On Sunday, Neil Genzlinger argued in the NY Times that we are now entering the End of Comedy, citing setups and punchlines from TV history past which did not recycle well into the present. In the full page article, Genzlinger argues that penises, new technologies, babies, families and work-place idiots aren’t the comedic materials they used to be and as a result, the future lies in remixing.
“And so here at the End of Comedy, there’s nothing left to do but embrace a recycling ethic: shuffle the various well-established pieces around and hope someone chuckles. Have the “Odd Couple” guys baby-sit the “Modern Family” youngsters. Put Archie Bunker on a plane next to Corporal Klinger. No new shows need to be filmed; just open up the archives and let people create their own. Mash-Up TV. Sounds like the future.”
First, please do open up the archives. We the people need access to footage, high quality footage at that, already digitized and in proper file formats to be easily edited and quickly remixed. I shouldn’t have to wait for the DVD collectors set. The power of remix comes from responding quickly to our collective cultural consciousness.Second, mash it up! Yes! But as remixers, we have the ability to literally create a new, more just and inclusive media, not just recycle the old tropes and narratives. Wouldn’t it be terrible if we looked back and realized we had the opportunity to do things differently and didn’t? We just remixed the same crap into more crappy remix? With power comes responsibility. As creators we have a responsibility to not perpetuate harmful (not to mention stupid, old, tired and boring) stereotypes evident in our source materials. Why? Because for the most part, it wasn’t interesting, funny or subversive then and it sure isn’t now. So let’s edit it out and make something better.
Finally, no new shows need to be made…by the same people making them now. Why hire the same people over and over if their work is bad? Programs with no women creators or writers featured fewer female characters and the percentage of women working as writers on broadcast programs plummeted this season, declining to 15% while. Can we switch it up a bit? How about we hire awesome female remixers to write innovative shows? And mentor young women while we’re at it? This way we can finally spike that tired old setup: “Not enough women applied.”