Much of the analysis that followed focused on the show’s politics: Star Roseanne Barr is an eager champion of debunked right-wing conspiracies, and the premiere’s storyline hinged on her character’s support for President Donald Trump. And since the 2016 presidential election, television programmers have been working to find ways to reach working-class whites who voted for Trump. The success of “Roseanne” only reaffirmed those efforts. But looking ahead to 2018-19, “Roseanne” may be a harbinger of a less titillating, more significant programming shift — the revitalization of the broadcast comedy after years of emphasis on drama.
AI researcher Robbie Barrat decided to see what would happen when he fed a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) thousands of nude portraits from a dataset and then trained it to create its own bizarre artworks.
Nina Li Coomes: “In the film, the country is a plot device that creates a vague sense of unfamiliarity to move the story forward and explain away bizarre narrative elements. … [In other words,] using Japan as a way to normalize outlandishness, thus creating the illusion of a cohesive story.”
Emily Yoshida: “I reached out on Twitter to a handful of native and/or fluent speakers of Japanese who saw Isle of Dogs on opening weekend … [and] what I found, even in this small sample size, was a similar dynamic I’ve seen before in debates about Asian culture as reflected by Western culture – perspectives can vary wildly between Asian-Americans and immigrated Asians, and what feels like tribute to some feels like opportunism to others.”
If we’re really serious about changing how social networks operate, far more radical interventions are required. Here are three possible ways to rescue social media from the market-based pressures that got us here.
In its 2018 Annual Plan, the broadcaster has acknowledged that young people aged 16-24 in the UK are spending more time watching Netflix than all of the BBC’s programming combined, including iPlayer.
Charles Rivkin, former Ambassador to France and assistant Secretary of State, is the new chair of the Motion Picture Association of America (and the representative for the six “old-line” studios). He has to deal with being the ratings guru and championing movie theaters in an era where Netflix and other streaming services are stomping the movies. But hey, he’s into it: “Reinvigorated at every level,” he says about his plans for the MPAA. (Um, can he fix the sex bad, violence fine ratings issue too?)
Sure, the First Amendment prohibits the government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” but current case law on religious freedom is deeply mixed. Why? Well, ask Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, a new documentary about a cult community in Oregon that is “a staggeringly improbable mélange of religion, New Age psychology, land-use and constitutional law, group sex, credit-card scams, xenophobia and immigration terrors, fundamentalism, election fraud, germ warfare, terror bombing, assassination squads, and Putin-style poisoning, all enacted against the haunting background of the Oregon high desert.”
Yes, OK, part of it might be the source material. And yet even objectively terrible adaptations like 2016’s World of Warcraft show that “there’s clearly money to be made here, which explains why studios seem so obsessed with pursuing it despite the critical maulings.” Can this project be saved?
“According to Nielsen Audio Fall 2017 ratings, the total weekly listeners for all programming on NPR stations is 37.7 million people – a record that has been maintained since the Spring of 2017. NPR’s Newscasts, updated live every hour, can now be heard on 947 broadcast stations by nearly 28.7 million listeners.”
In December, PBS suspended Smiley’s nightly talk show in the wake of allegations that he had behaved improperly with female members of his staff; within weeks, Smiley, furiously denying the charges and alleging that PBS was “racially hostile” to him, filed suit against the network. “[Now, a] 32-page answer and countersuit, filed in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, alleges Smiley violated the network’s morals clause and seeks $1.9 million in returned salary plus unspecified damages.”
While nostalgia was expected to bring in eyeballs, no one predicted such a huge turnout on premiere night for the blue-collar family sitcom with a Donald Trump-supporting protagonist, especially among the younger demographic. But then, few predicted that Trump would become the Republican nominee and would win the presidential election when he first announced his candidacy.
“A podcast offers up intellectual property in a particularly appealing format – compared with a book or even a script, it’s a stronger proof of concept of how a show or movie would actually play out. ‘It’s one step closer to seeing it onscreen,’ [Matt] Tarses said. ‘You already know what it sounds like.'” (Tarses is the creator of Alex, Inc., an ABC series about a podcaster, based on Alex Blumberg’s podcast about launching his podcasting company, Gimlet Media. How meta can you get?)
Inxeba (The Wound), about a gay love triangle taking place amidst Xhosa male coming-of-age rites, took directing, acting, writing, and editing honors as well as Best Film at the South African Film and Television Awards this week. Yet traditional leaders have furiously opposed the movie, arguing that it is hard-core pornography that profanes a sacred part of their culture. (No genitalia are shown on screen.)
“The culture wars never really went away, but … now feels like a great time to discuss one of the greatest sources of controversy of the past 30 years – Married … With Children, an edge-busting TV sitcom that predated the Streisand Effect but may have been one of its earliest examples.”
