Friday, February 19, 2016

MIXED BAG BLOG #12: "STAR WARS" FANDOM, TV'S MUSICALS REVIVING THE TELEPLAY, and FAIR USE YOUTUBE DEBATE, FROM A GOOGLE BLOGGERS, BLOGGER'S PERSPECTIVE

As of the moment that I'm writing the original draft of this introductory paragraph, listening to a classic rock radio station, alongside a wood-burning fireplace while writing with a pen and notepad, at, eh, ten, eleven, 12 o'clock at night or so. Why? 'Cause on top of not having a decent computer to work on, I currently don't have electricity at my house.

(Pause, angry frustration-filled growl)

Let's just say that...- well, I've never really fully understood the stereotype about writers drinking a lot, but yeah, at this moment, if I had alcohol, I'd be drinking it. (BTW, if ever I suddenly move across country to sleep on a lesbian couples' couch, um, remember this moment, 'cause yeah, it'll have something to do with this sudden move) Well, to say the least, my personal professional setbacks have been particularly annoying for me for many, (Deep growling breath) many, reasons not the least of which is that it's caused me to be unable to blog as often as I'd prefer to, and therefore, I've missed a few recent events that I wanted to discuss so... when there isn't anything going that worthy of an entire blogpost, (Or in this case, I was unable to post on it at the original time I wanted to) once in a while we do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where instead of a more in-depth analysis on a single subject, we simply touch lightly on a few different subjects that are percolating the modern entertainment world and news and we're gonna do one of those today, enjoy.


"STAR WARS": THE PHENOMENON PART 7: STILL NOT GETTING IT. 




Yeah, not a fan of "Star Wars". That shouldn't be a surprise any of my readers, when you consider that I wrote that long blog about how I was "Not a Fan" of anything, remember? This blog below:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2015/05/i-am-not-fan-there-i-said-it-and-im-not.html

Yeah, I wasn't kidding, with that blog. Being a fan is horrible,there's literally nothing good about it, opinions based on fans are worthless, blah, blah, blah. But what about "Star Wars"? Well, I haven't seen this latest film yet, or two of the prequels, because, "Star Wars" wasn't relevant, and it still isn't btw, but we'll get to that, but the movies themselves, yeah, they're pretty good. I don't consider them great, or something that's worth creating a $4 billion dollar franchise with, but yeah, they're good. Hell, I'd argue that "The Empire Strikes Back" is a great film. I even liked "The Phantom Menace", again, I haven't seen the other prequels, I'm trying to catch up with them now, as I am the "Jurassic Park" sequels, which apparently I was supposed to have watched, and the "Mission: Impossible" sequels, which I naturally skipped until suddenly the 4th one was so good, and now, apparently "Zoolander" is a great comedy, what-the-hell, everybody, why is everything that seemed easily dismissive suddenly essential!?!-, Ah, sorry, it's just annoying. Thank god I did happen to catch the "Mad Max" movies before "Fury Road'. Anyway, yeah, I don't think it was great, "The Phantom Menace", but I gave it 3 STARS, you can read the review at the link below:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2014/12/movie-reviews-99-square-noah-monuments.html

And, no, I didn't get Jar Jar, he's horrible, but it's still a decent story and the effects we're pretty good, especially for the time. I still, don't quite get the fandom on the audience's side. I mean, I guess it was, unique for the time, and it was well-done, but...- I don't know, I don't get the obsession. I mean, the film itself is mostly a retread of Buck Rogers-era serial space opera, the effects we're done before in "2001: A Space Odyssey," although Lucas does expand upon them. It wasn't the first blockbuster, that was "Jaws", I guess now, it's a long-running franchise with continuously evolving characters, but at the time, it wasn't, I don't see how this thing made people so obsessed with "Star Wars" that they'd buy toy boxes with IOU cards in them, because the demand was so high, they couldn't actually make all the toys quick enough for them to stay on the shelf. (That's true btw). Then again, however, I don't quite understand it from George Lucas's perspective either, the fandom.

I mean, maybe it's me, has "Star Wars" ever come off as a children's film? A battle of political rebels and an evil empire, this...-, what? That's-, I mean, older kids, okay, but I've always kinda got the feeling that Lucas created "Star Wars", thinking this was always a product for kids, like young kids, and he's certainly marketed the product like they're Happy Meal toys over the years. (Hell, they probably were Happy Meal toys at some point) just shoving the product on and into everywhere. But, if you actually watch "Star Wars", you don't really get that feeling, like, at all. I think that's actually the real reason why there was such a backlash to Jar Jar Binks in "The Phantom Menace", not only is he a new original and yes groundbreaking character, but he was a children's character, like for toddlers. He was, essentially SuperGrover. (Or SuperGrover 2.0 for those watching "Sesame Street" now) and it's just a sharp contrast to the more adult themes of the movies. Religion, politics, corruption, heroism, etc.

I mean, I asked around to people older than me, and yeah, they always saw "Star Wars" as a kids product too, which confused me. I guess boys like sci-fi, or are supposed to, but...- (Shrugs) sorry, I just never obliges to trends like that. But, it does seem weird though, this story about death star being blown up, is also the franchise that spawns Ewoks cartoon, right? Well, I guess if I was George Lucas, who grew up seeing old double-features at the movies where you saw those old serials between movies, along with the cartoons and the newsreels, and whatnot, and grew up in the Golden Age of comic books and whatnot, then, I guess it makes sense, but, I don't know, this just doesn't come off as a children's product to me. I mean, I can't stand "LOTR" because the movies and the book were just terrible pieces of art, but I think what really confuses me about the "Star Wars" fandom, not only the fans perspective, but Lucas's perspective on the material itself is just strange and outdated. There's dozens of reasons why modern childrens' programming, film and television is how it is now, but I always thought it was just a little strange that not only is that this was essentially created originally almost as Lucas's response to Mickey Mouse, it basically always was thought of as a mass-marketed product to be exploited and sold to the consumer in every form possible. That's probably what makes me a little reluctant to ever embrace "Star Wars" wholeheartedly.


THE TELEVISION MUSICAL EVENT: A RETURN TO THE PAST, OR WHY MARIO LOPEZ WAS JUSTIFIED IN BLOCKING ME ON TWITTER




When I did my ballot for Geekcastradio.com's recent 100 Greatest TV Shows poll recently, "Which, you can look up by clicking on the Top Tens Tab at the top of the page) I was mostly happy with it, but I must confess there was one television genre, that I really feel a little saddened that I didn't find one spot for. (No, "Game of Thrones" fans, it wasn't fantasy; I did not forget to put it on there, it wasn't Top 100 worthy) No, actually, the genre is the Teleplay.


Yeah, that's a word that people don't really use much anymore, but in the 1950s this was actually a major television genre, and it makes sense when you think about it. Television was looking for programming in it's earliest days, so something that would be most easy to air, especially air live, would be something that's being performed, or staged, like a theatrical play. And when they figured out how to do that, the teleplay genre was born, which is what it sounds like, a television play. They're plays written for the television screen, usually about an hour or so long, and similar to the anthology genre, which the teleplay is technically apart of, like "The Twilight Zone", "The Outer Limits", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", I throw in "Love, American Style", each week, performers would stage a new play on live television. Often it was an abbreviated version of a current play, but it was also a great outlet for young writers to break into the business and even still, some of the biggest names in the annals of television writers like William Rose, and most especially Paddy Chayefsky, began their careers writing these teleplays on shows like "Studio One" or "Playhouse 90" among others, there were actually dozens of them at one point. Unfortunately, as the art of television got more perfected, this genre basically died out, but I bring it up, because, with television ratings, especially network television ratings, dropping to miniscule numbers of what they were at least, they've brought this genre back.

Yeah, the modern run of the networks getting together some stars, preferably ones that are at least acting and singing threats, and possibly a few that can dance as well, they've made an interesting decision to bring back, essentially, the teleplay, by doing live television versions of some of the bigger broadway musicals. NBC, in probably desperation, did this first with "The Sound of Music Live!" and then followed it up with "Peter Pan" and "The Wiz", and now this little new subgenre of event TV is being adopted by the other networks with FOX doing "Grease Live" recently, and-eh...- the-eh, the second part of the title.

(Slight pause)

Okay, I wasn't able to watch "Grease" live, so I had to watch it on Hulu.com at the library the next day or so after, and, early in the show, and during the show, they showed a lot of the behind-the-scenes of the stage production, and many of these live looks, had Mario Lopez the anchor from "Extra" on the show, and he seemed to me, to just be doing his "Extra" reporting, which, I'm not a fan of. Some of you may know my blog where I panned all the entertainment "news" shows, with the exception of "TMZ" that time, well, I'm not a fan. So I was a bit annoyed, 'cause I just wanted to see "Grease", and I was getting "Extra". So, I tweeted about it:

 Feb 2

Why the hell is on "Grease Live"? Yeah, I know, I'm watching it on Hulu, missed it last night, but still, why is he here?

You can go on my Twitter btw at @DavidBaruffi_EV to see for yourself that, Mario Lopez saw that tweet, and blocked me. Yes, I've been blocked on Twitter by Slater from "Saved By the Bell". Which, itself, I was mostly bemused by. I mean, the fact that he even noticed me in his tweets, is a bit weird, and to some extent, I must admit to being flattered, but thought it was an overreaction on his part. It is, buuuuuut, it isn't unjustified. You see, if the thing is still on Hulu, or you watched the musical yourself, you can probably tell me whether I jumped to conclusions or missed an obvious sign, but Mario Lopez, it turned out, actually did have a good reason to be there; he was playing Johnny Fontaine, the host of the "American Bandstand" ripoff show in the musical. Which, actually makes sense, when you realize that the Johnyy Fontaine character in the stage musical of "Grease," acts as a narrator in the musical coming in and out of the musical and doesn't just show up at the dance, so it makes sense that Lopez would play the part and be somewhat in his "Extra" persona, and honestly, I always thought Lopez was a pretty good actor and it was actually really cool and great to see him acting again, so.... Yeah, I owe Mario Lopez a big apology. Really big one actually. He was completely justified in blocking me on Twitter, so Mr. Lopez, I'm Sorry I didn't realize you were playing Johnny Fontaine in the musical, I apologize. You were really good btw. 

Okay, now that that's out of the way, yes, the teleplay is coming back and I think it's a good thing. It's actually never gone away technically, PBS especially, mostly on their "Great Performances" show has often aired staged performance, usually musicals, although much of it is opera, they do also show Broadway performances among other works, (Including my favorite version of Cyrano De Bergerac") and there's been other places where we get filmed versions of theatrical productions on television as well as film. Network television, needs more immediate products that people will flock to the television for, and this is actually a great outlet for Event TV to return, and I'm grateful for the return of the teleplay, in any form in general. Especially musicals. I know the traditional thinking is, with film, we can go outside and expand upon the worlds of the stage and not be inside those three walls, but honestly, I like seeing plays on film that resemble as closely as possible, the feeling of thes stage production. You know, there is some good theater where I am in Las Vegas, but most of us don't go to the theater regularly, especially not the Broadway theater, so for many in the country, myself included, this is often the closest we ever get to seeing theater outside of the Tony Awards on TV. I hope this new trend on network television brings the teleplay a permanent return to television, as well as anything that actually makes people turn on the television when a show is on and not simply let them turn on the computer the day after in order to watch something.

YOUTUBE AND FAIR USE, but most MY OWN ISSUES WITH GOOGLE


Well, this blew up quickly. Alright, I'm sure most of you have probably already seen the latest Nostalgia Critic editorial on Fair Use and the fight Youtube Creators have been having with Youtube and with Hollywood Complaintants. If you want an overview, watch Nostalgia Critic's video above, especially since I'm not really the most knowledgeable in regards to Fair Use Laws, and I don't really have a confirmed stance on the law side of this, but I can talk about the Google side of this. You see, Google, not only owns Youtube, they also own, Blogger, which is the site that I run this blog on. Mostly, it's fine. It's a free blog, there's usually enough things on the sight to help me post my blogs and whatnots, so I don't normally talk about them, but those parts about the internet reviewers talking about getting absolutely no response from Youtube, yeah, Blogger's the same way.

I don't know what they're doing with this, but when I have had issues with this blog, whether it be say, I get a Malware warning on my blog that I have to appeal to block, or even just minor things with the design, or my own homepage, just asking a question or appealing for anything is a pain. When there is a sudden issue, they don't have, even a part-time person on staff or chat to ask questions to for issues about Blogger. In fact, they actually have a place, where you post a question on a board, for blogger users to answer for them and respond. Yeah, we're supposed to be able to answer questions for other bloggers, in case they ever get the same problems that we have with Blogger. And btw, when you go to these message boards, if there's ever a response to anything posted, the answer's usually goes something along the lines of "I had that problem before, now I don't, I don't know what happened or why I don't anymore, it just went away. Never knew or understood why it did that."

Yeah, they need something, to let us know that, they're at least there if we need them for something at Blogger, and yeah, I don't have to fight too many Fair Use claims, certainly not as many as the Youtubers go through, and I have the same experience as they have from Blogger as they do from Youtube, nothing and if nothing else, just this feeling that nobody at Google is there to sort through and help out for problems that may occur. Look, I have no legitimate idea what's gonna happen with the Fair Use claims or how this is gonna go down, (And btw, I've been hearing Youtubers like Lady Jess constantly talking about these issues now for months, this is by no means new and not something that's being discussed only because Doug Walker's bringing it up) I will say this though, I'm pretty positive that whatever the results of this, it might not have gotten this far, or this out-of-control, if somebody at Google was actually on-hand and there, and not just a machine printing out responses. Look, I'm not against automation by any means, but something, somebody needs to be there and be able to respond when these claims are made, and really, it's so automated over there,...-, look I don't even use the fair use act much, except for occasionally quoting something, but I get frustrated, just when trying to get a simple response for a much more minor issue with Google. I'm okay with fair use people and even those who make claims when they think that they're work is being stolen, but, this is what happens when there isn't more oversight, on the part of the people running the website. (And let's not forget that since Blip was shut down, there's a lot more channels using Youtube at the moment.)

In other words, however long it takes before Fair Use is enacted or however many court cases, legitimate and illegitimate that come about from claims of piracy and whatnot, Google, you're gonna have to be more on-hand to oversee all this, and there's no real reason you shouldn't be. You're fucking Google; it's not like you can't afford to have more people on-hand to do this. Either fire whoever is supposed to be overseeing this, or get people who actually are overseeing Blogger and Youtube and all your other companies.
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