Archive for January, 2010« Older Entries | Newer Entries »
Two new movies are being released that claim no connection to Repo Man, yet both are framing all their marketing around its cult brand. I’m Lookin for the Joke with a Microscope.
As countercultural post art-punk film lovers in the 80′s, my unjustifiably snobbish friends and I weren’t too taken with Repo Man on its release. We felt that punk that called itself punk was nothing more than a cartoon of rebellion, so a movie with a soundtrack featuring Black Flag and the Circle Jerks just didn’t fly with us. I came to my senses a few years later when I re-watched the film during the heyday of indy film in the late 80′s and early 90′s, and although I haven’t seen it in a while, it remains on my mental list of cult favorites. Which is part of why I’m tremendously amused with the buzz surrounding the release of both Repo Chick and Repo Men! (YouTube trailer links) this year. If you haven’t followed the story around the release of the films, it goes something like this: Repo Man director Alex Cox was busy developing “Repo Chick”, which he emphatically stated in early press was not a sequel to Repo Man. With movie studios being the litigation-fueled monsters that they are, Universal Pictures (which has rights to Repo Man) sent Cox a cease-and-desist, pulled a film they had shelved since 2008 called “Repossession Mambo” from the vaults, and rechristened it “Repo Men!” for release this year, almost concurrent with Repo Chick. Universal’s strategy is both fitting and ironic in a time of auto-industry bailouts and mortgage foreclosures, and adds an amusing media backdrop for the release of both films, which probably couldn’t have less in common. Repo Chick was produced by David Lynch, and was shot on green-screen with Red HD cameras. It’s been called a “farcical anti-golf parody”, and if the trailers are any indication, looks like it’ll be brilliantly campy. Repo Men, on the other hand, is a rather expensive looking action/adventure flick in which Jude Law plays a repo man who works for a company that reposseses your body organs when you miss a payment. Personally, I’m looking forward to both. I just hope Universal doesn’t manage to repo the rights to Cox’s non-sequel while cashing in on the name with their own “non-sequel”. Cox has an interesting spin on the whole story on his blog, which is impossible to link to directly, so we’ve included it below, along with trailers for both films.
Does the ability for virtually anyone to create a book or a movie diminish the overall quality of media in general? Clay Shirky wrote “Here Comes Everyone”, and now he seems to be saying “And There They Go”.
Yes, getting published
these days is child’s play.
I joked back in the 90′s that the proliferation of literacy and availability of desktop publishing tools would decimate the general quality of available reading material across the board within a few years. My implication being that if EVERYONE has the ability to write and print a book, they WILL. It seems everyone’s an expert on something, and everyone has an opinion, and frankly, I’m inclined to agree with what Dirty Harry said about opinions. In any case, when I originally said this, the web was in its infancy. Little did I know that not many years later, this same principle would apply to virtually any topic or any aspect of life, and with a multitude of new channels (YouTube, Social Networks, Blogs, Podcasts) for delivering content. This obviously has its upside, in the form of things like crowdsourcing, but it clearly has its downside as well. One of the obvious examples of this would be splogging by multi-level marketers or search-rank-obsessed bloggers; organic search results lately are cluttered with blogs, and as this article points out, the quality and credibility of the information provided by these sources is often questionable (and yes, I’m aware of the irony of making that remark on a WordPress-powered web site). The same sort of access that makes this user-generated content possible also exists in the fields of design, manufacturing, and communications technology, so we end up with a mind-boggling array of ways to do things we didn’t know we needed to do, using nicely-designed devices. I’ve had several experiences in just the past few months with failing to connect with someone in my social network, precisely because of the multiple channels available, i.e.: Facebook, e-mail, texting, and mobile phone. Because of all of this, I sometimes feel like the dystopian future suggested in the movie Brazil is happening around us, right now. And sometimes I feel like I’m the only one pondering these ideas regularly. Which is why I was glad to run across The Shock Of Inclusion, an insightful piece that Clay Shirky wrote for Edge.org. I still haven’t read his book Here Comes Everybody, but I certainly will after reading this article; he broadly touches on these topics in a much more articulate fashion than I have here, pointing out, for example, that “It is our misfortune to live through the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race, a misfortune because surplus always breaks more things than scarcity. Scarcity means valuable things become more valuable, a conceptually easy change to integrate. Surplus, on the other hand, means previously valuable things stop being valuable, which freaks people out.” Well said, Mr. Shirky. I’ll just be getting back to creating some surplus now.
I’m not sure I know how to live in this country any more, they’ve changed too many rules. Maybe we need to start making our own.