“[The Israeli series] The Silence Breaker is billed as an investigative factual entertainment format that will expose real-life sexual harassment at the workplace. Using hidden cameras, the show will go undercover to document harassment while also telling the victims’ stories. Each story will end with an on-camera confrontation with the harasser.”
Airing fewer commercials could mean less revenue for the networks — unless they can convince advertisers that it’s worth it to pay more to have their spots running in a less cluttered program. The topic is being debated ahead of the upfront market, where most of the advance ad time for the 2018-19 TV season is sold.
The move is likely to interpreted as a further tightening of regulatory control of the film and TV sectors, and increased involvement of the Communist Party in media matters. That would be in line with recent trends in China.
Films with women or minorities in lead roles have led the box office 11 out of 12 weekends this year, according to data from Box Office Mojo, a site that tracks box office revenue. In the same 12-week period in 2017, only five weekends were dominated by films with women or minorities in the lead. “Hidden Figures” led for two weeks, “Get Out” for one and “Beauty and the Beast” for two.
“Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star – ‘a living legend’ – or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history,” said the unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel. “Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator’ portrayal of actual people.”
Stranger Things has proven to be the most popular streaming show in the world, leading all online offerings in average demand across nine out of 10 international markets. As Netflix’s flagship series, especially in the wake of Kevin Spacey’s ouster from House of Cards, and in comparison to TV’s other big stars, you could make the case that the Stranger Things cast is actually underpaid.
“I don’t believe that films that are given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for Academy Award nominations,” he said. “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. If it’s a good show, you deserve an Emmy. But not an Oscar.”
Netflix, which had the rules bent for Okja last year, can’t get around it this year: The films have to be in theatrical release in France to be considered for awards at Cannes. Festival director Thierry Fremaux: “The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films. But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours.”
What gives? Faith and religion used to be the kiss of box office death. Now, as many other box office certainties fall, the film “I Can Only Imagine” has picked up pretty solid box office numbers, coming in second only to “Black Panther” and “Tomb Raider” in its first week of release. “Other recent successes include Heaven Is for Real, the story of a boy who briefly dies, which grossed $91m in the US. Fireproof, about a porn-addicted fireman, made $33m from a $500,000 budget. God’s Not Dead, which follows a college student whose faith is challenged by a philosophy professor, made twice that.”
Robbie’s plan is to emphasize diverse Australian talent. She said, “I’m taking a lot of meetings with the lesser-known talent at the moment, the indie film-makers, first- and second-time film-makers, mainly women. … I’m in a lovely position where I can actually help get things greenlit, so I want to work with people who we haven’t seen yet.”
In her speech before presenting the Best Director Oscar this year, Emma Stone said, “It is the director whose indelible touch is reflected on every frame.” However, writes Ryan Gilbey, “the assumption that the director is present in every frame becomes problematic once that same director turns out to be a liability. … If the value of a movie can be attributed to a single film-maker, it becomes that much harder to argue that extracurricular misjudgments – and even crimes – can be expunged from what is on screen.”
In the first generations of television, reflecting the idea(l) of the “classless” American society, the families in sitcoms tended to be solidly middle-class: Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, I Love Lucy, etc. Even the Addams family and the Munsters were middle-class, if not wealthy. (The only real exceptions were The Honeymooners and the stereotyped “ethnic” comedies The Goldbergs, Amos ‘n’ Andy, and The Beverly Hillbillies, on which everyone but the Clampetts was rich.) Sascha Cohen offers a reevaluation of how things changed after Norman Lear created All in the Family.
“To some cynical journalists or techno-skeptics, this maneuvering might seem like Facebook just being Facebook—that the Cambridge scandal is merely the latest in a litany of privacy intrusions; that Facebook’s de facto response is, as Dance noted, disingenuous. But this scandal really is different, and everyone in Silicon Valley knows it. Since the story broke a significant investor and entrepreneur, who has worked in tech for over two decades, recalled to me that the incident reminded him of what happened to Microsoft in the 1990s, when years of pugilistic corporate behavior caught up to the company in the form of significant antitrust regulation.”
“‘To see what is in front of one’s nose,’ George Orwell said, ‘needs a constant struggle.’ … What about the hidden truths, the buried drives and desires? The things that lie beyond distant doorways, behind the curtains of dreams, deep in the sea-bottoms of memory? Who’s going to see all that while you’re busy looking just past the Orwellian tip of your nose? Over the past half century, no one has taken a harder, clearer look behind those doors, beyond those curtains, and into those deep oceans than David Lynch.”
In the wake of the last Florida school shooting, and as a lead-up to this weekend’s March for Our Lives, here’s a conversation with Villanova University research psychologist Patrick Markey, co-author of Mortal Kombat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong.