Children’s Photos And Social Media – Childhood Exploitation?

Today, we will be exploring an issue that I’ve had on the backburner for a number of years, but of which a fairly recent Pitchfork article (written by Jazz Monroe) and a court finding brought back to the forefront of my mind.


Naked Nirvana Baby’s Nevermind Pornography Lawsuit Dismissed

Spencer Elden had claimed that the cover constituted child sexual exploitation


As you can see, the January 13th deadline has long since passed. Though this article was published on January 4th (and came to my attention on January 5th), the past month has been a busy one, with me only coming back to this now (February 2ed). Nonetheless, the article presents us with a number of paths that we can pursue.

1.) Did Spencer Elden play along with the fame/infamy that came along with the photograph?

2.) Did Spencer file another appeal before the January 13th deadline?

To answer the first question, yes he did. Twice. For both the 15 and 25 year anniversaries of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind.


Nirvana baby recreates iconic album cover 25 years later

The naked swimming baby from the cover of the groundbreaking Nirvana album “Nevermind” re-enacted the image for the record’s 25th anniversary — this time wearing clothes.

Spencer Elden, 25, wanted to go au naturel when he made a splash to honor the legendary grunge band, he told The Post.

“I said to the photographer, ‘Let’s do it naked.’ But he thought that would be weird, so I wore my swim shorts,” said Elden, an artist from LA.


     * * *

Elden did the same thing 10 years ago, in honor of the album’s 15th anniversary.


The article also notes that his parents were paid $200 back in 1991 for allowing the photograph of their son to be taken. Boy, did they get screwed over. Though the article also notes that Spencer accepted $200 from a photographer to again recreate the iconic photograph back in 2016.

Dude . . .

As for whether or not Spencer followed through with the appeal, it appears that he did in fact refile the suit.


The man who appeared as a naked baby on Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album has filed a new lawsuit alleging the image is child porn — just weeks after a judge tossed his original case.

Spencer Elden, 30, filed the new complaint against Kurt Cobain’s estate and Nirvana’s surviving members in California federal court on Thursday.

The new lawsuit includes a declaration from the album’s graphic designer that Elden’s lawyers argue proves the band and record label, Geffen Records, deliberately sought to display baby Elden’s penis and exploit the image for commercial gain.

Elden claims in the lawsuit that he has suffered “lifelong damages” as a result of having his naked body plastered on the 1991 album cover.


Though this has yet to make its way through the court system, I have my doubts that he is going to get any further with his case. After all, there is evidence in the public record of him, in fact, embracing his unique (though arguably exploitative) history.

Do I doubt that the image has in fact closed some doors in terms of his pursuits?  No.

Do I think that the image has bolstered far more than hindered his future prospects? Yes.

Though this lawsuit comes across as a sign of him running into hard times recently, it’s hard to believe that the iconic photo has not helped him in his modelling career at least a little. I mean, even though it isn’t mentioned, the guy plays up his very similar looks to Kurt Cobain by keeping his hair long! One would think that someone who is traumatized by their association to such a phenomenon would do everything they can to distance themselves from it. As opposed to leaning into it.

I may be missing things in my critique. Maybe there is context to be found that isn’t at all obvious. But even though this does in fact seem like a fruitless lawsuit (meritless? THAT is definitely debatable outside of the legal framework), I see Spencer doing well for himself with or without embracing his Nevermind infamy.

While it looks like Spencer sealed his legal fate decades ago, this article does in fact raise a very interesting legal situation regarding the use of social media. At the same time, we will explore a very drastic difference between how past generations stored precious memories, and how modern generations do so.

Being 33, I am old enough to have parents that had albums full of childhood photos and VHS tapes filled with various childhood events. When I think of these forms of storage, they are about as secure as you can get in terms of privacy. Aside from the people tasked with developing the photos or transferring the video to VHS, the photos never left your possession.
The Robin Williams thriller One Hour Photo (2002) serves as a brilliant time capsule in terms of the unlikely circumstances in which your privacy may be breached when it comes to photo prints.  

We all know where things went from here. First the transition to digital cameras, and seemingly a year later, to phones. And along with the transition from digital to phones also came a transition of where much of this material was/is stored. From various media kept in and around the home, to public-facing social media platforms or private-oriented cloud servers elsewhere (potentially not even in the same country). Since the amount of available space for storing this personal content has increased to essentially infinity in many cases, the amount of material many of us are uploading has also hugely increased. Once reserved for special moments like holidays or birthday parties, these days any time is a good time to share a moment. Anytime, anywhere.

Being responsible for their children until the age of 18, many parents now document nearly every waking moment of their children’s existence and share it on various social media entities. Though some apps only make this material available for a short time, it may sit up on other platforms essentially forever. Due to legally binding TOS agreements that are agreed to upon parents signing up for various services, the child may well have lost control of their right to privacy before they even reach the age at which they can talk. Parents consent on their behalf to social media terms of service which claim ownership over any content they upload, and thus they are on the way to losing any autonomy over their photographic likeness before they are even out of diapers.

Though the same can now be said of a good number of my childhood photos (most have been scanned and now are posted online), the big difference was that I (for the most part) knew about this and had a choice in the matter. Of course, even this isn’t foolproof (I’m sure we all have a family member with a tendency of oversharing). But at least I am aware of it, and (at least for the most part) had the chance to put a stop to this public display of my likeness if I so choose. It’s a privilege that isn’t going to be available to an entire generation that has (or IS) growing up within this increasingly digitally saturated paradigm.

Though this would include the Zoomers of gen Z (a generation that has for the most part embraced this technology, it just being a part of their everyday life as they grew up), I’m talking of the Alphas at this point. Raised in the social media paradigm, given the current status quo, they will never have a choice of whether or not they want to opt-in or out. Because the choice has already been made for them, long before they ever were conscious that they even had a choice.

This brings me to a realization of ourselves. In a sense, none of us have the choice to opt-out at this point either.

Many people make hay of doing things like closing Facebook accounts and leaving other social media sites. While I don’t doubt that it looks like you are making a difference (be it in the context of yourself, or in the wider world), one has to question the effectiveness of such actions. Both because of how monopolized many aspects of online life have become (how many people in your circle use Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp?), and because you don’t need to have an account in many of these platforms for them to track your activities online.

While I am venturing into territory that is somewhat off-topic to where I began (online tracking VS choosing to control your identity and likeness online), they both intersect in the sense that we have very little control of our data once we choose (or have the choice made for us by proxy) to make it available for whatever reason. Consider some time in the future in which you may want to completely erase your online identity for any reason. You can delete photos and social media profiles, but you don’t have much control of what lives on in the back-end servers of these companies. After all, consumer data is the gold in this evolving realm in which we live.

Or to step outside of the social media framework, what about a company that you dealt with in passing? A company that you no longer deal with?

For example, a foreign airline that you gave your credit card, passport and other information for a trip that you are fairly certain to never make again. A hotel chain that you may or may not visit again. Even a phone company that you may have previously dealt with, or never dealt with but still shared personal information with (rejected due to inadequate credit?).

While many companies quietly hoard consumer data for undetermined amounts of time, I can easily provide examples of data breaches exposing such practices within the industries listed above.

