Conan the Barbarian or Why "I'm with CoCo" is so appealing.

on Thursday, January 14, 2010

I hate Jay Leno. Shall we discuss why? Well okay. If you insist. I hate Leno for a plethora of reasons and my hatred has grown from mild disinterest to what it is now ever since Leno began his new show in the 10 o'clock time slot on NBC. Don't worry I feel my hatred is justified. To begin with Leno took over the 10 o'clock time slot five nights a week. This doesn't seem like a serious offense, but as someone who works in the entertainment industry I see it differently. Leno having five prime time slots means that there are five shows that aren't being made. There are five ideas out there that aren't being utilized. Once again not a huge deal, but take into account the things that go along with producing a television program. That's five shows that would have created jobs for people in the industry at a time when jobs are hard to come by. We're not just talking about rich actors and producers who don't need the money anyway, but working class people who sometime go months without a pay check. Grips, electricians, assistants, etc. This is only reason number one. Leno also did so poorly in the ratings that he not only hurt himself, but he took away valuable viewership from local news affiliates. With the economy the way it is no one can afford to lose revenue. Viewership equals advertisement dollars. I don't even particularly care about this offense either. The part the truly upsets me is that Leno stepped down, he gave up his claim to the coveted Tonight Show seat. Now he wants it back because he can't hold his own in prime time.

Speaking of people getting what they don't deserve, let us discuss Conan and why he is so appealing as the hero of this particular battle. Beyond Conan's oblivious charm and quirky gangly demeanor lies a classic American archetype. He is the underdog that we love to root for. His history reveals a man that worked towards a dream. A man who paid his dues and worked till he earned that mantle, but this isn't a story of a man who has gotten what he wants. That isn't the appeal. The appeal is the story of a heroic figure, the underdog, who after achieving a life long dream finds himself fighting to keep it. And who should be his opponent, but the cold, faceless giant known as NBC. That's one point for Conan, a man with a real and familiar identity.

NBC isn't Conan's only enemy. He's also fighting against Jay Leno, a perceived mentor figure having been in the seat and in the business far longer than Conan. I honestly believe that Conan is a man whose religion is Late Night Television, he's a man dedicated to the craft. Conan is upholding an ideal, Leno is acting selfishly. He's clinging to the lime light and holding on so tight hat he's strangling the idea of the tonight show. He's a captain on his last voyage and he's decided to take the ship down with him.

Currently this story is at a point where things look bleak for the hero. Rumors are circulating that Conan has already been canned, that Leno is taking the mantle back, that NBC is determined to keep Conan off the air for the next three years, in essence banishing him. Despite all of this Conan is receiving tremendous amounts of support from the people. Campaigns, petitions, t-shirts proclaiming "I'm with CoCo". His story is a legitimately sad one. It's watching a man who received a taste of what he wanted only to have it taken away and unjustly at that. It's tuning in at 11:35 to watch a dream in the midsts of being crushed. Why wouldn't you root for him?


Chris Brennan said...

Well said.

S.A.Mossman said...

Thank you Chris

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