The R-Rated Comedy is here to stay

In 2007 I wrote a short paper about how film audiences might have driven a shift for a new type of comedy: the R-rated comedy. Since then I continue to find myself going back to this paper and wonder if this has now become a permanent change. Five years ago I quoted Judd Apatow as Hollywood’s new lord of LOL hits, and in 2007 “studio execs…speak of making comedy in a ‘post-Judd world.’” That’s big.

Creating blockbuster comedies like The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, Apatow has proven “there’s a certain style and tone of comedy movies that people like,” (Hollywood Reporter). This style of R-rated comedy replaces funny exaggerated stereotypical characters with more relatable actors and situations.

Some could argue that technology has given people a greater opportunity to share their stories using cheaper tools, but technology gets blamed for impacting everything. I asked myself in 2007, “has the era of Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler comedies become boring as they venture into more dramatic roles?” You can decide, or believe that these actors are reacting to an industry shift because the audience demands more raunchy, realistic humor. Now that it’s 2012, I see a slight shift in Sandler’s career, like acting in Apatow’s 2009 Funny People, which was funny but set to a very dark and serious situation. He continues to do comedy, just toned down from his days of Little Nicky and The Waterboy.

When it comes to comedy, I want to see something I can relate to. The R-rated comedy continues to be funny because directors and writers illicit a reaction from the crowd by showcasing situations we can relate to, and stays away from the stereotypical leading man/woman who exerts all that is found in a popular high school athlete or cheerleader. We, as the audience find ourselves in these same situations, and that is funny. Rolling Stone reviewed Superbad as “powered by a comedy dream team, this shit faced American Graffiti dares to show it has a heart.” These movies, and Apatow, are also becoming brand builders for actors like Seth Rogen and Steve Carell.

Not only are “raunchy-yet-resonant laughfests” (Entertainment Weekly) making us double over in hysterics, they are also very commercially viable. In a 2007 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Sony reflected on the sell-ability of these comedies: “Before then, people were afraid of these hard, R-rated comedies with really out-there subject matter, but suddenly that is a positive.” Sony reported a loss of $134.8 million loss in 2006, but a positive income of $23 million in 2007, confirming that Superbad helped move them out of the red.

Positive revenues are one way to test audience reaction, or to confirm what you already knew was a winner. In a 2007 Rolling Stone interview, Apatow reflects on his past television flops, “Maybe there’s not many people who get this – that this is a niche, like a college band.” Pressure from television producers who could not move away from the standard template, helped push Apatow to film to produce the (then) niche comedy The 40-Year Old Virgin, which ultimately “usher[ed] in a new wave of foul-mouthed R-rated comedies,” (Rolling Stone).

Back in 2007, I predicted this shift to the R-rated comedy was here to stay-which I think has proven true after five years. You can see this from revenue and just the adoption of catch phrases, the audience is continuing to demand raunchier, realistic humor.

Non-Profit Social Media: How do Twitter and Facebook differ?

Today I came across this article 5 Important Differences Between Twitter and Facebook, and wondered “how can these differences affect the social media presence of non-profits?” Yes, I know, seems like I might have some invested interest in this topic. While I’m interested in social media strategy in general, I volunteer for a non-profit and am always looking for ways to get our message out. So here is what I gathered from this article.

While Twitter takes only about 13% of the US market, it’s often a more niche group of followers (minus all the spam of course!). And while “a Tweet has by far a much shorter lifespan than a Facebook update” there’s a better chance to reach someone who really cares about your cause. For example, the American Red Cross has been able to successfully translate Twitter support into donations for disaster relief. While this is an outlying case, without Twitter those funds would have been lost.

Sometimes I personally feel that Facebook “likes” are a way to make your followers think you identify with a brand’s message, even if you don’t. For example, someone might follow the American Cancer Society, because they generally care about their cause, but they won’t really engage with the brand by donating, reposting, or attending an event.

However, Facebook can be used for “timeless news and updates.” I see this as a big win for wanting to convey a steady message, or have a good timeline for events, relevant news and friend interaction. Used often, this could also be a great way to interact with friends by responding with rich feedback to posts. According to an article, Facebook: Is it Worth your Nonprofit’s Time? “80% of nonprofit staff said that Facebook helped them build better relationships with their existing constituents by helping nonprofits stay in touch and build community around their issue.”

So if I’m a non-profit, do I use Twitter, Facebook or both? I feel if you have a consistence flow of content and time, use both. There will be overlap somewhere, but with Twitter you can post quick and often, ideally more updates and interaction with  specific “interest.” And then with Facebook, a slower cadence of news and updates with people who “like” your actual organization. But remember that social media needs interaction from both sides! If someone DM (direct messages) you on Twitter, or posts a question on Facebook answer them back, and always thank people for “liking” or “following” you.

