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Disney Stupidity Strikes Again!

I’ve complained about Disney making stupid decisions before. Their need to allow marketing to shape the creation of Star Wars. The extremely poorly thoughtout plan behind Thanos’ motivation in Infinity War. Their nearly utter lack of risks under their own titles by way of live action remakes, sequels, and reboots. But now they are doing it again. Disney is not renewing their contract with Netflix and has decided only to release digital copies of their titles on their own video streaming service. This is beyond stupid. This is near suicidal.

So Late to the Party, It’s Over

There are three big streaming networks: Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Netflix added their streaming line in 2007, Hulu launched their content in 2008, and Amazon Prime’s streaming service switched from only on demand to a subscription service in 2011. That means Netflix has been around for 12 years, Hulu for 11, and Prime for 8. All three hold titles from many different distribution companies and in the last few years, all three have been creative Emmy winning original titles as well. Netflix has 137.1 million subscribers (https://www.statista.com/statistics/250934/quarterly-number-of-netflix-streaming-subscribers-worldwide/), Hulu has 20 million subscribers (https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/hulu-statistics/), and Amazon Prime has about 100 million subscribers (https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/amazon-prime-100-million-subscribers-jeff-bezos-1202757832/). Netflix being the first explains why they have the most, and Amazon Prime offering other perks, such as free two day shipping and digital copies of a selection of books and music, explains why it is second. The only other real competition to these three is HBO Now, as HBO has been creating it’s own original content for decades before streaming subscriptions were a thing, and they regularly get recent blockbusters. This past year their relatively new online subscription service has hit over 5 million subscribers (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-01/hbo-s-channel-for-cord-cutters-surpasses-5-million-subscribers). This was actually a relatively natural progression for the channel, and other paid channel networks have followed suit with less success. The point is that the most successful streaming services offer both original content and multiple distribution companies’ titles and have been around for nearly ten years or have a sweet package that includes other benefits. The streaming wars haven’t just begun. They’re long over. Only something with extremely competitive benefits can even get a foot in the door. Another Amazon Prime. I could see Apple successfully doing this if they were willing branch off of their own tech products (i.e. all smart TVs and Windows computers) and converted to a subscription service, like their Apple Music. Disney’s package is not competitive. My guess is that it’s going to be priced too high because Disney thinks they are worth more than they are.

Big Dumb Animal

Disney is one of a handful of major media corporations. Nearly all of them are know for doing stupid things on a regular basis. Universal tried making their dumb dark universe. Warner Bros is failing spectacularly at creating a DCCU. Fox just makes bad movies because they trust Ridley Scott far too much. Other endeavors don’t do so well either. The news sections of the major media corporations are lackluster as almost all of them use rhetorical techniques and spotlighting techniques to incite fear and manipulate public opinion to political sides or to raise their own ratings. They often make business decisions that would kill smaller companies, such as cancelling Emmy winning TV shows, not marketing movies that need it and over-marketing those that don’t, designing creative titles by committee, watering down acquired IPs for mass markets, performing unethical and illegal acts that obstruct a criminal investigation simply to keep a news story going, one arm of the company suing another arm of that same company, not backing video streaming when it first came out. These big media corporations are stupid. They are frankly too big not to be stupid. They aren’t innovators. They aren’t trail-blazers. They copy each other and they copy the innovators, thinking that they can “do it better”. They typically can’t. The problem is inspiration. They don’t have it. Maybe one day they did, years ago, but they don’t have it anymore. Now, they have demographic data, marketing teams, and financial optimization. These are not the things that create new ideas. These are the things that keep big businesses big and, they hope, bigger. Disney is just like any other major media corporation. Large, full of MBA buzzwords, and mostly empty-headed.

You Have Hulu?!

Case in point: Disney owns a controlling interest in Hulu, one of the three major video streaming services, and they want to launch a new, Disney-branded video streaming service that would be in . . . direct competition to . . . the one they already own with 20 million subscribers. Hmm. I don’t think it needs to be explained why that would be a dumb move. I could foresee Disney pushing a vote to close down Hulu, which is dumb, to cut this competition. Why would this be dumb? Well, Hulu is established, it’s built. All the investment that was needed to create Hulu has already been spent. Disney is now spending what has to be a comparable amount of money to build a Disney-branded video streaming service when they already have a pre-built video streaming service. Is it entirely theirs? No, part of it is owned by Comcast and AT&T, and the 30% that was owned by Fox is now Disney’s, which means Disney own 60%, a controlling interest, and thus a majority profit. They could rebrand Hulu if they wanted to (don’t do that), and after Hulu’s deal with Spotify, Hulu is even more attractive as a product then it used to be. Disney is not going to be able to compete with that. I seriously doubt that the new streaming service is even going to compare with the amount of content and the quality of the original content on Hulu. I got Hulu exclusively to see The Handmaid’s Tale, an award winning show. I doubt Disney’s channel with it’s branding tied specifically to the Disney name will have the kind of deep and dark content allowed on Hulu. And it’s just going to cost them so much money.

Money Sink

Disney has a lot of money. Of that, we can be sure. They bought Star Wars and the Lucas companies for billions of dollars. They acquired Marvel through similar means a few years before that. Recently, they purchased 20th Century Fox and all their IPs and subsidiaries. They have money. Frankly, they could stand to take a few hits in that department to make them beef up their quality. While Marvel is still doing well financially on the film front, the quality of writing has gone down dramatically since the Russo Brothers have replaced Joss Whedon. Star Wars fans have finally woken up to the idea that Disney Star Wars is the worst Star Wars–something I’ve been saying since Rogue One and knew after The Force Awakens. But hardcore Disney fans still drink the cool aid when it comes to these live action remakes and sequels. My hope is that this new video streaming service will be an absolute waste of money, much like the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation was. I can see Disney not investing enough to build a truly workable service, with a good customer service system, spending more money on marketing the service, and then over-charging for the whole thing. I can also foresee them pulling the whole “Disney Vault” bullshit and rotating old titles in and out of their own service arbitrarily, thus creating a false supply titles. What I’m saying is, I foresee an utter waste of money for both Disney and fans.

