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Day 7 – Bad Santa

Finally, a Christmas movie that properly conveys the spirit of the season – Bad Santa!

bad-santa-wideDirected by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World), Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Bernie Mac, John Ritter and Lauren Graham. Joel and Ethan Coen were executive producers of the film, and it was John Ritter’s last movie before his untimely death in 2003. I PVR’d it from the W Movies channel.

In this film, Billy Bob plays Willie T. Stokes, a safe-cracking con man who is pretty much a walking train wreck. He drinks, swears, pees his pants, has sex in public, screams at kids and let’s just say that personal hygiene is nowhere near the top of his list of priorities. Who better to work as a department store Santa during the holiday season? You see, Willie and his partner Marcus (Cox) run an annual scam in which they case major retail outlets working as Santa and elf, then they rob the store blind on Christmas Eve when the safe is crammed full of consumers’ cash. Willie spends the year drinking away the money he made from the job, and they repeat the cycle the following December.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_d8vLQKC1k]

This time around, Willie is worse than ever. His drinking, swearing and public sex make him the target of Store Manager Bob Chipeska (Ritter) who voices his concerns to store security chief Gin Slagel (Mac) in some of the best scenes in the movie. As I mentioned, this was Ritter’s final film, and considering that Bernie Mac also died prematurely in his 50s, these scenes were both hilarious and chilling to watch.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVWk6IfRuEE]

Things begin to turn around for Willie as he and Marcus case their latest target. Enter Sue (Graham), Willie’s love interest of sorts, a bartender with a serious Santa fetish. And enter the Kid, otherwise known as Thurman Merman, who believes Willie is the real Santa and befriends him in an annoyingly sincere way. As these two relationships grow, we start to see Willie change (albeit marginally) for the better. These two give him a reason to care about his life.

eb20fcc83115528f63edd8faa2000833dc08f6c4e6c4ea62043cf24baa3da54cI wasn’t kidding when I said that this film conveyed the spirit of the season – it absolutely does! If a complete piece-of-shit person like Willie Stokes can feel the Christmas spirit, anyone can. This movie is funny, disgusting and heart-warming all at the same time. The performances are outstanding (Billy Bob is really on his game here) the dialogue is snappy and interesting, and it’s just an all around good movie. Not for kids though. It’s not even remotely appropriate for children, and I include in that any pre-teens that may be in the household.

I just watched this movie for the first time last year, and I can’t believe that it took me 10 years to get around to it. Bad Santa is an instant classic, and it’s worked its way into my annual Christmas movie list. I highly recommend it.

Next up: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Day 6 – Trading Places

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Trading Places stars Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy and was directed by John Landis. It was Murphy’s second blockbuster in a row (after 48 Hours) and provided Aykroyd with a much-needed boost in popularity, as his post-SNL career (Blues Brothers notwithstanding) seemed to be floundering, Trading Places was released on June 8, 1983 and placed third at the box office that weekend after Superman 3 and Return of the Jedi. I rented it on iTunes.

From IMDB:

Louis Winthorpe III is a successful Philadelphia commodity broker with mansion, manservant and girlfriend to match. Billy Ray Valentine is a hustling beggar. Winthorpe’s employers, the elderly Duke brothers, make a bet that by switching the lifestyle of the two Billy Ray will make good and their man will take to a life of crime. Suddenly Louis finds himself uncomprehendingly with no job, no home and only a new acquaintance, glamorous hooker Ophelia, prepared to help him. So at least in one way things could actually be worse.  – Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

I hadn’t watched this film in a number of years, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve only ever seen the “edited for television” version. I certainly don’t remember seeing Jamie Lee Curtis’ breasts, and holy crap are there a ton of uncomfortable racial jokes (Dan Aykroyd in black face, anyone?) I imagine that this film was pretty edgy in its day, and to me it’s a prime example how different Hollywood was in the 80s. This was a time when studios didn’t sacrifice the quality of a film in order to get a PG rating to appeal to a broader audience. They weren’t afraid of the hard “R” rating, and hoo boy does this movie need it!

I’m not sure why we need to see a topless Jamie Lee Curtis multiple times in this movie. Did the producers say to themselves, “Well, we’re gonna get an R anyway, let’s see her boobs!” Or maybe she volunteered to do it in an attempt to break free of the “teen virgin” stereotype that she must have had at the time due to her string of roles in low budget horror films of the late 70s and early 80s. If so, it worked, this film would cement her into Hollywood mainstream for the rest of her career.

