Trust No Future, However Pleasant

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

I never got to yell, “I Want My MTV!”

The slogan was the genius of legendary Advertising Hall of Famer George Lois. Famous for his Esquire magazine covers and major ad campaigns of the 1960s, Lois was tapped to come up with something that would help sell MTV to the cable operators across America.

What would really sell the campaign, however, was the delivery: MTV exec Les Garland would cajole his friend Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones to shout the line into a camera. Once Jagger finally agreed to do it, David Bowie and Pete Townshend of the The Who were persuaded to film spots as well. After that, getting new stars to join in snowballed into the famous “I Want My MTV!” commercials. The spots were a hit with cable providers, and subscriptions soared. Link

But, years later, I remember the Fox network becoming popular in the United States.

Before Fox became synonymized with its news network ($NWS), its commercial broadcast channel was the destination to watch The Simpsons, Married… with Children, and In Living Color.

The legacy American networks of NBC, CBS, and ABC would’ve paused at such programming.

Now, internationally, almost all of us subscribe to Netflix ($NFLX) and can practically synchronize our binge-watches to chat at the virtual water cooler.

But how Americans spend money on other entertainment options is mixed.

I was an early subscriber to YouTube TV ($GOOGL), and on Tuesday, its subscribers learned of a price increase:

YouTube TV announced yesterday that it’d be raising its prices by 30 percent to $65 per month. FuboTV followed shortly after, announcing increases of its own that put the lowest tier of the service at $60. The first era of internet-streamed TV — the one of cheap, innovative cable alternatives — is over, and what comes next is going to look a whole lot more like the traditional cable services it promised to replace… with prices to match.

Over-the-top internet TV services were supposed to save us from the limited bundles and expensive prices of traditional cable. Big internet companies like Google, PlayStation, and Hulu swooped in to rescue consumers from the archaic TV services of Comcast and AT&T, with better apps and rock-bottom pricing that seemed almost too good to be true.

Turns out, it was. Link

On YouTube TV alone, I have recorded and saved, at no additional cost, at least one hundred movies from Turner Classic Movies.

That makeshift library alone might cause me to cancel my Criterion Collection subscription at the end of the year.

I can’t cancel my FuboTV subscription because of soccer.

I don’t subscribe to Disney+, but my existing subscriptions to Hulu and ESPN+ are waiting for me to commit to Disney’s ($DIS) bundle of all three. Link

Independence Day in the United States is the Fourth of July, which is this Saturday, but the U.S. stock market will be closed tomorrow instead.

Tomorrow is also the premiere of the Broadway sensation Hamilton on Disney+. Link

But what intrigues me more is the teaser from Apple+ ($AAPL) for Foundation. Link

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, the first in a long-series of sci-fi novels, is an epic of abstract proportions. The story takes place over several thousand years and is highly intellectual, imagining a universe in which massive upheaval is predicted by psychohistoric science. The first volume of stories isn’t super action-packed — but that isn’t stopping blockbuster screenwriter David Goyer from adapting the series for the post-Game of Thrones era.

At WWDC20, Goyer appeared on screen to introduce the first trailer for his original Apple TV Plus series.

It was the greatest science fiction work of all time,” Goyer says in the footage, released online shortly after the event. “If ever there was a company that was hoping to better peoples’ lives through technology, through connectivity, it’s Apple. And that’s something very much that Asimov was hoping to do.” Link

As a kid, when I wasn’t watching Fox or basic cable, I read novels by Jules Verne, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell, but didn’t have enough guidance to explore the works of Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, or Isaac Asimov.

The original screen adaptation of Herbert’s Dune (1984) has a 52% Rotten Tomatoes score, which isn’t great. Link

Maybe if I were older in 1984, I might’ve seen and appreciated it in the theaters.

Now, I’ll wait to see what Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya do with the book. Link

The real test for my time and attention and nostalgia will be the revival of Beavis and Butt-Head:

Spawned from Judge’s animated short “Frog Baseball,” “Beavis and Butt-Head” focused on its two title characters, a pair of mostly well-intentioned dimwits who shared misadventures and provided snide commentary on music videos. The original series ran on MTV from 1993 to 1997, helping to establish the chuckling characters as cultural totems of the Generation X era.

The TV success of “Beavis and Butt-Head” also paved the way for a 1996 feature film, “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America,” and provided a breakthrough for Judge, an influential comedy writer and producer. He would go onto help create the Fox animated series “King of the Hill” and the HBO comedy “Silicon Valley,” and to write and direct movies like “Office Space” and “Idiocracy.” Link

I won’t be paying more money because Comedy Central is now on YouTube TV.

Meanwhile, Dune and Foundation are next on my to-read list. Link

Ever since MTV stopped airing music, I especially don’t want it.




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John Bonini

John Bonini

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