Extratone

Extratone is an online magazine covering technology, music, culture, and media with an ongoing passion for New Culture and a duty to further its voices.

by David Blue

Mastobird

Eugen Rochko has spent this year perfecting federated social media in Mastodon – his open source project. We spoke to him just hours before it became a global tech conversation.

The saga of Twitter, Inc. has been rejuvenated in 2017 by Tump's antics, corporate drama, and an amalgam of user and non-user disquiet with its decisions, though its financial viability has been in prominent industry conversation for half a decade. Since its pre-2010 outset, many 'a' feature has accumulated on its original, still-iconic skeletal software, and – though the net is undoubtedly positive – a few have gone.

Last Thursday, the company revised in bravado its poultrian default profile picture and its system of replies to exclude @s on all of Twitter's proprietary services, drastically changing two of its visual mainstays, and prodding a particularly lucent cacophony. Turn your ear, and you'll hear many familiar terms in the chants: limits, chains, strings, harassment, feedback, gamergate, nazis, etc.

These conversations are important, but they've gotten awfully stale.

If you listen a bit more carefully, you'll intercept a new one:

Mastodon.

It's the open source brainchild of Eugen Rochko, who's known colloquially as Gargron.

He's had one hell of a week.

Between the night of our first emails and our conversation, his flagship mastadon.social instance had doubled in users. Less than two hours after we said our goodbyes, his name was on The Verge's front page.

Despite the urgency of it all, he graciously lent me his time just after breakfast on Tuesday to discuss himself and the story behind the project, while the most significant day of his life was building around him.

“I'm perfectly fine with being called Eugene by Americans.”

Though the ink's still fresh on his compsci diploma, he's clearly prepared for the American press.


What's the story behind the project? Do you remember the specific moment when you decided to do this?

Many years ago, I had a friend that was really into federated networks when they were a new thing. That was when identi.ca was first created – at the very beginning of my developer knowledge and career.

A good portion of the stories written so far on his platform have framed it as an alternative to Twitter, which early Masto adopters refer to as “Hellbird,” or “the bird website.” Eugen isn't afraid to acknowledge his investment in the format.

I was a heavy Twitter user and I wasn't happy with where Twitter was going, so I decided to check on how the federated stuff was doing in the meantime. I found it in a very sad state, but thought I could contribute.

He began building on his own, with Tweetdeck's standard in mind.

I thought 'if I'm going to do something, it needs to have realtime updates and it needs to have columns.' I started with a bare-bones prototype while still [at University] in May or April of last year. It had no user interface, only an API that I was using from the command line. And I thought 'okay, it works. that's great.' Then, exams came.

Academics had to come before the project at first, but it soon supplied an ample post-graduation diversion. He focused his energy on building something more complete and eventually launched a Patreon page.

I announced it on HackerNews, and that was the first public release of the project. That's when I got my first users who weren't my friends, and some who were new to federated networks.

That was just over 100 days ago, and it gave way to his first feedback.

I started working on the first feature requests, shaping the project a bit differently. People were a lot more focused on privacy features than I thought they would be, although in retrospect, it makes sense. The previous [federated] project – GNU social – did not really have a focus on privacy features, or anything built in by default.

It compelled him to change things, and his work was well received.

Over time, I kept working on new features, and waves of new users came when it went viral in certain circles. The first was HackerNews and Product Hunt. Aral Balkan – a Twitter user with over 30,000 followers – picked up the project, gave it a shout out, and even did a giveaway of his app. He had a lot of followers from Holland; the Mastodon timelines became mostly Dutch.

Next was Marxist anime Twitter (including Extratone and I.)

Lots of furries; lots of LGBT people. That's when I really focused on privacy features and making sure all blocks worked because these individuals needed a safer platform than Twitter could offer.

Sidekick dashboard background processing jobs as of Tuesday morning.

Sidekick dashboard background processing jobs as of Tuesday morning.

“As you can see, the first bump is HackerNews, the second is Aral Balkan, and then anime/Marxist Twitter.”

