Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Creative Process Podcast - Episode 4: Talkin' with Ben

Talking this week with playwright, author and aspiring filmmaker, Benjamin Semenchuk
We talk about a whole range of things but mainly we discuss how Ben hates comic books and I hate my family...oh and Breaking Bad, Melbourne, University, work, other good podcasts, filmmaking, video games, Saints Row the Third, The Avengers and plenty more where that came from!

Remember you can download the podcast and even torrent it!

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Creative Process Podcast - Episode 3: Cabin in teh Woo!

Adam Formosa, Adam Carr, Paul Pearson and I went and saw Cabin in the Woods and it was amazing.
You can follow all those guys on Twitter, @2HitAdam, @adamformosa and @BronzeThumb
You can always download the podcast here or now, in torrent form.
If you want your music featured or something plugged on the next podcast, get to me @HarrisonTheFan or harrisonthefan@gmail.com
Also don't forget to check out my new video game YouTube Channel, Totes Vidya or follow us on Twitter or Tumblr

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Why Fifty Shades of Grey would make the best movie franchise ever

Fifty Shades of Grey, what is it? Is it a series of novels which originated from Twilight Fan Fiction? Is it an international phenomenon of pent up sexual frustration? Is it a bunch of magnetic poetry thrown on a messy fridge? Or is it the greatest future movie franchise that could have ever been conceived? It's actually possibly all of these things. I caught wind about Fifty Shades in early 2012, when I was bored and looking through a bookstore in the Sydney CBD. Flicking through my usual bunch of graphic novels and film trivia books, I happened to spot the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey standing upright in a cardboard, gun metal grey book stand.

No, not that one...
It was intriguing to say the least and flicking through it, I noticed a few sexual passages but not much going on, put it back shrugged and never throught of it again. It was in early May of this year I started hearing more about it and it's become quite the oddity in the pop culture world. Sadly, I'm yet to read the thing in it's entirety, but since it's inception as fan fiction, adapted from the work of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, under the pen name/web pseudonym "Snowqueen's Icedragon," E.L James has created a world of her own and people are willing to follow her there. Now, there is nothing wrong with fan fiction, and is often seen as a way to measure cultural milestones, depending on whether or not that milestone has something or someone you can fuck in it.

Threesome...
But when it comes to fan fic, this is where Fifty Shades gets quite interesting. It's a contemporary form of fan fiction, as opposed to the likes of Android Karenina, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and any others in the "quirk fiction" genre, the authors are long past dead and the only people who are reading it, are as niche as those who would read the original work. Fifty Shades of Grey works, regardless of the Twilight fanbase and even had the original fan fiction author quoted saying "she's fine with it." Of course, the fanbase has come from some amazing marketing, including the covers itself being equally mysterious and masculine, the author following the J.K. Rowling act of, "hey, maybe a dude wrote this because there are just letters instead of a real name here" and also a good amount of mouth of word and implied controversy. Mrs. Erika Leonard has done right for herself and sold 5.3 million copies, making it the best selling book of this year and has become the fastest paperback novel to sell a million copies, even Mr. Potter.

Christ, she looks happy.
Now I hear they're releasing a classical album based on the book's trilogy and even a movie adaptation with the likes of Bret Easton Ellis writing the script, producers from The Social Network and even talks of Christian Bale or Matt Bomer or Bradley Cooper as the sexually mystifying Edward Christian Grey and Kate Beckinsale to play Bella Anastasia Steele. Of course, Ellis backed out of talks earlier this week and a lot of people are saying that Matt Bomer is "too gay" to play Mr. Grey, so maybe it could be good to turn that sideways frown, upside down with a few great statistics and formulas to show that Fifty Shades of Grey may be the safest bet Hollywood has ever taken on a novel.

Sex Still Sells



Sex always sells, even when it's not good sex or even a good sex scene and a lot of us know how bad some of the passages and how expository and baseless the novel is, but people will get off on almost anything. If the film is shot well, it doesn't matter how bad the dialogue, acting or writing is, as long as it's racy and rated R. For example, in the novel, when Anastasia and Grey are meeting a group of wealthy people for the first time they hear such wonderfully flights of fancy such as, "...the Young Virgin asks the Millionaire what he does for fun, he responds, 'I sail, I fly, I indulge in various physical pursuits. I'm a very wealthy man... and I have expensive and absorbing hobbies.' "

"...like water polo bungee jumping...and other rich guy things"

Or when she describes sex it gets a bit odd;just a tad: "He reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string and gently takes my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Sweet mother of all… Jeez. And then he’s inside me… ah! Skin against skin… moving slowly at first… easily, testing me, pushing me… oh my….'That’s right, baby,' he rasps as he grinds into me, angling his hips, and it’s enough to send me flying, flying high."