An End to the Defenders

It was a sad, sad time as each new day brought another notice of a Defenders cancellation. Were all the shows good? No, of course not. Luke Cage and Iron Fist were terrible, and the second season of Daredevil, much like the second Iron Man movie, was too focused on introducing new things into the mix as we had more of the Hand, Stick, Elektra, and the Punisher then we knew what to do with. But the quality of these shows overall were better than say Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They covered deeper, darker subjects than other MCU titles. And now thanks to Disney being a jealous dick, we’re not getting any more of them. When Luke Cage and Iron Fist were cancelled, I was not shocked as I had just finished the second seasons of both and yee, gods, man. What the hell were they thinking? When an audience member literally says out loud “What the fuck?” upon the final scene of your show, that may be a sign that its time to hang it up. But Daredevil season three was great! And I can’t wait for the premier of season three of Jessica Jones or of season two of Punisher. Jessica Jones season two was still very awesome. And the first season of Punisher, while shockingly brutal, was freaking amazing! This is just a tragedy of TV that we won’t have anymore Charlie Cox Daredevil, Krysten Ritter Jessica Jones, or Jon Bernthal Punisher. Or will we? No, probably not. Disney isn’t smart enough to move it something like FX or Hulu, where something that dark would make sense, and with the new way of TV original content being separated by different video streaming services, it wouldn’t really make sense to have some seasons on Netflix, where the distribution rights lie for those seasons, and have new seasons on another service. So I don’t foresee a revival for any of these unless Disney can unjam their head from up that deep, dark cavern they’ve decided it belongs.

Devalued IPs

Speaking of IPs like the Defenders, Disney has been systematically watering down and killing their major IPs. Most of you will think I’m talking about Star Wars, and I totally am. Disney has managed to drive away the reason they purchased Star Wars in the first place. You know, the fans. It wasn’t just virtue signalling narratives, it was also poor narrative construction with uneven pacing, badly developed characters, marketing that over-saturated the market, and getting in bed with the worst game publisher in the world that resulted in a huge PR nightmare and loss of public trust, when they could have just used the publisher that came with the purchase from Lucas (https://empatheticwriter.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/star-wars-why-i-dont-like-it/). But Star Wars is not the only IP they have harmed in the last decade. What with their need to milk the shit out of their own titles, resulting in remakes, reboots, and sequels up the wazoo, Disney movies have gone down in quality, resulting in mostly boring live action remakes that aren’t as good as the originals (https://empatheticwriter.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/do-you-need-money-or-something-disney-reboot-remakes-and-sequels/). Then there is the sequels with Pixar. Luckily, Pixar still has some ideas, like Moana, but you know its going to get a less than stellar sequel. While I love The Incredibles and I’ve always wanted a sequel, when I watched the trailer, I got a bad feeling. Finding Dory was basically Finding Nemo, but with Dory and Nemo switched places, and a lot of having their cake and eating it to when it came to making fun of people who were different and suggesting that they are complete individuals deserving of our respect. The trailer for The Incredibles 2 just seems like The Incredibles only now instead of Bob running off to do superhero stuff while Helen stays home to take care of the kids and house, she’s running off to do superhero stuff while he stays home to take care of the kids and the house. It’s a problem. And really, they’re going to do a Toy Story 4? Isn’t that a bit much? Finally, the MCU. Their golden goose. Well, it was, before Joss Whedon decided he was done and they went all in on the Russo Brothers, who suck hard core. The main storyline of the MCU has become increasingly plot-hole filled with villains that have plans without any sense or structure to them and characters whose development is abused by main plot points. The stories are contrived for the purpose of creating drama. And I’m sick of it. While most audiences still like the MCU, the quality is fucking awful now. The only thing holding it all together are the great actors. I swear, it feels like the Russo brothers were asked to dismantle the MCU, because it is the only thing that makes sense. So yeah, Disney has flooded the market with horrible movies, and don’t even get me started on their TV channel! That’s been horrific for decades.

No Risks and Stupid Risks

I’ve said before that Disney was in a position to take risks. When I said that, I meant creatively, as in coming up with new IPs instead of remaking all their animated movies. I didn’t mean jump into the video streaming service market five years after it matters and after having acquired one of the big three. That isn’t a risk. That’s a jump off a cliff. It baffles me that they would not take real risks with their creative work, but do something that will in all likelihood fail as business venture. I know that these decisions are not made by the same person, that Disney is large corporation made up of a lot of people and subsidiaries, but it has a corporate culture of no creativity and cutting out the middle man. This new venture isn’t about innovation or customer support. It’s about making the most money they think they can. They see the profits that other video streaming services rake in and think they could have all that money by cutting out Netflix. But that’s potential profits, not real profits. They have no idea how much money they will actually make off their video streaming service. This is a stupid way of looking at things too because Netflix makes the money it does not because it has Disney titles, but because it has Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Sony, etc. titles and original content and no commercials. Disney is only one part of how they make their profits. They have an amazing contract with Warner Bros that allows for CW shows exclusively. And we all know how popular, if not good, those are. So for Disney to be looking possibly at Netflix profits and thinking, those could be our profits, is dumb, because they aren’t the only draw of a varied and long-standing video streaming service.

