The phrase “Golden Age of Television” has already been dutifully plugged into our macros, but have you noticed that we’re also living in a Golden Age of You? It’s true! Not only has your use of social networking sites already replaced drooling, doddering, shitting-his-slacks “traditional media,” it’s also helped you evolve past the very 20th-century pastimes of “enjoying things.” For example, in ye olden days, people used to watch their television programs passively, allowing themselves to be immersed in the escapism that their fictional worlds provided, the only “interactive element” being the way the light bounced off of their rods and cones, and the only “added value” being those frayed word-pictures creaked out by their musty mind-looms. Perhaps sometimes they would take advantage of the commercial breaks to turn to their neighbor—who was probably diligently churning butter for the morrow’s repast—and utter a kind word about the thespians who provided that evening’s entertainment, followed by a rhetorical query about what sort of prayers and penance they’d endured to escape a lifetime of similar drudgery. But if they wanted to ask those questions of the actors directly, it required a postage stamp and many months of patience to get an answer—that is, if the floods and the coyotes didn’t get them first.
Fortunately, we now live in shiny, futuristic, incredibly irritating times, and your television is no longer just an “idiot box”—it’s a loudmouthed idiot box, a blabbering, coked-up friend with zero sense of boundaries who’s going to talk and talk and talk to you without ever noticing that you’re openly mocking him. It all changed last week with the dawning of the “Twitter-cast”—an exciting technological clusterfuck that combines the joy of reading the musings of professional actors who learned English compositional skills during those 15 minutes when catering was still setting up with the thrill of having your talkative toddler block the television screen so she can babble about the dog they saw in the yard. Fox’s recent “Tweet-peat” airings of Glee and Fringe heralded an exciting new era in broadcast history, one in which everything you enjoy about a show is ruined by its creators instantaneously, as you watch it. It’s a bold, unproven strategy, but it’s one that paid off handsomely over the weekend, as people who'd only heard about the shows but hadn't had a chance to see them yet tuned in, and already-converted fans turned up in droves to see what insights their favorite new stars and creative minds had to offer about the shows they’d just begun to love. And then they all switched channels immediately once they realized it was just going to be 45 minutes of this:
Of course, it sounds like a great idea on those wooden screens the olds call “paper”: Gather the cast of a show that’s existed for less than an hour in the pop consciousness, and whose ensemble of unknowns are only now forging a tenuous bond with the public, then get them to destroy every bit of goodwill they’ve miraculously accrued one “LOL” at a time. Because what’s the loss of a little suspension of disbelief and the intangible, inherent otherworldliness of fiction if it means getting insights like, “I learned not to take myself so seriously from Jane Lynch, she’s so professional”? Why, in the long long ago, you would have had to wait for a bland, softball interview from People magazine to get that sort of added dimension to your entertainment—but again, this is the future. Instead of catching up on an episode of Fringe that you missed, and having it ruined by your annoying friend who keeps talking and saying absolutely nothing while you’re trying to watch, now it’s actually actor John Noble who won’t shut the hell up!
And how are the fans reacting to this newfound accessibility, a place where the lines separating entertainer and audience no longer exist, and the respective Golden Ages of Television and You are in their twin ascension? By “interacting" on Fox's website!
With such obvious success, it’s only a matter of time before television moves beyond the “Tweet-peat” into a new realm of involvement, one that completely obliterates the fourth wall, then posts pictures of the rubble on Flickr—like the special “Mirror-cast,” happening right now on every channel. First, make sure the power is off on your television, then move a little closer. You’ll notice that all those outmoded, passive “shows” have been replaced with a special, dynamically interactive “user integration” technology that puts your very own face and movements right there on the screen! This is it! The future of entertainment! Now go get on Facebook and tell everyone in the fucking universe about it!