The BurnettWork https://theburnettwork.net Genre entertainment has never been this fun! Tue, 03 Mar 2020 20:46:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 https://i1.wp.com/theburnettwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/cropped-Robservations-Icon.gif?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 The BurnettWork https://theburnettwork.net 32 32 114431728 Whatever happened to Riddick? https://theburnettwork.net/whatever-happened-to-riddick/ https://theburnettwork.net/whatever-happened-to-riddick/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 20:22:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12417

Imagination Connoisseur, Hannes The Hun, is a big fan of Vin Diesel’s Riddick-verse and wants to know why, after two pretty darn good movies and some groundbreaking video games, we’re not seeing more tales from the Riddick Chronicles?

(edited for clarity)

Hey Rob,

What is your attitude towards the Riddick universe as written & created by Twohy & Diesel?

Personally, I feel this could have become Universal’s “Star Wars Killer” but somehow it never came to fruition. I love what they did with the Riddick character from PITCH BLACK (a surprise hit) to RIDDICK CHRONICLES (a very underrated sci-fi gem) and beyond.

I just don’t understand why this very promising franchise never hit the ground and grew beyond its premises.

We had games on X360 that were really groundbreaking, so you had the multi-media premise but nevertheless this franchise somehow died beyond its premise. How can this happen? Should it have been brought back?

I would LOVE to have more adventures of Riddick.

– Hannes

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Will the cost of being a geek kill the things we love? https://theburnettwork.net/will-the-cost-of-being-a-geek-kill-the-things-we-love/ https://theburnettwork.net/will-the-cost-of-being-a-geek-kill-the-things-we-love/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 16:30:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12416

Imagination Connoisseur, Christopher Whitfield, is afraid we’re seeing the beginning of the end for comics and genre entertainment as we’ve enjoyed it. Are we pricing ourselves out of existence?

Attention Singularity:

You will read this. It is useless to resist. My thoughts to your thoughts….

The sci-fi community has less than 20 years of life left to it. This would also be true of the comic book community. Allow myself to explain … myself.

As I see it, these genres of films and publications are solely catering to a dying breed. Not sure for everyone else, but I feel I have fewer days ahead of me than I have behind me.

I had a perfect childhood. Let me clarify that, I had a perfect childhood as I grew up in the perfect decade. I was just lucky enough that I was a kid throughout the 1980s. Not just a few good years inside the 1980s, but I enjoyed the entire 1980s. I was 8 as the decade started and 18 as it ended. So, I consider myself that perfect example of the 80s generation.

I have clear memories of seeing Star Wars at the Star Lite Drive-in. I remember walking into Kmart and seeing a wall of Star Wars figures in 1978. My uncle spoiled me by buying them — not just a few, but all 12! The cost of each was $1.50.

By 1980, I was sitting in front of the 19” Zenith watching BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY. Afternoons were reruns of STAR TREK and SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. My mother would drop me off at the Park Twin Theater on Saturdays to watch movies such as STAR WARS: EPISODE V – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (SW:TESB), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, TRON, SUPERMAN II and SUPERMAN III, STAR TRE II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (ST:TWOK), STAR WARS: EPISODE VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI (SW:ROTJ) and THE LAST STARFIGHTER.

Like I said, a perfect time to be a kid!

My Graceland was the Yucca Newsstand — a Shangri-La of sensory delights. To walk in the business, one became intoxicated with the crisp olfactory of newsprint ink and pipe tobacco— along with a metallic ozone of tarnished coins. Glass cases sparkled with rare coins, pocket watches and zippo lighters. Walls were filled with the bright and vivid fashion magazines — an endless shelf of magazines on every subject from gardening to model trains. In the back corner, just beyond the racks of pulp novels, were three wire racks of comic books.

Every cover was an explosion of color and an intense action scene. Bought my first issues of Marvel Star Wars, G.I. Joe, DC Comics Superman and Justice League of America there. I lost myself in wonderment and curiosity. Nearly every penny of my allowance spent on comics. Five dollars a month! But I got a stack — a real stack — of comics. All priced at .60 cents! (for the math challenged, that’s roughly 10 comics! That didn’t’ include the box of old stuff for Quarter!) You know how much $5 gets you today? One. Yes, ONE.

Oh, how I wish the Newsstand would return. Yet, it was a relic of its time — almost everything inside it is now considered obsolete or morally objectionable (I’m referring to the tobacco not the New York Times or Action Comics…oh wait…maybe I am referring to them all).

