Geoffrey Long
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NYT on Friday Night Lights.

Today's New York Times Magazine features a brilliant essay by Virginia Heffernan on Friday Night Lights and Art in the Age of Franchising:

The fault of “Friday Night Lights” is extrinsic: the program has steadfastly refused to become a franchise. It is not and will never be “Heroes,” “Project Runway,” “The Hills” or Harry Potter. It generates no tabloid features, cartoons, trading cards, board games, action figures or vibrating brooms. There will be no “Friday Night Lights: Origins,” and no “FNL Touchdown” for PlayStation.

This may sound like a blessing, but in a digital age a show cannot succeed without franchising. An author’s work can no longer exist in a vacuum, independent of hardy online extensions; indeed, a vascular system that pervades the Internet. Artists must now embrace the cultural theorists’ beloved model of the rhizome and think of their work as a horizontal stem for numberless roots and shoots — as many entry and exit points as fans can devise.

This is an enormous social shift that coincides with the changeover from analog to digital modes of communication, the rise of the Internet and the new raucousness of fans. It’s a mistake to see this imperative to branch out as a simple coarsening of culture. In fact, rhizome art is both lower-brow (“American Idol,” Derek Waters’s “Drunk History”) and more avant-garde (“Battlestar Galactica,” Ryan Trecartin’s “I-Be Area”) than linear, author-controlled narrative, which takes its cues from the middle-class form of the novel.

This is CMS through-and-through. Excellent, insightful stuff and a good introduction to the type of thing we've been researching in C3 for the last two years.

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