January 23rd, 2010
Conan O’Brien: comic genius.
So much has transpired! I have left the country and returned. I have read books and watched movies and tasted foods. I have started the year of 2010, now twenty or more days passed, with the greatest of cheer and simplest of joys. But not all is well with the world. An earthquake devastated Haiti some thousands of miles away, and the world sent their doctors and money and rations to repair the people and places that were left. The bells are tolling, counting the dead.
Here, on America’s shores, a different bell tolls. It is the death knell of traditional television, and its deep metal tone echoed out across the country last night when Conan O’Brien stepped down from his Tonight Show slot. For whom does this bell toll? For the broadcasters that cannot adapt to a world of entertainment consumers that time-shift their interests. It tolls for the men who rely on Neilsen and the antiquated ratings system that they read like tea leaves. It tolls for the old guard, the ones who didn’t get it right, the ones who cast Conan out and into the shadows in the face of a popular uprising.
From those shadows shall emerge a man supported by the young and savvy. They will lift him on their shoulders with cries of “Coco! Coco!”, and this writhing sea of faithful will carry him on to his next venture, his next comedic palace and pulpit. They will cheer for him and rejoice in the pact made between this man and his followers, the pact that says, “Together, we will have fun.” Somewhere, someone smarter than NBC will discover the right way to monetize the passion for this man in a world of increasingly fragmented interest and attention.
The culture is changing, the bell is tolling, traditional television is dying, but Conan will be just fine. There are just too many, like myself, who love him and will carry him on into the great unknown expanse of entertainment’s future.
“Coco! Coco! Coco! Coco! Coco!…”