Why so serious: PhD on Horribleness.

Well, for starters this post is outdated. It was supposed to be published sometime last, instead I’m concluding it right now. The week before the last was quite a remarkable week, at least entertainment wise.
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“Only have to sign your name, don’t even have to read it”

It’s hard for me to use “real world” references to set my views of the world, I read about them, I am concerned about them, but can’t really care for them. At the same time that I am glad that the US might actually be able to choose an intelligent leader to head their office this time around, I’m also weirdly giddy about how they’re freaking out about oil prices. Maybe it will finally actually contribute to some lacked level of environmental conscience. Our city office election race has finally really started, wished I cared more about it, since we’re forced to vote no matter what. But for such large city like Sao Paulo, it seems that it doesn’t matter who heads the office, for every real change, there’s like other dozen things that stays unaffected and are still as bad as before.

It must look like a blind man view, for using what’s mostly considered unnecessary world view to set my world references. Let’s not waste more time into this field.

It was a remarkable week, because we had the debut of the Whedon’s family creation “Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog” and it was the release of “The Dark Knight”, sequel for the renewed Batman movie franchise.

Was “The Dark Knight” really the most awaited movie of the year, as some reviews pointed? Really, I question that, in a year that we had a new Indiana Jones movie debuting after 20 years, it’s hard to see any movie more expected than Spielberg and Lucas new investment into that franchise.

I’m just trying to change the world”

Believe me or not, I went in to watch “The Dark Knight”, with very low expectations. “Batman Begins” was a great movie, but where it gained on style, structure and storytelling, compared from other recent attempts from Burton or Schumacher , I felt it lacked heart. It was so dry in this aspect, that a little bit of heart, even from Schumachers campiness would’ve helped. Just compare it with another great entry from this year, which was “Iron Man”, created from a big fan for other fans, and I’m not even a fan of the character, at it was filled with a lot of heart.

I’m a huge fan of Memento, which might be considered Chris Nolan first major project, it’s even listed in my all time top 10 favorite movies, but his following projects left me all somewhat underwhelmed. I remember being kind of excited, when it was first announced that he would be taking over the Batman franchise, but after watching I wasn’t so excited by the ending result, of “Batman Begins”. I felt that it was a structurally perfect Batman movie, but it lacked in heart, that it sort of felt empty, I’ve watched it once, and that was it.

“Because the status is not quo”

Then I really went into The Dark Knight, with only average expectations, I was expecting to see a good movie, but never expected to be amazed by it.  The trailers were okay, but not so much to build excitement for myself. And Amazed by it I was, so much that I even went to see it multiple times already.

I was overjoyed by the how good this movie was, It had all the heart lacking from the previous installment, but never over pouring like what happened to “Superman Returns”. It had a great script, great acting, great direction, that maybe another genre movie might be able to break into the major awards.  Into the subject awards, the most talked possibility might be a posthumous award for Heath Ledger, who simply steals every scene he’s in as the Joker, and we’re in a movie filled with great acting everywhere.  He showed why The Joker is the perfect antagonist for Batman. I don’t know if he’ll be receive any awards, but I really believe that he deserved to get recognized, at least through nominations, for his oustanding work in this movie. Jack Nicholson, is an amazing actor, but I was never a big fan of his take on the Joker, I’d rather go with Mark Hammil’s take on the character, in some of the animated productions.

The movie at the end was as much about Batman’s role as the “hero” of Gotham City, and also about The Joker and how he’s a force to be reckoned with.

It was especially interesting to watch the movie, in light of Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog. Seriously, try watching the movie, after having watched at least the first two acts of the Dr. Horrible, but especially if you’ve seen the whole musical. I was even joking with my friends, during one of the viewings, about how important a laugh is to the villain from the moment that Joker clams his first “evil” laugh.

Even more than NBC’s cheap investments towards online content through those webisodes they’ve been producing.  Dr. Horrible’s success, even in a lower scale does really show us the possibilities of this media, if tradionalists, are willing to really invest in it, using the same high production values as the most common quality productions. In short 42 minutes, we were able to care so much about the characters and their journey, the tragic ending, was even so dark to the point of disgusting some people. Not only that but producing exclusive content for new media is completely a possibility.

Just like Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmed for the role of Rachel Dawes from the first Nolan Batman movie, to the second, I remembered reading an interview with Gary Oldman, about whether they’d be able to return to the character of Joker in later movies, since Ledger passed away, he thinks it would be very possible to replace the character with another actor playing the role.  And I agree. And just for tying up the ties I wanted to point through thsi post, I’d like to consider who could be in my opinion a good actor to take over the role.

