These are the Daze of our Lives
Your attention span for this cognitive offering on the ever-evolving category once clearly defined as the “performing arts” could depend solely on how much of the following sentence you care to follow:
This past week, ludwig (no capital L) established a new subathon record for Twitch — surpassing the mark formerly held by Ninja — as he generated more than 280,000 subs while live-streaming continuously for 31 straight days in a row consecutively.
Yep … me, too.
OK, let’s unpack that narrative and parse that sentence, shall we?
No? Sorry, if we stopped here we wouldn’t fill the page
Here’s what happened: ludwig (actual name Ludwig, capital L, Ahgren), spent 31 straight days in a row consecutively on the Twitch social media site as viewers subscribed to his channel. For each new “sub-,” time was added back onto the clock of his “-athon.”
He did this for two reasons — to raise money for various charities (commendable), to eclipse Ninja’s record (congrats?) and to increase his name recognition (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!)
In doing so, he rose from 10th place in most subscribers on the Twitch Tracker — who knew? — to first, supplanting the former most-subscribed channel, that belonging to RANBOOLIVE, who as of this writing was nearly 200,000 in arrears.
If you caught any of this streaming event … well, first, I’m sure your parents are proud … you probably saw ludwig sleeping in his race car bed. It’s not as though the guy was going to stay awake for 31 days.
The idea of watching someone sleep gave me flashbacks to my high school years and my father napping on the couch continuously for straight days in a row consecutively.
At least ludwig’s followers had something to entertain them as their hero slept. According to a story on “The Verge” ... who knew? ... about his quest, “on April 2nd, as the clock ticked down from 15 minutes, Ahgren’s mods were playing a digital marble race on stream with some of the 60,000-odd people in chat.”
Yep ... 60,000 odd people, indeed.
“I remember, when I was coming up that I wanted to be the biggest streamer,” ludwig told his audience at one point, leaving many to wonder where someone “comes up” from to make it onto the Twitch Tracker.
“Buh, uh, we did it,” he went on. “We broke the record, this is us.”
To which his 283,000-odd subs responded: “Gee, uh, thanks” as they wondered which of them was Russell.
Meanwhile, Ninja — who I actually had heard of before because he (unsuccessfully) warbled “Old Town Road” while dressed as an ice cream cone on “The Masked Singer” — took to Twitter to congratulate the new No. 1 Twitch subathon champ.
“Records are meant to be broken,” the artist once know as an ice cream cone tweeted. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad.”
Yep … on both counts.
Still, in a world where a six-second video of a waffle falling over is viewed 630,000 times in two days (take that, ludwig), and a banana duct-taped to an art gallery wall sells for $120,000, who has time for creativity?
If you think that ludwig’s long strange trip on ye olde information superhighway sounds like a movie plot … you’re half-right, since it really was the plot of (at least) two movies.
“The Truman Show” is the best-known example. The story of a dimwitted title character, played (redundancy alert) by Jim Carrey, who doesn’t realize that his entire life has been a TV show run by a deity-like, soliloquy-spewing director in a beret, the 1998 film made its points with all the subtlety found within its title.
“Tru … man” wore its aspirations of art on its sleeve, and it just didn’t contain enough realistic cynicism enough for my taste — which is why I prefer “EDtv,” the movie that came out the following year.
It’s the story of a dimwitted title character, played (redundancy alert) by Matthew McConaughey, who signs on (for a steady paycheck) to have his life filmed 24/7 by greedy television executives … a move that winds up impacting Ed and the cavalcade of character actors — including Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman, Martin Landau, Sally Kirkland, Dennis Hopper, Ellen DeGeneres and Balok ... err, Clint Howard — who are in front or behind the cameras.
While neither sleep in ludwig’s admittedly cool race-car, Truman does share a celibate marriage with his wife Meryl (this movie and its names, geesh) who’s actually an actress named Hannah.
Ed, on the other hand, ends up, umm, not-sleeping on a dining room table with a vamp played (redundancy alert) by Elizabeth Hurley, who has been paid by the TV execs as a plot twist to ramp up the drama — a move that leads to this immortal line of dialogue:
“You put anyone on television for 16 hours a day ... and sooner or later they’re going to fall off a table and land on a cat.”
“EDtv” strikes closest to the bone, because it goes outside the insulated, constructed world of “Truman” and isn’t afraid to show the warts that are part and parcel of such a reality show enterprise. Think of it as the Miller’s Tale nitty-gritty take-down of its predecessor’s lofty Knight’s Tale pretensions.
Unfortunately, both films stirred the primordial ooze which spawned TV series with “Kardashian” in the title or atop the call sheet — entertainment that has addicted millions while making its titular family billions.
People famous for being famous or, for that matter, for actually achieving something dominate the reality entertainment genre that proves that Photoshopped, edited “truth” really is stranger than fiction.
This week, for instance, tennis legend Serena Williams announced a deal to produce multiple series for Amazon Studios that would stream on Amazon platforms.
“They are developing some of the most inspiring and important content for a global audience,” Williams said in the press release. “I have a lot of stories I’m eager to tell.”
The important and inspiring content in the first series in Amazon’s Serena Williams deal has been announced and, to the amazement of everyone, it will be a series documenting … well, duh … the personal and professional lives of Serena Williams.
The as-yet-untitled series has not been announced as a sequel to “Being Serena” — the 2018 HBO series that documented the personal and professional lives of … well, duh … Serena Williams, but don’t fault yourself for thinking that way.
The mention of Amazon Studios brings to mind Big Picture Studios, the failing Hollywood movie company at the center of Mel Brooks’s 1976 “Silent Movie”
The logo for Big Picture Studios comes on the screen with the slogan “Ars est pecunia” … which is Latin for “Art is money.”
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin, whose childhood bed had a wagon wheel motif, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org