Super Bowl week is here, which means more time to discuss, lament, celebrate and criticize America’s version of Harry and Meghan.
It’s Travis and Taylor time.
Grammy-winning performer Taylor Swift’s romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has become a source of irritation to a tiny number of football fans, and a flood of right wing conservative types in their pursuit of content.
The Chiefs’ latest appearance in the Super Bowl means more “Taylor Kelce” headlines, and camera shots of T-Swift celebrating from the confines of her suite.
The morning after Swift won a Grammy, the headline in The New York Post read, “Taylor Swift doesn’t thank Chiefs boyfriend Travis Kelce in Grammys 2024 win speeches.”
This is accurate. She didn’t.
Somehow this alienates Dads, Brads, and Chads.
Or, does it?
This artificial point of contention exposes the worst component of the current media mold that is no longer formed by editorial meetings, or common sense, but rather a consumer-data model.
This Travis ‘n’ Taylor obsession is on the designers. On the producers. On the consumers.
We’re just giving you what you want.
There is a 98 percent chance those complaining the loudest about this crisis don’t care about Travis Kelce. Or Taylor Swift. Their relationship. The Kansas City Chiefs. The San Francisco 49ers.
They’re doing their jobs. Chasing the ghost called an “algorithm.”
They care because the media companies, including Elon Musk’s new toy formerly known as Twitter, operate not that much differently than your local grocery store; you glance at the produce aisles, but you crush the junk food.
The root problem to our entire media system is that it was designed, and sold, as an ideal; a “fourth estate” that would serve as a watchdog to our communities, and our elected officials.
In practice our “fourth estate” is just another business trying to make money; the “fourth estate” is ultimately no different than Best Buy, Staples or Chilis.
Call it what you want; clicks. Page views. Ratings. Downloads. Streaming hours. Screen time. Engagement.
This evolution is akin to the doctor who fancies themselves as serving a “higher calling,” but along the way the pursuit of maintaining a six or seven-figure lifestyle becomes the priority. Paying for yoga retreats, or their stepchildren’s educations, became more important, and their patients became clients.
Once profit margin becomes a part of the equation, it becomes the first concern.
The difference is we’re not selling you an XBox, a box of printer paper, or a cheeseburger; we’re providing you information that you “need.”
The information is there, and the overwhelming majority of us don’t really want to know what’s going on with our local city council members. Our school board. Our water bill.
Because those are boring. No fun. Who really wants to eat a bowl of oatmeal, green been broth?
For decades and decades and decades, the “higher ups” in the media paradigm knew all of this, but they didn’t know it. Not the way we do now.
“Thanks” to technology, the companies selling us what we can’t live without know our habits better than we do.
What we now know, in real time, is that you will absolutely destroy the Twinkies, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and quadruple stuffed Oreos.
In the decades and decades before the advent of the Internet, and its good friend social media, the proportion sizes of Twinkies to green bean broth were reasonable. Because the providers of the “information” made so much revenue via advertising it could dictate to the consumers its information diet.
Today’s world offers a 24/7 buffet of junk cereal and desserts, and media companies no longer enjoy 40 percent margins. More like 4 percent.
Like Best Buy. Chilis. Staples.
We give you more Travis ‘n’ Taylor, because every single metric available says that’s what you want.
And that’s what the model is now; you’re the consumer, and, in America, “the customer is always right.”
So, on this Super Bowl week, expect more Taylor Kelce.
(I’ve got at least one or two more ideas before the game is over).