The State of Entertainment

What is entertainment?  How are compelling stories and interesting characters created? I find it hard to define what makes a good story.  Many others have attempted to make this definition and there is plenty of disagreement about it.  However, there is plenty of agreement that the current state of entertainment is rather lacking.

Hollywood and recent TV (which includes things produced quite a while ago) are frequently criticized for poor quality (amazing special effects and beautiful scenery don’t make up for lame stories) and the annoying, if not infuriating, constant liberal propagandizing.  Cable TV subscriptions have been declining for some time, probably dropped in favor of internet streaming and other ways of accessing entertainment.  Having never lived in a household where there was a cable subscription I find it surprising that so many people continue to pay buckets of money for a service that forces you to watch advertisements and whose content is 90% crap.  You may have to pay for streaming, but at least you have more choice about what you watch.  This doesn’t really solve the problem that 90% of what is and has been produced is still crap.  It does help a little to be able to choose from multiple decades of movies and TV.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about YouTube, other than the “controversial” political and social commentary they’re busy trying to scrub off the internet, is the old movies and television shows.  Due to over-zealous copyright enforcers these things are prone to disappearing.  The sad thing is that much of this is simply unavailable anywhere else.

Unfortunately, YouTube apparently has a plan to turn itself into a streaming site requiring a paid subscription a la Netflix (see Razorfist’s commentary about YouTube’s future).  The general response to this seems to be: well, there’s a reason I liked YouTube; it wasn’t like TV.  I quit watching TV ages ago because it sucks.  If YT is going to be just like TV, forget it.  This seems like a poor move after all the uproar that’s been caused by their censorship and demonetization.  They deserve to lose both their content creators and their viewers.  When they lose those, advertisers won’t be far behind in abandoning the platform.  All the reasons people have abandoned cable for the internet are going to be done away with if these companies in the pursuit of profit have their way; and then we’ll just have “cable” on the internet.  Oh, joy.  No wonder some people have no problem with pirated content.  We’d be willing to pay if they’d just give us what we want.

Do these producers of entertainment even deserve our money?  Probably not.  But it’s awfully nice to just be entertained sometimes.  A little escape from reality now and then can be good for one’s mental health.  Life, when it’s not full of unpleasant drama, can be drudgery.  It’s often just hard, even when full of happy moments and an awareness of one’s many blessings.  Humans have been seeking to entertain and be entertained forever.  It should be one of life’s little joys.

What isn’t particularly joyful is watching something that insults your beliefs or makes you feel like you’re being emotionally manipulated.  An awful lot of shows are like this.  The ones with content insulting to conservatives and Christians may have good parts, but can you sift the good from the chaff?  It’s hard, if not impossible, to find something to watch without a liberal bias and objectionable content.

How about those shows that start out really good and are subsequently ruined by manufactured drama?  There’s nothing that makes me lose patience with a show like the feeling that I’m being jerked around emotionally in a deliberate attempt by the creators to keep the show going to make a buck.  It indicates a major lack of creativity: you can’t come up with anything better to prolong the story than recycling the same old relationship problems or the same old story-lines?

It’s also frustrating when a likeable character (that must have been created by accident through some fluky combination of writing and the actor’s talent) is ruined as the series progresses, ruined in a way that doesn’t fit with the original representation of the character.  The flip side of changing a character in a way that doesn’t fit the storyline is not changing the character at all.  When a story is handled well, a character may have certain problems or flaws at the beginning, but as things happen in the story he changes, even if he continues to struggle with some basic flaws.  He actually learns from things that happen; he might even not repeat the same mistake 300 times.  But in standard entertainment, he does just that: even when it appears that he has learned from something, give it a couple episodes and he’s back to doing the same dumb things all over again.

This doesn’t mean that characters that stupidly continue on their paths to destruction are never appropriate.  It is possible to write a novel about people making a long line of poor life choices and the misery wrought by those choices and still have a satisfying story.  Take Anna Karenina, a hefty Russian novel, devoted almost entirely to just this and considered a classic; I found it to be quite good and enjoyed reading it, though it is by no means a happy read.  Things that evoke strong emotional responses can also be very well done and not feel manipulative.

There is a difference between making things true and making them “realistic.”  Current entertainment often seeks to embrace a shallow “realism” while failing to be true to life.  Let’s make it more realistic they say; so they throw out happy endings and happy interpersonal relationships.  Let’s make every character severely flawed and probably not very likable.  Let’s blur the lines between good and evil and make sure there are no good choices to be made.  And no objective moral standard that anyone follows.  And lots of misery.  And… voila!  Reality!  No, not even close.  Though it is accurate to say that there’s a lot of unpleasantness in life and people are generally quite flawed, it is not true to deny the goodness in people and all that is noble and true and beautiful in life.  Because that’s there too.

