Tag Archives: social media

Washington Heights – A Show Abandoned

Washington Heights on MTV is an example of a show that failed not because it wasn’t good or didn’t have a devoted, core audience. It failed because the network it was on didn’t believe it would succeed and did absolutely nothing to promote it.

MTV doesn’t make reality shows about young people of colour, so Washington Heights, a show about Dominicans and Latino’s living in upper Manhattan was a nice breath of fresh air. Instead of it being Jersey Shore with brown faces, it was about young people trying to make it and do something positive with their lives and their art. It was a show that a lot of people gravitated to and loved, including me.

The early reviews of the show were positive, though some of the chatter on Twitter was saying it was boring or staged, it seemed like people were watching. However, Washington Heights debuted the same week as Buckwild, a show about young people in rural Virginia that was already seen as the new Jersey Shore. The Buckwild cast were on the Today Show, Access Hollywood, on MTV’s website, Tumblr page and all over their Twitter feed. It was obvious from the beginning that Buckwild was the show MTV was pushing, and Washington Heights just happened to be premiering the same week.

After the first episode aired, support for the show pretty much dropped completely. MTV live tweeted the first few episodes, but made negative comments about the show. R&B artist Miguel picked all the music for one episode and took over the MTV twitter feed to live tweet, but it was barely promoted and there was no mention in the episode that Miguel had picked the music. Barely any commercials for the show aired, the cast did very little media and perhaps the most crucial thing was the lack of reruns. MTV plays it’s signature shows, Snooki and JWow, Teen Mom 2, Catfish: The TV Show in marathons on the weekend. For a new show like Washington Heights, getting a big audience was important, especially since the ratings for the debut episode weren’t that great, and showing a marathon on the weekend would introduce more viewers to the show. It never happened. Now with one episode left, MTV Canada has pulled the show completely from its television line up, only showing it online and MTV US has pushed it back to 11 pm on Wednesdays.

It’s pretty clear that Washington Heights will not be getting a second season and it makes me angry because MTV never gave it a chance. The question is, why?

JP Perez, the star of the show, pitched the idea to MTV. It’s his show and his creation, which is something to applaud. The fact that MTV would put its time and money in to a show about Latino’s that showed them in a positive light was a step in the right direction. But it didn’t give MTV the standout personality like Snooki, it didn’t have shocking moments like Catfish, or drunk kids getting in to fights like Buckwild. Does that mean there isn’t a television market for young people of colour to be positive on TV? Do we have to settle for the Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta?

It’s frustrating that MTV didn’t do everything they could to promote this show and allow it to become successful. But like many other Washington Heights fans, the show will always stay with me. It was fun to watch, the cast members were lovable and talented and smart. I hope they’re able to use the show to make their dreams come true.

Shame on you, MTV, for letting this show go.

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Dance and YouTube

When I was younger, taping music videos was a full-time job. I remember days when I’d watch BET or MuchMusic for hours waiting for one specific video. If that video came on, I had to jump to grab the remote and press record. Most of the time it was a dance video. I’d have to tape it so I could get the choreography. I’d rewind and fast forward and pause making sure I was able to hit every single move. There were so many times I’d work up a sweat in my basement and wish people could watch me and see how I was killing the movement.

Now kids all over the world can have millions of people watch them dance thanks to YouTube. YouTube has made so many regular people instant stars by singing or doing weird stunts or having unique talents but dancers have really taken off because of YouTube.

French dancers Les Twins owe a lot of their fame to YouTube. A performance they gave at World of Dance in San Diego in 2010 has over 11 million views. Beyonce saw them dance on the internet and invited them to dance in her videos and live shows. They are worldwide stars now who have danced for other artists and teach all over the world. (I met them too, check out the post if you haven’t.)

A dance battle featuring Miley Cyrus and cast members from the movie Step Up 2 that was featured on YouTube made headlines in 2008. Celebrities got involved and people flocked to the internet to watch this dance battle. In my opinion its one of the most exciting things that’s happened on YouTube.

Now there is a new dance channel on YouTube that is all about the “dance lifestyle.” DS2DIO has four shows that feature interviews with famous dancers, videos of dancers in interesting locations and actual classes taught by choreographers to the stars. I find the classes the most interesting part of the channel. Most people will never get to take a class with Fatima Robinson, Wade Robson or Brian Friedman. Now they can because of YouTube. If I was still in the culture, I would totally set my computer up, put some comfortable clothes on, grab a water bottle and try to get the combination. Dancers are encouraged to learn the routine and post it on YouTube for other people to watch.

Dancers have always been in the background. It’s only recently with dance reality shows like America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance that they’re really getting the fame and recognition they deserve. When I was younger, I’d do my research and learn who each dancer was. Now a lot of dancers are recognized thanks to social media and reality shows. I think it’s great. Dancers are athletes who make music come alive.

Next time you’re bored, go on YouTube and watch some good dance videos. Here are some of my favs:

Mos Wanted Crew (the real winners of ABDC)

Les Twins, Chachi Gonzales and Smart Mark

Jabbawockeezz PYT (from ABDC)

Chris Brown doing the dougie

Beyonce rehearsing “Why Don’t You Love Me”

What are your favourite dance videos on YouTube?

 

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Frank Ocean

The big news this week was Anderson Cooper, someone who people have assumed was gay for ages, officially came out in a letter written to the Daily Beast.  The bigger news, to me and to hip hop, is R&B artist and Odd Future member Frank Ocean coming out.

I can’t think of a young black male artist in his prime ever coming out as gay. Even Luther Vandross, an R&B singer who everyone thought was gay, died without ever talking about it. Frank Ocean’s album comes out in two weeks. There are no words to describe how brave that is. One major thing that Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean have in common is they both came out using social media.

A few days ago there was online speculation about Frank Ocean’s sexuality based on lyrics from his new album. Instead of having to go on a talk show or release a statement through his publicist, he went to his Tumblr page and wrote a letter. In the letter he writes about his first love, who was a man.

Social media has been both a good and bad resource for celebrities. Using Twitter or blogs celebrities are able to control their image and speak directly to their fans without having to go through the traditional media, which is what Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean were able to do. The downside to that is celebrities have no filter and there are countless examples of stars getting in to major trouble for inappropriate tweets.

Social media like blogs and Twitter allow people to speak from the heart and be themselves. I sometimes write things on my blog that I don’t feel comfortable talking about in real life.  By Frank Ocean writing about the strong feelings of his first love,  he’s able to connect with everyone who has felt that way, no matter what.

From what I saw the reaction on social media was mostly positive. The most common response I read was he’s a great singer and songwriter and people are going to keep supporting his music no matter what. That’s the most important thing.

For a better, well written, emotional piece about Frank Ocean by dream hampton  click here.

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How Social Media Changed Award Shows

The BET Awards are this Sunday. Of course, I’m excited. I’ve watched it every year since the very first show in 2001 (I missed last year cause I was in the Dominican Republic, but it was wack.) I’m excited this year not for the performers or the surprises or that Beyonce and Jay-Z are going to be there. I’m excited to live tweet.

I still remember the first time I live tweeted an awards show. It was probably the 2009 BET Awards and I was amazed at how every person on my timeline were watching the same thing and making hilarious jokes about it. It felt like I was watching the show with a room full of people instead of being by myself.

Some of the advantages of live tweeting a television event like an awards show is the ability to use the hashtag to have your tweet seen by everyone that is following along. In this case the official hashtag is #BETAwards. You can gain followers and find new interesting people to follow as well.

BET is also using social media to promote the awards and get fans involved. They have an active Twitter page for the awards, an iPhone and Android app that fans can download, a Facebook page and behind the scenes videos and photos on the official website. They are also running contests through these social media platforms, giving away tickets to the show. This will drive even more people to like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.  The online community needs to be engaged in order for them to be excited to watch the show. Right now, two days before the awards, Stephen Hill, executive producer of the show is using his Twitter feed to tease surprises and spoilers for the show to get people talking. Blogs are speculating who will perform and who will show up. There has to be moments that people will want to watch on YouTube the next day.

Television itself has embraced social media. It is common to watch a show and see a hashtag in the bottom of the screen, encouraging online conversation. Most people today watch television and tweet or blog about it while their watching. It is a new trend that I really enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter at @Amanda_Akousa for my commentary during the BET Awards this Sunday July 1st at 8pm!

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