Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

I dislike movie theaters and usually wait to watch movies when they come out on demand or DVD. Ghost In the Shell was no exception, especially due to the “whitewashing” controversy which made me less-than-excited about this movie.

Finally having watched it just yesterday, my review of the movie is that they distilled some general themes and isolated scenes from the anime series (which was amazing in comparison) into a general action movie suitable for worldwide release.

Stripped from this movie was anything sexual or messily violent and the overall theme of government interference, human individuality, and freedom was boiled down to a fight against a corporate villain. The politics, issues of sexual identity, and even deeper character exploration, were all stripped away in order to create a PG-13 sci-fi action movie that would play safely across all target markets.

In my opinion, the reason for this is twofold:

  1. Movie studios need to recoup their investment and leading with content that is safe and digestible by large audiences essentially ensures that a movie is “safe” enough for the entire family. Predictable storylines and characters resonate with the masses (yeah, that last part sounds arrogant but I’m sticking with it because it is true).
  2. Chinese politics.

Investment and partnership from Chinese companies in US filmmaking comes with strings attached. And part of those strings are ensuring that any content meets domestic political standards as set by the government. Content must be non-threatening and meet the relatively puritanical standards set forth by the Communist Party.

Translation: violence is strong but not bloody, sex is toned down or non-existent, and corporations and people can be villains but never governments (or if there is a government villain, it will be a Western one).

Ghost In the Shell is just one example. The current flood of superhero movies (with the exception of Deadpool) fall into that category as do even small productions like Keanu Reeves’ Man of Tai Chi. In that movie, about an international fight club, a scene had to be inserted in which it is noted that only foreigners would watch two people kill each other and that none of the fights were broadcast even illegally in China.

The US has a history of film censorship so this not a unique phenomenon but it is a troubling one in terms of what we can expect from large film studios in the near future as they remain dependent upon foreign money and audiences.

In context of China’s troubled history between the Opium Wars in the 19th-century through occupation by foreigners, multiple wars including the Taiping Rebellion, World War II, and then the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; this can be understood. China, under any government, would strive to ensure order, self-respect, and strength.

The government under Chiang Kai-shek both in China and then later in Taiwan, also introduced strict controls under the auspices of modernity and strength. Throughout the 20th century, the Communist and the Nationalist governments introduced hygiene, health, and empowerment programs dedicated to eradicating disease, the appearance of weakness and to promoting a vision of China as a strong and modern country.

However, the type of strength that does not allow for creativity and liberty is a brittle one and will not solve the issues at hand….and they will contribute to uninspiring movies in the meantime.

 

Advertisements

Apps v Cable

Posted: November 14, 2013 in Media, Social Media, Technology

I use most of these and have been happily cable-free for over a year.

 

Apps vs. Traditional Cable

by ApartmentsForRent.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

Arrow

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Media
Tags: ,

The CW channel, home to Supernatural, has a new series titled, Arrow. Long-story short, it’s about a character named Oliver Queen, son of a deceased billionaire, who returns from 5 years of living on an island with what we would call “ninja skills.”

Armed with his father’s list of enemies who need the iron hand of justice to sort them out, Oliver uses his skills and his bow-and-arrow set to bring them down.

This is basically the TV version of DC comic’s Green Arrow with a strong does of Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

And I love it.

Revenge, dangerous and innovative villains, cool training scenes, and a Macbeth-like family make for fun viewing and I look forward to several seasons of this (they have been confirmed for a full 22-episode season).

So what are the cons? Just one for now.

It’s the emphasis on having every female character to be a scrawny model. Especially disconcerting is that Oliver’s love interest is clearly being set up as a side-kick for later episodes (in the most recent episode she dispatches a guy with swift in-fighting skills).

Unfortunately, I can’t take that seriously. The actress has absolutely no muscle and seems to live off-screen on diet soda and cigarettes (professional model fare). When shows groom actresses to be bony eye-candy while the male hero is in fighting shape, yet both can fight and move well, it sends a confusing and unrealistic signal.

Another show that falls deeply into this pit is CW’s Nikita. That show consists of impossibly scrawny women beating men twice their weight and size while wearing stylish clothing. And that is stupid.

No matter, I’ll be there to watch Arrow every week but I will be sending packages of sandwiches and kettle-bells to those poor women…

World of Warcraft is one of the most popular MMO’s ever. With over 11,000,000 players as of 2010 its membership fees alone can generate $800,000,000 annually in gross revenue (assuming player retention of one year – I have no data on this). Average playing time is just over 22 hours per week (compared to the average 36 hours per week that people spend working).

More impressive is that the game itself helps forge virtual relationships through its use of kinships and team play. These relationships become as real as those forged in what some call “meat-space” (i.e., real life). Friendships and deeper relationships have been made and broken in its virtual halls, with gameplay spilling over into non-virtual time due to pre-login planning and scheduling, post-event analysis, and other activities that support this virtual life.