I’m not so sure I know how to live in America any more. When it comes to politics, I’ve always been the sort who’s in favor of a mixed economy, believing that a balance of free markets and social programs is the best choice for governing. Regardless of the finer points of my political opinions, I got good grades in Civics class, and was properly indoctrinated as a US citizen growing up. Although what I’m about to say is going to sound like it’s partisan and politically motivated, it’s really not. It’s about lifestyle, and responsibility to my fellow citizens and financial agreements. Like many, I’ve had some credit issues here and there, but as we’ve learned recently, lenders are kind of like drug dealers, offering a magical solution to all your problems, without advising you of the long term dangers of the solution they provide. But by and large, I’ve always believed in hard work and paying my bills and taxes on time. The entire fabric of my basic moral fiber as a citizen of the world’s leading capitalist democracy has been slowly unraveling for a while though, and I find it harder and harder to keep living like the American I thought I was. For me it all started when 19 Saudis engaged in terrorist acts against the US, and the administration at the time perplexed the world by responding to the attacks by starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And as if going against a long-standing tradition of not engaging in wars of aggression wasn’t bad enough, it was clear that a large part of that administration’s motive at the time was personal financial benefit, and a desire to privatize the military, so other “disaster capitalists” could do the same. Check out Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine if you don’t know what I’m talking about. This unraveling of my faith in our government continued when the same administration – under the guise of keeping us safe – started data mining citizens and otherwise eroding our basic rights, and in collusion with a monopolistic telecommunications company, no less. The fact that two presidential elections appeared to be stolen bothered me, but election fraud is more or less a tradition in American politics, just read Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition-1742-2004 if you don’t have a rational level of cynicism on the topic. All of this left me rather unsettled, but what really has finally made me consider chucking the social contract altogether was the massive bank and insurance industry bailouts and the recent supreme court decision to grant corporations the same rights as individuals. The former flies in the face of the most fundamental principles of capitalism. The latter suggests that if corporations have the same rights as individuals, I deserve a bailout and a bonus too. I’m not joking about this. I’ll gladly play the game of capitalism by the rules; I think it’s a great game when played with the right balance of self-interest and social responsibility. But the fundamental rules have changed, and I feel I have no choice but to reconsider my lifestyle accordingly. Does this sound melodramatic? I don’t think so. What about you? Is it business as usual? Do these paradigm shifts in government bother you? If so, do you plan to do anything about it? I fear we won’t. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 23, 2010 by admin in TechnologySaturday, January 23rd, 2010
Ironically, I’ll probably watch the latest TV show I’m excited about on the Internet, not on TV.
It’s a little ironic that I’m as intrigued as I am with the upcoming BBC Television series The Virtual Revolution, because I haven’t had TV since 2002. Since I don’t have TV, I have no idea how well they’re promoting the program through that medium, but I do know that – true to the concept of the series – they’re promoting it rather brilliantly via the web. If you follow any of the mainstream tech blogs like Gizmodo, you may already know about the program, but if you fall a little lower on the Social Technographics ladder, you’ll hear more about it soon. So why am I so excited about it? Well, aside from my minor crush on the show’s host Aleks Krotoski, the PhD-bound tech journalist who (among other things) writes a tech column for the Gaurdian, the show has been open-sourced in a fashion reminiscent of Trent Reznor’s recent concert DVD. The BBC web site for the program features a blog to keep you updated, and they’ve already had a mashup contest to highlight the series’ special content that you are allowed to download, edit and republish under a permissive licence. They even open-sourced the name of the series. View the intro teaser at left, and the mashups and other clips below; the program launches on BBC2 Saturday January 30, 2010. Read the rest of this entry »
[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 22, 2010 by admin in MusicFriday, January 22nd, 2010
As we continue to drown in a sea of desi music, we wonder if goa and gangsta really work together, and decide that D is for Detroit, not Desi.
Sorry, Kidd Skilly. The D
is for “Detroit” not “Desi”
In part one and two of our dip into desi music, we whimpered a lot about the overwhelming amount of material to explore. We’re still whimpering, but after a watching a LOT of video clips and listening to dozens of streams, we’ve reached a few conclusions, even if we have only scratched the surface of the larger desi market. One is that we’ll be doing a part IV. Another is that the best of the current releases are the ones that don’t pander to rap cultural inflections. If you think a rural white guy co-opting black urban culture is funny, you should see what happens when a British Indian guy tries it. As an example, an artist like ADH can turn out a fairly decent live groove like Tu Ni Jaandi and then turn around and produce a rapper-wannabe absurdity like Taubah Taubah. I mean, if I’m not mistaken, the fellow is wearing a “Members Only” jacket in that last video. In part II we mentioned the lack of terminology for desi genres. I’m classifying that one as “Pootyjab”. Along the same lines, ADH’s Kurri – while a cool groove – might’ve benefited from a little less autotune. The guy’s got a great voice, there’s no need to “Akon it up”. In what is nearly the inverse of this problem, you have white Euro swami-wannabes like Prem Joshua jamming around India in their old man ponytails and 70′s facial hair. I can’t help wondering if I might have actually liked a tune like Sharanay if I hadn’t seen the aging Euro-hippies playing it. All these little criticisms serve to point up what does work though, which is when the artists adhere to their own cultural strengths, which in the case of a lot of desi music is either an almost kitschy romantic eroticism, or a passionate and deeply expressive melodic and rhythmic sophistication. If the fusion they reach for is musical rather than visual, as in the case of an artist like Surinder Rattan – who fuses his Indian stylings with Two-Step Garage – the results can actually be gratifyingly original as with his chart-climber Tappe from 2006 (which strangely keeps reminding me of Stereo MC’s Elevate My Mind from the 90′s). So as we said, we’re still only scratching the surface here. We not only haven’t finished digging into the more diverse global desi market, we’ve omitted a huge segment of this market by focusing mostly on the “poppier” material, and especially the UK-influenced bhangra scene. We’re actually bringing in an “expert” on Part IV, in which we’ll explore both the complex distribution channels for this stuff, as well as the more classically-influenced material. Unfortunately, in spite of the wealth of material out there, even sites like Pitchfork.com don’t cover these genres; there’s just not enough money in a single niche to garner revenue-generating readership. For now though, if you’ve been enjoying the material we’ve already explored, you might want to check out sources like SimplyBhangra.com, the UK label Moviebox, and YouTube channels like Felonious Vindaloo. They’re all great launchpads to a mind-boggling world of bhangra. Read the rest of this entry »