Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Tyranny of Free TV: Time-Warner's Jeff Bewkes Does Not Get It

In a series of interviews, Time-Warner's Jeff Bewkes declared TV is entering a new Golden Age, with its influence ever stronger on Western and indeed, global culture. Dismissing threats of cable cord cutting, and technological challenges from Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Google, and others, Bewkes declared that he saw limitless revenue from cable, decrying the "tyranny of free television." In "The Big Short," Michael Lewis portrayed chief executive after chief executive, who knew only vaguely what his company was doing, what risks it took on, for what rewards. This was true of Wall Street giants like Bear Sterns, to legendary insurance firms like AIG, to legendary clueless hedge fund manager Wing Chau, partnering with Merrill Lynch. None had a clue as to the real nature of the business they were dealing with. Jeff Bewkes promises to be Television's most legendary Wing Chau.

Because Time-Warner has the temporary whip hand over Itunes and Netflix, Bewkes assumes that no one can do what he did, go out and create content (as he did with HBO). In the interview at, he said:

Bewkes argued that with TV shows such as Boardwalk Empire, which will come to UK Sky next year, TV is having its 2nd golden age. Partly this is because TV has kept pace with technology, from digital to HD to 3D. “We’re in the midst of a TV renaissance,” Bewkes tub-thumped. Bewkes singled out UK-originated shows such as Shameless, The Office, American Idol and X Factor as examples of quality TV. “The cultural impact of TV is now greater than movies. TV has become the most innovative medium in pop culture today. And it comes from increasing quality. Television is very healthy right now; TV is the only medium which has increased its audience apart from the internet.”

Given that 80% of Time Warner revenue comes from TV, Bewkes said he’d restructured the media giant as mainly a video programming business. “AOL was meant to take over everything,” Bewkes said, referring to AOL’s 2000 merger with Time Warner. “Unfortunately, it only took over us.”

Funny. Recent projections for 3-D TV adoptions have been re-adjusted, given the global consumer cut-back in discretionary purchasing. 3-D TVs promise to be less robust in sales, both in the US and globally, than Blu-Ray. Which itself is languishing as consumer's wallets are pinched. This is another Wing Chau moment, thinking that spending by consumers (or home-buyers) can go on forever. His view of quality TV, crummy reality junk from Britain, or un-funny "comedies" speaks for itself.

In a story from ABC News, Bewkes touted an initiative to allow cable subscribers to view content online, and claimed:

Jeff Bewkes said the number of television viewers was growing, paid-television penetration was increasing and advertising and subscription revenues were up. He urged the industry not to undervalue its content when making deals for digital distribution.

Bewkes of course believes that cable subscriptions are growing when in fact, they are already decreasing, a prospect Comcast acknowledged when they decided to buy NBCU instead of investing in their core business.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Bewkes said:

“We’re in the second or third year of a planetary global readjustment,” he says, yet TV subscription revenues, programming budgets and time spent watching TV rose through the recession. “Why? People love their TV. They love it on their TV screen and they love it on their new screens,” he argues.

TV’s golden age is no accident of history, he continues, but a consequence of a business model dating to the early days of HBO, the Time Warner-owned subscription channels operator where he made his name, and of previous waves of digital upheaval. “People act like it’s new. People say, ‘What’s going to happen when the digital world gets here?’ There’s this inappropriate comparison to the music business, where something happened to them when digital technology arrived on their shores that was akin to the Vikings landing,” he says.

Yet CNN and HBO were conceived about 30 years ago, where digital transmission and compression technologies first enabled multiple channels to be sent to millions of homes across the country for little cost.

Those advances led to the “vitality” of shows such as The Wire, Entourage or Curb Your Enthusiasm, he argues. “Back when you had the tyranny of free TV” – he repeats the phrase for emphasis – “The tyranny of free TV led to a monopoly of expression [and] the lowest common denominator of shows that could appeal to a mass audience.” [Emphasis Added]

As investors debate how many people will pay for video online, Mr Bewkes mocks those “grasping for some hazily conceived idea that somehow free TV on the internet will bring some sort of paradise to the people,” saying: “Well, it didn’t before.”

Bewkes doesn't get it. Indeed, he has no basic understanding, none at all, of his business. He's as clueless as Wing Chau. The Music Business was no more decimated by the advent of Itunes and Ipods than it was of 45 rpm singles, or 8 track tapes, or cassette tapes. The Music business was decimated not by "Vikings landing" but by crummy music no one wanted to buy in any great numbers. As the youth wave ended, and music and its consumers alike, aged out of pop music creation and consumption.

Let us be honest. The Wire, Entourage, and Curb Your Enthusiasm don't make money. HBO does not make money from ratings (it is advertiser free) or from the minor revenues via DVD sales and foreign sales. These shows are not "vital" since hardly anyone watches them. HBO makes money from subscriber fees. HBO is available to about nearly 100% of TV households, yet only 30% pay for it. That means, that 70% of households find HBO ... not worth the money to pay for it.

Bewkes (he started at HBO) does not even understand his own business. He sells snob-appeal, niche shows to upscale consumers, or those with tastes approximating those folks. But he does not charge Tiffany, Rolex, or Ferrari prices. Thus he's extraordinarily vulnerable to a prolonged recession making his cable channels irrelevant. While the Sopranos, Entourage, and the Wire get lots of press coverage, so does Gossip Girl. None of them get much in the way of viewers. He can't sell these things abroad, for premium prices, most nations have local content requirements, and subsidize local TV production even more than local movie production. Heck in emerging markets, simple piracy is always an option. Once a show is released on DVD, piracy is inevitable, particularly in places like China, and Russia, and India, where rule of law is regarded a quaint obsession of the West, and fairly weak and decadent besides.

The Wire, Entourage, Rome, and the rest exist only to entice HBO viewers to not cancel their subscriptions. It is not as if HBO is growing its subscriber base. Indeed, the "growth" in cable subscriptions are basically phantoms, people getting low deals to deal with the over-the-air conversion to digital, and then canceling them as the fees grow upwards. As detailed extensively here, consumers are finding that absent live sports, cable and satellite are entirely optional.

It is interesting how he phrases "the tyranny of free TV" as something harmful, and his own shows as the bastion of SWPL hipness, coolness, and all together with-it-ness. This is what happens when those who protest against the man, become the man. They become lame beyond belief, trapped by reflexive dislike of a mass culture they rebelled against, and became ... part of.

Jeff Bewkes is the head of Time-Warner. And he does not want to head a mass-audience media company. He is so tied in, emotionally, to the idea of being a hip, cutting edge rebel, he can't even see where the money is. If you want to know, in large part, why TV sucks so much, it is precisely because of men like Jeff Bewkes. Who have nothing but contempt for mass market.

Sure, the mass market can be dumb, if you make it that way. But most of what passes for "hip and edgy" on cable TV, particularly HBO, was lame ten years after it was first conceived, by the Romantics in the 1840's seeking to "shock the bourgeois." An artistic movement one hundred and seventy years old, is hardly cutting edge. It is, in fact, the establishment itself, irony of ironies. Shows like Rome, or Boardwark Empire, mostly seek to titillate their largely female audience with "taboo" sex and such. Exhibit A being "Tru Blood" and the scenes of violent, degrading sex popular among the female (and gay) audience for that show. Nothing has been more stupid, over the years, than the stuff Alan Ball has put on Showtime, from "Six Feet Under" to "Tru Blood." You could dub it, the tyranny of the hipster. Ultra-ironic, standing for nothing, except shocking ordinary people by how "transgressive" he is.

Stuff like "Supertrain," or "Pink Lady and Jeff," or even "BJ and the Bear" and "Sheriff Lobo," legendary bad TV shows, did not drip with contempt for the audience's basic values, and indeed lives. They may have been bad TV, but they were "honest" bad TV, trying at least to entertain the broad audience, not tell them their entire lives and beliefs were worthless. And mass market TV, at its best, far from being a tyranny, was liberating. Shows like the Rockford Files, or the A-Team, or Gunsmoke, or Miami Vice, were of generally high quality, created a common culture, and re-inforced critical cultural values of standing for what is right and good, even at cost, in ways both comic and serious. While never forgetting the main mission, to entertain the audience for an hour or so, never insulting them. Entertainment not by shock, but by well crafted stories with interesting, and likable characters, the audience wanted to see the next week.

Bewkes further touts his view that old content generating companies are still king:

The relative changes in technology and media companies’ market valuations suggest that investors are betting that value will shift from media owners to technology groups, but Mr Bewkes likens this “false premise” to arguments made in the dotcom bubble.

“There’s no reason why their interests and growth should come at the expense of the content industry,” he says, but the trick will be to marry TV’s “very happy business model” with the capabilities of new devices.

Bewkes does not get it. The threat is not 99 cents downloads of TV shows on Itunes. Anymore than the music industry was destroyed by that model. Sure, it erodes margins, on CDs/Albums and DVD boxed sets and the like. But that is just a marginal issue. If Napster, and indeed filesharing and the internet had never been created, the music industry would still be in terrible shape. Perhaps not quite as bad, but still very bad. Because fundamentally, people stopped being willing to pay for crummy music. They weren't 16 anymore. They already had lots of music. They did not need new music, that wasn't any good.

