Submitted for Your Approval
In my last post, I talked about how the future of entertainment might end up being the polar opposite of the empty, abusive, numbing fodder that’s pretty much pervasive today. To bolster that argument, here are some examples that run counter to the trends, and represent small rays of hope that the soulless mainstream won’t prevail.
EXHIBIT 1: “All Over the World”
Yes, the whole flash mob thing is, thankfully, passé, but the beauty of this video lies elsewhere. By taking disparate footage that runs the gamut from barely acceptable to really shitty and using it to underline the naive (some would say misguided) exuberance of the event it captures, it creates a production number way more satisfying than any Hollywood attempt to just ape old movie-musical conventions. (That there’s something inherently fascist about the whole exercise is a topic for another day.)
EXHIBIT 2: “Rose from Concrete”
I could write a whole post (and more) about this astonishing ad that completely bucks the trends (at least until the actual Rose walks in at the end and it becomes predictably slick), yet has gotten as much, if not more, attention than its more cynical and bellicose brethren. (But let’s be honest: It’s a TV commercial, so in no possible universe could it be a paragon of virtue.)
A pitch-perfect exercise in scene-setting, character development, and storytelling, it uses simple images and actions with deft sophistication, harkening back to the earliest days of filmmaking. More importantly, on every level that matters, it works.
EXHIBIT 3: “MST3K Kickstarter Telethon”
Things got so bad that at one point they had to put up a slide that said, “Please Get Out And Push.” But that’s the whole point: During the course of a 5-hour Webcast, they lost their live feed (for almost a half hour), the sound went out of sync, lav mikes repeatedly broke down, remote segments imploded because of bad signal . . . in other words, just about everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. But watching the talent both in front of and behind the camera rise above the adversity, in real-time, is exactly what makes it so compelling.
The result was the most successful Kickstarter campaign for a media project ever. That the money was essentially wasted and both the telethon and Felicia Day’s livestream (see below) were way more entertaining than the resulting series is something I’ve already covered.
Highlights include Patton Oswalt doing 10 minutes responding to a torrent of tweets about how sublimely awful the event is:
“This is what TV is going to look like after society collapses and there’s just one working mike for
the country, and there’s just going to be Thunderdome battles over who gets to control it.”
“This is the nerd equivalent of the Chilean mine disaster, where I’m having to get communications
through people’s Twitter accounts.”
“Thanks for watching this on the Dumont Network.”
It’s worth the investment to experience it in real time—jumping around misses the whole point. And hang in there for Dana Gould’s jaw-dropping Dr. Zaius doing William Shatner doing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
EXHIBIT 4: “Felicia Day MST3K Livestream”
If anything here best represents the future, this is it: Just a person and their cellphone—no lights, no mikes, no crew—not just capturing an event but, by spontaneously both hosting and performing, and acting as the audience’s eyes and ears, turning it, via a kind of high-wire act, into entertainment. Ignore that the often clueless and always supercilious Day is kind of annoying—what she pulls off, through intuitive talent and tapping into the zeitgeist is, if you stand back and look at it for both what it is and what it portends, pretty amazing.
If anybody remains unconvinced, just let me know and I’ll submit more for your approval. I’ve got a million of ‘em.
Michael Gaughn—The Absolute Sound, The Perfect Vision, Wideband, Stereo Review,
Sound & Vision, marketing, product design, a couple TV shows, some commercials, and