Tag Archives: tom baker

Firefly and the Shared Experience

fireflyThe way we consume media has changed radically over the past ten years and we’re only halfway to where we’re going. Where are we headed with television, movies and music, and how will that affect all of us? Sit back, relax, enjoy, and let the Beefboy do, what the Beefboy does best, and that’s break it right on down for you!

Last weekend I finished watching the complete Firefly series on DVD. As you probably know, Firefly got cancelled early in the run, so the complete series is only about half a season. I found myself wanting to talk to someone about how good Firefly was and what a tragedy that it was cut so short, but let’s face the facts, Firefly was axed in 2002 and I’m very late to that party.

When I was growing up, movies, music and television content was delivered at a specific time. If you wanted to see a movie or watch an episode on TV, then you lined up and viewed that feed right along with everyone else in the nation. We had a Shared Experience that could be analyzed obsessively near the coffee pot, or the flag pole, the next morning.

Now, with the explosion of cable television, the internet, satellite radio, On Demand movies, Netflix, the DVR, video games and the iPhone, there is more selection than ever and content is increasingly delivered at the whim of the consumer. The Shared Experience has nearly died due to the fragmentation of media and the method of delivery. While I was watching Firefly on DVD, others were listening to classic Led Zeppelin songs on their iPod, or playing Halo online, or streaming Tom Baker’s Dr. Who episodes on Netflix, or a myriad of other available options. What we have now is what Wired Magazine Editor in Chief calls “The Long Tail,” which is offering the most obscure content, right next to the most popular. Amazon.com is the poster boy for The Long Tail.

I want to point out that I love the new options, in fact, I want much more! Some movies have already opened concurrently in the theaters, online and on DVD, and there will continue to be a push in that direction. Big network television is in a freefall and will do anything to hold on to precious viewers, including offering their episodes online, on demand, and quickly through DVDs and Blueray. The music war has already been waged and Apple iTunes is the winner. I’m not sure if the consumer won the music war however. I don’t like any one entity in charge of large tracts of the media landscape.

Recently while the world stopped and everyone mourned the passing of Michael Jackson, the world also mourned the death of the Shared Experience. In the early 80’s Jackson’s rise was largely due to an upstart cable channel called Music Television and the Shared Experience of watching Thriller every hour on the hour along with everyone else in the world. Michael Jackson doing the Moonwalk on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special was seen at the same time by the vast majority of the television audience. That experience could not be duplicated today. Take your biggest young star right now, say Kanye West, and recognize that Michael Jackson sold 35 times more copies of Thriller than Kanye West’s last release. That’s the difference between the Shared Experience and the fractured media we have today.

The end result of all of these changes is that we’re going to have the entire world’s media content, in the format we choose, and at any moment we wish. That’s a great thing, and something well worth fighting for. However, we have to realize that as we achieve individual media nirvana, we sacrifice the opportunity to feel the connection with our fellow man through Shared Experiences, and the last thing we need right now is another reason to feel alone in this world.

Anyone want to talk about Firefly?

Dig it!
- The Beefboy

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