The threat, which investors are starting to see, is that mass media companies don't want to be in the business of mass media, and so make niche content for cable channels that few watch, and collect high carriage fees. All of it vulnerable to consumers canceling cable, and switching to other stuff. That "stuff" might be DVDs they already own. Or downloads and streaming video of new, more popular, broader content on Iphones, or Ipads, or netbooks, or Internet ready TVs, or boxes to connect your TV to the internet. It could even be the Nintendo Wii, or Sony PS3, or Microsoft XBox, and Halo, or what have you.

Anyone with cash can create content. Mass media companies face competition on the content front, because a company like Google can easily throw $3 billion in cash, at creating content, and already has its own distribution network. Called Youtube, and possibly also Android apps in their marketplace. Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia can do the same. Netflix, Redbox, and other players like Amazon also have cash, if less existing infrastructure, but that's a matter of servers in a data center, scaled up.

The traditional barrier to entry, in competing with big media companies, has been scale. You needed lots of cash, both to create content, and distribute it. For TV, it cost News Corp. about $1 billion over ten years to launch Fox Broadcasting. That would be chump change to Google, and they could launch an alternative to say, the CW network easily, online. Creative people are merely workers for hire. Few are locked in to long term exclusive contracts. You could hire, if you had the money, almost any TV actor looking for a new gig. The same is true for writers, directors, producers, and so on. And the scale for distribution of course, is already there. Itunes already acts as a defacto competitor to broadcast TV, along with, partly owned by Fox, ABC/Disney, and NBCU.

And there is money on the table. Lack of broad, mass market serial entertainment leaves a gap in the market. One that can be filled by a Microsoft, or Netflix, or whoever needs to create mass-market appeal to keep folks around their search engine site (Bing?) or provide the next level of entertainment offerings (Netflix). You no longer need to construct an expensive broadcast affiliate network, you can simply put servers in a bunch of data centers. Its far cheaper. Heck, I'm shocked Youtube has not launched its own "channel" of serialized entertainment with creators given fairly favorable terms to put up compelling, original content (i.e. bigger shares of advertising revenue).

Since this is exactly the kind of approach Microsoft used for gaining Windows popularity, and Apple the Iphone. Pushing favorable tools and terms to application developers, that in turn created content available nowhere else but that platform.

The danger Bewkes and the like represent (to their shareholders), is arrogance. It is arrogance that at its heart thinks their creative output, their tragically hip micro-shows, are worth far more than they are. I'd be the first to agree, the stuff Bewkes and the like put out, are not worth nothing. Surely Boardwalk Empires is worth something. But what Bewkes thinks its worth? Not a chance. So ends, in all likelihood, the tyranny of pay TV. It will die when the last hippie punches out the last tragic hipster.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Myth of Cable Erosion

Broadcast Executives like to tell themselves a pretty fairy story. "Once upon a time in the magical kingdom of ABC, NBC, and CBS, all was right in the land. Until wicked, wicked, cable came along and destroyed viewership, fracturing it among a myriad of choices. Leaving the wise and good Network executives no choice but to offer Dancing the Stars and American Idol." This is of course, bunk. (well worth your time), has excellent ratings data. Using Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, the "Premier Night" for the broadcast networks, and the overnight ratings data supplied by TVByTheNumbers, I've put together the chart above. Now, its only one night. But it is premiere week, when most people watch, and clearly, cable does not matter. The "missing viewers" are not all strung out along a myriad of cable shows. They just aren't watching.

The relevant data (thanks !) are here (for Broadcast Networks) and here (for cable). A few things stand out. MTV's Jersey Shore pulled 5.954 million viewers. College Football on ESPN had 3.52 million viewers (it started at 7:30 Eastern, 4:30 Pacific, I still put it in the 8 pm bucket), but othr than that, few shows pulled even 2 million viewers. "Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia," reputedly FX's big comedy "hit" (I use that term advisedly) did about the same as "the First 48" on AE or "Real Housewives of DC" on Bravo and less than Project Runway (3 million viewers) on Lifetime. Heck American Chopper on TLC had more viewers (2.225 million).

Methodology: shows on cable that ran long, I kept in the original East Coast time bucket (ala College Football on ESPN). I also average numbers, for the hour, in the case of half-hour comedies. So Big Bang Theory and Shit My Dad Says, for 8:00 and 8:30 PM, were averaged to get the hourly number. [Yes, it's called $#*! My Dad Says, CBS should have gone with the original title or another one, the fake-cursing is stupid.]

The biggest show of the night was "the Mentalist" with 15.33 million viewers, more than CSI at 14.57 or Grey's Anatomy at 14.04. After that it was Big Bang Theory and then Shit My Dad Says at 13.95 and 12.48 million viewers respectively. Vampire Diaries got 3.57 million viewers, Nikita only 3.22 million viewers, for the least amount of viewers, on what is supposedly the most watched TV night after Sunday. The Office got 8.4 million viewers, and Outsourced got 7.44 million right after it, nearly a million viewers less.

Again, Thursdays are the reportedly, second most watched night of TV after Sunday, and this was premiere week. The highest amount of viewers, between 9-10 PM, was only 54.381 million, including cable. That is less than the 60 million viewers the Beverly Hillbillies drew at their peak.

The CBS series starring Buddy Ebsen as the patriarch Jed drew up to 60 million viewers at its peak and ran until 1971.

Cable is not the problem. Indeed, the cancellation of Beverly Hillbillies and the "rural purge" conducted by CBS, more mindful of critics than profitability, in the early 1970's, seeking "young, hip, and urban" viewers even if it meant appreciably less of them, is the problem.

Click over on the source links at Hardly anyone really watches cable shows. Much of it, stuff not interesting to anyone. Jersey Shore is about the only show that actually draws any appreciable audience. The story of network Television is that of, really, American coffee roasters, or the Big Three Automakers. The coffee roasters, facing shortages of quality beans, substituted the low-quality robusta beans for high-quality Arabica. Result, generations of Americans ditched coffee, for sodas. Only the Starbucks revolution, using high-quality coffee and snob appeal, could partially reverse that trend. The Big Three, were even worse, offering cars of such poor quality that generations of Americans grew to prefer Toyota, or Honda, even though the quality gap has closed or even reversed (given Japanese over-expansion and poor quality on their own).

Bad TV drove away viewers. Yes, it is that simple.

Or to put it more elaborately, TV with little broad appeal pushed away older viewers, as youth was obsessively courted, in an aging nation with few youth having disposable income like the boom years of the postwar period. The baby boom of 1945-1965 was predicted to last forever. And it didn't. Further, men were pushed away, believing that women make 85% of all consumer purchases. Something that may have been true in 1955, but not today, with high rates of divorce, late forming families, chaotic cohabitation, and extended single-hood.

This was just stupid. There is a story at (from the Hollywood Reporter) about an analyst valuing NBC at negative $600 million (-$600 million) and USA Network at $11.7 billion, SyFy at $6.3 billion, CNBC at $3.9 billion, MSNBC at $2.9 billion, Universal Studios at $4 billion, and finally Bravo at $2.6 billion.

It's just nuts. Think about it. What do the cable networks listed above do? How do they bring in cash? By viewers? Nope. The cable networks are in the business of extracting carriage fees, from satellite and cable providers. That's it. Even Jersey Shore is nowhere near say, the Mentalist, in numbers of viewers. The latter even outperformed 18-49 rating/share compared to Jersey Shore, 3.3/10 vs. 3.1/9. And that's the "class" of cable. The rest are eking out numbers in and around the one million viewer mark, or lower.

Making that business terribly vulnerable to people cutting the cord. No carriage fees, no revenue to NBC or now Comcast. Which is not putting more capital into faster cable networks, but rather, buying content and a broadcast network. The deal itself, to buy NBCU, is a massive vote of no confidence by Comcast itself in its core business.

Meanwhile, the business of broadcast networks is far less vulnerable. Viewers can get the signal for free (provided they have a converter box or a newer TV). Broadcast networks sell audiences to advertisers. That's a business model dating back to the 1920's and 1930's, and the old radio networks from which the television networks arose. Its pretty simple, like delivering good quality coffee at reasonable prices, or decent cars, both affordable and reliable. There is not anything mind-blowingly complex at stake.

IF Comcast can re-tool NBC's development system, and take the hits in making broadly appealing, all quadrant (young/old, male/female) oriented entertainment, creating a need for viewers to tune in, again and again and again, week after week, this might be a bet that pays off, not if but when cable fees collapse and people cut the cord. After all, it costs nothing to receive the broadcast signal. Comcast would have to endure several years of losses, though, in moving away from the highly segregated audience (basically younger women) that make up the, at most 54 million viewers at TV's broadcast/cable peak. In trying to attract more men, and older people, a goodly number of the current viewers will probably drift away, in the same way that remaking a restaurant chain known for high-end food into a broad middle market will have a period of losses, before the message is believed by the targets, and during which folks who liked it just fine without "them" hanging around, go elsewhere. Comcast may not have the stomach for it.

But its pretty clear that the valuations put on the cable networks are laughable. On the order of the $6.3 billion Guy Hands and Terra Firma paid for EMI. Like EMI, the business model (getting paid lots of money for being carried by cable/satellite providers) is falling to … consumer habits. In this case cutting the cord, in EMI's case, no longer buying much music (since so much of it was crap anyway). This makes the big bet that execs like Jeff Zucker put on cable as the winning hand, a losing proposition. Not even Comcast believes in cable anymore, otherwise they'd spend their money on it instead of NBCU.

