jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (smokin' matt albie)
I love how one of the first things we saw after the Superbowl itself was Sue Sylvester talking about how bored she was.

I decided that since I wasn't going to a Superbowl party this year I'd just get some dips and have an at-home shindig for me and the roommate; Ali showed up later. I think our conversation was far more interesting than most of what was happening on screen. The game was good--interceptions turned into touchdowns are always exciting, and the Steelers kept up the pressure right until the end--but man, Joe Buck is just terrible. (Also Terry Bradshaw needs to cut his goddamned hair and Fox needs to lose the football-player-as-transformer mascot.) The BEP's were as dull, pointless and obvious as I thought they would be, given that will.i.am has ground any original thought out of his brain (he makes more money that way so I can't really blame him). Slash was just sad, and Usher's two minutes of dancing was more interesting than anything else that happened during that mess of a halftime show.

The ads were, I dunno, mixed? I don't have the distance on it all that I usually do, because I'm temporarily back in the business, and while I understand why PepsiMax decided they had to out-annoy all the annoying Bud Light ads, I'm still annoyed that they did it. There was so little that was new this year, really. I hate it when I can almost read the brief as I watch the ad. The X-Factor promos were ridiculous and over-the-top, which is usual for Mr. Cowell; I just found them hilarious. Anyone have ads they really enjoyed?

My local PBS station counterprogrammed with Jane Austen, which I thought was a pretty good idea. Tonight I will have another dinner of dip, which might be unwise but hey, at least I'll be dipping some broccoli into that leftover queso!
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Took an unannounced internet break for ten days or so (not that anyone noticed, so I'm glad I didn't announce it or now I'd look like quite the egotist!) I'm catching up on a few things, so don't be surprised to get some comments on older entries.

A few weeks ago I made the post on being the bestest little media consumer ever which is a topic I've raised in the past. And as usual, there are much better arguments against the entire trend of cultural creators haranguing consumers about their behavior, posted in mid-January in response to the same post I read, which talk about intellectual property as an arm of cultural imperialism, an argument that doesn't get nearly enough traction in all the self-conscious railing against downloading. [personal profile] troisroyaumes has a linkspam as does [personal profile] starlady, but I would point out particularly [personal profile] colorblue's this is not a post about yoga! which is beyond excellent. Go, read!

my own thoughts )
jlh: conan o'brien (gents: Conan O'Brien)
This entry isn't about one thing that one person said, but probably about five different things I've been told, by many different people, in the last little while.

The other day I was at Target, and as I sometimes do, I went over to the music section to see what they put on sale, because sometimes you can get amazing deals since indie rock tends to go unsold at a place like Target. And I found the new CDs by The National and Erykah Badu both on sale for $10, so I bought them.

And that $20 I just spent on CDs that I wanted? Was probably a complete and utter waste on my part.

I am really trying to support the artists I like, and also my friends. )

I don't know, you guys. I have a headache.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Everyone and their brother has probably told you this by now, but the new profile of Roger Ebert in Esquire is a definite must-read, especially if, like me, you grew up watching Siskel and Ebert. (They were always the reason Letterman gave for having two guest chairs on his set even though he talked to one guest at a time.)

In the middle of the article they're talking about Gene Siskel, who died of a brain tumor in 1999—well, not talking, as Ebert lost his voice and his ability to eat to cancer, but discussing. Ebert goes to his blog to look up the embedded video of his on-air tribute to Gene the first show after his death and of course, Disney has taken the video down. Ebert has a pretty big fit over this, understandably, saying, "MY TRIBUTE." It's an amazing moment in the middle of the article.

I know in fandom we often play a bit loose with copyright, and that there's an understandable concern among those on my flist who are compensated for cultural work about rights violations cutting into their real paycheck, or making it more difficult for future creators to be offered payment for their work. Ebert's tribute to his friend Siskel was done on a television show for which he had a contract and was duly paid. Disney produced the show and they have the rights to it. End of story.

