A Steaming Pile of Internet

There’s another reason I didn’t post anything for two weeks. It’s because I didn’t have anything interesting to talk about. Nothing I was doing was particularly interesting at the time. I wasn’t reading anything worthwhile, I wasn’t examining any fascinating new articles. I was staying inside and playing video games and watching television. I needed a break from brain thinking, and loaded up my mind space with cerebral junk food. There’s nothing wrong with that, except, it left me with nothing to scribe about and no desire to make something up. I own a small slice of the internet, though. Not a very big slice, mind you, but a slice non the less. As the proprietor of this tiny slice of web zone, I’m now considered a “content creator”. This is where we enter bullshit territory. So pucker your assholes, because Mr. Charlton is going to rant for a bit.

See, before the internet, the world was filled with musicians and writers and designers and inventors and artists and a whole mess of crazy people who made things. They usually worked with marketers, entrepreneurs, publishers and another heap of humans to package and sell these things. These marketers, entrepreneurs, and publishers were the gatekeepers. They decided who got to be successful, and who didn’t make the cut. For years, this seemed to work in favour for the latter group. There’s always been this undercurrent of hatred for this group, these so-called suits. They’re business people at their core, and they’re interested in making money, not making dreams happen for artists. Fair enough. Then the world wide web took off, and soon it became easier for the painter, the poet, or the filmmaker to create art and sell it without the middle man, these so-called suits. We entered a new world, where people who created things got to deal directly with their fans and the purchasing public. Awesome, right?

There’s a problem, though. Back in the day, the artist used to think “You know what, these gatekeepers have shitty taste. If the people could only hear my music, then I’d be able to be successful. I’d make it if I just had the chance.” Those artists were wrong. It wasn’t the gatekeepers who had shitty taste, it was the people. I wrote a post years ago, on the old blog, about how people have lousy taste. That includes me. I have abhorrent taste in music. I have a soft spot in my heart for terrible movies. My idea of decorating a house is minimalist, in which I don’t decorate my house (the added bonus of not having to dust shit is also nice).

The internet is steaming cesspool of pop-culture refined sugar, not because that’s what people want to make, but that’s because it’s what people want to consume.

I’m going to give you a choice. You can either get a fast food burger once a day, or you can splurge at the end of the week and get a three course meal at a fancy restaurant. The only caveat is you can’t have both. Most people are going to go for the first option. There will be a few people who’ll wait for the crazy amazing meal, but not everyone is into fine dining. The internet is taken this to heart, and the term is ‘content’. In order to be a viable website, you need to have new content. Every. Day. Even if it’s not particularly good content, people still need to be able to come to your space and find something new.

Truthfully, this has less to do with people’s shitty taste, although I will defend to the death that I’m right on the money with that. It actually has to do with how the brain is hardwired. The brain likes being rewarded with stimulus, and will fire some dopamine in your direction when it gets what it wants. The same pleasure centers fire up when you get a message, or a text, or a Facebook like, or browse a site and get something new. That’s why websites like Facebook and Instagram are constantly updating. It’s why people are constantly checking their feeds every ten minutes.

If you’re a massive organization, like let’s say Buzzfeed, you just need to churn out crap everyday. And that’s what Buzzfeed does. I’m not certain how many people contribute to Buzzfeed, but it’s got to be a couple dozen. If you’re flying solo, like myself, you have to make a conscious descision. Do I churn out crap everyday? Or do I try and have some standards and at least put together a legible article?

