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Posts Tagged ‘tv’

The 1990s was Last Great Decade for People Living in USA and West: 1

January 26, 2020 15 comments

Here is a series I first contemplated writing about five years ago, though the core idea occurred to me a bit before that and in an unexpected place. See.. spending too much time looking at the less frequented parts of the internet often results in me noticing unusual correlations, trends and patterns which escape the attention of most people. About seven years ago, I was going through a newsgroup about new large architectural projects all over the world and noticed an odd trend. Increasingly the most interesting and large building projects in the world were in Asia, not North America or Europe. Some of you might attribute this to Asia finally catching up to the West, and initially considered that possibility. Then I noticed something else.. most of the few large building projects in the West were increasingly way over budget and took far longer than expected. More interestingly, the results were usually of poor quality and full of poor design choices.

And then I started noticing this same basic trend in many other areas, from drug discovery and computer technology to video games, movies and music. It was as if the past 15-20 years have been one continuous blur of stagnation if you were living in USA or any other western country. Some of you might say that smartphones, “machine learning” and other assorted bullshit is a sign of progress. But is it really? Think about it.. Pocket PCs running Windows Mobile could be used to browse the web, check email, play games, watch movie clips, take photos, utilize GPS and many more things almost 20 years ago. The biggest “advance” smartphones represent is that they are permanently connected to high-speed cellular networks because data rates are now very low. Has all that hype about “machine learning”, “deep learning” and “AI” translated into any worthwhile improvement in your quality of life? Can you think of a counter example?

While I would like to start this series by talking about how technology has stagnated, a better (more popular) place to start would be how cultural products has either stagnated gotten worse. While trends in music and video games will be addressed in subsequent posts, we will focus on trends in films and TV in this post. But before we go there, let us first define the 1990s. In my opinion, the 1990s began on December 26, 1991 and ended on September 11, 2001 though it kinda dragged on until August 31, 2005. The period between those dates was the last time the west (especially USA) was dominant and relatively prosperous. As you will see, these dates define that decade in many fields. It is as if this time-span was the last hurrah for the western socio-economic model including neo-liberalism (and neo-conservatism).

Now let us get back to the main focus of this post, namely the almost complete stagnation of creativity in western films and TV shows (including online offerings). Here is a question- Do you remember any film or TV show released within the past 15 years that was not a direct derivative of something released earlier? Do you remember anything financially successful or unsuccesful that was not a direct derivative of something from before 2006? But why does this matter? Well.. because almost decade in the century before 2006 witnessed multiple major new trends that were not a direct derivative of something from the past one. To be fair, some of it was due to technological advances and changes in social mores. But much of it was driven by people experimenting with new ways to present novel material. Confused? Let me explain..

Consider the 1920s, with german expressionist cinema (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Pre-Code Hollywood movies, Russian Cinema (Battleship Potemkin, October). Can anybody deny that these represented new ways of making and editing films, not to mention the fact that they tackle hitherto untackled subject matter- at least in cinema. Or take the 1930s with its classic monster movies, Hollywood musicals, Disney Cartoons, Leni Riefenstahl’s documentaries etc. The 1940s had Film Noir and other memorable movies such as Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca etc. To be clear, I am not suggesting that previous decades were full of good, let alone original, movies. But it is clear that every decade in the century prior to 2006 saw the emergence of new and influential trends in cinema. However, we haven’t really seen anything similar occurring in the past 15 years.

The 1960s had tons of new trends, as did the 1970s. Even the 1980s had their new trends from low-budget horror movies to summer action blockbusters. There was much innovation in western cinema for a century before 2006. But the something, or more than one thing, happened western cinema became boring, repetitive and (most importantly) forgettable. I have briefly touched on some of these issues in my post about the current rash of film remakes, reboots, sequels and prequels and I sort of started talking about this topic in a post a few months ago– but never got around to building on it. And yes, I am aware that there are broader sociological trends at work. But whichever way you try to explain, it is hard to argue that the past fifteen years saw the alsmot total stagnation of creativity in western cinema and TV shows.

Don’t believe me? Well.. here are some facts. Most of the LOTR trilogy was filmed in New Zealand between October 11, 1999 and December 22, 2000, and the first movie in that series came out on November 20, 2001. The first X-men movie was released on July 14, 2000. The first film in the highly successful Spider Man franchise came out on May 3, 2002. The Matrix was released in 1999, as were the following important movies: Star Wars: Episode I, Office Space, Election, The Mummy, American Pie, The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, The Green Mile, Fight Club, American Beauty, Sleepy Hollow and many more. 1998 saw the release of important movies such as The Truman Show, Armageddon, Deep Impact, 1998 version of Godzilla, The Big Lebowski, Wild Things, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and many more.

The first Austin Powers movie came out in 1997, the first Jurassic Park in 1993. The first Scream movie came out in 1996 and the first I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997. The first Toy Story came out in 1995 and the first Shrek movie in 2001. Can you think any equivalents in post 2005-era? Oh, and even the 40-year-old virgin came out in 2005. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy came out in 2004. Superbad was filmed in 2006 and had been under development since 2000. Once again, I could keep going on and on- but you get my point. Pretty much every single major movie released in past 15 years can with very few exceptions directly trace its roots to the pre-2005 era. In the next part of this series, I will show how that the same is true for TV shows including their streaming variants. We will also start going into why this major socio-cultural-economic shift (aka stagnation) began in earnest around the mid-2000s.

What do you think? Comments?

Trump Presidency Has Made Hollywood Scriptwriters Look Uncreative

December 24, 2018 8 comments

In a previous post, I wrote about my theories on the reasons why Trump is publicly despised by entertainment “celebrities” after he ran for the presidency and won in 2016. And this got me thinking.. how does Trump compare to some of the more “colorful” and unconventional political characters depicted in movies and on TV. As some of you may know, there have been more than a few unflattering depictions of political figures in film and TV over the years. For example, the persona of the titular character in Bob Roberts (1992) has noticeable similarities to Trump. Then again, the main character in that movie was running for a senate seat and not the presidency.

Bulworth (1998) is another movie in which the central character has some resemble to the Trump persona– though most policies advocated by him in it are closer to those of Bernie Sanders. In case you are interested, here is another list of movie which have a main character with some sort of resemblance to the Trump persona– though only 3-4 of them are close enough. My point is that even the normally outrageous imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters could not come up with anything close to the reality of Trump. If you do not believe me, just read a small selection of his official Tweets from the past eight days. Here is part one of the screenshots..

Still not satisfied.. here is part two.

What do you think? Comments?

Blowback to ‘MeToo’ Movement in Entertainment Industry is Inevitable

June 18, 2018 28 comments

In the past few months, we have seen a number of famous and not-so-famous people in the entertainment industry (almost exclusively men) being accused of sexual harassment by often previously unknown accusers (almost exclusively women) resulting in the former losing their jobs or careers. More relevantly for the rest of this post, many of these accusations are based on accepting woman accuser’s word as the truth and lack of due process for accused. Even being a bit allegedly “mean” to women is now sufficient for femfists and their dickless ‘male allies’ to act like lynch mobs on social media platforms.

The list of men in the entertainment industry who have been accused of sexual harassment or just being too “mean” and “disrespectful” to women is long and ever-growing. Curiously, many of those accused were once big supporters of the same feminist bullshit which has now screwed them over. It is, therefore, hard to feel much sympathy for guys who once enthusiastic supported really bad ideas such as “women can do no wrong or lie” or “women are always morally superior to men”. Perhaps they thought that mouthing platitudes about, and expressing support for, feminism would somehow protect them from such accusations. Guess what.. it did not!

Moving on.. we have now reached the point where basically any women can accuse any male celebrity she interacted, or had repeated consensual sex, with anything from sexual harassment, emotional abuse, sexual assault or pretty much anything else even if she had zero proof that her allegations are true. The recent examples of some starfucker accusing Aziz Ansari of sexual assault and Chris Hardwick being accused of sexual assault and emotional cruelty by his ex-girlfriend (who is quite the headcase) are particularly instructive since they show that feminists are striving for a ‘brave new world’ where consent can be revoked after the fact.

So here is a somewhat unpleasant, but realistic, prediction of the type of blowback we might soon see in response to men losing their livelihoods and careers over accusations which could not have been successfully prosecuted in a court of law. Spoiler.. the term ‘blowback’ will assume a whole new meaning in this context. Faced with the destruction of their career and lack of due process, a small percentage of men accused in this manner might decide that killing their accuser is the most appropriate response to such accusations. To be clear, I neither condone, nor condemn such a response- just pointing out that sooner or later, something along these lines is inevitable.

And there are a couple of well-known precedents for this sort of reaction. Most of you must have heard or read about at least a few cases of men killing their ex-wives or ex-partners because of a perception that civil court system was very unfair to them during their divorce or child-custody hearings. Well.. what is the real difference between a guy who lost his house during a divorce which he did not initiate and an actor losing his career because of accusations which cannot be proven in a court of law? Not much, and the later example is potentially worse than the former.

Another precedent for such reactions comes from looking at the profile of mass shooters in USA. With a few exceptions, mass shooters tend to chronically single or functionally incel men with poor job and career prospects for the future. The corporate media and every other discredited institutions can blame ‘mental health’ all they want, but the fact that some men who would rather go on rampage shootings or overdose themselves with opioids says far more about that society than the men. To summarize, we have seen violent blowback from men in similar situations and under similar constraints.

The psychological profile of those who work in entertainment industry tends towards higher levels of risk taking and emotional responses than average. I mean.. look at the incidence of addiction, overdosing, risky sexual behavior etc prevalent in that group versus the general population. It would therefore be not surprising if we started seeing a few men subject to such kangaroo court trials by social media decide to make their accuser pay for her accusations. While it hard to predict when such a trend will become public, everything we know about human behavior and responses makes it almost inevitable.

What do you think? Comments?