Category Archives: movies

Circling the wagons

I had not expected a follow through on yesterday’s thoughts, but here we are. It seems that there is a business dispute between UKTV and Virgin Media. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/22/four-million-virgin-media-customers-lose-uktv-channels-dave) gives us: “after Virgin sought what UKTV called a multimillion pound cut in fees, leaves fans of shows including Judge Romesh, Harrow and Red Dwarf unable to watch some of their favourite programmes“. Let’s be clear, this is a business decision, so when Virgin wants a 7 figure fee cut, there must be something behind it, should there not? In addition, we need to offer in opposition, that reporting on (as quoted) “According to UKTV, “around 4 million households” were no longer able to access the channels after the midnight deadline passed” should also have an impact on advertising, as you are broadcasting to 4 million less viewers, so there is that in the mix too. Is it merely pricing?

The quotes: “Virgin Media has accused the broadcaster of seeking “inflated sums” to provide its paid channels and linking those to provision of free channels such as Dave and Home“, as well as “Steve North, the head of comedy and entertainment for UKTV, said the company provided thousands of hours of on-demand content to Virgin, with viewings of its programmes, such as Taskmaster, via the service up by a third over the year“, finally we need to add the part mentioned much earlier in the story. With: “The BBC holds back the video-on-demand rights to its programming, instead selling them to players such as Netflix. Virgin Media said this strategy was no longer acceptable as viewers expect to be able to watch shows on demand” we see a linked part in all this, and perhaps also the part where Virgin Media dropped the ball. You see when we see ‘viewers expect to be able to watch shows on demand‘, which I thought was a silly thing to mention, because of the mere fact that Virgin Media was unable to manage the expectations of their customers is a much larger fail. It is a first duty in support and customer care to manage expectations, some use SLA’s, some use other methods (like pricing), but managing expectations was never on the plate of UKTV. We can argue in addition that as viewing was up by 34%, fees would go up, but in addition, so would advertisement revenue. When you report that programmes are watched be an additional 34%, you have an advertising selling point. The question becomes was this merely about fees?

The BBC mentions the Netflix challenge, as well as a picture of a relaxed Greg Davies sitting in a chair (who is apparently no longer trying to destroy the city of Tokyo). Yet the article gives us two points, the first is: “On Twitter, Darren Woodward said he was “gutted” not to be able to see Taskmaster, while Tom Langdon was one of a number of subscribers to wonder whether his monthly bill would be reduced because they could no longer watch the show“, and the second is: “Richard Blunt from Birmingham told the BBC: “Practically all the stations we watch on Virgin have now been withdrawn. I think we will give it a couple of weeks, hoping that the decision is reversed, before deciding whether to stay or to go.”” The entire setting could now escalate in very different manners, not all good for Virgin, actually none of them good for virgin. Even as the Guardian article ends with: “The 10 channels are still available on other TV platforms including Sky, BT, Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat. Viewers can also watch them online via UKTV Play“, we need to see that this is merely a first step. I personally believe that UKTV has figured out a few things and in this, it has options that go further than merely a fee. The fact that 4 million users are in a setting where there is 34% growth, that is a section that Netflix (and others need), so this is not merely about money, I believe that there is a shift happening. I knew that this would happen, that part is clearly seen in the Netflix pressures. That we would see it shown the very next day was not on my calendar.

So when I decided to dig a little deeper, I found an article (at http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2018/07/uk-tv-networks-are-looking-at-creating-a-british-netflix-to-combat-falling-viewing-figures/), which gave us 5 days ago: ‘UK TV Networks Are Looking at Creating a ‘British Netflix’ to Combat Falling Viewing Figures‘, so was that a self-fulfilling prophecy or not? So as the article ends with “BBC News reports that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have already had early conversations about the possibility of working together to create a combined streaming service with the potential to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. Whether such a thing will come to fruition currently remains a mystery, but considering the shifting trend to online media, it seems a likely step that broadcasters will eventually have to take to remain relevant“, we see exactly the play that seems to be unfolding now, and from the pressures shown, there is every chance that through pressures applied, this new venture starts with a rather delicious slice of 4 million viewers leaving Virgin. Even as some stated that they will see in a couple of weeks, the sooner this shift happens, the more power Virgin loses, implying that Netflix will not merely grow business, it has the option to grow an advertisement branch much larger overnight as well giving them more options.

Even as we agree that some changes are about to happen, we need to realise that the UK will have a new venture in ‘package deals‘. The quicker that Sky TV and other shops include the UKFlix side of things, the quicker momentum can be gained. It is in this setting that it can grow in the UK as well as gain momentum in Western Europe, where UKTV has always found happy recipients of the series that UKTV fathered and promoted.

It does set a new tone on where places like Virgin Media are going. The UK always had a little saturated niche in all this, the fact that the Netflix equation unsettled the walls in place making it a dog-eat-dog battle field, is both good and bad, the good is that overall the pricing will become interesting to households, the bad is that those with the larger budgets can overturn whatever independence remains. It will be a fight where those with the biggest wallets will be able to out buy whatever is in play and that is not always the positive outcome for households on a budget. The issues that follow soon after that is as one is diminished, how far can it go abroad? The direct setting for the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Scandinavia is also added to the board, because a shift like that tends to move outside of the borders. for example in Sweden where 50% is set by SVT1, SVT2 and TV4 gives options for growth, especially when you consider that Disney and Fox each have less than 1%. The same we see in Norway where 50% is with NRK1 and TV2. They are all markets with options for growth; from an advertising view Norway is more of a nightmare. The two large cities merely represent 14%, whilst the villages 11th in size and smaller are less than 50,000. This is different in Sweden where the four largest cities are 25% of the population and a chunk of the smaller places are still a lot larger than most places in Norway, Sweden has twice the population, but they also have that population in larger communities. These are all elements that have an impact on growth, so that is one side and merely one side. You see Netflix and their methods are rubbing off on the other players and that is where Scandinavia becomes a much more interesting market. The land that gave us Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö and their fiction in the 60’s and 70’s; the land that had Pippi Longstocking and the White Stone for the kids, whilst giving the adults Beck and Swedish Dicks is a treasure trove of IP and that is very much on the mind of the decision makers behind the screens. You see, getting the right IP is half the distance towards profitable series, and there is plenty to find in places like Scandinavia and Australia. They have built quite the score list. That setting needs to be on the forefront of all the board member minds. Getting decent writers for new series is one thing, resettling an existing gem comes at 40% less cost, whilst upgrading a series to today can score places like Netflix millions of viewers with minimum expenditure, when we consider the 8 billion that they are setting in now, delaying one series and replacing that with 10 retrenches that are unknown in the bulk of their places is a way to quickly fill needs, to up the amount of IP and the value it represents as well as open up new doors to other ventures. You merely have to see the impact of the TV series Humans, which got the makers the British Academy Television Craft Award for Best Digital Creativity, as well as a 94% rating is what matters to those in the boardrooms and even as they missed out on Humans, there is plenty to find in some of these places. The relaunch in Sweden of Beck is one part, getting that to the Netflix audience is potentially an additional market to tap in to. In the end, merely buying IP is an option and I personally see is again as short sighted, it is the interaction and engagement of these markets where new innovative IP becomes an option. You merely have to look at the past on the history of the 70’s series Kung Fu to see that the creation of IP that shines for decades is seen. And they are not alone, especially when it comes to TV series for the younger viewers. Sweden had several series like the ones mentioned earlier, the Dutch had the still immortal ‘Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen meneer?’ loosely based upon the ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’, even as the materials were lost over time, that TV Series is still remembered 48 years later, that’s IP that sets a provider apart from all the other players! As such growing interactive markets, not merely acquiring IP, whilst at the same time investigating what IP is close to readily available is what pushes the Netflix investment invoice of $8 billion a year down, whilst creating content that will be around for a long time. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog ‘Chivalry vs Rivalry‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/07/22/chivalry-vs-rivalry/), we need to consider “The value of those rights has now spiralled, which has pushed up Netflix’s content budgets and fuelled its drive to produce its own content“, that is still going on, so the one moving fast into areas and setting the stage to acquire the IP, that is where it will be at in 3-4 years, so whomever moves now ends up having the home field advantage, giving additional rise to production settings that are currently a steal at twice the price, yet as the impact of digital content and growth becomes more and more visible, the other players will circle their wagons faster and more determined to get either much better prices, or become players in this field themselves. the moment that all this IP hits 5G and goes global, at that point the entire game changes for all the players involved, so getting there sooner is what it will be about and from what I personally expect that visible push will be all over the news with some frequency no later than 2019.

