Netflix and Take A Pill (timotheories presents: Watch Culture)

Internet culture is cool right? Reshoots and disputes and set leaks galore.

Oh wait, nope, that’s not cool at all.

It’s all just a hype machine and it sucks. Because legitimacy of so many of the films coming out right now aside (read: Justice League, Baywatch, Pirates of the Caribbean), we don’t need to spend hours upon hours of our time reading click-bait themed single paragraph articles from buzz sites, tweeting from similar newsfeeds that should be reporting on politics, and binging on YouTube video theories and opinions. I mention this because we’re talking about things which haven’t even come out yet.

It’s weird though, because culture has shifted.

You probably didn’t notice it, did you?

Yeah, funnily enough, the notion of hyping movies has been around for a while. You see dear readers, there used to be a time when we would get on a hype machine ahead of a release date, but we didn’t have a place to vomit all of our millions of ideas about it. And people didn’t capitalize on all of the theory, using their particular geek skills to funnel people Then the internet came along. And we lived a happy place between hype and geek culture for a few years.

So what happened and where’s the shift?

Culture Conundrum

Well, I think at some point publishers of ideas, and cultural icons realized that the volume of new content being created reached far beyond their own individual capacities to give opinions on it, so they instead choose to focus only on the new and glamorous, adding in their two cents as it were. Luckily for the vast majority of us, technology has shifted too and our attention spans for the new and novel are increasing, so we don’t have time to look at everything. We instead spend five minutes on one thing we care about, to then move onto another five minutes segment about the thing we care about.

Content creators benefit from this in a big way, and everyone is happy. Because we can all share in that hype machine, never really contributing anything in the way of constructive feedback and driving our subscribers to purpose.

Which is why I decided to introduce a new series of video posts called WatchCulture into the mix. In this series, I will be sharing brief recommendations on movies which have been around for more than a year, and which I think you should watch for your own cultural edification. These are going to be short videos on film, music, art, etc., which fit into the cultural norm, but the difference is that instead of saying netflix and chill, I’m going to ask you to take the red pill.

theories Summarized

You can thank André Lindo, the producer of my Cross Talk series, for this idea, and a greater insight into my own thoughts and feelings on what culture we should be consuming at any given time. Expect to see Watch Culture episodes cropping up every week, very soon.

But for now, I’ve no more theories to share. Only well wishes and a hope for a new tomorrow.

Tim!

 

 

Grey Matter (Governance)

 

Decision making is hard, dear readers.

And sometimes implementing an easy decision really is the wrong thing to do, while implementing the complex decision turns out to be the right one. Unfortunately for all of us, life is not quite so simple as those black and white principles, and even Luke Skywalker is probably going to realize that going grey is the most pragmatic solution. But don’t take my word for it, read this theory about why jedi and sith are likely old news, and that by Episode IX’s end, we’ll likely see a new type of force user emerge victorious.

I hold that this theoretical decision making on Skywalkers part will come down to good governance. We cannot have light without dark, and if you increase one over the other, the secondary element must evolve in kind. But when we combine elements of light and dark, the contrasts give way for subtle shifts in grey and a much stronger range of tonality.

I personally believe this applies to how governments should operate as well. Well as much as I can say in 1000 words or less.

When public funded institutions conduct their public affairs and manage public resources in a responsible and effective way, they are enacting good governance. Those actions cannot be conducted only out of selfish needs nor can the patrons be so altruistic that they never stand up and fight for their people.

But what is governance anyway?

According to wikipedia, governance refers to

all of the processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market or network, whether over a family tribe, formal or informal organization or territory and whether through the laws, norms, power or language.

That means working with many different people of many different functions to organize and operate all of those functions in a way that benefits those people.

Not Just A Liberal’s Fancy-Free Dream

What this means to me is that we HAVE TO work together to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, and that decisions are made which always put safety and welfare FIRST and which are for the aid of as many constituents as possible. Good government operates as a sum of it’s parts, the light, the dark, and everything in between. The grey matter of the body.

As an example of support by representation, The Canada Council for the Arts exists primarily to ensure the Canadian people are given a range of public art projects regularly, by investing in the arts through grants and services which bolster the broad range of cultures which make up Canada.

That and they help to raise awareness for the arts too.

But this is just one example of many types of programs which exist in modern day governments, and which are key to the success and development of our communities in a state of global communication.

