By David Hauser
Once upon a time, HBO aired The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, and critically acclaimed but short-lived (and too expensive) Carnivale. This would be an incredible decade for any network, but almost forgotten 10 years past, this programming was all aired in the same run (2001-2007). HBO was the catalyst for the golden age of television we currently live in with this string of plot laden and character thick hits. But then HBO lost its way. And the competition caught up.
In the summer of 2005, Six Feet Under came to a close and over the next two years each of these HBO created mega hits all expired as well. Viewers primed to expect nothing but excellence from the premium cable content provider saddled up to their new feigned HD screens as HBO re-loaded for it’s next big run. Instead HBO served up Hung, How to Make It in America, Treme, and the list of duds rolled on. This while other networks like AMC, Showtime, and Fx jumped into the “thinking TV game” with the likes of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Dexter, and Louie. HBO even got beat at its own game by an arcane, clunky, good ole’ fashioned broadcast network when ABC struck gold with Lost. Continue reading
By David Hauser
Jobs. Ask any politician a question this political season and he or she will inevitably find a way to bring the conversation back to jobs. Politicians may be underhanded and smarmy, but they still remain a better metric than even twitter for assessing the most salient issue of the day (as of course, they must be on the cutting edge of what best to pander to). Since the worldwide economic collapse in the Autumn of 2008, we have seen American state governors wage war against unions, politicians get tagged with the vaunted “socialist” label, endless political arguments about whether cutting taxes or increasing government spending is a sounder methodology for creating jobs, the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, and I can only guess the term “job creation” will be plastered and super-glued to our nation’s collective forehead over the next eight months as Barack Obama and (seemingly) Mitt Romney vie for the White House this November. The operative word in this endless political theater is: labor.
As writer and pop-philosopher king Chuck Klosterman pointed out last year, every major sports and cultural story of 2011 revolved around labor. Two of the three most popular American sports leagues had labor disputes over the same three to fourth month period. Charlie Sheen fought his highly publicized dispute with CBS all because of labor. Hell, even the lowly Detroit Pistons tried to organize a strike against their own coach last year by not attending practice as their unfortunate season wound to a close. In what must be perceived as some kind of socio-cultural clash of class and wealth, this country is in the midst of a major financial distribution transition and without coincidence the sports world mirrors the broader American culture in coming to grips with this issue.
For the third year in a row, the NBA’s on court brilliance has been hijacked by the labor narrative. Dwight Howard’s “Indecision 2012” significantly overshadowed the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. NFL fans, who were not afforded the fast-paced rush of a traditional free agent signing period last year due to the NFL’s aforementioned labor dispute, are treating this year’s free agency period as some kind of sacrosanct religious experience (with the likes of Mario Williams, Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow on the move).
More than ever, sports fans are wholeheartedly consumed by free agency player movement. Through some form of fragmented sublimation of our country’s unemployment crisis, it remains easier to analyze and critique the labor relations of our athletes and celebrities than internalize and personalize our own fears about the rapidly shifting wealth and labor landscape in America. Continue reading