I think the signs are pointing to an interesting direction, and Neil Patrick Harris, has been showing us in several places, how talented he is, and I believe he would be an amazing actor to take over the role of The Joker, if the need arises for another appearance of the character in another Batman movie.

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Hoist the Colors… Part 3

I’d like to start this hopefully conclusion part of this really long topic post, by fowarding you to two articles that just arrived to me merely minutes ago through Twitter.

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom.

Elite Torrents admin Dove faces 10 years.

This is such a complicated matter, that you can’t completely blame the companies for wanting to protect their investments. Rights that laws from each country seek to protect.

Protection is an important word in this subject, US’ Copyright laws or Brazilian Authorship laws (as I’ve touched on before here)  were written to protect the owners and creators, creating obstacles for people with bad intentions. Problem is when those obstacles created for protection, become some big blinding wall or sluggish chains that will bind any tipe of flexibility.

A great part of interactivity possibilities that the internet allow nowadays, is that no one is really isolated anymore, despite sometimes social abilities developed through technological resources sometimes only applying to that certain environments, sharing became a requirement, even if sharing is for a selected number of people.

The thing is legally speaking, there are things you can share, and there are things you can’t share, the in between area between them is what make all things so blurry and gloomy. The p2p networks which is based on broaden the reach of lending something to a friend, into another level, have both bright and dark sides. Content providers, are investing on being active in new tech, but are weary on really distributing that content, creating mechanisms to limit its distribution. It’s frustrating as I pointed in part 1, when you can talk with everyone anywhere around the world, but you can’t get the same content through similar online resources, because the content provider won’t allow it. It bothers me that still audiences are treated by them as mostly receivers of content.

There has to be a new solution. Things have started to change, but not fast enough.  Some examples include initiatives toward creating immersive experiences, playing with public participation into fictional worlds. But still most of those proposals are limited by country boundaries, with limited interplay by audiences from any country in the world.

The Creative Commons project is a very interesting initiative that attempts to unify a license that can be used anywhere in the world, it never really stops you from also licensing your creation through specific protective channels in your native country, and it works is a lot of countries. Trouble is, sometimes create ambiguous situations, in which allowances provided by Creative Commons, are completely negated by local protective laws. Flipping it a bit protective devices provided by local law, become at some levels questionable.

A real middle ground has to be found. What sickens me is that instead of looking for a middle ground, we have people reaching exactly for the opposite road, such initiative include the Brazilian Senator Azeredo. Which is pretty much making what the New York judge just forced Google do for Viacom’s sakes, sound like small joke, since every such action will become the standard procedure in Brazil.  It simply chains up, an already quite narrow law structure, it almost takes us back to the times of military dictatorship, but instead of crazy military dudes playing gods, we’re just getting closer to a business run reality, in which BuyNLarge (have you seen Wall-e?) or Blue Sun type corporations with run the life of everyone in the world. Professor Sérgio Amadeu through his blog, has been doing a great coverage about this alarming issue. Even if you have to rely on translator to get the general idea, is worth checking it out.

A modern poet, once sang:

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Maybe there’s a small part of my soul is one of those pure anarchists, that thinks that chaos is necessary, despite my rational thrive for order.

Maybe, I’m such a dreamer, that someday chaos and order are at the end only one, and in such chaotic harmony, things will just be figured out freedom will really be guaranteed, but creation will also be protected.

Then, you start to question, what does it mean when companies start endorsing messages that stimulate actions for people fight against those same limited laws. That was the message I got from Pirates of the Caribeean, and for such reason I wanted to start this too long discussion, quoting one of the movies, with a line that sought exactly to expose this fight, this struggle. What does this mean?

Well, we’ll see as the story progress.

Hoist the Colors… Part 2

Won’t be providing the content I promised at the of yesterday’s post, instead I’ll do it tomorrow, and point to the same discussion elsewhere.

Basically, I’m switching the gears a bit here, I’d like to point the few readers here, to follow me to a certain Whedonesque thread, where important issues about this are being discussed. Well, at the end of the day I was going to tie everything up with the release of Dr. Horrible after all, so better early than late.

http://whedonesque.com/comments/16770

I think I might actually post a few more comments there, before coming back here. But, stick around for part 3, where I’ll attempt the distill a few more words in this really long discussion.

