Thursday, March 5, 2020

Australian Senator Wants Government to Ban More Anime and Manga

Australia, still an enemy of free thought.

Second time we've used this.

Anyone who has seen the fine documentary series Housos, knows that Australia is what happens when a bunch of cognitively dysfunctional weirdos get trapped on an island full of spiders and snakes, surrounded by sharks and murder-snails.  From this Southern Hemisphere version of England with more land and on-fire-ness to it, comes a flash in the pan news tidbit:

So Australian Senator Stirling Griff (yes that's a real name of a person, not a fictional character... somehow), wants literally every single anime and manga ever, inspected by the government for "child exploitation" and subsequently banned in the country if it does not fit some existing standard as defined by said government.  Apparently Mr Griff saw some anime with bouncy boobies and tighty-whities and is mad about it, probably because it makes him feel like his pants are shrinking.  The entity responsible for government censorship in Australia, which is officially called the Australian Classification Board, has since responded with what could be paraphrased as "you don't tell me what to do, now go fuck yourself" essentially.  They already have a government censorship rubric in place for everything and don't need to create a special one for anime or manga.  Making this idea more or less dead in the water.  Common sense should prevail, as a drawing of "child exploitation" is no more evidence of an actual crime than a drawing of Conan the Barbarian chopping someone's head off constitutes evidence of murder.

Well that should be it right?  One politician has a stupid idea that up and disappears like a fart in the wind.  Senator Silver Trench will go pout in the corner and that will be it right?  Probably, but like those instances where only the last of the redundancies avoids total disaster, so too does this small event illuminate the tenuous nature of a global market for art and entertainment properties.  One where one government can influence sales and license valuations for a global property, to a degree based on their own market size. 

It's happening in more than just the one place everyone immediately thinks of.

When discussing government censorship of entertainment media and art, the usual suspects always spring to mind, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand, Russia, Singapore, all that.  But in reality, the government regulation of creative output is embraced by countries which tout their self-celebrated socially progressive atmospheres such as Germany, U.K., Canada, France, Holland, Australia, and so on.  But these countries have a long history of maintaining actual thought-police and continue to do so while performing the mental gymnastics required to label them as positive entities which benefit society.  They justify their actions in state enforced censorship by arguing they are simply enabling the greater good but in reality are just another way to implement a what we say goes socio-cultural policy.

We're here to help.

As mentioned, Australia being one of England's side-projects, and as England  loves doing this, so too is like Australia to blindly parrot such thinking.  What is somehow second nature to these quazi Euro or Dynastic modes of thinking, are extraordinarily repugnant to Americans. So much so that when the USA was forming an absolute set of laws just after making England go away by shooting their army guys in the face, the very first one was a law expressly forbidding the government from legally regulating written works in any way, and through case law has been extended to art, music, performance, and software.  Actually if you look at the U.S. Bill of Rights, Amendments 1-8 can basically just be called "shit the English did that is not allowed anymore."  And #1 is a bit crowded, but government censorship is in there.  The continued strong aversion to such regulation, is cemented in American cultural identity and jurisprudence, through lots and lots of Supreme Court case law.  It is still seen as a very relevant subject today, because throughout the 20th and into the 21st century, it was often American cultural and literary output that has been the target of such government suppression efforts; Don't wanna participate in the SS book burning?  Too bad, do it or we shoot you.  Get caught with "Amerikanski rock and roll album" behind the Iron Curtain?  Time for re-education in Siberia.  That book about Robert Ingersoll and modern Atheism?  Off with your head you dirty kuffar!  Looking at that wrong American website in China?  To the Laogai you go for your state sponsored re-education.   Hell, if Salmon Rushdie tried to publish The Satanic Verses today, the UK would probably go crazy trying to ban the thing and lock him up for "hate speech" or whatever it is they're calling it now.  No wonder he moved to New York.

In Australia, this is a senior respected member of the government keeping your woke eyes and ears safe from all the evil manga and anime drawings.  It's ok, he knows what's best for you.

This ongoing tension has lead to the one important thing.  No other country has explicit prohibitions against the government regulation of any artistic or entertainment content.  Those MPAA or ESRB ratings?  They come from private organizations and they are not legally binding.  The local theater near me does not enforce those ratings and rather makes their own decisions about age restrictions if any, breaking no law.  That simply could not happen in Australia, or any other country out there. 

So this happens in English speaking markets, as well as other markets all over the world except for one country... 'Murika!  Making the USA the only vestige of truly free speech and expression.  Where all incarnations and manifestations of free-thought and expression are free to participate in the environment, where they either thrive or become obsolete through that participation.  For freedom of art and expression (including commercial media) in the USA it's sink or swim, in the rest of the world it's "Pool's Closed" because we say so.

If government censorship based on localized sensibilities continues to grow unabated through actions such as this, an international market for entertainment properties will become more and more impossible.  It would become a mission of of pleasing "all of the countries, all of the time" which is such an insurmountable prospect, that potential licensors would not even entertain purchasing such assets.   What would be the point of licensing Keijo if some government goon can threaten you with criminal prosecution for publishing it?  Anime goes from being a global multi-billion dollar business (yes, I'm counting Pokemon) back to a localized phenomenon traded with fans using legal or illegal means depending on what the government has decided you can dare to have access to.  Australia should just put the kangaroos in charge at this point.  They would do a better job running the place.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

In Occasional Defense of Piracy: Streaming services getting it wrong.

When piracy of entertainment properties is the only way to improve the market.

Yar har har!  Hardee harrr har har har harrrr!

Those who fail to learn from the past are... baby boomers.   Only from the boomer mind that thinks it's just too cool to keep up with new developments would a notion of a TV studio acting like a record label make sense. In 1995 having a Blackberry made sense too.  Since these people have insulated themselves in positions of power which no one would dare offer up an incongruous or critical counterpoint, their clunky outdated ideas will drop on top of the existing market only to smash into it like a rusted 1970 Mercury Zephyr into an electric car show. Theirs is the idea of owning a show from top to bottom and forcing an environment where an interested consumer would have to join a paid service just to watch the one good show that's on it.  The days of consumers buying an "album" to get one or two hit songs from it are gone, and it seems as if TV executives don't think that is going to mean anything to them as they try the exact same failed strategy with streaming services.

Nobody... just no one wants this.  Seriously.

If anyone who sees this has seen other stuff written here previously, it would be apparent that I usually take a negative view of piracy, as it de-values any property and makes it less likely that more of that property will be made.  But in this context, "be made" does not only mean produced, but also be made available to potential consumers/audiences/whateveryouwannacallit.  By not doing so, a vacuum is created which will collapse in on itself, and never is that seen as a profitable venture. Even though these properties lack tangibility in the literal sense, the rules of logistics are going to apply just as they would to any commodity.  Ignore those rules at your own peril, guys.

There is a reason that was never the #1 seller of Nike shoes online.  It's because no one goes to a store that sells only one brand of one item.  No one wants to register or any nonsense at a different website for every different product they want to buy.  Amazon made it possible to look "across the shopping isle" to other brands, other items, and alternative products while never abandoning a shopping cart.  Similar thinking in the strategies of TV streaming, forcing potential customers to sign up for an entire service just to get the one thing they want, will similarly kill these studio attempts.  We had Hulu, Netflix, or even (shudder) cable providers, which offered all the programming with little barriers of going in between them as a consumer, push a few buttons, and bam you're watching the other thing you want to watch.  Throw properties behind a paywall of a completely exclusive service with its own user registration and billing cycle?  Yeah, the RVR (reverse value ratio) there is far too big to make it worth it to the point of continuing.

RVR is this but with way more math and specified variables based on regression analysis.  I'd mansplain it to you but your brain would melt.

So why is this even happening if it's so crazy universe ass-plodingly obvious doing so is a terrible idea?  Because baby boomers.  I am serious, baby boomers are desperate to keep other baby boomers running the show rather than allow opportunities to become available to other generations, will literally do anything to stop younger people from ascending to any type of positions where they would have executive authority.  Baby boomers will invent new positions which sound great but don't do anything and put younger people in them, they will abandon entire projects/divisions to get rid of them there youngins, or they will just keep hiring their own generation even if they are way past their expiration date.  The generation that says "there's no such thing as a free lunch" but wants to pay you in "experiences" is gonna keep on truckin' and just say "what the fuck are you gonna do about it?"

The boomer-block.  Why you haven't gotten promoted in over a decade.

They may end up changing the strategy, but boomers won't "learn" anything, they never do.  The reason is actually because the boomer mentality is so conceited that despite having ample opportunity to learn new things when they were new (the internet, corp. strategy, environmental responsibility, logging on to wifi, how to rotate a fucking .pdf), they feel they shouldn't have to learn such things.  They are just too cool for that stuff.  The generation that has such ignorance that finds not until it feels, is not going to avoid a problem in advance.  So like many things boomer, this is another one where the solution is going to have to wait until they run out of other reasons to blame it on until they finally end up having to look into a mirror. 

The show Picard itself isn't actually very good.  This is going to cause a lot of buyer's remorse and trigger a kind of resentment that people on the receiving end of a bait and switch inevitably feel.  It promised so much and delivered a pile of nonsense antithetical to the entire identity of the entertainment entity that is the character Picard and the brand of Star Trek.  This should be no surprise as it's coming from Alex Kurtzman.  They guy who ran the SpiderMan franchise into the ground, who screwed up Universal Monsters so bad it couldn't even get off the ground at all, the mind behind the box-office juggernaut that was The Mummy with Tom Cruise.  Alex "I want a franchise NOW and I don't care what it is" Kurtzman was a bad choice for this.  Also, they've given creative input to Patric Stewart... and he's an awesome guy but he's not a Star Trek Writer.  He's an MCU actor and has been in a rich-person bubble for a long time.  He has so much money he hasn't had to wash his own dishes since before I was even alive, and he's on half-his-age hot trophy wife #3, so, what are we really get from that?  Nothing relatable.

You didn't need me to tell you Star Trek: Picard was gonna suck, it was pretty obvious.

Same has been true with the Harley Quinn series available only through DC Universe.  You see it?  It's not as good as you were thinking it was gonna be was it...?   Sure you're still excited because because of the novelty "ooo animation where they say fuck and tits!  ha! Take THAT people who say cartoons are just for kids... like SPAWN, remember AEON-SPAWN & STIMPY?"  but that will ware off soon enough.  Now imagine you paid for that up front and there's nothing you can do about it.  The warning signs were there.  The delays, and the character design change to full on suicide-squad Harley and away from the original Paul Dini version (which should always be a red flag that someone involved doesn't know what they're doing).  But I am biased in favor of the original version of Harley Quinn and not the Suicide Squad anorexic with a face tattoo played by someone who speaks in a condescending Mary Poppins accent IRL.

Girl you know it's true.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The New Sheriffettes: Anime Conventions Write a Modern-Day Comstock Act with Ahegao Restrictions.

Keep Making That Face and it will Stay That Way.
Anime conventions in flyover country have started “banning” clothing and other items with ahegao images on them.  Prints, books, commissions, videos, towels?  What about… a tattoo?  Like any amateur social manipulators, they haven’t really mentioned them in any specificity, so apparently non clothing items are permissible.  The reason that seems to be given by one of the conventions for such prohibitions is “social climate.”  Now, there is no way to successfully parse “social climate” with the notion embodied by the phrase “what other people think” since they are the same thing.  Thusly, a sweeping policy which is being applied to everyone is now in place because of … “what other people think.”  Following that logic, it becomes very apparent that the actual end of that equation goes from “what other people think” to “what WE think.”  You don’t need to be well versed in post-Revolutionary France and the Société des Jacobins, amis de la liberté et de l'égalité to realize where this leads and the CRG squads that will inevitably prowl the convention halls looking for any and all infractions contrary to the new Little Red Book of obscena- prohibetur. 

The New Sherefettes:
The blatant hypocrisy of this development has already been exposed by writers and commentators out there who are quicker on the draw than I am. has handily pointed out that the new “rules” are only applicable to clothing items which have “ahegao” images in an effort to promote a “family friendly” atmosphere.  In a telling indicator that this may be also influenced by Third Wave Feminism creep, these rules do not apply to cosplay in this case, just a specific image on clothing items (more on this later).  So we end up with:

The outrage machine wants you!

This dynamic alone is a red flag made of red flags.  Not only is the regulation so specific mentioning ahegao as to suggest an intentional targeting of certain people, but relies on actual definitions which are beyond vague.  What IS ahegao and more importantly what ISN'T it?  Is it a cropped image which depicts sex outside the frame?  Is it a cropped image with depicts simulated sex?  Is it just that facial expression, which a character could be making while performing an otherwise mundane task?  Is it only applicable to female or female-appearing characters?  Can masculine characters make an “ahegao” face and would such depictions also be against these new rules?  How crossed do the eyes have to be?  How far does a tongue have to stick out?  They gonna make a chart or something?  A new anime convention Hays Code is no doubt in its infancy right now.

But wait there’s more; Colorado Anime Fest has added another tier of inappropriateness.  From their stated rule policy, “…will not permit ‘ahegao’ or similar clothing with graphic sexual imagery to be worn on the convention floor” (emphasis added).  The danger of such ambiguity can be summed up with the simple explicit question of; Well what the fuck does that mean?  Will individual conventions come up with their own criteria for “graphic sexual imagery” and go around enforcing them with vigor?  Does such a development remind you of something?

Yeah ...that. 

Missing a history lesson:

A social conservative resistance to anime and blatant hatred of everything from manga to video games was once a real threat to anime fandom itself.  When one has to invoke Miller v California in order to establish one’s “innocence” in wearing an Urusei Yatsura t-shirt, it is indeed a civil rights issue (not the biggest one, but one none the less).  From book confiscations to the decades-long moral panic around video games, anime and otaku fandom has been attacked numerous times in the name of social standards and anti-LGBTQ and other sentiments so ridiculous, that they were (until recently) simply laughed out of the public sphere by fans and non-fans alike.  These new convention authorities  seem to be completely ignorant of how hard fought the evolution of otaku fandom was going from fringe element to massively accepted and commercially viable sphere of influence, and so bring such threats back to bear, this time from within the fandom itself.  This is what you get when you let people with undergrad degrees from Evergreen State College (or any SJWs R Us campus) actually exert authority over entities that operate outside the academic bubble of their calcified nodes of absolutist thought

But now, the threat to the fandom comes from within, and begins as always with all but seemingly innocuous pleas of “for the children!” cloaked in a self-projected righteousness.  Such restrictions and prohibitions on creative works and thought shall slowly spread as their efforts progress, much as an unhealed wound slowly expands from repeated puncturing by those who seek to add unnecessary remedy.  If allowed to continue unchecked, such efforts will bring their exclusionary authority to increasing more types of expression and art (be it commercial or otherwise).  What will the result be?  A convention bereft of the qualities that make anime and anime conventions fun. 

No fun allowed you counter-revolutionary sex racist!

I warned you people.  And here.  And here.  Here too.

I say, You Can’t Have a Negro:
For those of you who don’t know the story about that line, here is the primary source account.  It can be distilled into the basic singular event; specifically the publication of Incredible Science Fiction in 1955, and story in it called “Judgement Day” a short comic where only at the end, the “Hero” astronaut is revealed to be a black person from Earth.  This had already been published to accolades before the CCA came into being.  The head of the CCA, Charles F Murphy rejected the story based on the notion “you can’t have a negro.”  So it was asked of him, “where in the code does it say you can’t have a negro?” to which Murphy responded simply with “I say you can’t have a negro.”  From that moment, the Code became simply whatever the Chair said it was, and it wasn’t until decades later that a wholesale rejection of its necessity did the CCA become unable to exert influence on creative works. If you are under the impression that this ahegao thing won't lead to something similar, the shoehorn for getting your head out of your ass is somewhere around here.

Total Assholes, ruining my fandom?  It's more likely than you think.
This is a dank-meme for all you zoomers out there who don't know shit.

It is easy to dismiss this incident, as Charles F Murphy (who  somehow attained the rank of Judge) is the kind of guy who you would absolutely expect to find vigorously helping to frame the Central Park 5 in his free time.  The platitudes of being far more socially enlightened (which some people think means “woke” but it doesn’t), do not, in fact, shield such overzealous entities, be they groups or individuals, from the exact same perilous cognitive entrapment.  The misplaced notion of the need for censorship can find itself misplaced under any guise, be it the preservation or morality, blatant racism, or the happy fun-time feely feels safe space rainbow of the all-encompassing greater good.  Once that happens, the individual whims of someone, whoever they may be, in such a position of absolute authority will become the exclusive maxims, and limits, of toleration.  This scenario has played out many times in history, always for the worst.  What fans have now witnessed is the emergence of micro-tyrants within the convention space.  What fans must decide, is how they will fight such an emergence.

What such an threat once looked like (before they shot him in the face and chopped his head off... It's ok, he really had it coming). 

The Penis is Evil!
So is this a case in which Third wave feminism has managed to creep into the fandom?  Who fucking knows… but what other mechanism would so necessitate banning ahegao images and nothing else which could be considered equally or even more sexualized?  Ahegao does seem to indicate a particular enjoyment of a female character engaging in heterosexual intercourse (that means she like banging).  Third-wave is notoriously hetero-averse and hetero-hostile, so by singling out ahegao and it's potential to be sex-positive, it does seem as if this is something that fits the Third-Wave agenda.  I promise none of the links are about fart-rape.  Except this one.  To be honest, this is just a notion of a possibility which may or may not be the case, but it is more likely than aliens or something stupid.

Expose Yourself.
No I don’t mean get naked, this isn’t some furry convention.  What I mean is someone needs to get a 2 or 4 person team, one male one female, have them walk around a convention each in the same ahegao gear, and set them up with hidden cams and mics (kind of like the 10 Hours of Walking experiment).  Document what kind of differences there end up being between the two if any.  Send them out the next day with ahegao images of exclusively male characters, see what kind of things happen then.  Put yourself out there to expose inevitable double standards that will apply to female and male attendees regarding this policy.  I would love to see a shirt/hoodie made of characters making “ahegao” expressions but engaged in mundane tasks like using a vending machine, or using a calculator.  Have the whole image shown so as to clearly demonstrate that these faces do not spring from any sexual activity.  See what happens then.  Will you be asked to take it off / leave?  Then expose that hypocrisy to the world. 

Kick Them in the Nutz!
Contact any sponsors of the convention and tell them you can no longer support their products or services if they will support this kind of censorship.  Companies have a serious phobia of this kind of thing.  I know it sounds like “ok Boomer” advice, but an actual printed letter with a stamp on it via snail mail to whatever company might have a bigger impact than most people think.  Just keep in mind there is a difference between a sponsor, an advertiser, and a venue.  In marketing, people who do this are called “brand terrorists” but I would shy away from self-identifying as that unless you want a visit from the FBI.  I've had that, it's not fun and doesn't look like some innocuous little Mulder and Scully jam session, when theyy show up they show up

Contact the CBLDF… they won’t do anything other than possibly wag their finger or release a statement or something.

Shut the Fuck Up about your “rights” and stuff.
None of that applies here.  These are private events that have rule sets you agree to follow by buying a ticket.  Your First Amendment Rights don’t protect you from any rule these convention entities decide to put in place.  Challenge that by deciding not to leave if you’re asked to, and you will most likely be charged with a crime.  That crime won’t be “wearing an ahegao shirt” either, it will be “criminal trespass in the whatever degree” which, if you’re lucky will get dropped down to something like Disorderly Conduct (that’s what it is in NY, I have no idea what the equivalent is in MN or CO, I’m not licensed to practice there).  So stop thinking this is some fight against the great oppressors, it’s not.  Going on about “free speech” or “free expression” if you’re in Canada, is not going to get you anywhere.  You will just make yourself look dumb.

What to do, What to do...
Thus, dawn shows its light on the convention floor, where some seek to enforce a wall of incongruity between creative art and high context self righteousness, and others seek to fight against it.  Nobody can say they don’t have a horse in this race because arbitrary rules are just that, arbitrary.  The longer they are allowed to manifest, the closer the chances that something you like will end up being disallowed skyrocket to 100%.  Keeping your head down is not a good option.

One might easily dismiss these developments as the inevitable excretions of Middle America.  Flyover country where semi-sentient MAGA hats Teach the Controversy, and Jesus is your birth control.  Where wild Karens roam the land in their I want to speak to the manager haircuts, all complaining in unison about how Amerika has lost its small town feel while driving for 35 minutes each way in their SUV to buy groceries at a Wal-Mart.  What they do can easily be bathed in the beige light of insignificance since these places are not epicenters of… well pretty much anything really.

 But one must remember that the most virulent cancer can have its start even in the most vestigial of places, and if not addressed quickly, will metastasize to interfere with the functions of the primary organs.  So too has this cancer of thought come out of the provincial interior to potentially effect storied and more progressive conventions of the higher qualities.  The notion that a truly great international convention would even entertain such similar nonsensical regulations is both ludicrous and now, terrifyingly real. 

What’s banned now?  Your face!  Literally.

In summation, These types of vague knee-jerk regulations are antithetical to what the anime fandom was, is, and strives to continue to be.  They should not be welcomed, entertained, sympathized with, or defended.  An initial backlash combined with fandom efforts to force these rules to be more trouble than they are worth is the remedy which must be administered immediately and with unending consistency.  Give no ground, lest it be taken by those would evict you from it and leave but salted earth. 

 All together now; "Go Fuck Yourself!"

Wow, what a terrific audience.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Wrong People for the Job: Keeping CEOs in media and business that are going to sink the boat.

"Failure to learn from past mistakes begins with the belief that what happened was never a mistake in the first place."
      -Me, just now.

Although it may seem as if you, dear reader, are in for an art history lesson, it is the actual Medusa event that is the inspiration here.  It is something I have been thinking about as it applies to contemporary matters.  Famous for being immortalized in "The Raft of the Medusa" by French master Théodore Géricault in 1819 currently on display at the Louvre in Paris, The Medusa Affair was  a horrific event involving incompetence, cronyism, class-ism, and not only epic, but consistently poor decision making by "management" you could call it. 

Since Wikipedia exists, the entire story need not be retold here, only that due to the above stated reasons (and maybe a shark or two), the evacuation of most of the people on board met with an 8% success rate, and in case you were wondering, that would be -92% return on living people. The result was mutiny, murder, suicide, and eventual cannibalism.  It is a situation with striking parallels to the result of current business practices in these the times in which we live.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Also the boat itself sank.

For more information, visit your local youtube video where a college freshman will blur the lines between explain, extol, and pontificate, while talking about what they read about this in an art history book published in 1992.  It will be followed by a google ad-sense link for where you can find the best deal on a sub-par print you can hang in your tiny apartment to make people who come over think you're smart.  (Which is good because you have really got to stop telling people that "The Scream" is your favorite Van Gogh painting when you point to that old poster of it you got from the campus bookshop that's still up in your kitchen). I put so many miles on this joke I could take it to an antique dealer at this point.

Moving on; The recent episodes of corporate death and disease we have been seeing, which range from MGM to Toys R Us, and from G.E. to Toshiba, are not specific to any one industry, but rather the result of a potent mixture of a failure to adapt, generational disconnect, staunch baby boomer self-righteousness, Executive Worship, immense misplacement of corporate social responsibility, politically complicit corporate corruption, and simple greed in the notion that selling the soul of the company to an investment bank so you could have more money to carry out your bullshit was somehow not going to end up like a real life version of Faust (but hey, you're "executive level" so what do you care...). 