But we've all seen that rights holders, which more often than not are giant corporations that exist to make money, aren't particularly respectful, especially to the creators of the cultural products. It sucks that the breaking down of paying for content leads to producers getting the squeeze (though that always happens in any economic change, that the little guy feels it first) but I just can't imagine that the way that copyright exists right now is awesome if so many people don't have the rights to the things they have created themselves.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Chibi)
There's been a lot of talk about the Super Bowl commercials, especially the creepy Dodge Charger ad—the guys who were at the party I went to were all annoyed by that one. I read a blog discussing the ad and a man commented saying that he didn't think it was misogynous so much as appealing to a wish to be immature, that all the things listed were things that grown-ups do, but the Charger let you be a little boy.

And that got me thinking about how much Mother is the enforcer of growing up, the barrier to fun and adventure (hence her absence from almost every children's story and most YA novels, whether physical or emotional). For adults, that gets extended to women in general—first it was your mother getting you to be mature, and now it's your wife. Boys will be boys means that men want to be boys as much as possible. So maturity and femininity get mixed up

But rare is the ad that appeals to women wanting to be immature. Girls want to be women—they're sexualized early, and most of the advertising targeted to us are about being more sexually appealing or being a better mom, which of course are related.*

Which immediately made me think of the current Electrolux appliance campaign starring Kelly Ripa.

Back when I was in marketing I worked on products that targeted moms, and time saving is a big deal for them; they have a lot on their plate whether they work outside the home or not. But I've never seen an ad that said so blatantly that they wanted to save time on their household chores in order to do more household chores. Usually the time saved was spent having fun with family, connecting with spouse, or grabbing some alone time with a book or favorite TV show—that is, "quality time." But at no moment in this ad is Kelly shown doing anything for herself, or just relaxing; she's always doing things for other people.

I console myself with the knowledge that most cultural products aren't reflective, but normative. They aren't evidence of gender roles as lived, so much as enforcement of societal expectations. Even in the studies and focus groups and such that lead to ads like this people often parrot gender roles as they understand they should be, rather than how they live them.

But mostly I'm just glad that the guys at [livejournal.com profile] calloocallay and [livejournal.com profile] soupkills's Super Bowl party thought a Dodge Charger wasn't enough of a reward for acting like an irresponsible jerk.

*Part of this is that most of the products that have heavy advertising budgets are the kind of household products that are still mostly bought by women in their role as head of the household—packaged goods, aka everything in the grocery store that isn't fresh; plus beauty/grooming/hygiene products (even those for men are mostly bought by wives/mothers).
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Well, as some of you have no doubt heard, NBC pulled Kings from Sunday night and will air the remaining eight eps on Saturday nights at 8pm starting April 18th. It will be replaced by another hour of Dateline.

I've talked here before about NBC's "strategy" for prime time and daytime, such as it is, and I have to say I was more surprised that Silverman and Zucker picked it up in the first place than that they're canceling it now. A 1.1 rating for A18-49 is dismal—that's a mediocre cable rating, and nothing that prime time network TV can support. Yes, it's the top download on iTunes—and I bet its Hulu stats are great, and I'm sure NBC took that into consideration. (That said, I'd be interested to see the live+7 numbers.) But the economics do not allow network television to continue to air a show with 3.6 million viewers.

We're not at narrowcasting yet folks—not by a long shot—and I'm not sure how this is really going to evolve, which is half the reason I left advertising. And eventually, when I have access to the numbers, I'll do the big "no, fandom is not enough of an audience" post. But yeah, 3.6 million viewers? Is pretty much nothing, for NBC.
jlh: Simon Cowell, with the word "FAIL (gents: Simon fail)
Around here there's been a lot of talk about the redesign of the Tropicana cartons, mostly about how it sucks, and makes the formerly quite distinctive cartons look like everything else in the juice aisle. Well, you'll be glad to hear it's been charged a failure and much of the old iconography is coming back to a diary case near you. The ads with cuddling dads, however, are staying—which is awesome.