Air India


Sita (Singapure Airlines, Luftunsa, United and Others)

While it should be noted that the SITA breach didn’t seem to expose much outside of frequent flyer numbers, many of these breaches (including that of Air India) tend to contain much more information.

Starwood Hotels Group AKA Marriot Hotels




While the presence of likeness photographs living for eternity on social media platforms (anyone still have an active myspace account that was long since forgotten about?) and zombie consumer data hoarded by various companies may seem like 2 different things, they are in fact connected in the lack of control we have in reining in either. As long as companies are not held to high standards in terms of both data retention policies and cyber security, WE are the ones that will continue to pay the price. Given that the datasets that companies will be collecting are only going to diversify in the coming years (biometric data?), this aught be an issue on everyone’s radar.

There is a reason why I would never send a sample of my DNA to a private company for ancestry testing (and I would hope no one close to me would, either). Aside from the results being questionable to begin with, what happens to the DNA information afterward?

At the moment, it’s a convenient repository for police agencies to utilize in investigations.  But what about in the future?

What will your DNA be worth?



Holographic Performances From Dead Celebrities – Awesome? Or Despicable?

Today, we will be exploring an article titled Dead Celebrities are being digitally resurrected — and the ethics are murky, written by Jenna Benchetrit and published by CBC News. While it’s not the first time I have heard of this concept (nor seen it explored in pop culture, as in the case of Black Mirror), I have never really stopped to consider the implications. That is to say, how I would respond to coming across one of my cherished idols or artists digitally resurrected for my enjoyment.

Being the nature of the subject, the resulting conclusions can only be subjective. We will all naturally come to a different stance based on the many things that make us all . . . us. As such, this will be (for the most part) more an act of personal exploration than ethical vetting. Nonetheless, feel free to share your views in the comments if you wish.

Let us begin.


Hologram performances, artificial voices and posthumous albums pose tough ethical questions, critics say

It’s a modern phenomenon that’s growing increasingly common with innovative technology and marketing appeal: the practice of digitally resurrecting deceased celebrities by using their image and unreleased works for new projects.

Michael Jackson moonwalked at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards years after his death; rapper Tupac Shakur performed at the 2012 Coachella music festival, though he died in 1996; and late singer Aaliyah’s estate spoke out recently after her record label announced that some of her albums would be released on streaming services.

A slew of recent controversies have renewed complicated questions about whether projects involving the use of a deceased celebrity’s likeness or creative output honours the artist’s legacy or exploits it for monetary gain. 

Prince’s former colleague released a posthumous album comprised of songs the artist recorded in 2010 then scrapped; an artificially-engineered model of Anthony Bourdain’s voice was used in a new documentary about the chef and author’s life; and a hologram of Whitney Houston will perform a six-month Las Vegas residency beginning in October 2021.


Interestingly enough, this brings to mind a conversation (a debate of sorts) I had with a friend some years back at work. Him being a fan of old school grunge and the Seattle scene, he hated the reincarnation of Alice In Chains with the presence of a new lead singer. At the time, I recall viewing the sentiment towards the name as kind of silly (what difference does it make?). I happened to like the music of both configurations of the band, so the sentiment that they should have proceeded under a different name seemed . . . purist.

Then around 3 years later, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame died by suicide. Upon considering my previous viewpoint at some point later, I was struck by the realization that I had similar reservations about someone else fronting Linkin Park in place of Chester Bennington. I had no real rational reason for this. It just felt weird for someone else to step into the role that of someone that I had become familiar with since my teen years. Hybrid Theory and Meteora came out when I was in high school. I literally grew up with this band as part of the soundtrack of my life.

Even though I stopped paying as much attention to most of the releases after Minutes To Midnight, it still felt . . .weird.

But that was years ago. Having not thought about it since probably 2017, I’ve realized that most of the sentiment towards the name Linkin Park (likely a result of the death being so recent at the time) is gone. Which it seems is not a moment too soon since the rest of the group (mostly on hiatus since 2017) is starting to release remixed and new material starting in 2020. So far there has been 1 track re-released in August 2020 and a remixed released in January of 2021. We will see what goodies the rest of LP have for us in the coming post-pandemic years.

This isn’t even the first time I’ve had this inner dialogue, either. It also occurred back in 2016, when I heard (with horror at the time) that Axel Rose of Guns & Roses infamy was set to replace ACDC’s Brian Johnson, who was forced to retire due to hearing problems. This was not on account of sentiment either (remember that Brian Johnson replaced the deceased Bon Scott back in 1980). More, it was due to the volatile and infamous nature of Rose himself. Though his antics are well known and documented (up to and including inciting a riot in Montreal), even my aunt has a story of annoyance associated with working security at a G &R show (the band came on stage an hour late).

An interesting side note of the Montreal riot . . . lost to history is the fact that Axle was also suffering from a torn vocal cord at the time of the incident, which seems to have weighed into the decision. This, along with the fact that only around 2000 people (of the 10,000ish in attendance) were thought to have participated in the riots.

This is also something that I have not thought about for a long time. Probably because, as it turns out, the 23 show ACDC collaboration appears to have gone off without a hitch. And though the group was on hiatus since 2016, the 2014 lineup reunited in 2020 to release Power Up, an album that I enjoy.
Not that ACDC has ever put out an album that I didn’t enjoy.

Sure, the music is simple in comparison to the various shades of metal that I’ve since moved on to. Yet, it also remains enjoyable since the group is delightfully unserious when it comes to songwriting, never fearing to tread into the low brow. As evidenced by the 2020 track Money Shot, a tune that made me laugh out loud.
And one can’t complain much of the simplistic nature of the pub rock genre, because if you want something more, look no further than Airbourne (like ACDC. they also started in Australia). Though it is obvious who their influences are, they certainly take things to a whole other level.

Sticking to the topic still, we come to another band that I grew up with that changed frontman. Three Days Grace.

Growing up, I used to think of the first 2 3DG albums as another soundtrack to my teenage years. I also liked (and own) the subsequent 2 albums under the original lineup. But when lead singer Adam Gontier left the group and was replaced by Matt Walst of My Darkest Days,  it took some (who am I kidding . . . MUCH!) persuasion to appreciate the new Three Days Grace.

Or, Nu 3DG as it were.

But as it turned out, the unexpected change of lineup was not the awful thing that times closer to the change made it out to be. Under the lead of Matt Walst, Three Days Grace has moved into a newer and more interesting sound. And Adam is heading an equally interesting project in St. Asonia. The best of both worlds.

Also worth noting is the Foo Fighters. While I am almost certain that Courtney Love would NOT have let Dave Grohl and the rest of the trio continue forward under the Nirvana brand, it would be interesting to see what the results of a different timeline would have been. For example, the ACDC timeline.

Would fans embrace the new frontman (as seems the case with ACDC)? Or would they detest the new configuration (as with AiC)? 

Whatever the case does not matter, anyhow, since the Foo Fighters did perfectly fine even without the old brand behind them.

