Posts Tagged ‘Rants’

7
Sep

Is Comedy The Bastard Child of Entertainment?

   Posted by: Scott Lovegrove    in Comedy, Opinion

“They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now.”
Bob Monkhouse

Whether or not you found that joke funny (for the record, it is), the actual setup to the joke is something that is so true when you look at the various forms of entertainment. If a child says they want to be a singer, no-one really bats and eyelid, but say you want to be a comedian, and people look at you as though you must be some kind of scumbag. A comedian? Couldn’t you be a chimney sweeper instead?

This kind of reaction is made doubly interesting when you consider just how emotive comedy is to the listener. If you watch a TV drama and you don’t like the performance, you might just think “I didn’t really like that show/performance,” but if it’s a comedian you don’t like, this brings in a whole other range of emotions. You’ll question how they even make a living when they’re “such a shit comedian”. The subjectivity of comedy is immense, and if a comedian doesn’t tickle your fancy, then woe betide them.

Rich Hall sums it up when he says people used to ask him “how did you end up being a comedian?” “End up?” he would retort, “you make it sound like I made a bad decision, a wrong turn.” And that’s what people think: you do comedy because you screwed your life up somewhere. Forget the fact that making people laugh is one of the hardest things you can do (trust me, I’ve tried it!), that doesn’t matter because you have clearly messed your life up. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking about comedy, something which a lot of people rely on to cheer their days up.

But this doesn’t just apply to the stand-up section of comedy, it also applies to the big screen. In 2009, The Hangover took over $270m at the box office, beating films like Star Trek1; it was the highest grossing R-rated (18 rated) comedy film; it had a 78% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (which means 78% of online critics liked it); it got 73% on metacritic (Inception only got 74%!). All of these are all pretty impressive, it did well at the box office, and the critics generally like it. So it got nominated for an Oscar, right? Wrong, of course it didn’t; the academy can’t be having a film that made you laugh in its Best Picture nominations. One of the nominations this year, The Blind Side, was actually rated worse on both metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes when compared to The Hangover.

It’s not like this was an isolated incident, either. In 2005, The Wedding Crashers had similar success to The Hangover, taking $205m at the box office, and 75% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The nominated films for Best Picture at the Oscars that year were, Million Dollar Baby (91%), The Aviator (88%), Finding Neverland (82%), Ray (81%), and Sideways (81%). And you’ll find this all throughout the history of the Oscars (Ghostbusters anyone?2).

So why is comedy always shunned like this? Is it snobbery? It could very well be, and it would go back to the medieval times when you had court jesters who were seen as one of the lowest of the low jobs you could have. For some reason, whether we’re aware of it or not, this kind of mentality, this snobbery, has stuck in society. It might not be as prominent as it was all those centuries ago, but you can still see it and it’s a shame.

Making a whole audience laugh is hard. It really is. Whether it’s a comedian up on stage, or movie goers in a cinema, it’s hard. Just remember, if you go to see a “chick flick” and it doesn’t make you cry, you don’t think ‘that film was rubbish,’ but if you go to a comedy and it doesn’t make you laugh, you will think ‘that film was rubbish.’ So when you do walk out of a gig/film that really made you laugh, just remember how much work was put into making you laugh.

SL

1. You might try and discredit that source as it lists Avatar as having only taken $209m, do please remember that this is for 2009 and Avatar took a lot of its taking in 2010.

2. Ghostbusters did actually get nominated for 2 Oscars in 1985, but they were for visual effects and Ray Parker Jr’s legendary Ghostbusters song. It didn’t win either. But it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. Extra trivia: Ghostbusters got a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 1985’s Best Picture, Out of Africa got just 63%!

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8
Jun

Some thoughts on the new 7650 (I mean iPhone 4)

   Posted by: Scott Lovegrove    in Apple, iPhone, Rants

nokia7650[1]So yesterday, the first phone to ever have video calling was re-released to huge fanfare. For me, it was a great decision by Nokia to rebrand the Nokia 7650 and allow a 3rd party company to handle the presentation and advertising. The new 7650, or iPhone 4 as it’s now known, offers a multitude of new features, or rather a serious upgrade of the existing features it had when it first came out, so things like video calling and multitasking have been improved upon from what was in the original model when it came out in 2003.

Before I go too far into this, I would like to say, I think, and always have thought, the iPhone was a nice device, they always have been. My problem has always been the ecosystem, the constant fawning and all the bullshit that comes out of Apple’s marketing system. Plus, the one thing that would tempt me to get an iPhone, well, there’s actually not an app for that, go figure.

In this post, I really want to concentrate on one particular area of bullshit from the Apple marketing department that people are already lapping up more greedily than a porn star at the end of her scene. FaceTime. Video calling. Skype. Whatever you want to really call this new feature, it’s still something that has been around for years and is nothing new or innovative, and yet everyone is treating this as a game changer.

So video calling can’t really be applied to this feature, since it can only be done over wifi at the moment, so this tends to lend itself more towards Skype than to actual video calling. This seems a little strange as Skype already has an iPhone/iTouch app, so it would be interesting to see what they think about this new feature. But here’s the major difference between Skype and FaceTime: Skype can be done to any device running Skype, whether that’s another mobile device or a PC of some description; FaceTime is iPhone4 to iPhone4 only. So they’ve taken quite a good idea (Skype) and poorly implemented it.

The other thing to take note of regarding the Skype/FaceTime thing, Skype is here now. You don’t even need some funky new iPhone on which to use it. It works. And, if you were feeling really peverse, would probably work on your 3G too, unlike FaceTime.

But this is where the Apple marketing bullshit comes in, and even (and I’m bracing myself for a world of comment abuse here) the Jobs bullshit comes in. At yesterday’s keynote, he said that “After growing up with TV shows like The Jetsons and Star Trek I have been dreaming about video calling, and it’s real now.” No, Steve, it’s been real for a while, perhaps you should have been awake a little more than you were dreaming and you would have seen that. It’s all bullshit.

iPhone 4 Design video. ©Apple

Further marketing bullshit can be seen in the above video, coming from, aptly enough, their Vice President of iPhone Product Marketing, Greg Joswiack (who sounds like the cheap imitation Wozniak). In the video, he says that with the iPhone 3Gs they “brought you such features as video recording” and that the iPhone4 is going to “change the world forever, again.” So with the first quote they’re basically saying “yeah, it took us to the third version of our phone to deliver a feature which pretty much every camera enabled phone could do” and with the second quote, fuck off. It’s not going to change the world again. For the most part, the big changes for the iPhone, as demoed yesterday, is the handset itself, there’s nothing that new on the platform to use for developers, unless you’re a mono or flash developer, in which case there’s nothing at all for you.

The iPhone4 is a nice new device, but let’s be honest and realistic here, it’s nothing revolutionary. It’s mostly just catching up with the current devices already on the market.

As an irritating side note, I was having a discussion about this with @jas and was saying about how FaceTime is just the same as Skype, only worse, and went to demonstrate it by installing Skype on my own phone (HTC HD2) with the intention of Skyping him with a video call, just to show that it’s already here without iPhone4. I was very frustrated, and quite angered to discover that Skype have pulled the Windows Phone version of their client for reasons that could have come straight out of Cupertino.

SL

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