As these companies navigate the turbulent seas of global business, success and even survival depends on command decisions with the health of the vessel in mind as paramount.  All too often in the past two to three decades, concern for such welfares  have found themselves replaced by some nebulous commitment to unknowable collectives of financiers, with priorities far too narrow to sustain anything other than the monetary equivalent of theoretical physics that only finance majors could hold so dear.  This has elevated the concept of the all-star CEO to something of value.  An asset of luxuriant necessity who's lack of presence is as inconceivable as the absence of air-conditioning in a car owned by someone living in Arizona.  It is not.

 March 2017 

March 2018
"How do ya like THEM APPLES?"

Such is the function of self aggrandizing smoke and mirrors.  But much like smoking cigarettes, it only looks cool in the movies, and that intangible coolwill* can dangerously overshadow the real irreparable damage to very tangible healthy tissue.  Damage which is obscured from being a cause of concern until the lifeblood of the drained body-corporate pours from a gasping desiccated mouth twisted in the physical pain of necrotic tissue attempting in vein to maintain its life, quivering below eyes widened by the fear of  inevitable mortality, dripping with impotent tears impregnated with the lamentable knowledge of the fact such a fate as final as this death was by their own hand, preventable.  

Basically their way of running a company is very harmful but they don't realize it until it bites them in the ass.  This is because like the Captain of The Medusa, they have gained their position through favoritism and noble title, not by showing an ability to navigate an overloaded military naval vessel in the dangerous shallows off of West Africa.  Being appointed to such responsibilities leaves most executives genuinely questioning how their "brilliant plan" which relies on strategic metrics and business sensibilities which fully petrified in 2002 could have missed the mark by so much.  And why their concerns for rescuing things from their disastrous endeavors are egregious cries of "assets and golden parachutes first!" when filling the few lifeboats who's shortage and inadequacy seems to exist by design.

 Despite how awesome this looks, in reality it is the result of some very poor life choices.

 *What is "coolwill"?  Related to the business concept of goodwill, coolwill is an intangible asset not generated not by deeds which create general feelings of gratis and dependability in consumers, but by deeds which create feelings of envy in competitors.  This can include everything from innocuous flamboyance, to seriously self-destructive behaviors such as the insanity of CEO Dennis Kozlowski. While Tyco is an extreme example, the notion of the "cool kids" having the run of the school despite being anything other than human garbage, is a long and storied one and continues into just about every aspect of society.  So coolwill is when a Company or Executive benefits from such enviable and not rewarding or dependable behavior.

This brings us to today, where a mix of said "coolwill" and baby boomer selfishness have created an invisible monster that is giving corporate sepsis to companies that make the things we love and which employ the people our communities depend on.  Nothing appeals to older executives like being atop a social pyramid and older such people are finding out that the only such pyramids they can stand atop of are ones where they stand on the shoulders of those simply too economically terrified to ever contradict them.  Even if that pyramid is one they are ill equipped to take command of.  While the myth of the CEO being something valuable is well known and documented, they react like the owner of a pit-bull which has already ripped open 2 Yorkies and human toddler's face, oh well that's not ME and MY doggie, I'm totally different.  Yeah, sure you are.  But that's only a small part of the reason these companies are showing signs of ill health.

The more important part is that the solution to these problems is going to have to include the strategy of filling positions based on ability and competency, not experience and seniority.  Nothing makes a baby boomer start worrying more than the realization that their skill-set of telling other people what to do and their "experience" of working with dot matrix printers is not an asset.  We see these people paid more for doing less.  The notion of "not being able to set up your own email" was cute in 1998, but 20 years on that's like proudly admitting you don't know how to dial a phone or order a pizza.  Why does the VP of marketing need someone to explain to them what tent-poling is, or how to analyze new market data?  The notion that the keeping of their positions might get tied to their demonstrable abilities and not simply the fact that they just have been there forever will make them dangerous wounded animals.  Anyone who says "I've been in the business a long time" needs to be told "yeah, and look what you've done to it."  But of course that's always someone else's fault.

Social issues are also very important, especially in creative and entertainment media.  No one wants to work for a generation that denies civil rights to Americans, and calls video games (a multi-billion dollar industry that pays enough taxes to keep their precious Medicare, bailouts, and unending wars going) as dangerous as lead-poisoning, unless they get paid enough to off their student loans I guess.
 (oh, 2016... See what I did there?).

Although this argument could fill pages upon pages, I will simply conclude that this economic environment of terrible terribleness is only going to bring us more bad decision making by a management with inherited and artificially portable power, and unearned reputations of competence value, and a desperate need to stay relevant despite sucking at their CEO jobs.   (Jeff Immelt I'm talking about you... You can only sell NBC once).

So what does this mean for media creation and consumption for Otaku?  Well I think it means this:

For the USA:
This means that media companies will finance irrelevant projects, use outdated strategies, and fail to give the necessary importance to emergent technology ("disruptive technology" is the wrong term, it is just something the old world execs use for new inventions that they can't figure out how to turn on or off).  Companies will make crap, and eventually we will see a decline in creativity and content.  Just look what FOX did to every single good show they had... yeah, we really need that Tim Allen reboot of whatever it is.  Look how well Rosanne did ammiright?

You just know Fox is gonna bring this one back in such a socially tone-def manner, the lack of self-awareness is going to create a vacuum which rivals a black hole.

For Japan:
The risk for Japan comes from a direct threat to financing.  In terms of content and licensing "keep doing what you're doing" is not only a prudent idea but it's such a Japanese way of doing things that it's gonna happen that way no matter what. Sure there are in-studio changes that should happen which won't, but that's just going to make life continue to suck there.  What keeps most anime actually happening, is financing from massive corporations and banking networks which are too frequently starting to fall like diseased trees and take out whatever happens to be in their way as they plummet into dysfunction.