Looking back at this, it’s funny that I once looked at my friend’s distaste of NU-AiC as amusing and purist. As it turns out, I am just as human in my distaste of the alterations of the familiar. Hell . . . it’s one of my biggest critiques of many baby boomers that I know, and of the generation in general. The lack of interest in even trying to accept the new, let alone accepting that the old way is largely on the way out. Often for good reason.

So much have I pondered this that I now conclude that change is almost always actually a good thing for a band.

The first example of this that comes to mind is Seether. Their first 3 albums were also part of the soundtrack of my teenage years, with the 4th coming out just as I was coming of age as an adult. Though I still liked the fourth album despite its slight move away from what one was used to, I can’t stand anything released afterward.
The same goes for Theory of a Deadman. I liked the first 2 albums, but what followed was Gawd awful.  I don’t normally throw away music that I own, but I did toss The Truth Is because, for the life of me, I didn’t know why I spent $15 or $20 on it.

Remember buying CDs?

Yeah . . . I don’t miss it either. I do miss the days before people like me and streaming sucked much of the money out of the music industry, forcing artists old and new to resort to commercials and advertising as a steady income stream. But I suppose that is a different entry altogether.

Either way, rare is the musician from my childhood that has continuously put out new material, yet avoided the pitfall of toning it down for mainstream popularity. So rare is the case that only Billy Talent comes to mind as an artist that bucked the trend.

No matter the backlash, when artists decide to do the seemingly unthinkable and make a big change, the results are almost always alright. Another example that I just recently discovered was Aaron Lewis. Best known by me (and probably most people) as the lead singer behind Staind, imagine my surprise in discovering Country Boy in a country playlist. I can’t say that I like it, per se. But it’s certainly different, and Aaron is suited for the genre.

Considering that I used to hate country, the fact that I’m starting to get accustomed to some of it is shocking in itself. And I do in fact mean some of it. Though I like a couple Dierks Bentley songs and a Joe Nichols tune that most people likely know among some others, the pickings are slim. Aside from learning that a coon dog isn’t an incredibly racist lyric, I still find the formulaic nature of much of the country genre to be annoying.

To be fair, much of what I am describing is prescribed to a category within Country music that many call Bro-Country. Having said that, even the old-time stuff tends to lean in this direction. Hence why also can’t stand Alan Jackson or Toby Keith (he irked me long before the Red Solo Cup abomination).

I am very selective indeed . . . but it’s a hell of a change from a year ago. Not to mention that I figure it would be hard to find someone that has everything from Slipknot, to Weird Al, to Dierks Bentley on the same playlist.

But at long last, I come to the topic that the readers have come here for . . .  holograms.


Michael Jackson moonwalked at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards years after his death; rapper Tupac Shakur performed at the 2012 Coachella music festival, though he died in 1996; and late singer Aaliyah’s estate spoke out recently after her record label announced that some of her albums would be released on streaming services.

* * *

Prince’s former colleague released a posthumous album comprised of songs the artist recorded in 2010 then scrapped; an artificially-engineered model of Anthony Bourdain’s voice was used in a new documentary about the chef and author’s life; and a hologram of Whitney Houston will perform a six-month Las Vegas residency beginning in October 2021.


This is certainly an interesting thing to ponder. Though I CAN think of 1 reason why I would not want to see Micheal Jackson moonwalking in a show post-humously, the ethical reasoning has nothing to do with him being dead. Frankly, the same goes for anyone that would want to present a holographic Kobe Bryant. I find the continued praise and worship of both those people to be problematic, but again, that is a whole other post.

To boil it down:

1.) While one should always reserve judgement, the evidence weighs heavily in one direction. As does the fact that the case was settled out of court.

2.) Micheal Jackson was NOT proven innocent, contrary to how Twitter recently reacted. The court only dismissed the notion of the victims that 2 companies representing Jackson’s interests had any bearing of responsibility towards their safety and welfare. Nothing more.

Moving on from that red hot potato, I come to Tupac Shakur and Whitney Houston. When it comes to these 2, I am neutral. Assuming that neither said anything in life against the concept of post-humous holograms and assuming the concept isn’t going against either majority fan or estate wishes, I see little issue with it. It is but a new medium for the broadcast and display of recorded media, after all. In my opinion, no different than watching a Whitney Houston music video on YouTube. Or as I happen to be doing at this moment, listening to the long-deceased Johnny Cash in MP3 form.

I know . . . who still does that?!

Speaking of times changing, we come to the release of dead artist’s music on streaming platforms. Short of the artist taking issue with it in life (as seems would be the case with Prince), I have little issue with it.
For all intents and purposes, the cat is already out of the bag. In fact, it has been since the debut of Napster in 1999, continued to be so in the early 2000s with the decentralized P2P platforms, and continued ever beyond in the realm of torrents and discographies. Today, people scrape YouTube videos for audio.

And even that isn’t really correct anymore, with most people using ad or subscription-based streaming services. My preferred choice is YouTube Music since it comes with fewer limitations than Spotify (though I use Spotify for podcasts).

Any artists refusing to join the streaming platforms at this point are just pissing into the wind. This is not to say that the modern monetary sharing scheme is optimal (cause it’s not. It’s even more shit than it was in the past!). Nonetheless, however, when even the Nirvana and Tool catalogues can now be streamed, you know we’re in a different era. 

As for using machine learning algorithms to reanimate the voice of the now-deceased Anthony Bourdain, however . . . THAT IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE! 

Yeah . . . just kidding.

Personally, having seen Desperate Housewives back in the day (remember the homophobia of seasons 1 and 2? That didn’t age well :/ ), the idea of a show narrated by a character deceased from the plot is interesting. 
As much as I’d love the Bourdain doc to open with a line like “Guess what, guys! I’m dead!” (I can see him doing something like that!), it probably wouldn’t go over well with the normies among us. 

No one seems to take issue with a dead Paul Walker showing up in a run of the mill Holywood movie, but throw a dead guy joke into a Bourdain documentary . . .




Ethical and legal ramifications

It’s a matter of both ethics and law, but the ethical concerns are arguably more important, according to Iain MacKinnon, a Toronto-based media lawyer. 

“It’s a tough one, because if the artist never addressed the issue while he or she was alive, anybody who’s granting these rights — which is typically an executor of an estate — is really just guessing what the artist would have wanted,” MacKinnon said.

“It always struck me as a bit of a cash grab for the estates and executors to try and milk … a singer’s celebrity and rights, I guess, for a longer time after their death.”

According to MacKinnon, the phrase “musical necrophilia” is commonly used to criticize the practice. Music journalist Simon Reynolds referred to the phenomenon of holographic performances as “ghost slavery,” and in The Guardian, Catherine Shoard called the CGI-insertion of a dead actor into a new film a “digital indignity.”


This is indeed an almost cut and dry case when it comes to copyright law. Though it sounds like one single area, what copyrights equate to are a great many single rights.

Say I am writing a book called “Crazy Cats of New Haven”. The moment the pen hits the paper (or the finger hits the keyboard), the resulting document in its entirety is covered under international copyright law. However, beyond just being your proof in a court of law, having this control over the main copyright also means you have control of any other rights whether currently available or future. For example:

  • audiobook
  • audio (song?)
  • theatrical (movie? play?)

The reason I am aware of this is on account of a short copyright course I took aimed at aspiring authors. Instructed by a seasoned and published author, the goal was to introduce us to a sample book contract and ensure we are aware that not all contracts are alike. Like every other area of the media and entertainment industry, not all publishers are equal.

This is where the future rights portion of this comes in. Though I have yet to come across my first contract at this point, most are said to automatically include every right that is available and future rights. Or in normie speak, if the project ever blows up and goes cross-platform (eg. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter), the publisher is often in a much more powerful position than the author or writer.

And this isn’t uncommon either. The writers in the music industry often make peanuts even if they write hits.


Songwriters are guaranteed a royalty from every unit sold (CDs, vinyl, cassette, etc.).

These royalties are paid out differently in different countries, but in the U.S., they come out to $0.091 per reproduction of the song – nine cents every time a song is reproduced/sold.

In other countries, the royalty is paid out at 8 to 10% of the value of the recording.

What does this equate to?

Take the song “Pumped Up Kicks” – a huge hit for Foster The People. The track sold 3.8 million copies and the album itself sold 671,000 copies.

The frontman of the band Nate Foster has the sole writing credit on the song, so he collects every penny of the mechanical royalties, which would come out to around $406,861.

And that’s just the mechanicals. There are other ways that song was making money – it received a ton of radio play and was licensed on TV shows like Entourage, Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries, which added to Foster and the band’s earnings.


Digital Download Mechanical Royalties

Digital download mechanical royalties are generated in the same way physical mechanical royalties are generated, except they are paid whenever any song is downloaded.

iTunes, Amazon, Google Rhapsody, Xbox Music, all generate and pay these royalties to songwriters whenever a song is downloaded.

Again, these are paid out at a rate of $0.091 per song.

Streaming Mechanical Royalties

Streaming mechanical royalties are generated from the same Reproduction and Distribution copyrights, but are paid differently.

They are generated any time a song is streamed through a service that allows users to pause, play, skip, download, etc.

This means Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, Pandora, etc.

In the U.S. (and globally for the most part) the royalty rate is 10.5% of the company’s gross revenue minus the cost of public performance.

An easier way to say this, is that it generally comes out to around $0.005 per stream. Less than a cent!

How Much Do Songwriters Make Per Song, Per Stream & In Other Situations?

An easier way to put the last sentence is that its sweet fuck all.

Imagine that many nations in the world quit manufacturing the 1 cent penny because of its production cost (over a cent!). Most songwriters earn less than that.


The problem here is as obvious and immediate as a whacking great pop hook.

Think of the biggest songs on Spotify over the past decade. Here they are, courtesy of Kworb:

  • Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You (1.77bn streams);
  • Drake – One Dance (1.48bn streams);
  • The Chainsmokers – Closer (1.28bn streams)
  • Luis Fonsi – Despacito Remix (1.07bn streams)
  • Post Malone – Rockstar (1.05bn streams)

All of them were co-written, alongside the featured artist, by very talented people.

Some of these co-writer’s names: Steve Mac, Johnny McDaid, Shaun Frank and Jason ‘Poo Bear‘ Boyd.

How many people amongst Spotify’s 75m paying subscribers, you wonder, heard songs written by these people and thought; ‘I love that track – I want to play it now… I’ll try Spotify.’

And then: ‘Wow, this service is amazing, I’m going to pay for it.’

Yet the songwriters who penned these tracks presumably aren’t getting a penny for their compositions from corporate Spotify stock sales.

Instead, they’re being left out in the cold during one of the industry’s most historic windfalls.

Songwriters got screwed by the Spotify equity bonanza. The industry has to ask itself questions.


Now that we have explored all the reasons why MB Man will never be writing any songs anytime soon, let’s move onto the movie industry. We will now explore the shady realms of Hollywood Accounting. How to turn a multi-billion dollar grossing blockbuster into cash bleeding loss.


On today’s Planet Money, Edward Jay Epstein, the author of a recent book called The Hollywood Economist, explains the business of movies.

As a case study, he walks us through the numbers for “Gone In 60 Seconds.” (It starred Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage. They stole cars. Don’t pretend like you don’t remember it.)

The movie grossed $240 million at the box office. And, after you take out all the costs and fees and everything associated with the movie, it lost $212 million.

This is the part of Hollywood accounting that is, essentially, fiction. Disney, which produced the movie, did not lose that money.

Each movie is set up as its own corporation. So what “lost money” on the picture is that corporation — Gone In 60 Seconds, Inc., or whatever it was called.

And Gone In 60 Seconds, Inc. pays all these fees to Disney and everyone else connected to the movie. And the fees, Epstein says, are really where the money’s at.


May I first note that the last name appears to be coincidental in this case. Unsurprising, given my doubts that Jeffrey Epstein would like having an investigative journalist around the island of rich pedos.

ANYWAY . . .

That is how you turn a billion-dollar grossing moneymaker of a film into a cash-losing flop. And as usual, I veered off-topic.

Well, sort of. We now know the stance of the entertainment industry in terms of ethics . . . there are none. Given the power afforded to the rights holder, I suspect that we will see a lot more deceased celebrities doing everything from performing in Vegas to selling coffee and toothpaste on TV commercials.

Just kidding . . . clearly the cash is now in YouTube and Spotify ads.


Richard Lachman, an associate professor at Ryerson University who researches the relationship between humans and technology, said that as artists age and develop a better sense of their legacies, they may take the time to protect their images and file appropriate contract clauses. 

But not every artist will grow old. Indeed, a common thread between many of the artists whose works and likeness have been used in this capacity is an unexpected or accidental death.

Prince died in 2016 of an accidental opioid overdose, Anthony Bourdain died by suicide in 2018 and Whitney Houston drowned in her bathtub in 2012 as a result of heart disease and cocaine use. Tupac, Amy Winehouse and Aaliyah all died unexpectedly at young ages. 

Lachman said if this is the case, then it’s possible that clauses accounting for image use didn’t get written into wills. He also noted that artists who die prematurely don’t grow old, giving an impression of perpetual youth that reminds audiences what an artist looked like in their prime.

And while fans might be protective of the artists they love, they’re also the primary consumers to whom these digital resurrections appeal.

“Yes, we know that [a hologram of] Whitney Houston is not the real Whitney Houston,” Lachman said. “But it’s a chance for us to engage in some of that fan behaviour, something that binds us to one another.”

I agree with the final sentence.

As explained earlier, I am not against the concept of posthumous holograms. Even taking the Whitney Houston hologram example and replacing her likeness with Chester Bennington or Warrel Dane (2 artists that mean much more to me than Whitney Houston), I still don’t really find myself against the concept. Assuming that the family and/or next of kin is on board with the process, this seems to be just an ultramodern example of what we have been taking for granted for decades. The ability to store information onto various mediums. 

First came the song. Then the video. Now, potentially, the whole experience. Whether the experience is to be predetermined (akin to a pre-recording) or interactive (play out based on the audience, presumably) depends on the technology.

Though I can see why this kind of thing may be considered horrifying by some, consider the opportunity. Before now, if your favourite artist were to die, that is it in terms of opportunities for interaction. Though there may be shows if their surrounding act decides to continue, the opportunity of seeing the artist live will never happen again. Particularly notable when it comes to solo acts.

For people who have never seen that artist live, this may well be the opportunity of a lifetime. Indeed, it’s not the REAL thing. But it’s a very special opportunity nonetheless. An opportunity that my grandfather (who died in 1998) did not have in his lifetime.

For this reason, those in charge of these shows will have to be extra careful when it comes to smooth and flawless production performances. Not only will these performances serve as a typical live show, they will also serve as the farewell tribute that many of us wish we could have had with long-lost loved ones (beloved celebrities included). Auditoriums housing such performances may be wise to keep lots of tissues on hand.


For some, releasing archived material might not seem as harmful as resurrecting a person with virtual reality, MacKinnon said.

“I think there’s different degrees and a spectrum of uses that can be made of dead performers.”


There is no doubt no comparison between the 2. If it was not explicitly trashed by the artist, it may well have ended up released later in their career anyway.

The Prince example from earlier has to be mentioned, however. The posthumous release of an album of songs written by (and scrapped by!) Prince. Prince’s feelings towards the material were clear. Any person of ethics and integrity would know to leave the trash in the trash.

So naturally, they took the other path and cashed in on the fanbase for some cash. 

There will always be unscrupulous actors in an industry devoid of ethical and moral virtues. Thus, it is important not to let their actions dictate our opinion of anything we are speaking of. Unscrupulous people will always be unscrupulous, after all.


Prince is an artist who’s been on both sides of that spectrum.

Last month, his posthumous album Welcome 2 America was released to fanfare. But there was another controversial incident in which it was rumoured that a hologram of Prince would perform alongside Justin Timberlake at the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show. The plans were eventually scrapped, with Prince’s ex-fiancée Sheila E. confirming that Timberlake wouldn’t go through with it. 

The incident renewed interest in a 1998 interview with Guitar World, in which Prince said performing with an artist from the past is “the most demonic thing imaginable.”


I don’t know who had the bigger say in this decision, but if it was Justin Timberlake, good on him for seemingly honouring the wishes of Prince. Seemingly, because I can only imagine how much public pressure was driving the decision. This is the age of social media and Twitter, after all.


Sarah Niblock, a visiting professor of psychology at York St. John University in York, England, who has long studied Prince and co-wrote a book about the artist, says efforts to dig into his vault and use his image for profit are in contention with his publicly expressed wishes.

“He was fully in control of his output, sonically and visually, and the way everything was marketed, and of course, those who performed with him and all of his artists that he produced,” Niblock said.

The situation is further complicated because Prince didn’t leave a will when he died. Without one, “a person’s estate can exploit or license those rights if they want to,” MacKinnon said.

While the legal boundaries are relatively clear, the ethical question of whether an artist is being exploited or not is subjective.

For Niblock, digital resurrections that enrich the estate and its executors at the expense of an artist’s known wishes cross a line.

“Trying to somehow use that death to create a mythic quality that the artists themselves would have not necessarily intended, to then market that for money … I mean, it’s extremely cynical and disrespectful.”


There is no respect in capitalism. Only profits.


Legal considerations must be made before death

While promoting his new documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, director Morgan Neville said he had recreated Bourdain’s voice using machine learning, then used the voice model to speak words Bourdain had written.

The incident prompted a wave of public discussion, some of it criticism levelled at Neville.

A tweet from Bourdain’s ex-wife suggested that he wouldn’t have approved. A columnist for Variety considered the ethical ramifications of the director’s choice. And Helen Rosner of The New Yorker wrote that “a synthetic Bourdain voice-over seemed to me far less crass than, say … a holographic Tupac Shakur performing alongside Snoop Dogg at Coachella.”

Recent incidents like the Bourdain documentary or Whitney Houston’s hologram residency will likely prompt those in the entertainment industry to protect themselves accordingly, said MacKinnon.


Having considered things a bit (and watched the Tupac Coachella appearance), I would hardly consider it as crass. The audience in attendance certainly didn’t. Nor do most of the people in the YouTube comments. Nor do the 274k people that liked the video (verses around 6k dislikes). I’d say the only people that cared were exactly where they should be . . . NOT AT THE SHOW!

Feel free to check it out for yourself. It was linked in the CBC article, believe it or not.


“I think now, if they haven’t already, agents, managers, lawyers, performers are all going to be telling their clients that if they care about this, if they care about how their image is used after they die, they need to be addressing it right now in their wills.”

Robin Williams is a notable example of a public figure who foresaw these issues. The late actor, who died by suicide in 2014, restricted the use of his image and likeness for 25 years after his death.


It’s cool that Robin Williams had the foresight to consider this before his tragic demise. While I am not as averse to the thought of a post-humous Robin Williams comedy special as I would have been closer to 2014, the man has spoken.

We have indeed entered a new era.

A passing thought . . . though we will never know what opinion past comedians like George Carlin or Bill Hicks would have of this technology, I sense that both would have a lot of fun with it.  


Hologram technology improving

According to both Lachman and MacKinnon, artists would do well to make similar arrangements, as the technology behind these recreations will only get more sophisticated.

Holograms of Tupac at 2012 Coachella and Michael Jackson at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards were produced using a visual trick from the Victorian-era called “Pepper’s Ghost,” named for John Henry Pepper, the British scientist who popularized it.

In the illusion, a person’s image is reflected onto an angled glass pane from an area hidden from the audience. The technique gave the impression that the rapper and the king of pop were performing on stage.

Nowadays, companies like Base Hologram in Los Angeles specialize in large-scale digital production of holograms. The recreation of Bourdain’s voice was made possible by feeding ten hours of audio into an artificial intelligence model.

Lachman said that it will become “almost impossible” for the average consumer to know the difference between a hologram creation and the real person. 

He said that while the effects are still new and strange enough to warrant media attention, digital resurrections will continue to have an uncanny effect on their audience — but not for much longer, as audiences will likely grow accustomed to the phenomenon.

Though he said there may be purists who disagree, it seems like audiences have been generally accepting of the practice.

“It seems like the trend is we’re just going to get over it.”


I agree. This phenomenon, as somewhat creepy and new as it is, ain’t going anywhere. But as far as I’m concerned, that is a good thing.

There will no doubt be people that will take advantage of this technology so long as celebrities don’t take precautions. Such is the world we live in. Aside from that, I’d say we have a very unique opportunity.

Certainly for tasteful send-offs of beloved stars and musicians (imagine something like a Whitney Houston final Farewell tour). Beyond that, really, the sky is the limit.

The Cobain Case

These last few years have been quite the roller coaster, intellectually. Not something I haven’t said before. But it nicely applies here, since this intellectual growth has come to touch on pretty much every single thing that I have ever taken for granted, and then some. Calling it growth is not really correct either since it was less learning something new than it was a process of training myself to better analyze information in general. Both in terms of new information, AND what already resides in the mind (at least when prompted). Many are able to master the former, but the latter is often a challenge. Certainly so for me, but definitely so for about 99% of the naysayers on almost any topic that I touch on anywhere.

This post centers on the and then some category of the contents of my mind. A topic that has been kicking around the back of my brain undisturbed for many years, only to be yanked back to the forefront of my conscience by a tweet. Interestingly, a tweet that was unrelated to the topic itself.

