Are you watching this??
Somehow the TV industry has leveraged the power of the internet to hit a new high in quality. It’s as if after Napster we had the Beatles and the Stones, with Yes and Genesis to follow.
That’s right, forget the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That’s long after the fact. If you lived in the late sixties and early seventies you were exposed to a cornucopia of experimentation, musicians owned the world and we were whipsawed and whiplashed and we liked it. We couldn’t figure out how they came up with this stuff, only that we needed more.
And the whole world was watching.
The whole world is now watching TV.
So Reed Hastings harnesses the power of the internet to create Netflix. And unlike the music industry, he moves one step ahead of his customers, he goes to streaming before the public even knows it wants it. Hastings sees broadband adoption and licenses content and even the content providers have no idea what’s going on, they’re just happy he’s paying them now that the DVD is cratering.
And then Jeff Bezos moves in. Knowing that if you don’t crash the party right away, you can’t get in later.
Have you watched “Transparent”? Starts off slowly, and then is a weird mish-mash of sitcom and “Seinfeld,” mirroring the American family to the point you want to tell everybody about it.
But the granddaddy was “House of Cards.”
And the reason “House of Cards” was so good was because of Kevin Spacey and Beau Willimon and Netflix’s refusal to meddle. It’s as if Mo Ostin was cloned to run TV, knowing that art is best when you let the creatives run free. You see artists want to pierce the sky and leave their mark, and once unrestrained they’ll surprise you.
Oh, they’ll fail too.
But when they succeed you can only marvel.
Can you say “Sopranos”?
That’s where it all began. When suddenly HBO was not only better than network, but better than movies. Anybody with a brain now wanted to stay home as opposed to go out.
Now we’re enthralled by the flat screen.
But HBO is no longer alone. If you’ve got the bona fides, the track record, it’s a bidding war out there, multiple outlets want to let you make your dream product. And your dream product could be…ANYTHING!
Before you watch “Narcos,” pull up Netflix’s show “Chef’s Table,” the very first one, about Massimo Bottura. I need to do a whole piece about it, it’s so riveting. The kind of documentary that used to run in the theatre, before every adult abandoned them.
And loving that so much I pulled up “Narcos”…
How many people are going to become gangsters after watching this series? Yup, those with smarts but no education, who refuse to be held down by society. Like those who revolutionized the music business.
Rules didn’t apply to them. Your heroes not only made it up as they went along, they didn’t take no for an answer. And there’s as much illegality in the history of the music business as there is in “Narcos,” with as much sex and drugs and nearly as much money. But music is legal and cocaine is not.
Don’t believe the press release. You’ve got to be in the room to know what’s going on. And when you are, the stories will make your hair stand on end.
But that music business book will never be written.
But the story of the Medellin Cartel is public.
Yet despite there being so many books, we live in a visual society. And when you watch “Narcos”…
Some of the dialogue is cheesy. But the story and the lessons…they get you thinking.
Suddenly you understand Miami, how the modern city was built upon a sea of coke. And having been to Bogota, getting to know some residents, I learned that the Florida metropolis is nearly a suburb. People buy houses, they live there…
Colombia. Most are clueless and those who know are too scared to go.
But I did. And it was the most exciting place I’ve been to in years.
Everybody had a relative who’d been assassinated. I was driven around in a bulletproof car. It’s safe, but it’s not. And the economy is limited, the currency is challenged, to the point where it’s all about lifestyle.
That’s right, in America you work all day to get ahead.
In Colombia, you’re living your life right away, talking, partying and…
Out of this mix comes people like Pablo Escobar.
Sure, he made it in drugs. But he could have succeeded in real life, in a more regulated country, where it wasn’t a free-for-all. Because he knows when to hold ’em and he knows when to fold ’em.
That’s what they don’t tell you about the winners, that they’re charismatic, that they don’t extract every last ounce, that they’re fun to hang with.
And they’re ruthless.
Most people never figure out how the world works. They’re drones in society who think they are free but are far from it.
But if you’re curious and you want a bit more, you peel back the curtain, you get to know a few people, you put the pieces together, and you realize…
There are two Americas. The one they tell you about, and then the real one, the true underbelly of this country.
And if you watch “House of Cards,” you’ll learn more lessons than in a year of college.
And if you watch “Narcos,” you’ll suddenly become aware of the possibilities. Of not only career and wealth, but life. We’re so inured to the way it is, our creature comforts, our safety, that we’re rarely alive. See the images from the streets of Colombia in “Narcos” and your heart will start to beat, you’ll see that everything is up for grabs, and the truth is the sands are constantly shifting, you feel safe, but you’re not.
But not everybody wants to be part of the action. Many are observers.
Well, it’s never been a better time to watch. Because those in the visual industries are testing limits. Forget the talentless YouTube stars. They’re not where the action is. Look to scripted series. Look to what’s on pay outlets, where there are no commercials but quality product. There you will find insight, stimulation and knowledge.
Want to get everybody to pay for streaming music services?
Create content as good as Netflix’s, cutting edge stuff you can’t live without. That which you did not think you needed, but now hold dear.
It’s an amazing time to be alive.