If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent many, many hours of your life watching television. From sit-coms and game shows to cartoons and reality TV, we’ve sat in front of the box for a large part of our life watching stories of one sort or another. What we mightn’t have known is that for every one show that gets on the air there were probably a hundred that didn’t make it. This might be hard to believe with shows like ‘The Joe Schmo Show” and “The Simple Life” out there but our world is a strange place with weird people, now isn’t it? However with the advent of the Internet and legal file-sharing you can now film your own TV show and put it up on the Web for everyone to see. If it’s any good, word will get around. That’s how the Internet works: Word of mouth.
You no longer have to make a pilot show and sit in front of a large group of executives praying that they will like your material. Television is heading for your computer, literally. You can already download some of your favorite corporation-backed shows on the Internet legally, for a small price. It is a commonly held belief that in the not-to-distant-future computers and televisions will become one, a flat digital screen replacing your monitor. Eventually all TV channels and individual shows will have websites where you can download and stream their programs. The interesting new phenomenon is that you can join in the fun too. There’s a low barrier to entering the Internet TV game. We have now been given the freedom to produce, and to share our stories with the rest of the box-watching world.
Check out [http://www.welcometothescene.com/index.shtml] and http://www.purepwnage.com/. These two sites are a couple of the multitudinous masses that are now being put up on the Web for people to watch and share. It can almost be thought of as an artist’s exhibition, where you and your TV-maniac friends finally get to show your shows to the rest of us. I get the feeling that the whole idea is based around the concept of freedom. We get the freedom to create, a medium where we can choose to show our creations, and the freedom to download a show and share it with our friends. Word-of-mouth spreads and all of a sudden your show’s got a huge underground cult following. What happens next in the story? You tell me.
As always people are going to try and make a dollar out of something cool and new on the human scene. If you look at the show on [http://marcushateshisjob.com/] you will see a pretty funny TV program. It is sponsored by Sprite, a division of the Coca-Cola Company. There’s nothing really wrong with this (artists have to get their funding from somewhere) except that it could possibly result in nearly the same paradigm as the old TV company-controlled structure, if Sprite achieves power to dictate what content goes into the show. There’s a name that has been coined for this sort of behavior and in this case the product-placement, commercially-based Internet program fits into this category perfectly: Astroturf. The former shows are grass-roots programs, a sign of the individual freedom that can be obtained on the Internet. Astroturf makes itself out to look like grass-roots philosophy, yet like football, it is definitely a more painful place to get tackled.
The whole concept of file-sharing has a huge amount of nebulous clouds surrounding it, but in this case things are simple. You want people to watch your show. You haven’t downloaded someone else’s copyright material. You’re sharing your own creation. Get to it people, and get it to the people. I want to see what you can do. One can only take so many reruns of “Gilligan’s Island” and “Different Strokes”. ‘What you talkin’ bout Willis?’ is what they’ll be saying after watching your inspirational new television masterpiece. Hey, you might even start a whole new era. Remember, one day, a long time ago (and thank the Universe for it), no one even knew what a sit-com was!