So sorry, I diverted off topic.

As kids, we can’t control macroeconomics or fancy terms like inflation, capitalization or market growth, but it can stop us from buying those things today. While browsing the toy aisles recently, I asked myself are parents spending the $9.99 for a basic 4” inch action figure? Are kids saving their allowance to buy a $40 Lego set? What parent would drop $3.99 for a 20-page funny book? Do 12-year olds save their allowance to buy the latest Batman Hardcover?

Comic books were once at the grocery store checkout — where pestering children could possibly get their mothers to toss it into the cart as it was only 60 cents. I remember when the Archie Digest was a $1 and always an impulse buy at the Piggly Wiggly. Now, they are $7.99!

Are we just pricing ourselves out of these products for the next generation? Is the only consumer of these products from a time long ago? Are science fiction and comics even created for children anymore? Can we save it? Is there a way to bring it back….to capture the next generation and stop this great genre from dying?

I hope so. I desperately hope so.

Yours truly,
– CW

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When it comes to artificial intelligence, STAR TREK: PICARD isn’t using its head. https://theburnettwork.net/when-it-comes-to-artificial-intelligence-star-trek-picard-isnt-using-its-head/ https://theburnettwork.net/when-it-comes-to-artificial-intelligence-star-trek-picard-isnt-using-its-head/#respond Thu, 27 Feb 2020 15:30:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12415

Imagination Connoisseur, Alan Bennett, shares his concern that artificial intelligence is being improperly villainized in STAR TREK: PICARD and, instead, should be embraced as a natural “next step” as we boldly explore the stars.

(edited for clarity)

Hey Rob,

As I was listening, I had a thought about the Artificial Intelligence topic you had just brought up. This is just an observation …

This is in reference to the use (or in my case misuse) of what artificial intelligence is in the Star Trek universe and, in particular, STAR TREK: PICARD (ST:PICARD).

To me, the Star Trek universe needs to get away from using the old hackneyed concept of “A.I.=bad.” As Captain Jean Luc Picard, himself, stated in the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (ST:TNG) Episode “Measure of a Man”:

“Now, the decision you reach here today will determine how we will regard this — the creation of our genius. It will reveal the kind of a people we are, what he is destined to be; it will reach far beyond this courtroom and this — one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty and freedom; expanding them for some — savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him and all who come after him, to servitude and slavery? Your Honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life; well, there it sits.; Waiting.”

Exploration is the core of a good Star Trek. It always has. That was why I gravitated to it. So here was an idea that I had:

Move beyond the tropes in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (ST:DISC) and ST:PICARD. The Federation is still mandating exploration, but the majority of humanity is beginning to move into another phase of evolution – moving quicker as Q stated to Picard in ST:TNG.

Holograms could, in fact, download themselves into a positronic matrix, therefore, giving themselves an actual physical body. But there is a catch to this; once the download has taken place there is no going back.

The transporter could be a much more powerful device by sending down ATH’s (away team holograms) being both remotely controlled by either A.I. Guidance or human neural interface like was shown in “The Nth Degree” 4th season episode 19.

Outside biological infection would be vastly reduced, though there could be other extraterrestrial infections that could happen. Space is vast. What a better way of self-discovery than facing emotional imperatives than facing what could be a moralistic choice.

There could be massive drama from exploration why do people have such an aversion to this?

Just because a few, well-renowned people such as Professor Stephen Hawking or industrialists in the form of Elon Musk have weighed in on A.I., this shouldn’t be the rallying cry for what is happening in ST:PICARD. The artificial intelligence that takes place in Star Trek is an idealized form of the future.

Look at INTERSTELLAR and the robots of TARS and CASS as perfect examples of a great A.I.

As to the look of the android. I think they should look humanoid because these new explorers are representing what Federation is at its core – an amalgam of beings.

We should be reaching for the stars putting our very best forward. A.I. is not counterposed to what we are, if anything they are our child of creation.

Just some ideas to ponder.

Thanks for your time.
– Alan B.

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FIREFLY = Shiny. SERENITY, eh, not so much. https://theburnettwork.net/firefly-shiny-serenity-eh-not-so-much/ https://theburnettwork.net/firefly-shiny-serenity-eh-not-so-much/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2020 11:47:32 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12414

Imagination Connoisseur, Ian Samuels, puts on his brown coat and sings us a tale of a great show called FIREFLY – a classic, space/horse opera with memorable characters, adventure and unforgettable stories. The movie that followed it though … well, that’s another song for another time.

Rob,

A Bear and a Rabbit meet in the woods and the Bear asks the Rabbit “When you do a crap do you have a problem with shit sticking to your fur?” The Rabbit insists, “No, I don’t have that problem.” So the Bear wipes his ass with the Rabbit.

Now that the kids are out of the room – thanks Eddie Murphy – let’s talk FIREFLY and the travesty of SERENTIY.

Produced by Joss Whedon, FIREFLY was a great series with a great cast and great stories. We have our Captain Mal who was on the losing side in the war. He is joined by Zoe he was by his side in the war which has made them close. Zoe’s husband ‘Wash’ played by the sublime Alan Tudyk (which sounds like a good porn name ‘Tudyk’ – 2 Dick?), engineer Kaylee and a man called Jayne. Along for the ride is a very close friend of Captain Mal’s Inarra, played by the stunning Morena Baccarin. Inarra is a very high class, expensive ‘Companion’.

They fly in a Firefly-class ship that Captain Mal has named “Serenity” after the final battle of the war. They pick up passengers, a rich Doctor with a large crate and a Preacher. Turns out that the crate contains the Doctor’s younger sister River.

One of the most unique additions to the series are the “Reavers.” A great concept, the Reavers were the first explorers into deep space who looked into the emptiness of deep space – which stared back at them and turned them mad.

With FIREFLY, we got just one season of great TV (if viewed in the correct order, not the order that Fox showed the episodes).

Fans still screamed out for more. But from what I have heard of what Whedon had planned for season 2, I think we are better without Whedon ruining it. River and her brother Simon were going to be the focus. Therefore the best thing about the series, the crew of the Serenity, would be background characters.

Unfortunately, Whedon did get the chance to do something – he made the film SERENTIY.

With SERENITY, Whedon took everything he had done well in FIREFLY and shat on it from a great height. We got a glimpse of what season 2 would’ve been, with River being the main character and the cast in the background.

Whedon kills off Wash, one of the best characters in FIREFLY as well as The Preacher, Shepherd Book. He then takes the Reavers, one of the most interesting concepts and turns them into one of the most cliched SciFi tropes ever… A Military Experiment Gone Wrong.

And they have their own home world! Utter, utter crap!

Whedon, like George Lucas, just keeps meddling.

Have something good? Then leave it alone don’t ruin it! Josh & George need to learn before either of them are allowed anywhere near a film or TV set.

Anyway, anyone who hasn’t seen FIREFLY should go watch it. You are missing out.

Just forget that SERENITY ever happened.

– Ian S.

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Willow Talk: Modern gangster films shed some light on cultural differences between American and Hong Kong filmmakers. https://theburnettwork.net/willow-talk-modern-gangster-films-shed-some-light-on-cultural-differences-between-american-and-hong-kong-filmmakers/ https://theburnettwork.net/willow-talk-modern-gangster-films-shed-some-light-on-cultural-differences-between-american-and-hong-kong-filmmakers/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2020 02:12:28 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12413

Willow Yang, Imagination Connoisseur and featured blogger, provides her twin reviews of Hong Kong’s INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002) and the Martin Scorecese re-make of it, THE DEPARTED (2006) and says while the pictures are similar, their cultural perspectives and directors bring out differences that make both films worth watching.

Greetings Rob,

A number of months ago I had sent in a question asking about the Hong Kongese film INFERNAL AFFAIRS and its American remake, Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED, and which I should watch first. Having seen both movies now, I felt like writing up a comparison of the two. In short, while both were great, I thought that INFERNAL AFFAIRS was the better-made of the two films; however, I did find THE DEPARTED to be more entertaining.

Even though the plots of the two movies were virtually identical, the tones felt markedly different. THE DEPARTED definitely deserved its R-rating with its healthy dosage of profanity, innuendo, and more graphic, and sometimes a little gratuitous, violence. INFERNAL AFFAIRS was much tamer in comparison; it did not have any overt sexual content, there wasn’t much swearing (at least not in the Mandarin-dubbed version), and the violence was considerably toned down and used only when it was needed for the story. I was quite surprised that it was also rated R on Netflix; it should have easily been a PG13.

In relation to its rating, I thought THE DEPARTED contained much more spectacle; the movie had almost an hour longer runtime, with much of the added scenes devoted to the gangsters, making it an equal parts cop and gangster film, whereas INFERNAL AFFAIRS was much more cop-centric.

I think that the inclusion of additional scenes in THE DEPARTED may be Scorsese playing to his strengths with making colourful gangster films, and adding more of his flavour. The result is a flashier, more hedonistic, and dare I say “Americanized” remake of the much quieter Hong Kongese original.

THE DEPARTED had plenty of bravado; it had Mark Wahlberg’s wisecracking Dignam and Jack Nicholson’s devilish Costello chewing up the scenery with every moment that they were on screen. The roles of their counterparts in INFERNAL AFFAIRS were considerably reduced: each character played their part in serving the plot without drawing the audience’s attention away from the main story. In this sense, THE DEPARTED felt more individualistic whereas INFERNAL AFFAIRS was more collective; the characters weren’t vying for the spotlight in the latter.

Even though I found THE DEPARTED to be more fun, when it came to the two leads (Tony Leung’s Chan and Andy Lau’s Lau vs Leonardo DiCaprio’s Costigan and Matt Damon’s Sullivan) I did prefer INFERNAL AFFAIRS to THE DEPARTED.

While I quite enjoyed DiCaprio’s performance – he was one of the few characters from a Scorsese film that I found to be quite sympathetic – I appreciated Leung’s take more. DiCaprio was flashier: he did quite a bit of yelling and screaming, which worked for the tone of the movie he was in. Leung’s performance was much subtler. He was quiet for the most part; a lot of his emotions weren’t expressed by words, but by his face, the loneliness in his eyes.

THE DEPARTED lent a good amount of time delving into Costigan’s background and family; INFERNAL AFFAIRS was much more concise with Chan. There was just one shot of him standing in the alleyway, saluting to his deceased father, and that was it. That was all we really needed to know.

I vastly preferred the character of Lau to his counterpart, Sullivan. Now, I certainly don’t have anything against Matt Damon (I’m not Jimmy Kimmel), but Sullivan was just a smug, smirking punk that I spent the entire movie wanting to punch in the face. Lau was a considerably more complex and charismatic character. He wore an outward veneer of coolness, but there was turmoil and conflict beneath his façade as he found himself questioning his identity, the kind of person he actually wanted to be. The differences between the two is probably best exemplified by their reasons for killing their bosses: Sullivan killed Costello because he was afraid the latter would rat him out to the FBI; Lau killed Hon because he wished to be free to choose his own destiny.

While the plot of the two films were virtually identical, there were a few deviations, probably the most significant being the ending. The conclusion of THE DEPARTED was pretty clear-cut and satisfying: Sullivan got what’s coming to him in the form of a bullet to the face. The conclusion of INFERNAL AFFAIRS was more open-ended. Lau survives, and there is a final flashback of him back at the police academy, watching Chan depart and stating that he wished their places could be switched. It appears that he has gotten what he had wanted. However, INFERNAL AFFAIRS referenced the idea of Continuous Hell in Buddhism; indeed, the movie concluded with a final Buddhist quote: “He who is in Continuous Hell never dies. Longevity is a big hardship in Continuous Hell.”

Did Lau actually get away with it, or is his punishment in his very continued existence, in living in a hell of perpetual guilt and fear? Granted, I haven’t watched the sequels (to INFERNAL AFFAIRS) yet, so perhaps there is a more definitive answer; however, I did quite like the ambiguity here.

I will conclude my discussion by referring back to the question that I had initially posed to you.

Having seen both movies now, I’ve got to say that I do disagree with you over which movie I’d recommend watching first to those who haven’t seen either. I actually would watch THE DEPARTED first, not because I think it’s the better movie, but because I believe part of its strength lies in its surprises. The deaths in the movie were shocking, not just because they involved main characters getting offed, but also in the way that they were (no pun intended) executed.

When Queenan and Costigan were killed, it was quick and sudden, without any of the glamour that you’d expect from a movie. The deaths were unheroic; they were meaningless, which was what made them impactful.

The deaths of their counterparts in INFERNAL AFFAIRS were much more melodramatic: there was Amazing Grace playing, slow motion, and black and white flashbacks. On paper it does sound a little cheesy, but within the context of the movie it worked; however, because I feel that the death scenes were more emotionally-driven in INFERNAL AFFAIRS, it isn’t as detrimental to spoil them as it would be for THE DEPARTED. That is just my reasoning anyways.

