having had any homosexual relations.
One impact of all of this is that all too often, gay people have tended to wind up in gay ghettos, unusual ghettos to be sure in that the fact of gays living there tends to increase property values and those areas prosper economically (whereas I live in the less tolerant and economically depressed heart of the Bible Belt right next to one of the poorest counties in the state.)
That’s my problem with the anti-gay marriage crowd. They’re fine with (or claim to be) this or that particular right but draw the line at marriage. I’m reminded how I felt as a young boy when my mother told me that babies who died before baptism could not go to Heaven but were not sent to Hell. They went to Limbo. I had a hard time accepting that then and I have an even harder time accepting that as my legal adult status right here right now.
SOME TIME LATER: Good heavens! They’ve abolished Limbo!
Friday, August 25, 2006
I don’t blog for traffic. Really.
Today my traffic was unusually high, double the average day. So I looked into it to find out why. Googlebombing. A throw away post I wrote so I could go to bed and still meet my self-imposed four-a-day minimum. It has a trackback from Googleblog so people are coming, looking and leaving and my traffic doubled. I’ve pretty much learned that’s how a small blog like mine gets blog traffic.
An inadvertent typo in April sent traffic through the roof with people expecting to find a religious conversion. I had a run-in with Wonkette that I’d rather forget (and won’t link to). And my best traffic ever was when a site known for outing famous people posted the simple (suggestive) phrase ”Oh… So gay!” linked to my post on the origins of the word ‘gay.’
The world beat a path to my blog to find out which DC politician I had outed. They left just as quickly, some feeling dismayed and deceived and most never having read the least little bit of my artful handiwork. So if you lust after traffic, you can get it. Just remember:
Most blog traffic is trash… Everyone knows it. If you look at your stats, you’ll learn that half of your traffic--or a lot more than half--comes from search engines. People type in things like “nipple schoolgirl goat priest molasses,” and they end up at your site for ten seconds, and they leave, hopefully disappointed. Those people aren’t “visitors,” no matter how much you like to think they are. They’re just lost.
The guy who wrote that has since let it lapse. Too bad. It was a good post:
Even worse, you may be getting traffic because big bloggers link to you. That doesn’t make you a success. It makes you a pet, living on table scraps. When the scraps stop coming--when you say the wrong thing and stop toadying--those tasty scraps can stop coming, instantly, and then you find out how much readers really care about you.
I’ve not toadied. But I have been linked to by the big blogs. The biggest of the big (and my hero, Cory) found me I don’t know how and linked. Not even a blip of traffic. Andrew Sullivan got me traffic and wrote a fine post, but he called me “Typical Joe” (horrors!) and I did come away from that one feeling vaguely like a begging hungry pet.
Internet fame is overrated anyway. Remember Gary Numa Numa Brolsma? His Internet fame began in his Jersey bedroom with a webcam in the fall of 2004. He had no idea what was in store for him. 13,367,200 views.
By Spring of 2005 he had been on Good Morning America and turned down an interview request by the NYTimes. It found his performance “earnest but painful” and called his posting it on the Internet a “grave mistake.” The paper of record also reported that “according to his relatives, he mopes around the house.”
This week Rocketboom checked in with Gary. He’s making a new version of the video - “not the same but similar to the original” - and says YouTube is planning a contest. I’ll post about it on my blog.
Maybe if there’s a typo I’ll top a thousand visitors. That’s all the fame I need.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Neanderthal men on women
Dov Charney is a fast-talking 36-year-old entrepreneur whose company has a loose, sexy atmosphere. As you might guess, some former workers have sued him for sexual harassment.
Charney pays his 4,000 employees, mostly immigrants, an average $12.75 an hour, plus subsidized lunches, health care, and free English classes. [Ã¢â‚¬Â¦]
Charney feels free to engage in sexual relationships with staff members. “If it’s a truly consensual loving relationship,” he says, “there’s nothing wrong with it. I think that those relationships can be very healthy and are very much part of living in a free world.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Says SZ, “Yes, immigrant women, having sex with the boss is very much part of living in a free world. Remember that!” She’s got more.
Then Rebecca Traister (from whom I lifted the wonderful dinosaur locution above) reports on the much discussed “Don’t Marry Career Women” piece that has since been pulled and reframed as a ”Career and Marriage Debate.” Another piece by the same author, Michael Noer, titled “The Economics of Prostitution” which compares “wives” to “whores” has also disappeared from the Forbes site:
“The story about careers was taken down so we could put up a new, enhanced package which includes Michael’s original story,” said a Forbes.com spokeswoman in an e-mail late Wednesday. She said that she did not know when or if the “wife or whore” story would go back up. On Tuesday, the same spokeswoman had e-mailed Salon to say that “the piece and its sourcing speaks [sic] for itself. Forbes is known for its provocative opinion and Forbes.com’s readership—both male and female—expects nothing less.” Noer was out of the office this week—it has been reported http://www.gawker.com/news/forbes/remainders-michael-noer-computer-camp-stud-goes-into-hiding-196207.php">elsewhere that he was ironically attending a wedding—and Forbes.com editor Paul Maidment was also on vacation.
On the merits:
Much of the data on which Noer drew came from conservative think tanks or dubious-sounding publications. The National Marriage Project. “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” a 2006 study that even Noer admitted is “controversial.” Sylvia Ann Hewlett. (He also cited more mainstream sources, like USA Today.) But the traditionalist, reactionary bent of many of his footnoted sources only amplified his police siren of a thesis.
An accompanying slide show listed the “Nine Reasons to Steer Clear of Career Women,” starting with the news that a professionally successful woman won’t want to marry you—“you” being Noer’s male reader; he didn’t bother to pretend that he might have any female eyes skimming his work—because high-achieving women “search less intensively for a match,” and “have higher standards for an acceptable match than women who work less and earn less.”
If your working girl should unwisely deign to hitch her wagon to your star, according to Noer, it won’t be long before she’s cheating on you, a quagmire illustrated by a photo of a hussy lounging in red lingerie, barely concealing her adulterous assets. According to Noer, working women stray when a wife ventures outside the home, because a job increases the chances that “[she’ll] meet someone [she] likes more than you.” That surely doesn’t sound like a stretch in this case.
Then there’s this from the cute little baby dinosaur, Tucker Carlson:
MORGAN: I'm assuming
that she is going to make the run, unless she sees polling or evidence
otherwise right up at the year from now.
CARLSON: Rich, the truth is there are so few men left in the
Democratic Party. There are so many wussies at the helm of that party.
MASTERS: Gee, thanks.
CARLSON: Nobody has the huevos to stand up to Mrs. Clinton
and say, you, you can't win, step back,
you're not running for president. Nobody is in charge. So she just bulldozes everybody. That's
the truth of it. And you know it.
MASTERS: It's not
the truth of it.
Those like Tucker who want women back in the 50s where they belong would do well to remember that “the truth of it” is that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. But backwards and in high heels.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Allen’s truth, Dean’s strategy & Hillary should tour!
Actually, I think Senator Allen got it right:
This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He’s with my opponent. He’s following us around everywhere. And it’s just great. We’re going to places all over Virginia, and he’s having it on film and its great to have you here and you show it to your opponent because he’s never been there and probably will never come.
While everyone’s gloating about the odious truth behind Allen’s use of the term macaca, there’s another truth that doesn’t even merit mention: the Dems won’t go there. And they don’t come here. The more I think of it the more it annoys me.
Today I listened to a Times Talk interview of Howard Dean. I have to say I pretty much agree with everything he said.
Contributing writer Matt Bai conducted the interview and seemed to suggest that the Times might have a significant article on the 50 state strategy. If so I’ll be quoting it. I like it.
The notion of strategically writing off the South ticks me off. I live here. I vote here. I’m not alone here.
Which brings me to Hillary. I’m well aware of the revised view that questions the success of her listening tour and considers her upstate strength a myth:
The upstate voters she has won over she courted with retail politics: showing up in small towns, becoming fluent in the most parochial of concerns, and delivering federal dollars. In a region that historically hasn’t seen much of its senators, she has been omnipresent. Zogby says it’s these repeat visits that have done the most to expand her support base. “Presence is so important to upstate voters,” he says. “The psychology is: If you pay attention to us, we’ll give you support.”
But retail politics don’t translate well nationally.
Poppycock! Hillary Clinton, COME ON DOWN!
“Obviously, you can’t do a listening tour in all twelve zillion counties,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, though he suggests that the same skills are useful during primary season.
Hillary should, right after re-election as senator, set up an exploratory committee and launch a listening tour that is the exact national replica of the one that won her first senate election. And she should start with a swing through the rural South.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
A podcast by any other name would be much sweeter
I am of the opinion that one of the smartest things Apple has done, ever, was to embrace podcasting by incorporating it into iTunes. Podcasting is cool… the iPod is cool… pure Apple marketing manna from heavan. We might as well call it “Applecasting.”
Somebody ought to tell the lawyers! Those creeps:
Apple has laid legal claim to the word “Pod,” arguing that other companies that use the word as part of their product names risk infringing the trademark of its popular iPod music player.
The legal campaign, which in recent days has drawn challenges to products with names such as Profit Pod and TightPod, reflects a broader attempt by some of the most successful consumer technology companies to prevent their best-known product names slipping into common useage beyond their control.
At a Duke University Podcasting Symposium last September Jonathan Sterne spoke out against the term “podcasting.” He argued - persuasively - that we should rightfully call it “broadcasting” and that what we have come to believe is broadcasting should rightfully be called RCAcasting: It’s a centrally controlled corporate model that explicitly excludes anyone who is not professional. While…
...in the early days of radio it was dominated by amateurs and… hobbyists and it was somewhat chaotic. People did what they wanted… But between about 1922 and 1934 RCA’s model of broadcasting gets defined as the natural model for radio… Receiving only sets...became the dominant form of radio that people acquired, purchased, and encountered in their every day lives. The other thing is that amateur broadcasters were edged out by stations that had larger transmitters and by regulators that gave most of the spectrum to professional broadcasters. So in other words, whereas in 1925, professional broadcasters might shut down in a city on Tuesday night for amateur night… by 1929 that didn’t happen anymore.
Apple’s going to use us up then toss us out too! Before they do let’s scream to high heavens that podcasting has absolutely nothing to do with iPods!
Sterne’s is a message of cautious optimism for the future of peer-produced media; and he’s confident we won’t be calling it podcasting:
Can the name be changed? Yes and it probably will be if history is any indication. Podcasting is a year old. Let’s talk about other media techniques when they were a year old… Radio didn’t become radio until the 1920s, actually quite late. People called it wireless for some time. So will it stay podcasting? No, not necessarily. And one of the reasons it’s important for me to come to a podcasting conference and call it broadcasting is maybe some podcasters will go back and start calling it broadcasting. And say all we’re doing is broadcasting on the Internet and we have the same rights and should have the same legitimacy as the people who previously held the monopoly on the term.
Let’s let ‘em have it!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Another tale from the great state of Georgia:
Shortly before Thanksgiving 2004, I took my three kids camping in Mistletoe State Park near Augusta, Ga., with my best friend and his two kids. After six years in Savannah, my family was about to move to France for my wife’s new job as an administrator for an American company. We had all been camping together before and figured the trip would be a great getaway from all of the packing, painting and stresses of moving, and would allow the kids to be together for one last time. Our wives decided to stay home to organize the packing and spend some quiet time together to say goodbye. [...]
As usual during the trip, we took several photos. Because I forgot my digital camera, I bought a disposable camera at a gas station on the way to the campground. I took pictures of the kids using sticks to beat on old bottles and cans and logs as musical instruments. I took a few of my youngest daughter, Eliza, then age 3, skinny-dipping in the lake, and my son, Noah, then age 8, swimming in the lake in his underwear, and another of Noah naked, hamming it up while using a long stick to hold his underwear over the fire to dry. Finally, I took a photo of everyone, as was our camping tradition, peeing on the ashes of the fire to put it out for the last time. We also let the kids take photos of their own.
When we returned on Sunday, I forgot the throwaway camera and Rusty found it in his car. He gave it to his wife, whom I’ll call Janet, to get developed, and she dropped it off the next day with two other rolls of film at a local Eckerd drugstore. On Tuesday, when she returned to pick up the film, she was approached by two officers from the Savannah Police Department. READ ON.
Now I ask you, in this age of digital cameras does anyone really think that real child pornographers are developing their pictures at Eckerd? And all of the resources spent following up and pursuing those leads mean less resources for finding the real predators. So we get statistics of investigations, arrests and convictions as a misleading measure of success.
I don’t mean to single out Georgia; this Sexual Fascism has swept across Progressive America in the name of protecting children with no awareness of the harm done to children. More from Salon:
The presumption of innocence until proven guilty had been turned on its head: the burden had been placed on us, not the legal system, to prove our innocence. Our most basic right and instinct as parents—to protect our children—had been usurped by a single accusation. [...]
Oney had told me she would be paying a visit to our house. Our lawyer said she could look anywhere—in our drawers, closets, attic—without a warrant or without specifically stating what she was looking for. [...]
Despite the fact that the case was unsubstantiated, a record of the accusation and ensuing investigation will be kept on file for three years—in case, we were told by our lawyer, other complaints should be filed against us. Our children’s records will show the incident until they are 21 years old. [...]
I discovered there are simply no uniform standards for police officers, teachers, child-care workers—or photo lab employees—to tell lewd and illegal photos from harmless family pictures. [...]
Dr. Douglas Besharov, a child abuse expert at the Maryland School of Public Affairs, and the first director of the U.S. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, estimates that out of the nearly 3 million child abuse reports made every year, seven in 10 of them are without merit. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 60 percent of child abuse or neglect reports are “unsubstantiated.”
Please read the whole article. We have to better understand what’s happening here.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The Long Tail today
Today marks the debut of the book. I’m glad Chris got around to answering critics, in his way. I read John Cassidy’s New Yorker review las week and found it less ”largely positive” than Chris did, but I’ll quote the same part:
[T]his is snappily argued and thought-provoking, if not quite as original as Anderson’s publishers would have us believe. Back in 1980, another futurologist, Alvin Toffler, anticipated the “de-massifying” of society in his best-selling book “The Third Wave” (Bantam; $7.99), which is still in print. “The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation and entertainment,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Toffler said in a 1999 interview. But no longer: “The era of mass society is over. . . . No more mass production. No more mass consumption. . . . No more mass entertainment.”
You might imagine that I was a fan of Tofler’s then and, given that I believe everything’s derivative, I give Anderson more credit for his insight than does Cassidy. I tell students all the time that I’m not the slightest bit interested in an orginal idea, I want an original mix, iteration or synthesis of ideas.
The Long Tail is one brilliant synthesis!
The real novelty of Anderson’s book is not his thesis but its representation in the form of a neat, readily graspable picture: the long-tail curve. For decades, economists and scientists have been using this graph, which is formally known as a power-law distribution, to describe things like the distribution of wealth or the relative size of cities. By applying the long tail to the online world, Anderson brings intellectual order to what often looks like pointless activity. The teen-ager who spends his weekends updating a blog that nobody reads and shooting silly videos to post on YouTube.com? He is, as Anderson’s chapter on “The New ProducersÃ¢â‚¬Â� tells us, a valiant citizen of the long tail.
The least convincing part of Anderson’s book is his treatment of what he calls “the short head,” the part of the curve where popular products reside. Although he acknowledges that best-selling books and blockbuster movies won’t vanish overnight, he suggests that demand for them will gradually decline: “the primary effect of the long tail is to shift our taste towards niches.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Cassidy goes on to argue that the success of hits today and “giant, exploitative firms” dominating the network is evidence disputing the theory. I haven’t read the book, I’ve just ordered it, but I’ve been following along on Anderson’s blog for a good long while.
My understanding of the theory is and always has been that yes, hits continue. Not only do they continue, they play an important role as a stepping off point for all of us to find our niches. When I bought The Long Tail I was interested to note the suggestion of The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom so I might follow that path from suggestion to suggestion down deeper into my niche.
My conservative blogger friend Basil may have been more interested to follow An Army of Davids : How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths down deeper into his.
In that way the hit that Chris’s book is bound to be can lead both Basil and me, and you dear reader and those that follow, each into our respective niches. Only to come together again for the next hit. Hits aren’t dead; it’s the rise of a new kind of hit.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Marriage by any means necessary
I should probably opine a bit on the marriage decisions.
The question is, do we get that right through the legislature or get it through the courts? An emerging consensus is that the legislature is the more legitimate way and that all those rabble rousers pushing it through the courts should have been working through the legislature.
I don’t think it matters whether it’s the courts or the legislature. It’s the balance and the interplay of both that moves us forward. The battle is the conversation. Do we suppose we would have been better off without Brown v Board of Ed? (As it happens I’ve come darn close to arguing so.)
In gay rights it’s the old assimilate or agitate question that was with us from before Stonewall through AIDS and ACT-UP and now played out as the legislature (assimilate) or the courts (agitate).
I’m as assimilationist as they come, but it was those couples in Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, D.C. and most notably Hawaii who put this issue on the agenda. It took the mainstream gay activist world - including me - by surprise.
The notion now that it is a favor to us to be tossed back to the legislature misses that it was those court cases that got us here in the first place. We’re going to win, and when we do there are going to be those who find it illegitimate, whether by legislature or by court order.
Friday, June 30, 2006
No TV: a trend?
