Motherly figures are amazing when they’ve been portrayed correctly. The matriarch of the family can be strong-willed, strong in general or sometimes just mentally in-tune to their children’s needs. As tomorrow is Mother’s Day, today is the perfect day for us to take a look at some of the amazing mothers in film, tv, video games and comics in this week’s motherly loving Top 10. (more…)
GeekOut Media is the name we’ve given the collective of GeekOut South-West, GeekOut West-Midlands and our web ventures. We’ve been wanting to bring everything together properly for some time, but it just hasn’t happened as of yet. A massive project to bring it all together is still underway, but until recently, we hit a stumbling point. Now that issue is in the past, it’s time for us to shape our future – and you can help us make it how you’d want it.
And in some ways I’m quite sad.
It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since we first saw the trio of Sesame Street-esque puppets learning how to get creative, but as of June 19th this year the nerve-shredding but perversely insightful series has come to a rather dramatic and yet oddly satisfying conclusion that answered everything, and at the same time absolutely nothing. Let’s take a quick look at the journey or Red Guy, Yellow Guy and the Duck…
1) Get Creative
Nobody really knew what to expect on first view of the fabric world and it’s puppety inhabitants at first, it all seemed perfectly wholesome with the singing sketchbook singing about how to express yourself creatively, but it wasn’t long before the observant noticed something wrong with the way the sketchbook ignored the opinions of the Red Guy, later censoring Yellow’s attempts at doing something it hasn’t suggested. After a brief glimpse of the truth, and the artificial construct at play, the whole thing descends into chaos, the music becomes a painful cacophony, and the characters seem engaged in acts of madness rather than creativity.
Take the time to watch this twice, the second time looking for the little cues that are showing us how creativity is not being taught, it’s being crushed. The characters are told repeatedly what is and is not creative, and to only listen to the opinions of the sketchbook. At the end it is agreed that they will never be creative again, perhaps a hint that free thought is not allowed and we should all be normal because it is safer, a theme which is revisited later on.
We come to 2014, almost 3 years later, and the creepiest kids show has freaked out a large audience already, now it’s Time to learn a new lesson. Our group are distracted from their TV show by the singing clock who shows them the effect of time and the inevitable march of progress. If anything Time is even more oblivious to the objections of the group, shutting down anyone who tries to disagree or deviate from the path quickly before eventually strapping them into a futuristic device to marvel at technology, and finally subjecting them to the rigours of age.
I’ve heard different interpretations of this one, and I think my favourite is that we don’t have long to live so we should fill the time with stuff, “An old man died – But look, a computer!” although there’s some credit to the idea that it’s about how we gloss over the past, such as how the Victorian era is glossed over with nonsense before launching into more pointless rhetoric.
Then came the Kickstarter campaign, promising four more lessons for the puppet palls to learn. It also promises to let them go if we give them money.
Love is represented by a beautiful and softly spoken butterfly who takes care of Yellow after he runs off because the others upset him, and whisks him away over the clouds to a place where everyone is happy and cheerful and care about each other, and tell him stories, and give him new clothes, a new name, and introduce him to Malcolm, the King of Love who eats gravel. Yellow’s friends eventually find him, and bring him an egg, which hatches and the caterpillar inside calls him “Father”, before being squished.
This one takes you on a real journey, one that mirrors the path into many cults just like the cult of Malcolm, plucked from a place of confusion and sadness and introduced to people who supposedly care about them, but slowly erase their personality. It also goes into how we’re taught to perceive love, and the right and wrong ways to experience it.
A computer hijacks our merry adventurers efforts to learn something interesting about the real world by dragging them into a digital world full of flash and sparkle and wonder. Once again our Red guy is disinterested, and sarcastic, still seeking an answer to the question that they began with before the distractions eventually silence him, and as he watches his friends enslaved by the machine he seeks an escape, and in the process stumbles across the real world, which literally blows his mind (in a shower of confetti).
The shroud around the true meaning behind each video gets thinner and thinner, although Digitally gives a few clues that might easily be missed. The video is about how our relationship with the internet, how it distracts us, how it gives us license to be someone else, and how it is filled with so much and nothing all at the same time. The computer is also one of the more terrifying teachers, its hideous squeal as it drags the puppets into its realm is chilling.
Red is missing, apparently the events of Digitally were rather permanent, and the Duck and Yellow guy know something is wrong, but can’t quite pinpoint what’s wrong. And so begins the music, as a dancing lamb chop and can of spinach teach them all about being healthy. This time the Duck takes the role of doubter, and is obviously uncomfortable and tries repeatedly to escape through the ever-ringing phone, only to find grisly dismemberment on the other side.
The meaning is most obvious of all, the conflicting lessons about food are an obvious mirror of the ever changing things we are told are good for us and bad for us: “…but everyone has a teeth go grey, just eat yeast, it’ll all go away! But how much have you had today? Too much yeast makes your teeth go grey.” In the end the Duck is consumed by giant cans, the food industry behind the cameras, and we see Red walking morosely away from a phonebooth in the real world. It seems he was trying to save his friends.
And now but one remains, he is all alone and weeping, trying desperately to find peace, but he’s deprived of sleep by a lamp that sings about dreams, but this episode does not follow the formula.
Out there in the “real” world, Red finds himself a slave to drudgery and boredom, in a world full of humourless cynics that look identical to him. He almost seems to miss the animated house he left, and sits alone in a bar surrounded by nonsensical small talk while another Red creature hammers ineffectually at a piano. He takes to the stage and starts to sing the song from Get Creative, only for the stage to dissolve, and he finds himself at the controls of the House in which he once lived. He tries to spare Yellow from the torment at the hands of… well there’s a few things I haven’t mentioned.
