Andrew Harrison channels Dan Ashcroft on the 10 year anniversary of the debut of Charlie Booker’s Nathan Barley:
From cereal cafes to breakfast raves to adult ball pools, from TV shows like Sex Box to newspaper features about the “meaning” of the Man Bun hairdo to inexplicable online phenomena like Ello, our world has been Barleyed. It is uncanny. Created as a comic figure, Nathan has become an insult and a signifier and maybe even – here’s the frightening part – a role model. At 10 years’ remove the show seems less a comedy and more a documentary about the future.
“Back when we were shooting it,” says the actor Nicholas Burns, who played Nathan, “I remember one producer saying, ‘This show will date terribly. In three or four years it’ll look awful.’ But watching it again, you see how prescient it was. It really is the world we live in now. A friend who lives in Dalston told me they saw someone riding a penny farthing the other day. It’s unbelievable really.”
Great piece, though I think the hipster hate angle is overplayed. However tiresome I find artisan mustache wax, I’m much more suspicious of the Banana Republic clad 30 and 40 somethings with inexplicably huge bar tab budgets now overrunning inner Portland than I am of the bearded hipster scene these days.
The biting, darkly satirical sci-fi anthology show Black Mirror is now available on Netflix, which I think may mark the first time the show has been available to watch legally in the U.S. Think of it as a modern British take on The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Highly recommended.
Also, Variety reports: “‘Mad Men’ star Jon Hamm, ‘Game of Thrones’ thesp Oona Chaplin and Rafe Spall will co-star in the ‘Black Mirror’ feature-length special due to air on U.K. free-to-air channel Channel 4 this Christmas.”
The colorful life of Jack Parsons as revealed in the biography Strange Angel by George Pendle will appear on AMC in miniseries form, according to a Deadline report. Ridley Scott and David Zucker will executive produce the series, which will be written by Mark Heyman (Skeleton Twins, Black Swan).
The CIA’s controversial mind-control program is getting a miniseries treatment at ABC. The network has put in development MKUltra, a historical mini from writer Karen Stillman and ABC Studios’ boutique division ABC Signature.
I spent yesterday afternoon at Maker Faire volunteering at the Tesseract Design booth, where I was lucky enough to watch Crawford 3D scanning people and then printing out little plastic busts of them. Talk about a New Aesthetic experience. I also got to see a a real-life Flintstones car and a bunch of Tesla coils.
Spending today recovering from too much heat and not enough water, and catching up on some reading.
After binging through the entire new season of Trailer Park Boys, we just started the latest season of Channel 4’s Utopia which as I’ve mentioned was one of my favorite shows of last year.
Continuing the fequent Mutation Vectors motif of me finding out that one of my favorite bands has a new album out months after the fact, this week I found out that Bruxa who I raved about before put out a new album in July on a pay watcha want basis.
Mailpile, a web-based e-mail client that aims to balance security and usability, is now it beta. You can check out my story on them from back when they had just finished their crowdfunding here.
But this prevalence of torture that you see in otherwise very comparable shows is not limited to Fringe. It is everywhere in American entertainment now.
Everywhere you see it it promotes the lie that torture works. It does this very effectively. Because usually we, the audience, already know that the person being tortured has the information. They just will not give it up. In real life of course torture is not like that. In the hundreds of torture scenes that have been acted out in popular media only a handful show the victim making things up, and saying whatever they think the torturer wants to hear in order that they stop torturing them. Which is the reason why torture is not a useful tool. The process would be: Torture someone, they tell you something, you double check that story, maybe torture the people they implicate, then you find it out that there story was incorrect, go back to torturing them. Just one round of that might take days or a weeks. Which would make for boring TV.
Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong. […]
Chuck Wendig argues here that we shouldn’t understand “strong” as meaning, well, “strong”, but rather as something like “well-written”. But I simply don’t think it’s true that the majority of writers or readers are reading the term that way. How else to explain the fact that when the screenwriters of The Lord of the Rings decided to (clumsily) expand Arwen’s role from the books, they had her wander on screen, put a sword to her boyfriend’s throat and boast about how she’d sneaked up on him? (It took Liv Tyler to realise later “you don’t have to put a sword in her hand to make her strong”). Why else did Paul Feig, as Carina Chicano notes here, have to justify the fact that Bridesmaids hinges on a complex, interesting female character who appeared rather weak?
And even if this less limiting understanding of “strong female character” were the common reading, doesn’t it then become even sadder and even more incomprehensible that where the characterisation of half the world’s population is concerned, writing well is treated as a kind of impressive but unnecessary optional extra?
It probably goes without saying, but part of the problem here is that “strong” almost always equates to a certain set of characteristics we problematically associate with maleness: physical strength, aggression, competitiveness. Maybe raw intellect, if the character is a detective or scientist. Women get to be “strong” only by exhibiting these traits, not traits labeled “feminine,” like empathy, expressing emotion. This leaves us not only with one-dimensional “strong female characters,” but also reinforces unhealthy expectations that being strong or “tough” means suppressing emotion and winning in fights. This is understandable to some extent — action movies are about violence, not nurture. But there are writers who pull it off. Fringe‘s Olivia Dunham is tough and smart, but also involves her emotions with her work, which, as she points out on the show, actually makes her a better detective.
I don’t buy very many single issues, but here are some that I bought and liked:
COPRA # 1 by Michel Fiffe. This was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t heard of Fiffe before I saw it promoted by Floating World Comics. It reminds me a bit of Graham’s Prophet in that it’s an indie artists’ take on super hero comics of the past. I haven’t read the second issue yet but plan to pick it up soon. There’s a preview of issue 1 here and issue 2 here.
The Rise of Siri by Shlok Vaidya. Science fiction that reads more like design fiction — this is all about the ideas, not the characters. Already a little dated since Apple has announced that it’s bringing some of its manufacturing back to the U.S.
Above: The trailer for Jimmy’s End, a forthcoming 30 minute film written by Alan Moore and directed by Mitch Jenkins. According to Lex Records, it is the second part of a series of short films collectively called “The Show.” The first, titled Act of Faith, is a prequel to Jimmy’s End and will be released on jimmysend.com on November 19. Jimmy’s End itself will be released on November 25.
Moore had previously recorded “March of the Sinister Ducks” and other works with David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets (the band, not the comic). Speaking of whom, Moore once wrote a letter to Fortean Times about one of his performances with J, which has been reproduced online.