Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More from the Year End

Well, we got ourselves started down this slippery slope, and there's nowhere to go but further on down the road. Anyone who thinks that they can only put together one top-ten list at the end of the year is foolish. In many ways, it's just like eating potato chips. Sure, you could only eat one, but you're just going to want to go back for more, no matter how strong your resolve. So let's get underway with our second list, shall we?

The Top Ten Gimmicks in 2006

10. The PC vs. Mac commericals.
Overall, this gimmick was a great idea that fell a little short in actual execution. Far too many people found the "PC" more identifiable and pleasant, while many found the "Mac" to be rather smarmy and irritating. In many ways, the tone of the ad reflected the tone of many users, and simply reinforced stereotypes about the PC/Mac difference, instead of opening up a new demographic. Still, Apple is reluctant to give up, and they continue to send new commercials to the airwaves, albeit with fewer comments from "Mac". If this gimmick continues, expect to see "Mac" say nothing at all, and possibly get little to no screen time, while "PC" gets winded running on a treadmill.

9. "Indecent" photographs
Celebrities (and even some non-celebrities) the world over had a banner year in 2006 for being shown without underwear, or just in various states of inebriation. Somehow, each time that this happened, it did nothing to hamper their careers, and served in a few cases to revitalize a previously stagnant interest. Of course, Miss Nevada should be able to use her most recent photos to skyrocket all the way into the realm of Hooters waitress, or pop princess. Both seem to require about the same level of talent.

8. Person of the Year
Time magazine created a huge buzz for themselves when they named "You" the person of the year. And we're still talking about it, not just the fact that it was done, but the overall insanity of making such a declaration. If that doesn't prove it's a good gimmick, I don't know what does.

7. Top Ten Lists
Come on. Everyone's doing it. Heck, even your second-grade teacher probably has a top ten list out there somewhere. True, these things have been around since Og first established his list of the Top Ten Animals to Smash With Rocks, but they're never really going away. Besides, on a list of top gimmicks, how can you not include the concept of a list itself?

6. Racial slurs and public apologies
Ah, Mel Gibson, Andy Dick, Michael Richards, George Allen, and Judith Regan, amongst others. You've all started a new trend amongst the movers and shakers in the industry. By simply throwing together a tirade against one particular race (seemingly either Jewish or black works best) and then making public your apology, you can do what other celebrities did by showcasing naked pieces of their body, and you got people to care. Well, except for Andy Dick. But then nobody's cared about him since before NewsRadio went off the air. And nevermind about George Allen.

5. Green Screening
Stephen Colbert did it. The Decemberists did it. And that kicked off a challenge between the two, vying for supremacy in the world of the green screen. How much more brilliant can the concept of getting fans do all of the hard video editing be? The fact that Colbert and the Decemberists were able to get some simple cross-promotion out of the whole deal just shows how good the gimmick was.

4. Wii Would Like to Play
Even if the Nintendo Wii is a really good game system, it's also a really good gimmick. Getting gamers to be active and actually move their arms (and, theoretically, bodies) while playing games is something previously only attempted by Dance Dance Revolution. And while DDR got a whole new generation to look like dorks while dancing to "Staying Alive", the Wii can get everyone to look even more inept while playing a bowling video game. Sure, there's a problem with the straps for the system, but that's still minor when you realize that the gimmick of the Wii may have kept Nintendo from going the way of Sega.

3. Half-seasons for TV
Lost did it. So did Heroes, Studio 60, Prison Break, Veronica Mars, and others. A number of the shows even referred to their last broadcast before Jan. 1 as being their "fall finale". Is this a way to keep viewers hooked and tied into the storylines by offering an extended run of new episodes in a row, or is this just the networks way of fighting cable series, which aren't tied to the same fall-spring schedule? Whichever thought process drove this type of scheduling, it's working, and viewers find themselves anxiously awaiting the new episodes as soon as they can get here. It also allows the networks to try other series that may never have seen the light of day, and possibly discover a new diamond in the rough. Seems to be panning out better than MyNetworkTV is so far.

2. Kevin Federline
Could there be a bigger gimmick than Kevin Federline? First, the man was famous for having slept with Britney Spears, and getting her knocked up (twice). Then he became famous for how bad his "album" was. Now, after receiving another boost for getting a text message informing him of his divorce, KFed is still somewhat in the public eye, and will be appearing (again) on a WWE broadcast. The gimmick behind this, of course, is that people will watch to see Federline get beat up, even if it's fake, which will only serve to keep his star elevated slightly above the likes of Carrot Top and David Arquette. And even with that, KFed can only take the number two spot on this list.

1. YouTubular
You can't argue that, ultimately, YouTube was a gimmick. A brilliant gimmick in hindsight, but a gimmick nonetheless. When started, there was no indication that the site would reach the heights of popularity that it has. And yet it has achieved such greatness that even the almighty Google yearned for it, snapping it up as deftly as only they could. But what really makes YouTube a great gimmick? The fact that you can see evidence and/or trails of all of the previous gimmicks in a video loaded somewhere onto its site. In fact, if you dig deep enough, you just mind find "Lonelygirl15" not wearing a bra while playing a Heroes game on the Wii, all in front of a green screen, as she spouts racial slurs directed somehow at KFed, before launching into her own top ten list.

Now that's a gimmick.

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