Best regards,
Willow

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Imagination Connoisseurs come in all shapes, sizes and ages. https://theburnettwork.net/imagination-connoisseurs-come-in-all-shapes-sizes-and-ages/ https://theburnettwork.net/imagination-connoisseurs-come-in-all-shapes-sizes-and-ages/#respond Wed, 26 Feb 2020 23:14:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12412

Imagination Connoisseur, Dillon M., writes in to let us know that even though he’s a child of the 90s, he still has a deep appreciation of “classic” sci-fi (pre-1977) as well as “modern” work (post-1977). Let us know your classic and modern faves in the comments section, below.

Greetings, Robert.

I recently stumbled upon and began watching your YouTube channel, having previously known you from your appearances on THE JOHN CAMPEA SHOW and COLLIDER HEROES.

Recently on episode 344 of ROBSERVATIONS, you were discussing the gulf between older and younger genre fans and posing the question of whether it were even possible for younger fans to engage with the older franchises in the same way that you did. I thought perhaps I could give you some hope on this point.

I’m a younger guy myself, having been born in the mid 90s. I was fortunate however, in that unlike my peers I grew up on a diet of both older and contemporary movies and television. For this reason, I never had any difficulty appreciating older media and in many cases I even preferred it.

I find that I have more in common with older fans like yourself than I do most of my contemporaries. The original Twilight Zone, various incarnations of Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and of course Godzilla have always been among my favorite franchises.

Growing up in school, I felt very isolated – but when I got older and gained access to the Internet, I discovered that there are indeed others like me. Today, my social circle is made up almost entirely of younger people like myself who appreciate the classics in a very real way. We exist, we’re out here, and I hope that one day people like us will break into the industry and bring back some of those old school sensibilities.

And now that I’ve gotten down from my soapbox, I hope you will indulge me in a fun little query.

I tend to divide science fiction into two distinct eras, the classic and the modern. Everyone has their own definitions of those terms, but for my purposes I tend to see classic sci-fi as being before Star Wars and modern being after. Given these parameters, what would be your picks be for favorite classic and favorite modern science fiction films?

Personally, my picks are THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and BLADE RUNNER (1982, but more specifically, the 2007 “Final Cut”).

– Dillon M.

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Bonanza at the bargain bin! https://theburnettwork.net/bonanza-at-the-bargain-bin/ https://theburnettwork.net/bonanza-at-the-bargain-bin/#respond Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:03:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12346

Imagination Connoisseur, Stephen Goggin, shares his good fortune bargain-hunting for DVDs with his friends in the Post-Geek Singularity.

(edited for clarity)

Dear Rob and listeners,

I love DVD hunting in charity shops and second-hand gaming shops. Every once in a while, I come across offers like 4 DVDs for one pound.

In one of these offers, I got CASINO ROYALE with Daniel Craig (probably his best film as Bond); a Bollywood film called SAAWARIYA directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali (which I have not watched yet); SYRIANA, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Jeffrey Wright; and, lastly, HERAFTER (also starting Matt Damon).

I think I got a bargain.

The film I wish to talk about is HEREAFTER. I seemed to know nothing about it and when I got around to watching I very much enjoyed it. The story is about Mat Damon’s character (a reluctant psychic who shies away from his gifts) and two other characters and how they eventually meet up.

What I did not know about this film was that it was directed By Clint Eastwood – who also did the soundtrack to the movie.

I knew Clint sang in PAINT YOUR WAGON (I Talk to the Trees) and in HONKY TONK MAN and has a number of albums, but I was unaware of his soundtrack efforts. Since watching HEREAFTER, I discovered that Clint has done the music to UNFORGIVEN and MYSTIC RIVER.

It is nice to discover something about a favorite actor you have not known before. Why this has escaped me I do not know.

I also did not know HEREAFTER was a joint venture by Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg (who was Executive Producer). What do they do? And what is the difference between an Executive Producer and a Producer?

Also involved was Kathleen Kennedy – I enjoy most of her work outside of Star Wars (i.e. TINTIN, EMPIRE OF THE SUN, HEREAFTER). Why couldn’t she have continued to do what worked when she did Star Wars? To me, her work is split in two: her work before Star Wars and her work on Star Wars.

I would recommend HEREAFTER. It is a unusual subject matter for Clint, but I liked it.

As always, thank you for reading out my letters and to you and the listeners live long and prosper.

P.S. I discovered that William Shatner’s Tek War is on you tube and it is fun (Barb Wire-type of fun and much better than STAR TREK: PICARD). I loved the first villain in Tek War, Marty Doller, and his addictive, music machine )

– Stephen Goggin
(The Irishman in Somerset)

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HOMICIDE HUNTER is a detective series to die for. https://theburnettwork.net/homicide-hunter-is-a-detective-series-to-die-for/ https://theburnettwork.net/homicide-hunter-is-a-detective-series-to-die-for/#respond Wed, 26 Feb 2020 12:18:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12345

Imagination Connoisseur, Ian Samuels, takes a closer look at his favorite detective series, HOMICIDE HUNTER and its intriguing host, real-life detective, Joe Kenda.

Rob,

I would like to talk Detective series, in particularly what I believe is the best detective series. Monk and Morse were good but they don’t match up to the HOMICIDE HUNTER, Lt. Joe Kenda. One thing Kenda has over the others is that he is real.

Each episode of the series has Joe Kenda himself doing voice over and in an interview type situation discussing his view of the case. Added to this is a dramatisation of the investigation.

One of the interesting things about the series, other than being real is the actor who plays Kenda in the dramatisations, Carl Marino was himself a detective before becoming an actor, so not a stretch of his acting skills.

HOMICIDE HUNTER is a great series with intriguing cases and the incredibly engaging Kenda telling us the tale. He even has a catchphrase that makes my wife wet every time he says it, ‘Well My, My, My.’

If any fellow members of the PGS, fellow ROBSERVATIONS enjoy detective series, they should definitely check out Joe Kenda, HOMICIDE HUNTER there has been 9 seasons since its start in 2011.

– Ian S.

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Are we locked into a dystopian future or can we do better? https://theburnettwork.net/are-we-locked-into-a-dystopian-future-or-can-we-do-better/ https://theburnettwork.net/are-we-locked-into-a-dystopian-future-or-can-we-do-better/#respond Wed, 26 Feb 2020 05:27:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12344

Imagination Connoisseur, Vermillion Problems, makes the case that the post-scarcity, utopian society depicted in classic Star Trek is not only aspirational … it’s entirely possible.

Robtronic Dubsonic,

Hello.

I first heard you speak, so eloquently, on science fiction, while listening to MIDNIGHT’S EDGE. I can’t possibly summarize all the details of verisimilitude, and the state of Star Trek that you and others have done such a great job covering – so I will comment on my opinion of what feels like one of the biggest tragedies of New Trek and to a lesser extent Old Trek.

“New Trek is weak, Tom Clancy fan fiction in Star Trek’s clothing.”

What is ultimately disappointing, is the wasted opportunity to improve and update the original formula developed by Gene Roddenberry and nurtured by the stewards of the Star Trek IP who followed. Here I am, speaking specifically about Gene’s vision of a utopian society and its explorations through outer space.

One of the greatest, and most challenging, themes in Star Trek, is its setting in a future of utopia, cosmopolitanism, social equality and freedom. Old Trek did a good job in some places showing this. Even STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (ST:DS9), the “dark Trek”, was still rooted in this general ideal.

We can see the show runners and writers that would follow struggled with this concept all the way through to the end of the Old Trek. Even though one could argue that some of the best of Star Trek was done after Gene’s passing, and covered topics he would object to, I can’t help but feel like this was a missed opportunity. I believe, knowing or unknowing, it was the optimistic example that truly was inspirational source of Trek’s longevity, though the action, characters and effects are what are most often cited.

So, why do writers, and producers shy away from the very thing that makes Star Trek unique?

In some cases, I think they simply chose to not believe in Star Trek’s vision or could not imagine it. Given all the negative examples we have, it is very easy to predict that such a future is impossible. Is it though?

In the book Trekonomics, by economist Manu Saadia, he estimates that trending GDP will reach post-scarcity in roughly 250 years. Max Roser’s, Ethnographic and Archaeological Evidence on Violent Deaths suggests the power of civilization has to curb violence as the historical record shows that the homicide rate averaged over 50% during pre-civilization life.

There is more, like the biological effects of environmental pressure, and how the negative can be swung toward the positive over the course generations. All this is to say, that some form of a post-scarcity society is, if not inevitable, very probable.

