Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Monetize the Apocalypse!

Just finished watching two episodes of National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” as well as half of the first episode of a new series called “Doomsday Castle”. Here’s what I learned...

1. I really hate TV.

2. The father character on "Doomsday Castle" used waaaaaaay too much dye in his hair and eyebrows, and that the cast should save themselves from skin cancer by avoiding tanning beds.

3. NatGeo should put more into the writing of those shows. Hint: manufactured conflicts aren’t drama, they’re particularly cheap and obvious melodrama. Please, we get enough of that crap from Washington.

4. Those shows, especially “Doomsday Preppers”, are great money-making opportunities!

The purpose of this note isn’t to denigrate preppers nor the prepper movement. In fact, I consider myself to be a prepper, especially after learning from the Maryland Snowpocalypse of 2010 that you can’t survive a winter storm on one frozen pizza and two packs of ramen noodles. The purpose is to make a guess about the business model of those TV programs and the characters that appear on them.

Quite often, the preppers purchase underground shelters - and this is a great chance for the builders of these shelters to advertise their services and the quality of their products. This happens especially when the builder shows-off the shelter to the customer: the builder is genuinely beaming with pride, and is also realizing that he’s completed a cycle that will generate a new batch of customers.

And this doesn’t just happen with the builders. One of the “Doomsday Preppers” episodes featured a man named Bill Hennessey, who provides security for a prepper compound. A little googling shows that he is a retired Marine who has turned that knowledge and experience into (I suppose) security consulting, and he works with a company called Survival Warehouse.

Other “soft marketing” and “product placement” occurs when the characters purchase dehydrated meals and bulk seed packages.

It is clear that preppers are truly committed to surviving devastating events, and frequently have pushed themselves beyond their preconceived limits. That’s a good thing. Those who are serious about it know that they are trying to find a working balance between the general skills required for self-sufficiency and the various commitments required to carry out specialization of labor.

It is also clear that there is money to be made here. There's nothing wrong with that.

Gil Scott-Heron was wrong: the revolution is being televised.

Now I Want to Be Your...Weiner


This essay of Sydney Leathers (one of the people with whom Anthony Weiner has been sexting) interests me for several reasons:

First, as a tech geek, I find her description of Facebook to be priceless:
I messaged Anthony in 2011 saying I was "disappointed" in his behavior from his first sexting scandal. Then he "poked" me out of nowhere on Facebook and said he was "sorry for letting me down." I love that he poked me. When "Insider Edition" asked me what "poking" was, I told them, "yeah, it's a button on Facebook you push if you want to fuck someone." I've deactivated Facebook since then. It's trouble.

Second, as a wonk and a person who despises all politicians, I enjoy the utter contempt she displays for those "attention whores":
Dangr33: so you won't tell me what picture of me you like the most or turned you on the most? only tv?
Sydney: Specifically your health care rants were a huge turn on

Finally, we find out just exactly why Anthony Weiner's wife is still with him. The length and girth of this goes far beyond the "stand by your man" crap.

Why post this on "The Other Side of History" blog?  The whole scandal shows what is happening to the concept of "shame" following the popular availability of Internet access.

But, is it History?

You say to yourself: "this story about Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex is interesting and all, but it is natural history not real history."

Agreed. Real history has to have a human actor. What about this?

A story read on PRI's The World in April 2012 describes the finding of a frozen baby woolly mammoth in Siberia. The mammoth showed signs of being killed by human hunters. Natural history or real history?