Anyone else watching United States of Tara? I have to say, one episode of that cheered me up from the gloom that four episodes of BSG put me into. It's a very well done show, great acting, great characters. I've always really liked Toni Collette, and it's nice to see a show that gives John Corbett, playing his usual amazing-husband role, a little more to do. The kids are great, too, and there's Rosemarie DeWitt from Rachel Getting Married, and Patton Oswalt, and Nathan Corddry being his usual awesome self. Diablo Cody is the creator and exec producer, though there isn't a clear through line from Juno to Tara; it's more about a sensibility (sort of like Alan Ball with American Beauty and Six Feet Under.) I definitely recommend!

Simon Cowell was recently quoted saying that when he dies he wants his body cryogenically frozen so that they might bring him back to life in the future, saying that "I would be doing the nation an invaluable service." Pretty typical Cowell stuff, except that he said these things at a dinner with the Prime Minister at Downing Street. Oh Simon, never change.
jlh: Simon Cowell, with the word "FAIL (gents: Simon fail)
Some of you probably heard the outcry that rose up in Dr. Who fandom regarding the possibility of a black actor being cast as, what, 11 right? There's a bingo card and everything.

Well, now EW.com has reported that preliminary word is that the casting for the live action movie based on the animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender (the movie is called The Last Airbender because of another project called Avatar) will be all white actors. This despite the fact that the characters in the show are Asian or Inuit, and much of their cultural surroundings, though set in a fantasy universe, are from various Asian and Inuit cultures. I can't put into words how disappointing this is, but luckily a few others already have, such as the Angry Asian Man. Someone on [livejournal.com profile] deadbrowalking has already called for a bingo card; the free space will probably be "It's just a cartoon." As soon as that's made, I'll link to it.

A letter-writing campaign has been started, and I'm going to send one. So there's a little act of defiance for you.

And this is going to sound obnoxious to you, I know, but this is a place where I really, really just cannot understand the way that some genre fans, including some people I know personally, set their priorities. Having a bunch of characters shooting guns in space, or performing magic-tinged marshall arts, or anything that happens in some kind of alternate universe requiring world-building, is so important that they'll put up with the worst kinds of overt racism and sexism and heterosexism in the canon in order to get it. I know, boo-hoo, I'm harshing your squee but you see, my squee has already been harshed. I don't want to have to watch films where the only thing that female charactes do is represent home. I don't want to follow television shows where the blacks are aliens and the aliens are black, or where a person of color couldn't possibly time travel. I don't want the writers of a televsion show or a book to think they deserve a pat on the back for proclaiming that a character that is now dead in canon was gay all along but that fact just kinda never got mentioned. This is going to continue to be okay until you, genre fan on my friend list, decide that it isn't. I can't do much about it; I'm a colored girl so the white boys usually behind these decisions aren't interested in what I have to say. They expect me to be unhappy and are already ignoring me. And I'm not a real genre fan, either. But if I had a nickel for the number of times I've heard "yeah, that canon has issues, but the boys are cute and I don't want to think about it!" I'd be a wealthy lady. Well, change doesn't happen until and unless you demand it, and back it up with your dollars. It's a capitalist society, so the only power you really have is the power of your consumption or lack thereof.

And I'm going to put my money where my mouth is, too. I love romances and there used to be a bunch of little indy gay romantic comedies. Where did they go? I'm going to hunt them down and support them. And I'm also going to try to drag more of my white friends to movies with black leads and primarily black casts, like Talk to Me. So there you go, my goal for 2009: to support the sort of media that's doing a thing I feel is important with my money, and not support the media that isn't. That is my ultimate right as a consumer, after all.

I'm not advocating what you do with your money, only that you take a look at your own priorities, and then spend and consume accordingly, and most importantly, knowingly. Isn't this the twenty-first century? Let's all stop being passive media consumers.
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Just a quick follow up to yesterday's post about NBC's pullback on scripted shows. Defamer pointed out that the real loser in NBC's strategy is the SGA. After all, shows like Leno etc. have WGA writers (unlike reality shows) as do the news, but the performers are covered by AFTRA, not the SGA.

