Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rage Against the Event

I am growing extremely weary of the "event" - I've been thinking about this the last few days and I was blaming Apple. There is no longer any nice surprises in Google Reader because Apple has convinced Microsoft, Google and everyone else that everything... must... be... an... EVENT! There must be build-up, there must be secrecy, there must be a vague announcement, a slogan, an excited(?) crowd of journalists. Banners. Lights. A celebrity to the fans. But beyond Steve Jobs (and they're sure trying with Jon Ives), who is there? Ballmer's an angry sasquatch, Google lets everyone be a celebrity, meaning no one will stand out.

So everything has this build-up, and then immediately, the letdown. It's too expensive. There's no camera? Still? Three versions in? It looks like a turtle. It looks cool but no one will ever use it because they won't understand it. Umm... seen it before when it was called Twitter.

Even Apple has moved beyond that, going so far as "lose" a prototype of a new phone they're not even ready to admit exists. Just like that, publicity out of thin air.

I understand queuing up late on a Friday night to see a brand new movie with the experience of being in the crowd where you're all experiencing something together. I've done that. Lord of the Ring movies, Austin Powers movies, Harry Potter movies.

I suppose for a true fan (gullible and rich with little else to brag about) you might want to stand in line with others to be the first to hold the new precious electronic device. I have not done this. I'm in the wrong stage of life. Newerly married with children, there's no money for frivolous toys. Especially from a company that has a habit of making its own products obsolete in one or two years, sticking it to its early adopters.

And I can understand getting in line for tickets because they are a commodity and you need first-mover advantage to get better seats. (Yeah, there's the internet and phone but as long as Ticketmaster has a monopoly on ticket sales, the physical line may still rule out.) This, also, I have not done. But we have stopped later in the day at an out of the way seller and were able to buy hot tickets without needing to wait in any lines.

And I can even understanding wanting to get a new book the day it comes out. I did attend a nice party at a bookstore at downtown Disney. They served treats and some people even dressed up, including people we went with. No lightning scar on my forehead, thankyouverymuch. But it was at a more reasonable time, 9 pm. When the next book came out a midnight, I stayed home, Lori ran out on her own for that one. But even then, she didn't have work the next day, so she was able to stay up late reading.

But tonight (I think) a lot of stores selling DVDs like Target and Best Buy and Fred Meyer are all opening their stores at midnight so that people can buy Avatar. Really? It's a really long movie, it wasn't that good and it's a school night. I am really hoping that it proves to be wrong and the crowds to not materialize.

I went and saw Avatar in 3D. It was a birthday present to myself, and I went by myself. Lori had no interest in the movie and I didn't blame her. For me, I just wanted to see what the hype was, most specifically, the CGI. It was a case of lots of coolness wherein the sum of the parts was far less cool than the pieces. I was impressed by the sliding see-through screens in the cockpit of the transport, I was impressed by the screens in the science center. I was impressed by the giant 3D scrolling map table. I was impressed by the flora and fauna of the jungle, especially at night when everything was bio-luminescent. I was impressed by the floating mountains.

I was not impressed by the blue characters, the flying characters or the six-legged horses. I was not impressed by some of the war machines. I was not impressed by the acting or the story. I wasn't impressed by the eco-terrorism message or the anti-war message or the gaia/mother-earth hippie peacenik message. And, Mr. Cameron, you lost me at "unobtanium." *sigh* And I was very unimpressed with the ending. As much as they wanted a happy ending, you do not defeat the security force of a giant universe-wide corporation with very deep pockets and send them off with their tail between their legs and think that's the end of it. If Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us nothing, the Navi should know that the corporation will only return with more firepower and be less concerned about killing for their cause.

So, here's to hoping that everyone who turns the lights on and pays the staff to show up will lose money tonight selling only a few copies of this movie.

I'll probably eventually get a copy, when it's in the bargain bin and I want to remember what passed for great CGI back in 2010.