MTV Presses the Rewind Button, Brings ‘TRL’ Out of Retirement—but Why?

Source: ABC News

For television executives, future success seems to lie in the past. From sequel series, such as “Raven’s Home”, to reunion reboots, such as “Will & Grace”, many TV networks are turning to old favorites to attract new audiences. Yet, while nostalgia certainly seems to sell these days, MTV’s upcoming “Total Request Live” revival fails to take the passage of time into account.

When “TRL” began its initial run in 1998, life was much different than we’re used to now. YouTube was still about seven years away from its debut, internet connections were primarily of the dial-up variety, and cell phones were bulky, analog devices that belonged to businessmen and… well, Zack Morris. Texting wasn’t possible, but beepers were still popular, and killing time on the “World Wide Web” meant monopolizing your family’s landline. Without music television, video never would’ve killed the radio star.

By the time “TRL” called it quits in 2008, the world had transformed dramatically. Smartphones existed, even if they weren’t yet widespread, social media was on the rise, though it didn’t retain the same level of influence it does today, and nearly every video you could imagine was accessible on-demand thanks to Wi-Fi networks.

Now, nearly 10 years later, MTV’s already fighting an uphill battle before “TRL” even premieres.

First and foremost, the team must tackle the elephant in the studio: social media. For those of us who grew up during Carson Daly’s “TRL” days—the days before DVR and live-streaming—our idea of “sharing” was talking about the latest Britney Spears video the next morning before the first middle school bell rang.

Source: Scott Gries/ImageDirect

Today’s teens and tweens, however, will likely spend more time staring down at their smartphone screen than their TV. Perhaps that’s why the network plans to split hosting duties among five VJs during this go ’round—they need to satisfy this generation’s self-induced ADHD. How they’ll integrate social media remains to be seen, of course, but it’ll likely distract the viewers from the true premise of the show.

MTV will also have to pad the show’s latest incarnation with plenty of appearances and performances by today’s top artists if the network hopes to gain and retain the interest of these fickle viewers. Anyone can watch the hottest music videos of the day via YouTube now—a luxury unavailable to its original audience—so even the countdown alone won’t draw people in, no matter how interested they might be. Plus, anyone who’s ever watched “TRL” knows that they only play videos in their entirety when they premiere and when they retire, so if they stay true to the nature of the show, they’ll need to find a way to alleviate the subsequent disappointment.

While “TRL” was our reason to rush home back in the day, it doesn’t hold much allure for modern audiences, at least not in its original form.

MTV lost its way for years as executives focused on developing reality programming that disregarded the “M” in “music television” entirely—think “Jersey Shore” in all its spray tan glory—but the current leadership hopes to return the network to its lyrical roots. If executives can channel today’s young music lovers’ fascination with social interaction and use these behaviors to enhance the “TRL” experience, they might just attract the audience they seek.

As for us oldies? We will probably take the Carson Daly route and leave well enough alone. If you need us, we’ll be off in the corner relearning the dance moves to “Bye, Bye, Bye” for old times’ sake.

(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

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Does John Mayer Deserve Another Chance to Reinvent Himself?

Source: John Mayer’s Instagram

Back in the early ’00s, everyone in the Fairfield, Conn. region was eager to brag about their John Mayer connections. For instance, his father was my mother’s high school principal. Cue the “It’s a Small World” chorus. But when Mayer made mention of his racist body parts during that Playboy interview, Connecticut’s favorite export went from fame to shame in the blink of an eye.

Now, with the impending release of his new studio album, “The Search for Everything” promises to be Mayer’s remorseful reentry into the world of pop music. He regrets what he’s said and done in recent years and he’s ready to make amends. As he recently told The New York Times, his “GPS was shattered, just shattered” and he’s prepared to right his course and redeem his reputation.

However, for those in the limelight, second chances aren’t easy to come by, especially for someone who purposely went into self-induced exile to escape his own mouth.

Mayer told The Times that this attempt to reconnect with the pop scene reminds him of George Clooney. “There’s a guy who can make art house films and then just decide that he’s going to be in a blockbuster. I remember thinking to myself, O.K., I’m going to basically come out of retirement from blockbusters.”

But even blockbusters can’t become blockbusters if people aren’t willing to forgive and forget. Fans of Mayer’s music itself will be easy to win, but regaining the respect of the general public might not be quite that simple.

Does Mayer deserve this second chance? In short, yes.

While I certainly don’t condone his actions, it’d be hypocritical to shun his comeback before he comes back. You see, it seems unfair that men have ample opportunity to recover from their misdeeds—see Robert Downey, Jr. and Hugh Grant for reference—while women, such as Lindsay Lohan, have found it more difficult to break from their bad girl image. But dismissing Mayer’s seemingly earnest attempt would make me no better than those who shame women for far smaller offenses.

If Mayer truly means well, he should have no problem regaining the public’s approval. But if he screws up again, there’s no telling how vicious the media will be. He’s treading that thin line between love and hate, but since I still love his early work so much, I’d hate to see his (or anyone’s) potential go to waste.

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(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Deck Your Screens with Christmas Adverts: 5 Holiday Commercials That Stole the Show This Season

15317943_10100501619163156_4721658093138191009_nDivisive rhetoric and unrelenting fear have come to define the year in an unforeseen fashion. Our election alone has set the tone for the tumultuous times ahead. But even in this era of unpredictability, advertisers throughout the world refuse to keep quiet.

While companies, such as Marks & Spencer, have invested vast amounts of time, talent, and money into creating memorable Christmas commercials—in hopes of going viral, no doubt—many have accomplished this feat by putting social issues at the heart of their holiday messages. By tapping into themes that foster love and togetherness, brands have the platform to promote unity through universal truths.

But which advertisements have left an indelible impression on the general public this season? Those that devote airtime to emphasizing what ties us to one another instead of what tears us apart, of course.

  1. Sainsbury’s

 

Based in the United Kingdom, Sainsbury’s 2016 advert combines the charm of stop motion animation and the appeal of James Corden in an effort to convey one simple message: spending time with those you love is the greatest gift of all. Dave, our protagonist, realizes that, despite his best efforts to make the holiday special for his family, he was missing out on the activities that matter most. In response, he concocts crazy ways to avoid his everyday responsibilities so he may fully envelope himself in the joys of the season.

Best part? He’s one half of an interracial couple! I know. This shouldn’t be groundbreaking anymore. But, ever since that one Cheerios commercial sent people into an unnecessary uproar, one cannot help but smile at the subtle, yet strong, message behind such creative choices. As long as there’s love, nothing else matters.

 

  1. Allegro

 

For many, the holidays exacerbate their constant, nagging loneliness. Elderly people often find themselves forgotten, especially, as many remain holed up in nursing homes, forced to spend the rest of their days in some sort of living purgatory.

In the case of Allegro’s viral holiday ad, an elderly gentleman lives alone, far from his immediate family. In preparation for his inevitable trip, the man purchases an English learning kit from the Polish online auction website so he may greet and speak to his granddaughter upon his arrival. It just goes to show that, once again, being with the ones you love will always be the best part of the season. We must make every effort to cherish our time with those who mean the most.

 

  1. Apple

 

Brad Garrett has taken on many varied roles during his admirable career, but none are more lovable than his turn as Frankenstein’s monster in Apple’s holiday commercial. Here, we see Frankie, as he’s called, in the preparation stages of his Christmas debut. Once he joins the crowd around the town’s Christmas tree, he replaces his bolts with festive bulbs and begins his rendition of ‘Home for the Holidays’.

While some greet his advances with disdain and hate, one child starts to sing along instead, inspiring the group to set aside their differences and come together in the spirit of the season. Considering the rampant hatred our society now displays for those who don’t quite meet their conformity quota, this commercial promotes acceptance and understanding in ways many have yet to comprehend.

 

  1. Elgiganten

 

Despite being surrounded by family members, those who are considered different may still feel alone this season. But as Elgiganten, the Scandinavian electronics retailer, depicts in its latest advertisement, actions can truly speak louder than words.

While the transgender teen at the heart of this commercial appears to be uncomfortable in the presence of her family, her father walks over and silently hands her his gift. She rips the paper back to reveal her very own hair straightener. Though no words are exchanged, his gesture and her smile say it all. No one has the right to dictate how another should live his or her life. Instead, we must learn to accept people for who they are and empower them to blossom into who they want to be.

 

  1. Amazon Prime

 

Religious intolerance has become the cornerstone policy of the impending Republican administration. But Amazon Prime’s latest advertisement clearly indicates that the company has no tolerance for bigotry. This ad focuses on what happens when two old friends—a priest and an Imam—meet for tea. These two men bond over their aches and pains, ultimately sending each other the same knee braces in response. There’s no tension, no hatred—only laughter.

Here, the creatives behind this concept made sure to highlight the parallels between the two religious leaders to demonstrate that, while many tend to fixate on the differences between Christians and their Muslim counterparts, all are connected by their devotion to a higher power. Just because two people observe different faiths doesn’t mean they cannot come together in friendship. Ultimately, we’re all humans, and it’s this shared experience that should encourage compassion instead of engendering conflict.

Life is Like a Box of Jellybeans

slow-time-passing-300x300Time may be infinite, but our lives are not. Yet, when you consider how much time we spend doing the things we “have” to do, it becomes rather hard to gauge how much time we have left to do the things we enjoy. We spend our youth learning and striving to obtain the grades necessary to secure future success. We spend early adulthood scrounging and scraping to put together the life society tells us we were meant to lead. We spend middle age raising children and caring for ailing parents as we work to maintain financial security for all our loved ones. By the time we reach a point in life where we might be able to slow down and breathe for just one moment, we are too old, and potentially too ill, to enjoy the freedom we’ve so desperately earned.

 

Life has become nothing but self-imposed obligations that must be cared for and controlled. Generations before us established guideposts that, for some reason, everyone has adopted as gospel. We assume our lives must all follow the same trajectory, yet while we are all traveling the beaten path, we neglect to see that there are opportunities and excitement lurking in the brush. Luckily, as more people become frustrated with what’s expected, our collective focus has begun to take detours, spreading out in myriad directions to embrace what’s been lingering alongside us throughout the journey.

Many are beginning to recognize the fact that we are wasting away our most precious, youthful years, forcing generation after generation to succumb to the same expectations. We lock ourselves away in classrooms and cubicles only to emerge as carbon copies of one another—zombies destined to repeat the same day over and over until our days are up. We need to gain perspective and grasp the concept of time as it truly stands, for it’s not just measured by the ticking of a clock, but also by the memories made and dreams fulfilled. Most may say such thinking is merely hopeful, and that the “real world” will inevitably squash any sort of optimism. But what is the “real world” except a construct we created to impose control on something we cannot fully comprehend? We have formed these mundane, miserable scenarios for ourselves, and we can use that very power to change how we proceed. Just take a look at your life and time spent as portrayed by this box full of jellybeans (above). Understand your impermanence and do what you must to savor the sweetness of each passing day.

‘Scandal’ Slaps Sexism in the Face

 

Lisa Kudrow has come a long way since her time as Phoebe Buffay. Yet, while her main claim to fame may be her role as Monica and Rachel’s goofy, blonde gal pal, the former ‘Friends’ actress now stands as a beacon for truth in a political landscape cluttered with lies and deceit. From ‘Smelly Cat’ songstress, to ‘Scandal’ star, Kudrow’s role as a congresswoman running for president on the hit ABC show has been turning heads. Her character calls out the men in her field for inserting subtle, but intentional, sexist remarks throughout the campaign in an effort to subliminally convince voters that no woman will ever “have the balls” to withstand the demands of being commander-in-chief. Take a look at the accompanying clip, for this scene sums up the sentiments better than anything else in recent memory (…or ever).

Time Flies…

Finding something that truly captures the essence of life itself can be quite rare. But nothing demonstrates how fleeting our time on Earth seems quite like this 10-second clip from Epic, the animated motion picture. Time passes quickly before our very eyes, or in this case, it flies. Hold onto every moment and take advantage of every minute you’ve been given. Stop waiting, and start working toward your goals. Time won’t change its pace—it’s up to you to change your approach.

Drop Your Drawers: On Society’s Inability to Discern Between Love and Sex

Valentine’s Day may just be the new Christmas. Only, instead of finding pleasure in giving, it’s receiving that yields the ultimate reward. The “love struck” flock to the florist and clamber for candy. But whether you’re buying fancy chocolates and sparkly jewelry, or actually hiring a hooker, face the facts: Valentine’s Day is a front for just that—prostitution. Either way, you are doling out the dollars in exchange for sex.

This year, Zales, a supposedly reputable and very well known jewelry retailer, hopped on the commercial bandwagon right on schedule. But, instead of tapping into your tear ducts with the clichéd “father at war” narrative, they decided to slither underneath the sheets with the likes of basically every lingerie and underwear retailer in the country (though they are certainly classier than, say, a sheer maid’s uniform). First, we see a lovely young couple sitting down to a fancy meal, dressed to the nines. They go through the typical motions of a dinner date, until suddenly…

He whips out the jewelry box, her eyes glaze over as she examines the contents, and then she extends her hand suggestively just as the upper left hand corner of the screen reads: The Check Please Store. That’s when it hit me square in the eye—red doesn’t mark February 14th as a  day of love, but instead makes reference to the promiscuity that most often misconstrue as love. He may not have handed her hundreds of dollars outright, but that mystery item implies his underlying hope that she will “repay” him to show her gratitude. (We all know why they’re calling it the “check please” store.)

Yet, while the “bitter” members of society condemn Valentine’s Day for being a conspiracy devised by greeting card companies and chocolatiers, Victoria’s Secret is running a sale on bras that push your breasts up and out, completely defeating the purpose of a bra, and lace panties that ride up in the rear, giving you a perpetual wedgie that makes you feel awkward, not sexy.  However, all these items are sold under the assumption that you won’t be wearing much for long.

Sex does not equal love, but society is too busy copping a feel to realize that the heart does not reside in one’s undergarments. Love radiates from your commitment to stand by someone in good times and bad, not your willingness to get naked. Coughing up cash to coerce your sweetheart into bed displays selfish intent—and selfish, love is not. (Don’t misconstrue my meaning, either. This can go both ways. We live in a time where stupidity is split 50/50. Women are just as guilty as men.)

Keep those pennies. Share your feelings, and do so frequently. One day a year? That’s for emotion cheapskates. Money can’t buy you love… but it may afford you a venereal disease or two.