I wrote in a piece I posted on a different website about how Americans have become engulfed in their entertainment. I think with this Age of Technology you see more and more a shift in how people spend their time and spend their day. In a lot of ways it has been extremely beneficial for us as a society. Computers, cell phones, the internet and any mixture of those three phenomenon like Blackberries, text messaging and E-mail has made production a lot less time consuming. With this, people are able to build businesses and even industries around these extremely efficient business machines and methods. From there, you see your upper middle class and above incomes, known as your consuming class, have more money to consume, and have more disposable time to consume. With such a drastic change in the sociological structure of society evolving the way it has, you begin to see a shift in the way consumers use their time and their money.
This brings me to my question. Why do Americans, when given ample time and resources to choose from, insist on flipping the script on everything that used to be considered the "Norm" in entertainment? TV used to be dominated by situational comedies and shows that portrayed fantasy, shows that were based in fiction, shows that were sold on fiction and that adhered to rules not available to the outside, real world. Sports, on the other hand, were supposed to be a glass house depiction of real life. Well, what happened? Reality TV has taken over the country. Look at American Idol, the formerly iconic Survivor, Dancing with the Stars and even real-life fictional crime dramas CSI and Without a Trace. All of these shows are supposed to reflect reality, when they cross over into that fantasy realm, they are immediately discredited and become ridiculous. Shows like Inside Edition, TMZ and E! News has made celebrities actual lives more interesting and compelling than the characters they portray on the screen. The same effect has crossed over into sports. Look at the NFL. What has been the prevailing factor in expanding the NFL's audience into this young era? The answer is fantasy. The most interesting part of actual real competition is fantasy. Take the Madden franchise for example. EA creates the most realistic representation of football you can find around. Hell, EA can use their engines to create projections of how a team's season will play out compared to certain variables. And the craziest part? They're accurate! The players have bought into this too. Players make no secret to the creators of Madden what they have been doing in their off-season in order too secure a higher agility rating in Madden 2009. With all the advances and all the Artificial Intelligence and all the data being plugged into these games, a Madden franchise can actually become a full time job. Some gamers, the elite players, actually use their Madden skills as a job, and make very nice livings.
The same goes with fantasy football. Now come on, has there ever been a more warped measure of football knowledge than success in your Fantasy Football league? Take the 11 all stars you drafted from a 32 team pool into an 8 team league, pay no attention to chemistry, development, coaching or line play, and then hope your players score the most touchdowns or have the most YAC. Nice work Mr. Parcells. Your team, the "Flying Banditos of Buzra", just won its 3rd straight title in the "Forty Year Old Virgin" keeper league your friend the process server started 5 years ago on Yahoo.com. Can I interest you in running the Patriots?
Here's my take. People that have more time, and more access to information, demand more involvement in the things they consume. However, they don't want to actually learn about it. They just want to strip it down to its simplest standards and then enjoy it. Reality TV, Fantasy Football and Madden 2009 are like the 2008 version of Monopoly. Sure, you may think you're a business man when you win it, but when you get out in the real world you best not bank on landing on Chance and having the card read, "Advance to Boardwalk."