Ironically, broadcast networks like NBC, or CBS, or ABC, or Fox, or even CW could be quite valuable. Why Warners has not simply dumped the Gossip Girl/Vampire Diaries dreck and used the network to run all DC superheroes, aimed at kids through adults, I'll never know. They own the characters. That's whole point of being a vertically integrated media company. Superman, Green Lantern, Power Girl, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Captain Atom, Captain Marvel, W.I.L.D.C.A.T.S, Stormwatch, (and the rest of the Wildstorm characters), Icon, Static (and the rest of the Milestone universe) can be on TV, in movies, in games, on kids TV, in stores as toys, etc. Why wouldn't you do it? You own the characters! They don't make money for you sitting in moldy old comic books! Some are lame, some are classics, some are remembered still forty years on. Why not use them?

In the same way, with consumers under pressure, broadly appealing shows, creating "hooks" like the old radio and movie serials, can easily beat niche stuff. In terms of profitability. After all, the Superbowl hits 90-100 million viewers. Suppose you had a show that hit say, 75 million viewers per week. And other shows hitting around 40-50 million viewers, each week? How much money could you make? Lots. No, you can't have a Superbowl every week. But you can create emotionally hooking, broad based drama. Its been done before. Within living memory. On TV.

It's not as if cable is pulling in, even in aggregate, monster ratings. At best, cable takes off around 10% of people who might otherwise just watch network TV.

Broadcast TV is tremendously undervalued. Affiliate networks are not cheap, and providing entertainment that men and women, old and young, watch together, in the 40-75 million range is definitely possible, and very, very lucrative.

But, I think it is beyond the capacity of most creative people in Hollywood and definitely in TV. Supposedly, the best minds and most talented TV folks ever, have given us, Outsourced, the Event, and Undercovers. This is not even Supertrain or Pink Lady and Jeff level of bad. In some ways, it is far worse. At least Supertrain and Pink Lady and Jeff, along with Sheriff Lobo and BJ and the Bear, reflected an attempt to connect, however badly, with a broad spectrum of America, and entertain said spectrum. However badly it was done, it was still honest. This junk, and the rest, don't even bother to be broadly appealing. Its both elitist, and crap.

Elitist and crap. Its not cable erosion of audiences, or cheap reality shows, that make TV so bad. It is the writers, producers, and network execs who want both condescending moral lectures combined with niche appeal, all done badly.

The streaming revolution cannot get here soon enough.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

More TV Execs Not Getting It

The Financial Times has covered both the Jeff Zucker firing from NBC (totally expected) and the recent Goldman Sachs TV conference. In both cases, you have undeniable proof that TV execs just don't get it. They believe that their content is so superior, it will put them in the driver's seat, forever. When, the real risk they run is folks like Verizon, or T-Mobile, or Nokia, seeking to compete by offering their own content. Which seems inevitable.

The Goldman Sachs conference was covered here. CBS's Les Moonves called today a "new Golden Age."

Apple and Amazon are renting television shows, Netflix is streaming films, Google is launching a TV product, and millions of people are tuning into the iPad. Suddenly, it seems, technology companies are charting a new course for the media business.

Yet the captains of big television networks are expressing confidence that they still have the upper hand.

At the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York this week, executives from CBS, NBC Universal, News Corp, Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney fired shots across the bows of the technology companies seeking inroads into their territory.

In an unusual display of solidarity among competitors, the unanimous message was that they would be judicious about making their programming available online, and seek to extract full value from their TV shows and films. Content, it seems, is confident again.

“I feel better today than I did probably at any point in the past about the NBC broadcast network’s ability to survive,” said NBCU chief executive Jeff Zucker.

“This is really the golden age,” said CBS chief executive Les Moonves. “All the networks and cable have extraordinary shows, and the numbers are pretty extraordinary.”

Such confidence might seem out of place for an industry that is facing incursions from online video upstarts and saw US cable and satellite subscriber numbers fall in the second quarter of the year for the first time on record.

But the moguls said there was little evidence of widespread “cord-cutting”, the shorthand for consumers choosing to live without cable or satellite services. Bob Iger, chief executive of Disney, said he remained “bullish” on the television channel business “even in the face of aggregators like Apple, Netflix, Hulu, whoever”.

Meanwhile, networks are looking to play the digital platforms off against each other, in part by offering different content to different distributors in different time “windows”. While each of the networks has made salvos online, they seem in no rush to make all their content available on any one platform.

“I don’t think an early entry is necessarily the greatest thing,” said Mr Moonves.

In their measured approach, the networks are seeking to avoid mistakes made by the record labels, which 10 years ago allowed Apple disproportionate influence over music pricing through iTunes.

“Our content is a scarce resource and we need to manage it intelligently,” said Chase Carey, chief operating officer of News Corp, which owns the Fox network.

All the big studios are dabbling in digital. News Corp and ABC have partnered with Apple to offer 99 cent rentals of TV shows, while CBS and NBCU have withheld their content for the time being. But even these positions are provisional. Mr Moonves said CBS would “accept their phone call” if Apple asked again next year, while Mr Carey called Fox’s Apple deal “a short-term test”.

Mr Moonves, who had kept CBS content off Hulu, an advertising-supported site financed by and populated with content from NBC, Fox and Disney’s ABC network, also indicated that its new subscription service, Hulu Plus, “makes a lot more sense to us”.

With no dominant online platform having emerged, content for now is fragmented online, and may remain so for three to five years, executives estimated.

“The digital space isn’t going to get all shaken out and defined by Christmas,” Mr Carey noted.

In the meantime, Disney’s Mr Iger said that no one digital platform seems likely to amass enough power to dictate terms to content owners. “It’s a much more complicated world,” said Mr Zucker.

Scatter pricing fees, last minute spot rates, are up 15-17% from last year. Retransmission/carriage fees (ala cable) are also increasing, reports the Financial Times. But the execs at the conference are dead wrong. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg says cutting the cord is real. He notes that being a dumb pipe is a losing proposition. Cable fees are expensive, even HBO long ago realized that to keep their market share (they are available in nearly 100% of US households, but only 30% of US households pay for the service), the channel had to have compelling content found only on HBO. Me-too copying "television being the sincerest form of imitation" ala Fred Allen, would not cut it with consumers even in the go-go 1990's and early 2000's. Consumers can save considerable amounts of money, by canceling cable or satellite. Only Pro and College football likely keeps the cable or satellite cord from being cut. Audiences for such things as Project Runway, or even Jersey Shore, are niche by definition. Its not such compelling, serialized content that people will pay to consume it. Nothing like say, the power of Dickens stories that had longshoremen shouting at ships tying up at dock for the latest news of his characters. Yes spot ads are up, slightly, from last year's debacle. Organic, sustainable growth that is not.

Being a dumb pipe, like say Amazon or Apple are now, is fine if your core expertise and revenue lie elsewhere. For Amazon, it is being the number one retailer on the web, building on both its recommendation system and its "stores" (basically providing e-Bay like service for mini-sellers) to offer the most convenient, and "safe" web retailing service. For Apple, most of their revenues still come from hardware, mostly the Iphone and Ipods, then laptop computers. Itunes is a growing revenue stream, but relatively small compared to other parts of Apple's revenues. For both of these companies, being a winning aggregator is fine, they are not lean and hungry enough to venture into content creation, though their considerable cash reserves allow them to do so if they wish.

It is other companies, sitting on a lot of cash or struggling to break out of "dump pipe" status, that are threats to TV studios and networks. Netflix has already started exploring creating its own content, as HBO did years ago. Verizon could do the same, so could T-Mobile, or AT&T. All three mobile networks offer mere service (AT&T's monopoly on the Iphone is likely to be broken soon) that is at its core, a commodity. Having the exclusive content, available only on their network, is a way to make people keep re-subscribing, and tolerate higher fees.

Microsoft is hungry too, failing to find much success out of its core Windows and Office monopolies. Making Bing into more than just search, offering exclusive, subscriber only content, is one way for them to grab market share away from Google. Which in turn has struggled to find profitability from YouTube. YouTube under Google has experimented with the Tribeca Film Festival on pay-per view movies of films in the festival. Offering original serialized content is one way to make the huge bet Google has invested in YouTube pay off. Since user-supplied video of guys crashing into a wall on skateboards has not been very profitable. As mentioned in the prior post, Nokia is lean and hungry. The company will never beat Apple's lead in apps, nor even approach Google's Android operating system and its own app store. Original Content available only on Nokia's phones and partner service providers is one way to win.

And really, what's the barrier to creating content? Cash. Nokia, Verizon, T-Mobile, Google, Microsoft, they all have a lot of it, still. HBO was able to commission its own content, and its just a smallish cable operation (admittedly part of Time-Warner, but that can hurt as much as help given the Byzantine politics inside Time-Warner). Soundstages in LA, and globally, are for rent. So too, casting directors, writers, agents, producers, cinematographers, skilled crew members, actors, and so on. The infrastructure to make serialized, TV-style entertainment is global. Anyone with the cash can make it, pretty much anywhere.

The comments from fired NBC head Jeff Zucker are pretty telling.

Mr Zucker began his career at NBC 25 years ago, quickly rising from researcher to produce the Today Show at the age of 26. As chief executive, however, he has faced criticism for his management of NBC’s entertainment properties, notably after a failed attempt to shake up its core broadcast network’s prime-time schedule.

He was mocked, sometimes by comedians on his own payroll, for the reshuffling of Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, and the jury is still out on the scripted programming that now fills the evening schedule.