Here’s the thing. Even what I’ve just written here is pretty trashy. I haven’t solidfied my research, but rather just took a bunch of ideas I’ve been pooling in my head and vomited them out onto the page. Which is maybe why I haven’t been writing as much, ’cause I hate churning out crap.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse. The artist isn’t just an artist anymore, they’re a ‘content creator’. They now have to be selling themselves at all times. I like putting shit down on paper and online. I do not like adding a million hashtags to what I’m doing to try and whore myself out. Anyways, rant over. I’m going to get back at something more interesting later this week. I promise.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. You know what happens if I break my promise? Nothing.

p.s.s. Maybe it’ll be ’34 ways people are using the internet the way junkies use heroin’.

p.s.s.s. #writing #writerslife #doIreallyhavetodothis #Igetitsaneasywaytopromotemyself #anditsfree #butseriously #everytimeIseeapostlikethis #Iwanttostaplemydicktothebackofacar

Where No Man Has Gone Before

I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek recently with my girlfriend. No, not the new action packed movies that star Chris Pine and Simon Pegg and some other actresses and actors I can’t remember off the top of my head. I’m not watching Enterprise, Voyager, or Deep Space Nine, I’m not even sure if I’ve actually watched a full episode of any of those knock offs. It’s not The Next Generation, which does kick major ass with Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard. My eyeballs are getting stuffed with the sweet old school, super colorful, groundbreaking original series created by Gene Roddenberry, featuring the all start cast of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan.

The original Star Trek television serial is one of those shows I believe everyone should watch at least once. The acting is sometimes terrible, the special effects were amazing for it’s time and budget, it deals with themes that are still valid today, and the fight scenes are incredibly cheesy and poorly shot. This may not sound like much of a pitch, but I promise you, it’s definitely entertaining. The show has had such an influence on our culture that watching all 79 episodes is a history lesson on a number of television tropes that are still popular today.

Star Trek start airing in 1966, a time when the two most powerful countries on the planet were toying with the idea of mutual self destruction. The United States and the USSR were locked in a cold war, and both nations were stockpiling nuclear arms. The idea of Star Trek was to show a future where humanity has succeeded at achieving peace on Earth, and was now traveling the stars with other alien nations, with a crew made up of various ethnicity working together for a common goal. It was the first television series to feature a black woman, Nichelle Nichols, in a prominent role. It featured the first on-screen interracial kiss. On the bridge Walter Koenig played Chekov, a man with a heavy Russian accent.

Star Trek took the world as it was, when black people were fighting for civil liberties and two nations teetered on the brink of war, and showed us there was light at the end of the tunnel. That people were better, and could be better, if we worked together. Many of the episodes had plots that revolved around war, racism, tolerance and working towards peaceful resolutions. Asking questions came well before shooting.

The series was grounded in science. The researchers for the program were phenomenal, and many of the devices that were branded as futuristic are used today. The communicators are the best example, today we call them cellphones. The warp engines were based on the physics being studied at the time, the medical tricorder that was often used by Dr. McCoy are slowly becoming a reality, and Star Trek at it’s core is about space exploration. With government agencies like NASA and private enterprises like SpaceX, it looks like space exploration is becoming popular once again. Sure, the show featured time travel and parallel universes, but Star Trek still tended to focus on hard science fiction ideas.

William Shatner, as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, is a damn treat to watch. He’s not a particularly great actor by any stretch, but he’s a character unto himself. His speech pattern is strange, his presence is enormous, and he eats up the scene in every shot he’s in. Every time he’s in front of the camera, I’m pretty much glued to the screen. William Shatner is the best when he’s playing William Shatner (although apparently he’s a accomplished stage actor, which is a different beast all together).

The reason I’ve decided to talk about star Trek is, firstly, I’m watching a ton of it right now. That is something that is going on in Mr. Charlton’s life at the moment. Secondly, it was a vehicle used to talk about a lot of moral and social issues at the time, and it can still apply to the issues our society faces today. The coolest thing about Star Trek is Gene Roddenberry ideal future landscape, where humanity has overcome it’s differences to explore the stars. The show was about scientific discovery, locating and documenting new phenomenon, and how rationality and logic would prevail over ignorance and fear.

So, if you’re in the mood for low budget, cheesy, thought provoking science fiction, with weird choreographed fight scenes and bizarre acting, you can’t go wrong with Star Trek – The Original Series. Definitely one of my guiltier pleasures.

Sincerely,

The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. My girlfriend actually will sit down and watch it with me, and I believe that’s a testament regarding the shows entertainment value.

p.s.s. Start with ‘The Arena’. Classic.