Is Netflix the New TV? Not Really

In 1997, Netflix wasn’t formed to disrupt our TV habits, it was formed to support them.

It launched with a library of 925 DVDs. The main thing that separated it from something like Blockbuster (and what eventually ended up allowing Netflix to trump them) is the monthly subscription. All-you-can-eat content, with a much wider selection than traditional TV or cinema.

Netflix Logos

By 2000, Netflix had already declined an acquisition offer of $50 million from a terrified Blockbuster, and then went on to make DVD rentals obsolete with a revolutionary on-demand platform and a discovery algorithm within the space of 6 years.

Using similar tactics to YouTube, and emerging within the same year, Netflix represents the YouTube-ization of television.…   [continue reading]

Nathan Bernard Interview: #GorillaGate, Fake News, and Twitter Bots

With roots in coding, Nathan Bernard turned his tech skills to the world of content. Specifically, political satire in a similar vein to Vic Berger and Todd Dracula.

During the last election, Nathan developed an obsession with an alt-right spam account, Neil Turner, after seeing that it got the first reply to Trump within seconds, every single time. This led him to investigate who Neil Turner is and immerse himself in the world of the alt-right. It threw him into a dark rabbit hole which involved talking to a neo-nazi who was on FBI registers, receiving death threats and getting his computer hacked.…   [continue reading]

What Created Alex Jones?

Alex Jones, explicit spreader of misinformation and founder of right-wing fake news site InfoWars, is a rabbit hole of intrigue I’d never expected to fall into.

From his sinister doomsday conspiracies to his brain force drugs and survivalist equipment he peddles through his online store, at first his very existence seems like a hilarious riddle.

Why would extreme right-wing media be associated with vitamins, survivalism, and hyper-masculinity? You can see the pattern in other alt-right figureheads like the grunting, nootropic-addled Mike Cernovich (he runs a pro-Trump blog peppered with pedophilia accusations and manliness advice).

The alt-right, Jones included, rallied around Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election.…   [continue reading]

The Internet Should be a Communist Utopia. It’s Not, Because of the Filter Bubble

When you talk about the filter bubble, you’re talking about something quite specific. It’s the heavily curated ecosystem of the internet. A set of rules that filter all of the world’s information and organize it into what algorithms expect you to want to see — algorithms that suggest your next video on YouTube, or show you an article on Facebook.

At first, it can seem like a user friendly way to prioritize and curate the internet according to a set of personalized boundaries. You only see relevant content, and it brings order to the sprawling, chaotic internet.

In the era where fake news and propaganda virally populates Facebook — the world’s biggest news aggregation platform — it’s gone from being a user-friendly convenience to a threat to how we perceive the world around us.…   [continue reading]

Secret Cave Podcast S02E01: Gay

As the first official episode of the new season, Lee thought it best that we open with something ridiculously divisive and offensive. He’s still not sure why.

Anyway, we have a protracted discussion about the use of the word “Gay” and terminology in general. We also spiral off and talk about drugs, and have an argument about numbers. Lee introduces our new segment, “Show and Tell”, where we each bring in one talking point and have an argument.

Topics:

  • On the new format for season two
  • A discussion on using the word “gay”
  • The schoolyard origins of “gay”, and its implications
  • What it means as slang in Northern England
  • The history and different connotations of “gay”
  • On the reappropriation of negative terms
  • Arguments about terminology in To Pimp a Butterfly
  • When slurs are and aren’t shocking
  • Does “gay” have an actual homophobic connotation in America vs.
…   [continue reading]

Why Adult Swim’s Kingsway is Set in a Fake ’90s Operating System

If I’ve learned anything from the fringes of comedy in the past year or so, it’s that old-looking shit is apparently hilarious. Not monochrome or vintage, but trashy VHS tapes, pre-internet computers, glitchy edits, and archaic internet junk.

Adult Swim’s new PC game was announced today, complete with a VHS tape-style announcement video. The game itself is set inside a mock operating system reminiscent of the days where Minesweeper and Solitaire were the main digital pastimes.

Interest in VHS distortion hasn’t been this popular since people were searching it to genuinely remedy their failing home cinema systems, and the trend of retro computers is spiking.…   [continue reading]

Andrew DeYoung Interview: 555, Improvised Films, and ’90s VHS Tapes

Director Andrew DeYoung doesn’t get excited by scripts, beautiful lighting, or painstakingly manufacturing a perfectly orchestrated film. Andrew’s obsession is with the unintentional comedy of everyday interactions and tense situations. He often explores what happens when you mix actors with people who don’t know they’re on camera, and collates the best shots into a narrative.

After stumbling upon his first major release (555, which I reviewed here), I had to find out about him, his other films, his process and his inspirations. Partly because there’s very little information about it online, and partly because I needed to satisfy my curiosity after watching 555 and the rest of his work in one neurotic, coffee-fueled sprint at 5am.…   [continue reading]

Neural Network Art: From AI Nightmares to Alien Volcanoes

As we’ve seen from many Twitter bots, software is more than capable of creating captivating art.

But art created by neural networks moves past basic random patterns, using millions of source images, and AIs so advanced they can create surreal landscapes from scratch, paint portraits of dog-men and model alien volcanoes on planets we can’t closely observe.

In this post, I’m going to explain how neural networks — software designed to emulate the human brain — generate images, and speculate what that could mean for the future of art and entertainment.

…   [continue reading]

Viral Videos and Hyperreality: How Attention is Manufactured On a Massive Scale

Viral videos are a strange cultural phenomenon.

They’re your classic fail compilations, your controversial quotes clipped out of interviews, your Cat Falls in Bath, Disembowels Owner (MUST WATCH!!)s. Or — more interestingly — a document of some tiny, insignificant moment that was never ready to be scrutinized by millions.

Videos go viral by chance: they happen to be picked up in the right place at the right time, someone will get it up on the front page of reddit for a few hours, and it’ll blow up. Millions of views overnight, coverage from every major news outlet on the planet, and some drugged seven-year old babbling nonsense in the back of his dad’s car is suddenly world famous.…   [continue reading]

555 Review: Greed, Jealousy, and Doomed Ambition in Nightmare Hollywood

Anyone who puts their work in the public eye — whether it’s writers, actors, musicians or directors — is torn between one main motivation and one main fear:

On one side, there’s the overwhelming desire to take the risk to show your work to other people. Go to an audition, pitch an article, send out demo tapes.

At the same time, there’s the crippling fear that you’re not worth anyone’s time. The fear you’re doomed to fail, living in perpetual obscurity, always looking for the one big break.

There’s no better setting to encapsulate this duality than Hollywood — the grim stage for nightmarish, disastrous satire like Mulholland Drive, Sunset Boulevard, Maps to the Stars, and now 555.…   [continue reading]