 

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Oven for (a) Turkey

Yes, normally the life of a turkey is not good, not in the week preceding November 22nd. Yet, that is not the only case, if you are not covered in feathers and let’s say a nation in Europe, at present; your chances are not that much better.

This we see in several settings.

We have all seen the news, the issues around Turkey, their hatred of Kurdistan and the acts that followed through that hatred. Not just the Erdogan setting where one president has been playing any end against the middle in Europe, Yemen and Syria. The simple setting where Saide Inac, 47, who goes by the artistic name Hozan Cane has been detained on June 22 in the western province of Edirne while attending campaign events of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) leading up to Sunday’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Yet, that is not enough, yes this comedy (or is that tragedy) is set where this German-Kurdish singer has been remanded in custody in Turkey on terrorism-related charges. Normally, we would await more info. Yet the Deutsche Welle gives us in addition: “The terror charges against her reportedly relate to scenes she plays in a movie about genocide against Yazidis in Iraq”. That reads as hilarious as optionally reading in the Washington Post that: ‘Emily Blunt was arrested today on suspicion of Manslaughter against her husband and famous movie director John Krasinski, she had reportedly taken him to ‘A Quiet Place’; the man has not been seen for some time‘, so yes, when we compare the issues, where a 35 year young-ling a mere 171 cm tall, took out 191 cm John Krasinsky, who, if I need to remind you looked so gung-ho in the movie 13 hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi that he made Dwayne Johnson look like a pussy. That is the reflective truth of what Saide Inac is going through. Arrested for terrorism and because she played scenes in a movie. So as the Deutsche Welle gives us the goods (at https://www.dw.com/en/kurdish-german-singer-hozan-cane-arrested-in-turkey-on-terrorism-charges/a-44420346), we are wondering whether this is an act of pure stupidity, or is it the Turkish way of saber rattling making Germany give in on some other point of argument they couldn’t win in any other way.

So that is what Turkey has become. Instilling xenophobia, which might be another way to instill the Turkish need for racism and discrimination. It goes even further when we consider the Al Jazeera, where we see: ‘Jordan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia warn Israel against Turkey‘, the influence is apparently growing in Eastern Jerusalem. We can argue that this is merely Turkey seeking the limelight in any way they can, or we can go with the presumption that this is Turkey showing itself to be the tool of Iran.

So when we are treated to: “The report notes that senior officials from the three Arab countries told Israel that Turkey was “extending its influence in Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem” which they said was “part of an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “claim ownership over the Jerusalem issue.”“, we need to see that there are different issues in play here. As the Jerusalem Post reported 3 weeks ago, the economic part of “They were at about $2.5 billion in 2016, and in the first 10 months of 2017, Turkish exports to Israel went up another 14%. Turkey’s state air carrier, Turkish Airlines, is also the second most popular airline out of Tel Aviv after El Al, Joseph Dana reported in an opinion piece written for The National.“, it seems strange that such levels of export are endangered as there are plenty of European nations willing to take over such a lucrative contract and as European facilitators replace Turkish Airlines, the state coffers would get an additional hit in a time that they cannot afford to report additional economic bad news, so what gives?

On one side it seems far-fetched that Turkey would make a rash move on such fronts. We can accept to some degree that the setting of opening an embassy is one setting, yet the quote we see is: “Turkey intends to open an embassy in east Jerusalem, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, days after leading calls at a summit of Muslim leaders for the world to recognize it as the capital of Palestine“, an interesting setting, as history gives us: “Jerusalem is an ancient city located in ancient Judah that is now the capital of Israel. The city has a history that goes back to the 4th millennium BCE, making it one of the oldest cities in the world“, so not only does President Erdogan not have a case, we could equally offer the setting that after that it was property of Italy (and the people of Rome), so there is a second claim, then we get Caliph Umar who decided to travel to Jerusalem in person to receive the submission of the city in April 637, he came from a family that originally controlled Mecca. The Quraysh opposed Muhammad until converting to Islam, giving Saudi Arabia the next claim. After that Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in 1095 decided that it was Christian holy land and began the first Crusades. In all this, Turkey has no right of proclamation in any way, so why set the stage for economic segregation? If we are to give any value to George Antonius, founder of modern Arab nationalist history, who wrote in his 1938 publication The Arab Awakening: “the term ‘Arab’ in Palestine denotes nowadays not merely the incomers from the Arabian Peninsula who occupied the country in the seventh century, but also the older populations who intermarried with their conquerors, acquired their speech, customs and ways of thought and became permanently arabised“, so a blend of other identities. Whilst Bernard Lewis gives us: “the original inhabitants were never entirely obliterated, but in the course of time they were successively Judaized, Christianized, and Islamized. Their language was transformed to Hebrew, then to Aramaic, then to Arabic“, so an adjusted population, we cannot fault these people to that a pragmatic approach to the situation, yet the given in the centuries before does not give the statement that President Erdogan give any value at all, merely an impressed point of view, which he is welcome to have in Turkey.

So form the setting, this is not about Palestine, their cause, their choices or their belief; it is the Turkish setting we see here. Even as we see changes, we see positive ones and dangerous ones. Reuters gave us this week ‘Erdogan says Turkey will continue advancing in Syria’, with the setting “Turkey will continue to “liberate Syrian lands” so that refugees can return to Syria safely, President Tayyip Erdogan said in an election victory speech on Monday“, so how does the Syrian President ‘feel’ about the Turkish version of ‘liberation’?

