Across a crowded room…

Years ago, when I first heard of a new web-based social media service called Twitter, a friend of mine tried to get me on board, and explained it thus: It’s a conversation.
So simple…yet so impenetrable, at least for me, who has historically a very slow uptake to new media. The only way I could come to understand it was to envision an immense function hall, with countless people attending a party thrown by the Internet. Everyone gathered is talking; all at once; all over the top of one another; most at the top of their lungs.

Imagine my surprise when my friend responded to my illustration by saying: “Well yeah, that’s pretty much it”

I have watched, carefully, since then, and come to understand that such an image could be applied to the entire online experience. Everyone’s talking, and every now and then we hear someone respond to something we say, or we engage with others on something. While, as something of an introvert, the prospect of such fills me with apprehension, I have to acknowledge the wonder of it all – people from all over the world, given equal voice, equal volume, equal time, equal platform. This very column may not quite be the place to discuss how such an endeavour can turn very, very human, but when we’re all of one accord The Conversation is a beautiful thing.

Interesting, given that movies have been aiming for such a dialogue from the beginning.
Oh sure, initially it may just have been giving everyone a common subject to talk about, but those who pioneered, experimented, defined and refined filmmaking have gone on to create not just a dialogue between audience members, but between the audience and the films themselves. Who hasn’t had the experience of entering into a new social group – be it at school, work, church or a friends party where said friend is too caught up to actually hang with you – and felt the awkward pang of being outside the conversation…UNTIL someone says “What did you all think of Game of
Thones?” Our shows and movies become ultimate icebreakers – some of them are so universal that they can put a whole group of strangers at ease with one another (thank you Marvel Studios), while others are so idiosyncratic – so esoteric – that they function like some sort of secret social code. When did you find your kindred spirit at that party? Was it when someone referred to “finding Mr. Darcey”? How about when someone revealed their Scud: The Disposable Assassin t-shirt? Or perhaps you were thinking about leaving when you heard someone say: “Shop smart…shop…S-Mart…YOU GOT IT!?!?”
At its best, cinema causes us to engage with film itself, and examine our beliefs, our assumptions, our notions of right and wrong, good and evil…all the metaphysical stuff. I hold no truck with the view that people’s actions or behaviours are overly influenced by what they see (this does happen to some extent, but it is far from “monkey see, monkey do” mentality), but when approached openly – as a dialogue with a new acquaintance – film, television, literature, comics, music, art…ALL OF IT, can get us asking questions of ourselves, and our efforts to answer may just make us into better people.

I think that’s the best we might be able to hope for.

So come on…join the conversation.

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TV Review – Comic Book Men – Con Gone Wrong / Ink

AMC’s new unscripted one hour series, Comic Book Men, dives deep into fanboy culture by following the antics in and around master fanboy Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

Year: 2012

Starring: Kevin Smith, Walt Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Ming Chen, Mike Zapcic

Network: AMC

Well, there we go.

There’s not a great deal left to say now that we’ve reached the end of AMC’s niche show Comic Book Men. Comics & collectibles were bought and sold; people talked about superheroes; geeks made fun of each other. If there had been a splash of pornography it would be like someone filming the internet. Continue reading

Comic Book Men – Junk Review

AMC’s new unscripted one hour series, Comic Book Men, dives deep into fanboy culture by following the antics in and around master fanboy Kevin Smith’s New Jersey comic shop, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

Year: 2012

Starring: Kevin Smith, Walter Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Ming Chen & Mike Zapcic

Network: AMC

Fair warning: About four of you are going to enjoy this show.

The latest offering from geek-made-director Kevin Smith is an unscripted, junk drawer style discussion about the life that surrounds his own slice of fandom (or possible tax shelter) “Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash”, in Red Bank, New Jersey. Considering that only one episode has aired, I’m not sure that the format is set for the entire six-episode series, but since it’s all I have to complain about (since I’m a geek with an online forum) then I guess that will have to do. Continue reading