There is a part of me that makes me think that won't make it into the final cut, but if it does, you may have an entire film built around the word behind that scene. Sexual scene-stealing cinematic milestones, like Nicole Kidman pissing on Zac Efron or Sharon Stone and her legs or Marlon Brando and a stick of butter or Marilyn Munroe and an air vent. Most of those scenes largely have nothing to do with the overall plot or sexual identity of the character, but they're there and they're memorable as all hell...

Oddly enough, I get third billing


To look at the Box Office for 2012, so far, three films from the top twenty, Ted, Magic Mike and Think Like A Man have quite outrageous sex scenes, known for their sexual activity or have sold for that reason for being R rated and over the top. In 2011, two of the top 20 were quite sexual and rated R, from 2010, three in the top 20. Sex sells, and it will sell well for Fifty Shades, especially if you break the final one into two parts. Now you have four years worth of movies to look forward to, right?

Two parts, you say? Why we'd make twice as much money...

There has never been a major mainstream movie about BDSM played straight....

Finally, something other than Rocky Horror Picture Show, where people can openly talk about whips and chains and sexual deviancy without having to dress up, sing or act ironic about it. BDSM has been getting a whipping since it was first laid out and taught a lesson on the silver screen. You can't claim Secretary, the sexy, interesting, amazingly scripted, character-driven piece by Steven Shainberg, because it was an indie film and no one has seen it, but there has never really been a film about dominating relationships seen in a mainstream film that audiences have taken strongly with, especially female.

....oh wait.
Regardless, this film has buttplugs, anal, whipping, dominating, submissives, rich people, all sorts of sexual activity that people often regard as, out of the norm, especially for the Hollywood system. Any mention of the above, excluding rich people, would often get slapped with an American NC-17, the highest American film rating before going into X territory, but Fifty Shades could change that all around.



But BDSM is usually played for laughs or oddities in comedic films like Tomcats, Eurotrip, Mr and Mrs. Smith or Exit to Eden, or seen as overly tragic or just jobs for femme fatales such as in Payback, The Piano Teacher or Preaching to the Perverted. Fifty Shades will cross that barrier into the mainstream and truly show on wide release what everyone is really missing out on. While there may be some complications when the mommy porn turns out to be not as sexy that was formed in people's imagination, some people may claim it as false advertising, but who knows, maybe it might just turn out to be for the best.

It cannot be worse than this...
It's based on a novel...


Whether it's being able to write the term "inner goddess" when writing about giving a blowjob or just the fact someone can write the phrase "You have such a fuckable mouth, Mrs. Grey" and have it read by millions of people is something you can get away with in fiction. Other than, maybe fan fiction, will you have a few eyes set on the fact you "put all your fantasies out there" but novels sell well, both digitally and paperback. But even better is stuff based on books sell well as well. The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, all top grossing films from the past decade. Each entry in the top twenty highest grossing films of all-time are based on either a novel or comic book property. In fact, only five out of the top twenty are not based on a property, four if you include The Bible.


All Fifty Shades needs to do is slap on some 3D and a good soundtrack and you've got box office number one of 2013, you just need to fight off 40 sequels or adaptations and 8 reboots. Fifty Shades has crossed over into the mainstram consciousness and the fanbase continues to grow despite negative feedback. No one knows what Mrs. Leonard will be doing next in her literary career, but I imagine it's lying on a big bed of money in her seven bedroom mansion.

You're doing it wrong...


Sure, I could jump on the band wagon like everyone else and say, it's sexist, it's not enthralling or interesting, it's stupid, it's poorly written, it's origins are horrible, it's got poor characters with no arc or actual desire to resolve anything, the sex scenes range from abstract puddles of sexual congress to over-the-top fantasy that'd make both Tolkein and D.H.Lawrence blush and throw up at the same time, but hey, I'm an optimist and I want to see this film get made, just so I can write and bitch about it some more. I've given up against fighting the system, I am now just blissfully sliding along the river stream and waiting for the fish to come to me rather than going hunting.

Why, yes, I am just like Tom Hanks...
Besides there are plenty of wonderful articles that you can read on the psychology of Fifty Shades and the phenomenon, and hopefully people will go out of their way to read good, well-written, well-paced, interesting erotic fiction, but I'm here to entertain and have a party and inform you. So I'll see you at the movies in 2013, when Fifty Shades of Grey the movie is released and grosses over a hundred million dollars and outgrosses The Hangover Part II and Passion of the Christ as highest grossing R-rated film of all-time. We can do this together...

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

How Twitter and Social Media made the Olympics awesome

I don't care about sports. I don't play any sports. I don't enjoy sports, but I love the Olympics. I loved the opening ceremony, which was the best I'd seen in my life and this is coming from someone who has seen two Olympic ceremonies in his life, this being the second. The Olympic Opening Ceremony was amazing. Now I say it was amazing, but I really mean was, it was a lot of fun to tweet along with it. It was great watching my followers and people I follow praise, mock and adore the Brits putting on the greatest show on the earth. Aliens were probably seeing the broadcast from space and thought we'd declared world peace.

...it only took them over a billion Earth years.
However, Twitter was not entirely positive. A story came out yesterday morning that journalist, Guy Adams was suspended from Twitter for making critical comments about the American coverage of the Olympics. NBC is the proud peacock of one of the five big TV networks in the US. It's a bit like if Seven and Nine crashed into each other, for an Australian comparison. The hashtag #NBCFail began to trend halfway through the ceremony being broadcast in the United States as the main broadcaster cut to an old interview of Ryan Seacrest interviewing swimming sensation, Michael Phelps.

"So...what's your favourite blend of pot?"
It was at a particularly bad time to cut away as it was just when the Olympic ceremony was paying a great tribute to the people who were sadly killed during the July 7th terrorist attack from 2005. A lot of commentators were saying it was like if New York had hosted the Olympics and they'd cut to a Monty Python sketch during a 9/11 tribute. The moving piece was placed online sometime after the BBC broadcast but it was fairly disrespectful to both the American and British public. Anyway, back to Guy Adams, an American correspondent was removed from Twitter at the behest of NBC, who persuaded the social network to remove him after reporting on a story about the negative coverage of the London Olympics.

And not just your usual shitty rain jokes...

Twitter told Mr. Adams that his "account [was] suspended for posting an individual's private information such as....private email address...financial documents" etc. This was due to a Adams sending a tweet containing the email of NBC Olympic chairmen, Gary Zenkel, who I think was on an episode of Mr. Blobby once. The odd thing is that the backlash caused an even greater stir with more than a thousand stories popping up within a few hours of Adams breaking his own story. In fact, if you look for Mr. Zenkel's email now, you'll get more than six thousand results all based around Mr. Adams story and tweets. This is partially apart of the Barbra Streisand effect.
Hello Dolly!

A few other problems that came to light but weren't that big a deal in the Twittersphere included the fact the Olympic flame died shortly after being lit, people were claiming a lesbian kiss was cut out of the NBC Broadcast, then it turned out it wasn't and finally, NBC thinking their viewers are dumb. The Friday night Olympic ceremony was actually delayed and heavily edited with an NBC spokesperson saying that "it was never [their] intent to live stream the Opening or Closing Ceremony. They are complex entertainment spectacles that do not translate well online because they require context..." It was insulting even if you weren't an American. The whole thing is on YouTube right now (but probably will be taken down by the IOC periodically), and without any extra commentary.

This needs no explanation whatsoever...

Whilst I have my own criticisms on Sport and Spectacle people need to recognise that if someone is linked into a larger online community or conscious, their story will become a lot larger than you could ever expect. While I don't think Mr. Adams was in the right to put Mr. Zenkel's email straight onto the tweet, I think it would have been a bit better for him maybe to say that people should direct their complaints to NBC Olympics on their official page or at least mention that Zenkel's email was online. Regardless, the reaction from NBC was childish and I don't doubt that now Adams' Twitter is reactivated, that he gained a few thousand Twitter followers from his recent exposure.



People often forget a lot of the negative and controversial press that surrounded the previous Olympics and even further back than that. I guess, there was a lot more pressure on London this time around, but I honestly think they pulled it off. I watched almost all of the Channel 9 broadcast of the Opening Ceremony and the only negative criticism I had was the commentary by Eddie McGuire who was clearly speaking to the Hi-5 audience or stating the blithering obvious.

One, two, three. Three! Ah ah ah! I've been on three commercial networks!


The odd thing is that whilst NBC was also broadcasting most of the games on their website, they failed to think of the way the internet often works now. This is the first Olympics the world has seen with fully functioning social networks that are able to have users respond in real time, fast and with such force that they can cause a real movement. The Beijing Olympics was in 2008, back when Facebook barely had a hundred million followers, when Twitter barely had more than a few million  tweets following around the world and when MySpace was slowly dying out.

So hope there is no such thing as MySpace zombies...


The world was a very different place. The social media world loves being connected and interacting with people, whether it's just something trending, like I was, or they just want to be apart of something. Not much has changed from before, it's just that with Twitter, everything is a spectator sport and Twitter is everyone yelling from the stands.


Resources:
The Independent, "#NBCFail:Backlash as Twitter locks out reporter Guy Adams" - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/nbcfail-backlash-as-twitter-locks-out-reporter-guy-adams-7987906.html
Daily What, "NBC Response of the Day" - http://thedailywh.at/2012/07/29/nbc-response-of-the-day/

Also, this became unfunny before the Opening Ceremony ended: