Friday, April 30, 2010

Seinfeld Recut Becomes George

This type of thing has been making the rounds on the internet lately, so let's take a closer look. I'm talking, of course, about re-editing movies or TV series to display trailer-length genre-change. So take, for example, The Shining as a romantic comedy:

Or, the hot-off-the-presses Seinfeld recut as a sappy drama:

Mashups and reinterpretations are nothing new. They're been done just about to death in everything from music to literature. And besides for the differing skill levels on display--Girl Talk, for instance, is way better than just about anyone else doing music mashups--I think the interesting aspect of this phenomenon is no longer the concept but rather the effect. By this I mean, nearly two million people have watched the romantic comedy version of The Shining in the past 3.5 years. How many people have seen the original The Shining in that time frame? Is it greater or fewer than the number of people who've seen the re-edit? I only saw The Shining for the first time last winter (on the big screen, at a midnight showing, which was very cool) only about twelve years after first learning the basic storyline on The Simpsons. I guess I'm mostly curious about how culture--popular, in particular--spreads. These types of remixes require a basic level of knowledge. But I wonder, if the fracturing of culture is really happening in the way that some claim, if this collective memory and knowledge will allow for mashups.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where Publishing Is Going

As someone who hopes the publishing industry survives long enough for me to carve out a career in it, I'm reading Mike Shatzkin's four-part series on where the industry will end up--with separate entries envisioning that place in both a few years time and in twenty years--with rapt attention. I'm not sure that I have much of substance to add at this point--and it might be wise to reserve statement until parts three and four are posted--but I'm thinking a bunch about the points Shatzkin makes in the following paragraphs:

The change for publishers, though, is far more profound than a simple change in delivery mechanism would suggest. Publishers, indeed all commercial media in our lifetime, have been defined primarily by format. Some do books; some do magazines; some do newspapers. Others called producers do movies or television or radio. The capital and skill set requirements for a format effectively channeled the media company. For the most part, big media was not topic- or subject-specific; it was format-specific.

But when the exchange between publisher and content consumer becomes a file, rather than a book or magazine or movie or TV show, then format becomes irrelevant. A file can hold any of the formats we have historically thought of: text, photographs, diagrams, maps, video, audio. A file can also hold games and productivity software. So the publisher that is limited by the formats of the 20th century will not be competitive in the cloud-and-screen based media exchange of the future.


What all of this means, taken together, is that the successful publisher of the year 2030 will own a web community which is both a principal source of content and provides the audience for it. The community will not be content-centric alone; but we aren’t getting into that in more detail right now because sketching out the whole concept for “vortals” is “out of scope” for this exercise.

The publisher who owns “knitting”, or perhaps “knitting sweaters”, will develop and curate the content and control access to the audience just as surely as a major publisher has controlled access to bookstores shelves or a newspaper publisher to newsstand sales in our lifetimes.

If you're wondering why everyone in business these days is obsessed with building communities, well, this is why.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Movie Literacy in Summer 2010

I've spent some time reading the Screen Rant post which introduces the following video, trying to determine what motivated the hours and hours of editing and splicing that it took to piece this thing together. And I couldn't really find anything beyond: I'm totally stoked for all the movies that're coming out this summer.

But yeah, the video:

To me, the more interesting thing here is that these 150 seconds represent, at least in a small way, the total Hollywood's output for Summer 2010. Familiarity with these films marks a not unimpressive level of movie literacy. I'm personally familiar with 14 of the 24 source movies without having seen a single one of them. And I go out of my way to avoid knowing about movies before I go to see them. If nothing else, this spliced trailer represents how successful movie marketing has become. (Assuming, of course, that the goal of marketing is create awareness for products. But that seems like a question best left to a different blog.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Paragraph of the Week

From E.B. White's Here is New York:

A block or two west of the new City of Man in Turtle Bay there is an old willow tree that presides over an interior garden. It is a battered tree, long suffering and much climbed, held together by strands of wire but beloved of those who know it. In a way it symbolizes the city: life under difficulties, growth against odds, sap-rise in the midst of concrete, and the steady reaching for the sun. Whenever I look at it nowadays, and feel the cold shadow of the planes, I think: "This must be be saved, this particular thing, this very tree. If it were to go, all would go--this city, this mischievous and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fake Infomercial Problems

Infomercials face a problem: most of the products sold using this advertising genre aren't really helpful or necessary or good. The only way, then, to convince viewers/consumers to purchase these items is to invent a problem that no one actually suffers from, which the product can then cheerfully solve. It's a trope: if every film noir has a femme fatale, then every infomercial has an invented problem.

Even though I don't love the music choice (I would have gone with the Benny Hill theme) this compilation brings together all of my favorite fake infomercial problems. Watch out for the family that can't seem to flip hamburgers, a personal favorite.

It seems YouTube videos are the new weekly paragraphs.

[via Kottke]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baseball's Fun, Even in the Rain

Jesus, has it really been just about a month since I brought you something besides a weekly paragraph?

That's gonna change, starting with this wonderful example of what happens when college athletes are confronted with the combination of boredom and a wet baseball field:

[via @jeskeets]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Paragraph of the Week

From Wallace Stegner's The American West as Living Space, via Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild:

It should not be denied...that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Paragraph of the Week

From The Daily Snowman:

But I want to focus on one lunch. This lunch consisted of fake sloppy joe meat, fake schwarma meat, and a selection of rolls and wraps. The fake meat wasn’t at all offensive; it was even pretty good, although the sloppy joes basically tasted like tomato sauce. But the decision to serve fake meat just called further attention to the fact that we weren’t eating the real thing. Even though the food tasted fine, the meal failed because the food tried to be something it wasn’t. 

As Passover comes to a conclusion, I think I've done pretty well in avoiding Passover food that pretends to be something other than itself. You know you're in trouble when Matzah replaces four ingredients in the non-Passover recipe.