Checking the news on Twitter one morning, skipping over the latest op-ed from a named author about the March Hare and his Washingtonian rabbit hole, I got side-tracked into reading an article from The New York Review of Books. Essentially all about passports and freedom of movement I was about to close the web page when I noticed that the article was using the film “Casablanca” as a backdrop.
““Casablanca is more than seventy-five years old. If released today, it would surely be criticized for its moralizing American nationalism, as well as for celebrating French colonial rule without featuring a single Moroccan protagonist”
The New Passport-Poor
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian”
The film itself was in turn contextualized, the real antagonists being French Colonialism, Fascism, and American nationalism, not Rick or Ugarte or Signor Ferrari. What’s more, the article, in my mind, rightly confirmed that the morals and moeurs of an epoch should be seen through the eyes of that epoch.
I’m convinced that “Casablanca”, like “Gone with the Wind” or “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, reflected the Zeitgeist of their times, as have a multitude of works before or since that might look so out of place today. That said, I was intrigued to read on Twitter that JK Rowling could never have showcased Dumbledore’s homosexuality when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published otherwise the books would never have got published and that was just twenty years ago.
(It never occurred to me that Dumbledore’s homosexuality was relevant or even intrinsic to the story as JK Rowling wrote it but diversity is part of today’s Zeitgeist, and rightly so. It’s also commercially profitable, not so rightly so… I just hope there’s no remake or solo sequels of The Hobbit just to bring out the diversity of specific characters to make them more appealing to certain market segments today.)
Not content with being side-tracked once already that morning, another article caught my attention. Like the first, this second article reflected on how today’s society, with today’s standards, is looking at past cultural moeurs differently.
If the previous article referenced Casablanca this article was using the Wild West for context referencing not just any cowboy but John Wayne himself! If it had been Star Wars, Star Trek or LoTR and if you are of a certain age and education you might not have reacted but I heard you there: Wait, what, John Wayne? The gatekeeper of American culture, with films such as Arizona, The Cowboys, The Alamo and The Green Berets? Holy Moley. Is nothing sacred?
Apparently not. Everything needs looking at with today’s values. Gone are the days when cowboy films were just that. Yes, John Wayne films conveyed a certain message to foreign audiences but then so did Blazing Saddles or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (read the quotes for both films, I’ll wait…) not to mention M*A*S*H*.
Sound Bites and Memes
In one episode of the OK-ish TV series CSI: Cyber, while researching a Person of Interest, the character Brody Nelson commented on how he couldn’t find anything online concerning his fellow Gen Z/colleague/nemesis, Black-cum-White Hat colleague, Raven Ramirez. Raven Ramirez responded, approximately, “You won’t because I don’t post, I observe” which in this day and age is pretty unusual, given that the major preoccupation on Social Media these days seems to be that selfie, that meme or that mic’ dropping one-line burner that gets everyone wanting to be your friend.
No estoy en Facebook
Call it fatigue or saturation but, with the exception of my favourite Professional SoMe platform and for reasons talked about in a previous blog, chasing after social media glory has lost it’s attraction. Cultivating a few choice contacts and drawing from a few select and objective sources of information, pretty much whatever the pro or the contra, is way more engaging and inductive than being force fed a selection of “Best Of” sound-bite politics with their threads of expletive loaded whataboutism comments and comebacks with attendant Willy Wonka or Pepe memes.
Following the introduction of the EU’s GDPR late May (2017) the EU’s Legislative Committee had, June 20 (2017), voted on the EU Copyright Directive, and will vote the directive into law in July this year. This measure will effectively redefine online copyright protection in the EU and by extension the way we currently use the internet, content, streaming, and even memes.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops because in spite of coming into being for a good reason, the protection of copyrighted intellectual property, the challenge is going to be respecting and monitoring it’s application.
It’s going to be interesting to see who will or who is big enough to take on analyzing the wealth of content circulating on the internet and enforcing copyright adherence. One thing is for sure, the copyright trolls are going to have a field day.
Lastly, it’s going to be interesting to see how potential conflicts with the GDPR will be dealt with. There’s no doubt that companies in a position to analyze all the content, e.g. Google, will have the infrastructure to do so and avoid any conflict with GDPR but what about all the other platforms and sites that until now have exploited the doctrine of “Fair Use”, e.g. for genuinely non-commercial purposes?
What’s sure is that leveraging news reporting is going to be closely monitored as will most certainly using copyright images, parodying, criticism and commentary, with or without memes and ultimately that might not be a bad thing. It might make content creators, carriers and consumers a little more attentive/ circumspect about what’s going online.