RIP Prince

Prince died toady.

People will commiserate with hashtags. Facebook will be aglow with tributes. Memes will explode in sympathy.

But when all is swept aside, the music remains. We can say it’s probably what he wanted, but I am pretty sure he would have rather lived. It doesn’t matter. We have the music and it will remain.

We might have seen him in concert or followed him in the media, when all is considered, the music was what we had to begin with and what we have now.

He left us with so much. His was a talent above almost all others and we should be thankful.

1958 -2016

Listen for him.

prince

Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry. It sounds a little like a cross between a kids programme and an adult film, it’s neither. If you haven’t already seen the trailer you are missing out. At first it looks like a gimmick and after a few different shots you realise it is a serious film shot completely in first person.

There is nothing new under the sun, just better versions. Hardcore Henry looks like a much better version of the 2005 film Doom, staring Dwayne Johnson. Now Doom was a box office boom, bringing in less money than it cost to make. There have been other, better first person movies like the 1947 adaptation of the Raymond Chandler novel Lady in the Lake. Hardcore Henry is a lot more, well Hardcore, in terms of violence and action.

Is it going to be easier to watch Hardcore Henry than The Blair Witch Project? Probably, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make any money. At the very least, someone found a good use for a GoPro.

Hardcore Henry

Keeping us Guessing about TV Shows

Mystery, does it keep you watching?

In the not too distant past, less channels had original content. We have more shows being produced and consequently more shows being cancelled. At one time, for the majority of shows, there was only a passing awareness of seasons. Did we know when we passed from The Simpsons season six to seven? Probably not. We also weren’t as aware of narrative arcs. We didn’t anticipate the finale or have a sense of a main protagonist for a show.

In short, the way we watch TV has changed.

The big question is whether this changes us or whether our expectations have changed the shows? It is a bit of a chicken and an egg question. What we do have is an increasing awareness of rating and show cancellation. Does this make us invest more in our shows? Do we establish a sense of ownership when our shows are threatened? Currently, there is some uncertainty about the future of Agent Carter. The ratings have been falling across the season and you can show your support with #RenewAgentCarter.

The Walking Dead finale has caused a little contention with its mystery death. Should we have been told who was killed? Should we have to wait weeks to see the next episode? Are we just being dragged along for the sake of it or is this gripping TV?

the-flash-iron-mask

Another good example is The Flash’s midseason break. We have one big reveal with the identity of the main protagonist Zoom, but we still have the ongoing mystery of the man in the mask. Like Walking Dead, the identity of the masked man has created multiple online discussions (I won’t go into my thoughts but I’m between Wally West and Eddie/Eobard Thawne). Is that the point?

The Flash example is a good one because it pushes us towards becoming engaged with the mystery. After just unmasking Zoom, we are reminded the mask purposefully hides an individual’s identity and the reason why Zoom was hiding his identity was because he was (possibly) one of the good guys. Zoom’s identity also reminds us we should have been able to figure out his identity because it was right in front of us. Its stands to reason we should be able to figure out the identity of the man in the mask. Everything about the man in the mask encourages us to anticipate the return of the show and discuss the details online. Is that the point? Is that how we have changed? Are we all just people who read the last page of a mystery novel after the first chapter? If there is someone on a show we think we know or are confused about a plot or eager to find out what happens? What do we do? Wikipedia.

In a world of Wikipedia, do we need the mystery in shows to keep us watching?

Agent Carter

Agent CarterAs the second season of Agent Carter draws to a close, I start to realise that I have been subject to a story that stretches beyond super villains, mobsters, spies and corruption. Although, to be honest, I must have been distracted by all the Marvel superhero connections.

In season one, Agent Carter was a marginalised agent working secretly for Howard Stark while also finding herself marginalised by the male agents. Season two has taken a different approach with the characters of Whitney Frost and Jason Wilkes. Issues of gender have been enhanced with race and social status. The aptly named zero matter, which already exists in the Marvel universe, has been used to good effect in the story of characters who find themselves restricted by social conventions and given opportunities to subvert morality under the influence of the unknown, unimaginable and uncontrollable power of zero matter, which for most of the series consisted of Whitney Frost using black goo to absorb people.

Having a show with a main female character leads to an inevitable marginalisation of the show. The fact that it is a period drama, doesn’t help, especially when it is going to be compared to Agents of Shield which is more directly connected to the Avengers movies.

A better comparison is the Marvel shows on Netflix, Daredevil, with a male main character and Jessica Jones, with a female main character. While Daredevil gets a higher status because of the familiarity that may exist because of the less than successful Ben Affleck film or a hugely successful five decades of comics, does that really account for the show’s success in relation to Jessica Jones?

The issues of female characters on TV (and in film for that matter) continues to be of concern. Just look at Wonder Woman in Batman vs Superman. Sure she is going to get her own film, but she still needs to be introduced by Batman and Superman just as Superman needs a little helping hand from the cinematic successes of Batman. In Agent Carter, the writers and producers have taken a more proactive approach to the situation of gender and race in the setting of the 1950s.

Whitney Frost is striving against objectification while also absorbing the attention and compliments of men (when she isn’t literary absorbing men). Jason Wilkes is intangible for most of the series. His ability to make a physical impact reduced to nothing and occasionally become completely invisible and disappearing altogether. A little being of Richard Wright influence there? Probably a little too heavy for superhero show. Which brings us to the al important question of whether dealing with such weighty issues adds to the entertainment of the show and whether it should be renewed.

Why it shouldn’t be renewed is easy. This series does what other series don’t do. After the first Captain America film, it is no longer directly connected the cinematic franchise. Sure, it could be made relevant, but if one thing is being made clear with the Agents of Shield TV show, if the show can’t fit in with the film, it won’t. There have been little attempts to even suggest that the film could connect to the show. I mean, Fury appeared in the Age of Ultron, why not Agent Coulson? Well, there was that whole ‘Coulson got killed’ plot point to explain from the first Avengers film.

Why Agent Carter should be renewed is more difficult. Should the show be renewed just because it is doing something that no other show is doing? Part of me says yes, but if it can’t attract the viewers then maybe people aren’t ready for the ideas or the ideas aren’t being presented in an appropriately appealing way. Do we need difficult issues presented in an appealing way? Kinda yes. In order to introduce difficult ideas, they have to be presented in an accessible manner. Sure they are difficult but people won’t seek difficult ideas without motivation. Why would they?