BCM325 LiveTweets Reflection

Hi all!

Hope you are having a good time. My name is Cuong Lam, and welcome to my blog. For anyone that does not know, I am a third year student studying Communication and Media at University of Wollongong, Australia. For this semester, I am studying a subject called Future Cultures, and for each week we are shown movies in class (yes you got it right, movies in class!) and during the screening we have to live tweet any relevant content or comment about the movie on Twitter. Therefore, in this blog post I will make a reflection on all of the six live tweeting sessions (I missed the first one :P). And here we go:

Week 2: WestWorld (1973).

Westworld is a 1973 American science fiction Western thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton about amusement park androids that malfunction and begin killing visitors (Wikipedia).

Liked Tweets:

Reflection:

It was interesting to see how not only me, but also my classmates reacted to the rebellion of robots in Westworld. In particular, we tend to focus not on the fact that robots were killing human in the movie, but instead the cause of the rebellion, which was the way human treated robots. It seems like the human characters were able to express their darkest side by being put into a world full of what they thought to be insentient and will accept whatever they do. The tweet that I consider best reflects this was Noelle’s: “pays 1K a day and literally ends up in jail lol”. So true. These people paid $1000 not to enjoy the theme park, but to commit crimes that they cannot do in real life, and the chaos was what they deserved.

Week 3: Johnny Mnemonic (1995).

Johnny Mnemonic is a 1995 Canadian-American cyberpunk action thriller film directed by Robert Longo in his directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves and Dolph Lundgren. The film is based on the story of the same name by William Gibson. Keanu Reeves plays the title character, a man with a cybernetic brain implant designed to store information. The film portrays Gibson’s dystopian view of the future with the world dominated by megacorporations and with strong East Asian influences (Wikipedia).

Liked Tweets:

Reflection:

The common theme dominated across the screening of Johnny Mnemonic was how funny the future was depicted in the movie as everything looked old-fashioned and simply not modern enough to be ‘the future’. However, one thing that was recognised by many of us was how the future in the movie was dark, pessimistic and somehow a dystopia. This can be reflected by my most-likable tweet of this session: “Take a look around, this is actually the future of E-Waste”, and another wonderful tweet from Noelle (again): “Why do they depict the future to have rubbish everywhere idgi”. The future with all the advanced technologies suppose to be fancy, but in the movie, it was only covered in darkness, isn’t it weird? Maybe the answer lies in how the protagonist, Johnny, after all the happenings just wants to be a normal human again, and it seems like most of my peers felt this way too. This tweet from Aiman says it all: “At the end of the day, everyone wants to be “human” again”.

Week 4: The Matrix (1999).

Liked Tweets:

Reflection:

Again, another Keanu Reeves movie featuring the future seems dark and pessimistic. “The buildings and city don’t look futuristic at all – just dystopian and deteriorating” – Claire’s tweet. I feel like a lot of media products, not only movies, tend to depict a future of technologies that does not turn out to be the best, but actually describe a fear of being controlled by technologies instead. Another common theme of the screening was how the green filter used in the movie was widely recognised, which reflected the boundary between virtual world and reality. Besides, the best thing I experienced from this week’s live tweeting was a conversation with several classmates about how simulation technology would be used in the future for tourism purpose. We had discussed several possible technologies, from VR to memory bank and also memory purchase, which I considered very interesting as innovation and prediction seems to be limitless.

Week 5: Black Mirror Season 2 Episode 1

Be Right Back” is the first episode of the second series of British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It was written by series creator and showrunner Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris and first aired on Channel 4 on 11 February 2013.

The episode tells the story of Martha (Hayley Atwell), a young woman whose boyfriend Ash Starmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is killed in a car accident. As she mourns him, she discovers that technology now allows her to communicate with an artificial intelligence imitating Ash, and reluctantly decides to try. “Be Right Back” had two sources of inspiration: the question of whether to delete a dead friend’s phone number from one’s contacts, and the idea that Twitter posts could be made by software mimicking dead people.

“Be Right Back” explores the theme of grief; it is a melancholy story similar to the previous episode, “The Entire History of You“. Its presentation of Martha and Ash’s relationship is brief but depicts a loving relationship, many aspects of which are inverted with Martha and the AI that imitates Ash, which is unable to replicate the small details of Ash’s behaviour. (Wikipedia)

Liked Tweets:

Reflection:

Throughout the screening session, I had noticed that how my peers, as well as myself, were uncomfortable thinking of the storyline. What happened in the movie could be a possible outcome of human’s dependence on technology, according to Ashleigh’s tweet: “Humans are always getting attached to our devices, giving names and personalities to them. But this is on a whole different level”. Moreover, it also raised concerns around mental issues, which might happen not only to the protagonist, but anyone of us as a result of excessive attachment to technology: “is anyone else concerned for this woman’s mental health?” – Cassie’s tweet. However, although this technology will face controversies if one day it is brought to life, I cannot tell for sure what I would react to it once I was put in the same situation: “Fooling myself into the illusion that someone you love is still alive, or facing the truth? I don’t have an idea to be honest”. A great episode, a great idea leaving us with a lot of questions inside I believe.