As Reuters gave us: “Assad, who said in the same interview he would not accept Western funds to rebuild his country, was speaking after Damascus said it rejected the presence of Turkish and U.S. forces around the northern town of Manbij, a day after soldiers of the two countries began patrolling the area” last Sunday, the question becomes why is Turkey still there. If they are there to accept President Assad, is not his word the one that counts? My views are supported by Newsweek as we see their part from yesterday (at http://www.newsweek.com/why-wont-us-stop-russia-iran-syria-asks-opposition-leader-government-moves-1000312). The quote is “Nasr al-Hariri, the secretary-general of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, told reporters Thursday in the Saudi capital of Riyadh that it was “shameful” for the U.S. not to act as a ceasefire brokered last year between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s top military ally Russia and opposition supporters the U.S. and Jordan collapsed, the Associated Press reported“, the US actions are not in question, the issue becomes that Iran is the transgressor here, as is optionally Russia. Yet the setting is that Turkey was singled out as not welcome, Iran and Russia were not, that sets a different stage and even as we accept that Iran is the greater threat. Syrian forces have not proclaimed them to be not welcome.

In addition, Turkey makes even more waves in Israel as see (at https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/246156), where we are given “Jerusalem City Councilman Aryeh King tells Arutz Sheva correspondent how Turkey is posting illegal signs in and around Old City“, in addition we see ““The Turkish government that daily attacks Israel and collaborates with the terrorists in Gaza – they are putting signs around the walls of the Old City, and the Israeli government and the municipality of Jerusalem … are not taking care of these Illegal signs,” King said“, so we hear the video state that there are allegation against Turkey, yet is this truly a Turkish act, or is it an act from Hezbollah to start a military flame that cannot be stopped too easily.

So there is caution that needs to be set, a sign in Turkish with a Turkish government proclamation does not make it so and we need to realise that it is equally likely that Iran is playing the ‘tool’ card here and if the reactions are not careful the outfall may be a lot larger than we can correct for.

The entire month we have been treated to the interactions and it is important to play the game with caution, because at present, we must recognise that Turkey is merely planning to open an embassy in eastern Jerusalem, whilst on the same front they are stating ‘the capital of Palestine’, a wrongful opinion, that is still their right to make (whether correct or not), the Embassy play is possible because the US opened one there, so that puts the state of Israel in an awkward light if the Turkish embassy is suddenly rejected. The rest is a different kind of ginger. Who are the actual players? Is it Turkey, Iran or Hezbollah? That part is not easily answered and until the evidence is brought to light, no actual finding can be regarded as absolute.

Another place where Turkey is active is off course anything related to Iran. The setting is that Turkey refuses to stop importing Iranian crude oil and we might side one way or another yet is there any legal recourse? With India stopping the Iranian import, the Iranian economic outlook is even worse than the worst settings we saw earlier, in this is Turkey playing too dangerously? In the setting where we see Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci giving us: ““The decisions taken by the United States on this issue are not binding for us. Of course, we will follow the United Nations on its decision. Other than this, we will only follow our own national interests,” Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said as quoted by daily Hurriyet, adding that “we will pay attention so our friend Iran will not face any unfair actions.”“, the academic question becomes ‘Does Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci have a point?

The UN removed the trade restriction, even as the US and EU are enforcing them, what legal foundation is there? You see, at the heart of the matter is that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 where the removal of UN sanctions against Iran were removed. Even when we consider the Deutsche Welle 2 years ago with ‘Iran missile tests defied UN resolution, say US and European allies‘, the setting is that this was not illegal, the quotes “Council diplomats said the case for new UN sanctions on Iran was weak. Moreover, Western officials said that although the launches went against 2231, they were not a violation of the core nuclear agreement between Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States” and “The letter from the four powers stopped short of calling the Iranian launches a “violation” of the resolution, which calls for Iran to refrain for up to eight years from activity, including launches, related to nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Diplomats say key powers agree the resolution’s language is not legally binding and cannot be enforced through the use of sanctions or military force” these two are directly the setting. We cannot state as evidence as it is or is not nuclear advancements and as elected legal minds more experienced than me state that the setting is not legally binding, Turkey has a case that it can continue. That is the setting we see ourselves in and even as we see more and more flak coming from the US and the EU, there is no given that Turkey is actually out of bounds on this one setting. It seems that the setting is to some extent hypocrite in actions against Turkey and that too must be stated. The reasoning is that the quotes given by Turkey are also confirmed with “At the same time, oil importers including Japan, South Korea, and India, as well as European countries have said they will continue buying Iranian crude“, even as India is turning that setting back, Japan is not and exactly how many sanctions is America now imposing on Japan?

In all fairness, that too must be stated and even as I think that Turkey has been playing a much too dangerous game involving themselves with Iran on other fronts, we need to scale back some of the dialogues and find the accepted legal frames that are in play, if we do not do that, then we are merely catering to the EU and US to what refer to as their bully tactics and we should be better than that.

The complications seen on the political arena are expanding and as such whatever chance there was for EU ascension, the cold legal light should have clearly communicated that there was no chance for EU membership for Turkey, they undid the small chances they had long before the previous election s were held, so the French ‘special status’ remarks were all hot air with no direction and even less substance. It is seen through Reuters as they gave us “In a statement, the EU General Affairs Council said Brussels could not open any more ‘chapters’ or policy areas in accession talks or modernise the EU-Turkey customs union due to Ankara’s failure to meet European standards in various areas” yesterday, yet that setting had been clear for well over a year, so the end signal is merely a small light of cowardice from several political players.

In all this, part if the hardship that Turkey s facing is due to their own reactions, over reactions, as well as some non-actions in too many political fields. Turkey has every right to do them, yet they are held to account and the balance at this point is not good. Just how bad things will get is depending on some of the events playing out in Jerusalem right now. Whatever happens next, they will also see red lights coming from the US and not merely on their oil activities, even as that might be the one most media will be loudly referring to.

 

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The Sun shines regardless

There is a setting that we forge, the setting we do not see. It is the setting we experience by becoming a politically correct hive of sleepy minds. We are in a setting where yesterday is forgotten and tomorrow needs to be planned for. After spending time in the Middle East, and after seeing things you cannot fathom in nightmares, we are confronted on the edge of what we call civilisation bolstered by the reality of events. The guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/15/vomitive-pathetic-lars-von-trier-film-prompts-mass-walkouts-at-cannes), the view of perhaps one of the most controversial Danes in history. I got introduced to his films in 2002 or 2003; it was Dancer in the Dark. The movie had such an impact on me that I ended up being depressed for over a week. Never before had a movie impacted me to such a degree. Bjork and David Morse were diamonds in a foul soaked universe of corruption and perceived presentations of what people want others to be like, an awesome experience. There would be another movie that would shake me to the core. Gaspar Noé would ‘grace’ us in 2002 with Irreversible. It was interesting in just one part, apart from the overly jumping between time frames, it was stated as “a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable“, yet it was not unwatchable, because when I grew up, this is what my father did to my mother and in the end it would quite literally be the death of him, but not before he caused her death 25 years earlier. The Dutch courts were unable to protect her until it was much too late. It sets the stage of a growing essential need towards the exposure of these ‘softies’ and their inactivity and denial towards domestic violence. To throw some facts at you, 25% of ALL women in the UK will experience domestic violence that means that 8 million women will be gotten at. That is a frightening number and that is only the UK, it is actually much worse, this is gotten from Professor Sylvia Walby as we get: “Whilst this number is shocking, we also know it is grossly underestimated. The cap on the number of violent crimes published, set at five per victim, means that even if a woman experienced 100 incidents of domestic violence, only five would make it into the official data“. The entire setting of ‘capping’ of victim events makes it even worse. It shows a nation in denial, too fixed on not acting, and it goes a lot further than the UK, in this it is a global issue and globally governments are not actually doing anything, merely painting the rooms red so that the blood is not noticed when guests arrive, so in that we see our own denial.