Want to read more about non-profit social media tips?

Red Riding Hood…not a breathtaking vision of an old legend (in film or hardback)

According to Warner Brothers, Red Riding Hood is a “breathtaking vision of a 700 year old legend,” but this is so wrong. With the snowy mountain village of Daggerhorn set in Vancouver (absent of actual snow and surrounded by blurry CG mountains), the only interesting thing about the film is the print novel and multimedia e-book created alongside filming. I’m not sure how many movies do this, but it is a pretty cool trifecta, especially considering the movie had mediocre acting, effects, and is confusingly set in “medieval — or post-apocalyptic” times…or simply 700 years ago. Movie reviewer Roger Moore, from the Orlando Sentinel said it perfectly, “for all the heaving bosoms, the big-eyed flirtation and the cool fairytale hair products, it doesn’t work.”

Director Catherine Hardwicke mentions to the LA Times, “I was realizing as we were prepping for the movie that I felt sad for the back stories of these characters. I wanted to know more about those people.” So what did she do? She hired first time author Sarah Blakley-Cartwright to fill in the blanks! It’s worked for blockbusters like Harry Potter and Twilight, but those books were written before, and by established authors. I do think it’s slightly genius to realize you can create a dedicated fan base by giving them something else to do than just watch your movie…but…

In January, when the book was released, it hit No 1 on the NYT best seller’s list, but it was missing the ending! If you look at the reviews on Amazon you’ll find a whole bunch of frustrated customers. Including comments like “Rip off!” and “publishing company scams customers with incomplete product,” and “SHAME ON YOU to anyone affiliated with this con,” I’ve yet to see a response to these comments. The e-book will release what publishers call “bonus chapters” a few days after the film releases, but in actuality it’s the missing ending. This might have been a smart marketing tactic IF you told your customers you were selling them an incomplete story.

You can check out the author, director and screenwriter chatting about the novel in these video clips.

No need to geotag, reveal your location by ‘online dialect’

Cultural changes attributed to technology has always interested me, of course it’s hard not to these days. Take the recent coverage of Aflockalypse, and other mysterious mass animal deaths in the US. These are most likely attributed to technology, but not because there is some super microwave emitting weapon sucking power from all the cell phones and redirecting it, but because being more connected makes people more aware. According to the article Technology to blame for animal die-off panic “instant communications — especially when people can whip out smart phones to take pictures of critter carcasses and then post them on the Internet — is giving a skewed view of what is happening in the environment.” So when I saw this article about How tweets reveal where you’re from, I had to read it.

According to the article (which is not about cyber stalking or privacy, which the name seems to hint at), a study revealed that “where you’re from actually deals with how microblogging service reflects regional dialects and slang.” Carnegie Mellon University took a look at this in a study of “9,500 users and 380,000 messages.” During this study they found that, like traditional dialect, without knowing the actual location of these microbloggers, the could identify “regionalisms from spoken speech, such as Southerners’ “y’all” vs. Pittsburghers’ “yinz,” and the regional-based references to soda vs. pop vs. Coke.” And although unlike in real life where we can hear the accent, the study can determine your location within 300 miles because of the way you text, tweet, etc.

"Researchers clustered Twitter users based on the regional terms they included in their tweets. This map shows how tweets were clustered to reflect different characteristic regions, including Northern and Southern California, Chicago, the Lake Erie region, Boston, New York, Washington, Northern vs. Southern states, and Florida."

But why is this cool? According to the team, “The study shows that people continue to develop new ways of using language, regardless of whether they’re talking over lunch or exchanging messages on Twitter;” and shows that technology is having a direct impact on cultural evolution. The team is presenting their findings at the Linguistic Society of America annual meeting in Pittsburgh, you can get a copy of their work here.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how my blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health. Considering I didn’t do much I’m surprised, and wondering how they came up with the conclusion that I’m doing good?

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 7 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 77 posts.

The busiest day of the year was July 9th with 54 views. The most popular post that day was Internet Movie Piracy: A tale of illegal file-sharing in the United States.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, bigextracash.com, ask.com, paulgude.wordpress.com, and google.co.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for stack of dvds, movie piracy laws, internet movie piracy, stack of movies, and dvds movies.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Internet Movie Piracy: A tale of illegal file-sharing in the United States June 2009
2 comments

2

Social Implications of Mobile Technology in Developing Worlds December 2009
17 comments

3

How real is the technology in Inception? July 2010
3 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

4

About Me October 2008
3 comments

5

What Happened to Video Game Addiction? January 2010