Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Funny

NBC will be putting out "green" messages on a number of prime time shows this week. I generally don't like this sort of thing. It's hard enough to be entertaining without having to carry a message. (I won't get into accusations of conflict of interest some say this represents.)

I'm reminded, on a less political note, when NBC wanted every comedy on its Thursday night lineup all set in New York to have a citywide blackout figure in the plot. Friends (in its first season, I believe) did a reasonably funny episode, the two shows no one remembers did the same sort of weak shows but with a blackout theme, and Seinfeld, a major hit at the time, told NBC to go screw themselves.

Anyway, here are some of the green plots we can enjoy:

...on "30 Rock," corporate boss Jack Donaghy tells the late-night show's staff it has to cut its carbon footprint by 5 percent, and puts Kenneth the Page in charge of getting it done [....]

In the comedy "Community," the college is renamed "Environdale." College students think they're hiring the band Green Day for a gig, and instead gets the Celtic combo Greene Daeye. Dwight in "The Office" takes the role of "Recyclops" in that comedy. "Heroes" features cast members filling a truck with recyclables and talking about the importance of giving back to the earth.

Trainers on "The Biggest Loser" will instruct their clients to buy organic produce and bring their own mugs to the coffee shop.

The first three examples sound neutral, so far. But if they get too heavy, it will negatively effect their comedy footprint. The Heroes stuff sounds unbearable (except a lot of that show is already unbearable). I don't watch The Biggest Loser, and nothing I see above makes me want to.

Beth Colleton, corporate Veep in charge of the "Green is Universal" campaign...

...said there was no attempt to be heavy-handed and interfere with the creative process.

"We make sure we don't dictate to the show," she said. Producers decide the best way to absorb the message in a way that's appropriate for their audiences, she said.

First, this is heavy-handed by its very nature. And as far as not dictating to the show, you are requiring them to put forward a pre-set message. I'm not saying anyone should be anti-green, but certainly a show that suggests certain parts of the green agenda may be questionable would not be allowed.


Anonymous NE Guy said...

It doesn't necessarily seem from the descriptions that the shows are pushing a green agenda (pushing any sort of agenda would be death for most entertainment) as much as using a theme which I have noticed many times on the Thursday night spread this year and last year.

Of course maybe the subliminal message is that the "green" activities are normal things everybody does nowadays- which is less troubling because one, at least in in my neck of the woods, its relatively accurate and just a reflection and two, subliminal messages don't work. Em ot yenom ruoy lla dnes.

8:02 AM, November 12, 2009  
Blogger LAGuy said...

as the article puts it in the first sentence:

"NBC gives new meaning to the phrase 'green screen' next week, spreading a pro-environmental message across five of its prime-time entertainment programs."

Doesn't say "green theme," it says "pro-environment message."

Maybe they'll refuse their charge, but if they somehow are able to deal with green issues and not take a stance, I would be quite surprised.

10:12 AM, November 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, subliminal messages are those your conscious mind doesn't pick up and you subconscious allegedly does. Backwards masking is putting stuff backwards on recordings that then has some magical power over people.

9:50 PM, November 12, 2009  
Anonymous NE Guy said...

Thank you Anonymous, I got your check today.

10:09 AM, November 13, 2009  

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