April 9, 2017

NOSTALGIA FOR THE DAYS OF MASS MEDIA: Television’s Anniversary Frenzy — After the success of O.J. Simpson shows, TV producers comb history for material; L.A. riots, death of Princess Diana, Monica Lewinsky scandal set for big play.

No wonder TV is obsessed with nineties nostalgia; it was the last time America had anything approaching a unified culture, before the World Wide Web dramatically accelerated what Alvin Toffler dubbed the “demassification” of media in his 1980 book, The Third Wave. (And subsequently gave rise to social media, which quickly became a weaponized platform with the Two-Minute Hate of the day.)

It’s TV’s equivalent of the movie industry glomming onto mass media-era franchises such as Batman, Star Wars, Star Trek, and James Bond, to keep an otherwise splintered audience returning to theaters to reduce the crapshoot odds of movies that each costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make. (And why Sony’s alienating huge swatches of potential moviegoers by trolling them during the rollout of Lady Ghostbusters was so stupid.)

Of course, these days, it isn’t only the Web that’s fracturing American culture.

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