Flatface: There is something kind of weirdly psychedelic about the turn Nonsociety has taken. It was born as one of those web 2.0, new-media pioneering projects. Kinda like Rocketboom, I guess. An example of how the new tech savvy do-it-yourselfers were going to bypass traditional print and broadcast media and go straight to their audience. They would equal, even surpass, the stuffy mainstream media in content. They’d just be quicker, hipper and more nimble. Yaa.
But as people began to figure out - years ago - a bad reception on the web is louder than a bad reception at the newstand or on tv. You can’t hear people laughing at you when you’re at home reading Maxim, or watching Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip. On the web, even on a site where there are no public comments, you quickly find the peanut gallery, even if you’re not looking.
Also, in NS’s case, they courted so much attention from within and outside the Web, that they are actually covered, at least a little, by sites who are better news gatherers than themselves. And so they just keep getting burned. So, we know for instance about their internalk strife, and the cancellation/non-subscription of their hoped-for reality show, their trouble with funding, their attempt to silence critics, and the problems they’ve caused for their other mid-profile friends by talking about them. None of that, though, is discussed or even mentioned in their strange web magazine. Which, objectively, is kinda like a internet version of Seventeen magazine. But without the production value.
It’s like a reality show about a reality show. They are trying to put a reality-based product out, one about their lives (lives as producers of a show about their lives? But with iPod accesory tips and party photos, too?)
And yet the facts that scream out from the rest of the audience tear huge holes in the world they’re trying to present on their site. They are giving us a revolutionarily real product, supposedly, that is revealed to be fake at the exact time it’s happening. They do a heartfelt discussion about a cleanse diet, for instance. But elsewhere it’s revealed they’re being compensated by the cleanse company. They have to back up, explain. Or Julia gets fired form her high profile Star gig, and tries to spin it. But is caught by Gawker, and snitches inside Star. On and on, it goes.
They cannot contain the content of their story to their website. Gawker takes a bite. Valleywag tosses a tomato. Random twitters bump the record player, and the song skips. The blogs call out. They are no longer directors of the story - the story of them. They really have become unwitting characters of their own soap opera.
It looks like a play, in a theater where the audience is booing and hollering and throwing things on stage, busting lights and knocking the cast down. But the actors are sooo determined to keep on with the play. They continue to grin and dance and wink at the audience. Even as the curtains are burning. They just try to sing louder. At this point, they are performing their lives. Not living and “lifecasting” them..
I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like this. It’d be like having a live audience follow the cast of the Real World, jeering them, and instantly producing people from the cast’s past to contradict lies the Real Worlders tell each other. As it happens.
And then there’s the NS show itself. The whole country is queasy nervous. Everyone i know, espcially in the media-heavy crowd which I’ll bet makes up a bulk of NS’s audience, people are really worried about losing their jobs. And it’s also one of those times when even people who aren’t interested in politics are paying attention to the world. The Obama election was the same sort of life-stopping earthquake as 9-11, just on the polar opposite end of the scale. There’s this low-level buzz that the two wars we’re hoping to get out of could suddenly blow up out of control. It feels like one of those times, when environmentalists and progressives have a chance to re-write the scene for the US.
A little like ’68, maybe.
And the show they were trying to put on? Pink birthday parties. Cupcakes. Shoes. Re-heated Sex and The City aesthetics, with none of the sisterhood warmth that helped make that show a cut above drivel. Clips of doing karaoke at the Davos conference. Like bringing a cat to the opera. None of them had the first clue what was going on around them. In fact, going to Davos wasn’t really in keeping with their editorial mission anyway. Relationship advice. Single living tips. The latest consumer elctronics. Light stuff, breezy. That’s them. But they went to Davos. Why? They never say. It just seemed Capital-I Important, I guess. Truly, truly magic-mushroomy weird.
I actually think someone smarter than me could do a good American Studies/ Sociology dissertation on the rise and fall of NS and what is says about this period and this demographic.
That is all.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Worth Repeating: Brilliance From FlatFace
The best thing about RBNS is the calibre of its commenters and their smarts, sense of humor, inside information and sheer brilliance. Here is one of the smartest things I have ever read dissecting what it is about Jackles and her self-obsessed fame fantasy that is so offensive, and neatly dismisses the argument that anyone intrigued by them is either jealous or has no life. As Flatface points out, the entire NonSociety soap opera is like watching an anthropological social study lesson playing out, something that speaks to a dying era of narcissism and frivolity: