Science Fiction Book Club
June 15, 2002
Is it Live or is it Television?
Craig's PissedYou may have heard about the "Craig v. Hollywood" lawsuit already. Five ReplayTV users, including Craig Newmark of craigslist.org fame, are asking a Los Angeles federal court to declare that the use of such "digital VCRs"-- including skipping commercials-- is legal. You can follow the links below to read all about it.
I don't have much more to add... I just wanted to open with the punny title. See my "Watch This! No." rant for more on the topic of skipping TV commercials.
UnrealI just watched Disney's Kim Possible animated series for the first time this week. You want the pitch? It's James Bond meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Kim's even a high school cheerleader), seen through Powerpuff Girl-colored glasses.
It's a good kid's show, but clearly a kid's show. There are some big plot holes, and lots of cheap jokes played for laughs-- you can bet the creators included a naked mole rat just so they could have their characters say "naked" a lot. And the names can be a bit much: Kim's sidekick is Ron Stoppable, and the villains include Señor Senior, Sr., and Señor Senior, Jr.
But I love animation as an art form. And there's something-- I dunno, pure about animated action shows. (Aside from the inexplicable Jackie Chan Adventures. Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of Jackie Chan if he's not doing his own stunts?) And it's not just because people can draw incredible things that would be too expensive for live action. It's about the stylization and distillation of real life.
Some of my friends can't stand musicals because they think musicals are too unrealistic. I disagree, of course; I think the best musicals are hyper-realistic. Like animation, musicals are all about portraying the essence of something by stripping away unnecessary details and distractions.
In a way, all filmmaking is about distillation. Movies don't show us everything that happens; they only show us the most important things, the few parts necessary to tell the story. (This is why I think most "real-time" shows fail, but that's another HotSheet.) We don't go to the movies to see real life. We go to see something extraordinary. Well, I do, anyway. You can spend your time and money however you like.
Being ThereLast night, I went to a baseball game. It's not what you think: my singing group, The Richter Scales, performed the national anthem. I didn't stay for long-- I hate baseball-- but, sitting there in the stands, I was struck by how different the experience was than seeing a game on TV or in the movies.
I don't think there will ever be a substitute for being there, for actually living something. I've been to the Grand Canyon, and it's nothing like photographs or video images. Even if we do someday invent holodecks or The Matrix, on this macroscopic level, there is an objective reality. You're either there or you're not.
Imagination is great, but nothing beats the validity of the senses.*
*One of my friends is an Objectivist, and she loved to play concepts in a hat back in college. That's where I picked up the phrase, which is pretty catchy on its own.