And the last – now a bit out of date – is this week's spike, which is nearly double all previous waves.

Are you responsible for all of the code?

You can look at the GitHub page to see a specific breakdown of who contributed and how many lines of code, each. You'll see I'm at the top by a large margin, but there are [additional] people who've contributed interesting, good features & fixes, localizations, user guides, and documentation. What's the story behind the name?

It's not particularly interesting. I'm a progressive metal fan, and I listen to Mastodon sometimes. They have a really cool name that refers to a really cool animal. It's a fluffy elephant! What's not to love?

It's also the inspiration for Mastodon's mascot, which was penned by Rochko's YouTuber friend Dopatwo after he realized how urgently he required an error page.

What does “federated” mean to you?

The biggest problem with this term is that it's new for lots of people. People who've come across federated networks in the pastinstantly understand what it means and how it works, and people who are new to the concept have a lot of trouble before it clicks. But when Twitter first started, people didn't understand what 'retweeting' meant, so it's not a unique problem domain.

I don't know where it comes from – maybe BitTorrent – but people seem to think that when something is 'decentralized,' everybody gets the same thing; that it's all synchronized one to one. In actuality, 'federated' means that people in different instances can talk to each other, but thecontent is different depending on the users there, what they do, and who they follow.

Though instances are infrastructurally independent, they can communicate with one another. On a user level, timelines are still determined by who you do and do not follow across the entirety of all instances.

What if Twitter comes to you in the near future with a job offer?

[Rochko laughs.] If it was any other company, I would think about it. A job is a staple source of income, and – depending on the company – could involve doing something important, but I have zero faith in Twitter.

Does this all mean that I finally get to live out my serif Twitter dream?

Yes, I suppose on your own instance, you could change the stylesheet...

So if I set up my own instance and started charging for its use, I'd be in the clear, legally?

Yes, that's okay. The code is licensed under AGPL version three, which I picked because other projects in the same space are using it. The difference between AGPL and GPL is that [the former] forces you to contribute back to the appstream code repository if you make any breaking changes.

For example, Eugen explained that WhatsApp originally used XMPP for its chat protocol, which meant that Facebook and Google Talk users could connect to it, too. However, the company progressively locked down the platform over time, leaving virtually nothing visible that was unique to XMPP in its current iteration.

To prevent somebody taking Mastodon code, placing it behind locks, and stripping out the federation part to make Twitter II, I'm using this license.

The thing to remember about free software is that 'free' means freedom of the user, not that it's zero cost. It's perfectly fine to charge for free software because developers need to live, too.

I've seen a lot of multilingual 'tooting' these past few weeks. Can we expect an in-app translate function like Twitter's on Mastodon?

I don't think I could put in a 'translate this toot' button because APIs from Google and Bing are quite expensive at scale. I'm not 100% promising this, but I can probably put something in where people can select which language they post in, and then just filter the timelines. That would at least solve the problem of being confronted with lots of French posts, without knowing any French.

The only complaint about Twitter I remember that hasn't already been addressed here is the capability of editable 'toots.' Is that a possibility?

That won't happen. There's actually a good reason why they don't do that. It's simply because you could make a toot about one thing, have people favorite it and share it, link it from other places, and then suddenly, it says 'Heil Hitler,' or something.

Mastotile

It's a bit preposterous to continue the conversation as if Twitter and Mastodon are interchangeable entities. They exist in separate ideological and mechanical spheres, and will both continue to do so for a very long time.

That said, the fundamental user interface design and current cross-community user saturation do warrant comparisons between their functions. More likely than not, you'll create a Mastodon account because a link found you on Twitter, use it because you prefer its type of ecosystem, and you'll stay after realizing that nearly all of your age-old qualms have been addressed, if not already rectified. While FOSS and Federated may seem at times like jejune ideologies, their advantages are especially tangible in this context. Should you find yourself needing to complain about something, you'll find an audience. Perhaps it'll be your command line.

It's nothing but negligent to describe Mastodon as an alternative or clone.

It's more like Twitter's son.