You may have noticed the reoccurring theme of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, that we are taught how and what to think, and by the media most of all. You’ll see it everywhere throughout the series in adverts, screens, and cameras, and in myriad subtle ways that even the more keen eyed amongst us may have missed. There are a few commonalities that are more obvious than others, the reoccurance of June 19th, or the numbers 1906, the use of the colour green, the image of a human brain, and the only parental figure.
The father of Yellow guy is by far the most horrifying figure, a vision of immorality who is seen from his introduction in Time and slowly he is revealed as the one pulling the strings. In the cult of Malcolm, a shadowy corner where the computer had been, standing above the set of healthy, and finally reaching to stop Red from interfering with the plan.
Is this a review? A summary? Perhaps both, perhaps neither. Once again we’re spreading the love for a series that we have become enthralled by, and that we discuss with the release of every new video. It’s almost a shame to see it gone, because I doubt anything will unnerve me in quite the same way again.
Credit for a lot of these explanations must go to Vinnie at YouTube Explained although he missed a few points I felt important, but seriously check out his thoughts on the series, he’s very observant.
Characters in TV shows have a shelf life. Most main characters get to make it to the finale, but your average red-shirt or Cousin Joey might not make it to the end credits. By now we’ve grown so used to certain patterns in character death we’re starting to mock it.
Horror films – slashers especially – have become so predictable that even those few directors trying to hang a lampshade on the death-progression have started to be a cliché. Gone are the days of the black guy dying first, in fact he was the last man standing in Deep Blue Sea, a film famous for breaking kill-patterns by eating the biggest star early on… and actually that was Samuel L. Jackson so scrap the first point. Even the love interest ended up dead, which is becoming increasingly common these days, films like Drag me to Hell, and Cabin in the Woods often fatally separate partners.
The death of a character can… and really should be a pivotal moment in a show, a chance for the whole cast to explore depths of emotion, and for the entire dynamic to shift. Take 8 Simple Rules as an example, a very solid family-sitcom with enough drama to keep it interesting that sadly lots the main actor and father John Ritter, and not through choice. The show persevered with a couple of new cast members and an adjustment period which must be praised for its’ sensitivity of a difficult subject considering the genre. Afterwards, while 8 Simple Rules managed to stay funny and of decent quality, it was definitely changed, and still raised moments of dealing with grief, made all the more genuine for the actual loss of the actor.
Perhaps the worst death pattern is the immortal protagonist, the character who just can’t seem to stay dead, no matter how often their killed, like a boomerang with a theme tune… or a DC character. Lazarus pits, ancient mystics or perhaps some other cunning means, like implanting the personality of a character into the body of a shapeshifting murderer until the murderous personality is suppressed, and just pretending like everything’s normal. Points to anyone who gets that one. The problem with immortal protagonists is that people start to actually want them dead for good, and it never seems to happen.
Without question, the show that has managed/is managing to shock and harrow its audience with death the most must be Game of Thrones (accepting all arguments for other shows in the comments and Facebook). Main characters die more frequently than is entirely normal, and the deaths often come out of nowhere and are as dirty and ignoble as reality permits. Always worth making sure your character dies on screen though, if you didn’t see it then it’s only a maybe.
Death should be a big deal because death is a big deal! Game of Thrones was initially fantastic at presenting death in such a way that it was unpleasant, shocking, and pointless but now we sit on needles whenever we grow to like a character, becoming just as predictable as any slasher, but this time the man behind the mask is George R.R. Martin. Have we become numbed to death? Or are we still able to feel for the death of a character and not point and say “saw that one coming”?
I’ve been watching Farscape lately. I love it, I forgot exactly how much I love it actually, after getting reacclimatised to the hastily-made (but still high quality) practical effects, the occasionally hammy acting and rather harshly episodic nature of the first season, it’s a forgotten gem of science fiction that occupies a rather amazing niche filled with action, a rich world and at times some very progressive themes that Star Trek would never have touched. It strongly fits within the “fantasy in space” field of sci-fi, and it got me to thinking about something I’ve observed in other series as well.
In D&D amongst other RPs that you all know, the characters fall into some quite specific roles. In most MMOs they’d be the tank, healer and DPS, D&D gives us the classic four-part set up of Fighter, Cleric, Rogue and Mage, along with the variety of extras that add variation to the themes. Others, like Shadowrun, Call of C’Thulhu take the same roles and apply their own themes. They stem from the sword and sorcery genre of pulp fiction styled by people like Robert E. Howard, and the epic fantasy works of people like Tolkien. (more…)
This is something I’ve had on my mind a lot lately. I’ve said it a few times now, that there are some fantastic female actors in the industry but sadly very few are receiving the opportunities to play the kind of characters they deserve. I’ve heard the role of female characters described as “being there for men to talk to”, being treated as the subject of exposition rather than the object. It’s something I observe infrequently, but I do find myself thinking that I rarely see a female character who stands apart, someone that I want to discuss at length after the film is over.
So I present a few quick case studies of the portrayal of female characters, good and bad. (more…)
It’s difficult, almost impossible to come up with an original idea any more. Invention comes mostly from developing or recreating old ideas, or fusing two or more old ideas until the new one becomes suitably distinct; true invention, that can spawn an entirely original creation is a rare and precious gift that often leaves the bearer mental and in a corner spinning buscuits and gluing stuff to stuff. (more…)