Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Where Humor’s Not to Tread

July 11, 2012 Leave a comment

An audience engages with material with a purpose; there is a reason why we read. Explore a novel for entertainment or insight, watch a movie for pure escape or puzzling stash of riddles. Two can watch a movie for different reasons just as they can find completely different ideas. Reading the “text” paper or otherwise begins with the intention of the reader and, if discarded or violated, the material’s value may be lethally compromised. Engage though we do it is not for common goals.

How does one react when these expectations are violated? What becomes of a reader’s experience when an engagement on strictly serious, information-seeking goals finds humor and silliness? How does one react when engaging with a film labeled comedy finds sadness and drama? For many this violation is grounds for exit: some leave the theater or change the channel upon finding this violation. Expectations and crucial.

Our skills at labeling and categorization work to protect us from these violations of expectations. In most cases our labels work to inform us before we engage with material. We trust Netflix when it labels a movie as comedy. When we grab a book from the non-fiction shelf we expect to read a certain amount of truth inside its pages. Fiction is fake, comedy is funny and facts abound in non-fiction. Is this true? Are we safe? How much can be trust or expect from our systems of labeling.

Essential Truths and Mentors

June 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Certain figures play critical roles in our lives. Parents, teachers or authority figures become more than individuals in our world: they become mentors and models for our lives. Why do we seek out these figures? Do we need these models to teach us how to live? How do we remedy the conundrum of our own limitations by seeking out figures cut from the very same “cloth of limitations” from which we spawn?

Humans are linked by limitations. Much of our world exists beyond our perception and as a result we not only miss much of what surrounds us but also interpret what we can know in wildly incorrect ways. Paranoia is a broad example of these errors of perception. Despite our best intentions we cannot know how to function in society and depend on our fellow limited actors to guide us and explain the world in which we exist.

These guiding figures, though also limited by their own faulted perception, become our mentors. The roles by which we find these figures varies, some are family while others are figures who we respect or who simply hold positions of authority. Perhaps we can evaluate the strengths of our social networks by considering where our mentors come from. Those utilizing parents as mentors likely have a closer knit and perhaps broader network of support than one whose support network is cast largely with politicians or figures of authority.

No matter where these mentors come from they play a critical role in our lives. What do we do when these figures fail us? We cannot blame them for errors; after all as humans we should be well aware of their limitations. They are faulted just as we are, but in providing us with perspectives on our world we depend on them for so much but what do we do if a failure stems from something other than human limitation? What if our mentor actively deceives us or, worse yet, purposely hides or distorts details to manipulate us?

Herein an example from popular culture:

In the above clip, Luke is told that Obi Wan lied to him about his father. Yes, he lied. Obi Wan, the man in whom Luke invested his sense of reality denied him these critical details of life. What do we do in these situations where mentors distort reality. Such distortion is inevitable as these figures act in ways to “protect” us as a means to shield us from details they feel may damage us.

Mentors are important figures in our lives but such dependence links us to greater limitation. Ironically, in working to escape our limited perspectives we seek out figures who further limit our perspectives. If we invest trust in someone else to help us understand the world we become more vulnerable to confusion. We are limited but must steer clear of comfortable tools that may seem worthwhile but ultimately function to further limit and distort our sense of life.

Subjective Time, or The Value of My Minutes

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Are all minutes equal? If one is to utilize the sixty seconds of a minute for entertainment, they are certainly lot. Though the time is objective, the pursuit of filling these sixty seconds varies greatly. Do you aim to fill those sixty seconds with music? A movie or a television program? One can purchase a song for a dollar, rent a DVD for three dollars or skip the charge for both and just download them. What we pay to fill our seconds is wildly unset, but as consumers of media we need not worry about these variations. Our payment for media should be the concern of those who produce this media: consumers exist in a world where paying for content is optional.

