Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making the Jump - Random Hypothesis for a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Does anyone actually remember watching the episode of Happy Days when Fonzie jumped the shark?

In the world of public relations, that episode denotes a television generational understanding of an exact point in time when things have gone too far and never again will they be able to be the same again.


Similar pop culture instances are listed below:


1. When Michael Jackson admitted that he enjoyed sleeping with little boys. Sure, we had our suspicions. (Disclaimer: I refuse to link to anything related to this topic.) He adored monkeys. He liked to suck oxygen. He had a bit of a plastic surgery obsession. Maybe an eating disorder or a self confidence problem and most assuredly an abusive childhood. But the man was talented. So we were always able to look the other way. But when those horrible words came out of his mouth it became painfully obvious that some among us would never look at him quite the same again.


2. When Anna Nicole Smith married that dead old man. Really now. We knew she was a piece of work from the get-go, but when she skirted off to a church for 15 minutes of marriage only to be followed by a jet-setting tour of photo opportunities without new wheelchair-bound vapid old hubby at her side, there was no kidding. She elevated the idea of gold-digger to a new standard and she was shameless. No more defending the poor little abused girl from a broken home. She made her bed and now she had a dead man sleeping in it.


3. How about when the fast food restaurant Hardee's decided to serve fried chicken, roast beef, steak sandwiches, monster burgers and crescent rolls at the burger joint. Remember that? It went from Hardee's the Carl Jr's to Red Burrito or something like that, right? Taglines changed, branding changed and customers left and stores closed. The menu changed so dramatically so fast that people were left wondering what they specialized in?  And if you can't specialize in something then you are nothing, right? 



4. What about foot races? Standardized as an Olympic event in 1921 and added as a women's event in 1984, running marathons picked up mainstream popularity in the 70's. Nowadays we do marathons only weeks after giving birth (Katie Holmes) they are soooooo easy. Then triathalons gained general interest after the more elite running community aced a few. Today rock stars do them regularly and so do Desperate Housewives (Terri Hatcher) and cancer survivors (Lance Armstrong). Now there are mega sports (like the Western States Endurance Run) that include 50 and 100-plus miles at a time through rough terrain and suspect circumstances are showing up on our radar and when novice and avid runners alike think about writing down a New Year's goal, it should not be a surprise to see something more than a simple old 26.2 marathon on the list. Wah.





Trends to watch for upcoming "jumping the shark" potential:
1. Twitter - How far will Twitter go? Or perhaps...what will be the next Twitter?
2. Twilight - How much of this vampire thrill can we sit through before the writers & audience members a like are sucked dry and simply sick to death of anything Twi or lighted?
3. Uggs - Uuuggghhhh. Come on people. Some of these hideous boots look like giant animal claws on your dainty little girl feet. It's really no wonder why teenagers literally can't lift their feet off the ground and are forced to scurry and scruff. I say this season is the last season of glory for these old boys. (Think Crocs.)
4. Sustainability - I'm sad and sorry to say it, but the idea of buying carbon credits online only to erase the guilty conscious of those people who can afford glutenous behavior in the first place is not a good sign for the idea of demonstrating real sustainability in action. I'm not looking to see everyone fit a years worth of garbage in a coffee can, but there are some VERY broad definitions of what it means to endorse practices of real sustainability. We are slowly approaching a world where we empirically expect things to be green without fully understanding what "green" really may mean.