Introduction: Insatiable Consumption
“Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing.”
I don’t completely agree with the above quote. Part of me is quite annoyed by it, actually. However, there are undoubtedly millions of people out there that consume media with an insatiable hunger, and digest it as quickly as they devour it. There are some would say that this is the fault of new popular media specifically, but it can easily be universal. It is the ubiquitous, fast-paced and accessible qualities of today’s media that makes it so easily consumable. Also, just because something can be quickly consumed does not necessarily diminish its merit. After all, brevity is the soul of wit, right?
The television programs, movies, and games of today’s popular culture are often watered down to appease obsessive advertisers, paranoid parents, cantankerous critics, and even their own touchy audiences. Thus, many elitists tout the print form as the last remaining academic beacon of higher learning. But let’s not forget about the genre fiction and magazines these highbrow academics unfairly toss aside like some unrelated, arbitrary, inane waste of time. Print form can be “corrupted” by the good old dollar bill like any other medium.
Cerebral Core Meltdown has a primary objective of analyzing this conflict that is occurring both internally (my own personal tastes and reflections) and externally in the world of new media, or the “Global Village.” The connotative differences between the words “movie” and “film” is one example where our culture has collectively divided a medium by assumed intent and aesthetics. But everyone knows it’s not that simple–especially the hardworking people who are creating these great works regardless of their profitability.
Many television shows such as LOST have transcended this so-called dichotomy between profitable media and artistic merit. In fact, it’s even worth noting that–in some ways–it is more demanding to write for a critically acclaimed television show than it is to write for something more open-ended an independent film. Never would I make the claim that one is superior to the other in artistic quality; after all, that is completely subjective. What I mean is that the constant requirement of getting the attention of people who are furiously flipping through channels is a burden that few can handle.
Creating a show that is compelling on an intellectual level is usually counter-productive to a goal mass marketability. Thus, we have MTV. Critically acclaimed (and rightfully so) programs like Mad Men don’t always see the numbers they deserve. These shows also don’t always get the artistic credit they deserve from observers outside of their own community. To many, television is garbage, no matter what the content.
Some topics I’m interested in covering in future blog posts which may or may not be related to the above over-arching theme:
- Video/Computer Games (in general). Just the name alone sounds childish. They’re just games–how could they be worth my precious time as a scholar? While the stigma of stupidity surrounding television is starting to decay, the stigma of video/computer games is still strong. The Digital Media program where I went to college gave credit to the medium where it was due, but beyond that, you’ll find little intellectual appreciation for video games. Understandably so–the target audience usually isn’t looking for enlightenment; they’re looking for entertainment.Console RPGs such as Xenogears, Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series do provide storylines which can be compelling. The immersion of the users can become deep, and has a greater potential for them to take a perspective outside of their own. I don’t think these previously-mentioned titles are Shakespearean in quality, but I do think that games (or “interactive media”) absolutely have the capability to become much more than simply a game. It the collective fault of our expectations of what games are that prevents them from becoming so. It has little to with the medium itself other than the fact that it is such a complex and expensive medium to create works for (which automatically makes it difficult to create ‘intellectual’ works (that would conflict with their profitability–same problem with television).
- MMORPGs. I’ve been playing them since 1998, starting with EverQuest. Since then, I’ve played just about every major MMO title: Asheron’s Call, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest 2, Lord of the Rings: Online, too many others including free Korean MMOs to count and–of course–World of Warcraft. When it comes to these topics, I’ll probably be emulating Lum the Mad (a past blogger who covered Ultima Online and EQ). I’m very opinionated when it comes to them. I think WoW is a plague that made the genre both explode in popularity and death simultaneously. Yes: the history and future of MMOs will probably be one of the first things I tackle.
- Science Fiction (Television). What has Star Trek (including TNG, DS9, and Voyager) said about the human condition? Are they ever going to reboot the Star Trek franchise successfully? How fucking hard does Picard own Kirk? Why do I like Babylon 5 more than DS9? What are the most important metaphors in LOST? Why do I think Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica is some of the best sci fi ever made, but almost everything afterward was total dogshit? When the hell is Joss Whedon just going to devote his life to reviving Firefly? I’ll be discussing all of these things and more. The first topic I’m interested in when it comes to Sci Fi is how the stereotypes of the genre (from the perspective of television) have evolved from the days of The Twilight Zone to shows like Stargate: SG1. What has changed and what has remained the same? Are the viewers of yesterday’s sci fi looking for the same things as the viewers of today? Tomorrow?
- Internet Culture / Net Neutrality: The Internet is without a doubt the most important vessel for expression which has fully realized itself in my lifetime (albeit I’m only 23). For example, just YouTube alone is quite possibly the epitome of our culture’s endless desire to consume more and more as quickly as possible. Our collective attention spans are diminishing every minute. Unfortunately, there might come a time when we have to tell our children about “the goold old days” when the Internet used to be free. I hope it never comes to that.
- Music. I will occasionally talk about music on here and make recommendations. I annually created “top albums” lists, for examples. I may discuss overarching music trends, especially concerning the independent/underground/artsy faux-ass nonsense scenes, but I probably won’t spend much time dissecting individual albums. I’m not trying to be a critic, but we all are to some degree. If you want to know what my music taste is like, I have a last.fm located @ http://www.last.fm/user/aleatoric.
- Various other works of fiction, comedy, documentary, etc. I am a big fan of comedy, especially dry, witty comedy and satire. My favorite comedians include Steven Wright and George Carlin (I’d say “RIP” but he’d probably fucking hate that). My favorite comedy TV shows include Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 30 Rock, The Office (UK and US), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Extras, How I Met Your Mother, etc.
This all might seem too random and diverse for one single blog. It probably looks like I should have an entire batallion of blogs. But I think what will tie it all together is not only my insatiable ability to consume, but my insatiable ability to understand. There are universal qualities I look for in art regardless of medium.
Imagination and inspiration are two things that keep me ticking. I need to stop ranting to friends about these topics and organize them as best that I can on this blog. I’ve got many insights to reveal and many pet peeves to fucking self-destruct over. Oh, and welcome to the first post of my blog: Cerebral Core Meltdown.