Commentary

Media X: Past Perfect

Economic annihilation has done wonders for my outlook.

For one thing, nobody gives me grief anymore when I drink at lunch. For another, the former Mrs. Feuer, a financial vice president at an accounting firm, is now as broke as I am, which means I have my balls back.

And thirdly, I'm learning to love the decaying state of our nation because it's turning all of us into analog lovers again.

That's right, take your engagement and shove it. We opt not to opt. We're uninterested in interaction. Back off, ad boy.

We want to go back to the couch and the blissful vegetative state we were all in before you started that mishegas about us being in control and pestering "users" to generate ads and all that new-paradigm horseshit.

And at the exact moment that we desperately need to simplify our lives--or a line of credit, which would be nice--our wonderful technology is letting us down.

We have aggregators aggregating other aggregators. We have turf wars among the social-media sites, pulling and tugging at our time every minute of every day and suffocating cyberspace with inanities.

The marketing elite twitters while the country burns.

No wonder my friends are souring on Friending. My son hasn't looked at his MySpace page for months. Even the chattering media class has begun to turn on the emerging-media sideshow. I read a story yesterday that declared Twitter can't ever be monetized. (Not like that was blindingly obvious from the get-go, or anything.)

Just as satisfying, and long overdue, the digerati can no longer get away with their "traditional media is finished" shtick without being counter-punched. At OMMA Global Hollywood this week, speakers took aim at online bloviator Jason Calacanis and his "we're wonderful, you're toast" routine, so characteristic of the digitards' petty taunting of the old guard.

Before the banking bloodsuckers and mortgage vampires ate the heart of the country formerly known as America, clients and big agencies wouldn't have pushed back against Calacanis. They would have hired him for a bazillion dollars as a consultant.

Now the signs are everywhere that the good stuff is back. The best-performing scripted network shows are genre series--straight-on storytelling, with none of that bitter David Chase aftertaste. We're grooving to the familiar, comfortable rhythms of "NCIS" and "The Mentalist."

Like in the first Great Depression, we are flocking to the movies. For the first three months of this year, the box office is up 12% over last year. What are we watching? Genre films like "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" and "Taken."

Some traditional media is even cool again--suddenly we're seeing studies showing how effective TV advertising still is. Buyers and sellers are getting back to basics, like delivering less than they promise, complaining about ratings and posturing in the press over whether the upfront will be up or down.

If this continues, the sky's the limit for the Old World discards. TV will come back. Plans will include actual planning. Creative might even be good again, as opposed to a series of escalating gimmicks.

Eventually, somebody in an important position in the media agency business might even be quoted making sense.

Now that would be revolutionary.

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