I recently took to to social media to whine about how disappointed I am with Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s final season.
This led to a quick back and forth. Two friends agreed but characterized the failure as jumping the shark. I don’t think they’re wrong, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are very few new ideas under the sun. Moreover, as I reminded you on Monday, there are only seven stories one can tell. While there can be other factors, putting this together, jumping the shark occurs when the stories a show can tell run their course among their particular set of characters and settings. In other words, the combination of characters, settings, and stories grow stale even if, as with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office, and Parks & Recreation, the show has talented writers. It often manifests itself with desperate attempts to try something new that stray too far from the show’s premise. When Happy Days did this, it gave the phenomenon its name.
Now that comedy is being killed by a small minority of the perpetually and intentionally outraged, writers are afraid to take any risks, giving rise to a new way in which jumping the shark manifests. They don’t just take stupid chances to keep the show interesting. They also choose to exclude a wide variety of available stories for fear of losing their positions in the industry due to the controversy they cause. That means that shark-jumping occurs far earlier in the life of a series (c.f., Community), and it manifests as recycling the same tired themes with only meaningless differences from episode to episode.
In my humble opinion, with only a few exceptions, Brooklyn Nine-Nine started to lose its originality somewhere around season three, which isn’t even halfway through its life. (I keep watching because I can’t help but finish things I start.) Sure, we remained attached to some clever, well-delivered one-liners (Bingpot!), and the Halloween competition as a recurring theme, but overall the episodes, and even the characters’ personalities, grew tiresome and/or annoying long before the final season started. (I’ve wanted to punch Charles Boyle in the neck for months now.) The writers on that show both recycled themes and also, by the last season, strayed too far from the premise. I fear the stagnation of shows will only accelerate as we continue to fear those that are offended by everything. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current crop of writers are among those demanding these changes. In that case, they’re wasting their own talent.
Much like another phenomenon that involves premature action, the cause is often psychological.
Having worked in intellectual property law, I like to give proper credit where it’s due. I found this meme and was looking for an excuse to use it.
As I was doing my research as to who produced this, I ran into an issue. I saw this shared on Facebook by a connection (I don’t remember whom), but they shared it from another source, so that person shouldn’t get credit. It looks like they got it from thekratorianchronicles via Instagram, but based on a signature of sorts within the image, thekratorianchronicles doesn’t seem to have created it, so they also shouldn’t get credit.
So, credit belongs to “HORRORFLIX,” but who are they? Searches via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook yielded far too many entities for me to figure out who owned it. With no logo, Twitter handle, URL, or other unambiguous identifier as part of the signature, I can’t give proper credit despite how important I think that is.
I’ve seen a lot of (private) censorship going on by Facebook, and now it’s hit me right in the nuts. My “posting and replying privileges” were suspended for 24 hours because I made two jokes over the course of thirteen days that “violated community standards.”
RJS: “I have a long list of things I’d like to see improved with the coming administration, but one thing on that list, and I’m not going to say where it falls, is the decriminalization of a certain substance. Can’t. Wait.”
JD: “Okay now for sure if you and I ever both make the insane decision to attend a con in person, and it happens to be the same con at the same time…. Yeah, that.”
Calling people hippies is something I’m known to do whenever someone disagrees with me (a la Eric Cartman), but it seemed particularly appropriate here. Continuing . . .
RJS: “Frog enthusiasts.”
This, of course, meant that RJS and JD licked toads. Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and thought he was referring to me as a frog enthusiast, and that I was missing some sort of reference. Mea culpa. So, not knowing what he was talking about, I responded, “Mais je deteste les Francais” (“But I hate the French.”). Get it? The French are frogs. Not my best work, I know, but it was just a goofy response to something I didn’t immediately understand.
That was deemed hate speech. Here’s some discussion on it from a subsequent post, again if you have access.
First concert – Billy Joel Last concert – 38 Special (with Erik Nowak) Best Concert – Iron Maiden Worst concert – Jimmy Buffett Loudest concert – Iron Maiden (I was on the floor) Seen the most – Billy Joel (twice) Most surprising – Cowboy Mouth (soooo good) Next concert – It’ll be a while. I’m not a huge concertgoer. Wish I could have seen – Fleetwood Mac, RUSH, Genesis, George Benson
Someone responded “’Last’ sounds so final. Perhaps ‘most recent’?” I replied, “I plan to kill everyone who responds.” I assume that was deemed terroristic threatening.
