Le Fantome de L'media
Angel of Media
Throngs of tourists pour into Broadway this season to see the longest running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Opera. On the surface it's a story of an actor who's face is permanently scared by a fire in the theatre, who becomes a criminally insane recluse that now haunts the now restored Paris opera house.
The play is as popular today as it was over a over a dozen years ago because of its haunting musical score; but also because its actors each represents a collection of broken fragments of emotion that haunt each of us in the recluse of our minds.
But for us in the business of communications, it is much more. "Phantom" reflects an insanely accurate depiction of how Madison Avenue abducted Silicon Alley, in the same awful manor as the Phantom abducted the young and beautiful singer into to his cellar retreat.
By definition, phantom is an appearance or illusion without material substance, as a dream image, mirage, or optical illusion. If it were only that simple.
The Media of the Night
Neither the King of Couture, Karl Lagerfeld or anyone else needs to recap the gory days of new media. New media is now "the" media. Today there is no longer a "daypart." The daypart is the day... and the night, 24/7/365, including holidays. As this is being written at 3:22AM, media today is "me"dia. Yet some would argue if that's true. Some believe with good justificaion that the media and its co-conspirators make us feel like it's about us, but in fact feed us lines--as they did on stage--so that Brands Make Us Lose Our Identity.
In this transformation, what we did we lose and at what cost? Not as consumers, but as once fair evangelists of new media. The media that would be king IS king. Is all that's left now just the money on the table? Oh, great. Now we have more rich people, just what the world needed. Greater power in a fewer number of hands.
Was it always just about money? Was there ever more than a glimmer of innocence or naivate about how interactive media could change the quality of people's lives? It seems so, but has interactive really done that? Is the world a better place because of it? Could it and will it ever get better than it is, with or without being wired?
Was the phantom born insane or did the world drive him to become a criminal? Andrew Lloyd Webber chose to depict him as a naive fool, who was addicted to the romance and illusion of that Paris Opera house, versus its owners who were addicted to just filling every seat.
All I ask of you
All one has to do is check out the official Paris Fashion Show website to determine how much $$ is at stake. The Devil may now wear Prada, though before Silicon Alley was abducted, ripped t-shirts, dirty hair and jeans were good enough to go to work in. Once again, the world has found a way to commercialize "anti".
Is there some sweet sentiment then in AOL's re-statement of its balance sheet to the tune of $500 million+? The once bad-boys on the street have become the most professional and repectable games in town, much due to the leadership of president of AOL Networks, Mike Kelly or like Yahoo has due to Wenda's leadership, or MSN has due to Joanne's leadership. Or, as we mark the time in i-media, when we pay tribute to Greg Stuart's leadership at the IAB.
This last bit of AOL accounting hygiene will no doubt be the last statement where AOL's numbers are in (red). What feels troubling though is not how the industry has grown up. It's a delight to see that the blemmish on the face of the world's larget media company's name has healed. Literally.
So no, this is not saying that. This has to do with the fact that Silicon Alley has finally ripped Madison Avenue's mask off, just as Chistine Daae did in her opera story. Now respectable, profitable, welcomed, encouraged, and accepted, whether it realizes it or not, new media in reality finds itself like Christine confronted with an intricate combination of paths and passages in which it will be more difficult to find its way. Once she escaped, did Christine consider if she was entering or exiting? Would she ever really know the difference? Does it really matter? What we do know is that we are at a point of no return.
Evangelists knew this day would arrive, sort of. We've all taken money off the table, some more than others. There's nothing new there. It's just that the game is over. And there's a some sad sweet sorrow in that.
Big Media Triumphant
Ultimately, the Phantom got his way; his moment on stage, on his own terms. He held a gun to the opera house's head and had them produce his opera, Don Juan Triumphant, which he directed and through a mask and cape of trickery, played the lead in as well.
Christine did everything she could do for the Phantom. While held captive, she in fact was the victor when she exposed him for what he was, alone and lonely. She tried to help him as much as she could. Then she told him to leave her alone. Is that the fate of our business?
If that's the case then Madison Avenue is now abducting as never before and Silicon Alley is tearing off masks on a scale never seen in the history of the theatre. But what is it for? In the end, will we learn it was just another attempt to heal a lonely heart?