Is the Shining top of an Oji-san's head the new face of Japanese Global Industry?  

It's getting there, but recent events indicate that Japan is still playing more of a long-game, which seems like a good idea since we're now in a current climate where the only way to win is almost not to play (at least for the moment).

As The Medusa triggered the fall of the Bourbon Restoration and eventually lead to the July Revolution of 1830 in France (actual photograph of the event below), perhaps we shall see one of these disasters spur on the recognition that the balance of power, opportunity, and long term national preservation, so desperately in need adjusting.

Friday, June 22, 2018

CalArts: The sad end of the American animation renaissance.

For many, the exact moment when the creative outlet that CalArts provided, metastasized into the unhealthy black mold of media entertainment is easy to identify:

Right there.  That's where it happened.

Like many such situations, the confluence of different emotions and negative expectations give rise to a lackadaisical pessimism that at once is so palpable yet in turn, so difficult to articulate.  To summarize; we can call it a galvanization of assumptive reasoning which over time has evolved to invoke a general negative.  To summarize the summary of the summary; CalArts is a problem.  Much like a movie using the words “Staring Adam Sandler” will guarantee you won’t be watching it, now a CalArts design will serve as the singularity of information which will be interpreted by potential fans as “avoid this in general.” It is the entertainment equivalent of vegan ice cream. 

As with any modal thing, CalArts by itself is not by default “good” or “bad” but becomes associated with one or the other as time progresses (fool me once, blah blah blah).  What seems to have developed is a transition from CalArts being associated with creative, progressive, socially attuned, and intelligent ongoing/connected story-lines, into simply the packaging of recycled properties which are considered financially safe and churned out with a rubber-stamp monotony only permeated by the occasional reversal of a gender dynamic or a reference of an internet meme from 8 years ago. 

Much as Adult Swim had many years ago gone from something creative and funny to the mental hellscape of what it is today; something which only holds entertainment value to suburban stoners who couldn’t remember what shows they watched the very next day if their life depended on it and subsisting on a diet of 50% weed, 50% Cheetos, and 50% Mountain Dew (common core math, it totally works), CalArts seems now to simply be the indicator of a production with the least amount of animation effort set to a script that would make a better radio-show than anything else, and will seem just forced as all fuck.

Artist rendering of the potential absolute hell we could be seeing by 2019.

The only positive to come from this situation is that it may possibly spur a backlash strong enough to push truly well-made, and beautifully animated new and original productions to the forefront.  The people will demand change and will vote by changing the channel or whatever.  It is difficult not to become outraged when one sees this CalArts repackaging crap-fest brain child of an actual man-bun sporting parody of a parody of "woke" hipster given priority over amazing artistic works like this:

Seriously, why is this not on TV in its 3rd season by now?

Animation is a visual medium.  Those visuals communicate immense amounts of information in both the form of a singularity and of a linear progression.  Not only has CalArts become the new face of over-homogenization, but it is also now associated with rehashed, unoriginal productions which are treated far too much like financial instruments based on "bankable properties" and not enough like creative endeavors.

Will things get worse before they get better?  No, I am thinking things will get worse and just stay that way.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Returning to Normal.

I'm back.  No, I didn't get deep-sixed by goons, I am not in jail, and no I haven't died from liver failure (yet, but it is on my to-do list).  I was in a physical accident involving the, I think the medical term for it is; Nut-Sack, which ended up causing a few other problems as I did the classic early Gen-Y think of just waiting for it to go away because you don't have health insurance, even though now I do (and with only a 12 million dollar deductible!  Isn't America just the best?).  Short story is a long hospital stay, a massive change in diet, and lots of pills.  I am not out of the woods yet even either.  So people out there, a steady diet of aspirin, 72oz of 7% ABV beer, and nothing else for 9 days is bad... m'kay.

Then my internet was out because of my own hardware issues.  Just had to use my phone of the wife's tablet when she wasn't using it.

So after all of that, I am hoping to resume.  And gosh, quite a bit has happened... or has it?  Something something names change something something stay the same, something something complete

I have got to say ever since NYU took over a bunch of facilities around here, the medicine waitresses have gotten a lot better.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Cheeto In Chief and You; How the FCC is about to change your media consumption for the worse.

Making America great again, because having 6 channels on your black & white Zenith was just oh-so much the bestest!

You might have read that (do people read this?) and thought well tell us something we don't know.  Fine, as Billy Mays said maybe once, but wait there's more!  The FCC is a massive entity.  They do everything from regulate broadcast content, to ensure your new stupid 4G whatever doesn't end up jamming ambulance radios.  Their budget is larger than the GDP of quite a few countries (no not just Bhutan) and they can bring it to bear (more or less) however they feel like for whatever reason.  Recently the FCC has past new regulations which have deregulated the need for any major broadcaster to maintain a studio within a reasonable distance of a local community it serves.  Major broadcasters are going to love being able to shut down expensive local affiliates while making the same amount of revenue by just keeping the tower and having one guy to stick in the carts for the local adverts that will run during a canned news show filmed somewhere in the state with the least regulations, or just reruns of Seinfeld.

Or this.

Now it may just seem that this just means something like say goodbye to your local news team (you can bet your ass that's gonna happen if you're some small town resident), but there is going to be more to it than that.  To get the regular stuff out of the way, people will lose their jobs, and all of a sudden, second-hand studio equipment is going to become really cheap for a while.  That degree in journalism or audio engineering is going to become about as valuable as one in post-modern feminist abstract art theory, and all of a sudden studio buildings will become either parking lots or snapped up by colleges to teach degrees in that now-useless degree I just mentioned.

You are probably thinking; well so the fuck what, I watch all the things I want to on streaming service whatever, Crunchyroll, I have Youtube channels I like, and I am still torrenting stuff even though it devalues the license and you're a horrible person for doing it.  Lulz.  But you need a bit of some harsh reality.

