The place where we are, the valley of the puppets between the vote and the inauguration, is overshadowed by the struggle to save our lives. The vaccines look promising, as does the Trumpster's insistence on playing his games. Somehow we have to live with it on both sides. In the business we are in, the tech industry, broadband has penetrated enough to allow us to survive with a reasonable level of fidelity to the world that COVID cleared.
WarnerMedia's move this week to post all 2021 images on HBO Max and in theaters is both a surrender to reality and a political move to negotiate with the theater owners. Disney, with its theme parks and investments in streaming crescendoing on layoffs and rebuilding, announced a mix of 80% streaming with only 20% theater. Trump's TikTok deadline has already passed and the administration is pretending not to be careful to keep negotiations over a buyout alive. The incoming administration speaks of a working relationship between Biden and McConnell. It's the opposite of reality TV or TV reality.
Newsletters span mainstream and social media and list links that blur the credibility of Wild West publications by unqualified freelancers. Some of these voices play the newsletter sweepstakes and choose to switch from an employee position to their own subscription model. For publications that are partially financed by a paywall, the transition to a newsletter harbors both opportunities and risks. Selling a subscription for a single vote competes with the pooled votes of a paywall publication, ultimately diluting the available funds of potential readers. We see the same dynamic of subscription saturation in the rise of streaming networks.
Another trend, notification-based messaging, is the move to live streaming via social networks. The pandemic has forced many students to work from home through Zoom for interactive sessions mixed with traditional lecture-type webinars. Events normally covered in specialist publications have given way, at least for the time being, to the watch parties driven by influencers and analysts. Podcasts forego subscription and advertising revenue for lead generation and industry loyalty. The 24 hour way of working from anywhere battles for eyelid time with binge viewing, listening and reading.
In addition to the effects of the virus on the audience, the productions themselves face new challenges. The FX series Fargo ceased production in March, as did ABC's Grey's Anatomy. When you see the finished shows, it is fascinating to guess which scenes were filmed in the much harsher autumn conditions. Grey's Anatomy used the pandemic as a plot point, but it took a few shows for the actors to settle in to a more relaxed pace. Pre-pandemic shots from the previous season of the short series lived awkwardly next to the new material to cover the transition story.
Citizen Kane, widely regarded as the best movie Hollywood has ever made, spawned a Netflix production about the scriptwriter, a Herman J. Mankiewicz. The story is presented in black and white with a Kane-like musical cast and the original film's innovations in depth of field photography and low-angle shots, including the ceilings of sets. She uses flashbacks and time leaps to great effect. The streaming corresponds to the MGM slogan from the time: All stars in the sky. Director David Fincher tells the New York Times how he exceeded the pixel count by 20% so he could post-process and polish the rough edges and camera shake to accurately reflect the complicated vision of his cinematic universe.
40 years ago this week, John Lennon was murdered by a troubled fan. I was watching football Monday night when Howard Cosell broke on the news. What was left of my childhood disappeared in that moment. I was newly divorced, struggling to maintain my momentum, had no idea what our world was going to be, and felt sad about someone I had never met. The Beatles were that magical machine, a coalition of the group's fleeting imperfection and the unified perfection of what they had achieved.
The days pass. The vaccination trolleys are rolling. The Supreme Court denies another desperate move to overthrow the will of the people. Nobody told me there would be days like this. Strange days indeed.
The Gillmor Gang – Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live on Friday December 4th, 2020.
Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor
@radice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang
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