I forgot to look at another daypart: daytime. When I was a kid, back in the 70s and 80s, the Big Three networks all had 3 1/2 hours of soaps, and CBS still does, while ABC has three hours. But NBC has only one hour-long soap, Days of Our Lives. And what have they replaced this with? Two additional hours of Today, which may be unionized but ain't scripted. To be fair, Today is a juggernaut, while NBC soaps were rarely in the top of the daytime ratings. But still, that's 17 1/2 hours a week for CBS and 15 hours for ABC v 5 hours for NBC of scripted daytime programming.

On Monday Zucker suggested that NBC might pull back from scheduling 22 hours of primetime a week. Given the Leno deal that was announced the next day, he doesn't mean leaving the 10pm hour, but he may well mean leaving Saturday night. One really begins to wonder if Zucker, who rose through the news division, is really interested in scripted programming full stop, given that all we hear from (fourth-place) NBC is how pricey it is. Just because you guys can't seem to develop anything, Zucker, doesn't mean it's impossible. It just means you actually have to do it well.

God, remember when NBC meant quality programming?
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
You know how every year, folks complain that there are nothing but reruns in March and April, or curse the networks for putting a favorite show on hiatus and replacing it with some new thing, and every year I explain how sweeps work? Well, this year is going to be totally different!

First, February sweeps have been pushed back to March because of the switch from analog to digital signals in 2009. Since sweeps are for the local affiliates, and they're the ones who will be most affected by the switch of the over-the-air signal (if you have a cable box you have no worries) Nielsen is giving them an extra month to get their shit together before measuring their ratings.

Now word comes that May sweeps have been pushed up a week to avoid an early Memorial Day holiday, leaving only 3 weeks in April between the two sweeps months. Given that most shows will have aired 8-10 of their 22-24 episodes through the November sweeps, I predict that many might take all of December, January and February off, and come back in March to finish their seasons straight through from March to May sweeps; after all, that's only 11 weeks. The networks can then program an entire season of either a midseason replacement show, or a reality show, in those 12 weeks over the winter.

Of course, if SAG strikes, then anything could happen. Two seasons in a row with strikes, that's bound to do great things for US television!
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Ah spring, when a network's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of reruns. Yes, friends, it's that time of year again, when your favorite network drama seems to go on an endless hiatus. Usually I've written this in a comment here or there, but I'm setting it down, now, in hopes that in later years I can just point to it. Okay, ready? Let's go.

Part 1: TV Dramas Are Pricey! )

Part II: Local Affiliates Have Power! )

Part C: The Year Is Long! )

But Clio, you ask, why didn't I notice this before? )

Friends, I know that the endless reruns and alternative programming in the spring is frustrating and tiresome. I watch Veronica Mars, myself, and we're only going to have 20 episodes this year, and we've seen 11 of them, so it's going to be a long spring. But until the economics of network television change dramatically—which will probably happen sooner than anyone is ready for—get used to a March and April of reruns.

I'm going to use the time to uh, do work for school? Eh, I'll just start watching BSG.
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Sometimes I despair for the media industry. They're so desperate; they've put a lot of eggs in the wrong basket and wall street keeps pounding them for having such an up and down industry. But entertainment isn't widgets; no one really knows what is going to work. In the meantime, they'll just sue us all for using their products, which will piss us off and make us want to steal even more. It's a time of very high uncertainty, and I think they all know that when it sorts out almost none of them will be there anymore. It would be nice to think that what will be decimated is the larger corporate structures and leave us with something more streamlined that puts more money in the pockets of talent, but I'm not prepared to be that optimistic. Just another reason to be glad I've moved from the trenches to the sidelines.

The Project Runway reunion show was killer, but I don't have much to say about it other than that it revived that vague Tim/Emmett thing that was in the back of my mind. And as [livejournal.com profile] ely709 texted, Santino is the devil. They're stretching the finale over two weeks; poll next week after we know that last twist.