Poldark is the most recent in a long list of shows I have begun only to be disappointed for all of the above reasons.  It was always rather soap-opera-ish with its excessive drama, but at first the characters were interesting and likable enough to endure some of that.  Ross was flawed, too stubborn and too proud, but very principled and trying to do the right things.  Demelza was always spirited, but also grateful and respectful to Ross and generally sweet and good.  Their relationship was appealing because it fit better into more traditional gender roles than what we’re typically offered.  But of course that could not last.  By season three, Ross seems more proud and stubborn and less principled than in season one, and Delmelza is turning into a harping, ungrateful bitch.  These people need marriage counseling about how to treat each other.  And it’s not fun to watch.  For example, Demelza chooses to confront Ross about her disagreement with a choice he made and how he’s not listening to her advice and that he’s neglecting her (wah!) right when he’s reeling emotionally from having learned that a relative has died.  Demelza does have some valid points; Ross frequently acts like an ass and acts too quickly without considering the counsel of others.  But how stupid can you be, to nag your man at a time like that?

Also really annoying in the third season is the portrayal of religion and religious people.  There was little mention of religion in the first two seasons.  Church was seen in social events: funerals, christenings, weddings.  One not-good character was overzealous and unkind in his religion, but seemed an outlier not the norm.  The main characters didn’t mention religious things.  Now, however, there is much dismissal of religious belief by many, if not all, the main “good” characters.  A truly evil “religious” character has been introduced.  The pastor of the local church is just a puppet to the main “bad guy.”  I begin to doubt the story’s historical accuracy: was 18th century England really so heathen?

All “good” characters are rejecting God and his commands for what they see as the better way of just being “good” by their own standards and embracing what little good and pleasure they can find in this life.  Is it any wonder they are selfish and stupid?  The choices they keep making, and are threatening to make, will be their undoing of course.  The show’s creators will undoubtedly manufacture yet another break and then reconciliation between Ross and Demelza after dragging their misery out to another season.  If you cared about the characters, it would be too painful to watch; and if you’ve ceased to care because there’s only so much repeated stupidity you can stand, it’s dumb and pointless.  And it’s too annoying to watch even as a lesson: see what happens when you reject objective moral standards and only care about your own selfish needs and “happiness”?  See what happens when you fail to learn from your mistakes and acknowledge your faults and look realistically on your blessings with gratitude?

I am terribly sick of the standard state of entertainment.  It would often be nice to read an entertaining book or watch a show or movie that serves as a form of escape or maybe something cheerful or funny, or informing or even a lesson learned.  Maybe even good conquering evil, or the triumph of human goodness in the face of great challenges?  There’s only so much human stupidity one can take.  And there’s plenty of that in reality; who needs to add more from fictional characters?  Life actually has plenty of drama in it if you’re paying attention.  Sometimes it’s nice to get a break from the drama of real life.  Realism isn’t very entertaining.

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All the Tori that’s Fit to Print

When I first saw screenshots of BBC’s pidgin news service, I thought it was some kind of joke.  But no, it’s the real deal.  The news service is aimed at west and central Africa.

The site has stories like “Only politicians dey happy with Nigeria economy – Expert”, “Cameroun: Why lawyers, teachers dey vex”, and “Why dem dey call Hurricane human being name“.  English speakers can read it too… sort of.

Di biggest storm wey United States of America never see for 13 years don land for Texas.

Dis Hurricane Harvey don scatter plenty houses and tori say e even don kill five people.

Hurricane Matthew wey bin happen for 2016 kill plenty people and scatter house join wen e happen.

Harvey and Mattew na human being name, so how hurricane dey take get dia name sef? In short, why dem dey give hurricane name at all?

Why dem dey name hurricane?

Hurricane na type of storm wey get plenty-plenty rain plus strong wind. Sometimes sef thunder go follow join.

Meteorologists wey dey research weather matter think say if dem give hurricane name, people go fit remember am well-well and e go help people wen dem dey talk about am.

 

Too Big to Boycott

Don’t bother to boycott Google! You can’t win!

You’d have to get an iPhone, because most smartphones run Android. You’d have to avoid YouTube and websites that embed YouTube videos. You’d also have to do some research, because Google runs not-so-obviously under the hood of many products. The search bar on many websites is secretly powered by Google. Uber uses Google Maps, although it’s trying to build its own version. You’d have to avoid a lot of websites or use an ad blocker, because tons of websites use Google’s AdSense network to support themselves. You’d have to check whether your employer uses Google Apps.

Then, you’d have to check the long list of companies owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which is aiming to be the alpha and the omega. If you come across a Wi-Fi kiosk in any of 16 major cities, run the other way — it’s probably Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs. Oh, and you also may not be able to drive, because Sidewalk Labs is working on using city data to program traffic lights. OH! And you may not be able to walk on the sidewalk, because Sidewalk Labs wants to power smart street lights, too.
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This isn’t to crow about how Google’s progressive attitudes will prevail over conservative ones. Its ubiquity, and the power that comes with it, is terrifying. I feel like I can still quit Facebook, but I can’t quit Google. And even if I did, it would have no effect. The people calling for a boycott misunderstand not just Google’s scale, but the mechanism of its power. If you’re a Google search user, you have no buying power. You are not the customer. You are not always right. You are the product, and you are just one of billions. If you fall off the back of the truck, you’ll simply be written off.