Yesterday I said that I’m seeing two trends out there that I hope and expect will continue. In one, people are buying large screen high-definition home theater systems on which they want to display high-end high-quality professional media. In the other, screens are getting smaller and more widely distributed and ubiquitous but with lower resolution. On them it’s anything goes.
Then last night over dinner with two couples here I learned that neither has television at home anymore. One couple cancelled cable, the other cancelled satellite and they don’t bother with over the air. Both have wide-screen high-definition units that they use only for their Netflix DVDs. And both watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report online.
So I’m wondering, we all know people who have dropped their landlines in favor of cell phones, do you think there’s a similar trend developing where people will cancel their television services and replace them with DVDs and web surfing?
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Answering Jean: We the People want to make our media
In response to my post remembering 1994, Jean asks:
I’m curious - your history should give you really interesting context here: do you really believe the maajority of people really want to “publish”, and - even if you do - don’t you think that the fact that most people don’t have anything of interest “for others to consume”, the concept of community publishing falls apart under it’s own weight of junk and disinteresting content? Aren’t we forgetting the art and value in trained/well done journalism?
Where to begin?
Yes, I really believe that the majority of people - at some time under some circumstances - want to publish. Back in 1994 that may have been a hard sell; today it seems self-evident. Whether it’s Blogger or Wordpress or MySpace or Facebook or Flickr or PhotoBucket or YouTube or Google Video or Craigslist or eBay or Wikipedia or whatever comes next, people have demonstrated that they want to publish.
But the really nettlesome point of what you had to say is found in this belief “that most people don’t have anything of interest ‘for others to consume.’” Setting aside for a moment the examples above, let’s look at what the content industry has given us. I invite anyone to look at the schedule of any media channel - broadcast, cable, satellite, radio; you name it, any channel - I think you will find that the majority of what is on that schedule is of no interest to you. Add it all up and you will find that the majority of what the content industry gives us we, individually, have no interest in.
I’m guessing that what we the people produce and put out there probably stacks up about the same. But the content industry has an interest in selling us new improved versions of the same repackaged movies and rerun series or tired sequels and all the while marginalizing the media that we the people make. This is nothing new. I just happen to have some examples from 1991: here an MTV segment and here one from Entertainment Tonight, both trashing our media. And both followed by my commentary which, if you happen to be a regular reader, you will have heard it all before.
As producers of uninteresting junk, I assure you that we the people can hardly hold a stick to you the cable industry (here a random example that happened to be forwarded to me by an in-law). And please spare me the “we’re only giving the people what they want” argument. I’ve argued before that the lowest common denominator fallacy is demeaning and destructive. It’s circular reasoning faults the public for choosing among the only options presented, and blames us for the poor quality of the options!
Now, about the “art and value in trained/well done journalism.” I am not forgetting about it, I am an avid consumer of it. I appreciate, admire, read and enjoy professional journalists. I do not aspire to and make no claim to being a journalist. Blogging for me is a process: to document, develop, deliberate and deepen my thinking. And also to engage - though not solely to engage. I am happy to be a citizen who happens to participate in civic life and the world of issues and ideas, both with far away friends and with strangers like you, Jean. It all adds up to a creative outlet that I enjoy (even more than watching TV).
In sum, I’m seeing two trends out there that I hope and expect to be born out. In one, people are buying large screen high-definition home theater systems on which they want to display high-end high-quality professional media. In the other, screens are getting smaller and more widely distributed and ubiquitous but with lower resolution. I will gladly cede you the professional that large-screen high-resolution space if you will only please not disparage me and my ilk for enjoying ours.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I ran a cable access operation and was negotiating a new franchise on a TCI cable system in 1994. I know and have feared the name Leo Hindry. So I read with interest John Batelle’s reaction to Hendry’s claim today:
that the Yahoo and Google’s of the world are temporary phenomena - and that soon all that will matter is distributors (the cable and telco guys, natch), and content (their pals at Disney, of course). Yahoo and Google, et al, will fold because they don’t own rights to content packages like movies, and they don’t control distribution, like cable companies and telcos.
This guy is deeply, hilariously wrong. TechDirt points out the first reason - he’s missing that folks don’t go online for content alone, in fact, they go online to communicate, converse, and to declare who they are in the world. Sure, they also expect content to be there, but increasingly, it ain’t Time Warner’s or Disney’s, it’s YouTube or blogs. And if the Disney’s of the world want to succeed on the Web, they best learn from the habits of the web natives, and not shove mid 1990s media models down their throats.
I’ve been thinking lately that The Cartel is doing advocates of a cultural commons - a place where we are all producers of content rather than merely consumers - a great big favor. While they’re busy locking up tight all of their content, they’re leaving a void online that is being filled by us.
In 1994 when I was working in community media production we had only our television habit. We couldn’t understand or conceive of television as anything other than what we knew it to be. Right now we’re defining a new media platform, and we’re defining it as something homemade and remixed.
The problem in 1994 wasn’t a lack of talent or creativity. It was the time, money and complexity of production, the constant battle for (cable) distribution, and an audience that wasn’t allowed out of its cable box. Each and every one of those issues has been addressed.
What the media industry doesn’t see is that it is forcing us away from those 6 hours we used to spend in front of the TV, and giving us the opportunity to grow into producers who will use those hours making media of our own. Let’s run with it!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Wikipedia has declared venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson not notable. Fred authored and posted his own page then watched with interest as it was discussed. Along the way he made the argument that selfish activity matters, but in the end his page was deleted and, apparently, the discussion along with it.
I consider that a big mistake. A primary strength of Wikipedia is its breadth and depth; for that I accept its probablilistic accuracy and don’t regret its lack of definitive authority. Deleting Fred narrows that breadth.
On prohibiting articles written about yourself and your friends, first an idea then a critique. The idea: Wikipedia is in search of a business model. Why not an ad supported people directory based on the Wiki model?
