lessons from 'house of cards'

There's lessons on the re-make of the political thriller House of Cards. Not just that if you live tweet a row with your boss you'll become an online hero.

"Power is a lot like real estate. It's all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value." - Frank Underwood.

 

What's so different about Netflix's House of Cards?

 

After all, it has everything we'd come to expect from a hit US drama - high production values, a razor sharp script and a Hollywood actor (Kevin Spacey) in the lead role.

 

But this one is different and it has a relevance for the world many of us work and communicate in every day.

 

Difference one is how the show has reached our screens. House of Cards, a remake of the BBC original, is made and broadcast by Netflix, a subscription based video-on-demand website.

 

Netflix is the first content carrier that has gone from simply buying up and broadcasting other people's programmes, to making its own.

 

Amazon is now said to be planning a similar big budget series for it's video-on-demand service.

It's a sign of how quickly the conventional media world is changing. 

 

Remember what happened to Blockbuster? Now we receive our entertainment where we want, when we want, on our phones, our tablets and our PCs.

 

And House of Cards' plot brilliantly references how communication methods are changing rapidly, influencing and exposing those in power.

 

After a disastrous TV interview, our anti-hero Frank Underwood (Spacey) is subject to humiliation via a YouTube 'mash-up' showing him answering the questions to a rap soundtrack.

 

Washington Herald reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) live tweets a row with her editor, a man with little time for anything but print, and before long a #gozoe hashtag is born.

 

As she says as she leaves his office triumphantly: 

 

Remember, these days, when you're talking to one person, you're talking to a thousand.

 

She also rejects a job as White House correspondent, to this 20-something reporter, the once prestigious beat is 'where news goes to die'.

 

Barnes is then poached by a start-up political website where she marvels at the fact that she no longer has to send copy to be approved, it just goes straight up there.

 

Underwood is canny enough to realise how social media can aid his quest for power, using Barnes' influence as a Twitter celebrity to attract the media to an anti-union story he wants them to run.

 

House of Cards is all about power and how it gradually but absolutely corrupts at the highest level.

But it's also about the power of the new, not just in it's social media-savvy plot, but also in how it reaches our screens in the first place.

 

Will Mapplebeck is senior communications manager at Newcastle City Council.