I had no intention to write about “Coogan’s Auto”, a new short-form series that debuted today on Loud, one of the YouTube-backed channels. The editor popped over a press release as one of those FYI things he’s made clear means just that—take it or leave it.
I watched it with no intentions of writing about it but every so often, a blogger comes across subject matter so fetid, so over-the-top bad it’s hard to resist.
I don’t think I know the whole range of online video, but I think it’s fair to say that “Coogan’s Auto” represents dreary proof that at the lowest end, productions like this consign online video to the equivalent of a minor league team with little hope of reaching the big time.
So I’d like to think.
But Loud is part of the Electus multimedia studio run by Ben Silverman, once a Hollywood flavor of the month, best remembered for packaging foreign hits for US consumption—most notably, “The Office.” He had been NBC Entertainment’s Co-Chairman for two miserable years from 2007-2009, though to be fair NBC was miserable before, and after he left. And Electus is a part of IAC, the multi-media company run by Barry Diller, so Loud is no neophyte entry in online video world. Indeed, this from the PR Newswire:
“Conceptualized by Electus Founder and Emmy and Golden Globe winning producer Ben Silverman (‘The Office,’ ‘Mob Wives,’ ‘Fashion Star’), Loud is the newest home for fresh, edgy, entertaining series featuring celebrities and popular YouTube talent, creating a blend of unique characters and buzz-worthy content that launch into the collective consciousness of pop culture. Loud launched in Summer 2012 with an array of hit series including: ‘K-Town,’ ‘Watsky's Making an Album,’ ‘Ben Baller,’ and ‘Massholes.’ Loud content has been viewed over 18MM times.”
Later in the press release: "We are very proud to uphold our promise of providing high quality series' to our audience on Loud and 2013 will be no exception," said Drew Buckley, COO and Head of Digital at Electus. "Rob Riggle and JB Smoove push the boundaries of traditionally appropriate television humor with ‘Coogan’s Auto’ and allow a whole new demographic to enjoy the hilarity that the entire cast bring to each episode."
(Yes, a whole new demographic! Let’s call it “18-34, male.” It’s going to catch the competition flat-footed.)
Subconsciously, maybe self-loathing scripwriters realize there’s a problem: In 10 minutes and 56 seconds, the most recurring phrase used in the first episode is “piece of s---” which fortifies the list of at least 21 uses of the crappy language in under 11 minutes.
That’s separate from the 19 uses of the f-word, and together that tally of 41 may not be exact but is certainly not an over-count. “Do you hear the words coming out of your mouth?” one of the characters asks another.
Did anyone else involved in this production ask the same thing?
I don’t think I have problems with crude, or profane but David Mamet this ain’t. I would like to point out that it’s 2013 and there is really nothing inherently shocking with using bad words, or making graphic sexual references, even when squeezed into less than 11 minutes of video.
Yes, this could never play on commercial television but it wasn’t made for television. And this could never play on television because it’s garbage. So to claim to be pushing “the boundaries of traditionally appropriate television humor” is true only if one supposes “funny” is one of the television traditions “Coogan’s Auto” hopes to deconstruct. That, it could do.