Archive for the ‘Angry Old Man’ Category

Is Playboy Trying to Pull a New Coke?

October 21, 2015

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Playboy is removing nudity from their print publication, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. Maybe I hate change. Perhaps I think icons should be icons. Or maybe, I just really like boobs.

Rationally, it makes sense for the bottom line. When Playboy removed nudity from their web presence, their traffic increased by more than 200% as their readers could now view and forward their articles without the question of what’s tasteful (or allowed at work.) Removing the nude centerfold in the print publication would allow them to remove age restrictions, and the simple taboo of reading it in public.

On paper, it seems like the best move, and one I’m sure many branding and advertising consultants stand by.

This may help with a temporary increase in readers, but it won’t save the magazine. To survive in a world where print is fast becoming as endangered as a condor, they need to remember what made them great in the first place. It’s something they lost back in the early 80’s when Hugh Hefner stopped wearing clothes, and decided the magazine needed to compete with the more pornographic counterparts of Penthouse and Hustler.

In an interview with the Times, Playboy CEO Scott Flanders said, “That battle has been fought and won… you’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free.” I cannot disparage this fact (just look at my browser history). But Playboy wasn’t about that when they began. Sure, they have always celebrated a sex-positive mentality, but it was originally less about objectification and more about breaking cultural taboos.

What made Playboy great was the idea that you could talk about culture, the political landscape, (which didn’t always fall under correctness) civil rights, society at large, AND sexuality. In some respects, it helped reshape certain ideals of masculinity left over from the older generation. The models were either elusive celebrities showing a far more intimate side of themselves, or simply the girl next store. More importantly, it was a small part of a much larger narrative.

Playboy not only had it’s finger on the pulse of the world, it chose the rhythm. It became a melting pot of famed authors, civil rights leaders and a sophisticated culture just on the cusp of creature comfort. It was stylish, intelligent and most importantly, relevant. The joke about reading Playboy for the articles exists because there used to be articles worth reading. Interviews with Martin Luther King Jr, fiction by Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut and articles penned by Shel Silverstein sat next to reviews of the newest technology, music, fashion and yes, beautiful nekkid ladies.

It’s less about not seeing boobs, and more about Playboy folding into the type of magazine that inspired them to make something different in the first place.

If they want to survive they need to return to the social narrative they helped create. Just as they had previously, Playboy needs to reclaim sexuality, and censoring their content will not achieve this. Don’t remove nudity, just redefine what nudity is.

Nudity is more than silicon valleys with rivers of saline. It extends beyond tentacle porn and easily searchable gang bangs with naughty MILFs. We live in a world where one’s definition of beauty is not a single, uniform vision, and playboy could help push the idea back to the forefront. Lose the photoshop and airbrushing, celebrate a variety of body types and for god’s sake, free the nipple.

Most importantly, give us articles worth reading.

Now, perhaps, this is merely a modern variation of the New Coke strategy. Make a big deal out of changing the recipe and celebrate the free press and attention. Then, wait for the public outcry before returning to Playboy Classic, thus garnering even more free publicity and a boost in subscriptions. But they don’t seem that smart, at least not any more.

So, congratulations Playboy. You are now Maxim Magazine.

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An Open Letter to Syfy Channel…

November 19, 2009

Ahem.

Do you think we’re stupid?

Sure, history has reduced the general populace of sci-fi fans to a cliche—portrayed as eternal virgins, living in their parents’ basement, leaving a residue of Cheeto’s dust in their wake as they type away on their Alienware computers, arguing about which Dr. Who was the best.

True or not, science fiction fans have never been thought of as stupid.

In fact, odds are, most of them are smarter than the rest of us.

They know how to read.

So why? Why are you dumbing yourself down?

You’re supposed to be better than that.

I know, I know…it isn’t just you—this isn’t completely your fault.

Texting has destroyed the English language far worse than you. It’s true. Not even a QWERTY keyboard can save our lexicon from the clammy grasp of lazy tweens who don’t feel like spelling.

But you’re not helping.

Television has a history of letting idiots make the decisions. Just look at HBO.

Look at some of the reality shows airing on any given channel, any given night.

Why feed the general populace’s complacency? Why not challenge us?

Catering to the lowest common denominator forces the rest of us to regress. We’re being dumbed down because you’re too lazy to lead by example.

You say it’s (re)branding—marketing.

According to your channel’s President, Dave Howe:

“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it. It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.”

When a 40-something uses words like “cutting-edge” and “hip” it’s a sure sign that it is anything but.

Remember when Jack in the Box attempted their own ill-fated (re)branding campaign? Remember Monterey Jack’s?

