Can I Share Links for Streaming Content?

A while ago I bought a product online, to be more precise it was a rented film. When I paid my money I was given a link and access to the film for two days after I started playing it. Now currently my family is away and I thought, could I share the link so they could enjoy it also? This brought up an ethical conundrum for me, is this legal? It prompted a bit of a google and the answers I found were surprising.

The answer simply seems to be, yes. And it looks like they don’t care. Obviously if you are sharing with lots of people they may look into it. But for the most part it’s all okay. But why is this? Essentially when you share a link you are advertising the company and this is a good thing. You are endorsing the site where you got the content from and this is more valuable than the thing itself. You’re being the influencer for them; an employee of little cost.

Imagine for a second if these companies cracked down on people sharing content. Many of my purchases are via one company, say if they get upset at me for sharing something and decide to send out cease and desist letters, what am I most likely to do? Well in a near saturated market place, I’ll most likely close my account and go somewhere else. I could even return to buying the DVD from the store!

They need our custom, and if looking the other way for a second allows them to succeed then they are willing to do it. So share away, advertise your steaming service of choice – it’s what they want you to do!

Feature Image: Watch (328) by Doug Waldron (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Family Gaming Debate: Should You Restrict Kids Access to Gaming?

Now I don’t have any problems with my children playing video games and I am a gamer myself. I believe they are a form of entertainment and I don’t believe they have many negative effects beyond that of any other entertainment. But as with everything, moderation is best and over use can lead to problems.

Excessive Gaming Issues

I have noticed that at times my son can become aggressive when gaming. To counter this we have recommended that he go and do something else for a while. It could be assumed that this behavior is tied to the games, however this is more the catalyst rather than the problem. Usually when he is ‘losing control’ it is due to sleep deprivation and caused by him not going to bed. Recently he, at times, has been staying up late playing, and this has resulted in his sleeping patterns being disrupted. As he is playing games online, and with players all over the world, there is no down time and he can find a game to play at anytime, and this is the main problem.

Restricting Access

In order to assist him in maintaining a healthy playing structure, we decided to limit the consoles access. At the start we set times for two breaks, one at midday and the other at six, both of these. We picked these times so he stopped at meal times. We also set it to clock off a ten, and return at seven the next morning. This worked well for a few weeks. After a while he asked for the daytime’s to be switched off as it was interrupting his play with friends. The fact that he asked, rather than moaned, and ha proper arguments we agreed and removed the block for the day, and we let the night one out to eleven, which was the time that his friends seemed to leave as well.

Is it the Real Solution?

Turning off the console can create new issues as, you are doing two very different things. The first is removing a form of entertainment and the second is you are restricting communication with friends. So when you are taking away the gaming console, you are also saying that they can’t play with their friends. The gaming console has become a personal safe place for them to hangout. It’s the mall of the current generation.

A Better Way?

Recently I have become more mindful that when he is ‘playing’ he is actually interacting with friends. When I want to talk with him, I ask him to turn off the mic, so I don’t embarrass him in front of his friends. I needed to realise that this is his place and I am an outsider. Our communication became better when I learned what he thought of as acceptable. For example, he is fine being called to dinner and other general family business, but talking about anything personal needs to be approached more carefully.

I guess it is about respect and privacy. Sometimes he is okay with me watching and talking about the game and other times he is not. I need to read each situation and act accordingly. If I get a bit of a stare-down I know that he wants to be left alone. Obviously I can choose to do so or not, but if I don’t need to tell him something then usually I leave him be and if not we have worked out signals so he can ‘opt out’ of the game for a second so his mates don’t hear what I am saying.

Learning to Deal with New Tech

Sometimes I feel that these are issues that my own parents did not have to deal with. But of course they had, it was just slightly different. Even though the console still turns off at eleven, and he usually goes to bed at a reasonable hour, I feel that he was right and the day times were a bit excessive.

If you’re having problems with excessive use perhaps try limiting the console’s access to the internet, but as with everything a discussion that involves all parties can result in a smoother transition.

What are your thoughts on restricting kids access to gaming? Feel free to comment below.

Feature Image: xbox controller. by Adam.James (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Is Ghostbusters (2016) Really that Bad?

Ghostbusters came out in 2016 among a flurry of (mostly negative) internet chatter. Some people hated it and some people were undecided and others supported it as an important step forward in cinema. However, most of this early talk was around the casting choices rather than the actual film. If it is judged by the first trailer, it seemed like it was going to be disappointing, but is this the actual case?

I like to give things a chance and the second trailer made it look much better. So I took my kids to see it, and my opinion didn’t really change. It’s not a perfect movie, but then re-watching the original 1984 one, that is not a perfect movie either. From Venkman using his position of power as a professor to seduce a young woman in the opening scenes to the amount of smoking throughout the film. Is the original a film that kids should be watching? I saw the original in the cinema as a ten year old and it scared the pants off me. I still get the jitters watching the library scene.

At its core Ghostbusters 2016 is a kids movie. It’s aimed at children and not nostalgic adults. If you’re not sure about that here’s a tip. If the movie has bodily function comedy, you’re watching a kids film. The film was never made to replace the old one, but rather reintroduce the old story and concept to a new audience. If you love the old film and are able to chuck on the rose tinted glasses so all it’s flaws seem inconsequential, then you don’t want or need to see this film; and thus your opinion of it is invalid.

So what’s good about it…

The representation of struggle on the part of their professional careers. It showed real problems faced by people trying to move past their previous endeavors.

The element of danger was more real, and they showed thought and ingenuity to solve problems. The development of new weaponry beyond the all-purpose proton pack.

The battle scene on the streets demonstrated overcoming their vulnerabilities. This was vastly superior to the ghost capturing montage of the original.

And what’s bad about it…

All the cameo’s from the original Ghostbusters, they were nothing more than distraction. If people wanted them in the movie, they should have made a fresh one with them in it.

A few of the jokes were flat, and didn’t come across well, but then again it is a kids film.

Should you watch it?

If you are looking for something similar to the original one, then no. These films are not linked beyond the concept and theme. If you are after a fun kids movie that is not too scary, then this movie is a good safe option. Not every movie is made to be some spectacular masterpiece, many are made to be fun. I feel that with many so called ‘classics’ the larger audience just remember key scenes and not the film as a whole.

Feature Image: Science Eyes by Tom Woodward (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Star Trek Discovery ‘Slides’ Back onto Netflix

When Star Trek Discovery made its debut on Netflix in September 2017, I thought that it was a perfect step in the right direction. Now, I have been a fan of the series since watching ST:TNG on VHS (I know right, what are those?), hiring them weekly from my local VideoEzy store. As far as I’m aware it didn’t have an airing schedule in Australia, perhaps it shifted around or used as night time filler(!). I tend to feel that many studio executives have little idea how to market these programs to advertisers and they end up being scrapped early due to poor ratings (eg. FarscapeFirefly).

From the very first episode I was hooked, I liked that the show was being released weekly rather than all at once, as this allows time to properly digest the show as opposed to rushing through it. I like all of the characters, especially Cadet Tilly, she isn’t the hyper-confident personality that seems to dominate the Star Trek universe. I especially like how all the characters seem like individuals and none of them are perfect, they are like real people instead of people puppets. Their motives are different, they talk differently to different people, and there is clear conflict between some of them, and this is more in line with real life.

However back to the episode in question. I really enjoyed it, I found that toward the end of the mid-season break, they had started to get a bit out of focus. Actually watching the new episode I discovered that I had not seen the last few minutes of the previous episode. So I was playing a bit of catch up, and after the show ended I went back and took care of that last five minutes – if only they had paced that entire episode that way.

The idea of parallel universes is not new. However the crew take way too long to catch up and I suspect most fans had it pegged right from the ‘I don’t know where we are.’ line. Watching it was a bit like, ‘yes we get it, you’re in a different universe – get on with it!’

I love the idea of the displaced crew, but I’m not a massive fan of the extreme opposite ideology that they find themselves in. In the Star Trek universe these episode are known as the Mirror Universe, and I find them ridiculous – the way the characters behave is unsustainable. I will be interesting to see how long the Discovery crew remain in the mirror universe, but I feel that any more than four episodes it become tedious. I really hope they continue with the excellent work they have been doing, and scrap any ideas for more nostalgic story lines.

Even though I don’t like this particular take, I have a connection with the many universe theory. It plays to one of my personal concepts of living a life with no regrets. This being that what ever decision I make, the alternative choice resulted in a worse outcome. Thinking like this allows to move on from certain choices I have made in the past that I seem to dwell on – I mean we ALL have those right?

Feature Image: Science Eyes by Tom Woodward (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Is Hollywood Running on Empty? Reboot the Idea Machine…

Film Bundle by Dale Mastin
(CC BY-ND 2.0)

The idea that Hollywood is running out of ideas is not a new one, in fact as a saying it is getting old and repetitive. The saying is something that is spouted by people who are getting tired of what they would call the same old stories, unwanted sequels, reboots and remakes; although I dislike the term ‘reboot’, usually when a film series is rebooted it is obvious, new cast, setting, story. The term ‘reboot’ is insulting to the audience and redundant. If your aware of the previous movies then you know, if you are not aware then you don’t need to know.

The concept of Hollywood is running out of ideas, plays on the presumption that Hollywood is in the ideas business. When in fact they are not. Hollywood exists to make money from entertainment. People like to forget that most companies exist for one single purpose, the procurement of wealth, it is only how they go about it that makes them different. In fact many companies stated out doing something different to what they are doing now, and in the fast changing world it pays to be progressive.