Basically, Facebook’s algorithm (and apparently the humans that perform the follow up review) can’t distinguish obvious humor from actual hate speech or terrorism. Of course, neither can many people nowadays, so I guess there’s always going to be a market for Facebook’s humorless bubble. However, if you’re in that group, you’re a tiny minority. Most people get it, and the only way Facebook will learn to stop catering to such a small minority is for people to either reduce their presence or leave altogether.
I think I’m going to do my part. I’ve been looking for an excuse to part ways with Facebook, and they just handed me one. My presence is going to be greatly reduced until I settle on another option. I’ll refocus my efforts towards Twitter and my blogs, so if you want to connect on Twitter, just send me a Facebook private message. I have several different handles that deal with different subject matter (geekdom, sports, politics, and law) in order to reduce the noise. As long as I’m still on Facebook, if I see something interesting there, I’ll respond via my Twitter feeds (quick responses) and blog sites (verbose responses). I’ll link to my posts via the Facebook news feed but won’t engage in discussions there, relying only on my posts’ comments sections. I don’t mind discussion on my Facebook wall; I’m just saying I won’t be part of that discussion or even follow it. Will you really miss me though?
This Isn’t the End of the World, but It’s No Small Matter
I’m an attorney. I’m well aware of the distinction between private and public censorship. Private censorship is almost always legal, and public censorship is almost always illegal. Facebook, Twitter, and other “microblogging platforms” are private entities largely permitted to suppress speech, but they’re clearly heading for (if not already there) an oligopoly (i.e., a monopoly, but where there are a tiny number of providers rather than just one), which means antitrust law applies.
While many of you hate the people who joined Parler, don’t you still find it troublesome that, the moment a competitor started to gain a serious foothold in the market, one of Twitter’s companions, Amazon Web Services, effectively bankrupted them by cutting off their access with a 30-hour notice? If MeWe gets too popular, they could be next. Facebook and Twitter could cut out all competition, leaving you no other options, and once that happens, who knows what rules they’ll impose? The fact that one’s access to the primary avenue to communicate with others (i.e., speech), in a pandemic no less, is the precise service being suppressed makes this even more troublesome regardless of whether the government is doing it.
Each of these cases turn on their facts, so I’m not going to condemn or complement the Court’s denial of an injunction in Parler’s suit. Also, this one incident isn’t the end of the world. I’m simply pointing out the immense market power these companies have and how they’re making sure they never lose it. Sooner or later, that will result in an antitrust violation, and the violation will be to everyone’s primary means to connect in the Internet Age. Everyone thinks they’re virtuous, but these giants could easily come for you next. Whether they’re destined to throw you out, or you’re destined to get sick of it and leave by own free will, maybe it’s time to form an exit plan just in case. While doing so, don’t be your own worst enemy by letting these guys off the hook.
My exit plan is under construction. The fact that one is even necessary is evidence advancing my argument.
Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s supposedly one of the 20 funniest YouTube videos according to Mashable. The list is over two years old, and the entries aren’t all original YouTube works (i.e., they’re direct copies of another show without even modifications), but I still find it somewhat lacking. Here’s an example:
A tenday ago (nerd alert!), I published my 200th post, and four days later, I was having a Twitter conversation with my cousin, Kessel Junkie. I did some quick math in response to one of his points he raised on his blog post:
Since and including April 8, I've missed only June 16, so 105 posts in 106 days with the next 7 already queued up to go and one more I'll be writing tonight. But the current streak is 36, and my current record is … 69. 😉 #bloggingmania
The reason I skipped June 16 was because I foolishly thought that I’d run out of things to say. I changed the subtitle of the blog to read that I was going to post only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and occasionally more, and June 16 was the Tuesday after I made that decision. But the quarantine kept the hits coming, and whenever I write something, I want it out there ASAP.
Does that make me “prolific”? Let’s see what dictionary.com says (Miriam-Webster can suck it).
TL;DC (“too lazy; didn’t click”): definition #2 is “producing in large quantities or with great frequency; highly productive,” and the example of usage is, “a prolific writer.” I’ve made a conscious decision to keep my posts short, and there’s no aspect of the definition related to quality, so I think I fit the description.
So, are you impressed? You shouldn’t be. I’m just using this observation as an excuse for another blog post, which pads my numbers. Tomorrow, I’ll be discussing the type of knot I use to tie my shoes. Spoiler: I use the same knot as everyone else. If you have any requests for my next post, let me know.
All two of you reading this are suckers, but you’ll be back.
Have you ever wanted to crawl into a hole and die? Have you ever wanted someone else to crawl in a hole and die? The “reporter” ignored the warning signs and ruined someone’s 15 minutes of fame as a result.