This writer is forgetting something rather important: if you don’t have anything to sell, you don’t have any customers. Google and companies like it are in the interesting position that their products are capable of walking away.

I had switched over to DuckDuckGo some time before the whole Google Memo thing happened. Now, thanks to the big G brilliantly killing and then restoring Dr. Peterson’s account, I don’t think I want to trust them with my data. We log into email accounts every day. They contain all kinds of important information. If suddenly one day my gmail account is gone, what am I supposed to do? Kick myself for not downloading everything and backing up thousands of emails?

So that’s exactly what I’ve done. Downloaded everything. And I’ve been researching alternatives to Google services. There’s a lot of other webmail out there. Other cloud storage. Other ways of collaborating over the internet. I despair of there ever being a usable video site but once Google bans everybody like Razorfist and Mister Metokur, there won’t be any point of going to Youtube anyway.

We might not be able to simply, easily, or quickly extract ourselves from Google’s grasp but why should you continue being a product when you don’t have to be?

The Rise of Alt-Tech & Google’s Rogue Elements

As all the major tech companies seem to be SJW-converged and hell-bent on destroying free speech, it’s time for a major backup plan.  The increasingly blatant bias and attacks on “wrong-think” by tech companies are turning up the heat, and I’m sure, motivating those developing alternatives to pick up the pace.  The free-speech, conservative, or just-not-that-SJW elements of the internet need alternative platforms asap.

The problem with having separate platforms is that reaching the fence-sitters, the moderates, or those who’ve been too caught up in their own daily lives to notice the culture war or to choose sides, becomes more challenging.  If the SJW’s want to create an uncross-able division between people and completely shutdown any hope of dialogue or seeing “the other” as anything but the enemy — they’re doing a darn good job.

Apparently, there’s been way too much red-pilling happening on the internet and the liberal-run tech companies are screaming: “Shut it down!  Shut it down now, before it’s too late!”

Here’s Mister Metokur’s take on it:

More recently, we’ve learned James Damore was the author of the Internal Memo.  Of course, he was fired.  But according to Vox Day, his gutsy decision to write and send out that memo will not lead to his destruction but maybe to better things:

Damore will be fine; he’s better off out of the SJW-converged madhouse and has already been offered jobs by Gab’s Andrew Torba and WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange.

Vox Day goes on to point out Google’s weakness and predicts the company’s eventual demise:

DH, who is one of the Dread Ilk’s expert data guy’s, explains.

“All of Google is kept afloat by one thing only. Adwords. They have no other significant source of income after a decade or more of trying to diversify. Every other business is borderline trivial when compared to AdWords. All the moonshots have failed. All the R&D has failed. It’s. All. AdWords.

The money-making core of Google is a tiny speck of its workforce, a tiny core of people who make AdWords work. The fear is not that 2/3 are SJWs, it’s that one or two or three of the key engineers, who are working on the next version of Search and Adwords, who are actively fighting and hardening against existential threats to the product, might walk, or even just do a slightly less great job.

Google is actually a very fragile company. They are ripe for disruption from a new player, or alternatively, to be drained from a few deep pocketed rivals. The entire bubble of online advertising stems from a belief that is often irrational that online advertising is effective at certain definitions of cost effectiveness.”

In other words, as the AdWords model fails, which is already happening, Google’s massive market cap is going to rapidly decline with it because all of its other businesses have failed to find traction. The company has observably entered the ideological death spiral that is the inevitable result of the Impossibility of Social Justice Convergence.

What comes to mind when I read this, and am reminded that there was a surprising amount of support for the Internal Memo at Google, is Star Wars’ Rogue One.  This may seem very geeky (and I’m not even that big a Star Wars fan…), but seeing Google’s internal weakness and that it lies in the hands of a relatively small number of people makes me think of the Death Star and it’s purposefully engineered sabotage point.

Out of fear and to maintain purity of thought, Google will probably start purging everyone who isn’t fully in-line with their ideology.  It’s not an unreasonable fear.  If you’re going to be fired anyway (or live in fear that your secret conservative views might be discovered and thus have your career destroyed), it would be tempting to under-perform at work or even screw some things up on your way out.  If it took me two seconds to think of this, how many badly-treated employees at Google, working there months, years, may be thinking the same things?  Google may be badly converged, but not everyone who works there is an SJW.  As the Internal Memo has proven, there are certainly rogue elements there.

Have you ever worked for a stupid, controlling employer who didn’t understand or appreciate any of the work you did, who considered you disposable?  How much did you feel like working hard for your employer?  It sounds like the work environment at Google is pretty awful.  That’s sure to stimulate innovation and growth and success, right?  Google’s about to find out how well that works…

 

The Coming Googlepocalypse

Google has done a great job making itself ubiquitous.  Gmail works great.  Google Drive is very useful for anyone who collaborates or switches computers a lot.  Hangouts.  Maps.  Translate.  Chrome.  Android.  Ads.  Search engine.  You name it.

So what happens if the benevolent Google decides to pick up its toys and go home?

The more ubiquitous Google is the more it’ll hurt when it decides to yank everything you’ve worked on and come to rely on away from you and deny you a platform.  It’s time for more alt-tech.