Now the critique. I beleive that in the model of the oral tradition our stories, as told by us, hold real and valuable truths. Prohibiting them outright loses that truth:
When a reporter - whether the Times or the local student paper - quotes our words, they choose the context those words are placed in. That context imparts meaning. Often the wrong meaning. When we tell our stories, we choose the context. With that choice the meaning can be more honest and more complete. Certainly it’s more authentic. Adam Curry was telling his truth. [So was Fred Wilson.] That’s legitimate.
An oral tradition is less technically accurate, but it is more whole and, I think, equally legitimate. In Alex Ross’s outstanding New Yorker article, The Record Effect: How technology has transformed the sound of music, Ross describes how music once was appreciated for the variations that came from live and more impromptu performance. Now, with recordings heard over and over, what we want and reward in a live setting is the precise technical replication of that recording.
Applying those notions to information, once the stories handed down to us by those who had gone before, those who were actually there, were told with their individual idiom and emphasis. That’s how we got our rich histories. Now those tales may be more technically accurate, but are they still just as rich? And are they any more honest? I don’t think so.
I like to believe that our broadening access to communications technologies means much of our individual rich authenticity can be captured, saved and shared. And if that means a loss of technical accuracy, I’m not convinced that’s a loss of anything worth saving.
So with Wikipedia I’ll stand by my wish for a new emergence of that old oral tradition. And enjoy its honest inaccuracies along with those presented each day by both the “objective” press and the “balanced” press.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I spent Memorial Day at the TerezÃƒÂn concentration camp with students. I was troubled to find that only one student knew that gays were targeted and sent to concentration camps (and there was no real mention of them in the TerezÃƒÂn displays).
Those students know better now.
We had gone to a Gypsy party and learned of them and their experience; there was no equivalent Gay visit. No mention that a thriving, if nascent, Gay movement had been snuffed out by the Nazis.
I came back to America to find that the anti-gay marriage amendment will be debated next week. It is in this context that I went back and reread Richard Plant’s important 1986 book, The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War against Homosexuals:
After a homosexual arrived in camp, he underwent the first experience of all newcomers: he was seized by a profound trauma. He was battered, kicked, slapped, and reviled. According to at least one witness, homosexuals and Jews were not only given the worst beatings, but their pubic hair was shorn; others lost only their head hair.
A clergyman, remanded to Dachau in September 1941, describes the process well: “The SS man asked everybody on what charges he had been sentenced. One man was there on account of crimes against Paragraph 175. He was cuffed, forced to tell in detail what he had done and how. Then they fell upon him, cuffing and kicking. Another victim recalls his first day in Sachsenhausen: “When my name was called, I stepped forward, gave my name, and mentioned Paragraph 175. With the words `You filthy queer, get over there, you butt fucker,’ I received several kicks ... then was transferred to an SS sergeant in charge of my block. The first thing I got from him was a violent blow on my face that threw me to the ground ... he brought his knees up hard into my groin so that I doubled over with pain ... he grinned at me and said: `That was your entrance fee, you filthy Viennese swine . . .’ ”
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Colbert watching, dog whistling & the rise of the 5th Estate
Is Comedy Central becoming for the Left what Fox News is to the Right?
If you do a search on “Colbert” on Technorati, you’ll notice that most of the people now talking about Colbert are users of services like Myspace and Livejournal—teenagers, housewives, and people who don’t visit places like Daily Kos on a regular basis. The fact that his speech has penetrated into the nonpolitical blogosphere is pretty significant. [...]
Also interesting is that really, the right blogosphere just is not talking about him - again, see Technorati. Very few entries slamming him.
The weird thing, which we have already noted here by criticizing the MSM’s ignoring of the Colbert incident, is that for the people in power (and their sycophants, the Right), this was pretty much a non-event. Nothing worth their attention, much less anger. But on the other side, “our” side, the depth of feeling is huge. This is the exact equivalent of what happens when the Right sends out a dog whistle to the Christian conservatives. The Left doesn’t hear it. (And truly, I don’t even think some of “our” people in the blogosphere are hearing the dog whistle of the Colbert incident.)
Casey quotes Yahoo’s Buzz Index:
“Ever since Stephen Colbert opened his mouth at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner and pointedly mocked Bush in front of Bush, online buzz on the fake newsman has reached scalding temperatures.
“There’s a boulder-coming-at-Indiana Jones quality to the story now. Searches on the eyebrow-raising comedian are up 5,625% this week and picking up speed. Trajectories for “Colbert speech” and “colbert video” are racing off the chart. And “The Colbert Report,” its fan site Colbert Nation, and the newly created ThankYouStephenColbert.org also launched upward in Buzz.”
An update points to a Judybrowni comment regarding a recent AOL.com poll of the joke noting “that 32 percent of those polled think that the joke about the president’s glass being 32 percent full is not funny. Can’t buy comedy like that, people.”
Among my favorite comments were those from Robert Thompson on Radio Open Source (which, if it were just a tad more blog friendly, would provide transcripts). Thompson is Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Founding Director, Center for the Study of Popular Television, Syracuse University:
[34:45] I think what Colbert has proved is that Comedy has moved in as the Fifth Estate when the Fourth Estate had dropped the ball. The press, of course, as others have said, completely rolled over in the lead-up to the war and the only good commentators out there were all coming from the perspective of the support of the president - the Bill O’Reillys, the Rush Limbaughs and so forth and so on - and comedy moved into that vacuum with Jon Stewart, who really started to show his stripes in the coverage of the 2000 election, Indecision 2000 as he called it, now Colbert and even David Letterman has become politicized as a result. [...]
[44:46] When we first heard those polls that so many young people were getting all of their news from late-night comedy, we thought to ourselves, “oh, this is terrible.. how is our next generation of citizenry going to run a representative republic if all of their information is coming from Comedy Central.” You watch something like… the Sunday night thing and if you continue to watch Comedy Central shows you get a sense that boy, you know, maybe this isn’t a bad place to be getting some of our news information.