Though my relationship to the Cobain saga goes back many years, my relationship to the life story of Kurt Cobain goes back even further. Being a tail end millennial, I wasn’t old enough to be paying much heed to anything back in 1994, let alone for the duration of his career. I came to his story and his music the way most (all?) millennials did . . . though popular culture as heavily influenced by the world wide web.

Likely due to a combination of living on through continued radio play and vast availability though now defunct P2P protocols, Nirvana had just as many fans in the following generation (possibly generations) as they did in their prime. I was very much one of them, loving me some mainstream hits much like many others. The band (or more accurately, Kurt Cobain himself) grew more and more interesting after I found out about his fate. Suicide.
It’s getting harder to describe, being this far out from that time of life. But what comes to mind are both morbid fascination, and a degree of jealousy. At this time of life, I didn’t really see any future for myself. But despite this, I was still too weak to actually follow through with bringing to reality what I viewed as my destiny. Given this sentiment, people like Cobain become very fascinating. Particularly pop cultures so-called 27 club (Amy Winehouse being the latest name).

I don’t look back at this time with pride, obviously. But I also don’t look back at it with contempt, either. I have allowed some people to claw me down a bit, comparing my seemingly trivial hardships to their very REAL hardships. But I don’t do that anymore, either. It’s not helpful.

Either way, this is a small window into my mid to late teenage years. A time of life when I needed a crutch to keep me going. Which is why I now don’t look back with much regret at this, nor at the suicidal mindset that cut through the majority of my high school years .
It was a coping mechanism. It robbed me of enjoying many events of the then present day. It somewhat handicapped my ability to prepare myself for the future. But, it got me beyond the rough and into . . . whatever the hell this is. Even if that equates to a patch of concrete of which is destined to be crushed by the steamroller that is the stupidity of the human species, a positive outcome it still is.

To round it back, I remember my first exposure to the Cobain conspiracy theory. I was browsing Cobain info on some website and ended up in a bit of a rabbit hole of sorts. I remember this because it didn’t sit well with me.

I mean . . .NO! The man killed himself! If this is all to be believed, then what of the last 2 years of my life?! I’ve been fascinated by a LIE!

So describes a fascinating manifestation of cognitive bias in my young brain.

This fascination with celebrities that committed suicide or overdosed eventually faded away, as did most of my interest in the Cobain conspiracy. Life happened, with all the often nonsensical bullshit of which that entailed.

Though the Cobain conspiracy was on the very back burner for the vast majority of the time between first discovering it and recently (within the last year), I periodically had bouts of pursuit into the details. I had researched the case VIA Google a few times, finding Tom Grant and (along with many others). I watched Kurt & Courtney. I became aware of all the seeming problems surrounding Cortney Love. From the allegations of her taking out a $50,000 hit on Kurt (made by a guy who was killed by a train days after that interview), to peoples habit of dying upon telling Courtney that they want to leave her (and Seattle). The first is obvious, the other is former Hole bandmate, Kristen Pfaff.
Though I revisited this every year or 2, I couldn’t help feeling that there had to be something here. This made all the more amusing by the semi-yearly occurrence of some commentator or celebrity calling out Courtney Love publicly for her role in the murder.

I had even drafted a post exploring this topic (well, started to) a few months after starting this blog. A post that I kept around until a few months ago when I started to have  serious doubts about the validity of the theory.

Part of this was rooted in the drastic shifts within my own mind of the past few years. I like to say that most people can recognize silly conspiracy theories on sight. That is, except for their own.

I began see this pattern in my own pro-murder leanings.

A big part of this came in my viewing of Soaked In Bleach, yet another film exploration into the theories. Unlike the others, however, this one annoyed me right off the bat, since  it began by asking the viewer to decide for themselves whether it was murder or suicide. As do many books written about the Cobain case, and materials concerning other conspiracy theories as well.
The other thing I disliked about this so-called docu-drama, was the bias. Though I didn’t have all that positive a perception of Courtney Love before watching this, even I had to admit that the bias towards her (as portrayed) was over the top. To give Tom Grant a bit of credit, it could have been a genuine reenactment of the meetings as they played out in his memory. But even so, it came off as quite . . . pushy towards an intended conclusion. A tactic that makes me very suspicious of the agenda behind those apparently doing the pushing.

The straw that would come to break the camels back was dropped on my consequence 2 days ago, VIA an algorithmically generated email from twitter (of all places). Amongst a list of tweets picked out just for me (based on my patterns of behavior, no doubt) was one from Tom Grant. Not even a tweet that had any connection to Soaked in Bleach, conspiracy, OR the Cobain case in general. Rather, it was a tweet featuring a video that would seemingly “leave most evolutionists scratching their heads”.

Yeah. . .

My first critique is the one that most with a capable mind will pick up on. I don’t believe in evolution any more than I believe in gravity, or radio waves, or light radiation. For lack of a more scientifically cogent way to put it, I don’t HAVE to believe in any of these things. Unlike the conspiracy that has been Grant’s claim to fame. Or infamy.

Whichever is more applicable.

Evolution denialism does not have anything to do with forensics. Alright, I’m going to back that up a little. It certainly has nothing to do with the Cobain case. Even so, it is possible to draw a parallel.

My observation of human behaviors in my proximity tends to indicate that the methodology that people use to come to a conclusion in one context is typically the one that is used for other problems in similar contexts. Or to round it all the way up to the macro level, I don’t think it’s coincidental that the United States is both the most religious nation AND the most prone nation to producing and propagating conspiracy theory.

It’s all about asking questions. Or in the case of a good majority of conspiracy theories, absorbing a new narrative under the pretext of asking questions. Often times a narrative that presents itself as a quest for the truth, but materializes as a standard for which all evidence presented by opposing arguments has to stand up to. Which is often times impossible due to an informational vacuum. Because if there weren’t an informational vacuum, there would not be a conspiracy theory!

In this day and age, even THAT rule of thumb is getting unreliable. But none the less, complete transparency from all angles would wipe out 99.9 . . .9% of these zombie theories that live on forever.

So, how does this apply to this?

Unlike some other conspiracies that I have looked into just out of curiosity (mainly those surrounding the events of 9/11), I haven’t done a whole lot of independent research into the Cobain case. I know a thing or 2, but I also knew EXACTLY what I was looking for. Hardly proper or unbiased research.

I don’t know why Courtney may or may not have acted oddly around that time.
I don’t know whether or not the gun that killed Kurt was wiped of prints.
I don’t know if his credit card was really used after he was dead (presumably by the assailant).
I don’t know if said assailant did get paid a large sum of money, only to presumably overdose and take the secret to their grave as well.
I don’t know if the amount of heroin detected in Kurt’s body was truly incapacitating (even to a highly tolerant addict), rendering suicide an impossibility.
I don’t know if the suicide note in its entirety, is truly authentic.
I don’t know if someone at ANY level made the realization that Kurt Cobain was worth more dead than alive, in the state that he was in.

I just don’t know. And in some respects, I don’t care.

I will say this . . . if there is a unified stance amongst experts in the field of forensics that there is something wrong here and that the Seattle Police Department may have missed something, then by all means, they should reopen the case file. It wouldn’t be the first time that a department has botched even a high profile case.

As for outside of that context, I think that it’s time to give it a rest.

I don’t know if Courtney Love is openly hostile towards many of these investigations on account to not wanting certain skeletons unearthed. Alternatively to that assumption (which is not hard to come to when opening your mind to many of these theories), is it not also possible that this is a very human reaction to a wild goose chase that doesn’t allow one to ever truly move on from a tragedy? How about a motherly reaction in the name of shielding their child from having to deal with the same nonsense?

I may not have all the answers, but it’s time for me to lay this old ghost to rest. Once and for all.

Music Now Vs A Decade Ago

Time for, another music related rant of sorts.

I have taken of this topic a couple times before ( HERE and HERE ), as well as other various semi-related pieces (likely linked though related posts). I have always been a critic of the pop music scene (ever since being able to see though it). But though it is easy for me to base criticism just off of what I have heard before, there is nothing quite like side by side contrast for comparison.

A few days ago I was on youtube playing music, something I do occasionally. Normally I stick to heavier genres (ive begun to enjoy the original Alice in Chains more recently), but I do not use that as my comparison. It may work in many youtube comment areas for fans, but even if I agree, I have to acknowledge that grunge is not exactly pop. It was big in its heyday, but it is now a more, niche taste. Some would say a sub genre of metal.
Either way, it is as similar to modern (and the past decade’s) pop music as country is (not counting the sellout crossover crap that Kid Rock likes to milk every few years).

However, I think that a band like Evanescence would make the cut. They are a band I enjoyed back in their heyday, and they are still a band I enjoy (I like the most recent self titled album best, out of all the more recent albums). But the main reason that they make the cut, was because back in the day, they were played on the hits stations alongside Britney Spears, No Doubt and the rest of the fad bands of then.

Back then (at least on my local station) I heard My Immortal , Going Under , Everybody’s Fool and others ( Bring Me To Life is an honorable mention, though I hated the later version with the unnecessary male vocalists).
Though one may not like them for some reason or another, I don’t think many will disagree with the notion that, there is talent behind the music. No matter what you think of the music, Amy Lee has an amazing and beautiful voice. And not only that, she didn’t waste it then (nor does she now) on, garbage cookie cutter tween pop material (unlike Avril. I liked her, before THIS turned into THIS ).

Contrast this to damn near ANY of the newer group that is popular today (Nicki Minaj, Meghan Trainor, whomever!), and there is no comparison.

Its one thing to know that its terrible. Its another thing, to know that it wasn’t AS bad, just a short time ago.

Most of todays young have NO concept of what true talent sounds like. Which is unfortunate.

The Interview – An Alright Movie


First of all, don’t worry about or look for plot spoilers, because you will not find any.

I don’t think I ever got around to writing about this movie back in November/December when everything was blowing up for Sony on account of it. But had I written a post, it would have likely been me asking for the company to ignore the threats and just get on with it.
Though to be fair to Sony, they DID release the film fully initially. It just ended up getting retracted after most of the worlds (well, at least Canadian and American) theatre chains would not touch it due to the risk.
While this was annoying, and seemingly a weak stance (not to mention a terrible message to send groups like ISIS/ISIL) , I can see the theatres reasoning. Even one instance of a threat being followed though with would be a WHOLE lot more costly then the profits of the film.

But fortunately that situation (more or less) changed, and the film was released. Despite setbacks from being allocated very little screen time in theatres and being forced online.

It was added to Netflix (the Canadian version to. Im no streaming pirate) a month or so ago but been putting it off. However, I finally got around to watching it yesterday.

And it was good. Its hilarious that it was the reason behind all of the mess of November/December for Sony. But none the less, it was worth the wait.

I admit, it did not start out all that strongly. For me the beginning was a bit dry and stupid, reminiscent to a modern sitcom (typically one with a laugh track).
But the movie picks up pretty much as soon as they enter North Korea, the DPRK.

I have no real criticism of the films actors. For the most part, all of the important roles were more then adequately played by their actors. And though the film (for me) is divided at entry into DPRK, I enjoyed Seth Rogan’s throughout. There were some stupid asian quips pre-DPRK, but I mostly enjoyed his performance.

His sidekick however (James Franco) was the only character that I didn’t like much throughout the movie.
Sure, he aced (in my opinion) all of the important scenes of the film. But his over all character was just, annoying and cringe inducing. Again, I understand that is what sells in todays market (the whole Zack Galifianakis brand of humour is in). But it, took more then it added (for me anyway).

But the movie was enjoyable. So I recommend anyone who has not yet seen it to check it out.

You may find it Un believable.


I have no idea what the cheese is all about. Lol.

I Hate Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams

Ok, maybe HATE is a strong word. But he, irritates me greatly of late.
Its a stance that I have begun to take lately, though im not quite sure why. It could be the irritatingly boring and inoffensive nature of his songs. And the fact that it jives perfectly with the CBSC’s requirement that at least 30% of content on Canadian radio is of Canadian origin.
Not that I disagree, per-say. It keeps our media and airwaves from being ENTIRELY swallowed by content piped in from south of the boarder. But it results in artists like Adams getting a guaranteed flow of revenue because their (particularly, HIS!) music becomes default filler to make up the 30% allocation.
Maybe im just annoyed because I have to hear his music AT LEAST once daily in my retail job, and his music is almost ALWAYS on the radio. A particularly irritating song is the duet with Tina Turner, Its Only Love. How ironic that a love song inspires me to want to gouge my ears out with an ice pick.

I suppose this is just a sign of, ironically (again), my getting older. If the pattern is that most people tend to become more conservative and less “offensive” in terms of their music tastes, im going the opposite direction. I have always been a fan of metal, particularly thrash but also other forms of metal. I have never subscribed to any one side or another in any of metals inter-subgenerial feuds (for example, I enjoyed both glam AND grunge). In fact I seen such feuds as hilarious, almost like members of religions battling it out.

But as the years have gone on, I tend to be moving away from the typical. What most people would call the “Classics”. Not just Bryan Adams, but also your Bon Jovi, Kiss, Ac/Dc. Back in the day they were great tunes, fun at parties and associated with good memories. But now, looking back, its all just, simplicity.
Everyone can love whatever they like in terms of their musical tastes. But for me, after being exposed to such groups as Dream Theatre and Tool, they are utterly boring in comparison. If much metal is University, then the mainstream rock is elementary to middle school.

There are still artists from that era that I like. For example, Twisted Sister stands the test of time for me. Both because I love many of their songs to this day, AND because lead singer Dee Snider is and always will be an awesome guy in my books. Calling out Al Gore’s wife for having a dirty mind in front of congress was FUCKING hilarious, and still is today.

But either way, like everything else, musicians are about the money. Not always, but in many cases. Which is arguably alright. If someone wants to buy, let them.
I just don’t like the idea of, forced consumption. Yes, using the Bryan Adams catalog is not exactly like having a monopoly on cable services in a city. But when the other pickings are slim, its hard for me to argue that there is NOT at least a bit of unfair advantage.

Reality TV Is Dying – But Is This A Good Thing?