Meanwhile, because I was only vaguely interested in the ladies' free skate, I caught up on American Idol on the TIVO. Cut for lenghth, spoilers, people not caring. )

Well, maybe one AI poll now, very non-spoilery. I feel I should have an American Idol icon, I think, if I'm going to be posting about it; Sifl and Olly are great but they don't scream American Idol. I don't want to use a current contestant because I want to be able to use it no matter who ultimately wins; I don't like any of the other previous winners enough to icon them; icons of Paula or Randy just don't appeal to me.
[Poll #679260]
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
I was thinking about how excited I am that there will be new VM tonight, which reminded me about that WB-UPN merger. (Hence the sifl & olly "I am a media geek" icon rather than the Veronica and Weevil drive off into the sunset icon.) The merger: Good for the viewer, bad for channel 9, because it's Les's world and we just live in it. )

Okay, so now I'm wondering if anyone has written Jeff Zucker/Les Moonves slash, which only confirms that fandom has taken over my brain.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Chibi)
There's a meme going 'round about websites you visit daily and you know, for me nothing has ever been able to replace the pure joy that was suck.com. I read that thing every day through my early media career in the 90s, when everything was go-go-go and so much fun and I was not yet 30. My own personal Memoirs of the Clinton Administration.

Most days it was cultural criticism, but on Wednesdays it was a bit of sarcasm called "Filler" and mostly written by Polly Ester (on whom C____ had a crush) and illustrated by Terri Colon (who also did a single cover for C____'s then-band). There was a cartoon, there were other numerous silly things.

Then there were the mind maps. You know, where one matrix is "easy<--->difficult" and the other is "good<--->bad" and then various things get filled into the appropriate quadrants. The best of all of these, by far, which was hanging on the wall of my office until I left media was How meaningful is the fun you're having? which gave me my life ambition, "falling in love with a ravishing genius who finds my mediocrity intensely appealing."

Friends, I give you this. RIP suck.com. RIP my twenties. RIP my media career. RIP the dot-com bubble, my friends and their continual pitches for VC funding, and all the swag that went with it. RIP the heady rush of the new, of making the rules up as we went along, of figuring out how to work someplace where you could do what you loved, make a lot of money, wear jeans every day and bring your dog into the office. RIP Clinton Administration.

And [livejournal.com profile] angiej says that the Xers didn't have it good. Bah, I say. BAH!

RIP, Trio

Jan. 9th, 2006 11:33 am
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Trio TV went off the air as of the new year, which was unsurprising as the digital-only network had been having trouble for years; it will now be broadband-only. Tivo was smart and interesting, which spelled doom. Unfortunately like many young cable networks it didn't have a ton of resources for programming; it's reach exceeded its grasp leading to a LOT of rerun programming. But as Spencer Tracy once said, "Not much meat on her, but what's there is cherce." They weren't afraid to attack sacred cows, exposing the sham that is the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, or airing an entire short series around battles over television content. They had an amazing documentary on the infamous flop Heaven's Gate and scheduled their TV reruns in a series called "Brilliant but Cancelled". Now, I suppose, that applies to Trio itself as well.

So what channel does NBC Universal slip onto the lineup in Trio's place, so surreptitiously that it remained on my "favorite channels"? The new Sleuth TV, a channel so lame that it doesn't even have a website. Now, if this were a channel full of crappy 70s Quinn Martin detective shows, that would be one thing. Sadly it's a channel full of crappy 80s Stephen Cannell detective shows and therefore, it's off the favorites.