By contrast, cable properties such as USA Network and Bravo grew strongly and Mr Immelt sang Mr Zucker’s praises. “He has always stepped up when the company needed him. He never blinked when it came to tough decisions.”

Mr Zucker said: “I think I was creative and innovative. I think I took a lot of risk, I put diversity on the agenda and I created a culture of co-operation and collaboration I’m incredibly proud of. I do wish this had been a simpler time.”

He added: “I turned this into a hell of a cable network company and expanded internationally and digitally and dealt with a cost stucture in an economically challenging time.”

The man started at Ground Zero for female-oriented PC: the Today Show. He brought the same, female-oriented perspective (Average White guys suck!) to his NBC job, and drove the network into last place. His legacy is more, female-oriented, Average White Guys suck! content including "Undercovers" and "Outsourced" (i.e. isn't it funny Americans lost their jobs to Indians in India!). While the latter has held on (in the premiere) to most of the Office's lead in, so too did 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, comedies in the mode of NBC's Thursday night line-up (i.e. not very funny, or popular). NBC still dominates the night, but gets fractions of what it got in the late 1990's with Friends and Seinfeld.

Zucker's legacy is lack of any compelling content. NBC has nothing really, that tens of millions of people, or more, will tune in week after week just to see. The characters and situations are as boring a self-consciously "hip" Malibu lecture on the need to save the Whales or polar bears delivered from a beach side, $10 million mansion. Nothing Zucker created really stands out, as compelling, can't-miss TV.

Leaving his network (and the rest as well) hideously vulnerable to whoever can provide a sports and entertainment package that beats the current offerings, on price, and emotional content. Very little on either cable or broadcast network is so compelling people even care to see it live or on tape.

Someday very soon, a "dumb pipe" will transform itself to a place for exclusive content, seen only on that pipe. It won't be broadcast TV or cable, neither have a clue. And the change will wipe them out just as the lack of compelling content wiped out the music business.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

FX, Terriers, and Men: Why Cable is Being Replaced (and How)

FX's new cable series, "Terriers," is doing poorly, while NBC's "Outsourced" has garnered acceptable ratings in its initial debut. In part, this is because of schedule, "Outsourced" follows "the Office" which is a hit, such as it goes, for NBC, and "Terriers" has significant flaws. But the overall numbers strongly suggest that Television, both broadcast and cable, are in the midst of a transformation, one in which serial entertainment is delivered by phone, or Ipod, and consumed individually. This has significant implications, not the least of which is new entries into content creation: Neftlix, Amazon, Redbox, and possibly Apple, are moving into content creation. Not just to control costs and create broader, more appealing content that addresses the under-served portion of the audience: men. But because Hollywood just cannot create cheap, good, and male-appealing content, that also appeals to women (the pot of gold, cross-gender appeal). After pursuing "niche" for more than forty years, Hollywood is soaking in it. Which is why, slowly but surely, the major new buyers of entertainment, like Netflix, are sure to create their own content.

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg recently said that cutting the cable cord is a real phenomena.

“Young people are pretty smart. They’re not going to pay for something they don’t need to,” he said. “Over the top is going to be a pretty big issue for cable.”

But that’s an issue for Verizon (VZ), too, right? Seidenberg’s company sells its own version of the cable bundle, via its Fios service, and it has 3.5 million customers. And Seidenberg noted that the TV bundle isn’t going away immediately. But it will, he said.

“We take the over the top issue with video very seriously,” he said. “I think cable has some life left in its model…but that it is going to get disintermediated over the next several years.”

Seidenberg’s argument is that over the top is a much bigger deal for cable guys like Comcast (CMCSA), who have an entire business built around the bundle, than it will be for his company, which is a relative newcomer to video. Theoretically, he’ll be be able to replace some video subscribers with subs who pay for robust broadband connections. But like it or not, it’s going to happen, he says.

“I’ve seen the movie. If you remain static too long, the technology is going to nibble at you on the edges, and you have to be prepared for it.”

For now, sports like ESPN broadcasts of college and pro football games, baseball games, basketball, etc. are about all that is keeping men subscribing. Most cable channels and all broadcast networks are completely oriented towards women. It is not, of course, just Lifetime Network. As pointed out in the post "How Female Oriented is TV?" from data collected by site (an excellent site and well worth your time), last spring in broadcast TV, only the Simpsons, Family Guy, the Cleveland Show, and Chuck were strongly male-skewing, in that order, with Fringe and 24 slightly male skewing. Broadcast TV, and cable, is a vast, female-gay ghetto. Full of "hunky" men who women can "change" and taboo-breaking scenes, etc. that excite the female audience.

But long-term, this gay-female ghetto offers little revenue growth and significant challenges by new technology, as Seidenberg notes. On the broadcast side, audiences continue to erode. Men have largely fled, "Two and a Half Men" is as noted by, a female-skewing show. The White female audience is not growing, Blacks are too few in number and mostly too poor (Blacks are 12.5% of the population, and about 60% of them are urban core / ghetto) to be a profitable growth market. [The over-representation of Blacks in commercials is to signal PC adherence to diversity for Liberal White women, which is most White women, and to get Jessie Jackson and Maxine Waters off commercial makers backs, as well as promoting the Platonic "noble lie" about the socio-economic characteristics of Blacks.] Mexicans, as shown consistently by Nielsen (here), with skeptics on this point invited to click the link and see what Hispanics in the US watch.

Meanwhile, cable faces younger audiences (and old) cutting the cable cord and simply relying on Hulu, Redbox, Amazon, Itunes, and so on for entertainment, with local news and such provided by over-the-air broadcasts. Continued recession, and likely decades long wage pressure and limited job growth pretty much guarantee consumers will penny-pinch for decades to come. Older audiences finding "hip and edgy" not cutting the value equation, are likely to cut cable as a discretionary expense no longer justified, as much as younger ones. Indeed, it is likely pressured families as much as "hip/cool young consumers" (the business world has a pathetic need to appear hip and cool) who would seem to be cutting cable first.

Already Verizon and Sprint offer some streaming of games through phones. Flo TV gives live, mobile TV in portable devices, offering "no streaming, no waiting, no buffering." ESPN offers, as does the NFL, limited coverage of games on their website, via streaming video. These are baby steps, akin to the Creative Labs Rio and other early, pre-Ipod MP3 players. Eventually, some company will get this right, offering a cheap phone or player device, with low monthly fees. Making it cheap, convenient, and easy to watch video on a pocket sized device. Clearly this is where music has gone, from expensive, custom hi-fi set ups in the 1970's to now, cheap/tinny MP3 players offering massive convenience at the expense of quality sound. In the modern world, people seem to prefer convenience, over quality.

Cable is extraordinarily vulnerable to this shift, and Comcast's purchase of NBC can be seen as either extraordinarily stupid, or a desire to hedge the exposure (of being dumped as a "dumb pipe" delivering content for cheaper/better alternatives) by getting into the content creation business. If so, that move may yet prove foolish, as NBC has shown no real ability to create and sustain winning content, that appeals to both men and women. "Outsourced" may do OK ratings after the Office, but it does not seem something that would be a winner in the new scale required by a shift to personal video consumption. In that new world, scale matters. Winners would be defined, because of the cheapness inherent in the pricing model (inherited from MP3 downloads and already established by Amazon's video on demand, and Netflix's offerings), by massive popularity. While production costs can be whittled down, there's only so cheap a production can get before audiences tune out. This means a world of low-margin, high volume entertainment. Something Hollywood just can't do. Particularly TV.

FX has tried to rebrand itself as male-oriented. Ads for "Two and a Half Men" (itself female-skewing) stress male-orientation. FX's lineup includes "Sons of Anarchy," "Terriers," "Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "the League," "Two and a Half Men" (re-runs), and "Lights Out" (in January, about a boxer). FX has been around since 1994. Recently, MediaLife published a story on FX.

With “The Shield,” which begins its final season in September, and “Nip/Tuck,” plus movies like “Batman Begins,” FX in only a few years has gone from a nondescript network to becoming the closest thing to HBO on basic cable.

“They have some great, great cutting-edge, gritty shows that have become appointment viewing for millions of people,” says Brad Adgate, senior vice president and corporate research director at Horizon Media.

Another big plus: The diversity of that programming makes FX a top-five network in virtually every demographic advertisers care about, putting it on par with broadcast TV in another important regard.

The other challenge facing FX may prove thornier. The network must deal with the failure of many of its newer series to perform up to the level of "The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck." FX will debut one new drama this September but it's also bringing back three of its newer dramas, “Damages,” the Glenn Close series, "The Riches," and "Dirt," and none has fulfilled their critical promise in the ratings.

What makes it such a thorny challenge is that FX can't air just any new series. It has to be edgy, pushing the limits, and it also has to be a substantial drama. There just aren't that many scripts that meet those high standards. In a sense, being like HBO, FX shares HBO's programming challenge--one that has hobbled the pay network for several years.

FX’s tagline for advertisers is “There is No Box,” meaning it’s not confined to any demographic group or any particular genre.

That’s to say it's an edgy network airing original series and movies that you’d sooner find on pay TV than on cable or broadcast TV.

“The whole strategy of originals, which goes back to ‘The Shield,’ is to bring people in by providing fare they can’t get anywhere else,” says Lefkowitz.

