Posts Tagged ‘Gossip Girl’

How to Sell a Guilty Pleasure: The CW and Its Posters

September 20th, 2009 | Jonathan Gray

As I wait for more new shows this week to review, and as I find myself with little to say about the Emmy winners, largely because I agree with or can accept almost all victories (especially Michael Emerson. yay! About bloody time), let’s take a time out to look at some of the extratextuals surrounding the new shows:

I’ve been intrigued by the degree to which, in the wake of Gossip Girl’s past success, The CW has pounced upon the guilty pleasure label as being a great one with which to sell (and, of course, design) a show. Consider the following posters, for GG, Melrose Place, and The Beautiful Life, starting with GG. Analysis after the fold…
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Spam with your Television? Advertising, Paratexts, and Laziness

September 14th, 2009 | Jonathan Gray


I’m variously annoyed, depressed, and amused by spam. Annoyed because, well, it’s annoying. Depressed because it can only exist because some doofuses actually click through (“Do I wish I had a ‘trouser beast’? Why, damn it, I do! I’d better click through and buy me some of those pills, so that tomorrow I wake up with one that will, as this ad promises, ‘scare the neighbors’”) and thus it reminds me both of how stupid some people are and of how stupid many people think we all are. Amused when its inappropriateness can only be met with laughter.

Part of running a blog involves dealing with spam. There’s the whacked out spam that reads like clothing I’d often see when I lived in Hong Kong, peppered with English phrases yet designed by non-English speakers (“crazy pilot home run go anaphylactic shock heroes live for the best why Friends dig it barroom brawl cheese town tank boy”), and then there’s the stuff posing as real messages (a recent one is “I have been searching everywhere on the internet for this specific information. Finally I find it here! Thanks.” Maybe I’d believe it more if there was information in the post on which it commented, not just opinion/rambling). Both just want you to click through.

But around this time of year, I always get some new show / returning show spam that doesn’t want you to click through, but that wants to sell a show. It rarely goes into the filter, and seems not to have been delivered by a ‘bot. Rather, some poor intern somewhere seems to have the job of trawling through Google, and replying to all blogs that mention a specific show with enthusiastic plans to watch the new season. More after the fold:
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Save the Cheerleader, Vote Obama?

October 15th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

I’ve been amused by two recent political ads, one including Gossip Girl stars/adverbs Blake Lively (Serena) and Penn Badgely (Dan), and the other with Heroes’ Hayden Pannetiere. Celebrities making political appeals is hardly anything new, but both ads play quite cleverly off the shows and the characters to aid their cause.

Lively and Badgely’s ad mocks the “talk to your kids about drugs” PSAs by imploring young viewers to talk to their parents about voting McCain. Lively and Badgely are Gossip Girl’s resident good kids (well, as good as one could be in that show, I guess), and their make-believe school suffers from substance abuse aplenty. Thus, one can imagine them to be called upon to deliver the “don’t do drugs” message; instead, a more sinister behavior concerns them – voting McCain. One could imagine a more conflicted ad if the stars were replaced with Gossip Girl’s resident bad kids, Leighton Meester (Blair) and Ed Westwick (Chuck).

See more Hayden Panettiere videos at Funny or Die

Hayden Pannetiere’s piece also plays with her character. In Heroes, she’s invincible, and fighting to save the world. Moreover, as anyone aware of this thing called “popular culture” knows, Heroes’ catch-phrase in Season One was “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World,” and Pannetiere was the cheerleader in question. So, when she warns of how “we’ll all probably die,” there’s a (playful) added level of horror, as if the only thing worse than Sylar, Adam, or another Ali Larter character is McCain.

I realize now that my last post was also about stars using their characters to add weight to a political message. And, of course, the obvious other example is Martin Sheen, who got many years worth of political rallies and stump speeches out of being the beloved Jed Bartlet. All are interesting examples of how to use one’s stardom as para/inter/extratext.

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A few quickies, with links

October 10th, 2007 | Jonathan Gray

1. Where Can Hillary Go Next?Ben Grossman poses an interesting question in a column for Broadcasting and Cable: with the political campaigning beginning so early, and with all the early primaries, how will candidates keep people interested? Grossman wonders if the key candidates will simply run out of shows on which to appear as guests. Translated, can one’s brand run out of extratextual outlets? Come May, will we see guests challenging Chef Cat Cora on Iron Chef, having a scripted spat with Vince McMahon on WWE Smackdown, or appearing as Jack Bauer’s grandparents on 24?


2. Dual Purpose AdvertisingA new trailer has been released for The Golden Compass, the first of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books to be made into a film, due out this Christmas. This time, the trailer lacks the egregious fastframe spoiler that was in the teaser. Interestingly, though, it dedicates a fair amount of screen time to the Panserbjørn (speaking polar bear) Iorek Byrnison, no doubt to help advertise the Panserbjørn-riding computer game as much as the film.

3. Gossip Lives EternalThe first of the fall shows to be picked up till the end of the season is Gossip Girl. Despite ho-hum ratings, The CW is sticking by their rich waifs, so it seems.

4. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”A quick visit to proved wholly unsettling. Apparently, there is a porno Brady Bunch film called Not the Bradys XXX, and to celebrate the launch of its DVD, “will be giving away pieces of the wardrobe worn in the film including [...] Marcia’s yellow and red panties [worn] during [the] car wash scene.” This in the wake of the original Marcia Brady’s recent tell-all revelations of a trist with sister Jan, and suddenly The Brady Bunch has way more edge than I ever thought possible: all in a good day’s work for two extratextuals

                                         5. Earl and Office Web PresenceRandy.jpgNBC has set up a blog for Randy, the fantastic, Homeresque sidekick in My Name is Earl. Very misguided. First, the site is covered with ads for Earl, and thus doesn’t keep within diegetic frame. Are NBC stupid enough to think someone’s going to stumble into this site without already knowing when the show is on? Second, Randy doesn’t even have a computer in the show, and so it’s nonsensical to give him a blog. Third, it’s simply not that funny. In short, it neither extends the world of Earl in a feasible manner, nor is it entertaining unto itself. Strike One.

Strike Two comes from NBC’s Dunder Mifflin Infinity website for The Office. It starts off well, with an overdone flashy intro. But, like Randy’s blog, it can’t resist breaking frame, by putting an NBC logo in the top corner, and by allowing one to list one’s favorite Office character and episode. One can earn “Shrute Bucks” (also possible as an application on Facebook) and buy decoration for one’s desk. And one can in theory work one’s way up the corporate ladder with better jobs and so forth. It’s all quite tedious, though, and while The Office finds considerable humor in everyday tedium, there’s nothing really to be gained or learnt here. As with Randy’s blog, it’s as if someone told NBC they need to create a “funky” website, yet very little thought went into why.

I’m on a mission to find really good websites now, so please point me in the direction if you know of any.

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Aliens from Africa, Hell, Pakistan, and the Upper East: Previewing The CW’s New Shows

September 16th, 2007 | Jonathan Gray

Last year marked the first for The CW, the upstart hybrid of The WB and UPN. So programming was mostly about picking which shows from which networks they liked. This year therefore represents their first go at producing their own shows with their own imprint on them.The exec who introduced them proudly noted that 3 of the 4 were listed by USA Today on its Top 10 New Shows to watch list. So what did I think? Below the fold, the final installment of my fall pilot reviews Read more…

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