There are other games too, each with their own passionate players who expend the same number of hours (Lord of the Rings Online, EVE, Age of Conan, Dark Age of Camelot, and, Everquest) in their quests to defeat evil or grow their personal empire. As Seth Godin said in one of his TED talks, our world now consists of tribes of our own making, each with its own rules and culture; and each one a fundamental part of their members lives.

For marketers, this is an amazing but yet perilous opportunity to engage with people who live in these worlds.

Amazing because the opportunity to co-brand and even engage with people who are providing undivided attention in a cradle-to-grave environment means that every engagement has a higher probability of resulting in a warmer response to that effort. By tying a brand to a much-loved activity, companies can forge longer-lasting relationships.

It is also perilous because one mis-step can result in serious backlash from tribe members unless that brand is well schooled in both the ethos and standards of that world. Ham-fisted ad placements, intrusive messaging, or incompatible offers will shut out that brand for good (“Hey WoW players, stop by Askander Hammerfist’s tavern for more information on how we can save you money on your auto insurance…”)

The next frontier of brand engagement will be when smart marketers and willing MMO’s connect and work together to create opportunity for their members and partners.

One day you may be swinging a battle axe sponsored by Nike!

No Rush to Watch

Posted: October 10, 2010 in Media, Technology

It’s great that media content can be consumed in a variety of ways which enable us to choose the time and place for this consumption. Of course there are some silly restrictions (Hulu won’t let you watch their content if you’re outside the US…unless you mask your IP address and Apple TV makes you watch a movie within 24 hours of rental or it disappears…and Apple TV doesn’t have a hard drive…) but basically we are no longer chained to our televisions at a set time (I can remember people adjusting their schedules around when Friends was on TV…yep, I just dated myself!).

With the sense of urgency taken away from the television and movie-viewing experience though, I find that I can live with less. Meaning, that with the knowledge that I can watch a given show anytime I want, I actually increase the odds that I will just forget about it and spend my time doing more meaningful things.

I wonder if this is just me or is this happening with others as well? Perhaps technology is freeing us in ways that we don’t even recognize.

Last night’s episode of Mad Men showed us an upside-down world in which the once-invincible Don Draper is reduced to living in a dark and dingy apartment, having lost the respect (and fear) of his ex-wife, and being in a position of having to re-invent himself. The scene with the prostitute punctuated the “new and dark Don” and indicates that this season we will see a perhaps less-conventional but fuller picture of the man that is Don Draper.

Peggy looks vaguely like Ayn Rand now but she is much more interesting now that she is in a role of authority and responsibility – although she shows that she still looks up to Don in her telling comment, “We’re all here to please you.” Don’s old business partners remain frozen in their past roles (curmudgeonly and shoe-less Bert Cooper and the ready-to-party-at-a-drop-of-the-hat Roger Sterling) and it was nice to see Joan get an office finally.

I hope that we see growth in the former Mrs. Draper since she was portrayed in earlier episodes as being without much depth. My thought is that, as with Don Draper, the characters will have to fall far and hurt more before they rise up whole and better.

People had been saying that the show was going beyond the twin pillars of the ad agency and Don’s marriage but I think it will remain based on those basic pillars but will now be about Don and Betty’s changing lives and the fortunes of the new agency; in other words, the original formula. If for no other reason than that is what originally pulled us all into the world of Mad Men.

Last night’s episode of Mad Men showed us an upside-down world in which the once-invincible Don Draper is reduced to living in a dark and dingy apartment, having lost the respect (and fear) of his ex-wife, and being in a position of having to re-invent himself. The scene with the prostitute punctuated the “new and dark Don” and indicates that this season we will see a perhaps less-conventional but fuller picture of the man that is Don Draper.

Peggy looks vaguely like Ayn Rand now but she is much more interesting now that she is in a role of authority and responsibility – although she shows that she still looks up to Don in her telling comment, “We’re all here to please you.” Don’s old business partners remain frozen in their past roles (curmudgeonly and shoe-less Bert Cooper and the ready-to-party-at-a-drop-of-the-hat Roger Sterling) and it was nice to see Joan get an office finally.

I hope that we see growth in the former Mrs. Draper since she was portrayed in earlier episodes as being without much depth. My thought is that, as with Don Draper, the characters will have to fall far and hurt more before they rise up whole and better.

People had been saying that the show was going beyond the twin pillars of the ad agency and Don’s marriage but I think it will remain based on those basic pillars but will now be about Don and Betty’s changing lives and the fortunes of the new agency; in other words, the original formula. If for no other reason than that is what originally pulled us all into the world of Mad Men.