As you may know Netflix’s first original series that matters (did anyone even watch Lilyhammer?) has come out and it’s kind of a big deal. But for whatever reason no one I’ve talked to in person is treating it as such. Even my professors who are paid to teach about the media industry have barely brought it up, and consequently the students don’t seem to really think about why this matters. Yes, it has been briefly mentioned that Netflix is doing original content, but that isn’t what matters here. What does is the fact that they’ve released the entire season in one big drop. This model makes sense theoretically since Netflix is popular for binge watching, but as the show’s first-run this is something both revolutionary and completely problematic. It’s a move that could change the industry as we know it.
The ABC television series LOST is one of the great success stories of the aughts. The show was deemed a colossal failure before it even began by advertising companies, was notorious for being the most expensive pilot ever shot at the time, and even led to the firing of the network executive who developed the idea. Yet the pilot would go on to amass 18.65 million viewers in the U.S. (Kissell, 2004) and soon became a world wide phenomena, airing in over one hundred and seventy different countries and being titled the second most popular show in the world by appearing in the most top ten in more countries than any other show other than CSI: Miami (BBC, 2006). With ratings like that, the question of whether LOST counts as a cult television series gets brought up frequently. While LOST may not work with the traditional definition of cult, when one takes into account the metamorphosis of the term cult and what it means in relation to the current state of television, it becomes intrinsically clear that yes, LOST is cult television. In fact, LOST is a quintessential example of modern network cult TV that provides a case for why cult TV matters as it brings fans together to create dedicated communities, while also serving as a model for the future of industry.
In 1989 the NBC sitcom Seinfeld aired its pilot episode, then under the title The Seinfeld Chronicles, in a dump slot during the middle of the summer. The ratings were low and the show seemed to go almost unnoticed to all, except for a single executive at NBC who believed in the series enough to convince the network to produce four more episodes to round out what would be an unusually short first season. Nine years later its series finale would air, reaching the staggering number of 79 million viewers. In the course of a nine-season run Seinfeld became one of the most influential sitcoms and a true cultural phenomenon, continuing its comedy dominance even over the ten years since it ended. With the obsession of the minutiae, an increased focus on story structure, and love of meta, self-referential humor Seinfeld changed the notion of what Americans knew to be a sitcom and helped pave the way for the single camera comedies of today.
The following is a paper I wrote that identified the culture of Emerson College. It’s not directly about TV, but includes many references and one of my main points revolves around Community. Also I figured I’d post it if only for the fact that in the part about Community I go meta within the essay.
Communities are often identified by the culture that forms around them, but the question of what defines the term “culture” is one of much debate. During a speech to the World Congress, poet, author and politician Aimé César claimed, “Culture is everything. Culture is the way we dress, the way we carry our heads, the way we walk, the way we tie our ties – it is not only the fact of writing books or building houses.” This is a working definition that can easily be applied to help classify what exactly is Emerson College culture. Emerson College is an institution greatly known for its acceptance of a wealth of different lifestyles, a place where everyone is encouraged to be unique and create a name that makes them standout from the crowd. And as a student at the college, I can testify to the truth of that statement. In a population that is meant to be so greatly diverse it may at first seem hard to label what exactly is Emerson culture, but the college’s dedication to media, communications, and the arts makes it an easy pick. Emerson culture is essentially the same as general popular culture.
Community (NBC)- “Basic Rocket Science”
Preface: The following is an essay I wrote in October for my Intro To College Writing course with the topic of advertising and branding. I focused on product placement and integration talking about areas such as The Office and KFCs October advertising on Community, Running Wilde, and The Good Guys.
Coke or Pepsi? At first this might come off as a seemingly simple question, but rather it is one that can tell a great deal about a person. Someone who drinks Coke relishes in nostalgia, it takes them back to being a little kid and grabbing an icy cool Coca-Cola bottle out of the fridge. On the other hand a Pepsi drinker is someone who enjoys being hip and staying up to date with modern trends. The product is essentially the same, yet the market and advertising is completely different. It’s not the product that matters much, but rather the brand.
In 2002 the UK business magazine The Economist ran an article titled Who’s Wearing The Trousers? that directly captures this style of marketing, “The new marketing approach is to build a brand not a product – to sell a lifestyle or a personality, to appeal to emotions.” Advertisements try to convey this in quick thirty-second spots, attempting to derive emotion from situations with little or no context. Needless to say this is a difficult task and one that is becoming less and less important when compared to rising use of a tactic known as production integration. Product integration, also known as product placement, involves placing existing merchandise into a TV show to help further get a brand’s name out. By directly incorporating products into television shows the item becomes apart of a character’s life and can be a factoring point in creating their fictitious personality. An ad can sell a product, but it’s product integration that can truly help sell a lifestyle brand. And if done right, product placement can be an exceptional way to get an item on consumers’ mind without them even noticing.