For those who don't know, "jumping the shark" is a term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point when it began to decline in quality and popularity. The origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on waterskis. Thus was labeled the lowest point of the show.
For those who still don't believe me, I refer you to the Jump the Shark website which lists every television program imaginable and when their respective ratings took a nosedive due to bad decision making by studios and directors. It's all based on votes.
Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, "while many report using the term as slang in the 80's, the first verifiable use of the phrase as a direct metaphor was on December 24, 1997, when Jon Hein's website jumptheshark.com was launched. According to the site, the phrase was first coined by Hein's college roommate, Sean J. Connolly, in 1985. This claim is, of course, unverifiable. In print, the term first appeared in the May 29, 1998 Jerusalem Post newspaper article, "It's All Downhill," written by Jeff Abramowitz.
So, it's been a part of pop culture for almost 10 years now, so everyone must know about it, right? Wrong! A straw poll of colleagues in my newsroom found many who had no clue what the term meant. Those who knew tended to have less grey hair compared to those who did. Unfortunately, I only realized this after I finished my cartoon suggesting the entire CBC network had jumped the shark after deciding to bump it's evening news program, The National, to show an American reality show featuring competing singers:
What I thought was a good cartoon may very well end up being one of those obscure cartoons many readers won't get just like that recent one featuring Dog the Bounty Hunter. Perhaps I'm just overly concerned by the reaction of press journalists who pride themselves on watching little or no television.
But you know what? ...and here's my rant... people have to get up to date on things, and that includes dumb useless information like television trivia. And another thing... music writers ought to stop harping on the great music they still think is great 30 or 40 years after they first heard the stuff. And please, humour columnists, no more references to Elvis living... it's old and boring, and your dating yourself. It's hardly the sort of stuff that attracts younger audiences to newspapers.
My cartoon goes out to the younger people out there who still read newspapers.