The BBC’s documentaries are generally top notch–the polar opposite of current US “edutainment” shows that have distilled down formulas to get the highest eyeballs. It’s little wonder that The Family (above–full) from 1974 would be the precursor to reality TV shows–but that theirs would be more “fly on the wall” and genuinely curious about and relatively impartial towards their subject. An American Family from 1971 is its precursor, but I haven’t checked it out yet.
Compare this style to a parody of what masquerades as reality TV in the states, one that’s blatantly geared towards a perceived audience who apparently incapable of paying attention unless there are gongs or trombones to highlight emotional moments, and chopped up, heavily edited dialog that literally spells out the dialog needed to prove a point.
Check out this British parody of what it’s like to watch an American reality show:
“[The Family] followed the working-class Wilkins family of six (led by Margaret and Terry, who divorced in 1978) of Reading, through their daily lives, warts and all, and culminated in the marriage of one of the daughters, which was plagued by fans and paparazzi alike. The show was the basis for two parodies: Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in their very last episode which aired 5 December 1974, featured a sketch called “The Most Awful Family in Britain 1974″; and Benny Hill, on one of his 1975 specials, did a takeoff called “That Family.” Margaret re-married (like her ex-husband) and became Margaret Sainsbury; she died of a reported heart attack in Berkshire on 10 August 2008, aged 73.”
I was going through pencil lead like mad from working on various sewing projects (I’ll share these soon, promz!) so I went to my IRL Staples for lead and found these guys instead. I find it positively hilarious, and I wonder why they haven’t thought of this before. I have been a long-time fan of Zebra mechanical pencils because 1) they are stainless steel and look pretty techno and 2) they last forever. So, while poking around to look at replacement lead I spotted these and thought I’d give them a shot. I love that they put the little aluminum eraser-binding bit in, but the parts that wear down are completely replaceable.
They’re much lighter than wood pencils, but the length is cool because they feel a bit “used,” as in, you’ve sharpened them enough and they’ve gotten shorter. I’m sure Zebra was just thinking of cost, but the attention to detail is a welcome surprise.
I couldn’t find them online, nor on the Zebra site, but they do have a cheezy childish version here.
Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%. — ROLLINGJUBILEE.ORG
Once I read about rollingjubilee.org and realized how brilliant it was, I laughed alone in my office for like, two minutes straight. Then I went straight to PayPal and sent them funds courtesy of Fractalspin.
Sexy video, right? So, Glowfest is basically a campus-touring electronic music marketing event, geared to snare in young people and capitalize on their attention for other means. By “other means” they’ve attached a job fest to it (actively seeking startups to participate, mind you), to seduce these young people who they feel are attracted by the emotions created through electronic music to then pursue careers in their highly technical fields. Oh, and I’m sure they’ve done the numbers and expect to make bank on it.
So you probably are wondering why I would even spend typing time on such a thing if I don’t want it promoted. Consider it a warning lesson to those of us in the industry: anything can be commodified and its original purpose subverted to the wills of people with less of a pure intention. Be aware and wary, and remember to always act to preserve the intention of your original work, if that’s what you’re after.
Sure, these traveling-festival-producers have made a sexy product–they clearly have great people on their team who do their jobs to perfection, and part of that attention to production will draw people in. I can only just shake my head at it, be aware of it, and then go back to my work sorting through other projects that deserve elevation and respect.
As a counter-example (and I know the metaphor might seem weird), I am a CSA member (Community Supported Agriculture), and this is a great feeling model to me, especially when it comes to “sourcing” “talent.”
Marc from Meiotic Promotions had a great insight (via a Facebook thread, copied here with permission):
“Anything can be commodified and its original purpose subverted to the wills of people with less of a pure intention” – This pretty much hits it on the head.
As much as I’d like to think there’s a bright side – i.e. the usual arguments of “exposing electronic music to a wider audience/getting kids excited about electronic music” – it’s just blatant and obvious; a byproduct of whole the “EDM = homogenization of electronic music” discussion that we’ve had amongst our peers.
Where this thing takes the cake though is the “rave” branding. Oh to have been a fly on the wall when they had the meeting/conference call to discuss tour branding (“hrmmm… how can we name our festival so we capitalize off this EDM/Rave thing? Ravefest? Ravedancefest? Glowstickdancingfest? GLOWFEST! = $$$$. Oh yea…. we better throw in a job fair so we look collegiate about this.”)
