Shout out to our sponsor and what it actually means

Did you know that the opening line of so many YouTube clips lately, the “Shout out to our sponsor” line, actually means “This is a commercial break, not part of the show, not what you clicked on this video for, and you are being sold something right now even if you have no interest in being sold anything, because we say so”?

Well, that’s exactly what it means.

Tell me something… The whole world is one big billboard now, isn’t it?

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Should Trump receive royalties for the jokes made about him?

Have you heard this one: “Trump goes to Saudi Arabia…”? It’s like the modern day equivalent of “Guy goes to the doctor.” Well, almost. I do not watch much American TV, but what I’ve seen recently of the comedy shows–not only politically-oriented ones or news shows but just comedic in general–is that US president Donald Trump is finally the celebrity he’s always wanted to become, I guess. All these guys, from Stephen Colbert to Jimmy Fallon to Jimmy Kimmel and probably many other Jimmies, are talking about him day in and day out. He is making their day. Literally whatever he does, anything he does, he makes their day. They have their work cut out for them.

It’s as if Trump has inadvertently established a new genre of comedy by just being Trump. It’s the most passive act of creation I can think of and probably the most he’s ever done or will do for human culture as such. I can’t even remember what these guys did when there was no Trump to talk about. Well, there once was G.W. Bush, but then Obama came and I don’t remember things being this funny. This is not to say that they were better, only that they were not this ridiculous, at least not in a way susceptible to comedic engagement.

Things are difficult in America. It’s not the global tyrant it once was. American capital, now that’s a different story. But the state itself… maybe not that much any more, unless there’s corporate money at stake. Which, I guess, is almost always, so forget about it. In any case, and back to the topic at hand, would it be wholly unfair for Trump to demand royalties for the jokes made about him? I mean, these jokes all make money by attracting viewers and so also advertisers. Donald Trump’s mishaps are a valuable resource to the American and global public sphere. If I were host Stephen Colbert, I would have voted for Trump for professional convenience. Not to be all cynical about it, but that is a pretty valid reason, pragmatically speaking.

So, I guess in an age where the corporations are trying to privatize anything and everything they can, you should not be surprised to see this question of royalties be posed in a much more serious context than this, and by people wearing expensive suits. Next on the privatization check-list–one of them will announce–water and Trump jokes.

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CD Projekt Red and Zenimax on Trademarking Bonanza

Yeah. Such is the world. Polish video game company CD Projekt Red has trademarked the genre name cyberpunk in the EU and is seeking to do the same in the US as they develop their next game under the title Cyberpunk 2077. They didn’t even come up with the term. It would still be a shit move even if they had. Ironically enough, totally un-punk, too.

At the same time it is quite essentially cyberpunk. As in, there’s always this evil corporation that hoards property and privatizes anything it can in cyberpunk works, isn’t there? And in this case guess who that is? I wanted to say I don’t understand. But I’m not surprised at all. CD Projekt Red have the resources to make more money and they obviously use them to that end. And we consumers accept that and keep purchasing their products.

This is similar to what more recently happened with Prey, Arkane’s (well, Bethesda’s. But really Zenimax’s) new game. We are talking about a high-profile corporate release with Prey. And so, when the time drew near to publishing Prey, the corporate masters behind the game took to attacking Prey for the Gods, an upcoming indie title, for using the word prey in the name of the game. It’s a different game, a different genre, but it’s still a video game and I guess it’s still entertainment and that’s similarity enough. Again, this is a case of major corporate players, mega corporations even, protecting their profits by attempting to privatize assets from within the public domain, which is itself corporate lingo for just words. They are trying to privatize words now, whether through trademarking of copyrighting or what have you.

I know what that is about and it makes sense within the logic of corporate life. It’s about money and profits and branding and the public perception of all those. They want people to think about their product when they think “Prey.” Their product and nobody else’s. And so the relatively makers of Prey for the Gods were put before the alternatives of either 1) fighting (and probably losing) an enormously costly battle against an army of corporate lawyers; or 2) budging and changing their game’s name. When threatened with legal action, they opted to the change the name and now Prey for the Gods is Pray for the Gods. Smart, if also obvious and sad.

It’s not even about respecting their particular product, though. Even the game Prey from Arkane studios is just a means here to building up a franchise, creating a shortcut between word and profit. I guess as video game fans there’s more and more unpleasant facts about where the world is going that we are faced with accepting.

Or rejecting. Because how far CD Projekt Red and Zenimax and the others are willing to take this is fairly clear: they’re willing to take things as far as necessary–as far as possible–to make the bottom line and beyond. The question is how far the little guys are willing to swallow in order to have our entertainment in this day and age. Entertainment which is undoubtedly fun to many, but that also arrives with some undeniable and increasing ugliness.

Sometimes when seeking entertainment the last thing consumers want to do is think. It’s a shame but it’s also understandable, predictable, and something the rich and powerful have always counted on dearly. But for those wishing to know where their entertainment is coming from and what world it is a part of, this should prove worrying.

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You remember shit as better than it actually was when it happened. It might be pleasant but it is not good. Means you got shitty memory.

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I have considered this carefully recently and concluded beyond all doubt that this is not a world in which I can afford not to fucking cuss.



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Thoughts on INSIDE’s alternative ending and design

thumb-1920-714362.jpgWhat Playdead’s INSIDE is about is open to interpretation. One of the things I think it is about is the drive toward totalitarian control (of individual beings and groups and classes and even of life itself as a biological phenomenon). Without uttering a word INSIDE gets at the most despicable trends in advanced civilization. An ambitious and successful undertaking. Playdead offer not only an evocative but also plausible depiction. You can easily imagine this stuff happening soon enough if you put your mind to it. Continue reading

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Trees in space

Please state what you see in the photograph, asks a man in a white robe..

Trees, I say, peering into the dark of their shapes against the snow on the ground.

Very well, shape recognition, check, they reply. We are pleased to inform you you can become an astronaut.

Funny, I say to myself, I thought there were no trees in space.


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