The ever-accelerating pace of everything.
While I usually use the term 'ever-accelerating' directly in reference to emerging computer technologies, and in some cases to spirited highway jaunts in the SHO, this time I'm applying it in a broader sense to the general access to technology by anyone living above the poverty line in the United States, and its effect on the entertainment industry.
National renown was once the playground of Hollywood's elite and radio's darlings. A-list celebrities*. Movie stars and rock stars. Then a host of heiresses, heirs, self-made billionaires, and other rich bastards joined the ranks. B-list celebrities**. Fame based upon purchasing power, fueled by tabloids looking for new targets after what I can only assume was a drought in royal-family melodrama. They made it into the domain of water-cooler talk and dinner conversation in households across America.
Simultaneously, a phenomenon caught on in television that spurred the growth of yet another breed of celebrity: the reality-show participant. They took the lowly game-show contestant and found a way to inflate his image beyond sub-culture recognition and into a whole new territory. The recipe: Take ten average people, throw them into an oddball competitive scenario, film it from thirty angles and find a past-his-prime Hollywoodster to provide voiceovers and perform general hosting duties (thus seeding the whole operation with a *little* popularity), then hyper-edit the whole thing and run it through a few spin cycles of the entertainment industry corporate dryer. Throw in a once-in-a-lifetime prize package at the end, and what do you have? A planned and engineered card-carrying celebrity superstar. Made of the same stuff you and I are made of. But they get all the in-the-clique perks plus free towing within a hundred miles.
Now, unless you've been living under a rock that doesn't have digital cable, none of this is news to you. Maybe the next topic isn't either, but its significance has only recently reached my awareness, and I am compelled to speak on it. There is a new paradigm shift in the works.
Well-known services like Google Video and YouTube, and some lesser-known-but-I'm-compelled-to-mention-them-because-I'm-friends-with-the-guy-who-runs-them websites like Vimeo allow free subscribers to post video clips of anything they want, viewable by anyone with an internet. What's remarkable is how quickly this has taken off.
All it takes is a bit of luck, a bit of stage presence, the ability to discern the fickle tastes and desires of the internet population, and a webcam, and you can lip-synch to T.A.T.U. in your bedroom to an innumerable audience. Seriously, this phenomenon has spawned an entire demographic of E-List celebrities*** who are, as we speak, on the cusp of becoming household names.
They have the potential to be as big as the Kelly Clarksons and Richard Hatches of yester-season. But here is the critical difference: everyone before this point had the help of some powerful, largely funded enterprise pushing them into the limelight. But from here on out, Jane and Joe Schmo, with the help of the internet, can reach an audience of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, by themselves.
Some notable internet celebrities:
(1) The sheltered hottie, and YouTube's heroine (though almost certainly a fake... a corporate-sponsored ploy getting ready to spring some kind of viral marketing wave; honestly the best counter-argument to the argument I'm presenting in this post), Bree, better known as lonelygirl15.
(2) The elusive ninja known only as 'the ninja', from Ask a Ninja.
Well, really, that's all.
Still, it's a start.
Granted, the viewing audience at present consists primarily of preadolescent boys with no social skills... but consider this: that's who used to dominate all the internet dating sites in the late '90s, and today everyone's doing it, ugly, beautiful, shy, popular, young, old. Everyone is doing today what only the nerds were doing yesterday. The same thing's going to happen with the YouTube revolution. In five years, every single one of the collective you reading this blog will have your own free internet TV show, for lack of a better term. As will I have mine. The difference is, people will be watching yours. Such is the way of the ever-accelerating pace of the entertainment industry.
Now, if only I could manage the ever-accelerating pace of blogging in the meantime...
*You know... A, for 'actual'.
**You know... B, for 'billionaire'.
***You know... E, for 'internet'.
Monday, August 28, 2006
The ever-accelerating pace of everything.