In yesterday’s New York Times, the showrunners of several current political TV dramas discuss how the outrageousness of current political reality has affected the plotlines of their shows. Some of them talk about how they had to change the direction of the current season to take into account the real-life headlines that, in some cases, might make a plot twist dated or moot. Reading this, I couldn’t help but feel that there’s another side to this—one that these showrunners might not want to face: that these fictional television series have unwittingly aided and abetted a climate of mistrust for government and the rise of “fake news.”
Fictional TV has always had a side that was “ripped from the headlines.” Famously, the “Law and Order” series would take actual tabloid stories and fictionalize them just enough to pass muster without needing the rights to anyone’s particular story.
In recent years, there has been a spate of series that have one underlying theme—cynicism about our government. This list of shows is long, and includes everything from “Madam Secretary” to “The Good Wife” to “House of Cards” to “Homeland” to “Designated Survivor” to “Scandal”—even to “Game of Thrones.” Continue reading “Is “Fake News” Legitimized by “Quality TV?””
Don’t get me wrong about David Pogue. Even though his pro-Apple bias sometimes infuriates me, I enjoy reading his weekly column, and I continue to believe that he’s one of the few truly essential technology columnists out there. But that’s part of the problem. When Pogue trashes something, it has an enormous impact on whether a product can survive in the marketplace. This is especially true in an environment where consumers are dubious about buying anything that is not on their proven comfort zone. So the purpose of this post is to say that Pogue really screwed up in his review of Microsoft’s Surface RT. Continue reading “Pogue Missed the Boat on the Surface RT”
About 5 or so months ago, David Pogue wrote in the New York Times that he had tried out Twitter and wasn’t sure what it was good for. He wrote “Like the world needs ANOTHER ego-massaging, social-networking time drain? Between e-mail and blogs and Web sites and Facebook and chat and text messages, who on earth has the bandwidth to keep interrupting the day to visit a Web site and type in, “I’m now having lunch”? And to read the same stuff being broadcast by a hundred other people?” But then he had a revelation. He was on a panel and used Twitter to send out a quick request for an answer to a question, and got dozens of immediate responses from his followers. Continue reading “After 3 Months on Twitter, still wondering…”
In the last few months, it seems to have become common wisdom that traditional print media is in its death throes. According to every expert, all media is moving to the web. Yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at me. As somebody who works in the media, I’ve always considered that part of my job is to know what is going on the world…especially and specifically in the world of pop culture. On a daily basis, I read the New York Times, Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter. Every week, I read New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Weekly Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Screen International, Video Business and The New York Observer. And I also subscribe to Film Comment and several monthly tech magazines. I figure that single-handedly, I’ve killed a large number of trees in my lifetime. Continue reading “Confessions of an Old Media Junkie”
I was very sad to read in the New York Times about the death of Steven Bach. Steven and I were colleagues at Columbia University, and we discovered we had many other things in common. We both went to Northwestern and we both worked at United Artists at the same time, although we didn’t get to know each other until we were at Columbia. Steven was instrumental in shaping what has become the producing program at the school, and even after he moved to Vermont, he came down for guest lectures a few times every year. The students loved his lectures on the history of producing and the origins of independent film.
The last time I saw Steven was at a lecture and book signing for his latest book about Leni Riefenstahl. Steven, as usual, was fascinating and entertaining, and he was genuinely pleased by the number of Columbia students who attended the event. Continue reading “Steven Bach”