You can’t hate on artists for wanting to get paid either… so the fault lies with the approach of the event producers. It’s not that they’ve lost perspective; it’s whether there was even a sincere perspective to begin with. Sadly, the latter sentiment has prevailed here… again.
Why are we even discussing gay marriage any more? Just yesterday this issue started being thrown around accompanied by intense debate, and suddenly our current president, Obama, vehemently takes one side all of a sudden when four years ago after he was elected he was silent.
Isn’t it funny that every so often a certain emotional issue will pop up in the news that creates such a flurry of heated debate? Have you noticed? First there’s something in the news about the role of government in one’s personal life, as in things like “jobs” “healthcare” “human rights” and so on: things that appeal to your basic sense of security as an individual. Without a job you can’t sustain yourself, and you might get sick and then have no way to pay for treatment, and you might even not be considered a human with basic rights to be treated as such when you need help! Oh no!
Now, did you wake up yesterday thinking, “Today I will focus the majority of my thoughts on MARRIAGE,” or did you read or hear something that provoked a strong emotional reaction in you that prompted you to say something about it?
I’m going to guess you did not wake up thinking about MARRIAGE until you heard someone else mentioning it and then fervently taking a stand on it. Now it seems you can’t look anywhere in social media land without people taking sides on it, passionately.
Am I right?
So, what’s going on, here?
Here’s something that’s going to show you what’s a major factor in this US election year.
[Emailed to Lego on 5/2/2012 since they have a charlimit on their comment form]
I’m a woman who has been a Lego fan since I was a little girl. I loved cars, and I loved hotel rooms, and I made the coolest spaceships and space stations from the random Lego sets my parents bought me. My style was “Airstream meets 2001: A Space Odyssey, plus Holiday Inn” (because, c’mon, every space cruiser needs a pool!). It was super fun building vehicles for imaginary adventures. Luckily, I still create stuff as an adult even though they aren’t space Winnebagos.
I gotta say though… I have yet to see one girl represented in your “Cool Creations” shout-out spread where you feature works by kids.
Granted, I may have overlooked some issues, but this kind of layout is typical.
And yet, your advertisements for your Legolands have a pretty fair split between the sexes.
What gives? It’s 2012 already, and we should be beyond this gender-skewed thing.
I’m guessing it’s one of two things. Either you’ve got a photo editor who favors boys’ creations, or you’re just not getting enough girls to submit the stuff they’ve made. If it’s the latter… that’s kind of disturbing, and I’m perplexed why you haven’t addressed it.
I love what your company represents–creativity, architecture, engineering, “building worlds” all that. But as I flipped through my last issue, I did notice it’s emphasis on superheros and cartoon drama. While that’s necessarily not a bad thing, you’ve created the heros as males, and since the viewer is supposed to identify with the protagonist, you might be turning off girls who “can’t see themselves” in that situation.
Don’t you think girls should be welcomed into fields of engineering and creating? It might be a bigger question that you as a company can simply answer and solve, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts on these issues.
But, this particular “southern traditional diet” also happens to be very high in calories, and taking in more calories than you need means you store it as fat, and that throws your system off whack, which is a precursor to diabetes. This high-caloric diet was totally necessary when humans had to put in hours of hard labor just to take care of basic physical needs. A big part of the South’s economic value related to agriculture, and that, in the time, it meant physical labor was required.
Our physical energy requirements have been evolving over time
Since then we’ve evolved beyond the human labor requirement just to survive, via complex machinery and systems that can basically run themselves. It started with Eli Whitney’s cotton gin that extracted useful bits from prickly bits of the cotton plant, then Watt’s steam engine that increased efficiency just by putting in a separate condenser to an already existing steam machine…which meant machines could be powered without human or animal direct energy. Hooray!
Now that humans don’t need to spend all their time working on survival we can now do things that are more intellectually rewarding: creating art, building alternative energy sources, constructing innovate buildings, making systems more efficient… you get it. Instead of just maintaining “now” we can relax and start thinking about and creating what’s next.