In an economic situation where payment is optional, the only power acting against thoughtless consumption is ethics. We all know we should pay, but do we have to pay? If we skip the payment and just download the file, will anyone know? Swaying our decision further is the gross inequality of these opposing views: Yes, we can pay for one movie or one song or we can download an entire season, or, if so inclined the entire professional portfolio of a creator on a whim. We face the decision of paying for a single bite or freely collecting a slew of meals we may never even consider consuming. Such a situation holds only the thin sheet of ethical obligation as protection for those who create content.

Content creators need to recognize this situation and act accordingly. A creator needs to consider the value of an opposing forms. To make this comparison more balanced we must begin by considering the form of stimulation a consumer wants. Where is the predominant stimulation? Is it visual, such as a film or television program? Is it auditory in the form of a song or is it tactile in the form of a baseball game or meal? Considering a single piece of content in these categories helps content creators create logical price points. If a song writer creates a song, he or she must consider the cost or another form of auditory stimulation when setting the cost. Similarly, a creator of a film needs to consider the cost a consumer faces if he or she is interested in visual stimulation. A content creator who makes a visual piece of content is making a gross error if charging five dollars when a different visual item costs three dollars.

Costs of production will weigh into the issue, but consumers recognize the value of high production and will award creators accordingly. Such awards are based on merit and if one finds high cost content failing to garner a return there is an error in thinking- the value of high cost content does not necessarily mean impressive special effects. Interestingly, many of the high-cost features of high-cost productions are of little interest to consumers who desires for entertainment are often more simple than many producers believe. Ironically, a focus on these high-cost item often leads to a failure in creating interesting content or, even worse, an unsatisfactory use of these high-cost items may botch the entire creation. Consider the high-budget action movie so chock full of bad CGI that, while far-reaching and expensive, becomes more parody than valuable entertainment. Creators need to recognize the audience as intelligent creatures, not fools easily mesmerized by loud sounds and bright colors.

Time is not equal. Creators of content need to consider the competing sources of entertainment when creating and marketing content. Failure to do so risks destroying an industry and fails to provide a hungry public with quality content. Consumers exist in an economy where free content is easily accessible on a cost-free basis.

Off Into The Crawl Space

January 11, 2011 2 comments

Many human beings hide inside an interest as a means for comfort and security. For some this protection comes in the form of media, perhaps a favorite television show with a cast of characters that seem almost real and who provide a personal connection. For others the work of a musical artist provides insight into personal feelings. Somewhere in the collected body of work a band provides the food for personal consideration and creates a foundation for personal revelation. Art’s enduring power and importance stems largely from its ability to assist us in understanding who we are. Our favorite works of art are much more than aesthetically pleasing creations, they are devices to revelation, gateways into the depths of our soul that we both hide from the rest of the world and enter into only with the assistance of these creative works.

For others pleasure and security comes in the form of food. The possession of a moment wherein one’s favorite food is paused for consumption is as nearly divine as any earthly experience. Eating is the ultimate act of intimacy: a moment of complete control where a human being nourishes and gratifies itself. We have endless choices of food but possess a minute list of favorite foods that we personally define as special and sources of higher levels of gratification.

At the core of these provisions is a collection of positive emotions. We tend to cluster multiple positive experiences into these events in order to heighten the experience. In a way, we maximize pleasure by sweetening the experience in as many ways as possible: reading in a favorite chair on an afternoon of complete silence, dedicate an afternoon to pursue the perfect preparation of gourmet delicacies. Life, it seems, is a maze of personal applications, it provides us little in the form of pleasure; instead relying on the individual to know and create the moments that provide happiness. In short, its only us that can make us happy and in order to achieve a state of bliss we need to work for it.

We can recognize the signs of mental illness when these pursuits of pleasure either extend too often, too long or never end. Note the delusion of the Tucson shooter whose obsession with conspiracy theories and his victim are seen by many as major signs of mental illness. At some point an interest began to deepen and obsession took hold. Our pursuit of that which pleases us is a normal human process but when the human mind is out of balance these pursuits become distorted. The ailing human mind struggles to return from these ventures into happiness or, in the most tragic cases, becomes lost inside the zone of pleasure and becomes ensnared inside the moment forever.

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