Thursday, 22 January 2015

mokie: Stonehenge with the sun shining through the stones (holiday renewal)
Oh, I know - anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, noted by some conservatives as Celebrate Life Day.

We act as if all issues have only two sides, diametrically opposed, with no shades of grey, no nuances, no middle ground, and certainly no room for compromises. We want to label our side as fact and their side as fallacy, to sit back and pride ourselves that they haven't thought things through, they are missing information, they would naturally be with us if they were smart and/or properly informed. We want to ignore that many, many things are grey, and many, many things have more to do with opinion and perspective than objective correctness.

It's very hard to live without shades of grey, but very easy to forget that the person on the other side is a person - not a list of talking points on TV, but a human being deserving of the same civility, respect and courtesy you would want shown to you.

How you treat other people has nothing to do with the stances they hold, and everything to do with the kind of person you are and want to be in this world. As human beings, we are going to disagree, and sometimes it will be about things that are/seem desperately important, but if we can't find a way to put ourselves in the other person's shoes and try to see how they're looking at the issue, we should at least be able to look at them as a person - not a monster because they disagree with us but a person who sees the topic at hand very differently - and treat them the way we would want to be treated.

Sometimes that means agreeing to disagree. Sometimes that means agreeing that you get too hot and bothered over a topic to discuss it with each other. Sometimes it means active compartmentalizing to keep the peace, like avoiding certain people in groups where they tend to end up talking politics, or abstaining from some folks' social media accounts. (Oh, I miss having all my relatives corralled on MySpace, well away from PoliticalmemeBook.)
mokie: Man with an old computer monitor for a head drinks through a straw (media pop culture)
The president of Syfy announced that he wants to 'reclaim the SF programming throne'. "The other thing that's gone on in the last three or four years is that there's been an explosion of this genre across pretty much every broadcast and cable network. We have to position ourselves as the experts in this space, and we have to be seen to be tackling the smartest projects: genre-heavy as opposed to genre-lite."

I have this nasty suspicion that to him 'explosion of this genre' doesn't mean there's lots of speculative fiction on the air, but that lots of cable companies are making money on original programming and Syfy wants in on that. But either way, based on this interview, he isn't the man to pull it off.

#1. "Six or seven years ago, heavily serialized shows didn't play..."

Yes, I hear The Sopranos, Lost, Mad Men, 24, The Shield, Friday Night Lights, The Wire and Syfy's own Battlestar Galactica were total flops.

What actually happened: seven years ago, the Writer's Guild went on strike, and the networks fought back by focusing on cheap unscripted reality programming. Then the media pundits responded by wringing their hands about how serialized programming was dead because look at all these reality shows! So the networks shrugged - it's dead, right? - and poured more money into reality shows, proving that even in 2007, clickbait was the devil.

#2. "...there was no social media..."

Except for blogs, forums, social networking sites, etc.

What he actually means: "Sure, there were people talking on the Internet about their shows, but only geeks with computers, and who cares about them? Now every soccer mom has a smartphone and a Facebook account, so of course it counts now."

#3. "...and there was very little in the way of nonlinear catch-up."

Except that TiVo had turned DVRs into a thing several years earlier, and SF fans have been recording and sharing their favorite media since forever. Hell, isn't that how conventions started?

What he actually means: "Did you see this Netflix thing? I stayed up three days watching Breaking Bad. We should get in on this."

#4. "So in a world where you don't have the cash to do expensive miniseries events, you have to rethink your strategy. There's no doubt the scripted series are 10 times more expensive than unscripted, so experimenting in that space, especially when you've seen success with Ghost Hunters and with Face Off, was the right thing to do."

Yeah, saving money by scaring off your core audience was totally the right call.

What he actually means: "We thought we could ride this reality show thing all the way to the top, but then the Discovery Channel and History Channel both sold out, and we realized fake aliens still make money."

#5. "B-movies have impacted perceptions of the network negatively over the last few years, but I'd argue Sharknado transcended that." LOL NO.

What he actually means: "Cocaine's a hell of a drug."

#6. "Sharknado was cool because of the low production value."


What he actually means: ?!?

#7. After being asked about the 'misnomer' (wrong word, Hollywood Reporter) that sci-fi skews male: "We tend to hit a 55-to-45 split between male and female. The other thing that surprises people is how broad the sci-fi-fantasy spectrum is. The default perception is that it's just space and the future, whereas in reality, it's supernatural, paranormal, superhero, fantasy and magic, and each of those subsets appeals to a slightly different audience. For instance, the paranormal, supernatural space appeals primarily to women. This is a gross generalization, but women, intuitively, tend to believe in the afterlife, ghosts, the supernatural, talking to the dead, all those things, which guys tend to be very skeptical about. The space [subset] tends to skew male. When Battlestar was on, it was about 70 percent male."

You know, there are plenty of discussions out there about whether this gender division has to do with the subject matter or if it's an issue of representation - if it's an issue of 'boys like space and girls like unicorns', or if sci-fi tends to present a futuristic man's world whereas fantasy has fewer qualms about showing women as protagonists and major players - but sure, let's ignore that discussion entirely and pretend "We got ghost shows for the ladies!" is a real answer.

What he's actually saying here: "Yeah, sci-fi skews male. Look at the numbers for our sci-fi show, which was so heavily soaked in supernatural elements and religious themes that it was dubbed 'Mormons in Space'."

In short, a man who thinks it was a good idea to spurn the network's target audience and chuck real SF out in favor of a mercenary cash grab for lowest common denominator viewing - the idiocy trifecta of pro-wrestling, fake reality shows and their scripted equivalent, ironic D-movies - has seen the numbers for American Horror Story and that there's still money to be squeezed from speculative fiction.

Don't hold your breath, folks.

Edited to add: this comes hot on the heels of Discovery's announcement that it will knock off the stunt programming and mockumentaries (best headline: Discovery Channel Promises To Stop Lying To Us) that have been dumbing down the network for years now. Bad publicity must have finally started eating into their Shark Week numbers.

Holy crap, could we be looking at a return to networks that actually show what their names advertise?

About dream/reading tags

y-* tags categorize dreams.

For types: beyond the obvious, there are dreamlets (very short dreams), stubs (fragment/outline of a partially-lost dream), gnatter (residual impression of a lost dream).

For characters: there are roles (characters fitting an archetype), symbols (characters as symbols), and sigils (recurring figures with a significance bigger than a single dream's role/symbolism).

x-* tags categorize books.

Material is categorized primarily by structure, style and setting. If searching for a particular genre, look for the defining features of that genre, e.g. x-form:nonfic:bio, x-style:horror, x-setting:dystopian.