This is a sad truism of Existence: eventually everything falls apart. And when i say “everything” then I really mean that in the “encompasses all things in existence” sense of the word. Stars will die, buildings will crumble, civilizations will vanish.
This also applies to human creativity, loathe as many creative people are to admit it. Eventually you will run out of new ideas, eventually you will run out of GOOD ideas. And since all organizations have the exact same pathologies, it’s really only a matter of “when” and not “if.”
In the entertainment industry it’s called “Jumping the Shark” a reference to the seminal 80s sitcom “Happy Days” and an episode where Fonzi was going to ramp over a shark…kept in an underwater cage. You need to see this, in case you never have.
Pretty awful, wasn’t it? Unfortunately, instead of serving as a stern warning to TV writers (and writers in general) it has instead become an example of stupid bullshit you can get away with because your audience just doesn’t fucking care. It was a lesson learned well by our good friends at the 24 hour news networks.
The trouble with 24 hour news coverage is an incredibly BASIC one: in order to do your job properly, you need to focus on one or two stories. If you are flooding your viewers with the several hundred news stories that occur every day, you are going to drown them in information and they will leave. So, instead, you limit it to a couple items and explore them in depth.
And look how well that has worked out for us. Looking at the situation in a completely objective way, both Fox and CNN do nothing to inform their audiences, and instead spend 90% of their time trying desperately to create drama to keep their audiences glued to the screen. And since stupid people outnumber intelligent people 4 to 1, it is a strategy that is working admirably.
And now we are seeing it happen to the Internet. Comedy megasite Cracked.com has been my favorite internet destination for about 5 years running. I go there for the articles, great videos, and quality research o various topics. David Wong runs a tight ship, and it is fucking great.
At least, it was.
Here’s a link to the Cracked video page. Ignore the videos that were NOT done in-house (this one) and you are left with 16 videos. Only two of which, are actually funny. And one is only funny because it is a Seinfeldian-Pointless-Yet-Funny sort of thing.
This is a seriously talented crew, look at some of their older stuff for proof of this. One of my personal favorites was from the “Those Aren’t Muskets” troupe. And here’s another, riffing on the classic zombie thing. They are so good that it makes the current stuff look so much shittier, it’s like they aren’t trying any more. Cracked’s video team is now looking like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III. A fat, lazy version of it’s youthful self, bloated on it’s own success and capitalizing on the fact that people love routine and so they will continue to go to Cracked on a daily basis because it is part of the ritual.
They recently added their first non-white columnist since Christina H stopped posting a few months back, and he was the first minority featured prominently in a Cracked video EVER, which is unfortunate for him because it was this one. The reason I bring it up is because I, personally, was tired of seeing articles about racism and sexism being written by an all-white, all-male editorial staff.
I am aware that Christi Harrison and Christina H are editors there, and Harrison is consistently funny. Christina H, on the other hand, rapidly wore out her welcome by saying stupid shit like telling people to make their own coffee to save money is stupid, because they might be too lazy to make their own. (I”m not making that up, by the way.) And, since it was Cracked she was contractually obligated to do a racism article, she complained about Asians being stereotyped as being intelligent and hard working.
This must be a living hell for her, because by her own admission, she is quite intelligent and unmistakably Asian. It must be a nightmare for her to be a living stereotype, especially since that stereotype virtually insures that Asians are never unemployed in the US.
I hope that this is only a rough patch on the road and not a sign that Cracked has gone the route of TV because, due to the rigorous citation standards needed to get published by Cracked, they are aware that there are sound scientific reasons for why TV is an intellectually vapid wasteland. A wasteland where outposts of idiocy are intensely popular, far more so than the oasis of intelligence that pop up here and there.