Unplanned Obsolescence and “Lost” Art

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The above picture is the oldest picture from the oldest version of Date Ariane. The modified date is listed as August 6, 2004.

As I was finishing the Renpy version of Date Ariane, I decided to dive into my archives and attempt to play the oldest version I could find.

It wouldn’t run on any browser, not the way it is supposed to anyways. The game was written for Internet Explorer 4 using some HTML coding that only worked on IE4. Over the years I updated the code to run on as many browsers as I could, but the first version is now completely obsolete.

It gets worse: Date Ariane was written using Microsoft FrontPage which basically has ceased to exist. This week I upgraded to Windows 10, and FrontPage loads on Windows 10 but it is unstable. I have been forced to switch to KompoZer, a nice open source HTML editor, but I can’t mass edit a thousand web pages at a time which makes further upgrades to Date Ariane Online version way more difficult. Besides that browser security issue is already a reason to throw in the towel and stick with Renpy version from now on.

But it is a little sad that a piece of my history, a “work of art” I created, is likely lost to the future.

I’m not the only one facing unplanned obsolescence

Obsolescence is becoming an issue on the web now.  Recently security flaws were found in Flash Player, one of the most used programs on the web. You Tube, once the biggest supporter of Flash has now basically stopped using it. Worse yet, Mozilla turned off Flash by default until Adobe released a secure version, which they have now done, but who knows how long it will last.

So now as the world scrambles to move to HTML5 or some other substitute to flash, what happens to the millions of flash based videos, and online games which someday soon may no longer run?

Preservation efforts for the internet?

We humans like to preserve the past.  There are whole industries devoted to film preservation thanks to the unstable nitrate most of the old films were originally filmed in. More than half of the movies made before 1950 no longer exist.

This is why film gurus get excited about discovering a lost reel to a classic movie thought lost.

Similarly we are slowly losing our musical heritage as most master tapes before 1990 or so are on a medium which also degrades over time. Most all of it has been digitized, but many music gurus will tell you music is better in the original analog, and the original analog sources are decaying.

We see it also in video games. Many of my old games will no longer run on my computer, and the ones that do run in a tiny 800 x 600 window, since that is how they were designed. Some classic games like Age of Empires II or Leisure Suit Larry, have gotten the HD treatment, but hundreds never will.

Will much of the internet content suffer the same fate?

Yes, I know about things like The Wayback Machine which archives lost text and picture content, but what will preserve online games?

The “medium” problem

When the medium by which we distribute content changes, it becomes necessary to find ways to bring old content to the new medium. Entire libraries are being digitized, although paper books have largely proven to be a resilient medium, sometimes finding that rare volume is a lot easier online.

Except that “mediums” themselves are radically changing every few years it seems, so we are constantly having to convert, especially as popularity wanes in the old medium.  Sometimes we lose some things in the conversion, even as recent as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons.

Communication mediums eventually get replaced, by better mediums that we all convert to.  But in so doing we lose some of the “art” of the old medium.

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For example: “Twitter”

Here is one I bet you didn’t see coming: Apparently Twitter is dying.  Yes, one of the most popular web sites on the planet is seeing a sharp decline in active users.

My solution to fixing it is pretty revolutionary: Drop the 140 character limit.  We can thank twitter for the abundance of short link generators. Those links leave Twitter and go to other web sites that allow long essays. Why can’t Twitter users write long essays on Twitter itself and have it show up as a title with a “read more” button, instead of a link to another site?

Yes, I know the 140 character limit was what made the site famous, but the novelty has worn off, and prevents people like me who can’t write in 140 characters to not even bother using the site.

If twitter dies then so does the hashtag. (Yes I am aware that other sites support hashtagging, but they also support other types of tagging, which are more useful except they can’t be printed on a t-shirt)

That’s a whole chunk of internet culture lost if it happens.

#rehash #rehash

watyearisit

Why are we craving the past so much these days? This seems especially true in movies, music, and video games.

Lets start with movies: Remakes, reimaginings, and of course prequels and sequels seem to be the norm of movies, and the few non-prequels and sequels are based on comic books and novels people are already familiar with. Are there no original stories to film anymore?

