RIP America’s Dad
I’ve only watched a few minutes of Some Good News. But that was all that was necessary. Here was someone I loved as an actor, harnessing his charm, star power and emotional intelligence to deliver something our country desperately needed, Some Good News.
Shot from his home, it felt like a very homespun take on the events of the world. He called in favors and presented his star power in a way that felt much more authentic than Gal Gadot’s sad attempt with Imagine. Our heart grew every week, as he broke through the news cycle to deliver a mental break. He exercised some shares of star power as he assembled the cast of The Office and Hamilton.
And when we saw this, we knew life still had tendrils of normalcy. There was still light in the world that broke through the darkness with every episode. You didn’t even have to watch it, just knowing it was there was enough. It got us through the sadness. The isolation. The fear. John let us know everything was ok. And everyone, young and old, felt like this was exactly the pep talk we needed. John became America’s Dad.
But what happened after that felt more like Kicking and Screaming, where Will Ferrell decided that winning was more important than being a good guy, and let down his kid and his team. John decided that money was more important, and let down an entire country.
And America’s Dad was dead to us.
Now, I’ve been in advertising for 25 years. I originally started out in entertainment, working for MTV in the early VJ years. I realize the underbelly of that industry, both in greed and sexual harassment. In fact, I experienced the latter in an interview early in my career (not at MTV).
So, I get it. Hollywood is generally morally inept and risk averse. Show them a somewhat marketable franchise, and they will go to that well, before looking for new streams. Which is why most big productions are shit, and only when ventures expand out of the studio system, do you find movies or shows worth watching.
With the upward trajectory of the show, Hollywood compasses pointed toward Some Good News. But as we saw escape, they saw a built-in audience and dollar signs, and a bidding war ensued.
Now, John could have been like this kid, who rejected the almighty dollar, but instead, maybe he decided that a bigger Montecito house was soon within reach. So, he played the bidding game and sold the show to CBS all access.
And although technically, CBS bought Some Good News. In reality, they bought us. And that’s what makes this so hard.
Let’s face it, big entertainment is full of people who spin and move and shake, but in reality, they don’t do much in the form of risk taking. They would rather just find an audience, than to go out and build it on their own. It’s a town of entitlement and shortcuts, and even a tiny internet phenom can get caught up in that turbulence.
So, if you subscribed to this cool Youtube Channel, started by “that guy from the office” who is charming, affable and just at that threshold for leading man handsomeness, now CBS All Access owns you. They now have “All Access” to the data you had no idea you would be giving away to a network. Had you known from the onset that this show would be sold to CBS, you probably would have thought twice before subscribing. Although probably not intentionally, it became a huge bait and switch that was a gut punch to everyone who clicked subscribe.
This is not like your favorite band selling out. I can deal with sellouts, as that is part of life. But selling an audience, your data, your browsing behavior is something new, and something about as far from “good news” as you can get. And now CBS will use that to entice advertisers who want to reach you. And that, wholly undisclosed piece of information is what makes this so dreadful.
John explained he wanted the show to go on, and because of other priorities, could not devote the time after lockdown. But why? The show served its purpose, it got us all through a rough patch, so is it really that important? Did it ride the natural curve and now in the 3rd act of COVID-19 not as necessary?
I’ll answer my own question with a resounding, “yes.”
So for the many of the show’s subscribers will soon become a targeted audience for CBS All Access and the brands that support it, think about this. Do you really want to stay connected to a show where, without choice, you handed out your data so John and CBS can make money off you?
It’s really not fair. We were hit when we were vulnerable, and we all thought this intimate, friendly look at good news would help us through the rough times in the world. But instead, the ultimate arbiter of good news for that time sold us out.
And for that he became just another deadbeat dad who let the people down who needed him most.
In the end, the only good news for me is to hit the unsubscribe button. And I think you should too.