I really loved how this film makes fun of the uber-rich. The Dukes, Winthorpe’s girlfriend Penelope, his “friends” from the club, ALL of them seem like spoiled children with silly customs and traditions.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0CEJQ79Fao]

Although this film has a lot of Christmas in it, it gets pretty dark at times. I mean, Aykroyd’s Winthorpe even tries to kill himself. Multiple times.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od4nSd9AVH8]

Once Winthorpe and Valentine figure out what the Dukes have done, the climax seems to come really quickly (that’s what she said!) and its a bit confusing. I still don’t understand what happens on the stock exchange floor at the end, but the shots of the Twin Towers were pretty surreal. I actually saw a sculpture in one shot that I saw on display in Battery Park, mangled from the destruction of 9/11.

Anyway, this is a very entertaining film, a lot of fun to watch. It doesn’t really carry a Christmas-like message or anything like that, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next up: Bad Santa.

Day 5 – Brazil

brazil-stills-2

Sam dreams of flying away from his dreary life.

Brazil (1985) was written and directed by Terry Gilliam (Tom Stoppard also co-wrote) and was his second non-Python feature film. Jonathan Pryce stars, and the movie is full of huge names in smaller roles. (Robert DeNiro, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, and Michael Palin, among others). I rented it on iTunes.

For the plot summary, I’ll once again defer to IMDB, because they’re just so damn good at it:

Sam Lowry is a harried technocrat in a futuristic society that is needlessly convoluted and inefficient. He dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering bureaucracy, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams. While trying to rectify the wrongful arrest of one Harry Buttle, Lowry meets the woman he is always chasing in his dreams, Jill Layton. Meanwhile, the bureaucracy has fingered him responsible for a rash of terrorist bombings, and both Sam and Jill’s lives are put in danger. Written by Philip Brubaker <coda@nando.net>

Brazil is one of those films that everyone should see. It’s 1984 for the 80s. Gilliam creates a world that is both hilarious and terrifying at the same time, and the film’s pace never lets up for a second. Again, it’s not a really Christmas-y film. Christmas is taking place in the background and I think it’s simply meant as a touchstone for us, to let the audience know that consumerism is still going strong (and in fact is one of the building blocks) in this dystopian society.


27-Brazil

As I mentioned, the film is funny, but it’s also dark and depressing and not a great film to watch during the Christmas season. Again, my own cleverness seems to have gotten the better of me as I wallow in the sadness that comes at the end of Brazil. (Kidding, it’s not that bad.)

Brazil_39

The “Information Retrieval” department.

But I have hope. I absolutely know that Trading Places will be full of Christmas hilarity. And Jamie Lee Curtis.

Day 4 – The Long Kiss Goodnight

The-Long-Kiss-Goodnight-Mitch-Henessey-6-e1385692555578

“This ain’t no ham on rye…”

 

Okay, okay I’ll admit it. I’m a little behind on this challenge. What does Jeff Goldblum say in Jurassic Park, “Life gets in the way”? No no, wait. It’s “Life finds a way.” Never mind, I’ll catch up on the weekend.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) was written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3) and stars Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. It was directed by (unbeknownst to me) one of my favorite action film directors, Renny Harlin. The reason I say unbeknownst is because I didnt know that he directed this film, Die Hard 2, and Deep Blue Sea, all awesome action flicks. I watched The Long Kiss Goodnight on (get this) pan & scan DVD. That I had to buy. At HMV. For five dollars. C’mon New Line Cinema, there’s this thing called Netflix…

Anyway, I’m not going to waste time writing a summary of the plot here. Tony Fontana of IMDB has done a great job of it:

Samantha Caine, suburban homemaker, is the ideal mom to her 8 year old daughter Caitlin. She lives in Honesdale, PA, has a job teaching school and makes the best Rice Krispie treats in town. But when she receives a bump on her head, she begins to remember small parts of her previous life as a lethal, top-secret agent. Her old chums in the Chapter are now out to kill her so she enlists the help of a cheap detective named Mitch. As Samantha remembers more and more of her previous life, she becomes deadlier and more resourceful. Both Mitch and Charly proceed to do the killing thing, the bleeding thing and the shooting thing.

The film takes place in the few days leading up to Christmas – right about now, actually – and it does feel more Christmas-y than the last few movies I’ve watched. But it’s also a kick-ass 90s action movie, with kick-ass witty dialogue, and mediocre mid-budget action sequences (that green screen technology sure does date a film, hoo boy). I absolutely loved it.

One hidden gem in this movie is Brian Cox, who plays a former mentor to Davis’ Samantha/Charly character. Cox (who is always good) has some of the best lines in the film and really brings the scenes he’s in to life.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx-Ui_Ontqg]
Sam Jackson is in top form as the wise-cracking Mitch Hennesey, and Davis is pretty good as well, although I prefer her innocent but sarcastic Samantha Caine to the supposedly cold-as-ice killer assassin Charley Baltimore.

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The one thing in this movie that isn’t great is the villain, Timothy (yes, that’s really his name!) played by Craig Bierko. You may remember him from such films as The Thirteenth Floor and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but he hasn’t done much since the 90s. He sure plays up the cheese in this movie, almost comically so. But I get the feeling that he’s trying to straight up play a menacing, eccentric bad guy here. He does a poor job of it.

Still, it’s a fun movie to watch and I’m glad I added it to this list. The idea was to replace the now cliche Die Hard with another action movie, and The Long Kiss Goodnight fills that slot nicely.

Next up, Brazil, which I know is not going to fill me with Christmas Cheer either, but I love it and I’m watching it all the same.

 

 

Day 3 – Life of Brian

life-of-brian

Life of Brian is the second feature film written, produced and performed by the Monty Python comedy troupe, the follow up to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s not actually a Christmas movie, having been released in August of 1979. Brian stars (of course) Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Michael Palin. I haven’t seen this film in probably 20 years. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember that at 18 years of age, I considered this to be my favorite Python film, and one of the funniest of all time. Today I rented it on iTunes, but the whole movie is also on YouTube for free. Who knew.

In order to move things along more quickly (and because I’m already behind a night!) I’m going to live blog this one. Here we go!

lifebrian204

– Opening Scene: the Three Wise Men visit the wrong baby, in the wrong manger. Terry Jones plays the mother of Brian, who is born on the same day and in the same village as Jesus, hence the confusion. Jones was always my favorite when they dressed as women. His falsetto is so false, it’s hilarious.

– “Blessed are the cheese makers. And the Greek.” – ha!

– Half an hour in and I’m amazed at how quickly this moves, and at how densely packed the comedy is. Every scene is a new sketch, with new characters.

– Spoke too soon. Now we’re into this “People’s Front of Judea” thing. Still funny, but not quite as quick-moving as the first 25 minutes of the film.

– Palin is. Just. Awesome. In one scene he’s an old crazy prisoner shackled to the wall, in the next he’s a speech-impeded Pontius Pilate, defending the honor of his friend Biggus Dickus.  Just awesome.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K8_jgiNqUc]
– This whole film is built on the foundation of Palin, Cleese and Idle, who all play multiple roles. Gilliam just has a few bit parts, Chapman plays Brian throughout, and Jones isn’t around much, as he was busy directing the film.

– I’m now at the part where they think Brian is the Messiah. Such clever satire. They make fun of Christianity without actually making fun of Christianity!

– Hey, was that George Harrison?

– It was! Apparently he financed the movie.

– And we finish up with Eric Idle’s classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” sung by him, Brian and the other crucify-ees. Perfect ending to an excellent film.

Starbound-s-Rendition-of-Monty-Python-s-Crucifixion-Scene-Is-the-Funniest-Thing-You-ll-See-Today-408702-2

Always look on the bright side of life!

 

The comedy of Life of Brian is timeless, and absolutely still holds up. It’s so smart for Python to set their first two films in a time and place that doesn’t exist in the modern era of film. Thus, a 35-year-old movie is just as funny and relevant as it was on the day of its release.

Still, not much of a Christmas film. I think my desire to choose “cool, clever and different” film titles for this list is having an unexpected side effect – I’m not really feeling the Christmas spirit! Maybe The Long Kiss Goodnight will change that.

Day 2 – Go

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Let’s just say Simon’s trip to Vegas doesn’t exactly go as planned.

 

Go (1999) was Doug Liman’s directorial follow-up to Swingers, one of my favorite films of all time. It stars Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Taye Diggs, Scott Wolfe, Timothy Olyphant, and basically any other young up-and-coming star that 90s Hollywood had to offer. Screenwriter John August follows a Pulp Fiction-style, three-story plot line  following four main characters that interact with one another in a highly entertaining fashion. I watched it on Crackle.

The three “tales” of Go all take place on Christmas Eve. Story #1 centers around Ronna (Sarah Polley), a grocery store checkout clerk who can’t pay her rent and is trying to earn extra cash to keep from being evicted. At the tail end of her 20+ hour shift, Adam and Zack (Scott Wolfe & Jay Mohr – we’ll get back to them in a minute) approach Ronna about buying some ecstasy. You see, they usually buy from Ronna’s coworker Simon, (Desmond Askew in an incredible performance – I’ve never seen him in anything else) but she took his shift so he could go to Vegas for the weekend. Ronna agrees to try and find them some drugs; she figures it’ll be an easy way for her to get the rent money she so desperately needs. Ronna attempts to do this by bypassing the middleman and going directly to Simon’s dealer, Todd Gaines (Timothy Olyphant).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxgfSDgHGYw]
Story #2 is my favorite of the film, and somewhat simpler to boil down: is follows the misadventures of Simon and his friends on their trip to Vegas. I’m not even going to describe it further. It’s awesome. Watch it.

Story #3 brings us back to Adam and Zack, two soap opera actors who also happen to be a couple. This story crosses over a lot with Story #1, but depicts the events from a different point of view. William Fichtner and Jane Krakowski both give amazing and hilarious performances here, and Wolfe and Mohr hold their own as well. Whatever happened to Scott Wolfe anyway?

All three stories tie together at the end in a very satisfying way, including the film’s best line: “And then there’s the Family fucking Circus, bottom right-hand corner, just waiting to suck.” In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I love this movie. It’s up there on my all-time list and I’ve probably seen it 20+ times.

But I have to say, It’s not all that Christmas-y. Sure, you can tell that Christmas is happening around the characters. Even the rave (remember those?) that takes place has a giant, green Santa Claus front and centre.  But this film contains none of your typical Christmas themes. Family, generosity, goodwill towards all, there’s nothing. In fact, many of the characters have profound personality flaws and frankly deserve what happens to them. So, don’t watch this if you’re looking to get in a holiday-like mood.

But DO watch it if you want to see a film with great storytelling, amazing acting, hilarious dialogue, insane situations, and a killer soundtrack. It’s even got a pre-EVERYTHING Melissa McCarthy, who I’d completely forgotten was in this. So yeah, this one’s a winner in my books.

Next up: Life of Brian

Day 1 – Arthur Christmas

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Santa, the S1, and his thousands of elves (Arthur’s the one in the green).

Arthur Christmas is an animated film produced by the British Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Flushed Away) and distributed by Sony Pictures Animation. It stars James McAvoyHugh LaurieBill Nighy and Jim Broadbent as a multi-generational family of Santas. It has a fresh rating of 91% on rottentomatoes.com, and I watched it on Netflix.

Arthur Christmas begins with the question: “How does Santa deliver presents to children all around the world in just one night?” The answer? A giant spaceship-sized sleigh that can travel  200,000 mph, complete with an extremely advanced computer system and thousands of elves who deliver the majority of presents covert ops-style. Santa is largely a figurehead who delivers one token present per town, with a lot of help from the elves. He doesn’t do much else, as he’s getting on in his old age, and is somewhat absent-minded.

You see, this Santa (aka Malcolm Christmas) is the latest in a long line of Santa Clauses, as the responsibility of delivering presents on Christmas Eve is passed down from father to son over the generations. Malcolm has two sons: Steve and Arthur. Steve (big, strong, alpha male) is the one behind the technology, spaceship, etc and runs Mission Control back at the North Pole while Santa makes his rounds. Arthur (small, shy, clumsy, but with a good heart) works in the Letters department, answering children’s letters to Santa.

On this particular Christmas, Steve and his team are successful in delivering 2 billion presents to children worldwide. They are celebrating another successful completed Christmas mission when Bryony, an elf from the Wrapping Division, discovers one present left over on the sleigh. This, of course, means that one child has been missed and will wake up on Christmas Day without a present from Santa. Steve, who thinks in terms of numbers and percentages, doesn’t see this as a problem – this falls well within his margin of error. Arthur, on the other hand, feels that they absolutely have to find a way to deliver this final present before sunrise. Adventurous antics ensue.

I loved Arthur Christmas. It’s a fresh take on the Santa legend, with a good script and excellent voice acting from some of Britain’s best. This film explores how Christmas has changed over the years, but from the perspective of Santa Claus. The theme of “new vs old” is central to the story, with Steve and his newfangled technology on the one side, and “Grand Santa” (Bill Nighy) with his traditional sleigh and eight tiny reindeer on the other.

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Grand Santa shows Arthur how things were done in his day.

It’s a fun ride, my kids LOVED it, and I can definitely see this film becoming a part of our annual Christmas viewing tradition.

Next up: Go.

The Twelve Films of Christmas

My go-to Christmas Eve movie

My go-to Christmas Eve movie

This year, in order to cram in as much Christmas cheer as humanly possible, I am challenging myself to watch 12 Christmas movies in 12 days.

Now you may not think that’s much of a challenge, but for me it absolutely is.

See, I’m talking REAL Christmas movies here, grownup movies. Movies that explore the meaning of the Greatest Of All Western Holidays, and some that twist it just a little bit.

Usually with me, it’s kid’s stuff.

I have children. They like cartoons. And Muppets. And if they do show interest in a live-action film, it usually involves Jim Carrey in copious amounts of prosthetics and makeup.

The odds of my kids sitting through an entire black & white film are zero.

So, I’m going to make a little “me” time this holiday season. Over the next two weeks, I’m going to watch one Christmas movie per night and blog about them right here. Some of them are classics, some are decidedly not, and some are, well, kids movies okay? I’m not a machine, man!

Here’s my list, check it twice. And feel free to watch along with me and join the conversation.

December 13 – Arthur Christmas
December 14 – Go
December 15 – Life of Brian
December 16 – The Long Kiss Goodnight
December 17 – Brazil
December 18 – Trading Places
December 19 – Bad Santa
December 20 – The Muppet Christmas Carol
December 21 – Rare Exports
December 22 – Scrooged
December 23 – A Christmas Story
December 24 – It’s a Wonderful Life

Check back to read my thoughts on all of those. Merry Christmas!

– Dan

Video Game Videos

Last week on the podcast, I said that my children would rather watch YouTube videos over anything else, and I mean ANYTHING. Cartoons. Movies. Netflix. Mickey Mouse. Sesame Street. Adventure Time. Heck, even Pixar (the gold standard in children’s entertainment) doesn’t hold a candle to Best Cat Vines or Toby Turner branded videos.

Kenton was having a hard time wrapping his head around what exactly these videos are all about, so to enlighten him (and you) I have compiled a top five list of my kids’ (and my) favourite YouTubers.

5. Pewdiepie – Actually, this guy isn’t one of our favourites (GREAT start, Dan!) I include him in this list only because he is currently the #1 YouTuber in the world. He has more than 31 MILLION subscribers and averages around 15 million views per video. I like to think of Pewdiepie as an unexplained phenomenon, an unsolved mystery if you will. He’s not really my cup of tea, but teens love him. I just don’t get why he’s become so popular, so fast. YouTube stat-tracking website SocialBlade.com estimates that Pewdiepie makes up to 16 million dollars a year by posting goofy videos of himself playing video games online. Yeah.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRyPjRrjS34]
Subscribers: 31,217,132

SocialBlade grade: A++

Plays: All kinds of stuff, but mostly known for horror-genre games. Lot’s of screaming involved here.

 

4. TobyGames – This second channel of Toby Turner (a.k.a. Tobuscus) was one of the first to jump aboard the “video game video” gravy train. There have been many imitators since he started by uploading Halo gameplay videos four years ago, but no one can duplicate Turner’s quick wit and voice acting ability. He’s one of my personal faves, someone I started watching back in 2009. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrHcwWMhCe8?list=UULCmJiSbIoa_ZFiBOBDf6ZA]

Subscribers: 6,840,342

SocialBlade grade: A

Plays: Lots of Minecraft, and usually takes on the big Xbox or PS4 titles as they’re released. Has found a cool, hilarious niche playing Happy Wheels.

 

3. The Diamond Minecart – My kids came across this young British lad while searching for Minecraft videos on YouTube, and he’s been a regular go-to ever since. Dan TDM (as he’s commonly known) is a regular Minecraft player, as his name implies. Mostly he focuses on playing mini-games against other players on his Minecraft server. Not particularly funny or witty, he’s as straight-ahead as it gets but does have considerable skill in this arena.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmuAVhqq4iI?list=PLUR-PCZCUv7SKobGoa1pX2pxHsr6X8tug]

Subscribers: 3,818,479

Plays: Almost exclusively Minecraft, but has ventured into Spore and The Sims 4

SocialBlade grade: A

 

2. Stampylonghead – Another Brit, Stampy is my daughter’s favourite YouTuber and is known for his trademark greeting and infectious laugh. Stampy uploads a new Minecraft video every day, but does play other games as well. His signature series takes place in “Stampy’s Lovely World” and sees him undertake a number of adventures with his online crew. My kids absolutely adore him.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOFm-JBOqFc]

Subscribers: 3,908,369

Plays: Minecraft, Terraria, Disney Infinity, The Walking Dead. Lots of other stuff.

SocialBlade score: A

 

1. Ssundee – The consensus in my house is that Sundee is the bomb when is comes to Minecraft videos. His high-energy delivery and hilarious commentary provides entertainment for all ages, and he usually opens each video with a solid joke. Sundee concentrates almost solely on Minecraft mods, that is alterations or additions to the game’s core programming. He usually debuts a lot of new mods, and so has become somewhat of a news source for keen Minecrafters looking for the next big thing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8J7YTyniZw?list=UUke6I9N4KfC968-yRcd5YRg]

Subscribers: 3,288,392

Plays: Minecraft, Minecraft and more Minecraft

SocialBlade grade: A+

 

Non-Minecraft honourable mentions include HankGames, Zack ScottChuggaconroy and Game Society Pimps. There are others, but those are some of my favourites. These are guys who play video games for a living, every nerd’s dream.

After to speaking to other friends of mine with kids of similar age, it’s clear to me that this content is hugely popular with the under-10 crowd. As this generation grows up, I think we’ll see a massive shift in viewing habits away from traditional cable television to online platforms like YouTube and Netflix (it’s happening already!) I’m waiting for a TV network to jump on this bandwagon with video game play-along content of their own, or for these YouTubers to be featured on TV. We’ll see who jumps first.

– Dan

The Free Ride Is Over

Last episode, Kenton and I discussed my recent trip to Dallas for the Social Media Strategies Summit. It was an amazing conference and I learned a ton. Anyone who is currently working, or who wants to work in social media should attend this conference or something similar. So useful.

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@teedubya gives a gif-tastic presentation at #SMSSummit on audience measurement tools. BRO.

One of the things that stood out for me at #SMSSummit was the idea that social media is maturing. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would no longer allow pages to reach their “fans” through organic reach (appearing in the feed whenever it is posted). So now when you post to your Facebook page, only about 2% of your fans will see that post naturally. In order to reach more, you have to pay to “boost” the post.

The announcement was met with the usual chorus of “Facebook sucks!” and “I’m shutting down my Facebook, get me on email!” Some brands left Facebook altogether, stating that their money was better spent on traditional advertising such as TV, print and outdoor.

That lasted about a month.

And then, everything went back to normal.

People continued to post on Facebook. Cute cat videos continued to dominate the Internet. The Ice Bucket Challenge happened.

The reason for this is, of course, is that Facebook’s decision to monetize fan page reach doesn’t affect everyday Facebook users. They can continue posting their listicles, “what character are you” quizzes and “bare legs on the beach” vacation photos and the experience is no different for them than it was before the change.

Kenton enjoys the beach as much as the next guy...

Kenton enjoys the beach as much as the next guy…

And so Facebook lives on. A billion users can’t be wrong. Everyone is on Facebook, and therefore all brands should be on Facebook. If you don’t like paying for reach, too bad. As my favourite author said in my favourite book: TANSTAAFL (bonus nerd points to anyone who gets that reference without Googling it).

Social media is no longer “free”.

Not that it ever was completely free. But the common thinking out there (at least in the Winnipeg market, and among many attendees at #SMSSummit) is that all a brand has to do is hire someone to manage its social media presence, and that’s it. No money is needed for advertising because the audience can be reached through Facebook and Twitter for free.

That’s still somewhat the case for Twitter, but it’s changing. And this shouldn’t surprise us. These companies allow us to use their amazing social communication tools for free. Just like radio, just like TV (network TV, anyway), just like the Internet. They have to make money somehow.

We must embrace the change, live in the now! Social media is growing up. Because it costs money, it is now on an equal playing field with traditional advertising. Brands should now allocate a portion of their marketing budget to paid Facebook and Twitter ads, Google AdWords, and various forms of online native advertising.

I’m excited about this; it’s a cool time to be a communicator. And I’m very excited to be covering this material and more in my new Social Media and Internet Marketing course next semester at RRC.

Wave of the future!