Hoist the Colors…

From the words of Elizabeth Swann from “PIrates of the Caribeen: At World’s End”: You will listen to me! LISTEN! The other ships will still be looking to us, to the Black Pearl, to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilgerats aboard a derelict ship? No, no they will see free men and freedom! And what the enemy will see, they will see the flash of our cannons, and they will hear the ringing of our swords, and they will know what we can do! By the sweat of our brow and the strength of our backs and the courage in our hearts! Gentlemen, hoist the colors!

I know, it’s hard to take someone seriously, when this someone is quoting a fictional character from Pirates of Caribeean, instead of some academic, with some text that says mostly the same thing. But, bare with me, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

How much did it bug you when, after reading some interesting post from a blogger about a very interesting subject, but then you find an embedded video from hulu.com that’s essential for the post setting, and you try to watch it, but end up bumping into the non-availability message.

hulu error

Let’s see what they tell us…

For now, Hulu is a U.S. service only. That said, our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide. This requires clearing the rights for each show or film in each specific geography and will take time. We’re encouraged by how many content providers have already been working along these lines so that their programs can be available over the Internet to a much larger, global audience. The Hulu team is committed to making great programming available across the globe.

I don’t blame Hulu for it, as they deal mostly with content provided from mainstream providers, it’s just some mind warping issue regarding legality, which I’ll try to assess today. I’m no law specialist, but I like to reflect on the amount of frustration. I won’t try to discuss ethical issues pertaining disrespecting the authors and creators of the content, as it will take another ten pages of endless discussion.  Won’t try even to start to consider online trolling, into the equations, as online social environment, is another long endless subject. I’ll stick to the corporate view.

The access to content environment has changed a lot in the recent years. The Youtube explosion is only the best example of a sucesss of the .flv protocol for video proliferation, as there are other hundreds of other websites (I’ve been using the download helper add-on for Firefox, and there’s even a ranking), that try to emulate it’s approach, or prefer to be explore specific types of videos focused towards a specific public. Despite rules against it, it’s not only about getting people access to original content created by the users, but also, allow people to get content otherwise unavailable, even when it means breaking the terms of use, by posting copyrighted material which was not created by the user. How many times have you caught yourself reminiscing about some childhood memories though a show or cartoon (or even only the opening), that someone did upload to one of these websites. A lot of times, the easy access to these tool, just provided easier outsource channels to grassroots movements that have existed for years.

Science Fiction and fantasy fans from all over the world, might be the ones most experienced into this field, as years ago was even harder to get content from the things you are fan of.  Fansub is a common word for Anime fans, as it is defined as an unofficial video tape release of an anime that has been subtitled to a western language by fans.  Technically illegal, it was born as a grassroot movement, in which fans weren’t getting the content from anywhere else, and found a way to do it themselves. Most experienced Fansubbers follow the strict rule, that they’d stop distributing a fansubbed production, whenever an official distributions arises. Profitting from it is illegal, but fans do try to compensate the hard work that’s put into it.

Nowadays, fansubbing can even be considered to be a much wider movement, with fans from around the world, translating and creating subtitles for movies and simply every tv show which is ripped daily. A simple google search can get you access to lastest bittorrent file for the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica, Lost or even Law & Order. Another simple search will get you to websites providing with the subtitles for the episodes, for those who are not native speakers, even then, sometimes people from the US, have trouble to understand slangs and quirks from british english.

Is any of this legal? Not at all.  Mainstream content providers face a major issue, in which they are simply uncapable of keeping up with the beat required on the web, as people around the world can get an episode a few minutes after it been shown for the first time in it official time slot.  Well, some international viewers might even get to watch something, before US viewers on pacific time zone. What happens to the market when country borders become a major obstacle. When official channels, still provide blocks to international viewers, to access the content, the only solution available is to seek for illegal sources, which and the end of the day, even friedlier, because they are for free.

What happens when internet is a major issue?Just like time has pretty much hurt news coverage, time is also an issue here. Fans (which are exactly the type of people who will and have the income to invest on what they enjoy) don’t want to wait another month or on worst case scenarios over two years to get content that’ll be discussed hours later in message boards around the globe. In such context, users try to treat each others as equals, even as people on more high end points of tech saviness attempt to include tech newbies. Problem is, from the market point of view, they’re not equal. How do you sell a show time slot to companies when the market share becomes a blurry concept. I expect another several long years for any possible initial agreement towards rights, monetization and how this will affect content distribution. It won’t be something that will be solved in a day or two.

(to be continued… tomorrow I’ll be back with more about why this “us against them” thing is what’s hurting the market, why change is needed, I’ll come in with my 2 cents about a polemic project from a old minded senator from Brazil, and try to conclude this long post on why the hell I quoted Pirates of the Caribeean on the first place).