Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pop Culture Updates: Two Types of Nostalgia (Plus One)

Here's a first: two stories I previously covered on this blog have further a way. One definitely does, and there's a possibility that the other has some influence, direct or indirect, on a major network's big announcement.

First off, I recently talked about Peanuts Worldwide bringing Snoopy into the social media sphere by launching an official Facebook page, as well as the upcoming direct-to-DVD movie Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. Well, Snoopy's social push continues, as he not only has his own Twitter account (one wonders if he writes his tweets via typewriter...or if his resident secretary Woodstock does it for him, given that he's been tweeting all his life) as well as a YouTube channel, which features the official trailer for the upcoming new DVD.

As I said before, I'm really looking forward to this. Wildbrain seems to have done a good job of capturing the '60s Peanuts style. (The brief cameo by Woodstock is at the same time both unusual and not- Woodstock wasn't officially named until 1970- after the concert, of course- but birds often hung out around Snoopy for years beforehand, originally drawn more realistically but eventually evolving into the stylized bird type we recognize as Woodstock, whose design has a copyright date of 1965. Yes, I have no life.)

But by far the much more interesting development was the announcement Nickelodeon made today that they'll be creating a late-night block of '90s Nickelodeon shows on their sister network TeenNick. Although I do think it would probably do better on Nick proper- I'm sure they'd get better ratings with the insomniac and/or stoner twentysomething crowd with old Pete and Petes and Clarissa Explains It Alls than with an old George Lopez or whatever Nick at Nite's playing at that time- it's a very interesting development.

Nearly fifteen years of live-action comedy history courtesy of not only Nickelodeon, but Dan Schneider, are represented in this photo. From left: Jennette McCurdy, Miranda Cosgrove, Kenan Thompson, Victoria Justice, Nathan Kress

Fueling this development is the large reaction these shows have on social networking sites such as Facebook, where these shows have over nine thousand million fans. Although I'm not 100% sure this is the case, did perhaps that silly rumor that I covered not once on this blog, but twice, have at least partly something to do with that? To quote Nickelodeon's own press release, "There is an entire generation of young people who literally grew up on these great 1990s’ series, and many of them have been vocal about wanting to see and experience these shows again." "Vocal" is an understatement, as I personally know. That rumor alone was a powerful example of that.

A lot of companies- not surprisingly, mostly those that have a vast history and/or back catalog- are great at using nostalgia as a marketing tool, and this is a perfect example of that. It may be born at least partly out of Nostalgic Bias Syndrome, but it also works as an example of companies using not only nostalgia, but social media to their advantage: not only was the idea born of social media, but "TeenNick’s audience also will have the opportunity to influence the block’s line-up by requesting their favorite series and episodes via social media sites set up by the network, including a dedicated Facebook fan site." Showing an example of this, Nickelodeon posted today on their official Twitter account a link to "Amanda Please!", a goofy website which served as a cross-media tie-in with The Amanda Show, supposedly run by series star Amanda Bynes's stalkerish "number one fan, please," Penelope Taynt (one of many characters Bynes herself portrayed on the sketch comedy show). One can see a direct link between Amanda Please! and iCarly, for example, as far as TV/Internet crossovers are concerned. (Both series, coincidentally, were created by Dan Schneider, who is responsible for most of Nick's live-action comedies over the past 15 years and whose creations so resonate with a certain subsection of American culture that there actually exists a real chain of New York City restaurants called "Goodburger, Home of the Goodburger"- a fact which Schneider himself is tickled by partly because he came up with "Good Burger" due to it being a mediocre name.) The more things change, the more they stay the same.

And that's true in more ways than one- to paraphrase none other than sister network MTV, Kenan Thompson is still dressing in drag. It's just that he's doing it on a much more well-known comedy series now. And perhaps the best example of that is his performance as another famous child star from another network...alongside a genuine famous child star from another network. Truly, it's a small world after all. Especially when pop culture and nostalgia are concerned. Aw, here it goes!

PEANUTS® ©2011 Peanuts Worldwide LLC. NICKELODEON elements ™&©2011 Viacom International, Inc. SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE ©2011 NBC Universal Worldwide. No ownership intended or implied.

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this post, I found another example of rumors, social media, and nostalgia coming together in that a well-known nostalgic character is using social media to fight rumors of his demise head-on. After pointing out that PepsiCo's website made no mention of Cap'n Crunch, the Daily Finance made rumors start swirling about the Cap'n walking the plank at the hands of nutrition. Thankfully for many (including myself) who adore the fictional sailor's mouth-destroying (in more ways than one) cereal, Quaker themselves put to rest the fears, stating that people are more likely to search for the Cap'n online by himself and not his parent company. According to those in the know, because of the less-than-ideal nutritional content of the product, Quaker no longer advertises Cap'n Crunch to children, and to ease the fears of those who grew up with him, the Cap'n himself states on his official website that "I was out on the high seas, but don't worry, I'm back and I'm not going anywhere." He also joined Twitter today in an effort to debunk the rumors, stating, "I'm hearing the rumors. I would never retire. I love being a captain too much!" The Cap'n is also using Twitter to help fight the rumors of his retirement. I commended him for such, to which he had this to say: "I'm not going anywhere and I want everyone to know it!" Now that's truly a way to fight silly rumors in the Internet age! I commend Quaker and the Cap'n for this clever way to not only debunk the rumor, but create product buzz as well. If the Soggies and Jean LeFoote couldn't bring the Cap'n down, the Internet surely won't.

No comments:

Post a Comment