A new, sub-standard world


When supermodel Naomi Campbell and fashion magazine Essence celebrated their 50th birthday together in May, something unusual happened.

Naomi Campbell is featured in the cover of Essence and you would be right to think the photo shoot required a large production team encompassing fashion specialists, image consultants, make-up artists, hair stylists, a fully geared photography crew and the likes.

Only that it didn’t — because everybody is in lockdown.

A selfie from Naomi Campbell. Source: Essence

Instead, Naomi Campbell did everything herself. She did her hair, she did her make-up, she styled things herself. And then she shot everything using an iPhone.

While I’m sure what we see in the cover is not the end product out of Naomi’s hands — I assume graphic designers from Essence did their best to extract the maximum from the files — this is nevertheless pertinent.

What’s happening

A lot of material is now being aired raw, coming directly from personalities that are shooting from home in a DIY fashion, using amateur grade cams, mics and whatever they have on hand, as opposed to fully designed and equipped professional studios.

DC interviews Nico Rosberg. Note the clutter surrounding DC and the poor flat surface behind Nico Rosberg. And those earphones…  Source: F1 TV.

We all appreciate the effort of people producing stuff to entertain us under the current circumstances, even if  visually unappealing due to the known limitations.

The problem, however, is that we start getting used to this. 

It’s always the case of something abnormal that feels strange in the beginning, but then it keeps happening again and again to the point of becoming normal and acquiring general acceptance.

And we are now accepting media content lacking the best technical attributes.

My concern

Professionals from the production industry may start losing their jobs. Financial controllers are always looking for ways to cut costs, even more so now with the pandemic.

Why spend all the money with videographers, photographers, sound men, lighting designer, make-up artist, hairstylist, and a fully equipped studio if the audience is used to this sub-standard quality and doesn’t care anyway?

Screenshot 2020-05-30 at 5.34.18 PM
Bill Laimbeer on ESPN: distracting light, cluttered backdrop at a funny angle… and those earphones again. Source: ESPN

In fact, it would not be the first time. I recall a couple of years ago a news agency in the US made headlines after dismissing 28 photographers that, they claimed, were redundant because journalists can take photos with their iPhones now.

While it’s been reported that the resulting media quality of same news agency dropped significantly, there was no mentioning on audience numbers going down.

Which proves what we already know: the public will eat whatever we feed them anyway.

In short, this is what I foresee will happen and there’s not much to say about this. To some extent, it started already with the abundance of so many self-run YouTube channels that are miserable in terms of presentation, but nevertheless get huge numbers of subscribers and visitors.

Screenshot 2020-05-30 at 5.16.58 PM
BuzzFeedVideo: 20.1 million subscribers

Current technology exacerbates this phenomenom. Inexpensive cameras and image editing apps are easy to use these days. Without professional training, one can quickly master the minimum to produce something presentable.

A specialist with a trained eye will obviously spot the difference between amateur material and professional grade stuff. But the audience is made by amateur viewers anyway, not professionals. And for mass consumption, mediocracy is as good as excellence — who the f*** cares.

New normal

Some people still think we are just going through something temporary, when the pandemic eases we will get back to normal. 

I disagree.

The pandemic may be temporary, yes, but nothing will be the same after this. The way we work, the way we interact with people and everything surrounding us — things are going to change.

A recession is coming and all of a sudden we will realise everything we did before was superfluous.

So the very concept of getting back to normal is wrong. There will be no getting back to normal, because the world has no other choice but to build a new normal after this.








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