And the march of progress continues.
jlh: Johnny Carson's character, Carnac the Magnificent, holding an envelope to his forehead to read its contents (gents: Carnac the Magnificent)
  • What the shit is this 911 conspiracy site, and how were they able to buy a :30 unit on TNT last night? If anyone out there was watching The Wedding Singer last night who doesn't live in New York, let me know if you saw their nutjob ad (it was on around 7pm). It would be interesting to know if it was bought locally or not.
  • When did Bork shave the creepy beard? He might be on the Supreme Court now if he'd done it twenty years ago. Oh, wait, no, he would still have been a total prick. Never mind.
  • I have the cold. Well, I have a cold; not sure if it's THE cold. But I'm blowing my nose like a mofo and my throat is sore. Whee.
  • Now that the rain has finally ended (and my regards to the state of New Jersey which was apparently under a foot of water) I can say that while I love the weather this time of year, I really hate the fruit selection. I'm not so much about pears or raw apples or grapes, so until the tangerines come out I think it's juice city for me. Bummer.
  • I am now eating Carrie's name. Wait for it; you'll get it.
  • Remember: Dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.
jlh: Neil Finn playing a guitar (music: Neil Finn)
I don't usually do those tirades where you say that you are sick of reading entries that all say the same thing, but I'm making an exception today.

I'm tired of reading entries from people who are tired of the way that the media covers international events. I have spent so much time on this journal trying to explain the way that economic imperatives and various other things conspire to create the media industry that we have today, but does anyone decide that what they want to do is start writing letters to the FCC? No, they decide they want to bitch some more on their journal. Christ Jesus, shut the fuck up or start listening to Radio Pacifica or whatever the fuck you want because I no longer care.

Now, about the Papacy in general. I can understand if you think it's irrelevant because you are not Catholic. However, I would say that it's worthy of news coverage. The Church does have influence in many countries. I understand that there are several people on my flist who are far from Catholic but everyone bitching about this endlessly--I mean, if I said, alas for I am sick of hearing about Passover the entire LJ community would be in my journal calling me an anti-semite. It's hard rowing enough being a lapsed Catholic and having any faith at all and thinking that any of you lot think I have a brain in my head without all the not-so-subtle sarcasm and condescension. Let's remember that Christian /= moron.

So how do I feel? Of course I was hoping for a John XXIV, and of course I didn't think we would get one, but seriously, I wish we had done better than this. All I can say is, at least he's old. He doesn't even have JPII's benefits, and all of the downfalls. This is pretty damn sucky.

Then again, maybe he'll just excommunicate the entire American church and we can just go our own way. I'd be down with that, man.

ETA: And as for the Nazi stuff, I send you to [livejournal.com profile] anw's entry on that fallacy.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Chibi Clio)
Christmas weekend thanks for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

I could write a reply to all the bitching about TV news but I've done it so many times before I feel like a broken record. They say it's a sign of insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome, so I'm going to step back from the brink. All of you who think that TV news is going to bring you objective coverage that appropriately weights time spent to the relative importance of the story might want to think about that as well.

Meanwhile, I'm watching some daytime trash television before I hop into the shower and then go shopping. Ah, Springer. Though what I really love are the ads for ambulance chasers and ITT Technical Institute.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Timeless)
1-NBC cut a quick shot of an elderly patient's breast from the episode of ER that ran last night. They said they felt it was appropriate (and it would air after 10:30pm) but in the current climate they didn't want to cause their affiliates any headaches.

2-CBS pressured Janet to pull out of the Grammys. She wasn't going to perform (they are very strict about performing only songs that have been nominated, and she didn't release anything last year) but she was going to introduce a Luther Vandross tribute. CBS is also using a video delay to ensure there are no surprises during the show.

3-The NFL decided to take pop out of the halftime show for this Sunday's Pro Bowl in Honolulu, substituting hula dancers, traditional drummers, and local singers for a planned JC Chasez performance. He may still be singing the anthem, though.

4-Advertisers like Pepsi are angry because the halftime show has overshadowed the ads, which almost no one is talking about.

5-Some idiot woman in Tennessee has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the incident caused everyone injury.

Another little bit of American television economics for you. )

Red states and blue states, man. We are so clearly two countries, it's ridiculous.


jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Clio, a vibrating mass of YES!

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