Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency is relevant to my interests because it contains cogent explorations of weird science, magick (neurolinguistic programming, perceptual manipulation, and the scientific-type investigation of the darker recesses of the human psyche), Parkour (more on this at a later date), and biofeedback, among many other things. It’s been on my mind again lately because we’ve been watching a whole lot of John Rogers’ phenomenal series Leverage, and a friend of mine whom I introduced to the comic series arranged a Global Frequency photoshoot at Dragon*Con 2010, and then it’s been coming up on Twitter a whole bunch. All of this has me thinking about the injustice of television markets, and the capriciousness of Networks in the face of overwhelming clamour and demand from those who would be their core audience…
What do you mean, what the hell am I talking about?
– That pilot was leaked onto the Internet, via various torrent sites, to amazing fan acclaim and renown, causing an increase in website traffic for all involved.
– For reasons known only to them, the WB did not pick up the show, and never even aired the pilot. Not only that but, in vehement, petulant reaction to the aforementioned torrenting, Warner Bros. Denied Fans Any Chance of “Legally” Obtaining the Global Frequency Pilot.
Now, we are all aware that these days, this is not how you run a railroad. No, in fact nowadays, we know that if your pilot gets leaked then, A) It was probably you who “leaked” it, or B) You immediately Find whoever leaked it and hire them or buy them a bottle of really nice whisky, because you just got some Free Motherfraking Publicity. We have people who make their livings devising algorithms to track seeds, downloads, uploads, and overall views of a particular informational package. What I’m saying is, networks know what you watch, and how often you’re watching it. Now, don’t get me wrong, they’re still not using this information anywhere near as well as they could be, clinging instead to an outdated Eyes-On-Screens model–and this doesn’t take any of this fancy new technology in which we’ve all invested So Much Money into account, anywhere near as much as it should.
We talked about this, with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and also it’s true of Joss Whedon‘s Dollhouse–but in the heady, uncertain days of 2005, this whole “Torrenting” thing was still a massive threat to market-share, and no one was even seriously contemplating the idea of Internet-Based Television Programming. So, no: there was no feasible way to see this “illegal downloading” as a good thing, because there was no model for this yet; folks were making it up as they went along! Which is a damn shame because the Global Frequency pilot was good–Really good–and, judging from what Rogers has done with Leverage, it could have been absolutely great. Like Cat Vincent said, “In a fair world, we’d have 4 seasons of that by now.”
So what’s my point? What do we do here to keep this kind of thing from happening over and over? Do we write our congresspeople? Do we march on the Capitol Building? I don’t think so. I think, on this one, we vote with our dollars, our viewing, and our internet presence. If you or anyone you know has a Nielsen box, use it, and if you have the want and ability to buy things “legally,” do it, and if you get the opportunity to watch shows online, through the sponsored media Internet portal, do that too.
In addition to this, talk about the shows you love on things like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. and try to join the fan communities where the people who make your favourite shows actually hang out. That way they have something they can show to the money people and say to them in a language they can understand: “Look Everyone! Look at all of this revenue (and potential revenue).”
Exhibit A: it worked for Futurama.