by Larry Brody
If I get it right, Shane Smith is telling us that a big problem with New Media is that it is spending all its resources imitating Old Media. Web TV, he says as the keynote speaker at something called IWNY HQ 2012. Same kind of programming. Same kind of publicity. Same kind of business practices. Same kind of sales tactics.
I say, “If I get it right,” because Shane Smith, the founder of a New Media company called Vice, which recently made a deal to produce a show on Old Media’s HBO and tells us about it in a way that reveals a man incredibly proud of being ashamed of not being original and is described in the “New York Times” as “a robust storyteller, the type who wears a few extra pounds as if they’re a trophy from good living,” but I found his presentation, including the clips from his new show, so dull that I couldn’t watch more than the first five minutes.
To be fair, “The Times” also calls this crazy, zany, “Falstaffian” figure both “a voice of a generation of too-cool D.J.’s and artists who wear rolled selvedge jeans and chunky glasses…[and]also a conduit for corporate America to reach that elusive audience.” So they see that he’s not exactly totally devoted to art, youth, or, for that matter greed.
To be still fairer, I have to say that from what I saw, if Falstaff had had the dynamism, intelligence, guts, and good humor of Shane Smith, HENRY IV would not be a play routinely produced at important venues and forced upon English lit students to this day.
Why am I ranting?
Disappointment, pure and simple. Like Shane Smith (who does have a cool name and kinda looks like my hero, Louis C.K.), I too have been disappointed in and by that particular aspect of New Media called internet TV. I agree with him that it has become so derivative in so many ways that those involved should be embarrassed, so when a friend sent me the video above and I read the “Times” article I was looking forward to finding a media messiah I could prostrate myself for.
But Shane Smith has made Brodyworld’s one inexcusable error: He has forgotten that the reason we strive to be new, to find new ways of communicating, new ideas, and new financing to support the communication of the ideas is to capture our audience’s attention and, at the same time, release its soul. Creative people/Old and New Media moguls/content creators/content suppliers (sadly not the same, often, as the creators) should be lighting me on fire, inspiring me to take to the streets and give everything I have to remake Broadway/Rockefeller Plaza/the Grey Lady/the Marvel Universe/the porn universe, et al into a tomorrow I can’t even envision – which is the whole point of tomorrows; it’s what makes them exciting.
Instead, he ignored the remote in his Old Media audience’s hands and the mouse at the end of New Media fanatics, and he gave me the same old, same old in the same old, same old way and I got so bored I had to write this just to try and wake up.
And now, to bed.