I am a child of the 21st Century, I am also a Bathonian and in the greater scale of things, a Brit. I’d like to take a minute to discuss how those things effect me and essentially, just vent.
Firstly, the internet. It is obviously the most huge development in the first world in my lifetime. I myself have watched it grow from owning my first computer and using Limewire via AOL’s awful dial-up system to now, where I have access to everything I could ever want in seconds. And while that is certainly a startling improvement, I’m not convinced that the internet is being utilised to it’s fullest potential.
Obviously one of the biggest factors of it’s success is connectivity, people from across the globe can chat face-to-face at any time they wish to, for free and that’s fantastic. People can connect to each other as artists or consumers and give feedback, but as per the M.O. of ostensibly our whole race, we use it for evil. We are more divided than ever thanks to the internet.
Take to the comments section of any website and all you will find is people bickering and arguing, calling names and being immature. The option is there for us to provide useful feedback to each other, to help people improve their products for our enjoyment but Average Joe would rather surmise that “ur shit” as opposed to offering helpful commentary. Is this a problem inherent to us as a society or to the internet itself?
The same disparity after all can be seen in almost all aspects of the technology and pop-culture that are prominent in the modern world. Is it naive to consider a world where Samsung, Nokia, Apple and their ilk pool their resources in order to put out one product? Between the size and the personnel a company of that monolithic size would wield, they could build something truly revolutionary and put it out at a reasonable price. This is applicable to computers, tablets, cars, almost everything. If the Russians and the US not spent so long bickering about politics, could they not have compared notes and gotten use to the Moon that much sooner?
The film industry could also find great benefit from this sort of unity. I’ve been told from the moment I decided to pursue this career path that it’s “very competitive”. But why? Can we not all get along? Filmmaking is after all a collaborative art. This is one of our many ethos’s here at (Y), collaborative unity and voices for all. I love Hip-Hop but that is an industry almost entirely predicated on the slagging off of compatriots, beef, they call it.
The internet is also a very destructive force. I own a record player but the fact that I can easily download any album I wish and then access it instantly means it gets very little use. Our fast-food world has made it so that I am indeed so lazy that I find the occasional flipping of a record far too much effort. I’ve owned Moby Dick for almost a year now but I’m just over half way through it such is my dedication to blogs and easier, internet reading.
Something I spoken on many times before is the advent of streaming services, Love Film, Netflix, Blinkbox etc. Netflix is self aware in that it is making the concerted effort to use it’s existence to further the exploration of moving image narrative. Their new series of Arrested Development and it’s “watch in any order you like” experimental narrative may have been somewhat confusing and not entirely successful but it was both prototypical and inspired.
On a different level, YouTube has been around 2005 since and Vimeo since 2004, yet I’ve yet to see evidence of anyone using the constraints of these formats as positives or too use them as true alternatives for traditional distribution networks. With the current paradigm as elitist and costly as it is, you’d think someone would have wrangled these new-age platforms into more than just that, more than a platform but a new form.
Instead, we got the advent of vlogging, a self serving, artless institution at once obnoxious and ubiquitous. YouTube became a place where everyone could fling their lousy, thoughtless meanderings and their ill conceived rubbish and hope for zeitgeist fame. Andy Warhol once predicted that everyone would be world famous for 15 minutes, now, that is true more than ever but it is not a good thing. The spotlight has been pulled from under the feet of true practitioners of art. The appeal of something like The Tree of Life would have been marginal as it is but in a world where young people are coming up used to getting 3 minute snippets of comic ineptitude and fuzzily filmed videos of “lulzy” cats, what can we expect from these generations? Will attentions spans dwindle to the point that the cinema dies and films are no longer made? After all they cost millions and “charlie bit my finger” cost absolutely nothing to film bar the price of a phone. That has been viewed 620 million times. If each of those views cost just a penny, that would be a profit of £6,000,000.
So, in the technological sense, I am both awed and underwhelmed by the vast spreading hate and misuse of everything metallic and connectivity based. In the smaller, personal sense, I am just as dazed and conflicted. My hometown and my country are places I both feel proud to hail from and cannot wait to get out of.
Bath seems to me like an outlier, I see the UK as this deeply depressing grey wasteland. Industrial towers strike the skyline like the intro to Blade Runner and it never stops raining but Bath is by and large a nice place. We’ve got tidy architecture and a few decent shops and the population of lug heads is seemingly as low as you’ll find in most places. It’s dull but so am I, so it fits.
I’m not well travelled, but it seems to me that there are place that are colder, more industrial, more desolate and yet still are seemingly less oppressive than I find the UK. Maybe I’ve built it up in my head and that’s all it represents to me now, maybe I’ll get elsewhere and the grass won’t be greener. Maybe I’m being unfair to the country. No, the whole place is inherently, irrevocably unglamorous.
Think of our biggest cultural exports, we invented Heavy Metal. Black Sabbath, bored of their desolate, industrial lives took Blues and made it bluer. Film-wise? Our signature is the kitchen-sink drama. Eastenders, Little Britain, Coronation Street, JLS, JML, I’m A Celebrity, Brit culture seemingly comes in three flavours; miserable, quaint or gaudy. Even the films I like Trainspotting for example are stereotypically glum.
Our politicians are all horrible, shiny faced liars, silver spoon fed and ostensibly against progression. We have a monarchy for crying out loud. We are held up on our heritage but none of it was interesting or really, worth celebrating. A lot of snotty toffs paraded about in ridiculous garms, revelling in child labour and the oppression of the poor. Not much has changed I suppose, all I know is that I want out.
– Oliver Drew
- Tesco’s Blinkbox Duels Netflix and Amazon in the UK (mashable.com)
- ‘Breaking Bad’ spin-off ‘Better Call Saul’ will debut internationally on Netflix (theverge.com)