Friday, January 19, 2007

Ugh...

Ok, usually I’m very reluctant to call anyone, especially the owner of a website, a “Sell-out”.

You see, what usually happens is someone starts their own little website and pays for the web hosting and the bandwidth usage out of their own pockets.

Then their site gets popular. Instead of being faced with a couple dollars a week to pay for their site, they’re suddenly faced with a couple hundred dollars a week, maybe even a couple thousand.

So they have a choice, either close down their site for good, or go ahead and put up a few ads, maybe one or two pop-ups or maybe even turn their site into a suscription service.

This is the point when people start shouting “sell out”. These people aren’t trying to avoid getting a huge bill for the website enjoyed by millions that they’ve made in their own time for free…they’re “shitting on their fans” and “selling out.”

So, that being said, let me talk to you about Zug.com.

I used to like this site. It was mildly entertaining. It’s a comedy site filled with amusing jokes, funny true stories and other comedic flotsam and jetsam.

It’s mostly centered around John Hargrave, the site owner and the pranks he pulls.

I have to admit, some of these are highly amusing. Like the “Credit Card Prank”, where he tries to see just how outlandish and wacky he can make his signature before anyone notices…in the end managing to write his signature as the “poo-poo song”, complete with lyrics and musical notation without comment.

Then, recently, he wrote a book. A book that’s now available for pre-order.

Now hawking this book on his site is not a crime, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If he had a link to its page on Amazon that took up half the page, I don’t think anyone would care.

The bad part is that his last five posts have been about his book. He’s trying to pass these posts off as entertainment as well.

The first was a plain announcement that his book was ready for pre-orders, understandable.

The second was an “article” about all the other comedy website owners who’ve published books (and did he mention his own is ready for pre-order?).

The third and fourth he used to compare how much better his book was than “Moby Dick”, in a comedy style that falls flat on its face….and did he mention his book was ready for pre order?

The fifth, and this was the one that really cracked me up (although for the wrong reasons) was about his writing “process” and a self-interview on how to be a successful writer. Let’s get this straight, no one actually interviewed him, he interviewed himself.

Now I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but Mr. Hargrave, you’re far from being a literary genius, and it might be an idea to see if your book actually sells before interviewing yourself as an authority figure on how to write a book.

You’re a guy who pours Johnson’s “No More Tears” Baby Shampoo into your eyes, so you can call up Johnsons, tell them it’s not as gentle as pure water like it says on the bottle, and then post the transcript on your website.

You’re the guy who takes a powerful laxative and a powerful anti-diarrhea medicine at the same time to see which on “wins”

Now in all fairness, I don’t want to be a “hater”, and I do hope that his book does well. For the most part, he’s a genuinely funny guy.

My point is, if he had a video camera instead of a word processor, he’d just be the next Jackass or Borat rip-off, or just another of the legion of self-proclaimed “funny” people, whose video’s populate youtube.

I suppose what bugs me about this is that the internet is just about the last place available that you can go to for entertainment, and not have people constantly trying to sell you things. Install a pop-up blocker, and most sites (most good sites anyway), just have a few banners on the screen that you can easily ignore.

It’s another case of removing the actual content of a site in order to sell people things…and the fact the latest of these net-versions of infomercials is a previously unpublished author who hasn’t sold a single book yet, writing a “how-to” on writing is laughable.

Mr. Hargrave, you have a book that’s going to be released in a few days. We get it. You’re understandably proud.

However, what it comes down to is you have a popular site, and some book publisher thought they could cash in on it. If I started an equally dumb comedy site…I don’t know, where each week I draw a picture of a famous person on my sack and post pictures…I could easily get a cult following, a few thousand hits per day, and then get a publisher to make a “Paul’s Balls” Calendar.

Only I wouldn’t interview myself as an authority on comedy calendar authorship.

1 comment:

manda the best person on the face of the planet said...

lmfao paul's balls calendar or.. pauls bauls....