New Year’s Eve Television by guest blogger Bob Lefsetz

New Year’s Eve Television

Who are these people??

Bob LefsetzIf you’re watching television in a linear fashion, using the clicker to bounce from station to station in real time…

You must be a baby boomer. Everybody else got the memo, that visual entertainment is an on demand medium. Something to be called up when you so desire. To the point that a lot of the detritus that flies by on the airwaves is unknown to most people. Like the talking heads on NBC’s year in review show.

How did I know it was NBC?

Because it was their talent and their talent only. I don’t get up early enough to watch the “Today Show,” but I am aware of the Savannah Guthrie/Matt Lauer shenanigans, and when I saw Al Roker too, I knew this was a branding exercise. Kinda sad if you think about it, kinda like the old football team getting back together and believing they’re still relevant, giving it one more college try before time passes them by.

But at least I knew who those people were. The rest of the commentators?

They looked like nothing so much as those people living in their parents’ basements bloviating for VH1. Remember when it was a badge of honor to appear on television? I do, but most of the younger generation does not. Used to be appearing on TV was for the chosen few, like a record deal, now there are so many outlets that everybody gets a chance, and almost nobody breaks through. America is about sales. And everybody on television is selling fame. Can’t anybody say no?

Equally as laughable were the countdown shows. The aforementioned NBC decided to go with a special edition of Seth Meyers’ late night program, the one with anemic ratings that almost no one watches. Howard Stern is the king of late night TV, and he’s on in the morning! But his show repeats all day long so those who care can catch up and in this bizarre media world it’s those who go on after eleven who get the ink, this is the same media that told us Hillary was gonna win, can we stop covering the irrelevant Jimmys?

And the hottest actress of today revealed herself to be an idiot. Never forget, actors read lines, at best they have chameleon-like abilities, assuming they’ve got any talent at all. But as bad as Jennifer Lawrence was, Seth Meyers’ interviewing skills were even worse. He was uptight. Conversation is a skill. Which the late night hosts seem to have forgotten, ever since David Letterman skewed these shows towards comedy. And Meyers’ opening news bits were funny, but a younger Seth Meyers would be poking fun at himself for doing the same SNL shtick more than a decade on.

So we flipped the channel to see Ryan Seacrest, he without personality, hosting an affair with fake enthusiasm featuring talent most of us had never heard of.

I live in a bubble. I watch almost no television. But when I get into a room with a bunch of people and even the young ‘uns don’t know the hit songs, I’m convinced the model is broken. Even the biggest musical acts are niche. We think we’re still living in the MTV era, when if you’re on that channel everybody knows your name, but today no one knows most of the names, but if you admit this you’re castigated as an out-of-it pariah, who made these people the hipster police? Wear your alienated personality, fly your oblivious freak flag high, you’ll find you’re with the masses, that media keeps shoveling this crap as if anybody cares when the truth is…

These shows were not made for you. Come on, if you can drive, if you’re of college age or above, and you’re home watching these countdown shows the joke is on you. They skew young, kids who are locked inside with no options are the audience. But having been taken prisoner last night…

The recognizable were not so. I kept arguing that couldn’t be Jenny McCarthy, until someone on screen mentioned her name. I kinda get the boob implants which kickstarted her career. I wish it weren’t so, but media is run by old geezers impressed by hooters so it got her a leg up. But what has she done to herself now? Was it the lip implants? The cheek implants? Trying to look beautiful, she became anonymous, kinda like those plastic surgery freaks Jennifer Grey and Leeza Gibbons before her. Own what you’ve got, you’re unique, it’s your identity. And if this is the game you’re playing, to fit the looks and mores of television, you’ve lost the plot.

And Kathie Lee… I couldn’t tell it was her either!

But back to Ryan Seacrest. At least Dick Clark built that edifice, he had a right to host it. But Ryan’s like a record exec who never owned his own label, who never had his own money at risk. We give you a pass in the U.S. if you sit atop something you created. But caretakers? No way! As for Carson Daly… He’s too old. Yes, I might be ageist, but it would be one thing if Carson had any talent to begin with, and he doesn’t!

And speaking of talent…

One act after another came out and lip-synched and looked small.

But they could not turn down the opportunity, the exposure.

I don’t know what comes first, a clarification of who is really a star or a willingness of performers to say no. I enjoyed Mike Posner, but his heartfelt song “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” went by in a blur leaving no one but me satisfied. Thomas Rhett did three songs, ably, but he looked like a two-dimensional cartoon character trying to sell us breakfast cereal.

I give props to Alicia Keys, for her anti-makeup stance. But a young woman in attendance said Alicia was very brave. Which got me to thinking, if you were not beautiful could you take this risk? But one thing’s for sure, Ms. Keys is the purveyor of second-rate material, another vaunted star who doesn’t shine so bright but is anointed by the media so we are supposed to believe.

At least Fifth Harmony makes no bones about appealing to the still-developing youngsters. As for Panic! At The Disco…where’s the panic? Another B level act trying to stay in the game.

Which brings us to Mariah Carey. The evening’s designated train-wreck.

She delivered, that’s what you can count on her for. She’s long surrendered the crown of talent, that famous voice and range. Too many times she’s sung poorly live or not at all, tracks being her friend and last night…

Was a new low.

This is where we are folks. When you drop the mic, not caring that the fakery is being revealed. This is Ashlee Simpson on steroids. Now the media-industrial complex just thinks we at home are brain dead and if you see the face and hear the record that is enough. Then again, these are the same networks that sell us singing shows that don’t mint stars. But all the contestants want to be Mariah Carey, and the woman herself…is a complete joke!

How much further down this path can we go? Where pretty faces who can’t sing front songs about nothing? Music has abdicated its power. Who amongst today’s purveyors could be nominated for a Nobel decades hence? Damned if I know.

So…

The mainstream has become a sideshow.

That’s the story of 2016. How the puffed-up media that thought it ruled did not.

Fox News couldn’t kill Trump. It capitulated. And then its head, Roger Ailes, was ousted.

The “New York Times” assured us Hillary Clinton was gonna win, and then she didn’t.

And Viacom, the keeper of the TV hipster flame, continued to go down the tubes, most people believe it cannot be saved, Les Moonves didn’t want to merge it with CBS and be taken down the drain.

And “Rolling Stone” is now a pamphlet.

We are seeing a passing of the torch. From old media to new.

And the old media doesn’t like it.

The old media keeps excoriating Mark Zuckerberg, as if Americans were nincompoops who could not tell false from true and Facebook is more influential than any outlet with perceived gravitas. First and foremost, fake news did not sway the election, it just reinforced beliefs already extant. But I will say…people find Facebook more entertaining than television. It’s personalized, it’s about real people. I mean what would you even say to Jenny McCarthy? You got tons of people not to vaccinate their kids and now you’ve sliced and diced your face in a vain attempt to hold on to a smidge of stardom? And Ryan Seacrest is just a vessel, with no thoughts of his own. He’ll be anything you want him to be, just like the rest of today’s perceived “stars,” who care about fame more than art.

And what was up with those gloves? I kept hearing how cold it was in NYC but my Dark Sky app said it was 41, positively balmy for a New Year’s Eve. If you can’t even get the temperature right, why should I believe you on the real issues?

But the truth is no one’s home. No one’s in control. Not only are we not paying attention, those in charge don’t realize this. Advertisers keep pouring dollars into television because they don’t trust the online metrics yet the “Wall Street Journal” rates the commercials and I’ve seen almost none of them!

But if you’re pissed off about the above…

You’ve got the wrong perspective. We won. We killed the mainstream media. We stopped paying attention. We go online for our news and we want it immediately. We don’t want to be teased about what’s coming up, just give us the facts.

And the fact is next year there’s no way I’m staying home on New Year’s Eve.

I’m going out for dinner with friends and if the action fades I’ll turn the lights out, long before the ball drops.

Because I know and you know it can be New Year’s Eve any night of the year. We toppled Black Friday, everybody got the memo that Amazon is not only cheap every day, oftentimes it’s cheaper than the day after Thanksgiving!

We’ve become unmoored from convention. We have it our way every damn day.

And that’s great.

Now we’ve just got to clear some of the dead wood out of the way. It’ll happen. There will come a time when there will be no more of these shows.

And I can’t wait.

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