This year, as the Guardian shows us, we might see Lars von Trier shine again, because if a movie can make a man like me truly depressed on watching an event, it means that he is getting his point across, a point that we deny ourselves from grasping. In all this he does not work with beginners or amateurs. In the movie we see Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman. The trailer alone shows that this might be not just the highlight for Matt Dillon; it might end up being one of the most challenging roles in his life. So when we see some of the feedbacks, other thoughts go through my mind. You see, when I see “Al Jazeera’s Charlie Angela also left the screening early” with the response “seeing children being shot and killed is not art or entertainment“, it becomes an issue of debate, you see, from that point Kramer versus Kramer is not art either, neither is the Deer hunter. Yet I am willing to take Charlie Angela on a small tour into Yemen, I can take her for a small walk through Taiz, where we can look at the dozens of children cadavers, we can also look at women and men all shot dead, the reality of war, it is not art or entertainment, we can agree on that, yet it is the reality of life, a reality millions shy away from on a daily basis. The deaths in US schools, not by the NRA, but by really confused people, the mere impact of mental health issues where the government is in denial of the events, all caught in political correctness and inaction. Perhaps it is really good for people to get direct exposure to such things. So for all those people running out of that cinema, I would state: ‘Welcome to real life!‘, in a bus full of people, when you travel on it, realise that each week, one of 10-12 trips, you would have shared a bus with a person just like Jack, so when you look around in that bus, knowing that one of these men is just such a Jack, would you still travel per bus? Instead of making domestic violence and spousal abuse an element of the Human Rights Act article 3, where we would optionally see: “In prosecution spousal abuse and domestic violence will be seen as a transgression of Article 3 of the Human Rights Act as a form of torture, torture of body and mind“, so when that transgressor (mostly men) are prosecuted for beating up his partner merely because he got a little crazy as his football team lost, just how much better will the safety of any woman suddenly become when he goes to prison 5-15 years, when he loses his house, access to his children and no further future? I reckon that the unemployment numbers will suddenly drop to zero. The evidence shown by the Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/08/police-fear-rise-domestic-violence-world-cup), where we see: “The most detailed research into the links between the football World Cup and domestic abuse rates has revealed that in one force area in England and Wales, violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost – but also rose by 26% when they won“, so when we know that this evidence has been there for 5 years and still we see no change, is it not strange that inaction prevails?

One review (one of many) gave us: “Nicolas Barber gave the film four stars out of five and said “Undoubtedly a bold and stimulating film which no one but Denmark’s notorious provocateur-auteur could have made”” Nicholas Barber of the BBC is right.

If there is one part clear in me is that the movie has the ability of waking up the people drowning in political correctness. They need to be woken up because there is too much data showing that inaction has not worked for decades and we need to step away from it, if only to push change and t push those acting in unacceptable ways to be pushed into the limelight and then out of visibility. If those ‘Christian souls‘ are suddenly visibly forced to embrace people wearing sweaters with the term ‘Domestic abusers’, will they still be Christians? Will they act of keep silent, because the wearer is a boss, their boss or someone really wealthy? There is supporting evidence for that. In that regard we can look at Jeffrey Epstein. When we realise that the evidence which included “the FBI received accounts from about 40 girls whose allegations of molestation by Epstein included overlapping details“, when we see “In May 2006, Palm Beach police filed a probable cause affidavit saying that Epstein should be charged with four counts of unlawful sex with minors and one molestation count“, did we expect what was coming? When we see “escaped a prosecution that could have seen him jailed for the rest of his life“, now consider that the conviction: “he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He served 13 months before being released” and no one seems surprised, is there anyone still surprised?

So when we see the dialogue of Jack in the movie, where we hear (it is in the trailer) “When I think about all the things I’ve done in my life, without it in any way resulting in punishment“, we need to realise the nightmare scenario. What happens if every domestic abusing man becomes another Jeffrey Epstein, and if caught merely needs to wait 13 months to do again what his dark soul demands of him, when we realise that our inactions are the cause of our undoing, our politically correctness gives us the setting of something so incorrect that it can no longer be corrected for. What then will you do? When we realise that it was not the gun that killed, as is the truth, but our sense of righteousness send us targeting the people and the evil that they do. What will the life of the US attorney general be like when he wakes up in some future and that morning he learns that 10 Wall street executives were shot in the head, a one clip 10 rounds magazine, one bullet per executive? Will his motivation be that these Wall Street executives had rights, that there was the onus of presented evidence against the 175,000 people they made homeless or the optionally missed taxable $293 million in revenue that the state of New York is now missing out on. What would drive him (or her) that day you think?

The House that Jack built is a very different wake up call, reality expressed through art. to some it is a very valid thought that it is not entertainment, yet now look back at Kramer versus Kramer and wonder who comprehended even in the slightest the plight of the child in Kramer versus Kramer? Now ask yourself, what else have we missed out on? What did we sleep through in our politically correct driven universe and think of 8 million women in the UK alone, battered and bruised? How would you like to wake up like that at least one day a month, after month, after month? Most people including me will not consider the House that Jack built entertainment, yet, just like the Deer hunter, can we avoid seeing it, can we turn our backs on levels of reality we are unable to deal with? Consider Wolf Creek and the reality of what happened, so when we see: “criticizing it for its realistic and unrelenting depictions of violence” and now consider “the July 2001 abduction of British tourist Peter Falconio and the assault of his girlfriend Joanne Lees by Bradley John Murdoch“, who got a life sentence for the murder of Peter Falconio. When you were unaware of the reality of it and the impact that some people made on the reality of life of their victims, we need to remain aware that at some stage we must take notice and realise that the legal system to a much larger degree is flawed, perhaps even permanently broken. I reckon I can get no less than 8 million witnesses of that fact. In addition when we see that the victim Joanne Rachael Lees was willing to do an interview as: ‘she felt the public profile of the case had diminished‘, that took merely 4 years, 4 years for people to forget what a couple had to go through in a rich world setting like Australia, not Myanmar, not Thailand or Yemen, Australia! It is a setting that is unsettling and perhaps it requires Lars von Trier to make sure that we forever remember that the reality of some settings exist through political correctness and inactions. Even as some defence goes up as the culprit in Australia was caught, take a look at this short advertisement (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9DQgai4-C0) and wonder how many did not get caught and how many events are we turning our backs on so that we need not take notice of our inaction on all of it?

They sometimes state that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike, as well as the sun shines regardless of good and evil, yet will it truly do that in the long run? Whether through politically correctness, or inactions, we are slowly turning our world into a place that is less and less liveable, perhaps it is required to give it a rude awakening every now and then, and the movie the House that Jack built is merely (a lot more than merely) a reminder to wake up every now and then.

