Some of what makes theater a bad business is, alas, also fundamental to what makes it theater. But surely it’s not a completely lost cause. Can we imagine a theater run in any other way? What if we start off with the assumption that a theater can’t make money from its art? 2 How would we create a theater that runs under this assumption? Could such a theater exist? Can it be made economically robust and artistically excellent?
The most galling thing about this financial crisis is that so many Wall Street types think they actually deserve not only their huge bonuses and lavish lifestyles but the awesome political power their own mistakes have left them in possession of. When challenged, they talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40.
“But wait a minute,” you say to them. “No one ever asked you to stay up all night eight days a week trying to get filthy rich shorting what’s left of the American auto industry or selling $600 billion in toxic, irredeemable mortgages to ex-strippers on work release and Taco Bell clerks. Actually, come to think of it, why are we even giving taxpayer money to you people? Why are we not throwing your ass in jail instead?”
But before you even finish saying that, they’re rolling their eyes, because You Don’t Get It. These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.
Time for another bet. I’ll bet $100 with any brand manager reading this article that we will see a radical shift in marketing over the next 5 years. A shift that introduces pure entertainment as the foundation for advertising. Not branded entertainment, not advertainment… Entertainment.
This isn’t about the end of commerce or the end of marketing or news or entertainment. All of the above are finding new expressions online, and in time will flourish thanks to the very digital revolution that is now ravaging them. The future is bright. But the present is apocalyptic. Any hope for a seamless transition – or any transition at all – from mass media and marketing to micro media and marketing are absurd.
The sky is falling, the frog in the pot has come to a boil and, oh yeah, we are, most of us, exquisitely, irretrievably fucked.