Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

4th wall? What 4th wall

In Ideas on September 4, 2008 at 9:04 am

Remember It’s Gary Shandling Show? It was lauded for it’s ground-breaking style, of “breaking the fourth wall” between the characters and the TV audience at home.  Around the same time, a band from England called Pop Will Eat Itself had a couple of hits, Including ‘There’s No Love Between Us Anymore’ and ‘Def Con One.’

I was thinking of these two late 80s bits of pop culture recently in relation to today’s current pop culture themes and styles. First up, the Neil Patrick Harris commercial for Old Spice:

Note the line: “As a former make-believe doctor.”

It’s not enough to use  a former make-believe doctor (everybody remembers him as Doogie Howser), they through in the added twist of saying, “We know you know he’s a former make-believe doctor, so let’s have some fun.”

That’s fine, that’s Old Spice and their new brand identity. Hip and young with a self-referential wink. But I saw something else this weekend that really made me pause. It was an episode of the Disney Channel program The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Cute, harmless show that features a pair of twins, hijinks ensue, yada, yada, yada. But wait, it gets interesting. The show also features Ashley Tisdale, the young actress probably better know for her role in the wildly popular High School Musical franchise. This episode revolved around the characters putting on a performance of… High School Musical! Check out this promo:

That’s right, Ashley Tisdale’s character tries out for the role of… Ashely Tisdale’s character!?!  Throughout the episode she keeps trying to tell everyone how much she looks like, well, like herself.  I thought this all seemed pretty sophisticated for a kid’s show, but my 9-year old followed right along and got the joke.

I guess my point here is, Pop will indeed eat itself.  What’s left when a kid’s shows cross promote in this manner?

  1. I loved that epizode of The Zack and Cody Show. I am putting together some additional questions for the quiz on my site about this epizode. Loved it !!


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