April 13, 2010

HisTube: Ground Control To Major Tom


Who amongst us doesn't want to make the grade; to have the papers want to know whose shirts you wear? Judging by the 35,000 videos uploaded everyday on YouTube, there aren't many. The world is now demanding its 15 minutes.

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.
Ground Control To Major Tom
Commencing countdown engine's on

Andy Warhol cynically coined the term that many of us culturally yearn for: attention. One might say that this urge for 15 minutes, now morphed into a new-media urgency is narcissistic. Yet who hasn't heard the sad stories of the little babies left alone in a hospital due to the lack of human touch?

Who hasn't ever been lonely? Who hasn't ever been as excited and/or as mad as heck but had nobody to tell?

Check ig-nition and may God's love be with you.


So doesn't YouTube really satisfy a basic need of ours that is far more primal than we ordinarily might have imagined; That's it's not simply a glitzy mirror to show off to our ourselves and our friends, or to smear smut or actually produce vignettes that are truly works of art?

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You've really made the grade.

Every time someone uploads a video onto this or any of the increasingly crowded video community sites, they step out into a new virtual door, some in a most peculiar way. Each short is a capsule of the video's producer. Ironically, these file-share services have made stars look very different today.

This is Major Tom to ground con-trol
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in the most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For two reasons, we've now come to realize (if you hadn't known it already) that everybody is a star. We also now see stars, movie stars, entertainers and their production/studio companies show different side of themselves. They enjoy the attention we give them when we pay our $9.00 at the movies or rent-a-star NetFlix, or On-Demand films or buy their DVD's.


However, when their show's over, they and/or their studios' tend to let go of their "beautiful people" side; showing a not-so-peculiar side we had not seen. If they're not stars like Joe Pesci or James Woods who enjoy showing us their ugly side, the Hollywood and political communities are increasingly ganging together to challenge file-sharing sites of all kinds, with a bill now in congress on Internet Copyright law. Each of us "Stars" should also ask if we would do that same thing, if we personally lost ground and financial control of the residual benefits of our work.

Warhol was prophetic, but he never mentioned what would happen to us as individuals once our average-quarter-hour was up; when the TV or film or digital camera turned its focus to the next attention-starved "original". We can only wonder if he whispered the answer to his buddy Bowie's ear. Now fee-casting from Planet XM, has David known the answer all along?

Seemingly ageless, Bowie is a modern age space-cadet who has truly demonstrated control of his ground. So is the capsule of truth for us, our stars and our marketers hidden somewhere in this eerie, soulful and somewhat chilling song? Will it be even harder to find now, with talk of "home-content security thought-police" about to move into the community?


Here am I floating round my tin can, far above the moon
Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do

Like Tom, we float around in our own universe. Seeing ourselves up on the computer screen we often see ourselves differently. Something happens when we know everybody (or nobody) is looking. Something happens when marketers also see themselves up on the computer screen. Is it time to leave the confines of traditional or politically acceptable media or leap out into this new space? What are the risks?

Most of those brands that grew a "Fro" or let their hair down and talked the talk of boomers, grungers, and hip-hoppers are now pillars of business respectability today. The difference now is that it's different than before. It's not only music content. This revolution is being televised. That's what ordinarily progressive brands are worried about.


Murdoch'Space is doing to do his best to provide a soft launch for next-gen marketers who feel the need to reach these new galaxies of self-appointed video stars. Considering the increasing gravity of yesterday's boob tube, how long will marketers suspend their inter-galactic media flight?

We'll never know was on Major Tom's mind when he dared to leave his capsule. What we do know is that he passed on a message to the Mrs., "Tell my wife I love her very much" but not much more.

How many marketers don't want to hear those same words whose consumer-brand advocates tell their friends how much they love it very much? These days, it's not just a small circle friends. It's a global neighborhood of soon to be 100 million registered community site users.

But will that be the case? Will marketers who need to reach "Friendly-Face Space-Tubers" go 'round and 'round in fact pay either a price for "contaminating" the space and/or with shareholders?


Though I'm passed one hundred thousand miles, I'm feeling very still.

The search for identity, for knowledge, for perspective, for sales seems is a never ending journey. We'll never know if the disconnect between Ground Control and Major Tom was not a glitch, but in fact his decision to just float away. Many marketers wish that their decision to face this new handbook would.

Ground control to "Major Brand"
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong.
Can you hear me Major Tom?

After all, the pressure and competitive factor it took to be chosen for his single brand retail space flight may have been too much. All he told us was that he was stepping through the door. Not much of the "Right (research) Stuff" to leap out into this space.

Who knows? Maybe Bowie does, but he's not talking. Well actually that's not true either. Just not without X-tra M-oney.


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