FX’s target is adults 18-49, but its originals zero in on a variety of demographics. It targets men with the firefighter drama “Rescue Me,” women with “Damages,” and younger adults with the comedy “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

FX ranks among the top five cable networks in the 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 demographics.

Its average primetime audience in February was 1.5 million viewers, up 26 percent from February 2007. Among 18-49s, FX ranked No. 4 behind USA, TBS and TNT with 875,000 viewers, up 28 percent.

FX’s appeal to advertisers is its big ratings and broad demographic reach, notably with edgy programs that build loyalty among viewers. It's among the strongest brands on cable.

But the network faces a real challenge in keeping itself fresh with yet more edgy shows that draw viewers, as the “The Shield” has done, without going so edgy and dark that advertisers shy away.

Edgy and hip of course being code-words for female and gay oriented entertainment. Men like action, and adventure. None of which is particularly edgy and hip. Think "Die Hard," or "Star Wars," or even the Star Trek movies. "Death Wish," the Dirty Harry movies, and the current Jason Statham action movies, are not edgy and hip. Nor are they "dark." They're filled with … action. Which is what draws in the male audience. "Damages," "Dirt," and "the Riches" were of course, female skewing (Dirt and the Riches were not renewed).

Meanwhile, the numbers for FX itself are not particularly compelling.

How often does a scripted series hit an all-time ratings high in Season 6? Well, FX's comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia just did it with its sixth season premiere last night. Also breaking series records was the network's comedy The League, which opened its second season behind Sunny. At 10 PM, Sunny delivered 1.83 million adults 18-49 and 1.46 million adults 18-34, up 3% from the previous series demo highs posted by last season's premiere. In the male demographics, the gains from the Season 5 premiere were bigger, 16% in Men 18-34 (1.01 million) and 11% in Men 18-49 (1.24 million), both all-time series highs. The total viewership, 2.21 million, was was off by 1% in Live+same day but is expected to be a series best when Live+7 data is factored in.

Or, translated into English, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" had 1.01 million men watching it and 450,000 women, ages 18-34, and 1.24 million men, and 590,000 women, ages 18-49. Of the core advertising group, this adds up to about 1.83 million (ages 18-49).

Terriers ratings were even worse, about half a million people watching. Comments on included:

I dont think Terriers ratings are bad because it's a bad show but because its on a network whos audience isn't really into that type of show. Justified debuted big but then dropped a lot when people saw it was a procedural type show. FX built its brand off adult serialized dramas and i think thats what its audience expects. It would probably be a hit on TNT.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a wide audience available for the ‘PI’ genre. (Somebody wake the Mike Hammer folks up.) We saw this with Veronica Mars, and other than that show and Angel name the last PI show outside of Magnum that lasted longer than a wasted breath? (Bored to Death , Monk, and Psych aren't true gumshoe shows. They are dramedies.) I could argue that this is the wrong time to launch a new show on cable. What with all the broadcast nets pimping their wares, but who gives a hoot. I think it would've done a lot better with an early summer run. (Y'know when there's little competition.) It’s no longer a question of ‘if’, now it’s a question of whether or not the fans get to see all of it before the ax claims another victim.

Terriers, for those who saw it (about half a million people), has some major problems. Only Donal Logue ("Life," "Tao of Steve") is a compelling actor who holds your attention. Co-star Michael Raymond-James does not really register (he played "Tex" on an episode of "Life" and was also on "Tru Blood"). Nor does his character hold much interest, a blue collar crook persuaded by Logue's "Hank Dolworth" to mostly ride the straight and narrow as an unlicensed PI. The female characters remain ciphers, mostly uninteresting. Though its implied the character Britt Pollack (Raymond-James) pulls his hot girlfriend mostly on the basis of his outlaw status, the writing and performance don't indicate raw charisma. While the main description of the show, as two down and out private eyes seeking to slowly adopt responsibility and maturity, has male appeal, that theme seems a turn-off for women. Who prefer men already "hot" (i.e. high status, charisma, dangerous) and merely need their magic guiding hand and uber-sexual appeal to "change him." I.E. make him commit to one women, the female proxy character.

This is not the only "magic formula" and by itself does not guarantee success, but does seem to describe those shows with substantial audiences (nearly all female) absent gross-out, one-liner animated comedies and semi-action/sci-fi dramas, that appeal more to men. Terriers leaves men slightly intrigued, but not enough to stick around, and FX is still, mostly a female-driven audience. Hip and edgy being dead give-aways. The fruitless pining by the lead character for his ex-wife, soon to be married, seems a pointless turn-off for men, who did tune in the next day in far greater numbers (about twice the amount as Terriers total viewers) for "Sunny in Philadelphia," which is basically a more explicit Seinfeld. There seems to be a lack of action-adventure to draw in a male audience, itself a tough sell on cable even on FX (the network being mostly female oriented), and not enough "hunky guy you can change" for women. Add a lack of really compelling writing, particularly in creating compelling supporting characters, and Donal Logue can't carry the show by himself. The lead characters demons (alcoholism and a life of crime, respectively), are interesting to a female audience if the guys are "hot" Alpha males. Not so much when they're blue collar, down and out, scrapping for change. Meanwhile, guys don't see much action, adventure, or the lead characters winning. But the main problem remains lack of compelling characters (and the lack luster performance by the other actors). TV (or, serial entertainment) requires a magnetic, compelling presence by most of the cast. Aside from Logue, that's just not there in Terriers. But the problem is not confined to just one show. FX itself is trapped.

FX's problem is that their audience base is about 1.5 to 2 million viewers, tops. That's not very much. Basically, FX makes its money from carriage fees (what satellite and cable providers get charged for carrying the channel, regardless of who watches). As noted above, that money is under significant pressure from a variety of sources, and is one big shift away, from collapsing like music sales. Nokia right now, is under huge pressure. The company just hired its first non-Finn as CEO. It has no real advantage in the lucrative, high-end smartphone market, being tied to the Symbian OS with significant short-comings, including apps. The way out for a company like Nokia, seeking to challenge Apple or Google in apps, is entertainment content. Some folks at Deadline Hollywood Daily got it.

stevenp is absolutely right. These numbers are nothing to harp about and yet everyone does. It’s a calculated decision to tout these numbers for the advertisers and no one else. The issue is most of the scripted shows are mediocre at best and non-scripted is often so cheap, it doesn’t matter what numbers they do as long as audience flow is established so a channel can maintain its carriage. Reality at FX is they continue to make shows for very narrow niche audiences and although their success has been spotty, the value of the channel continues to grow due to perception. The question I have is when does cable stop cuming [he means cumulative adding] numbers and own up to its real sampling? If they did, the reality of these kinds of numbers for the cost of the programming should give one pause. But Sunny benefits from a contained budget and a ridiculous guarantee from MRC and ownership for FX productions that makes it impossible not to make and you see it again with The League which I’m sure gets made under the low budget FX model. The bath on Terriers and Justified and Damages and Dirt and The Riches is a much more important thing to look at and gage. But it’s irrelevant because the perception of the channel is in place and therefore the overall value of the asset to Newscorp is really all anyone at Fox cares about. So much for quality programming.

This commenter gets it. Cable is not delivering numbers, in proportion to the hype. Indeed, I would suggest that if you added up all the cumulative numbers of both Broadcast and Cable, it would not come close to the TV watching of say, 1968 or even 1975, when there were only three networks, plus spotty PBS, but entertainment was much broader. Emphasis on niche content inevitably drives those not enamored of out of the marketplace. There is a whole mass of under-served groups, particularly men and older audiences, who don't find hip, cool, edgy, and dark entertainment particularly appealing. And don't watch.

The problem is, that Netflix (whose CEO recently insulted Americans by calling them "self-absorbed" and implied they were stupid, on price, regarding his Canadian pilot to sell streaming video at cheaper prices than US plans), and Redbox, and Amazon, and Itunes/Apple, are all spending billions of dollars to carry content that is not making them much money. It is my view that one hungry player, will spend less, by creating their own content, deliberately engineered to be as broad as possible, reaching all four "quadrants" (young/old, male/female), to make themselves a come-from-behind player. Offering a cheap handset/player, priced less than $200 (the disposable income marker these days) and very cheap monthly rates (probably less than $10 a month).

Nokia, or Samsung, or even Motorola could be a player in this. All are under earnings pressure. Verizon, or T-Mobile, or other mobile service providers could use this to get "tie-in" and increase their earnings (by getting people to switch and stay). Obviously, technical issues such as bandwidth, compression, and reliability of service need to be addressed, but they are not insurmountable. The goal is to move video one-way only, and deliver that video onto a fairly small screen (Hi-Def need not be delivered in the first generation). So people can view video pretty much anywhere. Just like listening to an Ipod. Indeed, serialized entertainment, available ONLY through such a service, perhaps downloadable at first, could prompt switchers if the entertainment was broad enough. Men of course, form the majority of technology early adopters, so are a prime target, but women would have to find the entertainment desirable as well, given their robust participation (about half) in the technology consumption marketplace, for organic growth after an initial adoption.

The initial problem, though, is not technology but content. Hollywood has been in its own niche of dark, hip, edgy, and cool (read, female and gay) that its not really capable anymore of making broadly appealing content. Serialized entertainment, like most TV series, are a natural for personal consumption. Because unlike a movie, its not "one and done," audiences want to see lengthy development of characters, situations, and action to enhance their pleasure. If a movie is like a short story, TV is like a series of novels. Where about 17 hours, for the average hour-long drama (about 43 minutes per episode when commercials are subtracted out) that runs 22 full episodes, compared to about 2 hours maximum, allows far greater detail to be presented to the viewer, in action, drama, character development, and simple quirkiness. It is this advantage of time, that at its best, makes television superior to movies. Capable of covering either drama or comedy in far greater depth, and more carefully, than even the most skilled team can deliver in two hours.