Cinema by Steve Snodgrass (CC BY 2.0)

Netflix is one example of a company that changed its business model to better suit the environment. They started out as a DVD mail rental service, then progressed to video streaming and now produce some of their own content (Business Insider). Netflix started when Video Rentals were king, but they took something that people didn’t like, late fees and going in to the store, and made that their marketing goals. When you examine a company that doesn’t alter their business fast enough you end up with Blockbuster; they went from just over 9000 stores in 2004 to filling for bankruptcy in 2011, just 7 years later. Now the only remnants left are about 10 franchised stores in the US (Blockbuster LLC, Wikipedia). Blockbuster had monumentally failed to understand what consumers wanted.

That is where Hollywood is different, they understand what people want, and while their consumers may say they want something different it is not what they are paying to see. But that’s okay, it is alright to go out to watch a movie just for the entertainment. We don’t need to have thought provoking movies thrown at us all the time. Perhaps when you find yourself thinking that Hollywood has run out of ideas, it is more of an indicator that you are in need of something different, a palette cleansing film, something that engages you more than the standard fodder. This is where it can get a bit difficult, what do you start with? Exploration is the key. Go for reviews and trailers on YouTube, find a reviewer (such as, Mr Sunday Movies) that you like and follow them – all of these will give snippets and small analysis of films that you may not have considered before.

They also help you sort through the wash. I love a good run and explosion film, and when I’m watching those I’m not expecting anything new, sometimes they get a bit ridiculous but that is all a part of the fun. However, as much as I enjoy those – a movie that keeps you thinking about after you have watched it can be just perfect. Movies like, Black Swan, Birdmanand most recently Colossal. Colossal was brilliant and so much more than what the trailer made it seem – it is not a standard rom-com. All these movies are open to analysis with unambiguous endings, this makes them made to be discussed and that makes them interesting. 

Regardless of the brilliance of some movies, it is the standard action films that are the money makers. Hollywood will continue to churn them out until such time as they become unprofitable – just think when was the last time you watched a western genre film? These were the most popular film genre in the 1950’s & 60’s. Just remember when you start thinking that Hollywood has run out of ideas, maybe it is time to get out of your comfort zone.

Feature Image: Hollywood by eGuide Travel (CC BY 2.0)

Science Fiction Tropes: Destroy the Queen!

‘…the odds are overwhelming, the [insert name] have us out numbered a million to one, but if can just [insert action] all of the others will be destroyed.’  – random movie speech.

This is a reasonably standard trope in science fiction and it is one that I detest. Most of the time these stories are build up and knock down, repeated several times, and then the aha moment comes for the characters and the viewing audience groans; its pathetic.

I love science fiction movies and the more we have the better, but endings such as these just rob the audience of any gratification, because it is a story that has been seen a hundred times before, and honestly it has no real world application. I would challenge anyone to give an example of a conflict in which one particular part of an army was targeted and all the other soldiers just gave up. Most soldiers are fighting for a cause – be it the need to prove something right or otherwise and you can’t destroy an idea in such a short amount of time.

Some examples of movies that use this trope are:

  • The Fifth Element (1997) – Corben Dallas is fighting the Mangalores, they are pinned down and clearly out numbered. Dallas states that taking out the leader and the other will give up fighting. This works because the Mangalores intelligence or lack of had already been established, so the audience understands why they stopped fighting.
  • The Phantom Menace (1999) – Young Anakin is fighting the droid ships in space. The mission, they must destroy the control ship and the droids will cease to function. This doesn’t work, as the Star Wars universe has been established as having sentient droids – even where the soldier robots make jokes with each other. Are we really expected to believe that someone was controlling their ability to make jokes and complain?
  • Independence Day (1996) – All of the opponents have force fields on their ship, that are controlled by a mother ship. They destroy the ship and the force fields fail and suddenly the tide has been turned. Ignoring the absurdity of the plot, this doesn’t work because there are still millions of ships, and soldiers available to the aliens.

The trope exists as nothing more than a short cut to an obstacles, it is almost as if there was a writer to get them to one point, and then another to write the solution. It is flat out lazy story telling.

The title image for this post is from Star Trek: Beyond, where they do use this trope, however they changed it into a much more entertaining one. I didn’t mind its use in Star Trek: Beyond because the fighters moved as one central unit other than individuals, like in Independence Day and Star Wars, and the explanation of how they operated and the way they were defeated was well developed; it went beyond the destruction of one man, ship or queen.

For this trope to be used properly writers need to establish ground rules, how things work and why they do. You can’t build a wall and then smash out a door when it becomes a necessity – that shit gets messy – you need to build the door frame first and the wall around it, for that smooth exit from the building.

Title Image: Star Trek: Beyond (screenshot)

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