“Well, I’m Going to Cancel My Netflix Subscription”

Sure, the five million people who do this will leave “quite” a dent in Netflix’s profits. As if Netflix doesn’t have Stranger Things. Suuuuure. Netflix is gonna suffer sooooooo much. Netflix’s biggest competitor isn’t even Amazon Prime. It’s YouTube. Not even YouTube Red, Google’s attempt to get YouTube out of the red and into the black. Just regular old YouTube. But that’s because YouTube has content no one else has. No, not live TV or news clips. No, let’s plays, and gaming news and lists. The most watched videos on YouTube are related to gaming, something no other video service comes close to getting right. Twitch could eat their lunch in the viewership numbers if they weren’t just live streaming, as gaming news and lists and game walkthroughs are another huge draw, which are harder to do live. So when I hear the counter that people are going to leave Netflix for Disney, I scoff, because no other video streaming service competes on the same level. Prime looks like it does because of its numbers, but some Prime members aren’t there for the videos. They’re there for the two day shipping. Will Netflix take a hit over this? Yes, but it won’t be a company breaking hit.

In the End

I rag on Disney a lot, and despite that, they are not my least favorite media giant. That spot is firmly held by Sony. But Disney is a close second because they have so much, do so little creatively, and make dumb decisions. Because Disney owns so many major IPs, this upsets me. They have some of the best material, material that has huge followings built into them. It’s upsetting to see them gobble up more and more with the feeling that they are just going to waste all that potential and talent on half-assed projects, that they are going to end good ventures simply to get all the money in the world. They think their shit don’t stink. But it does. God, but it does. Is something like this going to take them down? Well, if EA is still around despite all they’ve done the last few years, I seriously doubt that this straw is the last straw for Disney. In fact, I see there numbers being high enough in the beginning at least for them to think this is a justified venture. They are also huge. They can absorb this quite easily if it is a loss. Will they learn a lesson if it fails? Most likely they won’t. Their vault BS has been working for them for decades. The problem is their size. They’ll stub their toe and just move on to the next dumb idea. Disney fans will continue to swallow the cool aid, and they will continue to make enough money to think they are untouchable. They’ll look for any answer that doesn’t hold them responsible for any failures, as they have in the past. And they’ll kept on doing what they’ve been doing. But now they own nearly everything of value. If they buy Warner Bros, we’re fucked. Because you know damn well, they’d end the Arrowverse in a heartbeat, despite its success and the world it has built. I’m just tired of Disney getting more and more and doing less and less of value with what they have. Aren’t you?

 

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The Snap: An Extinction Level Event in the MCU

The Snap: An Extinction Level Event in the MCU

5F42A02D-DCA2-4316-94C0-8A2F8AC2EDC4I’ve watched a lot of movies in a very short span of time for my YouTube channel, and I also spent years studying creating a narrative, but one of my biggest hobbies is reading about science and technology. I’ve loved a good deal of the MCU movies and shows, so when I watched Avengers: Infinity War, I went into it expecting a good movie. What I got instead was a contrived mess, with bad character focus, and quite possibly one of the biggest disappointments in my entertainment journey to date. Besides all that, the big issue, Thanos’ goal, is so riddled with poor science and logic that I was flabbergasted by the lack of foresight and knowledge involved in the plan and the repercussions if he was successful. In this post, with spoilers, I’m going to explain why the Snap is a bad idea and would result in the extinction for the human race and several other species. Lots and lots of spoilers below for Infinity War.

What We Know About the Snap

In just the movie alone, we see half the cast of the MCU disappear, including Groot, the last of his kind. We also see that whatever people were wearing also disappeared, including the Cloak of Levitation, Spider-man’s Iron Spider suit, Black Panther kinetic absorption suit, Falcon’s flight pack, Star-lord’s blasters, and Bucky’s arm. In an end credits scene, we see a helicopter crash, car crashes, and other bits of chaos as a result of the Snap. Thanos stated several times in the movie that he was doing it to help with the issues that overpopulation causes, such as war, famine, and disease, saying that there are not enough resources to sustain the life that existed. And according to an interview with the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, half of the animal life also disappeared and the quote can be interpreted to include plant life (though some scenes of the effect of the Snap take place in a forest and we see none of that flora disappear) and other kingdoms such as fungi, protista, archaebacteria, and eubacteria.

Russ Fischer: I do need to confirm something about the outcome of Infinity War. . . . Are half the animals dead? Are half of the the horses gone? Half of the ants?

Kevin Feige: Yes! Yes. All life.

“Kevin Feige Still Won’t Tell Us All Marvel’s Future Plans”

by Russ Fischer

birthmoviesdeath.com

Population Stasis: There Is No Such Thing

Thanos tells Gamora at one point that after killing half the population of her planet when she was a little girl, the children of her planet experience nothing but blue skies and full bellies. So we can assume that children are still being born on her planet. Brushing off the inane idea that “bad” weather means plant growth, he seems to be suggesting that in the years since he hit her planet with his stupidity that the rate of population growth has remained steady at a replacement level. Uh. Okay. Let’s think about that for a sec. No species existent or extinct has ever maintained a steady population replacement rate for more than—I don’t know—two seconds. Why? When resources are low, species population rates decrease. When resources are plentiful, species population rates increase. He doesn’t say anything about population rate mandates. Nor does his description of the Snap itself include anything about maintaining population in perpetuity. So in the narrative, Thanos isn’t planning for this, and the creative minds behind the movie didn’t think of it either. Populations rates are in constant flux dependent on the requirements of mating. On a sentient level, government mandates haven’t really solved the problems of overpopulation or underpopulation. And Thanos just fucks off to a farm after the Snap, and we don’t really get a denouement to show if the Snap included anything to maintain the current population. And you don’t just have to worry about reaching a critical mass of population again. You also have to worry about the underpopulation extinction threshold. The passenger bird only mating when they were in a swarm of thousands, and once humans killed so many of them that they weren’t mating anymore, even though they still existed, they were no longer sustainable as a species. A generation or two goes by, and they’re all gone. Well, but he only killed half of all humans, right? Right?! More on that later. Let’s keep talking about population.

Overpopulation? Nature Knows Best

Overpopulation does cause extinction, but there are also natural stopgaps to prevent extinction. Things that Thanos thinks are bad. Like nature has ever been nice. Every species fights among it’s own kind and with others for resources. Ant colonies have literal wars over territory and the resources that are in that territory. Fighting over resources is part of the natural balance. It’s not pretty. But one side wins, the other loses, winner takes the resources. Both sides suffer too many loses, can’t continue fighting, resources are divided up among those who remain. Both sides lose beyond repair, a third party takes the resources. Famine and disease also result from overpopulation, and both cause death. It’s not pretty. But the number of those who need resources goes down with the high death rate, and then the resources are enough for those still around. Can these three things cause extinction? Yes. But extinction is also part of the natural order. The rat city experiment shows that every species can overpopulate itself to extinction, but species had gone extinct without outside interference before. Do sentient species have an obligation to solve the resource issue without war, famine, and disease? Yes, but killing half the population, like those three stopgaps, is only a stopgap. It just cuts out the middleman. It is basically a very brief war. Is there less suffering this way? Uh, there could be if the Snap didn’t cause incalculable secondary damage.

Secondary Deaths: Accidents, Shock, Lack of Medical Care, Dependant Starvation, and Suicides

We all remember that helicopter crash, right? You think that was the only accident? Oh, no. Planes fell out of the fucking sky. Anyone remember the first episode of Flashforward?

It’d be very similar, but not as many deaths. But still a lot of deaths in addition to those people disappeared in the Snap. The immediate chaos would last as long if not longer as it was on Flashforward, and that immediate chaos would include a lot of deaths from car accidents, flight crashes, and heart attacks and stokes. The shock and chaos would kill some people outright, especially if some of those people watched a loved one disappear right in front of them. It would be much harder to get emergency medical care in the ensuing chaos because there would be less doctors, nurses, and EMTs due to the Snap and they would be stretched thin in the aftermath. I would guess this would account for about a million deaths at least worldwide. But that’s just the beginning. In general after the Snap, medical care would just be harder to get, shortening life spans, and this may be a change that would last years.

In China a single mother was arrested and no matter how many times she told the authorities that she had a child at home they did not send someone to take care of the child. That child starved to death. Okay. Maybe this is just a horror story, but imagine if you will how many people, a great number of young children, elderly, and invalids and severely mentally handicapped, are dependent on others for food and care. You may not know anyone, but these people exist all over the world, and often they only have one or two people in their lives that have regular access to them. In the aftermath of the Snap, a lot of these people would not be accounted for until it was too late. Many of them would starve or suffer too much health damage to recover before the world was settled enough to realize they needed help. It’s very sad. But it would happen. And there are those who would lose all hope.

Suicides go up after terrorism, and make no mistake, this is terrorism (source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1521/suli.34.4.439.53744). Seeing the love of your life, your child, your closest friend disappear before your very eyes or learning that they disappeared while you weren’t there, knowing that you would never see them again, that’s a very strong motivator for suicide. Many businesses would shut down and the stock market would plummet, and the financial desperation caused by these things would also cause some suicides. Some people just wouldn’t want to handle the chaos and would see the world as completely broken and not worth living in at that point. It’s sad, but the suicide rate would markedly increase, adding to the death toll of the Snap, though it is unclear how long the rate would stay elevated. I would predict a dip and then a slower rise as the situation got more dire. I can also actually see an increase in conflict happening; more wars, not less. Because the Snap looks like the fucking rapture just happened. Religious zealotry is likely to go up, and with it violence, and thus death as well.

Animals as Resources: Agricultural Nightmares and Animal Industries

Forgoing the absolutely idiotic idea that plants and lower lifeforms have also disappeared in the Snap, it is confirmed at least that animals were included in the Snap. Also absolutely idiotic. Why? Pigs, cows, ducks, chickens, fish, lambs, goats, turkeys, all food resources around the world. Vegetarians still eat animal by-products such as eggs and dairy and non-dairy cheeses. In places where food is scare, almost no one is a vegetarian because food is food when you’re starving, and half of these animals disappearing would cause starvation to spread. Just turn vegan? Well, first of all. No. I like almond milk as much as many lactose intolerants, but I also love a good steak. (Also, now I’m on a low FODMAP diet which means no soy or bean proteins for me.) But also this isn’t feasible as a solution. For two reasons: one, vegetative protein sources, like nuts, take far more space and water (especially) than other vegetative farming and way more than both to source people with a healthy amount of daily protein. Also, nut allergies. The other (real) reason will be listed in the next section. But animals disappearing wouldn’t just cause a problem as direct food sources.

Non-industrial farming is still a thing in this day and age. Some villages are completely dependent on their farming animals to provide labor to harvest and to plant their food. Some people still live off sheep and get help from the dogs that herd them. Some people live off of livestock for uses other than food, such show, riding, and racing horses and rodeo bulls. There is a huge pet industry. A lot of science, especially medical research, is dependent on animals for advancement. Some of this might not be pretty and you don’t have to agree with it. I hate bull fighting. But it doesn’t change the fact that many industries would suffer too greatly to recover which could mean an economic tailspin for all of the world, which feeds into starvation issues, you big freaking dumbass, Thanos.

Endangered Species: Not the Bees!

Every species has a population threshold for suitability without interference. Drop below that threshold and extinction is the most likely result. Humans have brought species back from the brink of extinction before. But not even our positive interference is enough to save some species. The passenger pigeon was an American species that no longer exists. When these birds flocked overhead, they would blot out the sky. It’s hard to imagine that now, but since they were so abundant, colonists of North America thought that just shooting up into the sky for dinner wasn’t going to be an issue. Well, guess what? It was a big issue, because the passenger pigeon needed that giant flock to survive, so it didn’t actually take much for them to drop below a sustainable population. Something else you can blame on the colonists, but especially those more industrious 19th century entrepreneurs. Once it was realized that the passenger pigeon was disappearing from our skies, it was too late for human intervention to solve the problem that human intervention had created. We still have a lot of endangered species on our planet. Most of them are not important to industry or agriculture, and even get in the way, such as large predators. Some, like the passenger pigeon, are over industrialized, like rhinos, elephants, and whales. Some are simply damaged by our way of existence, like sea turtles and many other ocean dwelling and sustained animals. The Snap would greatly increase the likelihood of these animals falling below the population threshold of sustainability. Most of the human world wouldn’t be trying to fix it, because we’d have other shit on our minds, so yeah, Thanos killed the tigers. And the leopards. And the sea turtles. And the polar bears. And the . . .

There is one animal we rely on more than any other for our own survival, one we rarely consider: bees. We’ve all heard about the bee problem by now. Colony collapse disorder is less of a problem for farmed bees as it is for wild bees. I’m not saying that bee farmers haven’t suffered. In fact, I can guarantee that some farmers went under. But the ones to suffer the most have been wild bees. There are self-pollinating and non-self-pollinating plants. Those that self-pollinate don’t need bees to go from flower to flower on different plants to create seeds. Those that need bees to create seeds are called dioecious plants and include many types of trees, like maples, yews, rubber, ash, ginkgo, holly, osage, mulberry, poplars, willow, and cedar. Some plants are polygamo-dioecious, which means that they can’t be pollinated from their own flowers as the different sexes come from different trees, so some trees don’t produce fruit and thus seeds while others of the same species produce fruit (source: http://www.whatgrowsthere.com/grow/2016/01/29/same-sex-dioecious-trees-and-shrubs/). The food that we farm that require bees include: apples, mangoes, kiwi, plums, peaches, nectarines, guava, pomegranates, pears, currants, alfalfa, okra, strawberries, onions, cashews, apricots, avocados, passion fruit, many bean varieties, green beans, cherries, celery, coffee, walnuts, cotton, flax, macadamia nuts, sunflowers, lemons, figs, fennel, limes, quince, carrots, persimmons, palms, cucumbers, hazelnut, cantaloupe, tangelos, watermelons, coconut, tangerines, Brazil nuts, beets, mustard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, turnips, many pepper varieties, papaya, sesame, eggplant, many berry varieties, cocoa, vanilla, tomatoes, and grapes (source: https://honeylove.org/list-of-food/). So the question is: if many bee species are already endangered and the Snap takes out half of what’s left of them, which will get us first, the starvation or the lack of oxygen in our atmosphere?

The argument against this is that, oh, maybe the Snap doesn’t hit endangered species. Oh? Really? Hmm? OOOOOOH?!

9EE66E8C-4EB8-4AF6-9B24-D49F3E171260

I’m sorry, was someone speaking? Did they happen to forget that Groot was the last of his kind?

Are there solutions to these problems? Obviously, yes. I can imagine Tony Stark revamping his nanotech to create swarms for pollination. My question is would he realize in time or at all that he needed to do this? Since I don’t believe that the writers, the Russo brothers, or Marvel Studios has realized this is a problem, I don’t think it will pop up in the movies. My vote is that we would not have enough oxygen, and here’s why.

Deforestation through Disaster: Overfarming and Overgrowth

I can foresee some idiots thinking with the loss of animal life that they would need to increase plant farming (without knowing that it would be probably futile). The lack of bees wouldn’t stop morons from trying to farm plants that need bees. These same idiots would probably cut down more forests instead of converting pasture land, and to their credit pasture land and farm land are not always the same. Instead more forest would be destroyed to make way for probably soy and almonds, which I did not list above as needed bees, and other nut trees. Unfortunately though, almond farming requires way more water, which has already caused problems in California, so you can see how this may cause similar problems elsewhere: what wildlands are left will not get enough water, which will dry them out and increase the likelihood or fire. Adding to that, the lessened numbers of herbivores in the Snap will cause overgrowth before the water runs out, which also makes fire more likely.

The Overall Result?

De-oxygenation of our atmosphere. Say good-bye to humans and most other lifeforms on the planet. This really does show how on the edge our planet is, not from climate change, but from species imbalance. We don’t have enough bees or plants survive the catastrophic loss of either. Environmental issues are important: waste in our oceans imbalances things, deforestation through farming and fire imbalances things, and declining bee population imbalances things. There comes a point where the ecosystem health falls below a level of possible recovery, leading to complete collapse, like that episode of The Expanse. We are smart enough to see that these imbalances could mean the end for us. We have the time to fix it now, before Thanos fucks us. Speaking of the purple dickhead . . .

Oh, He’s Just Nuts

There is a very bad idea that if a villain’s plans don’t make sense that they are just insane and that excuses the lack of logic in their plans. Let me say this as clearly as I can:

NO. No. No. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Well, why isn’t that a good answer? Besides the fact that no one else thought of this plan, did Thanos seem insane? Oh, he wasn’t a good father. True. But you don’t have to be insane to be a bad parent. He wanted to spare people pain. That’s an admirable idea. Not to the lengths he took it. He could plan and strategize too. He didn’t seem to enjoy killing all those people. The only pleasure I saw was when he tortured Thor and killed Loki. He was even sad at times. So I have to ask. What do we mean when we say someone is just crazy? Or just evil? It seems like a phantom claim to me, because there are definitions to those words. I could say that Thanos is a megalomaniac but I would call him a sociopath. But being a megalomaniac doesn’t preclude the ability to plan, to foresee consequences to actions, to understand the way ecology works. One could argue that Thanos never meant to hit all animals, just sentient ones, and that the gauntlet took it further. We don’t know that yet though. As far as we know, the Snap went off exactly as Thanos wanted. Which makes him a moron, not a crazy person. How does Thanos not know the basics of ecology? How did he make it his mission to fix overpopulation, to prevent war, famine, and disease, and not understand that those are the forces trying to fix overpopulation? How?! He got this way because he was written this way, and no creative force at Marvel Studios or behind the movie thought of these issues. That’s clear because none of our heroes breakdown exactly what’s wrong with his plan. They just call him crazy. When comic artists have pointed out better arguments:

IMG_1704

Thanos’ goal makes a lot more sense in the comic books.

Thanos’ Comic Book Goal

Thanos didn’t really care about protecting the universe’s species from extinction in the comic books. Not in most versions. Not in the better versions. Instead, he cared about making Death, an actual physical embodiment of death in the form of a sexy lady with a sugar skull face and a grim reaper robe, happy. He was the typical “nice guy” doing things for a woman that was not into him, things that went a bit far, killing half the universe things. But Death was already in love with the one man she could never have: Deadpool. It’s weird. It’s convoluted, and since the films try to wash away the strange territories that comic books sometimes get into and also take out the pansexual and bisexual characters, especially in the MCU versions, Thanos’ original goal is not shown in Infinity War. Instead, we get this pseudo-science and stupid idea with a false consideration that it will actually work to solve the finite resources in ecosystems. Ugh.

MCU Survives About 10 More Years

So yeah, I give the narrative universe of the MCU about ten more years. After the initial secondary deaths, people will start starving, and then they’ll die because our atmosphere won’t support oxygen based life anymore. How other planets fair is up for grabs. The Guardians movies have shown us many other planets, but some of those were already devastated by Thanos. I could picture the technology they have helping them to survive if he hadn’t already destabilized them. Thanos really underestimates what mass murder does to a society’s political and economic stability. But us, here on earth? We’re fucked.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Craft of Writing, Film Criticsim

 

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Doctor Strange: A Comparative Review

Spoilers below for Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War,

I just recently watched Doctor Strange for the first time. Afterwards, I immediately went to two of my three favorite reviewers to see what they had to say about the movie. Screen Junkies and Hishe both compared the movie heavily to Iron Man, saying that it is basically the same movie. Instinctively, this felt wrong to me, mainly because I was thinking of the main characters and how different they were, despite everyone seeming to think they are the same. So I went back and watched Iron Man again, because let’s face it, it’s been a while, and luckily it was on Prime (btw, Iron Man is distributed by a different company than later MCU movies, along with Thor and the first Captain America movie, so it is doubtful that you will see all of the MCU movies on the same streaming service or in a box set). Having watched it again, so quickly after having watched Doctor Strange, I can tell you without a doubt that the only two things these have in common are that they are both hero’s journey stories (which is one of like five stories you can tell) and both superhero origin stories (which is needed when you introduce a new superhero. Duh.). Otherwise, I found these movies very different.

“But Aren’t They Both Just Arrogant Jackasses?”

Arrogance is a trait both Tony Stark and Stephen Strange carry; however, in truth, Strange only seems arrogant. Many people have previously called Stark a narcissist. In point of fact, by psychological definitions, he is not. Strange, on the other hand, very much has narcissistic personality disorder. Stark is full of himself, but he grew up in money and prestige and genius with a demanding and distant father. As such, Stark doesn’t care about much except having a good time when we are first introduced to him in Iron Man. He is child without adult supervision. He has fun whenever he can, however he can. He doesn’t care if the company is truly successful or how, just that it keeps him in money (i.e. fun). He has no real goals. It’s just party, party, party all the time.

He plays craps when he should be getting a prestigious award and gives that award away to a stranger on a whim, because awards from society or friends don’t matter.

He races his bodyguard/driver to get to his private jet, where he left his more serious friend to wait hours.

His flight attendants bring him drinks and double as strippers. It’s all fun. And it is all pointless. His lack of care is what almost got him killed. If he had been more on his guard, more involved with his company, he would have figured out that Stane was selling their weapons to terrorists and kicked him out long ago. But he didn’t care. He was having fun. What did Yensin say to him? “Don’t let your life be a waste.” Most everyone puts Tony Stark as either an ENTP or J. You can look up their profiles here and here.

Now compare that to the Doctor Strange we are introduced to at the beginning of the film. He prides himself on knowing useless information so that he can stump his coworkers, a way to one up them. He also prides himself on beating his coworkers down when they make a mistake. He’ll do this in front of everyone and make sure everyone knows that the gravity of his coworker’s mistake and that he’s the one to fix it. He wants to break new ground medically and wants procedures he creates named after him, even though he has to be reminded that he alone did not create those procedures. He loves going to award ceremonies for himself.

He has only the best home, only the best clothes, only the best accessories, and only the best cars.

Only the best.

All his past awards are displayed in a rather large and showy case, so that anyone who comes to his home knows just how awesome his is. He has to pass all other drivers to show that he is the best driver. He refuses to take cases that others can solve and refuses to take cases with a low probability of success. For him, everything is about status. Showing to the world around him that he is the best. That no one is as good as him at anything and that he is perfect and never fails. What does the Ancient One say to him? “You did it because of your fear of failure.” I would put Doctor Strange as an INTJ because he is a jack of trades when it comes to knowledge, has a great memory, doesn’t see the point in much social interaction, is a self learner, and rules that don’t make sense are ignored, but once they make sense from new information, they are followed. Others have agreed with this, while others disagree. But personality types are hard to lay out on a character in the first place, but the two in question are obviously not the same type.

Inciting Incidents

These two men are faced with very different psychological problems. There isn’t really a disorder for what Tony has (maybe there should be: HPD, hedonistic personality disorder?), but it is clear that Strange has NPD. Tony Stark is shown to have no fear of failure, and he shouldn’t because he is an inventor. They fail all the time. It’s a constant working through set backs and failed versions. We get three different Iron Man suits in the first movie. We get multiple tests that go haywire too. None of that seems to set Tony back at all. He just keeps going, working out the kinks. In fact, we laugh with him as he works them out. While his lack of care got him into trouble, that trouble got him out of his apathy. When Yensin dies, he suddenly has a reason to care. He realizes that by ignoring his company, innocent people were getting hurt and that was his fault. So he was going to do something about it. Failures be dammed.

Strange’s own psychological problems led to his own downfall as well, but Tony obviously recovered much quicker and better than Strange did. He could still work no problem. The car crash, caused by Strange’s desire to be the best at everything, resulted in the loss of his abilities as a doctor. This destroyed everything Strange had been working for all his life. He couldn’t work anymore. There would be no more awards, no more breakthroughs, no more adulation. He wasn’t just a failure; he couldn’t even try. Unlike Tony Stark, who became a better person for his inciting incident, all the worst traits of an NPD were maximized in Strange upon his accident. NPDs are hard enough to be around when they are successful, as they tend to rub everyone’s nose in their success, but they are far, far worse when they have failed. They lash out at the people around them in cruel and hurtful ways and may even become violent for it. So failure only worsens their condition, which is why Strange avoided it all his life and career. Strange becomes obsessed with fixing the cause of his failure as he sees it: his hands. The reality is that his failure came from his fear of it because he had to be the fastest driver. It is almost cruel of a writer to do what happens to Strange, not because he was such a nice guy, but because he was functioning somewhat well even if he couldn’t have healthy personal relationships.

The Journey

Tony Stark’s journey is pretty straight forward: shut down the weapons manufacturing, create a better suit to help the people his weapons have hurt. He gets a little side-tracked on the second part because it is more fun, thereby making it harder to do the first part. He’s still a little too focused on the fun. But it’s not much of a sidetrack really. Iron Man, by and large, is a very simple, plot-based movie, so it’s hard to give the hero’s journey too much attention. Tony actually keeps choosing the more fun options throughout most of the movies. Fun for Tony is also about what is most interesting from a scientific standpoint. That’s why he made Ultron. It’s not until after Ultron that Tony finally realizes that scientifically interesting may also mean dangerous. That takes quite a while.

Strange’s journey is more focused and interesting. He has to learn “that it’s not about [him]”. The Ancient One keeps recognizing exactly what’s wrong with Strange and saying it to him point blank. This is where things take an interesting turn from a psychological and social standpoint. NPDs never seek professional help, because they don’t think anything is wrong with them. After all, they are perfect, the best of the best. Everyone else has a problem. But when Strange loses the use of his hands and Western medicine cannot help him at all, he becomes so desperate that he is willing to look for answers in places that don’t have the kind of controls that modern medicine has. He has looked everywhere else for the answer, so now it’s time too look in the shadier corners. When he comes to the Ancient One, he believes that she is still a scientist, but that she is doing something illegal. When it turns out that she is more of a mystic than a scientist, he scoffs at her ideas. Until she blows his mind. Now we don’t have the ability to blow the mind of an NPD the way the Ancient One did, but if we did, I imagine it would have a profound psychological impact on them. After he asks her to teach him and she refuses, we see just how low Strange has been brought. He is there for hours, begging to be let back in. The last thing he says before they open the door is “I’ve got nowhere else to go.” Strange truly has been destroyed at this point. He is a complete and utter nothing. But when they open the door, amazingly, the first thing out of his mouth is a feeble “Thank you.” It gets a laugh, but it also shows something interesting. I do not believe that had he fallen through a door before he had been brought this low that he would have said “thank you.” Instead I believe he would have berated the person for opening the door while he was leaning against it. He has been changed. Finally.

But he is still arrogant and still afraid of failure. Well, a cure for a personality disorder doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. Now, some psychologists and laymen don’t believe that personality disorders can be cured, especially not NPD. It’s just who they are, right? Why else would they call it a personality disorder if it wasn’t a personality? Well, they’ve found that with certain treatments some people can lose symptoms of a personality disorder, thus sliding out of the DSM requirements to be diagnosed with that disorder. The one that seems to have some of the best results is borderline personality disorder, which with certain medications, one-on-one counseling, and group DBT therapy can cause actual recovery. The problem is that too many psychologists don’t try to get their patients to recovery, just through the day to day, and too many sufferers of personality disorders consider themselves unworthy of treatment, incapable of recovery, or, in the case of almost every NPD, perfectly fine the way they are. Now there is not a lot of research into if NPDs can recover because of the very fact that they don’t think anything is wrong with them. Doctors can’t research patients that don’t go to the doctor. But recovery from any ingrained psychological condition, especially one that took someone as far as it took Doctor Strange, is time consuming and not at all quick. So yes, Strange is still kind of a dick. But why is the Ancient One’s method’s working at all?

Many Western philosophies deal in the idea of the individual and the importance of each individual. Things such as subjectivity vs objectivity, perception, sensation, aesthetics, and signicance tend to run through most of these philosophies. Many Eastern philosophies, on the other hand, deal greatly with the unimportance of self, the destruction of the individual, sacrifice of self, all to achieve a greater unity with the world. NPD, which most laymen will understand is about narsicsim, is all about the self. The self is most important. Especially, the perception of others of that self. So perceptively, the Ancient One doesn’t buy the bull that Strange keeps trying to sell her. She repeatly calls him Mister and corrects him when he tries to correct her. Every time he tries to tell her who he is or what his motivations are, she calls him a liar. And he confirms what she says too. He has been brought low by his accident, then shown how insignificant he was when she showed him the multiverse, and she will not let him lie about who he is. He is experiencing a distruction of self. Whether he likes it or not. It’s interesting to note at this point that most psychological disorders do not cross cultures. The WHO is trying to come up with an international way of looking at psychology, but it seems that culture ties too tightly into what is considered disordered and how disorders form. As such, I’ve never heard of NPD in China and the like. An ingrained cultural sense that the self is unimportant may in fact prevent NPD altogether. So perhaps the correct treatment of NPD is the destruction of self.

Because what happens at the end? Doctor Strange is destroyed, and again, and again, and again, and again. And again, and again, and again. In fact, as he puts it he’s losing over and over again. Finally, Strange understands that failure is not to be feared. In fact, at times, it is the only way to succeed. It is also interesting to note that Dormammu was played by Cumberbatch as well, adding into the internal struggle metaphor of Doctor Strange. Not only did he set it up so that he would fail over and over again, but is also being destroyed by himself every time.

Now some would counter that Strange doesn’t really have NPD because he loves Christine and NPDs and some other personality disorders preclude the capability of love but I just believe it often precludes healthy expression or experience of love. No where in the DSM definitions of personality disorders does it list a symptom as “incapable of love”. It may say “poor interpersonal relationship skills” or something to that effect. So please stop saying these people are incapable of love. Strange displays the required number of symptoms to be diagnosed as a NPD, and by the end of the movie he has lost enough symptoms to be considered cured. He is humble and self-sacrificing. A complete 180.


Vs Iron Man

We just don’t get the kind of in depth character ark or metaphorical play in Iron Man that we got in Doctor Strange. It was the first attempt. They didn’t have much of a script. And they didn’t really know what they were doing. We’re now in phase three. The characters are starting to become better out the gate and the older ones, like Tony Stark, are becoming more complex real people as well. It’s not really until Iron Man 3 that we see that Tony can be vulnerable, it’s not until The Avengers: Age of Ultron that he allows fear to get the better of him, and it is not until Captain America: Civil War that we see him try truly to make up for the mistakes he made as Iron Man. Iron Man’s journey is actually the journey of the MCU. It’s all fun; whoa, things just got scary, better step it up a notch; crap, I went too far. In fact, in Iron Man it’s all fun even when killing people, which Tony has no compunctions about. Which makes sense given the fact that he grew up on the money of weapons manufacturing. Doctor Strange, on the other hand, is introduced in the “crap, I went too far” stage, so he kills one guy and is immediately upset by it. After all, he is a doctor. The Ancient One kind of calls BS on him again, but I don’t believe Strange is really lying when he says he’s upset for killing that man. He was fighting for his life and he gets that, but he’s not okay with how far he had to go. He didn’t want to be part of a mystic war. In fact, he said just that right before the fight started. Tony has no issues killing what he probably thinks of as “enemy combatants”. There is no moment of “Oh, my god. I killed someone” for Tony in the first movie. Probably because he knows as a weapons manufacturer he has blood on his hands and to him making and selling the weapons is no different than firing them. It is actually an admirable stance for Tony to take for it makes it clear that to him he is responsible and that is his fight in the first movie. But it is barely touched on. The whole movie is party and doesn’t go too deep into the ideas of responsibility or hedonism.

Finally the Facial Hair

Interestingly, Stan Lee has stated that Tony Stark was based on Howard Hughes and Doctor Strange was based on Vincent Price. Now, Stark was based on Hughes’ personality wise, the high-flying, the girls, the parties, etc. Strange was based on Price’s look. He’s often voiced in a Price kind of way too. Luckily, we didn’t get that in the movie from Cumberbatch who just played him straight. So the beards seem kind of like a coincidence to me. I’ve never quite gotten Stark’s facial hair to be honest. It’s just a very strange look, that they even did in the movie. It tends to go back along his jaw but not all the way along his jaw and up around his mouth but not to meet his mustache. That’s weird. They did eventually change it in the movies to just a bushy, dark van dyke so that it wasn’t so weird. Strange’s on the other hand is a pretty straight forward thin van dyke. I can dig that. It’s been done before. Stark’s not so much. Who the hell takes the time to do that to their face? Stark apparently. I guess he is rich. Probably has a barber come in and do it for him on a regular basis. They’ve also pretty much updated it in the comics too. For which, I’m glad.

Conclusion

Way better than Iron Man. Like a thousand times. And Iron Man is enjoyable. It’s just not got the depth and social implications and work that Doctor Strange has. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Doctor Strange as much as I did, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I did either. My favorite Marvel characters are Spider-Man, Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Black Widow, and so far Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange have been my favorite movies. It’s hard to please me when four out of five of my favorite characters are not readily available to MCU. Now Spider-Man is and I’ve been disappointed by what they’ve done with him so far. It’s hard to top Spider-Man 2 for story and character development. And I am not a fan of Iron Man knowing his identity as no one is supposed to know who he is. Overall, I think the greatness of Ant-Man, Guardians, and Strange come from the actors and/or great story and character development. Doctor Strange was directed by a (creative) fan of the character, which I believe we can all agree can be very important to the success of an adaptation. See below.


Here’s a singular idea: don’t direct it if you weren’t a fan. It means you didn’t understand or care about the central themes. That’s important to creating a new story with that IP. More than the world creation or plots. Scott Derrickson got that and that’s why he did such a good job with Doctor Strange: themes, not plots, matter.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

P.S.

I will be going to a double feature for Guardians fo the Galaxy tomorrow before it premiers on Friday, so look for my first thoughts this weekend. I usually like to watch a movie several times and think about it a while before I write my full review but I’ll try to give a recommendation at the very least. Happy watching and reading!

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in Craft of Writing

 

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