Ugh.

Everyone should read this article, click here!

But know there are a few things you can do.  In no particular order other than stream-of-conscious …

1. On an individual level, consume less media and produce more of it yourself.  2. Do the same with everything else, borrow and share too.  3.  Realize that when you rip off artists and musicians, by not supporting them with actual money, things get worse.  This may seem to conflict with #1 & #2 and it does really, so find the right balance for you and don’t expect it all for free.  4. Stop working in tech or other forms of content packaging and distribution and make content yourself.  Or at least respect and cherish the content producers that make your distribution job possible: don’t take advantage of them.  4a. Play a musical instrument, even poorly.  5. Volunteer and help other people out directly, don’t expect others or the government to do it for you.  6. Only read and watch the best in breed in journalism, avoid all the rest at all cost.  7. Dive deep and master something, don’t think you need to be aware of everything going on under the sun to survive and be happy.  8. Trust the experts and scientists that have done the work and the study and have the best credentials, ignore the rest.  9. Get a dog.  10.  Fall in love and have a lot of sex.  10a. If you’re not in love, you should still have some sex too.  11. Start a family (but be ready to do so).  12. Be social in real life, meet real people and make real friends, listen to their stories and share your own, have good conversations, start conversations.  13. Give back and pay it forward.  14. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, advice, or knowledge.  15. Get an education and realize you can get one on your own outside of a school too if school isn’t an option.  16. Don’t be lazy, fight it off when it starts to get the best of you.  17. Vote, and vote with your brain not your heart, gut, or genitals. 18. Know that you will fail and other will too but don’t let it stop you (not that you have a choice really) or drive you nuts.

 

 

Prejudice toward women …

Colonial Williamsburg: stop the practice of reenacting witch-hunts and pull the TV commercials advertising them as part of a “romantic vacation”, as both are disrespectful and prejudice toward women.

Watch the TV commercial here.

Sign the petition here!

The practice of reenacting a witch-hunt and depicting it as part of a romantic vacation is horrifically disrespectful of women and to the right to due process in the United States.  The witch-hunts in the US were one of the lowest, darkest, most evil points in US history and they should not be treated in such a glib, humorous manner in reenactments and in TV commercials of such reenactments.  US witch-hunts were often used to torture and kill innocent “hysterical” women who suffered from mental health problems.  They were also undertaken by certain people or groups to perform sanctioned murder against women those people and groups did not like.  There is no positive, silver-lining to witch-hunts in US history and Colonial Williamsburg should stop presenting reenactments of them out of context as a form of entertainment.

If Mississippi offered vacation packages offering the reenacting of lynchings and of shootings of civil rights workers, no one would stand for it.  Similarly, no one should stand for such reenactments of witch-hunts and for advertisements of them.

Women’s rights are hard-fought around the world and in the US.  History shows that they can wither away rather easily.  Women’s rights should be celebrated and secured; attempts to trivialize them should be regarded with disdain and should not be the endeavor of a tourist destination.  Witch-hunts are not things of the past.  Since 2009 there have been witch-hunts in Sub-Saharan Africa, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and India.

“Under the Skin” movie review

*THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE* My $15 called and made fun of me. How do you fuck up a movie where Scarlett Johansson plays an alien sent to earth to have sex with random strangers? Part of the answer: set it in Scotland. Entire scenes of this movie were shot with the lens cap on. At certain points you’re left wondering if the movie is being streamed off Pandora. But the good news is your sense of smell and hearing will be enhanced during this movie. The bad news is that it happens inside a movie theater. I sure hope no one else ever tries to make an artistic statement by underexposing the film by twelve f-stops. Even the world-class score did not save this film. Awesome trailer though, it really played up the sex and motorcycles; expect it to make a big splash next awards season!

Love of Longform

I just had a bit of an epiphany I think. A bit of a self-knowledge thing that only seems to come with age and time. Here it is …

For about the past five years, maybe even ten, I’ve essentially stopped watching both TV and movies. When I do turn on the TV it’s usually to CNN or MSNBC or PBS. When I watch a movie, it’s only a movie that has the best ratings and it’s only when I feel there is simply nothing else to do. But yet I am a video editor. Currently I mostly edit short field packages for a talk and cooking TV show: short stories about people and their lives and events in their lives (caveat: on a good day). So it’s sort of unnatural that I’m really not a fan of or enamored by the industry I work in. I’ve edited everything from TV dramas, to indie feature films, to commercials, to music videos, marketing videos, TV promos, webcasts, “sizzle reels”, etc. etc. you name it. So you’d think I’d be watching TV and movies. Really, why aren’t I watching TV and movies!? The one time I watched Game of Thrones I fell asleep. Yes, an argument can be made that I want to be away from this stuff when I have free time since I’m kind of in the industry that produces it. But it’s not that, I’ve always felt that’s not really it.