This is reflected in other news too. When we consider the Jerusalem Post we see the words of Haim Tomer, words I actually disagree with. Haim Tomer, formerly a top official at Mossad believes that the situation is that Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia can secretly help advance Iranian regime change. I believe his thoughts are folly. They are wishful and not very realistic. The play we see ongoing as Mahmout Ahmadinejad was not re-elected is not an elected official (President Rouhani), but a person that the Clerical and military side of Iran allowed to elected in accordance to their needs, the inactions that the President showed to have as Iran military provided (speculatively with the blessing of Iranian Clerics), is that Hezbollah is provided for, in Yemen Houthi’s are provided with missiles and in all likelihood training from Iranian military advisors. The rest of the world did not intervene in any way as we saw actions in Yemen and merely the outbursts against Saudi Arabia and merely soft whispers for any Iranian missile fired from Yemen aimed at civilian populations in Riyadh. Our inactions, the inactions of elected governments; governments that sat on their hands for years whilst the slaughter in Syria continued, all inactions that have long term impacts, we merely ignore them.

So when I kill 12 people, I am a serial killer, as Hezbollah kills hundreds as quoted through “In Syria, Iran’s special forces and its mercenary recruits — Hezbollah militiamen from Lebanon and Shiite hired guns from Central Asia — have helped President Bashar al-Assad perpetrate a ruthless genocide against Syrian Sunnis, including the use of poison gas, in order to maintain a pro-Shiite, pro-Iranian dictatorship in Damascus” (source: NY Times), they are now referred to as ‘militiamen‘, not terrorists, not mass murderers, no: ‘militiamen‘. Is this merely political correctness, or a way to set the stage for inaction? How much actions against events must happen for things to truly change from bad to worse?

I think that when you coldly look at the House that Jack built, when you realise that these inhuman acts are actually happening on a near daily basis and we do nothing, we are stopped to talk about it via political correctness and the politicians and elected governments, elected by people like yourself are setting stages of inactions, will the movie not be the wakeup call that you need to make a first change?

In all this EU governments are setting the stage to keep a nuclear deal going, a nuclear deal with a nation that has visibly shown that it will act out in inhumane ways towards civilians, through the Hezbollah puppet that they fund. In the end, consider that your inaction left no trace on your soul, you still sleep like a baby because the issues in Syria did not matter and they still do not matter for the thousands dead in Yemen, so when you consider that the House that Jack built was too revolting for words, consider that your inactions have made that setting an optional reality, because in the end, those who do survive Syria and Yemen grow up, do you think that they end up being balanced people? Do you think that the watched atrocities by children in Yemen and Syria will create happy people? In the end the real difference between a soldier, a mass murderer and a serial killer is merely the willingness to wear a uniform and the willingness to end the life of another person. Two elements driven by a lack of empathy and morality, merely two elements that has seen flaws as it is impacted by political correctness on the outside of the issue and forgotten as well as ignored by those who faced the issue; in that light it became flawed, some revert to stating that political correctness is merely ‘Moral Decency‘, yet that decency is set by the masses and they are too often very willing to remain in a state of inaction (Chemical attacks in Syria is clear evidence), so in that light, how was decency served?

I wonder how long it will take for religious speakers to get to the street and force inaction to give way to ‘social radicalism‘, when that happens, do not cry, you wanted that all along, that is what we see through the inaction of too many. When those political principles make waves and hit the limelight, make no mistake, social media like Facebook will drive it to very different levels of hypes and there is no way to block it, so when you hear that there is no social radicalism, you are in error. It is already happening in the UK, in Australia, in the Netherlands, in Sweden and Germany, France has it as well as Italy and Spain; it is pretty much everywhere. The Odyssey (not the book) gives us “freedom of speech allows us to speak openly about whatever our interests may be. I feel that many people take this to the extreme, spouting bigotry and ignorance without reason“, there is also “Many people are not willing to postpone particular standpoints in order to evaluate what stands outside their own perceptive bubbles“, which I personally believe to be the driving bubble in all this. The media at large uses this to their ‘circulation advantage‘ by focussing on the emotional drive in this, like the bulk of Murdoch media has done for the longest time (not just them though, it is a globally large community that is just like Murdoch, or envisions to become like them). They focus on getting emotionally driven hypes and in absence of filtering and non-emotional evaluation, we get a collective of angry people speaking out, normally it is a good thing, yet there are globally more and more angry people and that drives another wave of chaos, fuelled by inactions we see more and more people willing to become extreme in one way or another and in that we see social behaviour in decline, empathy falls as angry people tend to not consider or allow empathy and that is where we create a larger mess.

Perhaps angry or not, sitting down and taking serious notice of a movie like the House that Jack built is essential to create a wave of opposition, a wave that shocks us to a degree where we consider our perspective on what we consider to be real and actionable and when we consider the bettered woman and consider that this was once our mother, how can we not become protective of the victim we see?

In finality, when you consider that the FBI defines mass murder as murdering four or more persons during an event with no “cooling-off period” between the murders, now consider the amount of angry people, people pushed onto the edges for various reasons, some very valid and consider that they merely need to reach the point where they are willing to take a human life. Now realise that this was not the NRA, or its members promoting this, guns do not kill people. People kill people! We allowed the setting for so many to become and remain so angry often due to inaction. We are our own worst enemy and until that situation changes, we ourselves are the driving force to create more and more victims.

The sun will shine regardless we do this actively, or whilst we remain inert and inactive to the events around us, and politicians love to mention that the sun is shining, they don’t even have to actively achieve anything for that.

This setting gets a larger exposure when we see (at https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/14/margaret-river-shooting-murder-suicide-could-not-be-predicted-wa-premier-says) “The murder-suicide of seven people at a rural property in Western Australia could never have been predicted and the cause may never be known, the state’s premier has said”. I do not believe that to be true. When we see: “Peter Miles, 61, his 58-year-old wife Cynda, their daughter Katrina, 35, and her four children – daughter Taye, 13, and sons Rylan, 12, Arye, 10 and Kadyn, eight – were found dead at Forever Dreaming Farm in Osmington on Friday”, we see the loss of 7 lives, something like that does not merely happen. When I see ‘embroiled in a bitter dispute with Katrina about access to the children’, I see it is not that simple, but it is still, to some part a larger issue that involves frustration and anger, the smallest of settings for what we now see evolve (compared to Syria and Yemen). In light of what I wrote earlier, I believe that anger and frustration in light of ‘political correctness’ become unwanted emotions, we turn away from them, filter them away. I believe that this is merely one additional factor in all of this, we turn away from the realistic cold light of day from what displeases us and as such we miss the dangers that grow within our very communities, it is a global issue and it is growing. Yet in the northern hemisphere, it is May, it is spring and the sun shines, it will shine regardless in too many places and what we see will happen again, on several levels. When you watch the trailer of the House that Jack built in the Guardian article (or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA0pI_k-Dmo), now consider the one scene at 1:35, where we see merely a flash, in addition consider Lukas Moodysson’s Lilya4ever. I lived in an apartment building like that, it happens for real to people around us under our very noses and we no longer see it happen. The movie Lilya4ever was loosely based on the true case of Danguolė Rasalaitė, and examines the issue of human trafficking and sexual slavery. I think that the House that Jack built is more important than we realise, if only to realise on how we react to it and when we realise that there is reality on several levels shown, consider how much in denial we all really are, regardless whether the sun shines or not.

 

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It is done!

There are a few issues today and the first one is not really an issue, unless you are a movie producer and you are up against Infinity war. I just learned that it smashed the Chinese box office on Friday with an additional $76 million, which makes it surpass both Black Panther and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2. It is now the 8th most successful movie on the planet in the All Time Box Office and that is before the global Saturday revenues are known. I expect it to crush the first Avengers Movie and settle (during the week) on the 5th position. It is the fastest ascension of any movie ever. That is big news, so as per ‘today’ 40% of the top 10 movies ever worldwide are Marvel Productions. I think that the Legacy of Stan Lee is very safe for all time; in addition, I reckon that the Russo brothers will be walking around with that feeling of pride and accomplishment for some time to come. This will not be some DC Marvel comparing; this is a comic book victory that spans 3 generations, and perhaps the setting of an old truth that a dreamer with only $0.25 can conquer the world (small reference to Walt Disney there).

We watched for all kinds of reasons and none of us were disappointed, not even those who went to see it with the silent promise that they could see that Chris Hemsworth is merely slightly less than half the size of Peter Dinklage. We are not even at the halfway point yet! The pressure on part 2 will be overwhelming with every weekend we get towards that point of release, especially those who recognised the message in the teaser at the very end.

But our worlds do not merely revolve on Marvel Production (some need chocolates too), and if it was only so good, it is not, The independent gives us mere hours ago (updated) that in Iran the Clerics are shown to be as simple as one could expect. With the quote “Iranian senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said during Friday prayers that Western pressure will backfire, threatening that Israel will pay the price.” The holy system of Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the hard-line cleric said. The warshippers chanted: “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel“.”, it is their invitation to War, they thought they were clever with their ‘Syrian‘ missile attack, but they now have the impeding wrath of the State of Israel, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who has had their fill of the Yemeni Issues, as well as Iran’s commitment to terrorism and Hezbollah and now that both parties know that the rest of the world is willing to united behind Saudi Arabia and Israel, now they need to cry and scream like little children. It is in that setting that I see the mention of “Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, asked for the halt to avoid “a new conflagration” in the region following the most extensive military exchange between Israel and Iran“, Iran did not listen for the longest of times, during the entire Syrian slaughter the UN was merely a lame duck, an expensive voice that was not listened to at all. So why should anyone listen now? So when we see “we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the hard-line cleric said. The worshippers chanted: “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel”“, we see a part that they are still in denial of the Houthi situation. Yet now, after the years of their chants, many are sick of the Iranian debacle, option upon option were given, but the two players in charge of Iran, the clerics and the military are soon to be called to put their money where their mouths are and now, the game changes for them, because as far as I see it, they cannot deliver. The fact that I saw the flaw that ends their navy, they will be on an unbalanced setting, they still have plenty of air force and army, but that too falls against the naval settings of what non-Iranians remains in the Persian Gulf and in that setting they have a much larger disadvantage. Iran must rely on the puppets and tools they had and these players are no longer sure of Iran at all. Iran overplayed their hand!

Sinem Cengiz the Turkish political analyst in Arab News gives us: “Turkey will not be taking sides in the crisis as it is already dealing with the effects of the turbulence affecting its other neighbors, Syria and Iraq. So a third neighbor under sanctions will not serve Turkish interests in the region. A nuclear-armed Iran is not in the interest of Turkey either as it would challenge Ankara’s own regional-power position in the Middle East“, she is not wrong, but I personally do not completely agree. You see, Turkey moved itself into a much higher echelon for its own reasons on Kurds and Kurdistan and the setting in Syria remains provocative. Russia wants the middle mediation spot and Iran thinks that they could still push some for certain agreements. Turkey’s actions could push itself into either directly opposing Iran as it wants to soften the setting with European players, or try approach, which was to make Europe more lenient. I do not think either will work, yet with the US in play, they could be pushed into denying certain settings with Iran. Turkey might not want to take sides and for the short term (4-8 weeks) that could be possible, yet both US and the EU want commitments from the Turkish government, but one that is set against Iran (or at least withdraw completely form that setting), it might be one of the few paths remaining to avoid a direct war and in all that, the others want commitments. The path could be delayed when open hostilities against Hezbollah are chosen, because at this point, such actions need to go without any Iranian support, and in that Turkey would be willing to sacrifice Hezbollah for their own needs. Iran will at some point use them as martyrs, which is fine for some as martyrs can no longer hold guns that is the reality of war!

In this we see support from the Courier Mail, who makes mention of ‘Russia reeling in Iran’, which might prevent worse, which is partially true. The issue is not any of the outside players; the issue is that the Iranian clergy and military have been prepping for the longest time. Now they want to move in and look good, yet the starting signal was not given at the right time, so now their entire strategy is falling upon the floor with no one wanting the visibility of picking that trash up. In this CNBC has its own view (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/09/trump-iran-sanctions-give-saudi-arabia-and-russia-more-clout.html). With “Saudi Arabia said it will help meet world oil demand if President Donald Trump’s Iran sanctions create shortfalls, but analysts say it will do so only in conjunction with Russia, and the world may have to get used to higher prices as a result” they are correct, that is indeed the midterm play that we all face, increasing oil prices and the energy companies will try to cash in on this as soon as possible, even as they have been enjoying cheap oil for years. This strategy works for both Saudi Arabia and Russia on several fronts, there will be no opposing party ready or able to pick up that slack. Their only way to prevent worse is the action offered by Israel, If the Syrian president tells Iran to go home, it would relieve tensions. The question becomes if Syria willing to do just that? There are still scores of Russians there and perhaps Turkey has an option to show willingness to increase troops, which works for them on all but one front, Iran will see this as an act of desertion against the Iranian settings. Iran’s actions or responses cannot be predicted as present. Even a Syria has had issues with the Turkish ties towards the Muslim Brotherhood and as such, it might be the best option, but not one President Assad is willing to consider (personal speculation). It is a Gordian knot of complications at best, cutting it might be the best, but that too might not be seen as a solution for any of those players.

So where is the option to remove the pressures? I am not certain if there are any left, the issue is the pressures are coming from Iran and they are not willing to change for the time being.

For desert

The end of this should be something light and frothy, there is nothing lighter and frothy than a good game and in light of the upcoming war, is that such a bad deal? We have seen all kinds of allegations and leaks. Now that we see a few announcements, and now that we have seen a few things that Sony will be bringing, I am now at a loss how Microsoft will get anywhere with the uphill battle they face this year. It seems to me that the upcoming Book of the dead is doing to PS4 what the initial the Last of Us did to the PS3. It was overwhelming. In addition when we see the Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Spiderman, Death Stranding and Book of the dead, realising that at least three of these titles will be released in 2018, one is extremely unlikely to come before 2019 (Death Stranding) and one remains an unknown at present, and that is merely the exclusives. Sony has remastered the Spyro trilogy which will entice a new generation and satisfy the ones who played it on the original PlayStation. There are loads more coming, but this is at present what Nintendo and Microsoft are up against, which in light of the results of God of War is not a good thing to be up against. Now that the Sony gamers have heard that the release of Subnautica on PS4 is more and more imminent; an unknown title (to many) that is merely one of the best survival adventures I ever played and original from beginning to end. So in that view, we see that the other brand has a diminishing level of unique games left and that was never a good thing for any console. In my personal view, there is now only one reason why I still have the Xbox One. It is the one game, the game that I revered ever since I got my fingers on the demo that was added to the PC Format disc, al little over 20 years ago. Take a look at the update of the remastered and remade System Shock (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKfnTnZuC5E) where you can see the game in progress and even as it is announced to come to PS4, it is for the time being a lot earlier on Xbox One and PC.