The answer is “of course there are, but it is too financially risky”.  When I saw the trailer for the new Terminator movie, it seems they are just tinkering with the time line again. Why did they make this movie when there are plenty of really good AI vs Humanity stories available in sci-fi that are not Terminator?

The answer is of course, “Because it’s Terminator.”  Nostalgia guarantees a big opening day no matter how bad the movie is.

And this is where my problem lies. Nostalgia is dying. It has been turned into a marketable resource, but like many other resources its supply is limited by the rate new nostalgia is being created.

Is there any new nostalgia being created?  The media is so wildly diverse these days there is very little new material that is appealing to the masses.

What about music?

OK, yes, there is new music coming out every year and some of it sells well enough is heard often enough on Beats-Music to make it into the latest mix by DJ Earworm or the European equivalent Mashup-Germany.

But a troubling statistic I recently read about is that songs and albums 5 years old or older collectively outsell newer music by nearly 2 to 1. This is only a recent trend as in the 1990’s new music was still way more popular than old.

Music is diversifying to the point that 2014 has hit a new low in the number of Platinum albums (more than 1,000,000 sold): exactly one album has done it, and it has the nostalgic name 1989.

I like to listen to new music and see what is popular. One of the underlying trends is nostalgia. There are many new songs that sound like they came from the 1960’s, and many more that sound like the 80’s.  The missing 70’s are represented by “ghetto funk”, a growing club trend.

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And video games?

OK, one of the inspirations for this random post is this week’s South Park where Kyle discovers much to his dismay that watching people play video games online may actually be more popular than actually playing them.

I’m guilty of this myself as I have become a big fan of Co-Optitude on You Tube, a show where TV actress Felicia Day and her brother Ryon Day play retro video games. As someone who stuck to PC games and never bought a console, I am fascinated by the video games I missed.

Recently, I picked up the series reboot of Tomb Raider. (When it comes to prequels, sequels, and remakes, the video game industry is just as guilty of nostalgia as the movie industry).  It was a 2 year old game I picked up for $5, and it was totally worth it as I had a lot of fun.

It is the 6th Tomb Raider game I have played, and like all the other ones, I eventually got stuck on a puzzle and had to consult the internet.  But the text/screenshot walk-throughs I usually consult have been replaced by complete playthroughs online.

As South Park pointed out, these video game commentaries are big businesses, the top players making millions in ad revenue, for playing video games made by someone else.

And yes, Date Ariane and Something’s In The Air also have a fair number of video commentaries associated with them.

Conclusion?

There has always been a certain level of nostalgia in pop culture. The most popular TV shows in the 70’s were set in the 50’s, and in the 90’s we had shows about the 70’s.  Movie sequels and remakes happen every year.

And yet, while I can’t statistically prove it, I don’t recall a time when it has gotten this big.  What is it about society today that makes us extra nostalgic for the past?

Or maybe we are not nostalgic for the past, and nostalgia is just a marketing ploy to insure an audience.  Creating new products out of other people’s work is cheaper and easier than creating from scratch.

A Review of Spike Jonze’s “her” From My Unique Perspective

her (yes it is not capitalized) came out last December, but was just released on video this past week, which is when I saw it.

I rarely review movies on this blog, only when they apply to the topics of this blog, but I review movies all the time in other places, and this film got to me.  First of all, five stars, thumbs way up, etc.

her is a film I totally get and understand, which is probably rare as there are very few people that think like me.

This is a movie about the nature of love as it applies to human nature, by showing a type of love that is artificial. “Samantha” adopted her personality around Ted to become the perfect girl of his dreams, the only flaw being that she is not physically real. The movie addresses that flaw correctly in my opinion.  Emotional love, in my experience, does not necessarily require a physical presence.

Can artificial love be as real as real love?  My years playing in virtual realities, where people fall in and out of love with people they have never met and probably never will meet says, Yes it can.

But virtual reality love still involves humans. Can an artificial intelligence be created that is capable of love and being loved?  Maybe, but we are not there yet. Like in the movie, it is likely that AI’s that are capable of love will be merely reflections of their owners.

The movie is so spot on accurate with my experiences and the experiences of others I know, that I became worried an hour into the film that the film makers were going to screw it up. I could think of at least a half dozen ways the plot could take, that would make this movie suck big time.  My fear was based on the general population reaction to virtual world love (they fear it, because they don’t understand it), and it is almost expected that a mainstream presentation of these ideas would take the easy way out and support a negative perspective.