Companies like Netflix, or Amazon, or T-Mobile, or Nokia, or Verizon, or Redbox, or Apple, or Samsung, all seeking first-mover advantage to have the complete system, cheap, fast, and good, are stuck in dilemma. They pay a lot for Hollywood content, which just isn't that compelling. Inevitably, one or more of these companies will start creating their own content. By tapping some of the more lean and hungry creative teams, definitely not including the Wachowskis, who are currently making a movie about a gay US soldier and gay Iraqi terrorist plotting to kill Bush. That's Arianna Huffington in the middle. The Wachowskis look like extras from "the Hills Have Eyes," and certainly cannot be accused of even having a remote understanding of what mainstream America finds entertaining. The one sibling as you can see has had the full sex change operation.

Likely to be tapped are those folks who attempted, but failed, in making broad-based entertainment (because TV is now such a female-gay ghetto that men have fled it for good). Rand Ravich and Far Shariat ("Life") come to mind, as the sort of model content creators approached. Folks who know how to run shows, budgets, and make male-appealing stuff that can also have appeal to women. With an offering of non-Hollywood accounting, i.e. full profit sharing on "first dollar revenues" as long as costs are kept down, with perhaps increases in percentages if consumption goes up (i.e. the shows are sold on a per-download basis, or streaming sign up, etc). Creating direct and unmistakable incentives to make the content as popular as possible. Going for people hungry for money, and willing to trade awards, "respect," and critical acclaim to get it. Young Andrew Lloyd Webers, in other words. Folks who will take critical disdain in exchange for making a a lot of money.

It is pretty clear that the current model of cable offers little possibility of change, caught in Hollywood's Hip and Edgy Trap. Which offers critical acclaim, career advancement, and plays to the desire of execs in cable and broadcast to win publicity and coverage, not audiences, for their shows. Since even in broadcast, and definitely in cable, masses of viewers don't translate into revenue. Indeed, broadcast TV is increasingly resembling movies, where a few massively profitable shows (sports, American Idol) and a few thinly profitable shows (cheap reality) subsidize money-losing "prestige" shows.

The new model (not a certainty, but a probability at least) offers canny first-movers the ability to escape the trap, use their own custom-built content, to draw subscribers/customers to a new model. One of mass, not niche appeal.

Which overall, would be good for the country. By having to appeal to male audiences, which are generally more culturally conservative than female-gay ones, the constant drift ever leftward (for example the norming of polygamy) can be arrested, at least for a while. And a common culture, among men and women, offers a way for each to have greater understanding of each other. Something the isolated culture of today provides little support for, and indeed constantly undermines.

It would be ironic indeed, if a great mass of people a short time in the future, watching videos of serial entertainment, alone and individually, on small portable screens, were more connected via mass-appealing media, than the collective viewing of TV today in living rooms and sports bars today. The world of Max Headroom is today, only instead of only Network 23, there are thousand choices, all the same, all very niche. Let us hope for a broader, more unifying tomorrow.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Too Many White Folks on TV

Author and LA Times Entertainment writer Mary McNamara wrote in her review of the NBC-TV show "Undercovers" that there are too many White people on TV. This attitude is common, among the entertainment business. You find it all the time in the pages of the LA Times, and on stories and comments. Partly, this is because people in Entertainment are mind-bogglingly stupid, but it is also a function of the near total dominance of women and gays in the entertainment sector. [That's a picture of Mary McNamara on top.]

McNamara is the author of two chic-lit mysteries, "Oscar Season" and "the Starlet," both about celebrity, gossip, substance abuse, sex, and wealth. In other words, Us Weekly or Star Magazine as a "mystery" novel. Only of course, dumber. And while it is indeed, not only common but dogma among White, female entertainment people to bemoan "too many White people" it is impossible to imagine Asian and female, or Black and female, or Hispanic and female entertainment people to express that there were too many Asian, or Black, or Hispanic people on TV (or in any forum). Jessica Alba, for example, was shocked and dismayed to find out she was only 13% non-White, and 87% White (well, just look at her). She famously said "I'm excited for my baby to be brown. I just have to believe the dark gene is going to survive. Cash and I are like, please!" One can hardly imagine an Asian actress with a White husband saying she hoped her baby would be White. It is unthinkable. Yet the reverse is always true.

Stupidity plays a part in the attitude among White as well as non-White women in having disdain for "too many White people" on TV (and elsewhere) and "White" being equated with "unworthy." But a good part of the disdain for "White" is the lack of power and status and value in "beta provider" that most White men have, with globalization and the hollowing out of male jobs, making a "boring" beta provider man a poor bet compared to exciting, dominant Alpha A-holes. Roissy has a post in which he explains the related phenomena: chicks dig jerks. Or to put it another way, women find beta providers fairly useless, since only the most wealthy can provide enough wealth to allow her to stay home with the kids until they're old enough (early teens) to be on their own for a while.

At least as important as the free and easy availability of contraception, the anonymous urban living, the lack of shame, has been the failure of the male beta provider to mean anything, as women now earn in professional circles, in their twenties, more than men. If a man is not an obnoxious jerk, how could a woman not feel anything but contempt for him? The writer Roissy cites, one Rachel Dickens, is cute but not a face to launch a thousand ships, yet has many explicit sex columns for University of Wisconsin's student paper, that's her above this text) had this to say:

Curiously familiar hypothetical situation: You’re at a bar with your friends when you spot a guy you recently hooked up with. You’re feeling indifferent about him, but you wouldn’t be opposed to giving it another go. You think, “Ehh, no need to say ‘Hi’ right away.” Twenty minutes later, he still hasn’t approached you. You wonder, “Why hasn’t he said anything to me? Does my hair look bad?” But granted you’re not criminally insane, you brush it off and look for someone else to schmooze. Thirty minutes later, still nothing. Well, he did wink at you from across the bar (or was there just something stuck in his eye?), but then he started talking to some girl wearing a tube dress. Your confusion escalates. “Oh god, she’s way hotter than me. I knew I should’ve worn heels.” Suddenly, your neurosis reaches “Girl, Interrupted” levels and you wonder how you got so nuts. To avoid further humiliation, you turn to a friend and ask if she wants to leave and get nachos.

On a scale of 1-10, how pathetic does this sound? If you’re thinking 25, don’t worry, you’re not even remotely off base. But as desperate as it seems, I won’t hesitate for a moment to say we’ve all been there.

Fact: Girls love guys who are, for lack of a better description, total assholes.

Most girls are turned off by a guy who showers her with attention. It bores us, it seems desperate and it can be a predictor for a slew of undesirable behaviors lurking beneath the surface. Instead, we gravitate toward guys who give us just enough attention to keep us on our toes. Here’s what I mean:

Socially-unaware-nice-guy: Hi Rachel! I saw you from across the bar. You look pretty. Can I buy you a drink? You look like a G&T gal. So, what are your career aspirations? I love kids. You look pretty.

Asshole: Hey.

You know what? It’s a cop-out to say only weak girls go for assholes. Self-esteem aside, many girls crave the thrill of keeping up with a jerky guy, or better yet, putting him in his place. While they might not always be better at flirting per se, assholes have a certain knack for conversation that confident girls can’t wait to provoke. When you’re not looking for anything serious, few things are sexier than a well-spoken, quick-talking guy whose comebacks somehow indicate that he’ll be amazing in bed.

Example: If a guy won’t give other people the time of day, but he’s taking a moment of his time to be semi-decent toward you, you might think to yourself “Wow, this guy’s being nice to me. He’s usually such a douche! I must be different.”

What women like McNamara are really saying, is that there are far too many, boring beta White guy provider types, who are socially unaware, not tragically hip, cool, exciting, famous, Tucker Max like A-holes. Yes, she's married, with kids, but the same habits, attitudes, desires, and the beliefs she picked up in her youth, when ordinary, boring White guy beta types were an annoyance, continued as she got older and became an adult.

Black men in particular are not socialized, to be boring beta providers, and Black blogger the Rawness covers some of this in his post the "Myth of the Ghetto Alpha Male." Nevertheless, in entertainment, and in real life, women of all races assume more masculine, aggressive, more "jerky" behavior among Black men, even those who are fairly middle class and "SWPL" in likes and behavior. Coupled with other perceived advantages Black men have over White men, and its easy to see that the disdain expressed is really more of a dissatisfaction with the broad scope of available White guys. Most of them simply too "nice" and boring, not aggressive and jerky enough to stimulate much other than the emotion of disgust among White women.

Yes, it is absolutely true that Harold Myerson in the Washington Post, a White man, wrote:

But the economy is not all; the GOP's last best hope remains identity politics. In a year when the Democrats have an African American presidential nominee, the Republicans now more than ever are the white folks' party, the party that delays the advent of our multicultural future, the party of the American past. Republican conventions have long been bastions of de facto Caucasian exclusivity, but coming right after the diversity of Denver, this year's GOP convention is almost shockingly -- un-Americanly -- white. Long term, this whiteness is a huge problem. This year, however, whiteness is the only way Republicans cling to power. If the election is about the economy, they're cooked -- and their silence this week on nearly all things economic means that they know it.