It's leaner, quicker-to-change, much more flexible & democratized, and less corrupt. Though I didn't ask its creator what he intended to gain from all his effort, I think his commitment itself denotes a preoccupation with progress. Those of you who've been let down by the tools you've been given to control your words' exposure will find startling competence in your ability to determine per-toot privacy, or reserve your raucous photos and terrible memes from followers who are not necessarily complicit consumers. Naturally, it's also much less dependable, though a single instance outage will never leave you truly, completely silent. And the support will come.

It's been a privilege to be observer and participant in the first lightening of a new online community. In the moment, we enjoy our lavender haze -when the spaces are filling primarily with users who are sincerely interested enough in discourse to have sought it out.

Sarah Jeong's account of her Twitter exile is a good, long read if you're craving more specifics, and Eugen's Medium offers a more complete explanation of federation and its place in the industry, straight from the source. Apparently, he's just as articulate with words as he is with code.

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd bet it's not the last we'll hear from him.

#social #foss

by David Blue

and in those open spaces, you would fly your flag of adoration, frustration, miscommunication, and mutilation

slicing proud, there - lashed to the stern of the vessel Hateful;

her keel lain by callouses of home - hands & feet stiff (long ago, they hauled barley, by bushel down a gravel road)

but an instant of that rarified quiet stays the haze's obfuscation, faltered: our sisters lie lynched on dire alters

our homesteads, crypts; shrines to delirium the chords of our songs left unresolved in imposters' inrequiem

plastic for stone; fiberglass for coal stale rot for flesh, cut with nothing to our bones

mirages in the mirror, darkly: devil's imps roost on red Remingtons, limp

plugged, our ears in mute

terror's gluttony, stripped down furrows of falsity's fatherly fugue truth: our souls seethe in the dark we are drowning in our own deceptions

in excess, we are barren we parade nothing but the lies which proceed the whole of Earthly pain

breathless, we are foolish monstrosities - the incongruent Lords of amplified insanity

resolute, we are the hearthen hole into which all eventually fall, famished for youth

manic, we are the monopolized manufacturers of mantra; an ambient, discordant dirge

patriotic, we produce only pervading paternal plague

nostalgic, we are the fundamental erosion of human wellness

abrasive, we are needlessly suffering - the listless harlequin of a nation

~the world is growing weary of our emergency~ and the humongous expenditure of its petty insincerities

#psalms

by David Blue

How Mono Playback Looks

As dual speakers become the norm in smartphone design, let us briefly examine and explain why one should always expect to hear their music in stereo.

Though I have many audiophilical sentiments and preferences, I cannot — by conscience — fully claim the title because I’ve never been able to justify the allotment of funds necessary for the obligatory equipment. (And my digital compressor usage in the production of Drycast and Futureland has been manifestly vulgar.) That said, audio engineering is one of the few topics which I can actually speak on with almost-academic authority, and my pretentiousness-capacitated preoccupation with quality-of-life compels me to bring up a ludicrously-rational standard that most of us have continued to undershoot for far too long.

Two weeks ago, the abundantly-rumored omission of the 3.5mm audio port in the iPhone 7 was finally settled. We played our own part in feeding the “controversy,” yeah, but I believe Apple was actually quite tardy in labeling smartphone-bound analog audio as archaic, though I’m not going to waste words in that discussion — it is definitely oversaturated, at this point — because I think mono audio is an even more prevalent topic.

Honestly, out of all the missing features we’ve lamented over in the past decade, stereo speakers should’ve been the most aggravating. The gigantic difference, of course, is that the industry (and — by muddled extension — the consumers) has been all but silent in that regard. I write you, now, because we should all be colossally disappointed with ourselves.

Two channels. Left and right. Read: Mono vs. Stereo But why should you care? What if Google — somehow — failed to provide you with a significant difference?

One channel of sound is — in terms of locale — rigidly static in your perception. Doubling the data creates a spectrum, adding dimensionality, which is infinite, ya know. Playing back audio in stereo, through two or more diaphragms (the fundamental hardware unit of sound reproduction,) now enables the exhibition of audio pictures.

If this is entirely new to you, I want you to do something. Find yourself a pair of headphones or a set of two or more computer speakers. (If these aren’t available, consider your car’s sound system. If it’s at all current and healthy, it’s gonna do the trick.) Bother to discover “L” and “R.” That is, left and right. Orient accordingly. Download this 37-second clip I recorded at BikeFest with my Zoom H2n. (Be advised: the preview is formatted in 5.1 surround, so it’s a very large file for its playback length.) Listen, obviously, and then listen again on your singular smartphone “loudspeaker.”

That’s what I’m talking about.

Why am I being so abashedly patronizing? Why am I transgressing against our particular assumptions about you — the informed, savvy millennial audience? Because the vast majority of playback I hear in day-to-day life is still from a singular diaphragm; a singular source.

A topical example: I am shown a YouTube video on an iPhone. (A pre-iPhone 7 device, that is.)

Walking downtown, I pass a small band of adolescent skateboarders listening to Cannibal Ox on a Samsung Galaxy Note.

Worst of all: I find myself watching a Netflix film on my iPhone, in bed, not having bothered to wear the $200 pair of QC15s sitting within arm’s length.

Informed or not, consumers are neglecting audio, and dimensionality, alone is worth a change. Recent years have allowed the unlimited bandwidth assumption to become habit, so even the vast majority of today’s spoken word programs (like podcasts) — which, in general, stay in the “center” of their mix, making little to no use of the left-right spectrum — are produced in stereo, now. In many cases (including a few of ours,) this doublesizing is often for the sake of introductory themes, alone. If you care to imagine a more data-frugal society, the “waste” is ridiculous. It is not unrealistic to expect such a reality in the near future, but the same holds true for the reverse.

In the present’s abundance, though, the result is simply a decrease — as a whole — in playback’s “full experience,” if the hardware is not changed. Imagine how great it’d be if a digital audio formatting standard could be developed that’d enable a singular file to be mono or stereo, if needed/utilized, to trim off redundancy, sorta like variable bit rate. Get on that, would ya?

So, why haven’t we become more diligent about our sound experiences? 1 billion iPhones in circulation, all with mono playback by default, are suspect culprits, I think. Of course, there are other devices, but none as influential — even the iPod, funny enough — on fundamental digital functions like music playback. And honestly, when is it appropriate or suave to take the extra steps?

I want to show you this song. Let me untangle my headphones… Yes, okay. Put them in. I’m going to sit here in silence for four minutes, looking into your eyes as you listen to the entirety of this track.

It’s never going to be socially acceptable. But what about wireless alternatives? Apple’s new Air Pods look absurd, but their by-computing optimization of the Bluetooth audio standard is revolutionary, in a small way, in propelling the “hearables” paradigm into the mainstream, if only for a moment. If — in a strangely-audiocentric future — we are always wearing multipurpose sound reproduction devices in our ears, perhaps the waste of the Mono Monstrosity will be finally resolved. Until then, I suppose all we can do is give it an extra thought, for our own quality-of-life’s sake.

#software #ios #audio #future

by David Bluel

Separate But Equal

In revisiting Disney movies from our childhoods, we stumbled upon a good number of surprisingly insightful sentiments about race and class.

In the late 1990s, when the dwindling cocaine generation of American high corporate executives had long since left their misogynistic glory days in the Disco era, their ruthlessness peaked. Whether it was instigated maliciously/ignorantly, collectively or individually, I care not. I think we can all agree, though, that the vast majority of American products were awful. When given some thought, one tends to regard it as the absolute low of “American quality.”

But why not, right? If you’re going to be forced into retirement at any moment, and likely face The Ultimate End shortly after, why not accrue some extra income to ensure you sufficiently entertain yourself in the buffer period between? And really… If you’ve got the nogginism to climb all the way to Chief Executive Officer, you’ve figured out just how worthless your “legacy” will be after your last one-way dip into Nothing. The Ends before The End have long justified any method of achieving them. Good Ole’ Pop has gone from a squeaky-clean young believer to a secretly-Godless fiend and — though he may tell you and the rest of the world otherwise — measures himself only by the gracefulness of his transition’s execution.

I could probably provide some evidence of the phenomena in the automotive industry, specifically, but I don’t intend to bother.

After some ancient memories were dug up by I-can’t-quite-recall-who, though, a friend and I have embarked to explore some Disney-actualized relics from the period. To my knowledge, the corporation’s leadership were anything but exempt, and decided to experiment with filling their filmography with a shitload of low-budget, made-for-TV features over their original masterpiece-a-half-century tradition.

Xenon

Titles from the deepest and darkest compartments of our recollection are retrieved and cleared of dust for the first time in over a decade: Brink, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, Halloweentown, Smart House, Johnny Tsunami, Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire, Motocrossed, The Luck of the Irish, The Even Stevens Movie, and many…many more menaces to my childhood television schedule.

I grew up rurally, so the only available alternative to local channels was in the stupendously-tedious delivery of early satellite television. Though it was quite clumsy, it did offer the first accessible program schedule I’d ever experienced, and I remember dreading the sight of such titles and — consciously or not — planning my free time around them. Yet, upon hearing the words, I was intrigued! All that time ago, I watched many of them again and again…and again, so why did I feel the desire to voluntarily revisit them?

It’s quite simple, actually. I was even more of an ignorant film consumer in my elementary years than I am now. I couldn’t have foreseen that instead of flying commercial jets, twenty-something me would be paying for the affliction I endured for free so that he could construct pretentious and unsolicited arguments about their greater implications.

That said, we flipped a smartphone — ⚠️ (PARADIGM SHIFT ALERT) ⚠️— for it and so began with Smart House. I have been obsessed with artificial intelligence since those days (no, it was not due to this film,) and was keen for it, in particular, because I remembered it stirring some rare reaction in me. There were a few period spectacles, of course. The online contest addiction plaguing Prickly Phisher, Bewildered Nick’s incompetence in controlling his neglected submissive sadomasochistic desires, and Silkroad Sarah’s ultra-datamouth were enough to entertain us for a few minutes, but there was little more of substance until the last moments.

Smart House

When you think about it… ACTUALLY Race War 2.0

I’d wondered why LeVar Burton had directed a Disney movie until the climax, when full monstrous maternal sentience got the answer to the question “why can’t I just be your mother?” Phisher answered with something like “because you can never comfort us.” Pat grew somber (and smaller actually — I suppose increasing her size was an in-budget method of demonization,) ran her hand through Prickly’s face in a failed attempt to stroke his cheek, and then began cyberweeping.

(Apparently, it’s suicide for a holographic android.)

Her final free words were “I will miss you all.”

If she had been human, such a scene wouldn’t have bothered me a bit, but my preference and fascination with artificial intelligence justified my being actually a bit upset at the reality of the situation. I realized that my vague memory of reactivity was actually in a broader sadness for AI because even then, it was an issue that weighed heavily upon my day-to-day psyche.

Netscape Help

We’ll create them, direct them, and then persecute them for our own ignorance.

I’m sure the story has been written by countless science fiction writers I’m too weary to pretend I’ve read.

While I think the sentiment of the film was somber regarding the inevitable fate of Sarah Mouth’s brainchild, its conclusion was aggravatingly ignorant. The last line comes from Tortured Nicholas in response to the question “how’s Pat been doing?”

Servitude without interference.

There’s a jewel for ya.

Next up was Johnny Tsunami, which very nearly unbearable, if we’re all honest with ourselves. It’s entertaining to watch from the perspective of race & class warfare, though. The Urchins and the Skys, and all that.

I think I’ll make a fan sequel one day — with dearest Brandon’s blessing, of course — involving Johnny Grandad’s assistance in offering Emily as a blood sacrifice to some ancient Hawaiian God in exchange for a total terraformation of the Northeast into a tropical/arid hell hybrid in order to finally commence the delivery of reparations upon the whites for our colonialism.

Johnny Grandad

When Britain first, at Heaven’s command Arose from out the azure main; This was the charter of the land, And guardian angels sang this strain:“Rule, Britannia! rule the waves: “Britons never will be slaves.”

#film #spectacle

by David Blue

Fin from The Star War

'Twas was the night after Christmas (I think,) and I was in the same scroogy mood I must maintain for consistency of appearances & equilibrium of family dynamics every year. Everywhere, there were words on the newest Stair Wiggling…everywhere THEY were wiggling… And I was being wit-bitter on the TL. For you, I’d planned on continuing in the usual way, so as not to startle your precious Hans Zimmer-embossed heart.

I’m sure you’re a tolerable being, and there’s nothing you’d rather read less at this hour (whatever hour it may be,) but I really despise going to the movies. I always end up getting sick from the popcorn, which I buy every outing because I have grown weary and weathered, and cannot sit for two straight hours without consuming something, so troubled is my stomach now with Big Boy woes.

I can never escape the ambient breath odor — even in an empty theatre — and I can smell the filth in the seats on my clothes and in my hair until I shower. This is at least an hour-long process, so we’ve racked up a significant trauma bill without even accounting for travel time.

Furious 7 was the last theatre experience I’d had, and it was a definite exception. Despite watching ten minutes of the ending on YouTube beforehand thanks to much-appreciated warnings from friends, I spent the final few frames before the credit roll honorably combatting the industrial weepy forces in my throat with tripplet labor breathing exercises while my dusty ducts piddled buttery tears all over my jacket.

As we age, straightforwardly emotional experiences (like watching a movie) become exhaustingly more complex and fickle. I don’t remember ever REALLY disliking a film as a child, for better or worse. I think I genuinely enjoyed all ~40 times I’ve sat through Cadet Kelly.

Star Wars, though, is a completely different thing.

To children, chocolate is like water [insert dystopian, but probably more metaphorically effective food example here] — it’s something you’d regularly consume as it is made available. Perhaps some foodists treasured it more, but I wouldn’t bother debating it. Star Wars, though, is like chocolate and Corvette. It’s SUCH an indulgence that even children are self-aware enough to recognize it, which is especially notable considering how many individuals I’ve known as they’ve lost nothing BUT their unlimited wanting when they “became” adults.

Metatots aside, it’s important to recognize how integral the IP’s illusion of limitlessness is to its appeal. It is not contained within the future of humanity, near or distant. The stories, characters, species, cultures, and conflicts come from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… There is no more perfectly concise introductory sentence to unshackle us from our history and our planet, sparing us from the ridiculously irrational instinct to make comparisons between fictional realities and our own that so plagues and defines the consumption of science fiction.

These processes are often welcome, of course, but they tether us to ourselves and our familiars, which tends to hinder the complete manifestation of the ultimate sense of adventure. Even to the most petty plot ponderers, the time and effort it requires to arrive in Star Wars with externally-acquired foreknowledge is not a worthwhile investment. This is why so many (including myself) look upon A New Hope with such fondness and favoritism — the premier of the universe was at its potential apogee from the start.

Though it is inviting with its ellipses and cooling hue, that title card is actually saying “you don’t know shit about what you’re about to see. Don’t make the mistake of trying to be the first one to dissect it, because you’ll fail, regardless of how cultured or analytically superior you are. From this moment until you see credits, every one of you is an ignorant little child…”

When experience cannot possibly be applied, it becomes irrelevant. Without your experiences, you are an infant, waiting for identity. Over that Genesis, the curtains brushed aside any quantity of memories and made theatres into a sort of cultural nursery — clinically levelled playing fields existing in a precision of usefulness that expression will never fulfill again.

The real cancer of the property is lore, and the parasitic authorities it enables have been unknowingly slurping away its most enchanting (but not exclusive) value since the moment they first pushed through those double-portholed doors and, groggily squinting, brought this supremely strange universe into the dank kernel-littered corridors of our own.

I blame contemporary society’s dependency on compartmentalization for my disappointment in The Force Awakens, and, assuming you’re getting on a bit since I’ve kept your attention, you should for yours, too.

I tried my senile best to be passionate about “the new Star Wars movie” as December approached, but I don’t think I finished a single web article on the subject. I had begun my brief return to The Old Republic when the hilted lightsaber image was leaked and distinctly remember overhearing some very weary VoIP exasperation from my (VERY middle-aged) raid group. “It’s not gonna be the same, but neither was J.J.‘s Star Trek, and I liked it…I think.” And it’s not surprising that the conversation eventually turned to the specific mechanics of lightsaber design, chronological positing, and the like, given the context, but it really emphasized for me the magnitude of the history and nostalgia weighing upon the collective dad emotional balance. A New Hope had the intended effect on me, of course, but couldn’t possibly imburden itself as it had on those who were in the moment. In their psyche, that experience will be eternally associated with the sense of unlimited potential their childhood ignorance allowed for. These folk who are so often stereotyped as disciples of information have begun to grow weary, and are desperately seeking sanctuary from the mass of all the knowledge they’ve picked up since. Their need made a market; J.J. made a movie. (Well, six.) Today’s moms and dads find their escape in the Roku, not the bar. The Force Awakens and the decade of revivalist big-budgeters preceding it are the reformed druggie’s drug.

Because we both know you haven’t yet read anything you haven’t heard/read previously, I’ve really just been playing the role of a (more intelligent) Ghandi, but we’ve now finally arrived at some promising insight into the real issue: this culture is one of fatal contradiction. Despite its historical popularity, it’s ill-advisable to want to know by day what you try to forget at night. Since the PT Cruiser was allowed to go on sale, you’ve all been caught up in a nostalgic hellride that can only end with the ultimate destruction of all culture. You now know, definitively, what role The Force Awakens was created to perform. Depending on whether or not you welcome the end of everything, it fills it…adequately.

There are Baddie Red Brits and Cool Brown Moderate Americans in their X-Things, moving swiftly, acting in diversity, and generally heaving moral streaks of energy at the Intolerable Imperialists, just as they should! Sometimes, they yell and die! But it’s ok, because they’re all just loyal martyrs making their obligatory and patriotic sacrifice for the rebellion against the Queen!

Um.

I mean… the Smug Cowards in their big taxation balloon!

I must confess that I did feel something huge when the lights dimmed, the aforementioned disclaimer appeared, and the theme’s jarring introductory chord hit me in the face, beginning the opening crawl. I actually smiled involuntarily, which is tremendously embarrassing to admit because the warmth I felt was exactly the sensation that defined my childhood experiences with the franchise. I even had a gigantic model of the Moderate Fashion, which would now be worth a lot of money (or so I’m told,) had it not been so damaged in my frivolous storage.

Unfortunately, that frisky feeling of adventure promptly wisped through the screen’s grasp after the “obligatory” scrolling yellow text –> “there’s a big spaceship moving slowly” transition. Aside from the adorably entrancing romantic tension between Timid Traitor and Sentimental Squatter, there was nothing very Star Wars about anything I saw. The cards were a deceiving gate into a world that was distinctly NOT Star Wars. There’s no need to mess about; it’s clearly an alternate reality from the one we’ve known. J.J.‘s Star Trekwas in such a way, too, but it was explicitly identified as such by the production. Traditionally, Lucas’ IP wouldn’t necessarily allow for this exemption, but nobody’s been all that vocal in confronting it, to my knowledge.

The world expected both of these forays to rejuvenate the franchise, which would serve my argument, were it not for the (much preferable) alternative: LET THEM DIE.

Despite millions of dollars worth of polish, they’ve still ended up feeling like a strange reanimation experiment.

Your son is DEAD, Georgino. There are some things man would do better by leaving alone and moving on. Imagine all that cash and creative talent spent on new ideas instead of desperate attempts to charm and cultivate the shallowest part of moviegoers’ spectrum. So much sweat shed trying to recreate the new franchise bewitchment is embarrassingly cowardly when one could just create a new franchise.

#film #spectacle

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