You ever watch Green Room?  There is a scene in there where one of the bad guys explains the difference between a bullet and a cartridge.  See, a cartridge is the whole thing that you put in the firing chamber of a gun.  It consists of a casing, containing the propellant (AKA gunpowder), with a firing cap at one end and the actual bullet on the other.  It is the bullet that is launched out of the gun at dangerous speeds, but without all that other stuff, as well as the gears and springs of the gun itself, it is just a little hunk of more or less useless metal.

The worst part, is that I pretty much look like this guy (minus tattoos ...needles... ick!) but women still cross the street to get away from me and call me a creep when I volunteer for Community Board 6 in order to get petition signatures for more traffic lights and better traffic safety enforcement in my neighborhood because there are 2 schools right here and cars and trucks drive way too fast past them. Vision Zero.

See ok, the same thing is going on in this situation.   This is just the cartridge or even just the shell part of what the FCC is doing.  There is more than just the deregulation of local stations going on here.  The result of this will be that cord-cutting will become more prevalent.  We all know it is going to increase rather than decrease.  So you are not worried.  Well you should be, because here comes part two:

Listen, and understand. Th FCC is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop... ever, until Net Neutrality is dead!

 Another clip!

But with the end of Net Neutrality, how easy do you think it is going to be to stream a Cronchyroll title vs something like HBO?  If you aren't worried, then congratulations on turning 14, I am sure you will have at least 8 years of a great life before the horrible downward spiral of the world comes and takes that away from you.   But in actual real reality of actual actuality, with the lack of localized options, (yes the local stations are antiques but lets not forget the Supreme Court can't tell the difference between an iPhone 6 and a beeper so they think they are totally relevant) it will   make the end of Net Neutrality to the right parties. Carriers, Telecoms, and now Content Conglomerates.  They have "lobbies" (AKA Bribe-Jawas Bribe-Jawas ...someone tell me I am the first person to come up with that one) anyway, they will tip the scale in the US Congress like they always do.  It will happen slowly and quietly.  And one day you will say "remember when such and such youtube channel came in just as good as the Disney Streaming Channel?"    Then maybe ...maybe you will remember that I mentioned this 6 years ago.

 Yeah, that is about how it is gonna go.  

If you are a Weird Al fan, you might know about a movie called UHF that he made. And I think it at this point strangely and inadvertently prophetic. These studios can become epicenters of... rent-able creativity.  Everyone creative can create, but an artist can't paint without an easel.  A sculptor can't sculpt without a table.  A musician can not compose without air.  These studios can become a facilitation for local creativity, eliminating the need to move to LA or New York (please stop moving to Brooklyn, I already charge you people $2400 a month for the bunch of 1 BR apartments I have, but I am getting so sick of you transplants).  You will be able to be content creators in local municipalities or just towns or even less.  But it can reach a global audience only if Net Neutrality is preserved.  The FCC and their Corporate Partners are counting on that being able to be legally abolished.  They will try anything to make that happen.  You just have to write a letter with a stamp on it and stick it in the mail box (you know, those blue things that you pass 100 of while you walk around all day...)  Just make sure they know that if they kill Net Neutrality, it will cost them votes. 

Ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.   You know that.

Monday, October 16, 2017

There's No Business Like Show Business, Unfortunately; #MeToo

Well this is something.

First let me say that I was never sexually harassed while working at any entertainment or licensing company.  Where I was sexually harassed was when I worked at a beverage company (juices and soft-drinks) when I was the only male worker in the entire accounting department, and was walking down the hall when one of the other workers (she was Jamaican and the rest were all from DR) was twerking right there and as I walked by the other girls stopped me and asked "isn't that a nice ass?  Here get some!" and grabbed my hand and put it right on there with the bouncy bounce not skipping a beat.  Keep in mind I am at least 10 years older than anyone else there and was clearly wearing a wedding ring, but noooooooooo they did not give a shit and slammed my hand on that ass. And I am not talking about the outer round part, they shoved my hand right in that lil jon to-the-window-to-the-wall, kill zone.  ...her vajayjay if you couldn't tell.   I was told by the head of the department to "lighten up"  ...Imagine the opposite, some dudes are in a hall and grab the hand of the only woman in the department and put it on some guy's dick?  That's a lawsuit if you're lucky, but for me... it was "lighten up."  I quit a little bit later over their illegal accounting practices.  All I can say is ...don't buy any Tropical Fantasy drinks.

It's a thing

But I am not here to talk about my own experiences like that today.  What I am here to talk about is Harvey Weinstein.  It is shameful and disgusting that it took so long to have this slime-mold in a human shaped condom held accountable for what he has done.  The Weinstein once had a company called Dragon Dynasty, which was in the same business as Crash Cinema; martial arts movies for home media and other streaming outlets.  I was once in the same room as that guy at a reception and then again at a somehow different reception later in the year but it was pretty much exactly the same.  I did not rank high enough in the scheme of things to be allowed to talk to him (it was made explicitly clear by his handlers) but I was very close in proximity and I can tell you that the creep-factor was at about 1000% with this guy.  The only reason I stayed was because there was an open bar with some top-shelf booze.

I was already depressed to the point of suicide so... might as well right?

The only problem is, this reminds me of my old boss.  Scott C Mauriello, former Managing Director of Crash Media Group, Crash Cinema, or Anime Crash, whatever you want to call that mess.  And no, he was not actually co-owner, he didn't own even 1% of Crash Media Group despite what he would say in some sort of Trump-ish grandiose bellowing.  First and foremost, he seemed to be illiterate.  You would give him a memo and then 2 hours later he would act as if he never saw the thing but tell you to your face he read it in detail.  Secondly, he is an audacious liar.  He kept telling everyone that his "Japanese Girlfriend" killed herself back in Osaka or something, but she is in fact very much alive and well and part of a jazz band that plays regularly at the Chelsea Piers.  And finally, he is a walking boner with no self-control.  He once actually started having sex with the 16 year old who worked at Copy Center 2 doors down from Anime Crash, and just taking money out of the register randomly to pay for their dates.  ...uuuugg.  