But Myserson writes for a mostly female audience, in a medium, "journalism" that is mostly dominated by women. Women make up substantial majorities in most journalism programs, and simply perusing most local papers will show bylines mostly by women. As newspapers have become more and more politically correct, stories on things like Global Warming, i.e. warmed-over PC dogma, appeal more to women than men.

And at the heart, of White women's discontent, is too many "nice guys" who have been wrongly socialized. Who lack confidence, swagger, and indeed, jerk-like qualities and massive A-holeness around women. Believe me, if most White guys acted like total jerks around women, there would be no LA Times female columnists complaining about "too many White people" on TV.

McNamara wrote:

We give points around here for trying something new, and in the Year of Our Lord 2010, there are just too many white folks on American TV, and way too many of them are playing lawyers, cops and parents. The leads of "Undercovers" are spies, and while spies are not unheard of these days, they're also married. Who can resist an action-packed, banter-heavy spy show that also explores modern marriage? "Undercovers" is all that and Paris too.

Of course, Sanford and Son was a massive hit back in the 1970's, and shows as varied as Good Times, the Jeffersons, the Unit, Gabriel's Fire, Frank's Place, Moesha, Homeboys in Outer Space, Homicide: Life on the Street, the Secret Diary of Desmond Pffeifer, and Tenafly have all had Black leads, with varying success and failure. Two Black leads are nothing new, much less two married Black leads (Good Times). What is new is the overt Obama-worship ("What if, like, the Obamas were totally cool, rich, married owners of a catering business, and also really cool spies! But uh, fighting White Russian Arms dealers, or something. Not Muslim Jihadis!") A certain class of woman, White, Upper Class, rich, dissatisfied with her life/romance/family, finds the Obama's a romantic fantasy:

The other night I dreamt of Barack Obama. He was taking a shower right when I needed to get into the bathroom to shave my legs, and then he was being yelled at by my husband, Max, for smoking in the house. It was not clear whether Max was feeling protective of the president’s health or jealous because of the cigarette.

The other day a friend of mine confided that in the weeks leading up to the election, the Obamas’ apparent joy as a couple had made her just miserable. Their marriage looked so much happier than hers. Their life seemed so perfect. “I was at a place where I was tempted daily to throttle my husband,” she said. “This coincided with Michelle saying the most beautiful things about Barack. Each time I heard her speak about him I got tears in my eyes — because I felt so far away from that kind of bliss in my own life and perhaps even more, because I was so moved by her expressions of devotion to him. And unlike previous presidential couples, they are our age, have children the same age and (just imagine the stress of daily life on the campaign) by all accounts should have been fighting even more than we were.”

Many women — not too surprisingly — were dreaming about sex with the president. In these dreams, the women replaced Michelle with greater or lesser guilt or, in the case of a 62-year-old woman in North Florida, whose dream was reported to me by her daughter, found a fully above-board solution: “Michelle had divorced Barack because he had become ‘too much of a star.’ He then married my mother, who was oh so proud to be the first lady,” the daughter wrote me.

There was some daydreaming too, much of it a collective fantasy about the still-hot Obama marriage. “Barack and Michelle Obama look like they have sex. They look like they like having sex,” a Los Angeles woman wrote to me, summing up the comments of many. “Often. With each other. These days when the sexless marriage is such a big celebrity in America (and when first couples are icons of rigid propriety), that’s one interesting mental drama.”

The reality of course, is that Michelle Obama is public relations disaster, with a penchant for rubbing luxury in the faces of the have nots (itself attractive to the certain class of Entertainment/Media women) in a deep depression. One constantly making belittling comments about her husband, who is the subject of frequent National Enquirer tabloid headlines alleging gay affairs (and who has suspiciously no prominent woman in his life prior to Michelle). But the glamorous fantasy is important, not the reality, to those in the Entertainment/Media complex.

Matching the White female disdain for boring, beta providers, and the boring, nice-guy behavior that most White men unless rigidly conditioned, fall into as a matter of course, is the sheer stupidity and vast social distance people in the "bubble" exhibit. Rachel Dickens may be cute now (and have a "Curiously familiar hypothetical situation: You’re at a bar with your friends when you spot a guy you recently hooked up with."). But in about fifteen years, she'll be invisible to most men. Who will look past her at the cute twenty something at the Supermarket or Coffee spot. At that point, she'll have nothing to offer a prospective jerk.

Just as clearly, most of the country dislikes the Obamas (and Michelle is at least as unpopular due to Marie Antoinette as a role model as her husband) and finds a fantasy of wealth and power and fabulous spending in Paris to be un-connected to their lives. Nor are Whites, hard-pressed economically, told they are being replaced as the majority race, and less "valuable" finding enough space and comfort to embrace non-White TV leads as clearly they did in the past. Fred G. Sanford was embraced thoroughly by White America, only a few short years after the Civil Rights struggles and massive urban riots by Blacks. Because America was 83% White in 1970, and Whites had little fear of demographic replacement. Besides, Red Foxx was funny. Today, as Harvard University Professor Robert Putnam found, demographic weakness provokes "hunkering down" and distrust not only across racial lines but within them. Creating behavior like a "turtle."

The more Whites are displaced by non-Whites in neighborhoods, states (California will soon by majority non-White), and indeed America, the far less willing will White Audiences be to embrace non-Whites. Meanwhile Blacks remain at about 12.5% of the population, and Black and Middle Class describes about 5% of the population, given that 60% of the Black population is urban core or ghetto. Hispanics live in their own, separate and parallel cultural universe, in Univison and Telemundo.

Like "Outsourced," the feel-good NBC comedy about an Ohio novelty company that shuts down its help desk in the US and sends the jobs to India (no, I'm not kidding), "Undercovers" is doomed to failure. Stupidity (and a vast, social distance from ordinary people's lives by the denizens of Malibu, or Bel Air, or the Upper East Side) plays a part in it, matched by "bubble" disdain for boring beta White guys.

With NBC's sale to Comcast, the back-stop of bubble stupidity may soon cease. Unlike GE, Comcast has more limited financial resources, and customers wanting to dump Comcast for whatever reason can do so easily (as opposed to say, boycotting GE's power turbine business in China). Hulu, or Direct TV, provide acceptable alternatives to cable. Meanwhile the constant repetition of the "noble lie" (ala Plato's Republic) of Blacks as dutiful, middle class consumers in commercial after commercial, is annoying. Given that Whites are acutely aware that only 5% of the nation is both Black and middle class.

Too many White people? Not enough. No matter how beta-boring most White guys are to women, and how much of the "bubble" stupid entertainment people live in, eventually the real world comes calling. It will be fascinating to see how many people line up for "the Starlet" and tales of Hollywood "glamour" when TMZ provides real-life tales of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton "glamour" for free.

And perhaps, ordinary White guys will get the message. Start acting like the jerks White women want them to be. So "White guy" is not automatically equated as "worthless, boring, nice." To make White women act like Asian, or Hispanic, or Black women regarding their valuation of their own men of their own race, White men need to act more like them. Embrace their inner jerk. The most valuable role models around are men like Roissy, or Tucker Max, or even Mystery. Giving women what they want, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, good and hard. Everyone would probably be happier.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

How Assimilation Fails: Jessica Alba And A Nation of Dortmunders

No one has has more money and fame thrown at her by White fans than Jessica Alba. The daughter of a White mother, Alba herself could as easily be defined as White or Anglo, and has played roles in which her character was indeed, Anglo (Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four movies). Alba's success is entirely predicated on her appeal to White fans in the US. Yet recently, Alba has called Arizona's new immigration law, requiring police to forward to ICE, people who they reasonably suspect might be illegal aliens (while forbidding racial profiling) racist and foolish. This points out the utter futility of the dream of assimilation. Even those with money and fame and fortune, identify with people who are non-White and non-citizens, over their fellow Americans.

If Jessica Alba won't pick the side of her own country, assimilation is an utter failure.

Alba famously plays an ICE agent who rejects enforcing immigration law because it is "racist" in "Machete" and stands up shouting to illegal aliens "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us." Which in turn is the standard slogan for Reconquista folks saying that the US has no right to its territory, and that they are here to take over (and make the US part of Mexico, ruled by Mexicans, with Whites either "going back to Europe" or being officially second class citizens).

Much like Donald E. Westlake's character John Dortmunder, much of the White population must be puzzling, "What's in it for me?" OK, illegal aliens are here to take over. What's in it for me, again? The answer of course, is not much, and that Alba would see no risk in antagonizing her own White fan-base (Mexicans don't go to see her movies, they are not in Spanish) speaks volumes about both assimilation and the movie business. Alba rather than being invested in America's success, and wanting more millions from her White fanbase (her talent is questionable at best and her sex appeal fading as she ages and after motherhood), Alba's money and fame and power leave her free to opine on what's on her mind:

She tells Britain's Daily Record, "It's always been a relevant issue, for me and for Robert, because we grew up with that reality and it just happened to be that a state did something really, really foolish and passed a very racist, foolish law... There's no way we can change it if we all just sit back and do nothing, so it's about engaging and getting people to stand up for their rights."

Assimilation does not work. If it cannot work for Jessica Alba (the picture to the right is Alba, her daughter, and husband), or Robert Rodriguez, for that matter, it cannot work at all. People will always choose, the larger, and more aggressive ethnic and national identity. Even if they have a direct stake (more millions) in making the opposite choice.

