The Distracting Raccoon

Behold the curmudgeon. Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about the latest entertainment development. I’m not a fan of 3D. I get fed up with the endless amount of pointless bilge fed to us by television networks and just because I can have it “on demand” doesn’t make it any better. I long for fewer films to be be released just so I can keep up. I hadn’t heard of 80% of the films reviewed in most magazine. All of my dream projects have been done: Freddy vs Jason, Prometheus and most mainstream superheroes, hell even Doctor Who is back better than ever. Most have been disappointing. But don’t get me started on Guardians of the Galaxy. A super-powered Raccoon! I kid you not, go look it up, no link provided. Have Marvel lost the plot? There are some people out there genuinely excited by this news. Has it come to this? Is this all we have left? A superhero team featuring a Raccoon. If I could think of a more pointless animal I’d make a joke about it, it could take some time.

So I’m free-styling. Don’t judge me, you’re the one that started reading. It’s always difficult to know what you want. I try and mix it up a bit, going over loads of stuff, sometimes focus a little more on something specific and sometimes challenge popular thought. That thought nowadays believes we are on the road to nirvana. That knowledge is power and the immediacy of that knowledge and content will be our salvation.

But what if it isn’t? What if we are all getting far too cocky for our own good?

I’m not generally known as a profit of doom, in fact I’m pretty happy-go-lucky most of the time, but I am convinced there will be an end-of-days. Not fire, brimstone and eternal damnation but simply the end of the oil reserves. The green revolution simply isn’t where it should be and the monopoly of energy companies mean that our sustainable energy investment won’t be enough until it’s too late. The death of the electric car being a prime example, cue trailer for an outstanding documentary. Stick with me.

Trailer for Who Killed The Electric Car?

Conservative estimates think empty-tank-day will be in around 50 years, unless the oil companies are allowed to rape the rest of the planet in order to buy us an extra 10 or 15 years. Not long. Expect much panic-technology and an onus on self sufficiency. By this point wind turbine and solar panels should have evolved that most homes should have access to them. This will ensure that the technology driven home will continue. Computers tablets, games consoles – anything using power wont’ become obsolete. Long distance travel, on the other hand, could become a problem. Will the amount of energy needed to propel us across countries and the world be available from sustainable resources? Let’s look on the bright side and hope it isn’t. Can a return to a feudal system really be that bad? Digitally enhanced manorialism would mean that whilst your methods of communication are left open you would be beholden to your local economy for food, work, health and education, although 3 of these could be supplemented digitally.

What of entertainment? I’m not sure where to start. TV ratings are dropping, the fascination film distributors have with blockbusters continue and content appears to become more and more extreme in order to attract ratings or viewers. As for video-games, I gave up several years ago. Whilst I admire the graphics the whole total immersion is just a bit too much. You’ll find me outside taking in the real world reminiscing about the Sinclair Spectrum, Atari ST and the Playstation One. We are easier to control and much easier to monitor; our digital footprints are so large and detailed it feels like advertisers are selling us stuff before we know we want the next big thing. All things considered, and even with multiplexes, electronic books and multiple channels, we are left with less choice and generally intellectually limited content.

So how does our new society deal with with entertainment? Like any revolution creativity and ideas will lead the way. The rules have been torn down and we can start again with renewed renaissance. Pioneers will tell stories and create art that have never been told or created before in a medium that will surprise us all. The advantage we will have is technology, an enabled society starting again. What we won’t see is Michael Bay blowing up giant robots just for the hell of it. Thank God. Not because he won’t wont have the budget or that it’s one of the most mind-blowing dull ideas ever to be imagined on screen but because his ideas won’t get past his own localised society. Jaws and Star Wars both started on a limited number of localised screens and the films grew by word of mouth into 2 of the best and most popular films ever conceived. Their popularity snowballed and continue to do so. The reason Transformers makes money is because of marketing. If it relied on the word of people coming out of screenings it would tank. Natural selection.

Localised industry along with creative talent would rule. The talentless and the individuals constantly spoon-fed to us as something special would be left at the side of the road. Nicole Scherzinger I’m looking at you. Without wanting to sound too Star Trek TNG everyone in society would have a part to play and to truly succeed you have to be good at what you do. Just look back at writers past generations have produced: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Asimov, Kafka, Milton, Dante, Homer and Austin. The current best seller, an erotic novel, Shades of Grey is generally considered to be one of the worst written books in decades but it sells…no quality control, we follow like sheep to Amazon and swallow the happy pill. The only way to save ourselves is to de-construct this mess we have created.

Even as I write I’m wondering if I’m simply rallying against something because it’s popular, in turn trying to make myself popular with my unpopular views. It’s easy to do. The backlash against reality TV belies the fact that ratings are generally very good and I suspect some of the most vociferous voices are closet viewers. I don’t see the point in TOWIE or Jersey Shores but people enjoy it and who am I to argue or tell them they are wrong. What I object to is the lack of choice I get for. Perhaps there just aren’t enough of me out there to warrant pseudo-intellectual science-fiction? Firefly and Battlestar Galactica would suggest otherwise but these are the exception to the rules.

Then you have the hatred. Much more than hate and far more damaging. Generally purveyed by so-called trolls who appear to have a licence to say what they want from behind the safety of their keyboard, generally unpleasant creatures who clearly have social problems. They are given anonymity and for much of the time ignored or allowed to get away with their behaviour. But simply suggest that the internet is regulated and users are asked to use licences and the full force of public opinion comes down on you like you are the one who has committed a crime. A licensed internet will go some way to stop trolls, pirating, paedophiles, illegal activity and bullying. What’s not to love? An intrusion on human rights? What, to commit crime? What a strange argument.

So we create our new society like a new Eden, where love and respect rule. Where we are all entertained as one and appreciate how lucky we actually are. History has taught us that this will last for all of 5 minutes before the wheels of evolution start to turn. Tastes and personalities divide and choice become king. My pseudo-intellectual haven will soon become mainstream bullshit and some cocky writer will pull the entire process apart citing end-of-days. A bleak dystopian outlook if ever you saw one, and it all started with a Raccoon.

Rocket Raccoon

Cover for the Rocket Raccoon comic.


More Digital Jazz articles from Starburst Magazine

I’m still writing my regular Digital Jazz column for Starburst Magazine. However exciting developments! The magazine has returned in a printed format and an iPad edition. Digital Jazz is moving to the iPad as exclusive copy and I’ll be writing some features and interviews in the print edition. You will also catch me online submitting news to the main website.

I’ve posted links to my 2 final pieces for the old website and if you want to carry on reading please subscribe to the iPad.

Social Media Gremlins (November 11) – Click here
I started off with a bit of a rant on the minority of social media users being rude and abusing other people. Moving on to the Jamie Benning Star Wars documentary-commentaries, the Robert R. McCammon ebooks and finally the DVD of Silent Running.

SF Gateway and Encyclopedia Interviews (December 11) – Click here 
Simply put interviews with Graham Sleight for SF Encyclopedia and Darren Nash from SF Gateway. 

Hope you enjoy.