Just a quickie (that’s what she said)

Sorry to tear you away from your viewing (Columbo, I assume) but I just wanted to do a quick one about my favourite depiction of blogging on American TV. TV has always had trouble knowing how best to incorporate the internet into its programmes, often simply resorting to compiling clips from YouTube and putting them into a chart countdown format. And this makes the clip I’ve chosen doubly impressive. The Office: An American Workplace is a remake of the seminal British sitcom The Office that has surpassed the original in many ways, particularly in its development of the supporting cast of characters, two of whom are central to this clip.

 So Ryan the put-open (and later Machiavellian) office temp fools the unassumingly sinister paper salesman Creed into thinking he’s writing a blog when in fact he’s merely harmlessly firing away heinous observations into a word document. This vignette brilliantly captures the way that many people get so overawed by the wonder of new technology and so willingly buy in to the myth of absolute convenience that they fool themselves into believing that anything can be done for a minimum of effort. The fake blog is a bit like The Emperor’s New Clothes; Creed knows nothing about blogging except that it’s the fashion and although he’s never seen it with his own eyes he believes his blog’s out here. And this is in an age where every commercial debut of a new device feels exactly like the unveiling of a naked royal. The characterisation of the internet as a place where the dark recesses of the human psyche gain full expression is a familiar one to anybody who’s ever scrawled down a set of user comments on a blog or news page. But the disturbing suggestion that Creed’s thoughts are too extreme ‘even for the internet’ is one that brings out perfectly the latent terror of the character while tantalising us with an unseen Pandora’s Box of hateful prose.

But what I really love about this clip is that it reminds me of me. Like Creed, I’m writing this blog whilst being completely in the dark about how it really works. I too feel like I’m pouring out copy into a word document and hoping that internet fairies like Ryan will be scrupulous enough to ensure it makes it out on to the web. I’m always surprised other people read it.

One Response to “Just a quickie (that’s what she said)”

  1. Rick Wallace Says:

    It’s interesting the way television (and sitcom in particular) has until relatively recently seemed to shy away from using technology. I’m not sure I remember any character in Friends using a mobile phone for instance (pagers sure, but no mobiles), and barely a computer in sight (other than one memorable paper jam). Since these items (along with the internet of course) have been such a staple of ordinary life for almost 20 years it seems odd to me that sitcoms have taken so long to recognise that even just having them there in the background would make the domestic setting more normal. Both The Office and How I Met Your Mother’s use of technology is refreshing not just because they are used in the same way in which ordinary people use these same technologies, but because they are present at all in the first place!

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