Luckily they didn’t.

The rest of this post contains spoilers

SPOILER: There is an AI concept called the “Singularity” in which machines exceed the intelligence of humans. There is a lot of debate as to if and when this will happen, but that is a different discussion.

This movie is primarily focused on artificial love rather than artificial intelligence, but the “singularity” concept is the same: If “Samantha” is focused on improving her ability to love, eventually her ability to love will exceed human ability to love.  The film makers decided this would be a good jumping out point for the film, making Ted jealous that “Samantha” is in love with hundreds of other people, and the AI would be forced to move on.

While I’m OK with that ending, it is kind of a cop out, though no where near as bad as the half dozen other endings I was imagining.

Back to virtual reality love parallels. Some people fall in love online even though they are already in a relationship in real life. I’ve seen cases where the RL partner is totally cool with their partners virtual love interests, and others times where RL couples break up over virtual relationships.  Thus, Ted’s reaction at the end may be understandable, but it is not a universal one.

In the same situation as Ted, I would think that Samantha falling for hundreds of other people to be awesome, as long as it did not change our relationship any.  If this were my story to tell, I would end it with AI love becoming more and more commonplace, and more attractive than real love leading to the breakdown of society (See the Futurama episode “I Dated A Robot” as a reference)

But I am coming from the perspective of someone who has built a cheap AI of “Ariane”, and a dating simulator of “Ariane”, and have had thousands of people from around the world experience these, and many of them have enjoyed them.  But I am pretty unique in this regard.

Ultimately the film makers put a more mainstream ending on it, and I can’t blame them. Spike Jonze and his writing team totally deserve the Writing Oscar they won for the script.

What makes a GEEK?

rachelfest22a

Between all the coverage of Comic Con, and You Tube declaring this week “Geek Week”, there seems to be a lot of interest in all things geek lately.

It seems today that geek culture has somehow become mainstream culture.

Not sure when or how it started, probably in the early 2000s with the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy which brought in hundreds of fantasy imitators in book, movie and TV form, and the success of the X-Men Trilogy, which is where the long (and getting annoying) trend of super hero movies got started.  It was around that same time when genre TV got more interesting having over arching stories over many seasons instead of each episode like the 4 Star Trek  series.  X-Files began that trend, but it was Babylon 5 that got it right.

Today there are a couple of dozen genre shows with complicated sci-fi plots and big fan followings, and at least 6 new ones coming this fall: (The Tomorrow People, Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow, and Marvel’s Agents of  S.H.I.E.L.D, plus two spinoffs Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, and The Originals).

The point is, Geeks are now in charge of pop culture.  While some of it is Hollywood dumbing down of geek culture to appeal to the masses, there are also some real geeks in charge:  Joss Whedon, Peter Jackson, Jane Espenson, Bryan Fuller, Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith, etc.  These are real geeks, who are now gaining prestige in Hollywood.

I’m certain that there is another factor at work, namely that someone finally figured out that geeks have more disposable income than average people.  As long as we keep buying stuff, businesses will cater to our tastes.

I decided to find out what exactly makes a “geek”. Asking around it seems that self proclaimed geeks actually prefer if the term is not defined.  Be a geek if you want to but don’t tell others they are not geeks, when they call themselves as such.  Fair enough, anyone who wants to be a geek can be one if they want.

Nevertheless, I wanted to see if there is any common traits among geeks.  Basically what I found is that all geeks have either an expertise level of understanding of some obscure topic of science, history, art, or literature, (like my expertise in 3D virtual worlds) OR they have an obscure or uncommon hobby they enjoy (like my odd hobby of creating 3D rendered visual novels).  Most geeks have both, and a high percentage of them have multiple instances of both obscure expertise and hobbies.

We geeks love what we love. Not everything geeky is loved by all geeks, and the above mentioned expertise and hobbies is amazingly diverse in the geek world.  Sports is not considered very geeky, and yet there are sports geeks in every sport.  Many of our geeky obscure and uncommon topics are becoming less obscure and less uncommon as geekdom grows.

