Friday, March 18, 2011

Not all that broken up about the paywall

[I'm working an a post on the Florida education bill but I'm taking my time. The truth here is so ugly that even the slightest over-reaction would be going too far. In the meantime, here's something light and snarky for your Friday afternoon.]

As you've probably heard, there's a paywall going up around America's most over-rated newspaper (I'd put the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times and maybe a half-dozen other papers above it). The limit for free articles is twenty a month though you can still apparently follow blog links after you've run through those so you should still be able to keep up with most of what you're reading now (almost all of which is probably summarized by bloggers like Thoma and DeLong anyway).

As far as I can tell, the big loss will be those articles that catch your eye while you're browsing the site and most of those tend to read like this piece on the spectacular failure of Mars Needs Moms (a bomb that may leave a nine-figure crater).

The explain-the-fiasco story is one of the annoying perennials of entertainment journalism (the object is to explain why a show tanked without addressing the fact that it stank) and even by the low, low standards of the genre, this article by Brooks Barnes leaves much to be desired, consisting of widely-available facts, conventional wisdom and analysis like this:
It is quite rare for a Disney release to flop as badly as “Mars Needs Moms,” which is based on an illustrated book by Berkeley Breathed, best known for the comic strip “Bloom County.” Part of the problem may have been the story. What child wants to see a movie about his mom being taken away from him? But studio executives also pointed to the style of animation as a culprit.
Do the names Bambi and Dumbo not ring any bells whatsoever? Does Barnes not know that early Disney features (Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi) expertly played expertly on children's fear of being separated from their parents? Or that this template remains popular to this day (Finding Nemo)? More importantly, does this strike you as an insight you'd pay $15 a month for?

If you're in the mood for more fun at the gray lady's expense, check out this amusing bit of mockery from Wonkette.

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