blue bits. red rocks.


What I failed to do here, and what I’ll be doing in the future with Alton, is separate the televised persona from the man himself – I had expected Real Life Alton to be as genial and friendly as Television Alton. He’s not – he’s a good deal more cynical and curmudgeonly. I don’t know what I should have expected – it’s like I expected Stephen Colbert to actually be the Bill O’Reilly caricature he inhabits on the air. I blame myself, really. But when I was in Cedar Rapids, I bought Jacques Pépin’s memoir, The Apprentice. It’s excellent so far, but if he turns out to have been a collaborator under Maréchal Pétain, I’ll be fresh out of heroes. Probably that won’t be the case, since he was a little kid during WWII – but if he turns out to be an asshole, I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. I’m resolved to never find out, because I think I’d like never to meet Pepin now – not because of any ill will I bear him, but for the opposite reason: the real man might not bear up against the narrative I’ve constructed for him. The Taste of Disillusionment

Instead, the show seems aimed at an audience of Piper Chapmans: upper-middle-class, very educated, largely secular. They aren’t friends with Pennsatucky; they don’t know anybody like her. Pennsatucky might be their waitress, or sell them some snacks at a gas station. But that’s about as close as their world and hers will ever come to touching. So it doesn’t matter, really, that none of these things about Pennsatucky make sense. They aren’t meant to make sense. They’re meant to be frightening. How “Orange Is the New Black” Fails on Religion

I very proudly voted for Obama. I mean, really, I’m not ashamed to say that when I saw the … I mean, I interviewed Rosa Parks! You know, “Back of the bus, lady!” From that, to “I, Barack Obama, do solemnly swear.” Well, you know, that moved me. That really moved me. I went, “Wow.” And it’s been somewhat of a disappointment the last two years. But it certainly could be worse, and I’m not sorry I voted for him. I think he’s an honorable man. But as to who I’m going to vote for to replace him? I’m going to hold my cards there … I’ve been maybe a little too enthusiastic and jumped the gun the last several times, so we’ll see. Phil Donahue

Lets step up to the media landscape in general and start with TV. While its tempting to view the internet in isolation the attention shifts we see online are evident in other media. Over the past five years we have seen an incredible resurgence of storytelling on television: Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Homeland, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey … its a long list. And its amazingly good, long form media, with character development of the kind that you cant do even in film. Many predicted that with the rise of internet distribution and collapsing windows of distribution, we would see shorter, cheaper programming — not higher-quality, long-form media. Instead, we are seeing both. Technically we can’t wire up Chartbeat to the cable / multichannel TV platform — but if we could I suspect we would see the same hill, valley, hill mapping. The expanded availability of scaled PPV, the combination of Internet and subscription models has unshackled long-form storytelling on television from the chains of a business model that depended on syndication and restricted the availability of archived content in order to sell network advertising in the future. You gotta read this!

Community, by the way, was recently saved from cancellation oblivion by Yahoo’s new streaming video service, Yahoo Screen, and will debut its sixth season this fall. So, to recap: a low-rated show from a gradual-decline network was just rescued by the search engine your dad’s too cool to use. This may not be world-shaking, but the implications are. 'Community' survives. Television dies?

If you’re a human being, you probably don’t watch Community. The show’s audience is engaged, empowered, and one-sixth the size of the audience accidentally watching whatever’s on after The Big Bang Theory. And I know why you don’t watch. Even by the standards of low- rated cause-célèbre wonder shows, Community is hard to like. The lead characters are pricks, lunatics, deluded mock-intellectuals, and self-important gasbags. The most likable character on the show would be the most annoying person you have ever met. 'Community' survives. Television dies?

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