Christopher Lydon responds, “Absolutely dead on!”
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
On Gay Ads in Straight Places
Two gay guys holding hands. He reads some age issues into it that wouldn’t otherwise have occured to me. His friend in the advertising industry thinks he’s reading too much into it.
I don’t much care, in that I’m not in the market for a new computer, let alone a Mac. I do, however, wonder why advertisers would employ gay themes when designing ads not specifically targetted to gay audiences.
I happen to live in the ‘Ew, gays are icky’ South but I watched all of the ads and there was nary a homosexual overtone to be found. (Macworld apparently missed it too.) It took some time to even find the guys holding hands (duh, networking) but, going with it for a moment, I would see such an association for Apple as a positive one.
Living here in rural Georgia I’m not nearly so plugged into this dynamic as I once was, but in my day everyone knew that gay people were the leading indicator of which was the hot club, the best restaurant, the most promising neighborhood, the latest trend and the highest style in town.
Richard Florida wrote the book that documented and quantified the phenomenon, The Rise of the Creative Class: Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race. My first encounter with his thinking was this 2002 Washington Monthly article:
[I]n 1998, I met Gary Gates, then a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon. While I had been studying the location choices of high-tech industries and talented people, Gates had been exploring the location patterns of gay people. My list of the country’s high-tech hot spots looked an awful lot like his list of the places with highest concentrations of gay people. When we compared these two lists with more statistical rigor, his Gay Index turned out to correlate very strongly to my own measures of high-tech growth. Other measures I came up with, like the Bohemian Index---a measure of artists, writers, and performers---produced similar results.
Talented people seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. When they are sizing up a new company and community, acceptance of diversity and of gays in particular is a sign that reads “non-standard people welcome here.”
A gay association works only to enhance and affirm Apple’s association with style and leading edge technology. If it affirms people like Joyner’s antipathy to Macs that’s no great loss.
Now I hasten to add that I take Joyner’s point on the Dolce & Gabbana ads (his post has the whole series) in GQ and Esquire and raise him one: these ads do not represent me or my lifestyle and do a disservice to gay people.
I am a big advocate of the notion that gay is not just about sex. That ad is merely the gay equivalent of a “Chicks dig guys who drink Miller Lite!” ad, but placing it in straight publications only serves to affirm stereotypes that I would like to move away from.
NOTE: be sure to read the comments on Joyner’s post. Very interesting back and forth.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Where/who is the Jane Jacobs of our time?
Jane Jacobs, the writer and thinker who brought penetrating eyes and ingenious insight to the sidewalk ballet of her own Greenwich Village street and came up with a book that challenged and changed the way people view cities, died today in Toronto, where she lived. She was 89.
She died at a Toronto hospital, said a distant cousin, Lucia Jacobs, who gave no specific cause of death.
In her book “Death and Life of Great American Cities,” written in 1961, Ms. Jacobs’s enormous achievement was to transcend her own withering critique of 20th-century urban planning and propose radically new principles for rebuilding cities. At a time when both common and inspired wisdom called for bulldozing slums and opening up city space, Ms. Jacobs’s prescription was ever more diversity, density and dynamism - in effect, to crowd people and activities together in a jumping, joyous urban jumble.
On NPR last night Robert Caro explained how she beat Robert Moses.
Today’s equivalent of the urban battles of the 60s is the internet/telecom/copyright fight. Just as communities lost every battle before the Lower Manhattan Expressway, we’ve been losing every battle to date.
We need today a Jane Jacobs-like figure who can inspire and mobilize us in that arena as effectively as Jane did in the urban arena. I like to believe we’ve just begun to fight.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Podcasting Broadcasting & RCA-casting
When I worked in Public Access Television I believed that it could be a return to the conception of broadcasting that held sway at its birth: television as an educational instrument; television as a way to foster a more responsive government; television as a tool for the ordinary citizen; and television as a means to a more democratic culture.
Sterne says he doesn’t like the term podcasting and argues that it should rightfully be called broadcasting, while what we have come to believe is broadcasting should be called RCA Casting because it is a centrally controlled corporate model (founded and propounded by RCA) that explicitly excludes anyone who was not professional. Like podcasting today…
In the early days of radio it was dominated by amateurs and… hobbyists and it was somewhat chaotic. People did what they wanted… There were different names for radio in this early period - wireless telephony, wireless telegraphy, radio telephony and so on and so forth. But between about 1922 and 1934 RCA’s model of broadcasting gets defined as the natural model for radio… Receiving only sets...became the dominant form of radio that people acquired purchased and encountered in their every day lives. The other thing is that amateur broadcasters were edged out by stations that had larger transmitters and by regulators that gave most of the spectrum to professional broadcasters. So in other words, whereas in 1925, professional broadcasters might shut down in a city on Tuesday night for amateur night… by 1929 that didn’t happen anymore.
Listen to the talk, very interesting. His appears to be a message of cautious optimism for the future of citizen produced media via whatever name podcasting will eventually come to be known as. He’s confident it won’t be podcasting:
Can the name be changed? Yes and it probably will be if history is any indication. Podcasting is a year old. Let’s talk about other media techniques when they were a year old… Radio didn’t become radio until the 1920s, actually quite late. People called it wireless for some time. So will it stay podcasting, no, not necessarily. And one of the reasons it’s important for me to come to a podcasting conference and call it broadcasting is maybe some podcasters will go back and start calling it broadcasting. And say all we’re doing is broadcasting on the Internet and we have the same rights and should have the same legitimacy as the people who previously held the monopoly on the term.
Community TV: The canary in the coalmine?
The DMCA is going from bad to worse (a draft of the bill is now available). Congress is about to give away the Internet by abolishing net neutrality. And I have a special personal disappointment with the news, via Jeff Chester’s piece in The Nation, that Congress is poised to kill community TV:
Congress is about to strike a blow that would eliminate the last remaining policy insuring local oversight of communications companies. A GOP-led effort on behalf of the telephone lobby (principally Verizon and AT&T), also backed by many Democrats, is about to toss in the dustbin the longstanding policy enabling cities or counties to negotiate a “franchise” agreement with companies that provide cable TV service. A key House committee is poised to pass legislation that would strip away the rights of communities to have any say in how phone and cable networks serve them in the digital era. [...]