Or Coca-Cola’s feeble attempt at (re)branding and progress by way of New Coke?

Howe also said:

“We’ve done a huge amount of research over the years about changing our name, and we knew that not everyone would welcome it. But we believe our new name, Syfy, gives us the best of both worlds. It builds off of our heritage but still creates a unique and ownable brand name that we can use to separate our shows from everyone else’s and opens our brand to new viewers. We think the long-term effect will be game-changing.”

Game changing? Quite possibly.

Have you ever seen Idiocracy?

On the surface, it’s just a low-brow comedy, rife with fart jokes and fraternity humor.

But it’s more than that.

Mike Judge had himself a Nostradamus moment. His vision of a society dumbed down to near extinction is slowly coming to be.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

…And you. You are helping fulfill his prophecy.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Jack is back in the box, and Coke is classic again.

It’s not too late.

Saint Sicko

November 12, 2009

angryIt’s any random Tuesday morning, and you’re sick.

But you’re a trooper. You’re dedicated to your job.

So you bite the bullet and go to work, feeling like crap. Complete and utter crap. You sit at your desk, in your open cubicle inside an office with windows that never open, breathing recycled air—coughing, sneezing and sniffling.

But you’re a dedicated worker. You want your coworkers to know the sacrifice you’ve made to keep the corporate machine oiled and running. So you cough a little louder, blow your nose a little more often. You remind everyone that you feel like crap, but you’re not going to let that affect your work…

Guess what?

You are neither a martyr nor a saint when you come to work sick. You are nothing more than a liability to everyone around you.

It’s a precarious time to celebrate the common cold—the news outlets have the world believing that every time you cough you’re one step closer to the grave. Every sneeze is a sign that the H1N1 is upon us.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Go to Facebook and every other status update is about how someone fears their child has the swine flu when in reality, it’s the beginning of cold season.

People so desperately want to be a part of whatever’s popular, even if it’s a global pandemic. They just want to be included.

But this isn’t about the general populace’s susceptibility to fads. I could wax poetic for days about Reality TV and iPhones, but that is an angry rant in and of itself.

No, this is about common courtesy.

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Swine Flu or not, if you’re sick stay home. Period. I don’t care how many vacation days you have left or why you’re saving them. I don’t give a damn about your deadlines.

Selfish as it may seem, all I care about is my own well being.

If you’re sick stay home.

Don’t breathe on me, don’t touch the bathroom door handle, don’t grace me with your presence in the lunch room. Just. Go. Home.

Take a bath, lay on the couch in your comfy clothes eating luke warm soup watching Judge Judy—I don’t care. Your deadlines will still be there in a few days. The world does not stop turning when you stay home.

But mine just might if you don’t.

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An Open Letter to HBO

September 13, 2009

Dear HBO:

Ahem.

Few, if any shows have been able to achieve such an extraordinarily high level of depth within its characters. Fewer still have risen above the shallow, surface layer at which most characters lay amicably; never once challenging itself to push forward past the boundaries of the predictable—running its course as little more than a name, insulting what we really want.

Insulting what we truly need for our idle moments, whether we know it or not.

Ours is a landscape of mind numbing predictability. A broken idea of serving the lowest common denominator, forcing the rest of us to regress with no other options available. Forcing us to take sad refuge in the status quo, the only choice we’re given.

In short, while there are many shows, both scripted and naught, very few have risen to the truest acquaintance of greatness.

Deadwood did.
ringsAs if Shakespeare had fathered a bastard son, left to claw its way out of the mud, Deadwood was a show covered in filth yet standing beautiful underneath, speaking true poetry and challenging our understanding of the human condition. It gave us a machiavellian glimpse into the mirror and forced us to see the world for what it was, while subtly reminding us of what it is today.

Left as real and foreign to the normal disposition of understanding as if we were dropped blindly into the past itself, this show forced us to experience something new and different—and sometimes outside the realm of what’s comfortable.

It pushed the boundaries of what television can be; a subtle and refined work of art.

And though lauded by many, and followed devoutly, you saw fit to slap us collectively across our faces, leaving us wondering why, our cheek still burning to this day.

Deadwood produced a harsh yet not altogether unbeautiful look into the annals of what truly drives us as human beings. Cerebral and visceral at once, not unlike a life lived full, it encapsulated man in its truest, sometimes ugliest forms, but with a beautiful voice to guide us through and remind us what it means to be alive.

That it was never given the dignity of a proper ending shows how little respect you have both for we, the people, and the virtues of art itself. That you would abscond with something so cherished shows a true contempt for those that butter your bread and fill your cups.

And for that, like many others, I refuse to support what’s left of you and yours, having proved how little consideration you have for your audience—having sold your soul to something so ugly.
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So give us back our show, you dirt worshippin’ hoople-heads, lest you fall victim to the fury of scorned abandonment from those both loyal and new. Unseasoned and fresh, tried and true.

The Reluctant Twitt…(er)

August 31, 2009

angry

I love the written word—the language. I love reading it, and I love writing it. Very little ranks higher than the smell of a book, new or old. It’s the smell of something greater than its binding.

As a writer, I am disgusted by some of the evolutions in media. Primarily, Twitter. Twitter is destroying us. It’s destroying our culture, and perhaps our final semblance of genuine thought and intellect.

We’re being reduced to abbreviations and phonetics—reduced to 140 characters. Twitter does nothing but promote a short attention span and fascination with the mundane and irrelevant.

But.

87% of my waking hours are spent entrenched in the consumer warfare that is advertising, promotion and marketing. This means that, love it or not, I have to hold mastery over all the new media—I must keep up with the Jones. It’s integral to my survival as a professional.

I remember when I first started working in advertising.

It was a weird moment in the industry, as a torch was reluctantly passed from the old generation to the new. I had a computer on my desk, they had markers and pens. They all found themselves packing a box and being escorted to the door by security sooner than later, grumbling angrily about how times were changing for the worse.

They didn’t adapt.

So what does this mean?

It means that I’m a Twit. I tweet.

Sigh.

The author in me needs a shower.

Aint No Right: the Verdict is In…

July 2, 2009

angry

I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of karmic justice, the older I’ve grown. I’m not a pessimist–but I know what’s happening (most of the time)…

Let’s face it, good is rarely rewarded. Hard work doesn’t pay off too frequently. Look at the facts:

Rush Limbaugh is rich, popular and successful…that alone proves that there’s no karmic justice in this world…but that’s just one example. Barry Bonds still holds the home run record, asterisk or not…The Octo-Mom is getting her own TV show, and the media will continue to enable all that’s wrong in this world…Bush gets to retire with no scrutiny of his wrong-doings…

Rarely is the world fair.

I mean for the love of god….They’re remaking the cult-classic film, the Warriors…Seriously.

Today, however, my faith was restored a little.

Salinger won’t be coldplayed…not today.

This morning, as I sorted through the headlines of the day, I noticed a big one; it just jumped off the screen and did a little metaphorical happy-dance before my weary eyes…

60 Years Later Blocked: Judge Says No to Salinger Spinoff

From Larry Nuemeister via the AP:

NEW YORK — A Swedish author whose new book was promoted as a sequel to J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” cannot publish it in the United States because it too closely mirrors Salinger’s classic without adequate parody or critique, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Swedish author Fredrik Colting tried every avenue of argument and defense, claiming it was:

  1. A critical examination of Salinger’s most famous character, Holden Caulfield (U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts shot that claim down as “problematic and lacking in credibility.”)
  2. The depiction of a character in Colting’s book representing Caulfield 60 years later was a parody. (To this she said She said that Colting and his publishers made no indication before the lawsuit was filed that the book was meant as a parody or critique of Salinger’s work.)

She went on to say, “Quite to the contrary, the original jacket of ’60 Years’ states that it is ‘… a marvelous sequel to one of our most beloved classics. It is simply not credible for defendant Colting to assert now that this primary purpose was to critique Salinger and his persona.”

So there it is…Salinger’s classic character, a character as big as American youth and angst, has been protected.

We’re lucky he was still alive to challenge the publication…had he not defended his work himself, I doubt the ruling would be the same…

Sadly, Mark Twain wasn’t around to do the same. I have no doubt he’s spinning in his grave at every turn of the page of the atrocities of such writers as Lee Nelson, Greg Matthews and Jon Clinch

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Ain’t No Right: an Update…

June 3, 2009

angry

Last month I climbed up on my soapbox to wax angrily about lazy authors hacks who make sequels to other author’s books, or as I like to say, coldplayed great literature…

The rant was set off by an article I read about some schmuck who wrote a sequel to Catcher in the Rye, taking hostage one of the literary world’s great flawed heroes

I was livid about this, as were many a writer, critic and every day joe…

Apparently, so was Salinger…from Thomas Zambito of the NY Daily News:

There’s only one “Catcher.”

Reclusive author J.D. Salinger has sued to block publication of a new novel billed as a sequel to his classic tale of teenage angst, “The Catcher in the Rye.”

Salinger yesterday sued the publishers of “60Years Later: Coming Through the Rye” in Manhattan Federal Court for infringing his copyright for the novel as well as the main character, Holden Caufield.

The book by an anonymous author, who calls himself “J.D. California,” finds Caufield at a retirement home in upstate New York, according to the lawsuit.

“It is a ripoff pure and simple,” the suit claims.

Salinger, 90, has never written a sequel to his 1951 classic.

I’ll update this curious event as it unfolds…

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Ain’t No Right

May 19, 2009

angry

The world has gotten so lazy…So regrettably devoid of new ideas…

It would seem everyone is going for the fast, easy buck. The insta-celeb mentality has taken over pretty much every vocation from here to eternity.

I’m most troubled by the writers. We’re supposed to be the creative ones—the minds above the masses…We’re supposed to be part of the cultural compass, not mere navigators in the water.

Yet here, in this the most noble of creative paths, laziness and formula win out, just as reality shows topple over the sitcoms like a juggernaut wired on redbulls and meth.

And I’m not talking about those mind numbing series of children’s books about angst ridden teen vampires and snotty British wizards that far too many adults are reading in lieu of adult fiction…

It’s the remakes and unauthorized sequels…

Let’s start with television…that evil box that constantly calls to me from the other room with promises of mind numbing déjà vu.

I should have followed Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s advice and killed my television, but instead I have to fall witness to the new 90210

Didn’t anyone learn from Saved By the Bell: the Next Class? I hear they’re remaking Melrose Place, next.

They weren’t that great the first time around, why would they be any better this time? Come on SAG writers…you’re better than this…make something up…be creative…or quit your day job so better people can step in.

Then there are the movies. These writers gave up a long, long time ago, remaking anything and everything…Psycho was a mess and I’m still pissed off about Planet of the Apes. So help me god, if they remake the Warriors, someone’s ass will be kicked.

But what really troubles me, more than the movie and television hacks, are the authors who are following this horrible and disturbing trend…

Stop making sequels to other people’s books. Hijacking an author’s characters is like kidnapping their child and doing inappropriate things to them. This is someone’s creation, and to feel you have the right to decide someone else’s character’s fate is a little self centered…

Let’s start with some of the worst offenders, Lee Nelson, Greg Matthews and Jon Clinch, each of whom saw fit to jump on perhaps the most famed, revered and iconic American author in the history of time’s coat tails—Mark Twain.

First and foremost, there’s Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians…this book was started by Twain, but never finished before his death. So Lee Nelson decides he has the right to do it for him. It’s horrible, and wrong. The worst offense being the ultimate fates left for Tom, Huck and Jim…

Mark Twain would have never written anything that is so clearly intended to promote the Mormon agenda. He had nothing but disdain for the Latter Day Saints (LDS)…they were the Scientologists of their time… And Nelson has Tom Sawyer converting to Mormonism because it’s the “first religious book that he’s read that’s made sense.”

That alone is blasphemous enough to prove my point. Nelson did the exact opposite of what Twain would have wanted…

 

And then there’s The Further Adventures of Huck Finn, by Greg Matthews…because Greg, like Nelson, apparently, was incapable of coming up with his own characters, latching on, instead, to someone else’s already popular body of work.


And then, of course, there’s the widely celebrated novel Finn, by Jon Clinch. Again, the author hijacks one of Twain’s characters, and develops him as he sees fit…


Now, I’m not opposed to sequels, per se, if they’re written by the original author…I loved the Graduate, by Charles Webb


The sequel, Home School, isn’t quite the same lofty accomplishment, but it’s Mr. Webb’s choice, and right to revisit those characters…they’re his creation.

And there’s the recent phenom, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Graham-Smith…hey, let’s take a classic, then add zombies…people like zombies…zombies are cool, right? Shawn of the Dead was successful, right? World War Z sold well…

I have to cry bullshit. Smith is an opportunist, at best, though more likely, just a talentless hack…

And then today, I read this little gem in the Guardian UK:

Catcher in the Rye sequel published, but not by Salinger
Holden Caulfield returns
in an unauthorized sequel by debut novelist

Salinger isn’t even dead, and some douchebag asshole writer hack named John David California has written a book called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye

This is so wrong on so many levels…Who is he to decide what happened to an icon for the dissatisfied youth?

Stuart Evers puts it best, in this piece, also via the Guardian…

60 Years Later Coming Through the Rye might be brilliant. It could be that missing Salinger novel that so many people have craved. Or it might be a flimsy, cheap, attention-seeking piece of opportunistic schlock clinging with whitened knuckles to the coattails of literary greatness. Either way – and I think we’ve all got a pretty good idea of how it’s likely to turn out – I think Holden would appreciate the irony of there now being a phoney Caulfield in the literary universe …

 

Okay, I’ll quit my ranting now…