In one of it’s versions, the joke involves Aristotle Onassis on his honeymoon with Jackie deep in Africa. Night after night Onassis cannot satisfy his new wife in bed as a large negro swings a large fan to cool them. Eventually Onassis asks the servant to try his luck with his bride while he holds the fan. Afterwards he asks Jackie: “Was that better, my love?” to which she responds extremely positively. Onassis turns to the negro and declares: “See? THAT is how you need to fan to get results!”
Some time ago I wrote a summary of all the reasons a televisual show about technology is a tough nut to crack. And then a few days ago I got asked again whether I would be interested in doing a TV show. As I mulled the question over in my head I wondered: where did all those ideas about new TV shows go? Have I just lost interest? Is the fact that I don’t watch any television affecting my motivation? Is TV, that same medium that I so enjoyed producing for, suddenly dead inside me?
And then last night I watched episode six of The Pacific. (My summary of how war film and television shows have developed is here.) The Pacific started out as pretty bad television really, confused in its targets and only of interest to veterans and their kin for historical purposes. At the end of episode five, the producers kicked in with the sort of power that Saving Private Ryan had. Big time. But that isn’t what interested me so much at this point. (Though I did make a point of keeping those ten minutes to show my eldest son as an educational tool.)
It was the ecosystem build around the Pacific. Starting with the great HBO official site. Click here for a sample relating to this week. There’s maps, there’s storyboards, there’s books, audio books, veterans, discussions…it is easy to say “well, they did all the work, why not show it?” but this is pretty stellar work. Not in terms of web presentation or community building online but in pulling together the related work. It pushes the related issues up in my agenda. Even if I didn’t have a thing about the second world war I would get interested in learning about all these strange sounding little islands and the related battles. Heck I even watched the Alister Grierson film about Kokoda in Papua New Guinea! (Warning: if you are not Australian, make sure you get a version with subtitles, I missed half the story trying to figure out what they were talking about!) The ecosystem of information around an old war on the other side of the planet seventy years ago increased the relevance of the show to me. I always like to talks about “hooks” in any marketing concept and this is like a wall of velcro!
It is no profound statement that television is no longer the main attraction. The interesting part of media production and consumption is now precisely the integration of all available media and products. Firstly to become part of the consumers’ lives. And secondly in order to make some money, one way or another, from the whole exercise. More and more television is a loss leader, supporting or promoting other revenue streams. This may even be true in terms of it’s reason for existing. You might do a television programme these days simply to get your hands on enough video material to support a web concept.
Wow, writing a blog really does help you think. I am now bursting to the seams with new ideas about TV shows. All I need is a team of people producing interesting content and side products and I will stride in to enjoy myself.
THAT is how you fan your bride Aristotle!
This came from a friend via Facebook but it is such an awesome wave of awareness I just have to share it!
“Well, a personal perspective programme about how an idealistic middleclass greek with all the usual issues in life is trying to create a meaningful, ethical and sustainable existence for his family. But rather than be the shoestring adventurer you’d go and meet (emmiting carbon as you go) the worlds leading examples of sustainable energy, subsistence low input agriculture, – social ecologists – when you ask “how does my lifestyle choice fit within society and economics of the modern world?” – evolution of society etc. The story expands from thinking about solar and veggie gardens to dealing with the fundamental questions of our time:
It’s the story of your perspective on existence and given the selfish socialism dominating greek politics at the moment, probably a useful topic to explore.
Solar pannels and a veg patch don’t really seem convincing solutions when done by a tiny moneyed and educated minority, why is society by large so committed to materialism and personal comfort?
Go meet the richest most materialistic greeks and interview them, see how happy they are – what their feelings are about the ethics of their existence, how do they intelectualise their lives? why don’t they lead more wholesome existences? What do emminent psychologists think of this? Visit traditionalist cultures in the med, what can be learned – what are the hardships of such a life that modern westerners wouldn’t be able to accept?
What are the issues underlying our inability to achieve improved happiness and living standards (judged by quality of food, environment and social support?) capitalism and it’s drive to convince us that possessions = happiness? overpopulation (we’re twice as many humans now as when we were born!!!!!) – failure to deal with reality – our escape through religion or materialism or both (if in the US).
Our values of the environment – how can we have them if we live life in isolation from it whilst also relying on the environment for food, water and inspiration? Urbanisation as we know it was essentially designed by 19th century american industrialists – their model now dominates the lifestyles of modern human society.
What does this all mean to the modern greek? Your cultural ancestors are credited with great leaps forward in the concepts of ethical society. Have you lost that wisdom as a race?
How do modern greeks raise kids to become the kind of people who can understand and react meaningfully to the realities of our anthropocenic ecology or will they simply continue to feed their sense of self worth on a diet of shallow comforts and pathetic ammusements which western society (and soon to be the case in china and south asia) has leed us over the brink of reason.
We are unique in the animal kingdom in only one true respect: we have an incling of our own ecology. We can act on that knowledge or allow natural selection to do it for us. The former is by far the most challenging but also the only true path for humanity as the man-god we percieve ourselves as. The default of natural selection, which is currently shaping our interactions with the resources on which we rely, is confirmation that without employing our understanding of ecology, which is the embodyment of humanity, we are indeed, no different from a culture of E. coli on an agar plate. ”
Heck, any Greek TV channel willing to air a show like that will find me ready and waiting!