Alba's choice, so very public, is likely to provoke opposite choices by the White population. Will a White tax payer base, fund education, welfare, and other social spending benefiting the illegal aliens who claim they didn't cross the border, the border crossed them? That they are here to take over? That Whites should "go back to Europe?" Even Absolute Vodka believes America is "stolen land" to be given back to Mexico. Again, what's in that for me?

Malkin points out the Mexico City-based firm that created the ad, Teran, says its philosophy is advocating "disruption" as a "tool for change" and "agent of growth." The firm encourages "overturning assumptions and prejudices that get in the way of imagining new possibilities and visionary ideas that help create a larger share of the future."

In 2002, a prominent Chicano activist and University of California at Riverside professor, Armando Navarro, told WND he believed secession is inevitable if demographic and social trends continue.

"If in 50 years most of our people are subordinated, powerless, exploited and impoverished, then I will say to you that there are all kinds of possibilities for movements to develop like the ones that we've witnessed in the last few years all over the world, from Yugoslavia to Chechnya," Navarro said.

"A secessionist movement is not something that you can put away and say it is never going to happen in the United States," he contended. "Time and history change."

Essentially, this is the choice being pushed by Alba. Who, all in all, would prefer to live in Mexico than the US.

"You're White, you don't belong here. Go back to Europe. This is Mexican land."

Alba may be prettier. But she espouses the same belief. Whites don't belong here. And if you don't agree you're a "racist." Its like Greg Gutfield's signature line.

Now, the elites and their allies (Jessica Alba, Robert Rodriguez, the woman above in the Brown Beret) might get their way. They have command of the Presidency, likely the Senate, the university system, the non profits and charities. The Bill Gates Foundation, for example, does not provide scholarship for White kids, only non-Whites. White kids need not apply. The media, Hollywood, TV, advertising, all support Reconquista one way or another. So we might see a permanent inclusion of million of illegal aliens, in a post-election general Amnesty. An extended middle finger by Obama to the (current) White majority, applauded by Jessica Alba.

But this action will only intensify the failures of assimilation. Mexicans here, legally or not (Alba's father is a citizen of the US) do not assimilate. Neither do their kids, no matter how much money and fame and fortune are showered upon them and their own interest aligns in favor of assimilation.

Which leaves the White population asking, "What's in it for me?"

Now, Dortmunder is an amusing character to read about, in a comic novel. But a society of Dortmunders is primed for failure. Assimilation has already failed and unless mass action of expulsion of illegals (and anchor babies) is undertaken, demographics alone guarantee a Reconquista. The woman in the Brown Beret is aggressive and revealing because she has already won. But nothing happens in a vacuum. Dortmunder never leaves New York. He's always there, and always the same age, over forty years. But he only does things for money, or petty revenge. He doesn't operate under patriotism, or duty, or honor. His family crest is "Quid lucrum istic mihi est?" A crest which he stole.

A nation of Dortmunders is a guarantee of collapse. Late Rome consisted of Dortmunders, so too Yeltsin's and Putin's Russia. Dortmunders don't pay taxes. They don't work at jobs, building roads, or doing the "dirty jobs" Mike Rowe is famous for publicizing. They don't clean sewers, or build new ones, lay down gas lines (or fix them before they blow up). Dortmunders are good at getting into places and getting out of them, but not building new power station. Or providing first class medical service.

And this is just where we are headed. The danger of White America is not a resurgence of the Klan, or neo-Nazis, or "White Power," or other faded fantasies of fake menaces beloved by the Left. It is a Dortmunder-esque shrug of the shoulders, and asking Quid lucrum istic mihi est?

That is the true lesson of the failure of assimilation. It provokes its own matching failure, among the White population. Replicating Mexico's failure into America. Nothing more or less. White America won't even work and pay taxes, much less fight or die, for the folks in the Brown Berets. Even if they look like Jessica Alba.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Advertising: Get the Man Out!

Advertising forms the basis for much of what is deemed mainstream and acceptable culture in Western society. Advertising is everywhere, all the time. Drive down the road and you'll see billboards. Listen to the radio and you'll hear ads. Watch TV and you'll see ads. Mostly what the ads push is a new model of male behavior and identity. Which is, gay or asexual to the point of androgynous idiocy. The message being that traditional masculine behavior is threatening.

While the ad may serve as a parodic insight into what most of the SWPL class view the world, an "unthreatening place," where natural instincts are obliterated by the power of SWPL-ism, pay attention to the singer (and the song). Lost is any real musical power, any sense of the natural world. The beat is a drum machine, tinny sounding and as natural as artificial sweetener. The singer has all the masculine presence of a ten year old boy. Because, again, traditional men, just by existing, are threatening.

Then of course, there is the ATT commercial:

Apparently, ATT wants to put a giant orange burqua over every single building and monument (and even the sea-shore) in anticipation of Islam being the official religion of the US. In a tribute to Christo, famous for, well wrapping large buildings in what amounts to a burqua. Pre-emptive artistic surrender.

The music is of course, so devoid of any masculine identity as to be totally "unthreatening," and is the work of the late recording artist Nick Drake, a very sad case. Described by a friend as "the most withdrawn person he'd ever met, Drake had reportedly no sexual or romantic relationships in his life.

While his work has been cited by many as the inspiration for their own (much like the quip about the Velvet Underground, they sold only a few thousand records but everyone who bought a record started their own band), including R.E.M. and the Cure, the question is, why did the producers of this commercial choose this particular recording by this particular artist?

Because the song is so devoid of identity that it signifies, nothing at all. Not even a trace of a desire, to do or be anything, remains in the song or the performance. The commercial is all about a politically correct number of "diverse" and multi-cultural individuals witnessing the the burqua-ization of America, complete with breathy, non-masculine singer who sings about … nothing.

This is not isolated, has a post on "So You Want to be a Dickhead" (very definitely not safe for work). Video below:

Much like the Gay Hipster Fight seen in the video below, traditional masculine behavior seems to have vanished among young urban, middle class men:

Gay or androgynous is apparently, the new mandate for men. Traditional masculine behavior is so absent from advertising that its shocking to compare commmercials from the 1980's. Check out this Miller Lite commercial from 1987 with Yogi Berra and Jason Alexander:

Or this bizarre ad (with John Madden and Sonny Bono):

It would seem that traditional masculine attitudes, behavior, like the 1995 Microsoft Windows 95 launch video:

simply don't apply to today's, hipster-only, masculine models. No one ever accused Mick Jagger of possessing Jessie "the Body" Ventura levels of testosterone, but the song accompanying the video pretty much is the message. Start up Windows 95 and you're full of energy. The song and the singer are about something. Which is, doing something (the video is full of images of people doing things, message, Windows 95 makes you productive).

Advertising is filled with the kind of hipsters (and very, multicultural, diverse people, mostly women and non-Whites) that cannot connect with middle America anymore, and certainly find traditional masculine energy both threatening and slightly obscene. This is why traditional masculine behavior is so absent in commercials, and the mass culture has been defined towards some passive, folky-rock with acoustic guitar, meaningless nothing.

Each individual commercial is of course nothing, but the media culture that is inescapable, from billboards to radio to TV to print to the web, makes the cumulative effect like a series of raindrops forming a river. Eating away at the traditional notions of what culture and cultural roles are, in an attempt to "start from Zero."

Traditional masculinity of course, is threatening. It is independent, resistant to "taming" and won't allow others to dominate it (though it will submit to authority if persuaded its wise). The same holds true of course, for traditional feminine identity, which is not "submissive" or "barefoot and pregnant" and is matchingly independent, but does not seek to dominate either, the other sex, out of fear. From women-inspired "skinny jeans" to figures like Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz maintaining he is "half gay", it is striking at how lacking in masculine assertiveness most of popular culture really is.

And this contains within it, a possibly fatal weakness for the West. When in time of great crisis, it is absolutely essential for a culture's or nation's survival for men and women to act. Independently, and aggressively if required. Not the breathy, passiveness of "look see the sights" but with the energy of "Start Me Up." If a hurricane comes, and people are stranded in a city, they need rescuing. A government, be it local, state, or federal, will be hamstrung by procedures and rules and so on, and it takes a Dunkirk-like evacuation to rescue people. The same holds true for war, which has not been abolished, any more than human nature. Or low-level conflict involving crime, ethnic cleansing, or any other ills that beset a now globally connected, constantly changing society. Change bringing stress and conflict along with increased riches.

The lack of being or standing for much of anything other than the message of "I'm Cool and You're Not" is why so many commercials are inexplicable, incomprehensible, and do such a lousy job of selling whatever it is they are selling. ATT promises … a burqua for every building? Traveler's Insurance promises a fantasy land where animals don't eat each other? At least Miller Lite had a message: drink this and you're one of the guys, like the funny male celebrities. It is striking how much power corporations have handed over to advertising agencies run by disconnected hipsters. The only rational explanation is that corporate executives are too, disconnected and stand for nothing. As children of the 1960's and 1970's, who had their formative years in the mid to late 1980's to early 1990's wave of political correctness, have the masculine or feminine identities knocked out of them. Being "half gay" or the like.

This is why it is essential to change the advertising environment. There is just so much of it, and the messages about what is approved and what is not (in: gay hipsterism, out: traditional masculinity) so powerful by simple repetition, that deep cultural change can only come about by changing how ads are made and distributed.

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