Week 6: Robot and Frank

Robot & Frank is a 2012 American science fiction comedy-drama film directed by Jake Schreier and written by Christopher Ford. Set in the near future, it focuses on Frank Weld, an aging jewel thief played by Frank Langella, whose son buys him a domestic robot. Resistant at first, Frank warms up to the robot when he realizes he can use it to restart his career as a cat burglar. It was the first feature film for both Ford and Schreier and received critical acclaim for its writing, production, and acting. It won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, tying with the Kashmiri film Valley of Saints. (Wikipedia)

Liked Tweets:

Reflection:

Unlike Johnny Mnemonic or The Matrix, the future in Robot and Frank seems to be more realistic, maybe because it was made at a recent date. However, without the e-waste or green filter, it still reflects a dystopian view: “The dystopian future in #RobotandFrank is not a robot that cares, but a library without books” – Chris’s tweet. The movie led us to different emotional stages, but I wonder that which stage or scenario was the saddest: the fact that people had to use robots to take care of their parents, aged people get attached to robots more than with their kids, or human could teach robots to commit crime? It was a dystopian view indeed, according to Frank Langella himself: “It doesn’t turn into a sentimental buddy movie at all”. Above all, it was obvious that both I and my peers were touched by the storyline of this movie, by the relationship between Frank and the robot, and by the fact that robots can actually feel, express emotion and empathy: “noooo just go to jail as friends don’t wipe memory” – Ashleigh’s tweet.

Week 7: Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 6

Hated in the Nation” is the sixth and final episode of the third season of British science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. Written by series creator and showrunner Charlie Brooker and directed by James Hawes, it premiered on Netflix on 21 October 2016, along with the rest of series three.[1] It is the longest episode in the series at 89 minutes.

The episode is a murder mystery, and follows Detective Karin Parke (Kelly Macdonald) and her new partner Blue Coulson (Faye Marsay) who, together with the help of National Crime Agency officer Shaun Li (Benedict Wong), try to solve the inexplicable deaths of people who were all the target of social media. (Wikipedia)

 

Liked Tweets:

Reflection:

It was obvious from this final screening session of another episode from Black Mirror that we all realised how dystopian the theme was. Everyone was freaked out by the fact that tiny bees could be used as killing weapons and could be controlled by a daily social networking tool which was Twitter. Moreover, I was grateful to know that someone did share the same opinion with me that bees and hashtags are just a metaphor for cyberbullying: “I mean it’s not nice for people to wish someone dies on the internet, but they know it wouldn’t actually happen, so how do they actually feel now that someone is making these hated pupils a target of society ?” – Angus’s tweet; “Losing control of the bees a metaphor about how we can never control the internet?” – Edwina’s tweet; “This movie is a metaphor of the effect of online bullying. Victims might not die, but they are dead inside” – my own tweet. I totally agree with them that Internet in particular or technology in general will develop in any way depending on how we use them, just like the bees which can be used for ordinary purposes but can also be used as deadly weapons.

 

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Media piracy: on the bright side.

It is obvious that in order to create high quality media content, the producers have to spend a lot of time and effort on the work. Therefore, they are deserved to receive in return what is respective with their dedication, in terms of both materiality and mentality (Karaganis 2011).

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Credit: The American Assembly.

Currently, media producers are struggling with a phenomenon when their products are being distributed in a massive amount, at a low cost and most importantly, without their awareness and permission. This is what is defined by Karaganis 2011 as ‘media piracy’. ‘Media piracy’ is more likely to happen in developing countries where policies against copyright infringement are not as effective as that in developed nations. Furthermore, even in developed countries, media piracy still exists in the form of consumer goods in grocery stores, especially those of immigrants. For example, in Australia, it is totally possible to buy un-authorized DVDs with a relatively low price in, for example, Asian or Indian grocery stores (Athique 2006).This notion is serious in the way that media content is made available at a much lower price than what the producers want and the money earned is not going into their accounts.

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Credit: WordPress.

However, this situation can also have a bright side. According to Karaganis 2011, ‘high prices for media goods, low incomes and cheap digital technologies’ are the main reasons leading to media piracy. As mentioned before, media piracy is more popular in developing countries, where have lower living standard so people have to spend their little earnings on many expenses, which makes official, copyrighted media products something too luxurious.  Therefore, the question is: “Do people have unequal right of consuming media content because of their different circumstances? “. In this way, media piracy brings about the ‘mentality’ return (mentioned above) to producers as it promotes media circulation and distribution by giving chances to more audiences to consume (Jenkins 2004). This argument is reasonable in the way that without exposure, or audiences, media content is just worthless regardless of the quality because no one realizes or even knows about it. Therefore, media piracy can be considered a trade-off for media producers.

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Credit: MakeUseOf.com.

