Saturday, September 11, 2010

Community vs. Choice

My youngest daughter is having her birthday party tomorrow and the picture above is going to be scanned onto her cake.

That's right. We're in an age where kids- and people in general- are no longer limited to pre fab, licensed approved cake kits. When I was a kid- and up until not so long ago- you'd really only have a handful of choices for what would go on your cake. Into super heroes (like I was)? You'd have your Batman, Superman, Spidey, Hulk, and that was pretty much it. These days? FUCK THAT LIMITING SHIT! These days you can get NOVA or Namor or Alfred Pennyworth (Batman's Butler) on your super hero cake!

Just grab a pic from the net, shoot it to your grocery store, and BAM! You got yourself a one of a kind custom cake! And as of this writing, the grocery stores don't seem to care about using copyrighted materials. Which is why my kid is getting a Moshi Monsters cake tomorrow!  I made the image above using Photoshop and a handful of Moshi pics from the net. And I think my kid will flip when she sees this- versus some pre-fab cake kit from a Nickelodeon or Disney TV show-  given how much she loves Moshi Monsters. Yeah, she digs the Disney TV stuff for sure. But she LOVES Moshi Monsters.

Pretty amazing how the media we consume is becoming so personalized.

I kind of miss the days when the whole country had- for the most part- the same frame of pop culture reference. It tied everyone closer, there was a sense of community because of it, a sense of warmth and belonging. We all watched the same handful of tv shows, we all went to the same big movies, we all listened to the same 10-15 pop hit songs during any given month. But on the flip side, yes, it was pretty homogenized. But you never really felt that; at least I didn't. I just dug the sense of belonging that came from those shared references. So I wonder sometimes which cost is the worst one to pay: giving up community for choice or giving up choice and gaining the warmth and connection that comes when everyone is drinking from the same pop culture well?


ps.It does make you rethink the idea of yesterday's successes as well. So much stuff was mega successful not because it was amazingly great but because out of the limited choices we had. So yes, while most thinking people would still concede that the last episode of M*A*S*H (highest rated non sports television show ever) was amazing television, out of the 106 million people who watched, my guess is that at LEAST 30% of those people would have watched something else if they had the choices they have today. But until all the choices came along, it was just assumed that M*A*S*H- and all other successes- deserved every last 1 of those viewers based on quality alone.


Eric said...

Hey I'm a college student and a prof of mine recently got me a gig with "The Escapist", an online gaming magazine. I was wondering if for the first article I submit, that maybe I could get an interview with you? I've been following your blog for a while now and would love to chat a bit. Lemme know! Thanks!

PS: I was going to tweet to you, but this was apparently wayyyy to long. Sorry it had to be in here, not sure how else to reach you.

Frosty said...

Hope the party goes well, funny thing is my birthday is actually tommorrow (13th). If I would have known there were such advances in cake technology I would have designed my cake to be a gamer's cake. I'd like to see what the actual cake looks like because that image has a lot of detail and just wonder how well it'll all transfer to cake version.

But I remember the days when those Spiderman and Batman cakes were the coolest cakes you could get and if you had one everyone thought it was fancy (least down here in the south). Just wondering what store you're getting it done at (if ya don't mind), don't know of anywhere around here that could do it.

As to the everyone watching the same thing and having shared references/experiences, this happened pretty strongly in the beginning of gaming, everyone pretty much played the same things because there wasn't much of a choice (really who grew up anytime near a Nintendo and doesn't know the Mario Bros. theme) but as the industry evolved many of us took different paths (Nintendo, Xbox, PS) and some of our shared experiences began to go out the window. But because a majority of games are multi-platform these days we're getting back towards those early days of everyone playing the same games. Which is a good and bad thing but more on that in a future post. (It's a very intersting topic, but this topic should mainly focus on birthday parties and cakes. :P)

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