At about the same time I stopped watching TV & movies I started reading more. But not books, periodicals. Mostly the New York Times, but also The Economist and other established, respected newspapers and magazines and such. And I’d be reading about topics I had no intrinsic interest in. Things like economics, history, science, technology, law. Sure that stuff is sort of interesting, but I’m a failed filmmaker, a failed photographer, a failed musician really, that found a niche in video editing. So why would I care about grey markets in Latin America? Or how oil flows in a pipeline? Or the difference between common law and case law and their impact on society? Am I just maturing and enjoying new things? Nah, I’m still taking pictures and playing guitar and coming up with ideas for screenplays. I haven’t abandoned those things.

So here’s what I just learned about myself: I’m more interested in non-fiction than fiction. Yes, you may be going “that’s it, that’s your big eye-opening moment?” But it’s more than that, it’s that fictional stories are boring to me, they’re too simple and linear. Their structure too flimsy, their twists and turns are actually rather straight and predictable to me. Non-fiction has the better stories, the better plot lines. There’s so much more nuance and detail, surprise and intrigue, real twists and turns. There’s depth.

Today a spent a few hours reading about high-frequency trading. Last week I was reading all about Bitcoin. Honestly when I was younger and even up to now Wall Street has held very little interest to me. Arguably when I was in my formative years I was rebelling against the kind of culture Wall Street created, the conspicuous consumption, the “more toys”, the competitive nature of it all. So why can I now be so interested — riveted really — by an article about high-frequency trading? Because the story, the equation if you will, is very interesting, even if the individual variables aren’t. I’ve always been lustful of a good story. And the actual world has the best ones, the ones conjured up from imagination are watered-down impostors (to mix metaphors).

So it turns out that I am sort of staying true to my core, my original interests of story and storytelling, of good narrative. I’ve just found a different source for it. And I’ve realized that the news and current events are actually stories themselves that rival anything the entertainment industry produces. You just have to be willing to dive deep, “drill down” as it’s fashionable to say now and read the long magazine and newspaper articles. News blurbs and Twitter feeds and other aggregator type outlets don’t really contain story or narrative. That’s all just headline. You need to read the 5000, the 7500, and even the 10,000 word articles. And the even longer ones too, the serial articles that tell a story that happened (or is happening) over the course of months, even years. Sometimes, if it’s really good, I’ll read like a 5000 word article more than once. I’d much rather spend 90 minutes or so reading a bunch of New Yorker cover stories than watching TV or a movie. It’s so much more entertaining.

Duck Dynasty Homophobia

If the contracts the stars of Duck Dynasty have with A&E are anything like the typical contract between such parties in such affairs, A&E holds all the cards and calls all the shots. All of them. The Robertsons probably have almost zero input as to the future of the show and can probably be sued for breach of contract if they decide to not contribute to it. A&E probably has a full season of shows completed (with Phil in them) and will probably air them all first before making any more decisions. If Duck Dynasty appears on another network, it will be an A&E decision to do so, and they will still cash the largest checks related to the show.

Also …

It would be easier to argue in a courtroom that Phil Robertson engaged in hate speech than had his First Amendment rights violated.

It’s doubtful Phil was an actual employee of A&E, he was probably engaged in business with them with a private contract, and it’s very possible, for tax purposes, he made his services available to A&E via a private company he owns, rather than as an individual. So even if you could make the argument A&E violated his rights, wrongful termination would not apply in this case. A&E needs to clarify what it meant by “indefinitely suspended”, as it seems it was never in a position to suspend him (in the typical employment definition assumed in such a context) in the first place.

Hmm, wait, actually the show Duck Dynasty is probably produced and owned by another production company and sold to A&E, so Phil’s contracts are probably with that company and not A&E at all!!!!

Ok, I just Googled it, Gurney Productions produces Duck Dynasty and sells it to A&E which then sells ad space during its broadcast of the show. Scott Gurney, the creator and producer of Duck Dynasty stared in the lead role in the movie “The Fluffer” about gay porn.

I’d post all the relevant links, but it would get a bit nuts here, so just Google it all yourself!

Branding 101 ?

Not a particularly interesting article at all – until the end where she admits “I want to be a brand”. Is this the new, highest aspiration in America now? In the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, and even the first half of the 90’s “selling out” was a pejorative term. Now it seems it’s all we seek. Are the days of trying to achieve something artistic or profound and meaningful gone? It seems now being a product is no longer even a goal (as bad as that is) now only being a brand is sought, to be sold and licensed out to the highest bidder and slapped onto any product. We live in the days of sizzle, with no steak to enjoy. And I guess that’s okay in a world where the only real talent one needs today is the ability to tweet. The irony is that at first in the article it seems she had some standards when she was younger, having turned away for auditioning for TV and having initially turned down the “Blurred Lines” video for fear of being typecast. Now it seems that’s all she really wants, to be typecast, so long as she can apply the typecast onto herself.