Watching Hashtag, I can’t help but notice that it’s unclear from the film’s storyline how far our protagonist’s lifestyle differs from that of a male social media influencer trying hard to keep their position near the top of the tree. In the near future the film depicts, are the menfolk participating in the influencer business under similar pressure to maintain a basic level of attractiveness to heterosexual followers and display a willingness to flash some flesh to keep followers on the hook? Or is it the case that the menfolk in that line of business are called something else, despite being every bit as superficial and vapid and mercenary as their female counterparts?
Initially I didn’t even spot that our female lead in this short film was Gigi Edgley, who was great fun as Chiana in Farscape and who haven’t seen since then beyond a supporting role in one season of The Secret Life of Us. Looks as if she’s maintaining a steady career in Australian TV, which understandably is not something those of us in the UK are particularly aware of. Good to see she’s still going strong: understandable, perhaps, that I didn’t recognise her in this at first what with the lack of blue skin and the wig.
To my mind, the most interesting point in this account of the producers of The Blacklist are finishing off their mostly-in-the-can-already season of TV with a little help from animators) comes towards the end:
Did you want to channel the comic-book aesthetic specifically?
EISENDRATH: […] In live action, you would have been able to read more of the emotional wheel turning in her head. We didn’t necessarily think that animation would be able to access her inner thinking, so we added a chyron.
BOKENKAMP: We realized, “Oh, wait! That’s within the rule book.” Comics can do thought bubbles. That was sort of a light bulb moment for us. We realized that as we went along that we should take advantage of every comic book trope that we could think of, to help the viewer.
EISENDRATH: Maybe we should keep the thought bubbles when we go back to live action! [Laughs]
"We should take advantage of every comic book trope that we could think of, to help the viewer." Sounds so innocuous: chyrons signalling what the characters are thinking. What could possibly go wrong?
Hopefully actors and screenwriters will join forces and reject the damn-fool idea out of hand.
[Via Scripting News Daily Links]
I found myself sat in our local bus interchange this morning, with every second seat holding a sticker reminding passengers to maintain social distancing. This is a much nicer approach:
The restaurant at Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan is crowded! But those seats aren’t occupied by people. They’re occupied by stuffed animal Capybaras that have been strategically placed throughout the restaurant to maintain appropriate social distancing.
That really doesn’t sound like a taste combination that should work, and yet…
Wish I could find out for myself.
I do believe @frankcottrell_b won Twitter today:
Certainly UK Twitter.
[RT by @cstross]
This is What Peak Hello World Looks Like:
Everybody’s done a Hello World program before. But now that I’ve got a few years of experience with the language, I set out to ask one of the most pressing questions out there – how do we make Hello World in C as convoluted and hard to understand as possible? This post documents the final result of a sleep-deprived me trying to do exactly that.
[Via Scripting News]
YouTube’s algorithm has been suggesting this video for a couple of days now but I’d been ignoring it until a comment at Charlie’s Diary gave me a nudge towards it.
Granted, the Current Situation provides comedians with a target-rich environment, so it’s more of a whistle-stop tour than the in-depth charge sheet that some of the individuals deserve, but it’s still a decent reminder of how keen so many incumbents are to rush past lockdown and rush into what comes afterwards. You know, the return of ‘normality’.
[Via Charlie’s Diary]
I have to admit, this video is delightful:
The fact that there’s a vanishingly small prospect of my getting an opportunity to go to Kew Gardens and enjoy that scenery for myself any time soon is just one of those things everyone has to live with given the Current Situation, I guess. I can certainly add a task to do that one day to my to-do list, but somehow that’s falling rather a long way short…
I’ve been filling some gaps in my TV viewing with Halt and Catch Fire, a show where I’ve enjoyed season one but I kept reading commentary that suggested that the show really got good once we got to season two. As I type this I’m four episodes into season two and having to fight the temptation to binge watch the remainder of the season rather than work from home today like I’m supposed to.
They weren’t kidding: the characters I enjoyed so much are so much more fun in their new situation: watching Cameron start down the path towards learning how not to rely on her being the visionary/genius programmer who will save the day but rather a proper manager promises to be great fun. I have very deliberately not looked ahead to find out how the plot develops in the remaining seasons – I’ll get there soon enough, and I’m enjoying the ride enough not to want to be derailed by spoilers if I can help it – but I can’t help but wonder whether by the close of season four Cameron will realise that she also had a hell of a lot to learn from her partner in Mutiny, Donna.
To quote MeFi user prismatic7:
Everything I love about this show is encapsulated by the sequence in which Cameron and Donna talk tech at a dive bar and confront the bad guy while Gordon glams up and takes the kids for ice cream. Every TV – and computer industry – cliche subverted in one swoop, and without the showboating any other property on TV today would go for.
It’s a real shame that this show wasn’t a much bigger deal than it ended up being, but them’s the breaks when your show’s visibility is so dependent upon which distribution outlet handles your show. When Halt and Catch Fire was new I missed it because a) I don’t think it made it to terrestrial TV or any of the digital services I had access to at the time, and b) in any case the portion of my brain that liked fictional TV shows about technology had already been captured by Silicon Valley, so who knows whether my mind could have coped with two such different pictures of how the tech business worked at the same time? Imagine if the time streams had merged and inserted Donna or Cameron in the room where a team brainstorming session by the guys from Pied Piper led to the calculation of the the Mean Jerk Time and the D2F Ratio AND the formulation of the Middle-Out method of data compression that formed the basis of several seasons of triumph and disaster for everyone in that room. Obviously Cameron would have been tempted to use her baseball bat on everyone in the room, but who knows, perhaps the two shows would have ended with a crossover where – after wacky adventures as Richard ended up having to help Cameron to bury Erlich Bachman’s body – Cameron and Richard ended up as a couple and omigod now I really wish someone had made this happen!
Anyway, time for me to catch some sleep. Short message: Halt and Catch Fire started well and then got better. If you’re anything like me, you might like it. (Ignore this if this is old news to you.)
I wonder where Cameron stands on Tabs-versus-Spaces?
[Via MetaFilter Fanfare]
[Executive Summary: Facebook-style Social Media needs to die now, before it gets a chance to grow into this monstrosity.]
Given the distinctly Big Brother-flavoured response to the notion of China introducing a highly automated social credit system, an academic who has spent 16 months in China exploring attitudes to the idea of an automated social credit system gives us the perspective from folks who would be affected by the system once China finishes rolling it out:
During my time there, I found that positive perceptions of the social credit system among ordinary Chinese people were more prevalent than negative ones. Some welcomed the introduction of the shehui xinyong system while others were indifferent, and a significant number could see its benefits.
The thing is, western eyes looking at social credit and worrying about how badly it could turn out might indeed be looking at the system while lacking a Chinese cultural perspective on the reasons why the Chinese state standing in for the ancient Chinese concept of ‘tian’, but that’s not the really important issue here.
First, what’s being reported here from China is a view formed before the social credit system is anywhere close to being rolled out. By the time it’s been fully operational for half a decade who knows whether the system will in fact have a reputation with the Chinese populace as being good at delivering judgement on the behaviour of the populace?
Second, given the extent to which the Chinese state leans on those who do not conform to the ideals of the state even using low-tech means, isn’t the real issue less that Westerners fail to understand tian and more that the prospect of the Chinese state turning into Facebook-on-steroids-and-run-by-a-government-free-of-pesky-independent-media-providing-information-about-all-those-messy-edge-cases might just be the start of our problems.
Imagine social credit being pointed to by future populist politicians in the West, keen to divert attention from the way they screwed up their response to COVID-19. That’s a very scary concept. Consider how forty years ago – back when many people didn’t even have a credit card – most people didn’t worry too much about their credit rating, and how far that situation has changed now. Who’s to say that politicians eager for the state to step back and for the populace to behave themselves won’t find the concept behind social credit very appealing one day? Nobody’s saying out loud right now that maybe the Chinese have the right idea, but that doesn’t mean that the same concepts couldn’t be repackaged and a decade down the line it’ll seem like common sense to build on what’s already out there?