The ‘You’ in YouTube is Following the ‘M’ from MTV into Irrelevance

Although the company hasn’t got as far as MTV when they chopped-off the ‘Music Television’ part of their identity, YouTube is nonetheless following them down the same beaten path. Anyone can still post content for free of course, but it is everything that surrounds that tenant of the service that has changed, and not necessarily for the better.

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Character Sundays: Daria and Quinn Morgendorfer

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Via: Sick Sad World

We didn’t really get Daria back in Ireland. It was either too odd for the stiffs at RTE so those of us without satellite or cable (i.e. almost everyone) were left in the dark.

Skip forward to today, and I’ve managed to move to the country where Daria was made. Even better than that, I met someone who likes Daria, a lot. So it goes without saying that I have now watched every single episode and the two movies and it has become one of my favourite shows.

Why? Quite simply it is the characters. They’re a fantastic smorgasbord of types that you would probably never come across in real life, but who make for enjoyable entertainment nonetheless.

While I could write a post for each and every one of them, it makes sense to focus on two in particular. No, not Daria and Jane¬† but Daria and Quinn. Why you ask? Because they’re sisters but are still polar opposites when it comes to personality, which the series uses every chance it gets for comedic and dramatic effect.

Daria

At first glimpse, Daria is deathly boring. She’s mostly expressionless, very rarely conveys any emotion of any kind and to top it off, her voice is as monotonous as the corn fields of Iowa (no offence to Iowans). On the surface, she’s an extremely flat and unlikeable character, and yet, the more we see of her, the deeper and more complex she becomes.

Daria is the school oddball, in other words, quite content in herself but seen by just about everyone else as a weirdo. She’s also the voice or reason, or rather, that of rationality. She sees things in a very black and white manner and has the ability to see past attempts to pull the wool over her eyes.

What is particularly interesting about Daria is that even though she’s a teenager, she displays hardly any of the typical teenage traits. She rarely talks back to her parents and rarely gets into mischief. She’s smart to be sure, but throughout the series her attitude and generally vacant expressions make it difficult to determine when she is enjoying herself.

The series did a great job of including some character growth throughout the series hwoever, and it’s nice to see that, by the end, Daria is well on her way to being a real, sort-of rounded adult as opposed to a selfish child.

Quinn

Speaking of selfish children, let’s talk about her sister. Quinn is presented as the stereotypical teenage girl. Obsessed with fashion, popularity and friends, Quinn is also a member of the “Fashion Club” whose members talk a lot about fashion but not much else.

Quinn is presented as being an even shallower character than Daria but the difference is that her’s is portrayed much more up front. Her blatant self-interest is made only more pronounced by the fact that she uses her dates as a means to her own ends.

For the majority of the series, Quinn is shown this way, but like Daria, she begins to develop towards the end. In the first movie, “Is It Fall Yet?” we see her come to terms with the fact that she yearns to succeed but is faced with the prospect of having to actually study in order to achieve it. Perhaps fittingly, we see her in the end credits of the second movie, “Is It College Yet?” as someone who appears to have succeeded in life.

Together, Daria and Quinn represent the yin and yang and despite their differences, they do have some similarities. For one they are both relatively indifferent to their parents, they both respect the value of a dollar when it comes to negotiations and they are both quite good at hiding their true feelings from their friends.

Together, both characters add a lot to what could have been a devastatingly dull series. Without them, the surrounding characters would be floating around Lawndale with little to provoke them or bounce off of.

People I Respect: Fred Seibert

This is the fifth and last in a series of posts in which I explain why I respect certain people in the animation industry and why you should do the same.

 Via: Flickr

Four years ago, if you asked me who Fred Seibert was, I would have given you the blankest look in the world. Of course, that was before I moved to the States and had the time/energy to actually indulge my passion for animation.

If you were to look back at the animated TV landscape of the last thirty years, a few names are apt to stand out: John Kricfalusi, Matt Groening and Klasky-Csupo are just a few. These, however, are the exception and even then, only one could legitimately claim to not owe his success in any way to Fred.

How so, well, Fred is often cited as the first employee hired by MTV. His experiences from that time make for good reading as he was right smack in the middle of a developing cable media revolution in America. After his stint there, he partnered with Alan Goodman to form Fred/Alan and in so doing, was promptly hired to lead the re-branding for Nickelodeon. The results of said assignment was the beloved “splat” logo that lived for 25 years before being replaced.

After that he headed west and took charge of the venerable Hanna-Barbera studio in Hollywood. There, Fred began steering the studio more towards creator-driven shows and the use of the cartoon short as a medium for discovering and developing popular series. Such instincts served him so well that they were repeated in the Oh Yeah! and Random! cartoon series that Fred produced as part of his independent studio, Frederator and resulted in at least 5 shows getting picked up. The latest being the gobsmackingly good Adventure Time.

On top of this, Fred has been at the forefront of the current media revolution, partnering with Tim Shey and others to create Next New Networks. An organisation that has spearheaded the creation of original content specifically for the web. With more than a few solid hits under their belt, the outfit was acquired by YouTube as part of that company’s drive into the original content business.

With more careers than I can ever hope to have, for being someone who is consistently looking forward, for loving cartoons and for being an avowed fan of jazz, Fred Seibert is someone I respect.

How The Online Video Revolution Could Signal A New Era for Animation

Yesterday, it was announced that YouTube/Google had acquired Next New Networks. While this may not be of huge interest to those of you who tend to skip the business pages, it is nonetheless significant and will likely have some bearing on entertainment for years to come.

The reason is outlined in Fred Seibert (the co-founder of NNN) in his blog post announcing the sale. In it, he draws a lot of similarities between the current state of internet broadcasting and the fledgling cable networks back in the early 80s.

The similarities are, in fact, eerily similar. Back then, no-one really know how to make money, the established players were (extremely) wary of the new medium and the content that’s being offered wasn’t all that great (at least back then it wasn’t).

What does all of this have to do with animation? The answer is plain to see. Without cable, it is highly unlikely (impossible even) that we would have seen the explosion in animation that we saw with the three original Nicktoons, followed by the proliferation of creator-driven shows with (I suppose) a bump in animation at the movies too.

The originial Nicktoons didn’t come around for about 10 years after MTV. The reason for this was basically the lack of cable customers, which has a direct effect on the revenue of a network and as we all know, animation ain’t cheap.

Fast forward to today, and there exists a similar situation. People are embracing the internet but overall penetration is still way below cable, content will be king even more so than in cable and last but not least, even more money will be made by those who get it right.

Next New Networks may not be focused solely on animation (although it does broadcast Channel Frederator) but I think it is extremely likely that within 10 years, we will see a channel devoted solely to animation. Joe Murray is off to a great, early start with KaboingTV, which launches next month.

As the optimistic type, I think animation will continue to be a part of the entertainment landscape long after Comcast has been de-throned.