It’s odd that TV still has as much life as it does, given as close to the bottomless grave as it is. No one under age 35 or so cleaves to the cathode ray teat like in the golden era of classics like Love Boat and Mork & Mindy. And it makes sense. TV offers set programming on a fixed schedule. If you were raised from birth with the Internet, would you want to look at a screen that stayed stuck on one page – and only when the screen itself decided to play it? That’s preposterous. Traditional TV executives are doing their best to usher the medium to the grave, letting cable TV best them with smart stuff like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Wire, Homeland and numerous other dramas worth watching. And House of Cards shows that little Netflix – a web site, for goodness sake – could kick the butt of deep-pocketed CBS, NBC and ABC, which churn out tired, safe stuff that quickly fades into the murky deep. Even cable TV is being consumed by the Internet, as Hulu and Netflix grab younger viewers who aren’t willing to fit a real time schedule into their Twitter-Tumblr-Facebook lives. I must admit I still like TV. It’s a deep vice, but I enjoy cable news, with its funky macrame of pundits; I can catch short doses and it helps me follow the news; I’m particularly fond of Howard Fineman, who’s always insightful. Maureen Dowd writes an insightful piece about this fall’s upcoming TV schedule, its creative limitations and tired feel. “It turns out that Washington isn’t the only place where ideas go to die….” In honor of TV's impending demise, here's a clip of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show in the late 1950s. TV has hardly been as exciting since. http://youtu.be/COFHGFZxtnY
Archives for May 2013
I knew that the Great Gatsby didn't get great reviews, but I had high hopes anyway. The trailer looked good, the NYT's A.O. Scott offered a dissenting, positive review, and it's a film based on a classic novel. It ought to be hard for it not to contain some gravitas, right? But the film feels static and flat. Some of the music mash-ups are marvelous. The deconstructed Rhapsody in Blue was fun, and the rap score is a great counter-intuitive choice for the 1920s. But the story is just...what? Ironically, it wasn't the film making, but the story itself that feels flimsy. Is the novel that paper thin? I read it in high school and took everyone's word for it that it's a classic, but the story left no greater impression on me now than it did then. In the middle of the movie I found myself unable to contain an urge to get up and go get some Raisinettes – a sure sign the film I'm watching can't hold my attention. Okay, it works well enough if you simply feel like going to the movies – I don't regret going – but it's not memorable.
Great column by Tom Friedman in the New York Times: "Here is what I mean: Something really big happened in the world’s wiring in the last decade, but it was obscured by the financial crisis and post-9/11. We went from a connected world to a hyperconnected world. I’m always struck that Facebook, Twitter, 4G, iPhones, iPads, high-speech broadband, ubiquitous wireless and Web-enabled cellphones, the cloud, Big Data, cellphone apps and Skype did not exist or were in their infancy a decade ago when I wrote a book called “The World Is Flat.”" This always-on connection has broken down barriers; but it's also a world in which more rests on you: "If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you. The boundaries are all gone. But if you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing. That is what I mean when I say “it is a 401(k) world.” Government will do less for you. Companies will do less for you. Unions can do less for you. There will be fewer limits, but also fewer guarantees. Your specific contribution will define your specific benefits much more. Just showing up will not cut it." Are we ready for the implications of a world where this much rests on the individual? Succeeding in this world requires a greater level of education than ever before. It's truly a Knowledge Economy.
Sure, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is a tired warhorse, abused and over-played by generations of pianists, from the so-so to the geniuses. Think of it as a staple of the Classical Top 40. But in the hands of Valentina Lisitsa, it takes on new power and verve. For your listening pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucBfXpCA6s