A personal story about moving towards a new system
When I was younger, I naturally inherited my parent’s values about food and nutrition. We were financially stable enough where food access wasn’t a problem, but my parents may have inherited some “scarcity” mentalities from their parents that were likely passed on unintentionally (their parents had to deal with the realities of the Great Depression). I wasn’t that into sports or outdoor activities, and preferred using computers to play and build computer games, build and use servers, that kind of thing–very “cerebral,” so I didn’t need very much food. I was a very picky eater, and remember only being able to eat meat if it was drenched in some sort of sauce. Chicken needed a Bearnaise / Hollandaise sauce, hamburgers were required to have cheese and to be absolutely drenched in ketchup (and if they came with a toy, even better!), etc.
In college, with free will to schedule my day and my eating habits, I made new friends who turned me onto environmental sustainability issues, and the realities of how factory farming and government subsidies played a part in easy, cheap accessibility to animal meat for food.
I’ve always loved animals–even wanting to be a vet when I grew up–and when I learned how hamburgers were made, it was basically the equivalent of watching Soylent Green [spoiler]. and I went vegetarian, then vegan, then back to vegetarian because I paid attention to what my body was asking for.
[Sidenote: The vegan-to-vegetarian story is actually kind of amusing: I was in the south of France for a student exchange program, and was struggling to apply my dietary choices to living abroad. I happened to find the local "Whole Foods" within a small local store that sold natural, organic, sustainable goods, and popped in for lunch. In French, I asked what vegan options were available. The proprietress then came all the way around the counter to face me in person and then explained to me that since I was living in the south of France, I should appreciate the south of France, in so many words, while pointing at wedges of cheese that were made by her friends who lived close to the town. She told me to stay here and she would explain. I was caught off-guard, but interested, so I waited while she hurried off behind the counter. She then came back around with a plate full of cheese samples, and while I tasted them, she told me about the cows, what they ate, who their owners were, and how cheese is aged. Granted, she was highly technical, but she made her point. The cheese was deLICIOUS. I could mentally see a happy cow eating clover while her milk was made into cheese by her owner. And all the love put into the process from cow to now. So... yeah, I very much appreciate and enjoy cheese these days.]
I now grow herbs and have learned the delicate survival needs of plants, and appreciate their natural cycles. I share a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership and have been learning more intensely about seasonal vegetables and what makes them seasonal. I got a sprout kit for Christmas and it’s like getting a chemistry set for Christmas (which I seem to remember getting quite regularly): lots of instant gratification and application of the scientific method. And, real greens in Winter! Woo-hoo!
The CSA I’m a part of [Tomato Mountain] is very “boutique-y” in some regards. It’s run by someone who has farming in his blood, and who wants to see his traditions continue. Obviously they know tomatoes, but for me, I enjoy the newsletters that talk about how weather patterns affect plants, and why (yeah, that’s the nerd part of me). Also, it becomes Iron Chef / Chopped IRL: What do I do with obscure oriental radishes that are in season today?
Anyway, my personal choices have worked out pretty well for me, but everyone has their own rhythm of healthfulness and they’ve got to figure it out themselves. All of these things have pulled me back into the loop of real human sustainability potential here on this planet.
It’s totally possible and easier that you might believe now to live sustainably. And this is coming from someone who makes electronic music and basically lives on the internet, so that should tell you something. This is not about preaching that there is a “right”way to live, it’s about syncing up to an individual daily lifestyle, based on what feels right and what does not.
I’ve noticed that people who are faced with an illness start to question their daily choices when something starts going wrong with their physical bodies. Diet is an easy way to approach non-well-being, because we all need food and energy to keep going through our days on our planet. And when you start to pay attention to what your body really needs and by relying on instinct and not news reports on antioxidants, protein or a similar buzzword, you will start to learn a language with yourself on a very personal level.
I’m being general on purpose here, but when you step back and listen to your body’s subliminal cues and rely less on society’s expectations, you will find the natural rhythm of what makes you work the best while you’re here.
…Learn your own goddamn language. Once upon a time you could get away with not knowing the difference between “their” and “they’re” because in spoken conversation they sound the same. Online, everybody can see that you weren’t paying attention in fourth grade when you mix up “your” and “you’re.”
Remember that text is going to be how you make your first impression over the internet; if every third word you type is misspelled, people will automatically assume that you’re a moron. Even if the public school system fails you, there are browsers that come with spellcheck built-in.
Don’t Look Like an Idiot When Communicating Via Text
Don’t Feed the Trolls
Don’t Use Online Gaming as an Excuse to Act Like an Ass
Assume Everything is a Scam and You’ll Almost Always Be Right