Monday, June 11, 2007

Media Manipulation 101

Subtlety, I have learned, is lost on people. Generally, if you are trying to tell someone something and want to be subtle so you won't hurt their feelings, you may as well not bother, because they won't pick it up. Equally lost is subtlety in artistic expression, because it requires deep thought and analysis, two characteristics missing from the mind of modern man.
I have been listening to people on the radio and TV discussing the last episode of The Sopranos for most of the day, and I can assure you that whatever David Chase was trying to accomplish was lost somehow in the artistic translation. Mostly, folks are puzzled about the ending, and many people called their local cable operator complaining about losing their signal when the screen went blank at the end. In this case, their reaction to subtle artistic expression was confusion followed by a complaint.
I for one, don't know what all the fuss is about. I don't subscribe to HBO, have never seen The Sopranos, don't know anyone who watches it and am having a hard time figuring out what all the fuss is about, if there is any actual fuss.
What I'm hearing is coming mostly from media sources who may or may not be owned by Time Warner, the parent company of HBO. Interestingly, the chief rival to The Sopranos final episode was the NBA finals on TNT, who are also owned by Time Warner. Leading up to Sunday, questions were raised over the timing of the two events, but in the final analysis, why would either of them care?
Approximately 8 million people watch The Sopranos every week, with possibly a few more watching on their cable system's On Demand or other delay system. Eight million viewers is low enough to get a show cancelled if it is on "free" TV, and is probably less than was watching The Class or any number of other shows that were axed over the summer - most of which may be better than The Sopranos.
You see, I really don't know how good or bad The Sopranos is, because the people telling me about the show may be working for a subsidiary of HBO's parent company, either in print, radio or TV. With the advent of this parent/child media relationship that goes on - consider the Disney Company family tree and you will find yourself wondering whether something is really popular or made to seem popular by the company that is producing it, under the guise of independent opinion. Here's the key to the issue: Sometimes, we can like something because we are told we like it. We were told the final Sopranos episode was the TV Event of the Year, so we believed it.
Questioning things like that make the questioner look cynical and the person being questioned appear disingenuous - either or both of which may be true. However, you do need to question these things, and ask yourself if you are really out of touch or just the victim of a clever marketing scheme dreamed up by people so far down the corporate food chain that you would never see it coming.
Which is why it is a perfect marketing scheme. Media is controlled by maybe six or seven different large companies and they spread themselves into print (newspapers and magazines), video (Network TV, local TV, movies and DVD) and radio and the parent uses the children to subversively infiltrate the public by appearing to represent opinion, when in fact, they are representing themselves. It's perfect, because they will deny being biased, and it cannot be proven because the people doing the research are representing the people being researched.
The one thing they do not represent is you.
So, do I think The Sopranos is an over-hyped pay-per-view event made to appear popular by the same people who are making the program?
What do you think?


kimmyk said...

I have never seen an episode of The Soprano's so I don't know what all the hype/fuss is about myself. I haven't sat down and watched tv since Lost finale. That's been almost like 3 weeks now I think.

Oh and gas prices [your sidebar] I got it today for 2.59. Thank you uppercase GOD.

Firestarter5 said...

Like I said on my post, what made the Sopranos so nifty had nothing to do with the characters or the acting, everyone felt giddy because they used the word "fuck" on a television show.

Same thing goes for Nip/Tuck. They say fuck and have sex scenes on regular tv.


Anthony said...

They say 'fuck' on Curb Your Enthusiasm all the time, and I don't see people getting worked up over that.

And it's a better show.

Kate Michele said...

I have to excuse my self from this discussion cause I am a die hard fan of the show. And the ending wasn't lost on me...I called it last season when they anouced that this would be the last.....

K leaving now...


Sparky Duck said...

it seems to me that if you are a devoted fan, or an artist/writer type, you loved the ending. The rest of us fools didn't.

ESPN is still where I get my sports news and live events during the week, but their cross promotion makes me sick.