The advantage Microsoft once had is now pretty much gone.

Even as some are all about the gifting a game hype, from my personal experience most people have never given me anything correct when it comes to gaming. Now, in some cases it is indeed nice, but most people prefer to go to shop and get a physical copy of the game. We acknowledge that backward compatibility is a nice setting; there is no denying that, yet over the next year do you want to replay a few good games, or play amazing new games? Backward compatibility is nice to have and an asset, no one denies that, yet the setting of no amazing new games is not something you want to rely on. The Verge actually almost nails it with “The Xbox One is the best console if you don’t care about exclusive new games“, I do agree with the setting, but those exclusives that Sony has is just beyond amazing and Microsoft has nothing to counter that, that is the setting that does matter. Nintendo upped the setting even more with the leak of Pokémon Switch coming this year; this will get millions of 3DS players now update to Switch much faster than initially expected. It gets to be interesting when you consider that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon sold in excess of 7 million copies. With Pokken on Switch (originally a WiiU title) already out and now the new Pokémon’s coming (I expect at least two), we see that Nintendo is upping the score and the pressure on both Microsoft and Sony.

So even as Verge was almost correct, they missed it that the gamers love exclusive titles and the fact that the Sony players are getting the Switch on the side matters as well, apart from them not getting the XB1 on the side. With 26 titles announced by August 2018, the games list is also impacting the other two. Bethesda is giving Wolfenstein 2 a ‘switch’ over in 7 weeks, The Crash Bandicoot fans get to do it all over again on Switch as well and Capcom is breathing life to Streetfighter with a 30th anniversary edition this month on Switch, yes, my prediction that I made a mere two weeks ago is coming to pass, the worst nightmare for Microsoft is coming, Nintendo and Sony have upped their game and as it is less likely that Microsoft can equal that during the E3; by no more than late August will we see the setting whether the total Nintendo Switch sales will surpass Xbox One total sales by Christmas 2018, it is now becoming increasingly likely that Microsoft Xbox One will grace third position in the console race before December 31st 2018. Microsoft will have to produce a miracle by the end of the year and it better be a lot better than there marketing department hiding behind “All Xbox One games and Microsoft Store PC games are now eligible for digital gifting“, because when I look at AC Origin Gold (AU$145) and Shadow of War Gold (AU$158), I wonder if the people know that these games are around 40Gb to download and a 100% larger if you have 4K capabilities. So not only is it a massive download, the fact that these XB1 consoles have no more than 1TB is also a consideration. Nothing on any of this is a ‘pro’ gamer setting, merely a maximum exploitation setting from Microsoft. And that is even before you realise that a new Shadow of War Gold edition (with Steelbook) is a mere AU$99.95 at EB Games, so, do you still think I am kidding when it comes to Microsoft dropping the ball three times over? Are you kidding with downloading a game at a price that is 50% higher than a physical version in the shops?

Like Iran, Microsoft overplayed their hand way too soon and they are also in the venue of not being able to counter what comes. A setting that they should have avoided, in that light we can compare the Microsoft marketeers with the Iranian clerics, they shout from the highest peaks, but without the support of actual product you end up merely irritating people, which is how I personally see this all.

A desert that was a little less light on the bowels, but in all this we see that some games over the next month will be shown to be not up to the fight against reality and consumerism. Because both rely on smooth sailing and those who have never been hit by internet congestion have for the most never ever used the full setting of it. Until very recently, Sydney NBN users had 4 hours a week of congestion, now consider having to fetch your Sex in the city, the latest movie, download games, watch reality (kitchen) TV and focus on the big footy games. So how welcome was that digital download game to the internet welfare of the family in the end?

 

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A Marvel Time

So we heard the news, we read the stories and they are all beyond what most expected it to be. Not only is Black Panther in 9th position at present, it is still on the course to get to 8th position within 2 weeks, surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. It is unlikely to catch up with his brother on 7th (Age of Ultron), which now implies that within the coming week 4 Marvel movies will be set in the register of the 10 most successful movies of all time. These are The Avengers, Age of Ultron, Black Panther and upcoming racing to number 4 or higher is Avengers: Infinity War. some of the players saw this coming (I was one of them), yet I was late to the party, merely because I never looked at some of the other numbers, for me it is and will remain the joy of watching a movie on the screen, preferably the big silver one. I expected this to some extent, as I mentioned it in my blog ‘the successful and the less so‘ last week, still seeing that the movie made a global $1,166,407,350 in 10 days is still hard-core awesome. And Netflix is picking up on it, and has been for some time. You see there is a good, an evil and a dangerous side to all this. When we consider the ones in Netflix Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel’s Agent Carter, Marvel’s Inhumans, Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, Marvel’s The Defenders, Marvel’s The Punisher, Marvel’s Runaways and Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger they might think it is all good and dandy, but the danger is that there will be too much Marvel on the retina’s and they will learn the one lesson that Paramount learned too late with Star Trek, too much of it is also not a good thing. I accept that like comic books I never read them all. I was nuts about Batman and the X-Man, and my youthful best friend was all about the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, so on Saturday we read the ones we bought and quickly exchanged them on Sunday to give back on Monday, a ritual that went on for years because as younger people our budgets were limited. The fact that we can let ourselves go on Netflix like a teenager who ‘accidently’ gets locked in the pastry shop all night long has several issues which we will not go into. The evil side (yes it is), is not how the approach is made, it is how it is translated to the screen, the fact that the social roles of Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson are reversed, because in this day and age it would fit either way, but the darkness of the original comic books is lost when we see “acquire superpowers while forming a romantic relationship“, the actuality is lost, because in the actual story it was not some “superhero love story”, they were captured and experimented on to make drugs more efficient in creating addiction, the experiment went wrong and they acquired superpowers, they were set together in a deep bond because of the rage and violence, drawn together as they needed to rely on one another. That darkness that was the appeal for many who loved the comic and it all got a little more interesting as police detective Brigid O’Reilly became Mayhem. So we have a switched setting, that darkness gone and I am uncertain that ‘watering down’ American issues is any way to get anything done, that darkness held an appeal, that appeal is now lost. The danger is also escalating as more series take a ‘lighter’ setting to the visualised darkness that some readers embraced and watering down remains a bad thing.

We acknowledge what Marvel has achieved and we are in awe and in desperate need to view of what comes next, but by saying that, we need to see that some of the darker parts have their own appeal, it was voiced many times with Logan (2017), the darker side was well captured and it was widely regarded as the best Wolverine movie of the lot, Wolverine basically left on a high and that should have been comprehended by those in charge of the Marvel IP.

I believe that to some extent, the Rotten Tomatoes score seem to indicate my version of deviation from the comic books when we see the Punisher with a mere 62%, yet as I am extremely unaware with the some of the comic books, I cannot explain Iron Fist (18%) and the Inhumans (10%), I am willing to wager that the oddity of the Inhumans is more like the Guardians of the Galaxy (little exposure to either comic book), yet the movie got it just right, whilst the Inhumans on the TV series might have (speculative) faltered there.

I reckon that we all have our guesses on that; I am merely telling you that my guess will be as good as yours. It is actually a shifting situation, as the fans got introduced that the Marvel series are moving to Disney, there is a side of me thinking that this is a bad move, not that they move to Disney, but that they move away from Netflix, you see, Netflix has massive momentum and Marvel alone cannot create that momentum for Disney overnight. They need to realise that they are poisoning their own well, they are setting the stage where they decrease momentum. Netflix has 118 million paying viewers, there is definitely space for a second channel and by the time Disney resets its brand to ‘include’ the mature watchers, they will optionally have lost 3 years and many millions, so whilst we see nearly a dozen series take hit after hit on amount of viewers, how do you think the future for all these productions are set? It is not merely the advertisers who take a back gander in all this, whomever is making that decision at Disney needs to realise that they are undersigning close to $200 million loss for longer than a short term, so by the time the momentum is back on the road half a billion is gone, with almost no option to recapture that, do they not realise that?

And no one is insensitive to the Marvel Universe, most of us have been exposed (beyond the comic books) through animation series, TV series and other means of exposure like video games and we all know it works, yet in that light being extra careful, not brazenly blunt is the way to go for a long term setting with a fickle viewing audience, because DC is just one step behind. They had several fumbles and whilst the relaunch series started their successes with Smallville (2001-2011), they still have the same issues that Marvel has. I believe that Constantine showed part of that flaw. It has the goods, yet in my personal view was not willing to be dark enough, it is a view that Europeans and former Europeans share and in all that it is an important side, because they are 50% of Netflix at present and they represented 61% of the Avengers: Infinity War revenue (actually the non-Americans are that), but a massive part is Europe and in the equation of revenue that is a lot more important than the producers realise. You see Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddlestone are not just excellent actors, they are non-American actors and that ‘non’ part is equally important. Europeans seems to be identifying themselves easier to these actors which is becoming more and more of a factor. And that is nothing negative on the quality of any of the American actors, which is of the highest quality. So as we realise that non-American parts are increasingly important, why is the embrace of the story so often too deeply soaked in American ‘value setting‘? It is not merely that a person like Mark Wahlberg was in Boogie Nights, he was awesome as an actor, it was merely the setting and directness of Boogie Nights that captured the global heart, the fact that this movie was American in origin was even more astounding. That is the captured emotion Marvel (DC also) needs and I believe from my side that going deeply dark on some of the series will not be negative, most will see it as a refreshing side to a comic book universe that has many colours. I believe that in that regard Witchblade was made too early, it merely got through 2 seasons, like the Darkness (also a Top Cow production) it was deeply dark and as special effects could not match the comic books (it pretty much can today) as well as the need to be dark as hell (pun intended) showed over 20 years a setting embraced by many readers and mostly appreciative of the amazing illustrations. Marvel still has a few option (they have loads actually), yet the setting of a darker presence they have the series Moon Knight, which ultimately led to the Secret Avengers (how secret can a comic book actually get?). Even as it started with the inclusion of Captain America, Black Widow, Ant Man and War Machine, it would also give us temporary people that have been in several comics like the Avengers and Thor (Valkyrie), X-Man (Beast) and New Warriors (Nova), Moon Knight, even as you might have seen him in a comic or two with Spiderman, remains unknown to a much larger audience. It would also grace presence from Hawkeye (played presently by Jeremy Renner) and Venom (agent Venom), the Flash Thompson version. So not only are a few characters darker, the interaction might allow for a level of darkness, or perhaps better stated ‘living via less legally accepted values’ to interact with the greater good. It is a part that Civil war scratched on, yet as we know that it had been in the central side of many comic books for the longest of times (the DC Azrael series as well as Knightfall), the acceptance that we have that by the book never gets us anywhere and going overboard to the extremely other side is also accepted as ‘existing’, those who are in denial of that existence, please look up ‘mercenary’, ‘Blackwater’ and ‘Aegis Defence Services’, so there is that to consider. We are already seeing the reality of certain places and the issues they provide and solve (and create). So part of Moon knight is already fraught with examples that go back to the Congo and as present as Syria (some Russian corporation), the absence of that darkness is in the end not a good thing, things become ‘too vanilla’ is perhaps not the right tone, but when we consider the near impossible achievement that Avengers: Infinity War created, we need to see that staying on that exact course is not achievable as it started with almost a dozen other movies (3 Iron Man, 3 Thor, 3 Captain America, 2 Guardians of the Galaxy, 1 Dr Strange, 1 Black Panther and several Spiderman’s), so that foundation was well designed and part of the creation of the hype, but pulling that off again might not be possible to that degree. Now it becomes a melting pot of settings between light and dark, good and wrong, evil and optional.

Philosophically we could speculate that we are shaped as people through the interaction of extremes, so ignoring the other side, or perhaps trivialising it through caricature characters like MODOK (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing), we can giggle on it in the comic books in an obsolete episode (read: one off), yet when it becomes the main boss in a TV series, the people will change channels to watch the late news pretty quickly. I believe that making Constantine much darker, by adding these options and by not making Cloak and Dagger some love story, momentum could have been gained. There are plenty more opportunities there, yet I feel that the overall package might at some point become lesser. I feel that the evidence shown in the movie Watchman, the darkness that Rorschach represented was perfect, overall the exposed darker side was what made the movie an absolute gem and of course there was no lack of evil when we saw a blonde version of Matthew Goode playing Ozymandias (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

So if that one side of Marvel can get addressed they will optionally be having an even bigger marvellous time than they are already having. there is larger premise to my consideration, we see this over the ages as Marvel has had its share of ‘darker’ characters, it is seen in Spider Woman, who is originally set as “In her first appearance, Spider-Woman was to be an actual spider evolved into a human as imagined by writer/co-creator Goodwin. Her debut was shortly followed by a four-issue story arc in Marvel Two-in-One in which Wolfman presented a different origin retcon as he felt her original origin was too implausible for mid-1970s readers“, it was the sales of Marvel Spotlight#32 that took it to a new level. Even now as we see gene splicing, we see the setting of adding to the human gene, yet the setting of adding human sides to the other gene is still a little far-fetched, yet in 40 years we have gone from ‘too implausible’ to merely ‘implausible’, so there is progress. In all this we have the presented setting like the movie Ex Machina, Kirk Langstrom (man bat character from Batman), Venom, my favourite Alex Mercer from the Prototype series and last but not least the original X-man Beast both the Kelsey Grammer and the Nicholas Hoult edition. There is a league of settings that Marvel (as well as DC) already offered and it seems they are stepped over (read: partially ignored), not merely in one part as they weren’t as successful as the Asgardian characters or the billionaires Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark, we can debate that all day, but the American setting is getting more and more ‘wrong’ ((less accepted might be a better term), implying that darker series will be a lot better received that most American producers can fathom, I merely need to point at the success of American Gods to make that point.

So let’s see that we can all have a marvellous time between now and 2020 (when the Infinity War hype passes), because after that we still want to go to the movies, watch Blu-ray and Netflix (those who have not passed away by then that is).

Was that dark enough? Have a fun day today!

 

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