One of television's longest-running programs, NBC's Today, has recently gone from venerable to vulnerable within the span of about a year. Thanks to more missteps than a line of drunken novice cloggers attempting the Riverdance, the morning show now finds itself routinely rated behind its main competitor, ABC's Good Morning America.
There's plenty of blame for all involved to share. The most blatant offense was Today's producers giving and then almost immediately taking away Ann Curry's co-hosting duties. There's nothing more American than a person who pays his or her dues and earns his or her reward. We collectively love a success story in this country, and there's nothing Americans dislike more than someone having those spoils ripped away moments after they've finally been attained.
In the process, Matt Lauer morphed into Matt Schaub -- the balding, beleaguered quarterback of his team who, fairly or not, gets singled out when the group is on a losing streak.
Savannah Guthrie went from sunshiny girl next door to knife-wielding Brutus, whose hands seemed soaked with Curry's gushing back-blood. Even innocuous Natalie Morales couldn't escape the hate. With nothing else to pin on her, it was rumored she and Lauer had a child out of wedlock (just a rumor, right, Nat???).
And, of course, Al Roker shit his pants at the White House.
But amid all this finger-pointing and backbiting, one person has remained unfairly unscathed. That person is Korean pop artist Psy.
True, Psy is not a paid member of Today's outrageously dysfunctional family; but, maybe he is as much to blame for the show's recent shortcomings as anyone else.
Lauer & co. should take to referring to Psy as "31 Rock," so frequently has he been an addition to Today's broadcasts. He now has famously performed his breakthrough hit "Gangnam Style" on the show twice within eight months.
When Psy has not physically been at Rock Center, he has been there in spirit. Sometime last fall, just before his September 2012 debut appearance on the show, "Gangnam Style" began working its way into the show's vernacular. By the time he arrived, sang, did the dance where he slaps a horse's ass and moved onto his next gig (same building, same week, on Saturday Night Live), Psy had become the most colorful plume in the peacock.
"Gangnam Style," the song, has been used for intros and outros to the show's pieces. It's led into and come back from commercial breaks. It's been referenced in pieces that have nothing to do with the song itself, its singer, singing, dancing or even music.
Guthrie has been especially egregious in fawning over the song. The only song she appears to love better, based solely on my frequent observation, is Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."
It could be argued Today and its cast are only doing their job, by latching onto whatever the zeitgeist is driving and cramming it further down our throats. What they seem to forget is we will eventually gag, choke and die from this force feeding; or, worse yet for them, we'll just change the channel.
Even human bobblehead and occasional Today contributor Giada de Laurentiis knows you can't spice every dish with cumin. She should give her friends a culinary clue and suggest they occasionally mix in a little cayenne or at least some Lawry's seasoned salt.
Of course, that's really the shame of all this. I have nothing against Psy. His song isn't the worst music we've ever heard, admit it; but, Today is effectively making him a cockblocker of other artists with great new music that needs to be heard. I would have been okay with the show's 2013 concert series opening with Vampire Weekend, The National or Darius Rucker, all of whom have new stuff out too.
Maybe I'm exaggerating this all, I actually considered as I was putting the finishing touches on this piece. Surely, other TV shows have latched onto Psy's coattails to boost ratings. Probably, Today isn't the worst offender. Then, like a sign from the TV gods, Matt and Savannah, droning on in the background, started talking about you-know-who. That's right -- they were literally talking about Psy as I was finishing an article about how much they talk about Psy.
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According to TVNewser, a blog which tracks this sort of thing, Good Morning America has been consistently putting the smackdown on Today for the last nine months. If you haven't been paying attention, that's roughly the same span of time that has passed now since Psy's initial appearance on the show.