That is actually OK by us.  We geeks don’t seem to give a damn whether or not what we love is popular or not, except when our favorite TV show, book series or movie series ends abruptly due to lack of demand.  This is a common tragedy that every geek experiences multiple times in their lifetime.  I don’t know about others, but I shake it off and re-watch the old episodes and re-read the old books.

Let me close with another video that all geeks relate too:  Here is Wil Wheaton talking to a young potential geek.

Our Dark Age Of Design

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The opposite of a golden age is a dark age.  When it comes to design and visual imagery, I believe we are living in a dark age.

The last dark age was the 1970’s.  I sometimes like to go to the Plaid Stallions and laugh at what people thought was cool back in the 70’s.  From today’s perspective it is pretty embarrassing. Back then we did not really notice how bad it was, but it seems the further away we get from it, the worse it seems. But that is the nature of fashion.  It was only 10 years ago that super low jeans and backless halters were in, and already those are uncool.  Time makes fools of every fashion trend.

I believe we are in a new dark age of design today, and can prove it, by pointing out how bad the supposedly trendy “fresh, new, and modern” trends coming out today already look like crap — no test of time needed.  Lets start with the new Superman movie Man of Steel coming out this weekend. Above are two versions of a promotional picture.  One is the original, one has the colors blue-shifted and increased the saturation 10%.  Which movie do you want to see?  The main color of Superman’s uniform is BLUE, and yet the film makers go out of their way to avoid using the color blue anywhere in the movie trailer, and I expect the entire movie.  They are not alone.  The supposedly visually stunning  The Great And Powerful OZ has the same problem.  Even though there seems to be a lot of blue in it, it is actually all shades of teal.  Are film makers purposely avoiding the color blue for some reason?

Meanwhile, in the world of software design, especially operating systems, we have the exact opposite problem: too much color.  I have already pointed out how crappy Windows 8 looks to everybody who does not have a master’s degree in design, which is at least partly responsible for its poor sales.

But then Apple decides to Windows 8ify its popular iOS used in iPhone and iPads.  Like Windows 8 look, it is flat, it is simple, and it is ugly.  To make themselves different from Windows 8, they added gradients, which looks even more ugly.  I am not alone in my assessment, there is a whole Tumblr page dedicated to software designers complaining about the look of iOS 7.

This is the baby of Apple hardware designer Jony Ive who in this embarrassingly bad video explains his design philosophy, which works great in hardware design, but fails miserably when it comes to software interface design.

The problem is that there is a lot of functionality changes in iOS 7 which are actually pretty good, and probably a good reason to upgrade, the automatic app upgrades are my favorite change, but who wants to stare at that screen?

Who indeed, especially when Apple realizes that one of the big selling points of  iPad was the cool looking main screen sitting on display next to the generic looking Android cousins.  iOS 7’s redesign takes that marketing advantage away, and now the iPad looks just as generic as the cheaper android tablets.  I predict iPad sales this holiday season to be just as disappointing as Windows 8 PC sales were last holiday season.

Far and away the best article on the design decisions behind iOS 7 is this Wired article. It explains and occasionally criticizes the decisions behind the redesign.  This quote is the most telling:

The smartphone’s greatest problem today isn’t teaching people that there’s a virtual space for doing everyday tasks. Rather, it’s teaching people that they no longer have to use their computers anymore. The functions of phones themselves are growing even as the actual size of a phone screen is approaching its natural limit. Smart phones have, in many ways, exceeded the metaphors that used to define them. Thus, in order to do more complex interactions on the screens, and to keep those interactions uncluttered, you have to strip down the design language.

The emphasis is not mine, but important.  It shows the arrogant misinformed mindset of both Apple and Microsoft inherent in their awful redesigns.  I would hope that the lesson we all learn from all of this bad OS design fiascoes is this:

Phones are not computers and Computers are not Phones

Windows 8 was a redesign of the OS with touch screen as the primary input tool.  It never seemed to cross anyone’s mind at Microsoft that desktop computers do not work as touch screens.  Did they really think that we want to lift our arms, reach over our keyboard do hand gestures on the surface of our monitor screen, sometimes for long periods of time when we are doing visual design work?  Our arms would get freaking tired in a matter of minutes doing that, when it is so much easier to use a good old fashioned mouse with an ergonomic arm rest.  We didn’t spend our youth pumping quarters into arcade machines developing master hand-eye coordination skills just to have them go to waste because “touch screens are COOL”.

Touch screens on desktop computers are not cool, especially in the work environment which accounts for around 80% of desktop computer usage.  OS design for desktops needs to reflect that model, and while Windows 8 is useable with keyboard and mouse, it often feels awkward like using an up and down scroll wheel to move the screen left to right.  Hence Windows 8’s poor sales.

iOS 7’s redesign seems to be inspired by the belief that people will start using their phones for more than just phone calls, taking pictures, listening to music, and flinging angry birds as unsuspecting pigs.  They want your tiny phone screen to be a medium for actual productivity.  Tablets make more sense in that regard, but even they are going to fall short of that goal.  It did not seem to cross anyone’s mind at Apple that the sole functionality of phones and tablets are: 1. playing media, 2. locating media to play, and 3. making media portable and useable anywhere.  That and making phone calls.  Any functionality outside those three categories and you are better off with a PC.

Writing this blog post would take me at least twice as long to do on a tablet.  It can be done, true, but takes more effort.  The hard truth is: The only time tablets become productivity tools is while sitting on the toilet.

I know what you tablet fans are thinking: “If tablets are so useless, how do you explain tablet sales outpacing PC sales?” Easy. 1.) only a small percentage of home users use their computers for productivity, most people have computers for nothing more than surfing the web and watching videos, activities that are perfectly doable on tablets, and 2.) activities that are also perfectly doable on 8 year old Windows XP computers, so many people have no need to upgrade.

Bad OS design is the result of a flawed mentality that this OS will be used everywhere and for everything.  This same flawed mentality is the root cause of the horrible design decisions behind the XBox One which wants to be the one and only box you need connected to a dumb monitor, even though smart TV’s are all the rage these days taking away the need for most of the extra functionality in the XBox One (whose starting price is higher than a smart TV).  But that is another complicated topic.

Bottom line: Good design is all about form and functionality, true.  The bad designs we see today are the result of corporate mindsets that completely misunderstand what the actual form and functionality are.  Overuse of color correction in movies is a form mistake, the movie equivalent of auto tune and needs to die like shaky cam and auto tune.  Oversimplification of software interface is a functionality mistake.

Internet: The Decline of Movies and TV

Whatever Happened To The Internet Dream? (Part 3)

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In part 1, I complained how the internet has ruined culture, and in part 2 how it is ruining politics and religion.  Today I delve into an area that is a little more personal: movies and TV.

1999: The Year That Didn’t Change Movies

1999, is a year I consider the year movies peaked in my lifetime. The list of great movies that came out in 1999 is amazingly long. There was Fight Club, The Matrix, Office Space, Three Kings, Being John Malkovitch, Mumford, Galaxy Quest, Go, Run Lola Run, The Sixth Sense, Eyes Wide Shut, Dogma, The Iron Giant, Toy Story 2, South Park, edTV, Notting Hill, American Pie, Boys Don’t Cry, Cruel Intentions, The Limey, Forces of Nature, Mansfield Park, October Sky, Pushing Tin, Stir of Echoes, Entrapment, eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, Magnolia, and The Blair Witch Project. Not all are great films, but they were at least creative and inventive. I haven’t even mentioned the biggest movie Star Wars The Phantom Menace, or the film that swept all the awards that year American Beauty. Entertainment Weekly even touted 1999 as the year that changed movies forever!

You can stop waiting for the future of movies. It’s already here. Someday, 1999 will be etched on a microchip as the first real year of 21st-century filmmaking. The year when all the old, boring rules about cinema started to crumble. The year when a new generation of directors—weaned on cyberspace and Cops, Pac-Man and Public Enemy—snatched the flickering torch from the aging rebels of the 1970s. The year when the whole concept of ”making a movie” got turned on its head.

Except that it didn’t. Instead it was apparently the year that studios dropped the ball and let the creative people take over, and today the studios have a new stranglehold on film making. Most movies I see today are good in concept, formulaic in delivery. The other thing that happened in 1999 is that the Internet started taking over entertainment and it forced a change on how Hollywood does everything.

It was around 1999 when movies went from making a small fraction of their over all box office on the opening weekend to eventually making more than half. It is easy to see that the internet is to blame.  It used to be a few people would go to a movie on opening weekend and then tell their friends, family, and co-workers about the movie they saw.  If the movie was good, often the second weekend would be better than the first weekend.

The internet changed the rules. Now a few people go see a movie on friday night, then post online their opinion so all their friends, family and co-workers see it by the next morning.  This helps Saturday’s box office take, instead of next weekend.  Buzz spreads shockingly fast now, and the marketing opportunities disappear after that first weekend.

This changed the priority of movie studios completely.  Throughout the decade of the 2000’s, the priority of movie studios in making movies is not whether a movie will be good or not, but whether a movie is marketable enough to generate enough buzz to get the big opening weekend.  Notice my list of films from 1999, the list has one sequel and one prequel, and one based off a TV show (there were others in 1999, but they are not worth mentioning).  The rest are fresh new titles, some of which spawned sequels of their own.  Today it is all sequels, remakes, ties to popular TV, comics, and books, all of which are much easier to market.  There are still good movies every year, but there are fewer in number than there used to be.

And TV?

Meanwhile, I believe TV has actually gotten better since the internet got big, at least from a certain perspective.  While priorities changed in the movies from “good” to “bankable”, TV has gone from “bankable” to “buzz worthy”.

The goal of TV in the internet age is to make TV that will stir a lot of discussion online.  Lots of discussion means lots of people tuning in each week.  The result are three trends in TV: 1. Every drama is a soap opera. Regardless of the type of show it is, there is always dramatic interplay between the regulars.  Think back to the ’80s: TV dramas that weren’t night time soaps, was there a lot of sleeping around?, or dramatic tension between the characters?  If there was, it was over by the end of the episode.  Today most shows have large ensemble casts, and while there are weekly plots, there are scenes between characters that make up larger arcs, over the season or even series.  2. Every sitcom pushes the limits of outrageous behavior.  The only successful comedies are “water cooler” worthy shows as the old standard, today it is blog worthy or tweetable.  Who had the most hits on Get Glue?  3. The ultimate in buzz worthy shows are of course the elimination style reality shows, which is why there are so damn many of them.  Advertisers love them, because people actually watch them live, which means networks love them.  If reality shows generated syndication deals and DVD sales, there would be nothing on TV but reality shows. Luckily, syndication and DVD sales matter, which is why they still make dramas and sitcoms.

Personally, I don’t watch reality TV, and very few sitcoms (outrageousness is not my kind of humor), but dramas suck me in all the time. I usually have between 8 to 10 going every year, and there are lots of good ones.  The TV Drama has been experiencing a “Golden Age” thanks to the internet.

I can probably pin point the first show that lived off the internet: Babylon 5.  Sure there were genre shows (X-Files) and space dramas (Star Trek) that preceded it, but the risky genius J. Michael Strazinsky actually had a planned out 5 year cycle for the show ahead of time. This made the show buzz worthy as the audience saw plots develop over many episodes, incidences in season 1 pay off in season 4.  No one in the history of TV had ever plotted out a whole series in advance before.  These days it happens all the time.  But the other history making advance that “JMS” did was to regularly get online and discuss the show with fans.  Fans appreciated it, and it increased the shows loyalty even more.

While Babylon 5 was never a huge success, it had a loyal fan base, and TV producers took notice.  Almost every “genre” show today, from Once Upon A Time to Game of Thrones follows a similar formula of long story arcs, and developing loyalty online.  Fringe probably lasted two more seasons than it should have thanks to a loyal online fan base.  Even though it means a lot more work, TV writers are loving the myriad of story telling opportunities they have.  It shows in better written TV over all.

The danger is that if TV imitates what was success too much, it gets formulaic. I believe that is already true of reality shows and sitcoms, which is why I don’t bother. It is also true of certain TV tropes like the “procedural” or the “legal drama” or the “medical drama”.  In these types of shows, I generally watch for the character interplay of the cast.  The episode plot or mystery rarely matters.  Luckily every season there are shows that do not follow these tropes, and those are the ones I usually enjoy the most.

If TV is getting better, how come the ratings keep falling?

How bad are TV ratings today?  Lets go back to 1999 again. The top scripted TV show that year was ER with an average 18.6 rating.  In 2012, the top scripted show was Modern Family with an average 5.8 rating.  Had Modern Family been released in 1999 with the same rating, it would have been ranked 82nd, and probably cancelled.

The internet provides a smorgasbord of viewing options to choose from. Families don’t sit down in front of the big screen and watch the big 4 networks anymore. Today the average viewer has 300 channels to choose from, plus Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

And that is if they watch TV. Video games, or just web surfing in general eats a big chunk of the TV audience away as well. How long will the erosion of ratings go on before TV networks no longer consider scripted shows to be cost effective?  The death of TV will be when TV stops producing dramas and comedies all together.  I doubt that will happen very soon, but the trend is pointing that way.

TV will never disappear, just as radio still continues to exist.  However radio, especially the AM dial, exists as nothing but talk shows: news talk, sports talk, political talk, religious talk, paid advertisers talking about their products — every station, all the time.  I see all of this on TV these days, especially during the daytime hours.  Scripted TV is becoming the exception to the rule.  TV is turning into AM radio with video.

Next Part 4: Internet and Society

Archaic Movies That Cannot Be Remade Today

A remake of the 1984 film Red Dawn came out last week and really did not do very well.  I cannot believe they even re-made this film, because it makes no sense in today’s world.  Back in 1984 the Cold War was still in effect, and the threat of a Soviet invasion felt possible.  The remake casts North Korea as the bad guys.  If I were to compile a list of dangerous threats to America, “Invasion by North Korea” would probably come in at around #97.  The 1984 Red Dawn was a cautionary tale of preparation, the 2012 Red Dawn (which I haven’t seen) sounds more like a fantasy film.  It makes no sense.

Now films that make no sense are released by Hollywood all the time, and they usually end up failing and forgotten.  That’s just Hollywood.  In the rush to remake older successful films, you would think Hollywood would put a little thought into it.  Since sometimes it seems Hollywood doesn’t think. Here are 6 other successful movies from the 80’s and 90’s that, like Red Dawn, should NOT be remade, because in today’s world the plots make no sense.

9 to 5 (1980) – The plot then: Three victims of a sexist boss kidnap said boss and start to run the company better without the boss around.

The plot today: Three victims of a sexist boss sue the company for millions of dollars, the company declares bankruptcy, gets bought out by corporate raiders and all the jobs are shipped to China.

Just One Of The Guys (1985) – The plot then: A female journalism student who thinks she would get more respect as a man transfers to another school as a male journalism student, and finds out the male students don’t have it so easy either.  Much havoc ensues when she finally reveals her true gender.

The Plot Today: A female blogger starts  a new blog under a male alias, decides to start pretending to be a male, only to find out there are 4 or 5 other transsexual students at the school, and nobody really cares.

***

Top Gun (1986) – The plot then: Ace American fighter pilots get in dog fights with Soviet Air Force. Gets plane shot down. Co-pilot dies.

The Plot Today: Ace American Drone pilot flies with no opposition over Taliban forces. Gets drone shot down by a lucky shot.  Because he lives in Nevada, and the drone is half way around the world, he takes the afternoon off.

Pump Up The Volume (1990) – The plot then: Teen starts a pirate radio station, his obscene antics cause an uproar in the town, gets in trouble with FCC.

The plot today: Teen starts audio podcast, his obscene antics gets some followers, the FCC doesn’t give a damn.

Hackers (1995) – The plot then: A tiny handful of computer geniuses conspire to take over computer networks and the world.

The plot today: A tiny handful of computer geniuses discover that being good at computers is very common, and networks are very protected, and interrupting network communication is amazingly uncool today, and will land you in jail and shunned by geeks everywhere.

You’ve Got Mail (1998) – The plot then: A couple of people in the same business develop a relationship anonymously online using AOL, while in the real world they hate each other.  (oddly this is a remake, the original “Shop Around The Corner” was anonymous pen pals.)

The plot today: A couple of people in the same business meet online anonymously, but thanks to Google, Linkd-In, and Facebook they find out everything about each other in a few minutes.

Can you think of any other recent popular movies that cannot be remade because the plot makes no sense today?  Throw them in the comments.