Friday, May 11, 2012

Static and Noise: Easy Money


No Respect: I just watched an old clip of Rodney Dangerfield on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno from about ten years ago. Rodney's gone, now, but you have to respect the man. While he certainly couldn't do it all--he had a pretty limited range of schtick--he did what he did very, very well. And in this case, he made Jay Leno incredibly uncomfortable, which is always a plus. He's a great example of a late bloomer, not hitting it big until he was well past the time when most comedians usually hit stardom--his late 40's. In his performances, he would just fire off a battery of jokes, and if something wasn't connecting with the audience, he's change course. Yes, he's crass, the old premise of "no respect" gets tired, and his jokes are always hit or miss. And he's definitely a throwback to the old-school comedy. But you know what? He gets some solid jokes in every set, and that's more than you can say for the vast majority of current comedians.

30 Rock: It appears that perpetually on-the-fence television show 30 Rock will get one last, short season. I always liked 30 Rock, but it eventually seemed to be a bit too clever for its own good; it also seemed to switch too rapidly from smart, witty dialogue to awkward slapstick and poorly-executed farce. I admittedly lost interest around season 4 or so, catching it only on occasion. The whole Alec Baldwin I-don't-want-this-job-but-I'm-still-signing-contracts nonsense also irritated me. While it's still good, the quality decline has prevented me from regarding it as a weekly desire. I'll eventually catch up all the episodes some rainy weekend on Netflix or something.

Everything Is Changing: It's not exactly a secret that the nature of viewing television is changing rapidly. I believe we are going to very soon enter a make-or-break situation in how the large media corporations deal with this change. From Dish Network's feud with AMC to the specious packaging setup of HBO, viewers are going to be kept from specific programming they want to consume, and how consumers react to this will decide the fate of the future of television. If it's all piracy and theft, media will crack down on offering shows via that method. If people simply want to consume entertainment and aren't very interested in specific programming (historical dramas or fantasy, not necessarily Mad Men or Game of Thrones) it will move in a different direction. Will (legitimate) online viewing or DVRs increase dramatically, changing how advertising rates are determined? Now that the cost of viewing programming has dropped significantly and the costs are tied up almost exclusively with the creative content, at some point the business model of the entertainment industry is going to have to change. So far it has done so reluctantly. It had better change its outlook if it wants to survive.

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