Programs exist for the disabled, for impoverished, for sports, and for education.

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But, and I hesitate to share this, there is this notion out there that a great many conservative supporters like to say fairly often – creative types are bleeding hearts, and successful ones are supposedly so far removed from the real world that they cannot see the forest for the trees – but I strongly disagree with this notion.

And I don’t share this point lightly, because it is true that we can’t all be movie stars and music geniuses, a great many of us live our lives in the working class, and that ain’t so bad. But good governance should see through classism and recognize the issues at hand first and foremost, no matter what voice an issued is raised with.

Ashton Kutcher – Smart Cookie and Model Citizen

I originally planned for this post on governance (inspired by the Postconsumers response to the OECD index) to be about how artists can uniquely contribute to our communities in the voting process, and where supporting local initiatives and pitching in in ways other than with our pocket money DO make a difference… But then I ran across a tweet about Ashton Kutcher this morning.

In case you aren’t familiar, Ashton Kutcher got his start as a professional model before eventually breaking out into television and film as an actor, and then working his way into investment opportunities as a venture capitalist. He’s been involved in numerous startups over the years including Skype, Foursquare and Airbnb. He’s a smart cookie, though he plays a dummy on TV.

Probably the most impressive thing about him though, is that in 2009 he established an international human rights organization called Thorn with now ex-wife Demi Moore. It’s goal is to address the sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking on a global scale. I mention this because in the tweet that twitter user shared, the author acknowledged how ludicrous it was that Kutcher had to defend his profession as an actor before he could address a US senate committee on the successes of the software his company has developed to fight human trafficking.

He then explains how his technology will helps save thousands of lives, and how investing in it is necessary for us to commit to good governance.

I’m going to share a clip of his speech because I cannot do it more justice than Mr. Kutcher did himself.

theories Summarized

When we practice good governance, we are using our grey matter appropriately. And my hope is that by recognizing all human beings have the capacity for light, dark, and grey actions in-between, that creative professionals are not limited by their hearts, rather their strengths of language allow them to communicate what good governance is. At least, that’s the theory anyway.

Tim!

When I Left You, I Was But The Learner, Now I Am The Master (Cross Talk Ep. 16)

 

The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.

– Darth Vader

Of all the choices I could make to start this post off right, this is easily one of my favourite quotes from Star Wars because it demonstrates rather visibly resolution, the progression towards an end. Plus, it helps tie in A New Hope directly with my third favourite Star Wars film, Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Each of us moves through life encountering teachers, those who already have key abilities of intelligence, judgment and experience, realized as wisdom.

Darth Vader roughly translates to Dark Father. At least that’s the popular statement. An excellent coincidence that George Lucas used to his advantage when building the lore of Star Wars for us young fans.

But that’s what great storytellers do, they build into the mythos they’ve created and simultaneously strengthen the chronology with each addition to the franchise. Thus making those initial choices seem intentional and enmeshed with later stories. The value of of prequels and sequels is that they enrich an already great story. When the content lines up, exploration of themes is worthwhile.

So while Darth Vader is correct to say that he is now a master of the force, Obi-Wan is also correct in saying that he has only mastered the dark side of the force as a Sith. And when you watch Revenge of the Sith, you can see how handily Obi-Wan beat Anakin, how he admonished him for taking a risk and getting cut down, but only because Obi-Wan had wisdom which Anakin did not.

Because Obi-Wan knew better.

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When you begin the process of watching films, one of the biggest lessons you can learn is that there are levels of emotion which you can experience. Through repeated viewings, with different genres, and by having shared experiences. A popular one that is a perfect example of this is a parent watching one of their favourite movies with their child. You witness their emotions as they experience similar feelings that you had the first time you enjoyed that art, and then you gain the enjoyment of sharing that art with them, plus another bond you now have available in relating to your child.

That now shared, Chris and I have spent a lot of time discussing the inherent value of film before, but today we run through some real-world examples of the merits of this medium and why the more time you spend with it, the more likely you are to build social relationships, enhance your passion, step outside of your comfort zone, and learn about humanity. The highs and lows of the hobby, and the maturation the love is real my friends – wisdom to be gleaned from watching film.

This is episode sixteen of Cross Talk, produced by my friend and yours, Andre Lindo. I hope that you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed creating it. Cross Talk is a passion project, and this exemplifies that passion very well!

Yet another theory knocked right out of the park, and I’m spent. This is atypical of our normal Cross Talk videos, but I really do  hope you enjoyed this episode creative cuties, and that you have a wonderful week. Check back-in for a review of the new AFI album.

Otherwise, please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. We want to hear your feedback!

Tim!

Why Captain America Turned Nazi And Other Fan Theories (Cross Talk Ep.6)

Fandom is broken.

Well, that’s what Devin Faraci of Birth. Movies. Death. would have us believe anyway.

Now, normally I don’t like to indulge the reaction post/video side of humanity on the Internet because I find doing so to be far too specific and not in the least satisfying – The problem being that creating content around a “trending topic” runs the risk of quickly becoming dated and it’s often not broad enough to build an entire timotheories sized post on.

Sure, I could do something everyone likes, like speculating on the next Angry Birds movie, but I’d prefer to write like a Shrek movie, one with many layers, sort of like an onion, because I don’t care what everyone likes.

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But fortunately for you, dear readers, you’re going to get your cake and eat it too, because that Faraci article is something of a whopper and conveniently related to the topic I was going to bring up this evening anyway.

It just so happens that in doing research for Episode 6 of Cross Talk, how fandom influences studio direction, Chris came across the above article and decided to share with me. And we had a good chat about it.

But let’s get into it!

Without giving too much away, Chris and I have found a way to demonstrate the value of a measured approach to the challenge that is social media, because if you follow his logic through to it’s logical conclusion, then Faraci’s fandom has always been broken.

Faraci tells us that because of the Internet, extremists like Annie Wilkes now have a way to terrorize anyone and everyone, but what about the other side of the coin? Those who never had a voice now have potentially have one, and petitioning for artistic changes just go a lot easier.  So where did we land? And how upset are we about the Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 reveal? You’re about to find out, and I’ll give you a hint, as an artist, I happen to have a few theories on this topic.

I’ve included a direct link to the full video for you here, but as always, the real action is just below for your convenience. Otherwise, please sit back and enjoy Episode 6 of Cross Talk!

I’m out of theories for now, but please check back tomorrow for an album review that is all about Simon. It should be a good one! Please comment, subscribe and share this with you friends. We want to hear your feedback!

Tim!

The Hero’s Journey (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, review)

You know that saying the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree? I was never a big fan of it myself, because when I was growing up I wanted to be my own man, with my own ideas; I didn’t want to bogged down by tradition and duplication.

The problem with this attitude though is that not matter how hard we try, we don’t live in a vaccuum and we inherit traits from our biological parents, and depending how we grow up, also from those who raise us up.

So there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with knowing the blueprint. You have to know what you are working with so you can improve upon it.

Which leads us into this week’s film review.

 

 

 

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Cast: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Director: J. J. Abrams
released on blu-ray April 5, 2016
********* 9/10

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IMDB: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Audience Score 89%
The Guardian: *****/*****

Jeffrey Jacob Abrams, better known as J. J. Abrams, is an American director, producer, screenwriter, and composer. He is known for his work on M.I. 3, the Star Trek reboot, and sequel Star Trek Int Darkness, as well as Super 8.

Abrams is well now known for his science fiction and adventure films, and he has a good understanding of drama as well. He is the co-creator of the television series Lost.

I remember when it was first announced he would be at the helm of this movie, people were really nervous that he wouldn’t be able to address both Star Wars and Star Trek. That he would further ruin the Star Wars franchise. But obviously he didn’t. Let’s take a look see at the plot.

Taken from Wikipedia and edited,

Approximately 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last Jedi, has disappeared. The First Order has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire and seeks to eliminate Luke and the New Republic. The Resistance, backed by the Republic and led by Luke’s twin sister, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), opposes them while searching for Luke to enlist his aid.

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) meets village elder Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) on the planet Jakku to obtain a map to Luke’s location. Stormtroopers commanded by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) destroy the village and capture Poe. Poe’s droid BB-8 escapes with the map, and encounters the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) near a junkyard settlement. Ren tortures Poe using the Force, and learns of BB-8. Stormtrooper FN-2187 (John Boyega), unable to bring himself to kill for the First Order, frees Poe, and they escape in a stolen TIE fighter; Poe dubs FN-2187 “Finn”. They crash on Jakku, Finn appearing to be the only survivor. He encounters Rey and BB-8, but the First Order tracks them and launches an airstrike. Finn, Rey, and BB-8 flee the planet in a stolen, rundown ship, the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon breaks down, and is captured by a larger ship piloted by Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), who reclaim their former vessel. Gangs seeking to settle debts with Han board and attack, but the five escape in the Falcon. The gangs inform the First Order of Han’s involvement. At the First Order’s Starkiller Base, a planet converted to a superweapon that uses the energy of stars to destroy star systems, Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) orders General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) to use the weapon for the first time. Snoke questions Ren about the involvement of his father, Han Solo; Ren says Han means nothing to him.

The Falcon crew view BB-8’s map and determine it is incomplete. Han explains Luke tried to rebuild the Jedi Order but exiled himself after an apprentice turned to the dark side and destroyed what Luke had built. They travel to the planet Takodana and meet with cantina owner Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o), who can help BB-8 reach the Resistance, but Finn wants to flee on his own. Rey is drawn to a vault and finds the lightsaber that belonged to Luke and his father Anakin Skywalker before him. She experiences disturbing visions and flees into the woods. Maz gives Finn the lightsaber for safekeeping.

Starkiller Base destroys the Republic capital and fleet. The First Order attacks Takodana in search of BB-8. Han, Chewbacca, and Finn are saved by Resistance X-wing fighters led by Poe, who survived the TIE-fighter crash. Leia arrives at Takodana with C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and reunites with Han and Chewbacca. However, Ren captures Rey and takes her to Starkiller Base. He interrogates her about the map, but she resists his mind-reading. Discovering she, too, can use the Force, she escapes her cell with a Jedi mind trick

 

What, I’m stopping there? Come on folks, you should know better by this point. I’m not going to finish the movie for you. I’d rather you watch it yourselves – but I will do what I can to assure you to do so.

I will start by saying this, yes it does look and feel a lot like the first film in certain ways (A New Hope), and it takes elements from Episodes V and VI, but I think that it was important for Abrams and Disney to do that, and for George Lucas to let go of input after initial consultation. George Lucas modelled the initial trilogy around Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and like that story, the themes of a successful hero’s journey are always the same.

By acknowledging the success of the original trilogy, the themes Campbell’s book, and reinvigorating a new generation with another hero’s journey (this time a heroine), we get to enjoy a fun and empowering story.

Pros: It is fast-paced, features new faces and old, and we care about the entire universe. The Force Awakens is incredibly faithful to the original movies while charting some new territory at the same time, injecting fun back into the franchise. FUN George Lucas.

Cons: Without giving anything away, I still struggle with the climax point of the movie, if only because I think that while it was necessary, the emotional pull was on us, and not on the characters involved. And that’s all I will say about that. Second, the political story behind the First Order is rather dim and will hopefully be addressed proper in Episode VIII.

Runtime: 136 minutes

Points of Interest: Mark Hamill found out about the new trilogy over lunch with George Lucas, and Lucas rather nonchalantly told him he could be in or out, and they would write him out if need be. Hamill nonchalantly expressed interest, though he was super excited. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were not allowed to tell anyone they had been cast until a few months in, though Boyega did tell a cab driver.

You can tell immediately how much respect everyone involved has for the original trilogy and their concerns in protecting the framework and emotion in those three films. But hands down the breakout performances by the new characters are my favourite parts of the story. Daisy Ridley is fantastic as Rey and Adam Driver is moody and chaotic as Kylo Ren. Not to mention the relationship between John Boyega and Harrison Ford’s characters.

I wrote about this once already this week (read: Weezer, white album review), but returning to form is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if that form is what gave you purpose and a voice to begin with. I will also tell you that I am not going to give this movie a 10 for two reasons. First, because I realize it is the first film in an arc and it’s got two more films to prove itself. And second, because it took 30 years for Star Wars to return to form.

Having said that, I personally enjoy the prequel trilogy. Not all of it, but I definitely like the buildup to Episode III and can even tolerate Episode II. I’ve seriously given thought to the machete order as a way to introduce future progeny to this franchise.

Regardless, The Force Awakens is both the movie we want and the movie we deserve. Please go watch it if you haven’t. Buy the digital HD, the blu-ray or the DVD. Support this movie so the next few are properly supported.

But what do you think? Do you like the new Star Wars? Do you hate it? Leave some comments, and better yet subscribe to the blog! I’ll see you tomorrow with wisdom on social media.

Tim!