Little has been written in the mainstream press about what the potential loss of cable franchising will mean. More than thirty years ago in The Nation, Ralph Lee Smith wrote the visionary “The Wired Nation.” Even back then, activists recognized cable TV’s ability to serve as a “community communications” system (they even used the word “broadband” back then). Cable was supposed to be an alternative to mainstream commercial television. There would be many local channels, addressing the needs of education, civic participation, free speech and the arts. Cable systems and programming channels would be owned and operated by people of color, potentially ameliorating what was--and still is--a communications industry dominated by white males and largely programmed to their interests. The cable lobby adopted much of this rhetoric as companies vied to secure lucrative deals with cities. We will be your “community medium,” they declared, promising to deliver PEG and an endless array of local services. But once these giants, whose successors today include companies such as Time Warner and Comcast, won the franchise, they used their political power--at City Hall and in Washington, DC--to break most of their promises. The cable lobby assembled a powerful political machine, including key Democratic leaders, and was able to win national legislation in 1984 that largely freed them to operate as national programming services.
I left Public Access Television as a career in 1999. I watch podcasting and vlogging develop today through the lense of that experience. I see precisely the dynamic - the energy, the creativity, the hope and optimism, the promise and potential - that I saw in the early 80s as I began my career in community media.
I see, too, that the “powerful political machine” built by the telecom giants is stronger than ever, and operating in a DC environment even more susceptible to its influence. I like to think that because the technology has gotten cheaper and easier to use, and because the architecture of the internet (as it stands today), there’s some hope that this technology of choice may survive and thrive.
It’s time for progressives to take a stand against the broadband banditry of Congress and the cable-telecom cartel. Any Internet-era telecommunications legislation should insure local control, provide low-income Americans with residential Internet service, protect online privacy, and keep the Internet open and free from the control of big cable and phone companies. Such legislation should also help develop a noncommercial digital commons designed to promote civil society (as opposed to the madcap commercialism that will run rampant on the broadband networks). In that way, we can honor the vision--and the political work--of activists in decades past who strove for a democratically run “community communications” system.
I certainly agree. I’m just not seeing how we get from here to there. The death of Community Television looks to me to be an inevitability. And hardly a good omen.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
On the Court banning “Gay-Bashing” t-shirts
Of course, the court ruled against the kid, so how can that be? Well, the mistake the kid made, in my view, was going to court in the first place. It’s a tried and true Lefty model that the Right has wholly adopted. I expect they’ll get the same result: Even when rulings go in their favor, those rulings ultimately serve more to disengage the base than to sway public opinion.
I say this even as I say elsewhere that I want the same-sex marriage battle to go to the courts. But that’s like wanting Roe to be overturned because at this point it’s the most pyrrhic victory I can imagine. Get those two cases ruled on by today’s court and we’ll see an energized Left to pull us back to the middle. Please remember that I believe the country is today closely divided not deeply divided (even on religion), and the more we swing in either direction the more out of step we get.
But to discuss for a moment the t-shirt ban, after reading David Shraub’s very thorough and thoughtful analysis (made complete with a roundup of other views), I don’t personally find the t-shirt offensive enough: “BE ASHAMED, OUR SCHOOL EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED” on the front, and “HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL” on the back. If the t-shirt were more analogous to the example from the dissent: “HITLER HAD THE RIGHT IDEA” on the front and “LET’S FINISH THE JOB!” on the back, it would more likely meet the incitement to violence standard that everyone agrees is too far.
In this particular case the context in which the shirt was worn - the “National Day of Silence” in which gay and gay-friendly students refuse to talk in protest of discrimination and prejudice - makes it all the more acceptable. In the best student tradition he was voicing a personal opinion (and without talking!); rebelling and taking a stand against a position he didn’t agree with. He shouldn’t have gone to court but I’m guessing he could have won had he skipped school and worn the t-shirt out front, on the street and off of school property. Given that he did go to court, as it stands and as written, I reluctantly agree with the decision. But for me the t-shirt was a missed opportunity for engagement.
What I’m always on the lookout for with students is the teachable moment. Next week I will be having coffee with one of the most outspoken conservative students on campus. He has a reputation for taking very public rabidly anti-gay positions and I’m meeting with him to discuss same-sex marriage. I’m not interested in shutting him up; I’m interested in understanding where he’s coming from and changing his mind. And if I can’t change his mind then I want for the two of us to figure out how we can agree to disagree so that we can peacefully and even respectfully live together in the same university community.
There is reason for optimism. Just yesterday I read of the Utah theater owner who refused to show Brokeback Mountain sitting down in a meeting with about 30 University of Utah students, faculty and administrators who shared their stories of what it’s like to be gay. This is the way I want to win; this is the world I want to live in. Watch the video. This is good important stuff.
In my meeting with the conservative student if I model a, dare I say, tolerant and respectful behavior I have every right to ask for and expect it in return. And that has been my experience so far. I guess a court victory is reason to whoop it up and celebrate and party (and get blog traffic and raise funds), but I’m not sure it’s always the way to a better world.
Note: I’m not linking to the blogger source for the Utah story because he chooses to call the theater owner a bigot. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: I refuse to use the easy seductive name-calling “bigots,” “moonbats” and “wingnuts” language. I try not to link to it either. (Except this once!)
Monday, April 17, 2006
Questioning the wisdom of crowds
A lot of people thought I was going to attack Wikipedia as being “wrong” and something that should be “stopped”, which is a useless argument/approach to take, especially if you’re into freedom of expression. My main thesis is that Wikipedia’s initial design and architecture, which is now changing constantly, failed to take the reality of humanity and the way people interact with information into account, and in doing so, has wasted a nearly-incalculable amount of energy and has betrayed, to some extent, it’s promises, credo and goals. You know, minor stuff.
