The Cheezburger Review.
We here at MCHY have always wondered how other cat sites function on their interior. How is their content generated? At MCHY it is pretty simple: for most of our existence (Dec 2000 – present) it has been Alex and Jim (me), and then just me, and then me with input from guests.
The Bravo Network has apparently co-opted the Cheezburger company for a series called LOLWork, which is comprised of half-hour episodes. I spent this very morning watching the first two installments of the series. Here are my thoughts on it:
Firstly, what the fuck, Bravo? It is bad enough that your “original” series are complete crap and follow very bland formulae, but to plagiarize The Office is rather inexcusable. I mean to say that, while there is a rather lazy format for “reality” shows, The Office has a certain look/feel that anyone watching Bravo’s new debacle of a series would instantly recognize. Besides the “interviews” using the same background/framing, the editing/timing being the same, there is a disturbing trend that does not lend itself toward a successful series – or fucking DOES IT?! That is as follows:
While The Office is based around a fictional company staffed by dysfunctional misfits who harbor odd resentments toward their co-workers and engage in narcissistic superiority complexes, LOLWork is, sadly, the real thing.
One starts watching the series to discover the secret that made the concept of bad-grammar cat captions popular. We are not so lucky. There is no exposition of the origin of the site that I felt was needed; it was started by a dude and his girlfriend in Hawaii in 2007 and bought by Ben Huh (along with other investors) some months later. We expect to find some secret genius at work behind this phenomena, some creative dynamo driving the Cheezburger Network. But we are let down, only to discover that their content is all user-driven, and the employees that barely like each other simple grab the stuff they deem funny and post it to the site each day.
One telling scene shows a morning meeting in which the creative folk are looking at three different pictures, trying to decide which should make it to the hall of fame. While I personally found none of the captions particularly funny, the real fun was watching the team argue about benign aspects of the images they felt relevant to the site. In the end, they picked a real failure of an image for the hall of fame.
Anecdotally, in personal conversations I have had with people who have interviewed Ben Huh, he is quite the asshole. The Bravo series does not give a great deal of fuel to this fire, but Huh does seem distant and not very critical to any function of the company. He has a morning meeting where he stands awkwardly at the head of the conference table and lays out his idea of the day and asks for other ideas. Watching the first two episodes of the series, it is apparent that there are not many ideas floating around this company. If you ask why, I would offer the following:
The site was not the brainchild of Huh. He is not a humor kind of guy. He is someone who saw a website getting a lot of hits and within a few months bought it with the idea that he had discovered the secret to the universe. I think, from a marketing perspective, there is probably a lot of cash flowing his way. But the creativity piece is missing. He grabbed some office space in downtown Seattle and hired the usual group of Northwest miscreants. This is another interesting aspect of the show: the employees.
Not only is the show shot in the style of The Office, it seems to have the same cast of characters: timid, feeble women trying to assert benign power among a group of men who are not sure of their sexuality, nor their place in the whole scheme of things. Yes, there is the big boss, Huh, and his main underling who seems to pop wood when he gets to demean others, but everyone else seems to be jockeying for some place in the tribe, but the rest of the tribe is not sensible enough to understand this.
As the series tries to play The Office angle, it becomes more and more like its high-quality ancestor. The interview segments reveal disgruntled attitudes between all levels of employees. Much like The Office, managerial ineptitude becomes an in-your-face car wreck that you laugh about at first. Then you realize this is not a sitcom, but an actual company here in Seattle.
This brings up another issue I have with this reality show. The characters (sorry – real people) are so blasé and generic, even tending toward pathetic, it makes me realize why the East Coast has the dim view of the West Coast that they do. There is some “creative” person who claims to be a stand up comic, but is not funny, just condescending and wit-starved. His boss, who clearly hates him, misses no chance to make life uniquely miserable by power-tripping all over the place. The rest of the cast merely wanders around, trying to do creative projects dumped upon them by Ben Huh. In the first episode, Ben wants to give the guests of Cheezburger some interesting video content.
This is wonderful! Something we do at MCHY, but the Cheezburger team has a different take. At MCHY we know we are stupid, so we do off-the-cuff videos, knowing that no one really understands it. But at Cheezburger, they believe themselves to be directors and actors. The scenes where they are trying to put together videos take a surreal twist and end up in a dumpster of complete shit. The videos are shown to the boss, Ben Huh, and between cringing, he decides the BEST ONE! But they are all shit, and not being a “funny guy” to begin with, he picks one at random (or so it seems) to be the winner and that video goes live on the site.
The problem here is that the draw of the site, much like MCHY, is captioned cats. Yet Ben Huh believes that somehow wacky video content will increase his revenue pipeline. Maybe it does or not… only time will tell.
There is an interesting part of the second episode where the main creative boss (aka Asshole) tells the team that certain videos are going to be taken down from the site because they have received THREE negative comments. Now this is just fucking retarded, pardon the expression. One video is of a cat with some tape on its hindquarters. So the cat runs around like a cat would in that circumstance. But mister boss man says this is unacceptable, so the video must be taken off the site. The staff sit in a quandary as to why this is to be. It is obvious that the videos the boss has decided to take off the site are benign, but this guy is a pipe-hitting honky, so there we go.
We could go on forever about the oddities brought to light about this company, but the viewer must decide for themselves. Please watch them and let us know what you think. But remember that MCHY was here first and we have no office, nor staff. Our videos speak for themselves: we are crazy as fuck and don’t give a shit!
More cats on their way!
This very weekend we will have another batch of lovely evil kitties up for your viewing pleasure! Keep a pirate eye out for this menagerie!
We are still editing the latest Feline Horrorscope interview. Wow, won’t YOU be surprised when you see who is lined up for the next sign of the feline horrorscope: the Sign of the Fang!
For now, that is fucking all.