So, I’ve been watching HBO’s new series, Girls. I’m not particularly excited about it, I just find it OK. Maybe a little too hip for me, but it’s funny, witty and sick enough to get me hooked thanks to morbid and awkward situations.
Anyway, by the fourth episode I noticed that each one of them was directed by the same person: Lena Dunham. So I googled her and… THE HORROR. She’s the creator, the writer, the showrunner, the director, the leading actress. In short, she’s the HBO version of Tina Fey. But the real point is: she’s younger than me. Seriously, she was born in 1986 and I was born in 1985.
And here we go, existential crisis. A 25-year-old girl has her own HBO show… I can’t even afford to own a car, let alone a house. Or a TV show. I don’t feel the same way about Tina Fey, because she’s in her forties and she makes me feel like I still have time to… grow (old, rich, talented, mature, lucky… Go pick one).
I had to find a solution to this new depression, so I read Lena’s wiki. Well, she happens to be the daughter of a famous New York photographer and a famous New York painter. Alright, I said to myself. Nevermind. I’m from a small town in the north of Italy and my parents are sort of blue-collar workers. Still, I won a scholarship and got into Berkeley for a year. Not bad.
But Lena Dunham is younger than me. Bummer.
When I started this blog, I wanted it to be less personal as possible. Well, I know that when it comes to film I can get very personal, but I just wanted it to be a place where I could write and share my thoughts without being strictly academic (for those of you who haven’t realized it yet, I’m a film scholar). And where I could virtually meet people who wanted to do the same.
Last night I saw The Avengers (yes, Americans: it has been released in Italy one week before the States!!! Yay for Italian distribution! BTW, this doesn’t make up for all the other very disappointing cases). I obviously have to write something, not only because I’ve been waiting for this films for years, but above all because it is a great movie, definitely worthy. So here I am, in front of this blank page, thinking about the right and catchy way to start the post. But the only thing that comes to my mind right now, is very personal. So I have to give up my initial resolution.
Few days ago, one of the most important persons in my life suddenly passed away. It was a shock, and I literally couldn’t get out of bed for a couple of days. I know that shit happens, but it hurts all the same: I’ve never experienced such a pain. Then, friends reminded me that The Avengers, the film we’ve been dreaming about since we were kids, was about to be released. Firstly, I decided not to go for the moment. But then I thought: this has to be overcome, somehow. So I resolved that going to see The Avengers could be a good start.
I was right. The Avengers did what film are meant for: it entertained me and it took me out of the real world for 140 minutes. It made me laugh and it made me enjoy time out of the bed. It just brought me back to life. The pain is still here and always will, I think. But at least I was reminded that there still can be good moments in life.
As for the movie itself… Yeah, that was freaking awesome! Joss Whedon perfectly managed a very complex multistrand narration, equally distributing time and space to all of the different leading characters. Leading characters who, actually, were also supporting one another.
Guys, hurry up and go see what entertainment is really about!
“This is evolution. Copy, Transform and Combine”
This is how author-director Kirby Ferguson sums up his Theory of Creativity. In his four parts webseries, Everything is a Remix, he argues: “copying is how we learn. We can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain, and we do that through emulation”. In other words, to copy in order to create. To emulate in order to find your own originality. It’s always been done in the technological field, from James Watt to Steve Jobs. In the musical field, from Ray Charles to Bob Dylan (also, see this article about my Beloved Hero, Bruce Springsteen). In the cinematic field, from Walt Disney to Quentin Tarantino. Nothing new about that.
In the fourth part of the series, System Failure, Ferguson gets to real point: remix vs copyright laws. But let’s come back a little bit. US Founding Fathers conceived the 1870 Copyright Act as an “act for the encouraging of learning”, and the Patent Act as a mean “to promote the progress of useful Arts”. In short, they wanted to patronize and foster creativity by granting inventors a certain profit; at the same time, they meant to produce a rich pool of public domain.
Now, here comes the Corporations, which gradually transformed public domain into exclusive domain through an abuse of the Copyright and Patent Act: these laws were born to protect creativity. Now, they only protect the ones that own that creativity: as I said, corporations. What’s the aim of these Acts now? To maximize corp. earnings, instead of creativity and public knowledge.
At the end of the series, Ferguson calls for a renewed social awareness: “We live in an age with daunting problems. We need the best ideas possible, we need them now, we need them to spread fast. The common good is a meme that was overwhelmed by intellectual property. It needs to spread again. If the meme prospers, our laws, our norms, our society, they all transform. That’s social evolution and it’s not up to governments or corporations or lawyers… it’s up to us”.
So, I already said what I think about it in here. The problem here is a market failure: society has already understood how digital era works and it’s therefore taking back its common goods. The problem, now, is that institutions need to understand it too. They need to copy, transform and combine in order to evolve.
PS: the Italian version of this article is available on Carnage News.
Yeah, I do reckon that this post comes a little late. But you know… Italian releases and my dissertation are not helping me out on this one. Anyway, Hugo Cabret has finally come out in here too and I’ve also finished writing my grad thesis, so I’m ready to come back to my blog-life. And yep, I’ve been missing you all, guys!