On a whole, if media producers want to create high quality, not just ‘high grossing’ products, this is what they want to achieve. With a larger amount of audiences, media producers and their products are more likely to be known and recognized. This explains why nowadays more and more artists are choosing to distribute their products publicly on digital platforms for free. Latest hits or music videos with high quality are released online requiring no fees for audiences. In this way, media producers promote their reputation both in number and scale, which can earn them money in return from advertising activities or concert.

References:

Athique, Adrian Mabbott 2006, ‘Bollywood and ‘grocery store’ video piracy in Australia’, Media international Australia, no. 121, pp. 41-51.

Karaganis, J 2011, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, Social Science Research Council, United States of America.

Jenkins, H 2004, When Piracy Becomes Promotion, MIT Technology Review, viewed October 24th 2016, <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/402969/when-piracy-becomes-promotion/&gt;.

 

 

 

Cyberspace: ‘The Purge’ in the making

 

Above is the trailer of the movie ‘The Purge: Anarchy’. It depicts the imagined future America when in one particular day in a year, every actions  will be considered legal (even murder). Its purpose is to exclude the elements that are considered ‘harmful’ to the state development.

The reason why I reference this movie is because I find some similarities between it and what we call the ‘cyberspace’. According to John Barlow, this is a new world where unsuitable people are not welcomed. In the movie, unmatched elements are excluded from the society for a brighter America: ‘a nation reborn’.

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Personally, I consider the process of establishing the cyberspace is actually a purge. It is where people that do not meet the conditions will be purged. It is where data is transferred freely and users communicate uncontrollably, where no payment is made for licensed software, as stated by Richard Stallman. Therefore, if you are not willing to engage, you are out. It is actually an anarchy in which all nodes in the communication system are equal and connected directly to each other.

From the case of Pacific Rim: Does Hollywood actually produce transnational films ?

Credit: Youtube

Above is the trailer of the movie ‘Pacific Rim’, directed by Guillermo del Toro, the biggest blockbuster of summer 2012 which grossed $411 million dollars worldwide. The film presented the same motive with many others Hollywood films as it depicted the world trying to overcome its end. The story was about human fighting against monsters to protect their own planet with weapons are giant robots controlled by pilots. Beside excellent movie graphical techniques, the makers have imported into the movie several elements which distinguish it with others of the same genre in order to mark it a ‘transnational film’. Transnational film can be defined as a film which ‘draw upon structures of hybridity to meet increasing demand for glocalized content within globalized distribution networks’ (Schaefer and Karan, 2010).

Hollywood fans have a joke that each summer comes, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are destroyed again. It sounds weird but if we look at the recent sci-fi action blockbusters, the background of the fights are normally in the US, in particular are the cities mentioned above (The Dark Knight series, Transformers series, etc). Therefore in Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro decided to bring the war to a totally different but familiar region, Hongkong. The fact that this beautiful Asian paradise is the last place standing and it is the only hope of human race rather than America has created great appeal to Chinese and bigger, Asian audiences. Moreover, the crew represents the diversity as the main director is Mexican and “the stars are a melange of British, Asian, Russian and Australian, some speaking with American accents, some not”. (Timmons, 2013).

However, those are not enough to make it a transnational film. The main element is the characters. First of all, the Jaegers (name of the robots) are stereotypes of the countries they represented. Crimson Typhoon, belongs to China, can be recognized at first sight as a made-in-China products from its flashy appearance and name which resemble the color of the national flag. Its signature attack, Thundercloud Formation,  is also inspired by Kungfu. The Russian robots named Cherno Alpha features exactly what is always thought about Russian products. Ancient, blocky design but optimal efficiency, ‘old but gold’. It is also painted with patterns of the T-series Russian tank.

‘It is about the world saving the world’, said Guillermo del Toro.

But is it actually is ?

Credit: Internet

The Chinese Jaeger Crimson Typhoon was equipped with state-of-the-art technology but was defeated easily in the beginning. This detail led to the complaint of the South China Morning Post: “Why are the Chinese characters in the film the first to die?” (Timmons, 2013).  Cherno Alpha, the Russian one, which had gained huge reputation from its fight history, ended up eliminated right after its Chinese teammate. Two deaths in only 5 minutes of display. Striker Eureka, the latest and strongest Jaeger which is from Australia, was luckier as it was only neutralized. Finally, the rescue came from Gypsy Danger, the main robot character, and of course, is an US made. And that was only the first fight.

When the fight was getting to an end, both the Australian and the American Jaeger collaborated. However, it was the Australian which had to sacrifice for its teammate to make the last hit. Furthermore, among the two pilots controlling Gypsy Danger, the Japanese girl was unable to stand until the last minute and we have “a standard white hero that ends up saving the day” (Timmons, 2013), which is American.

To wrap up, Pacific Rim deserves an Oscar awarded by the UNO for being a transnational but still high-grossing film. However, it could not make it, because it is only ‘an international movie created through a Hollywood lens’ (Timmons, 2013).

Lucky for the fans that this movie will have its sequel, and ‘maybe next time, they’ll let the Chinese guys save the day’ (Timmons, 2013).

Reference: