Open Thread for April 3, 2009

A week rife for overthinking. Though almost nothing happened.

Its been a pop cultural week rife for overthinking—economics, intellectual property, America’s place in the world—though very little actually happened.

One thing that did happen? A Malawian judge rejected Madonna’s bid for a second adoption there. Have high profile international adoptions like Madonna’s and the Jolie-Pitts’ changed or simply reinforced global perceptions of American culture? Is there an argument to be made about American imperialism?

In TV, the final episode of ER aired last night, ending at 15-year run. Anyone watch?

Movies: Fast and Furious and Advetureland are, I guess, fine, and you’ll want to check out the trailer for Bruno, but the real news was the online leak of a work-print of Wolverine. Fanboyish types are all in a tizzy, some refusing to review the leaked footage. Would you watch? Have you?

And what else is on your pop-culture addled mind this week? Here’s your open thread.

6 Comments on “Open Thread for April 3, 2009”

  1. Darin #

    If you have been out of the loop for the last 24 hours, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was leaked to the Intertubes and is being poured around every Usenet and PSP. Apparently, it is missing some visual fx, music, and 10 minutes of scenes shot after the wrap.

    On another note, I read an article in MaximumPC about how game demos in general were snubbing overall PC game sales.

    Does the barrier to entry or upfront cost effect the experience?

    There is a concept called cognitive dissonance, when your mind has a difficult time reconciling what you believe to be true and what information you are taking in says is true. If I pay $9.50 for a movie (some places in LA are more), and the movie is bad, then do I give the movie slightly better than bad because I certainly don’t want to believe I paid $9.50 for a bad movie. On the flip side, if I download a movie from P2P, say Wolverine (I am not typing “X-men Origins” ever again) and it costs me nothing. Am I more willing to bash the movie because it is easier to reconcile in my brain? The converse is not automatically true, thought it may be.

    On the topic of video games. If I download a free demo, play the game and enjoy the part that I played. Why exactly should I turn around and pay $50 after the fact for the feeling I already have? Try reconciling that one. It’s no surprise that game demos kill sales.

    It turns out some Stanford dudes measured pleasure activity in the brain while giving people wine. The same wine was given to separate groups but one was told that the wine was cheap and the other was told that the wine was expensive. Just perceiving that the wine was expensive resulted in more pleasure activity. So, there you have it (or not and you disagree), downloading music, TV, and movies makes the movies suck.

    Or has my low barrier to entry to the above made it easy for me to reconcile that.

    So, what do you say…

    How does the difficulty of getting something a) effect your expectations of what the thing is b) your actual experience of thing c) your views about the thing ex post facto


  2. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    So I just watched the trailer for the Dante’s Inferno videogame:

    1. This is ridiculous. I mean, it’s something The Simpsons might come up with.
    2. This is completely gorgeous. Art direction is top notch.
    3. It seems like I was right about Dante traveling to hell to rescue a girl, although that was so obvious I’m not really bragging about it.
    4. The trailer voiceover (“At the midpoint on the journey of life…) is the first lines of the poem, which is kind of cool.

    So basically, it looks like a really cool game, but if Harold Bloom sees this trailer, he will explode.


  3. Gab #

    @Darin: I thought the point of game samples/previews was to show people enough of the game to get them excited and want to buy it more. Enjoying a sample is one thing, but enjoying it enough to want the whole game is another. I don’t think it has so much to do with enjoyment versus non-enjoyment, but the extent of the enjoyment and whether there was enough during the sample to justify the expense of the whole thing. As for getting all of something for free versus paying, for me that has always depended on the thing itself. I’m easily entertained, so it takes a lot of bad for me to feel like my $$ or time was wasted and wish I had it/them back (_Daredevil_, ahem).

    Re: Dante- In the original _Divine Comedy_, Dante meets Virgil because Beatrice sends the old Roman to find and guide Dante; and when Virgil can no longer continue, she takes his place as guide. The game makers needed *something* to justify this badass going through all of the circles of Hell and hacking the sh*t out of stuff with his scythe thing (yeah, it looks totally gorgeous, oh my GOD!), so why not grasp at straws and turn it into a damsel in distress deal? The literary snob in me thinks “fah,” but the video gamer/ entertainment junkie in me thinks it sounds kind of awesome. Like y’all said in the podcast, it’s sort of an Orpheus, _What Dreams May Come_ sort of deal, and that has the potential to be rather epic and full-scale. I just wonder if they’ll keep the fart/potty jokes in there for good measure.

    American imperialism? What? That exists? Bill Maher talked about that last Friday in the “New Rules” segment of his show. I don’t know the details behind the Modonna adoption denial, but my assumption is the judge also realized her desire to adopt stems from a narcissistic and broad tendency and not a concern for the individual child. Adoption should be about the child in question, not an overall service to humanity or attempt to boost one’s “humanitarian credibility,” so to speak. I’m kind of glad she got turned down. And yeah, just because she’s a celebrity doesn’t mean she should have the LAW bent for her time and again.

    And, call me a right-winger if you want, but what about all of the un-adopted children in the U.S.? I’m all for humanitarian aid and stuff, but why do these celebrities ignore the problems right on their doorstep? And it leads to problems: Joalie fully admits she doesn’t love her natural children as much as the ones she adopted- and that’s not at all messed up? If Madonna really wants a kid, she could go to an adoption agency here in the U.S. with no issues at all, I’m certain. So again, this says to me it’s not about the kids so much as the impression the celebrity wants to make on the public and inflating their own ego.

    And no, I wouldn’t watch a leaked movie, this or otherwise. I’ve expressed my anti-piracy feelings before, but this is also about the spoiler thing, too. I guess a different type of fangirl/boy may watch a pirated version and then go see it in the theater, but I’m the kind of fangirl that likes to experience it full-scale for the first time. Sure, I’ll watch official trailers and clips, but that’s not the same thing, since those aren’t meant to give it ALL away. I wouldn’t want to be a participant in a screen-test or anything like that because I’d want the finished product to be the first thing I see. And as for seeing a movie recorded with a video camera at the theater, that’s lazy and/or impatient to me. If you want to see it that badly and it’s already out, get your ass to the theater- what’s the point of seeing it on your computer or on a low-quality DVD like that, anyway? And the leaked stuff, a person should just keep it in their pants. If you think seeing a leaked piece of work is okay and worth it, then you may be a fan of the art, but you have no respect for the art and are too crazed to think about its integrity. Here’s another example: For all of the loathing I have for SMeyer’s vampire books, I did feel it was stupid of fans to go berserk and spread the links around when someone leaked the first couple chapters of _Midnight Sun_, a book depicting the events of _Twilight_ through Edward’s perspective, on the Internet. And however whiny her reaction was in its wording, I stand by her decision to stop writing the book because it sort of sticks it to the fans that ruined it. I find the _Twilight_ fans that enabled that fiasco just as dumb and douchey as the ones enabling the _Wolverine_ one. A real fan will want to support it and will have respect for its integrity, even if it’s on a pure monetary and copyright level (since, for example, I don’t think SMeyer’s books really have any other way of gaining integrity, ahem). To be fanny enough to participate in leaking means your fandom lacks a level of depth that makes it more substantive and meaningful. The word “superficial” comes to mind. It’s all candy-coated, first-layered. Granted, I’m not saying a person can’t like something for the sake of liking it, but there should still be a barrier, a structure that is kept intact. And I’m starting to ramble and lose my central thought, so I think I’ll stop now.


  4. Trevor Seigler #

    Sci-Fi had a marathon of “Highlander: The Series” on Friday, and I think I might have gotten a good idea for an article out of it, but I don’t want to tip my hand.

    I caught the last few minutes of “ER,” just to say that I’d seen it (in case anything dramatic happened – hospital burst into flames, Olsen Twins accuse Stamos of harassment, etc). It took me a few minutes to recognize Dr. Green’s daughter as being the “new doc in town.” Nice way to complete the circle, I must say. You can’t end the show with the hospital closing (a’la Cheers, though I think the actual ending there was more just closing down for the night than closing permenantly. It’s been a while, so I could be wrong) or something extremely dramatic that kills off a few characters. Too bad Mr. Crichton wasn’t able to see it with the rest of us.

    On the one hand, I’m glad that Madonna’s adoption was denied. She’s not exactly doing this for the kids, I guarentee you. On the other hand, it’s not like Malawi is so gosh-darn prosperous that life with an absorbed, morally bankrupt pop star is out of the question if said pop star happens to be able to provide material comfort and access to a better life than would be possible in your home country.


  5. Josh #

    @Darin – The study you cite seems to have a serious flaw, since the tasters did not spend their own money.

    An interesting follow up would be to give people a set amount of cash with which to “buy” more or less expensive bottles of wine. How does the experience of the same wine differ in relation to the amount the subject has paid?

    You could also add dummy reviews from wine “experts”– if a wine got a bad review, but was cheap, do people feel better about their purchase than those who bought an “expensive” badly-reviewed bottle (I got what I paid for vs. I got ripped off)? Do those who got a “great” wine at a cheap price rate it better than those who paid a premium for ostensibly the same bottle?

    Bringing it back to movies, how do reviews differ among people who paid $9.50 for a crap movie vs. those who saw it in the cheap seats for $2? Of course, if my experience is any indication, people go to movies at the bargain theater expecting a different experience than they get at a first-run theater.


  6. Gab #

    Darin: Hm, that definitely makes me think harder about it. I do feel myself and the people I grew up with experience more outrage when we spend a lot on something we wind up dissatisfied with versus spending less, since money was hard to come by for us as it was. And we’d often avoid things altogether, “Why should I spend that kind of money on it if I don’t even need it?” Given your wine scenario, I think I know what I’d do there, but it’s different than what I’d do with the movies. So that makes me wonder:

    Is there a difference between consumption and entertainment here?


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