I personally think it was a failure of Star Trek to hand wave the transition from our modern paradigm to the future one of Star Trek. Wiping the slate clean by Atomic War, a desperate humanity, guided forward by pointy eared space angels.

Though, of course, the future is ours to lose, some of the most curious issues I wonder about in a post-scarcity society are how we handle the following.

The fear of death.

One interesting item from STAR TREK: PICARD (ST:PICARD) is the book, The Tragic Sense of Life, that Rios is constantly reading. It is like the physical manifestation of doubt in Gene Rodenberry’s vision.

The idea that the specter of death will haunt us no matter what world we build. It may well be true that we cannot banish this specter without all becoming monks dedicated to mental wellness. As such, we may always have some of the negative traits that we carry with us, that psychologists hypothesize stem from our death fixation.

It is here that Old Trek had some narrative successes and misses, where New Trek largely fumbles to say anything profound. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (ST:DISC)’s Season two especially with its, half-baked religious concepts and demonic, AI boogie men, is all existential bark, with no real bite.

Overcoming, loneliness, and the problem suicide, mass shootings, all problems that are rampant in 1st world societies.

Addressing the schism between secular and religious belief.

In Gene’s Star Trek, religion is something humanity simply grows out of. Can generations of being raised in a post-scarcity society with a value system that encourages wellness, fill the place of religion and spiritualism? New Trek, almost reversed this notion, by nearly making Captain Pike a pious Christian.

Navigating the perils of automation, on the way to post scarcity.

Who needs sentient AI? Automation alone could nearly be our undoing. The volatility of economics has let much of the world fall through the cracks.

Balancing automation, with environmental sustainability while preserving jobs (at least as long as money is still a thing), and dodging world-wide conflict is no easy matter. Almost makes the WW3 story conceit forgivable, given how tricky it may be to hold the line until we can get a big enough pipeline from outer space, while sustaining what we currently have on our planet.

Of course, once you see the weight of evidence that humanity can address all these problems, we can begin to accept that our worst impulses are the exception, and not the norm. Then, we can get back to classic Gene Roddenberry story telling. Humans, at their best facing alien metaphors of our past, and how we respond to them, and strange alien phenomena and what it says about our place in the universe.

New Trek doubles down on this misunderstanding, or outright rejection of the Roddenberry model of Star Trek. ST:DISC muddies the message, paying lip service to it at the end of Season 1, and taking a step back in Season 2.

While the setup for Season 3 feels like an unearned attempt at a Star Trek apocalypse. ST:PICARD also plays with unearned challenges of the Roddenberry ideals, the make ST:DS9 irreverence so much smarter in retrospect.

Because if was.

– Vermillion Problems

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Is there hope for Hollywood’s storytellers? https://theburnettwork.net/is-there-hope-for-hollywoods-storytellers/ https://theburnettwork.net/is-there-hope-for-hollywoods-storytellers/#respond Tue, 25 Feb 2020 23:22:00 +0000 https://theburnettwork.net/?p=12343

Imagination Connoisseur, Curtis Joseph, thinks that in a time known as “TV’s New Golden Age,” Hollywood has reached an embarrassing state of stagnation. Do you agree?

(edited for clarity)

Hello Mr. Burnett,

Hollywood has reached an embarrassing state of creative stagnation. Let me explain.

There is a dearth of fresh, new films – especially when it comes to tent-pole properties appearing on the big screens. The ever-constant, hive-mind in Hollywood keeps churning out re-boots, re-makes and adding sequels upon sequels to old properties that frankly don’t need continuations.

Just freshly revealed yesterday: news that there will not be a fourth installment to the Back to the Future franchise. This brilliant news is a resounding sigh of relief to fans of it worldwide. And no doubt, Bob Gale has absolutely made it known that there will never be re-boots nor sequels in the future.

Sir, the bubble has burst in “La La Land” for quite some time at least as for when it comes to sincerely going forward into inventive, engaging tent-pole properties. But you already know this, so I digress.

I see it now, we’re in for fleetingly small pockets of excellent moments to come through films from Christopher Nolan, Colin Trevorrow, Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, J.A. Bayona, Greta Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, and hopefully at a future time in her career, Deborah Chow.

I know, of course, there are others who are going to rise to excellence, so I am certainly not leaving them out of this important dialogue.

What are your thoughts on this?

Live life to the fullest,
– Curtis M. Joseph

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