Not a photo of Scott C Mauriello, but... you get the idea

He would relentlessly hit on any woman who had less than a 34" waist  and visible tits regardless to if it was reciprocated or not.  We had so many potential licensing deals and other projects ruined because he would just not stop coming on to women involved.  He would use tarot cards as some sort of intro to his shtick, and say ridiculous nonsense like  "you have an old soul" or something similar.  The biggest disaster was the almost-happened project that Crash had with DJ Honda.  His North American Manager was really ready to make a deal to do background music for martial arts montages (we had 300 titles it only makes sense to make cool music videos out of all the best parts of guys getting kicked in the face) but all that Scott Mauriello tried to do was get her in the sack.  Spoiler alert, the deal fell through and I spent hours on the phone with this poor woman telling me everything that the slimy jerk did to her.  On the plus side we traded recipes, I gave her my marinara one, and she taught me some cool Korean cooking tricks. And I did get to meet DJ Honda. There were plenty of other things he screwed up too, from the new mascot, to totally fucking up the casting for Geisters because he put girls he wanted to fuck in important roles.  (Hey baby, come back to my place and then I'll make you a star... of voice acting).

And everything was going just fine...

So anyway, I watched Scott C Mauriello act like Donald Trump without the money for 12 years and I didn't do shit about it.  I am thinking "hey ladies, you know when a skeeve is skeeving on you, so just tell them to shove off" but it often doesn't work that way does it?  I remember feeling trapped and helpless as the youngest person in the room, while all the other guys were busy making jokes about how some female employee's tits were awesome or some other female employee (who had the highest sales record for that year) was an ugly dog and how they should get rid of her because the office needs more "eye candy" or some shit.  Sipping their Grey Goose pear flavored martinis and all hyuckle bucking about things that belong in the stone age and hardee har har.   I sat there, silently.    I couldn't have changed their minds but I could have at least thrown a wrench in the gears.  I didn't.  I knew what was happening.  And I did nothing but let it happen for fear of losing my job.  Unemployed in New York City is a terrifying prospect.  I currently only have 4 clients but if I lose even one I am going to start to worry.  And that is how it continues to happen.  The oppressed are oppressed, and the good people do nothing for fear of becoming the former.  ...12 years.

Speak out.  Even if it is anonymously, speak out so that the strength of others may be your shield.

Please send all hard-liquor donations to:
Pinky Mixology


Oh and Zenger standard applies so ...fuck off.

Monday, October 9, 2017

It's a Trap! Philips 4K TVs allure but disappoint. In brief: Avoid

Why the Philips 4K TV is a Ford Pinto in Ferrari Clothing.

The modern TV.  It's that and a whole lot more... well it should be.  When people hear "Smart TV" they associate it with a generally understood number of set features, but in reality, there is no such set list.  I could add a quad-core to a set and give it some random OS that I made which basically does nothing but provide you access to pornhub and vine, and call it "smart" with no problem.  What the Philips series does is call a dumb TV smart with the Google Chromcast series.  This is a result of their lack of any on-screen menu/interface for streaming apps. Looking through commonly used apps like Netflix, Crunchyroll, or even something like iHeartRadio, is impossible to do on the TV itself.  It requires a separate wireless device which you then use to "cast" the individual program you selected to the TV itself which will simply begin playing it.  Your expensive tablet is now a glorified TV remote.  They also don't even work with Amazon Prime.  I am sure it's because Google TV or Youtube Red or whatever they are gonna call it, sees Amazon as a direct competitor.

This is like if Chevy only made their cars derivable if you were also wearing Chevy-brand shoes with the RFID pedal activator embedded in the shoe-sole as well.  It is an extra unnecessary step that no one wants to deal with.   Every other "smart" TV can have something "cast" to it, but the other option is to use the on-screen menu, which everyone is not only accustomed to, but also expects.  This is like Chevy selling a car with no steering wheel and simply telling drivers to use their new Chevy pedal activation shoes to steer with by pointing your toes in the direction they want to go in.  Customers bought a car, they are expecting a steering wheel.  Philips has decided you don't, and you're not going to get one.

The technical specs next to the price tag are the siren song they sing.  With more than your standard HDMI ports and some great resolution they are indeed utilitarian and impressive, but even these are not as impressive as they could be.  No localized-dimming, speakers that could be better, and a remote that like it was designed by Jackson Pollock Jr, son of Roy Lichtenstein.  All in all, if you don't know what you're in for, you'll see the price tag (which makes a Vizio look like Bentley next to a Kia), ad think something like:

Well don't be fooled, I am here to let you know that after you get this home and start it up, you are going to start regretting buying it and thinking; "Should I haul out my old PS3 so I can at least get an onscreen menu so it's easier to watch The Orville on Hulu while I am lying on my couch and my tablet is way over on the other side of the room?"   The answer will be yes and you will be annoyed.  Google seems to not have learned from the mistakes of Apple, and it's probably because they think they are so much better than they are.  The proprietary technology and software Apple has famously alienated itself with, will be the proprietary consumer behaviors and end-user activities will eventually create a significant reverse-value-ratio to make Samsung or even SONY products look attractive again.

 This was not good news.

This review is mostly based on the Philips PFL5922 series, but looking at others in the showroom were pretty much the same.  Don't you hate it when you get "gifts" of things you want but the exact type of said thing is something you'd never want... like when you were growing up and you wanted an NES so you could play it and talk about it with your friends and then one day there's a wrapped up box at home, you get all excited, and it's a ColecoVision.  You know you can't be mad, but at the same time you know you're gonna use it once and then just ...not anymore.

Then like with the flat-lining of Google Plus (no small part in the straight up resentment it caused with it's unexpected anal-fisting into Youtube), this will likely make these Philips turds so unattractive that the office of whoever thought making Google Cast the only way to go is going to be in there thinking long and hard...

The just won't know what went wrong...

So to summarize, don't buy this.