I saw Hugo Cabret on Valentine’s Day and I must say the timing was perfect. I mean, I spent the night of Love’s Day (which I usually despise, but that’s another story) with Martin Scorsese. I spent the night of Love’s Day with George Méliès. I spent the night of Love’s Day with a little boy who, just like me, is absolutely crazy about movies. Summing it up: I spent the night of Love’s Day with my Love for cinema.
Surely it’s not a flawless film – a little too long, sometimes even to sappy, editing not as perfect as you expect from a Scorsese movie – but overall, I enjoyed it. I felt like a little kid watching The Magic happening on the screen. Yeah, I did feel like Hugo so, dear Mr. Scorsese, mission accomplished: through that kid you perfectly represented all of us film-lovers. You perfectly represented yourself. By the way: not only this movie made me appreciate Valentine’s Day (at least for a little more than a couple of hours), it also made appreciate 3D. It was actually kind of painful because I forgot to wear lenses so I had to wear two pairs of glasses for 137 minutes. But that’s just me to blame. So, do you know why I enjoyed it, nevertheless? Because the film was made for 3D. Apart from the technical perfection, I felt like Mr. Scorsese made us put on our supercool and super-21st century 3D glasses in order to watch the 1930s viewers on the screen watching us back. And, as we viewers watch each other, we feel like two reflections of a mirror. As if to say that, you know, love for films is transcendent, no matter where and when you live.
That’s why Hugo Cabret is a great love movie.
“Even the good become pirates in a world where the rules seem absurd”
(Lawrence Lessig, Remix)
I think you all know about PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) by now. In case you don’t, Wikipedia’s links will do the job. The acts’ approval has been postponed due to the widespread protests and boycotts, but the issue is far from being over. So… what do I think about online piracy?
First of all, let’s define piracy.
– Someone enters a theatre and starts recording the movie with his/her camera. Than He/she posts it online or makes DVD and sells the copies.
– Someone edits an homemade video of his/her holidays adding a legally bought Prince song (not a random reference, see the Lenz v. Universal Case) as soundtrack. Then he/she posts it online.
Well, these are very different cases. Yet, according to lawmakers and copyright supporters, these two people are both perceived as criminals.
So, firstly: the crime of piracy lacks a real definition. And before acting on penalties and consequences, I think it’s essential to define WHAT really arms
society copyright owners. Secondly: I think it’s totally wrong to apply “real world” rules and common beliefs to “virtual world”. And I’m saying this because PIPA and SOPA supporters have made a major case out of it (see here). We live in a digital era that requires new points of view about matters as copyright and intellectual property. We live in a world where technology actually ALLOWS copies. The possibility to copy is now an intrinsic feature of all texts and works of art (just to paraphrase Walter Benjamin). And here we go: the market enters the game.
A few days ago I found this article by Tim O’Reilly that explain what I think better than I’d actually do. Summing it up: piracy is the result of a market failure (“the unwillingness or inability of existing companies to provide their product at a price or in a manner that potential customers want”). Traditional companies were so busy fighting online “pirates” that they retarded the growth of new business models more suitable for the digital era. Who won? Not pirates. But new services as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix. So “The solution to piracy must be a market solution, not a government intervention, especially not one as ill-targeted as SOPA and PIPA. We already have laws that prohibit unauthorized resale of copyrighted material, and forward-looking content providers are developing products, business models, pricing, and channels that can and will eventually drive pirates out of business by making content readily available at a price consumers want to pay, and that ends up growing the market”
That’s pretty much all, folks.
And now: what do you guys think about it?
So I wish you tons of good movies, TV series, music, friends and whatever it takes to make you happy.
That’s the best my grinchy Christmas spirit allows me to post… HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
DEXTER – Season 6
Overall, the series wasn’t great. At all. Dexter spent all his time hunting down Gellar and Travis, forgetting about his killer instinct and the fact that we liked him better when all he cared about was stabbing bad guys. One bad guy each episode, not a couple of them in one entire season. That being said, the plot itself was good and gripping. As for the finale, well, I’m so glad it happened. In the literary series it happened on the first book and it made things much more interesting.
Oh, I forgot: that psychological problem with Deb… Well, that was awkward and totally inappropriate for the series. Shame on you, writers.
HOMELAND – Season 1
Confirmed: best new series. Throughout this 12 episodes, it had lots of ups and no downs. Carrie and Brody are two of the best characters who ever appeared on the small screen. The long finale was just breath-taking: the opening video gave me goose bumps and the closing sequence made me curse, so I guess every part of it did its job.
Saul for president.
MISFITS – Season 3
Honestly, I only appreciated the last two episodes, from zombies on. Yes, I do miss Nathan. But I also really like Rudy so far… So I guess that, given the ending, I could be happier from the fourth season on. Just a plead to the writers: give them all their original powers back, that was what made them themselves! But again, I think that this ending opened up for a “back to the roots” thing.