The Commentary Community
I care about what other people think.
About Jack Bauer.
About the new Pigeon John album.
Sure, like any self-obsessed American, I’m concerned about how I am perceived by those around me. But I’m also deeply interested in knowing what other people think about the entertainment I consume.
It doesn’t really matter what format the media is in. I just want to pick their brain and see if they treasured the same moments I loved and despised the same dialogue I hated.
Thank God for online commentaries. Now I’m addicted to them.
I got my first intoxicating taste during the late 1990’s pro rasslin’ Monday Night Wars. Because “WCW Nitro” and “WWF RAW” were broadcast live and on at the same time, sports entertainment fans were forced to flip between the two. Obviously such channel surfing meant you would occasionally miss a main event or important cage match. So I went to the Internet to get my recap (and then commentary) fix.
Today I’m fully hooked. As soon as the final credits roll on “Heroes” I’m online to read viewer feedback. Unfortunately EntertainmentWeekly.com (my main supplier of web smack) doesn’t post their reviews until Tuesday morning.
Thankfully I have other sources.
The Houston Chronicle has a decent Tubular TV blog and some devoted “Lost” fans regularly update an Easter Egg site with post-episode screen shots of hopeful background clues to the island mystery.
I also have less publicized, but equally reliable, friends who can carry on similar conversations electronically. (My wife Kim is usually there for the live discussion.)
For the past three years Shelley has been doing her own American Idol newsletter for friends and family. This season she’s upgraded; now posting her “Sanjaya Sucks” thoughts on an officially sanctioned AI blog that is part of the show’s main site.
And usually the first e-mail to hit my Inbox on Tuesday morning is from Heather, a former co-worker, who wants to point out all the logical hoops CTU has jumped through in the last “24” hours.
In fact, it was during one of our recent exchanges that I stumbled upon two BIG IDEAS.
- Jack Bauer = Batman.
Think about it:
- Both use utility belts (Sure, Batman's has more cool tools, but Jack ALWAYS has a cell phone with a fully charged battery.)
- Both have had family members and loved ones killed by bad guys
- Neither has "special" powers (X-ray vision, flying, etc.) but still kick butt
- Batcave = CTU headquarters? I think so. Have they ever shown the entrance to that place – anyone walking in or out? It’s very dark in there…
- Jack seems to be on the President's speed dial as Batman is for Commissioner Gordon
- Both have to face a variety of villains from all over the globe
- Online commentaries & reviews are the modern-day water cooler (aka We Were Made For Community)
It makes sense doesn’t it? God even interacts with himself via three persons: The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. If we were created in His own image should we be any different?
I believe I’m driven to these online commentaries because I want community. I want shared experiences. I want something to talk about at work the next day.
And I’m not the only one.
How else do you explain the football-hating housewives you know who host their own Super Bowl parties?
It’s because they want to feel a part of, and be able to contribute to, the Top Commercial Countdown and Monday Morning Quarterback conversations that will be taking place two cubicles over when she gets back to the office.
The great challenge is getting that need for community satisfied by real flesh and blood people. Reviews, message boards, and e-commentaries can make us feel like we’re in on the joke, but often leave us hanging on the sidelines.
But we don’t get to really interact with those folks. We think we’re on the team, but we’re really just the water boy.
I guess that’s a good part of what church is about: really fulfilling this craving we have for community. We want to be a part of a shared experience and something larger than just crowning the next American Idol.
But it’s also messy. People aren’t always likeable and occasionally get on our nerves. But come on, doesn’t GzusFreak1983* on any HHH site’s message board do that too?
So let’s get out from behind the keyboard and DO SOMETHING. Let’s stop “going to church” and start “being the church.”
Let’s do something big. We can talk about it later.
*GzusFreak1983 is not a real person (that I know of) and is a fictional screen name made up for the purposes of this example.