Insight. Antics.

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Snail Mail Fail.

In Advertising, Politics on June 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Stalling for the nosebleed-inducing climb to my walk-up apartment in schvitz-inducing heat, I check the mail, but it is not usually gratifying. During the ascent, I do often begin to thumb through the received parcels, and of course pause between the third and fourth floors to switch in my spare oxygen tank for the home stretch, to cope with the exhaustion and dense air.

Of late, I’ve taken to reading the updates and flyers from the elected (and aspiring) officials in my neighborhood with more attention. For many people, these Albany updates, Congressional newsletters, and glossy direct mail pieces are the most political contact they have, if they do not actively seek out information about their local politicians.

Some of the pieces are useful, some are boilerplate, and some are a waste of paper and our tax cash. State Senator Liz Krueger’s Q+A on fair housing laws is something that all renters in New York should read. Mike Bloomberg’s campaign materials last fall became more overbearing than a ubiquitous ad campaign for a Twilight movie. The most recent material I received from my current representative in the House and her challenger became most interesting for what they did not say… Read the rest of this entry »

That’s Just Speechy.

In Government, Media on June 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm

For a year and a half, President Obama has been taking pitches on issues of great scope, effect, and deliberation. As I Bloviator-ed about last year, he’s passed on opportunities to address the nation from the Oval Office. No recession or Stimulus bill address. No health care reform address. No Afghanistan troop escalation address. Whether or not he has a good eye is up for debate. But it’s pretty hard to argue today that he doesn’t have a full count now.

Well, tonight is the moment: mono-a-nation. It’s significant for the tragic damage and repercussions of the BP oil spill but also because it is the first time he is truly and simply, without middlemen or journalists in the way, going to speak to the American people, calmly and up close. Perhaps those topics above were all things visible on the horizon, and he wanted to save the Oval Office address for an unexpected calamity. It really is as if he’s been waiting to cash this in, as if he and his inner circle said a while ago, “There’s a lot of big stuff on our plate, but put this card in the drawer and save pulling it out for the possibility of something unforeseen and massive happening.”

Or there is the possiblity that, perhaps, he’s simply been avoiding it. Take a look at this list of all national addresses in the era of television. Obama is way behind schedule. For all his oratory prowess, he is not well tested in this intimate setting. There are many that perceive his even temperament as detachment, so perhaps there is fear he won’t come across well. By the way, how lucky are we that HDTV wasn’t around during the days of Nixon and LBJ? Those guys would look like an old baseball glove on today’s technology. Read the rest of this entry »

Bad Hair Day.

In Politics on June 14, 2010 at 2:48 am

Tuesday’s primaries were something of a hullabaloo, I suppose. The media narrative began with the establishment losing again, even though incumbents won virtually all of the races. It then evolved into a storyline of victory for women candidates when producers and anchors realized that five or six names had come out of the day favorably.

My favorite headline of the vote is definitely “Mama Grizzlies Roar,” in reference to many of Sarah Palin’s anointed picks advancing their chances of holding office. (She has an 8-3 record this midterm cycle: did someone say playoffs?) To be sure, this year’s crop of Republican women is raising eyebrows.

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina won her primary fight, earning the right to face off against Democrat Barbara Boxer for the latter’s California Senate seat. Fiorina actually went on-air this week to apologize to Sean Hannity for calling him a “tough interviewer.” Since when is that an insult? If it is, Tim Russert (rest his soul) would have been accepting mea culpa calls on a daily basis.

Oh, but that’s just goofy ticky-tack stuff. Not like the horrific scathe, the brutal laceration Fiorina cut Boxer with Friday into an unexpected open mic. Did you hear? Carly said Barbara has a dated haircut! Read the rest of this entry »

Dramatic Reversal.

In Television on June 3, 2010 at 3:20 am

Everybody in media is trying to figure out where TV is going. How will we consume content?  On Hulu? On iPads? Intravenously? (Oh, to get a steady drip of Mad Men in my bloodstream… the euphoria…)

Those markets and models are in the midst of transition. However, one thing that has become clear within the medium itself is that with the combined ends of Lost (amid clever audience-specific Target ads), 24 (four “days” too late), and Law & Order (it’s rare to find a show that is older than all of your shirts), the network drama has changed. Those were the most culturally iconic, influential dramas left on the networks. Their collective finale presents an opportunity to discuss a shift in the paradigm: the era of the serial drama on broadcast television is over.

In the late Nineties and early Aughts, shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Nip/Tuck co-existed in their natural habitats with the likes of West Wing, ER, and NYPD Blue. Now that the upstarts of original cable programming are highly evolved, there’s a schism.

Serial dramas, characterized by a narrative arc that plays out over the course of a season or over the entire series, have taken refuge among the cable stars. When did the last successful network serial drama that’s still on-air launch? In 2005, with Grey’s Anatomy?

Let’s face it; shows get a bit of a cache for being on high-end cable. It’s much cooler to say you’re watching True Blood tonight than the The Vampire Diaries. Read the rest of this entry »