I’ll have to listen again, contemplate and dig deeper into some of Jason’s good criticisms. [text] [audio] My gut tells me that while he measures Wikipedia against its lofty goals, I still consider Wikipedia an extraordinary experiment so I am much more forgiving. For example, I’m pleased that the design and architecture are changing. It seems obvious that they must.
To date I excuse Jimbo Wale’s rhetorical excesses, though I may have much more to learn. The part of Jason’s rhetoric that I find troubling is his assessment of the human character:
The most frustrating part about Wikipedia is the fact that that when you make a change, somebody who wants to undo that change is just some guy. Jimbo holds this up as the great aspect of Wikipedia is that everybody gets to get their hands in it and we’re all working together but they don’t realise we kill each other. We kill each other every day. Over shit, over Nintendo games, over the fact that somebody parked in the wrong space. We do this. We’re human beings.[...]
What I think we can learn from Wikipedia is to understand that people will always act this way… With Wikipedia, if you say given this set of behaviours, and given this stage that people could put things on, people will act this way, it’s a pretty good indicator of saying “OK, well the next time I set up an organisation the next time I make something editable by the public, the next time I make the going-on, this is what’s going to happen, people are going to go on and try to destroy it, they’re going to try to destroy it on the front end, they’re going to try and destroy it from the back end.”
Now I’m no Pollyanna, and I know human beings are not ants. But I believe we can be pulled up to our higher selves or down to our lower selves. I’d look to build Levitt/Dubner Freakonomic-style incentives into the culture and architecture of Wikipedia, even as I acknowledge that today I don’t know what that means.
And while Jason is critical of Jimbo’s “control of Wikipedia” - the inference I took was that it should be more democratic - I’ve pointed to Jeff Bates’ implication that Wikipedia would benefit from being more like Open Source, “In every open-source project, he said, there is ‘a benevolent dictator’ who ultimately takes responsibility, even though the code is contributed by many. Good stuff results only if someone puts their name on it.’”
Maybe Jimbo’s not the one. His style is vastly different from that of Craig Newmark - who literally did put his name on it even as his business card lists him as co-founder and customer service rep of Craigslist. Craig and Jimbo have very different styles but likely share a more optimistic view of humankind than Jason:
Some things are fairly universal. One of those is that people pretty much everywhere have some of the same values, and pretty much everyone out there is trustworthy.
I’d add “with the right incentives.” Craig’s found some. Jimbo’s found some too but he needs to find some more.
There is a wisdom of crowds. I cling to my optimism that now we have the technology to develop the tools that will help us harvest it. Wikipedia may not be the way; but I continue to believe that it is pointing in the right direction.
Friday, April 14, 2006
South Park should kiss-off Viacom II
IT’S NOT OVER. IT’S ONLY JUST BEGUN.
From my South Park should Kiss-off Viacom post:
My advice to Matt and Trey? Announce they’re leaving Comedy Central unless they get, say, the same kind of total control that huge Hollywood directors and stars like Cruise get over the content and distribution of their movies.
To back up their threat, they also announce that they are “exploring” Andy Bowers’ suggestion for West Wing (which was itself derived from MIT media analyst Ivan Askwith): pay-per-view distribution of South Park.
They further announce that they are exploring distribution deals with Netflix and TiVo. What would Sumner say to that?
Matt and Trey have done so much better than that. No threats, instead they’ve produced the most brilliant pair of targeted satirical episodes yet. From Part I of Cartoon Wars (from Matthew Stintson via James Joyner):
Cartman: And in just a few weeks from now, “Family Guy” will be off the air forever.
Kyle: Off the air? But, we’re just trying to get the Mohammed episode pulled.
Cartman: It’s simple television economics, Kyle. All it takes to kill a show forever is get one episode pulled. If we convince the network to pull this episode for the sake of Muslims, then the Catholics can demand a show they don’t like get pulled. And then people with disabilities can demand another show get pulled, and so on and so on, until “Family Guy” is no moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Part 2 ends with Jesus crapping on President Bush, an animated question mark over “The End” and Ayman al-Zawahiri in subtitles saying, “Oh yeah, take THAT! We burned you!”
Ted Turner invented cable networks when he put TBS on satellite; HBO invented pay cable when it became the first non-terrestrial broadcast TV network; South Park can become the first iProgam and invent individual series syndication online if it becomes the first non-telecast program.
More than mere masters of creative content, Matt & Trey have been inventive in their use of animation technology and their use of the Internet to extend the show’s reach began back when Comedy Central was carried on far fewer cable systems than it is today. They can do it!
RELATED: Tom Cruise is on Primetime tonight. Diane Sawyer will ask about Oprah, Scientology and quiet birth. But will she ask about South Park?
LATER: She did. He answered, “...no, I honestly didn’t even know about it.”
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
It appears a “fairy” is trying to give a queer eye to the tough car, and the fairy is bumped to the sidewalk for trying to do so. Even language is used, a guy points to the fairy and laughs: “You silly little fairy!” Not nice. The fairy turns him gay as a revenge I guess.
Gay people are shown in this collection as classic gay stereotypes, including leathermen, sissies and queens, and Liipstick Lesbians, but are otherwise accepted by characters in the ad. While some in the gay community now accept these depictions as “diversity” and “reality”—others remain sensitive to them and do not. These ads do not meet Commercial Closet’s Best Practices.
I note that they played the Dodge ad during Desperate Housewives. Do these marketers have a clue about who’s watching???
Meanwhile, TBS sent this ad [WMP] parodying the Lord of the Rings suggesting I link to it. It looks like they want to appeal to the gay people in their audience rather than risk offending them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This post continues to attract traffic, while my later post, No fun with fairy, which looks at the Commercial Closet rating for the ad sits unread. Please check it out.