It seems that it was not all that long ago that I wrote a piece on my perceived danger(s) of reality TV and other such distractions. It was provoked by the whole Duck Dynasty thing being exposed as fake, and I went into detail as to every reason why I hated that show among many others of the genre (including Here Comes Honey Boo Boo).
I do not recall if this was before or after the infamous Phil Robertson interview/publicity stunt that seen A&E cancel the series THAN reverse it, within a very short timeframe. People fumed, got their way, then the show got more exposure then ever.

But go ahead about a year, and apparently the scene has changed. Reality trash tv is taking a nosedive, and the whole segment in general is increasingly losing ratings.


These numbers really do not surprise me. But it seems that changes in the television and technological landscape may be helping drive the decline.

Im thinking that a big part of the draw of these shows (in particular the trashy ones like Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo) was monopoly by availability. Meaning that there was just nothing else on, so people settled for the crap.

That is a problem that is quickly becoming a thing of the past due to the DVR, video streaming and downloading. When there is a 20 course buffet available, why would you settle for the single plate meal?
This would also explain why the network television is starting to take a hit as well.

And of course there are alternative sources of media and entertainment. One good example of this is youtube. Some youtube personalities are getting just as much attention and fame from the younger generations coming up as many traditional celebrities.

And of course there is the the camera-saturated society that we live in today. There are more devices with recording and photographic capabilities in the hands of the general public then there has been ever before, and there is more social connectivity with the world at large (VIA social media) then there has ever been before.
People do not have to just tune into reality tv, they can become a part of the show. All they need is a camera.

And in some cases, this may be a good thing. Youtube and the internet has plenty of insightful, intelligent and interesting content creators whom take advantage of the platform. The problem of course is, the others.
Social media is good at delivering endless streams of funny, emotion provoking,  short bursts of information. Which I would argue, acts to the detriment of ones attention span if they become to absorbed by the content over a long period of time. All this content also serves as an endless stream of white noise. Sure its easier then ever to make and share content, but you have to compete with, everything else. So you have to get creative in what you would be willing to do just in order to stand out from the crowd.
Which is why it does not surprise me all that much that people have died from trying to get the perfect “selfie”, or that setting yourself on fire was recently a phenomenon (replaced by the ALS ice bucket challenge if I remember correctly).

And that brings us back to the question that caused me to write this piece. Reality TV is slowly dying, but given the context of where the future of entertainment is headed, is that really a good thing?

#BanNickelback – A New Low For Crowdfunding


I have done posts in the fairly recent past on my problems with crowdfunding, and in the distant past on the hate towards Nickelback. Both are 2 distinct entities with their own set of problems. One thing I would have never expected, was both concepts to unite.

But in a grand ole display of world class STUPIDITY, it has happened. Someone (besides a web domain with economic interests in ad revenue) has found out how to turn peoples irrational HATE for Nickelback, into a money generating enterprise. Actually no, lets leave the word “enterprise” for situations more deserving of the name and call this out for what it really is . . . . A scam.

This photo is great.


How this money is supposed to help keep Nickelback out of the UK indefinitely, I have no idea. Why people would care enough about a band they hate to donate money to keep it out of their nation baffles me. Manitoba sees plenty of performers that I do not like, but my method of reaction is far cheaper and less time consuming. I simply DON’T GO TO THE SHOW!

I have always gotten irritated by those who feel the need to #ban anything that bothers them, especially in pop culture.
A awhile ago I wrote about a campaign to try and keep Chris Brown out of (I think) Halifax because someone found it offensive for a character with such a past to be gracing the stage in their geography. How about, letting the FANS decide.
Starting petitions to have Nickelback not play in a given place is even worse. There is zero justification for the stance besides “I fucking HATE Nickelback!”.
Figuring out how to make money off of that stance is either stupid or brilliant. You decide.

Either way, this whole “fad” of hating on Nickelback has got to go already. They are not exactly awesome, yet they are not terrible.

When it comes to an artist like Marilyn Manson or Alice Cooper, the love/hate dichotomy is fitting to the persona. But not Nickelback.

Enough already.

Sherlock Vs. Elementary

Normally I don’t rate, compare or otherwise give any positive attention to matter of pop culture, but I will make an exception, because of my fondness of some of the recent adaptions of Sherlock Holmes.

First of all, the movies of recent (game of shadows, forgot the other) were enjoyable.

Most recently, I found myself getting into the BBC adaption of the series. Intelligent, witty and humorous, it hit all of the right notes for me. And if there is one show that knows how to leave its audience hanging after the finale, its Sherlock.

Which brings me to the US adaption, Elementary.

Though a friend recommended it over 6 months ago, I didn’t get to watch it for the first time until tonight. And I have to admit, I was not impressed.

Turning John Watson into Joan Watson was the first turn off (“awe, they’re gonna fall in love!”. Could you be any more cookie cutter and predictable?!).
But I decided to put that aside and give it a chance (maybe the plot and the characters will make it worth while).

Yeah . . . . No.

Despite being a “Sherlock Holmes” adaption, it did not FEEL like it was, “worthy”. The crime was, simple run of the mill crap that we have all seen 1000 times on CSI or Law and Order. The cast of characters around Sherlock was just, underwhelming in their performance.
And worst of all, was the character of Sherlock Holmes. A character that I have always associated with wit and intellect, displays neither.

To be honest, I was not surprised. Though I seen the US version of “Death at a Funeral” before the UK one, I still liked it more.

But thats it for that critique of pop culture, possibly the last.

After Armageddon – Thoughts On A New World

If the title of the post rings a bell of familiarity for you, then you may have seen the history channel “documentary” series of the same name. I believe there were 3 different parts, but I just recently seen the one surrounding a pandemic.
If you have not seen it, it follows a families journey out of suburban Las Angeles, after a pandemic’s massive death toll triggers the collapse of all the various grids and systems that keep modern society running.
The series follows the family as all of the modern necessities we take for granted, one by one, become unavailable.

First goes the information (cable television, the internet etc). Then electricity. And as these dominoes fall, so does refrigeration, logistics and sanitation. Meaning grocers, supermarkets and restaurants stop getting deliveries. On top of that, the water stops flowing (as does the sewage and trash pickup). Once things get this bad,  people will become desperate and nasty.

But this, we already knew. The examples set by Katrina and post blackout NYC back in the day, show just how riled that society can get, so quickly.

What was most interesting to me, was not the show (though it does make you think). It was more, in the comments.

The show is on youtube, broken up into 9 different parts. On the last part (the last 10 minutes of the show), the commenter’s were describing how they envisioned the post-collapse society will be. While the books of the modern era will still be around, they figure that the mechanisms that drove our previous society, will not ever return.
A good part of the reason for this, is the deterioration of infrastructure.

But many commenter’s seem to think its a bit oxymoronic to have the educational tools available, yet assume that industrial start up will be impossible.

One thing I don’t think they are factoring in, is human population numbers POST collapse.
A virus that kills over 50% of the population of any nation, will cripple any critical services that require any amount of continuous human intervention.
Which is, EVERY single pillar of modern life. The food system, water distribution, telecommunications, electricity. We see only the end result, but not the army of people that keeps it all running smoothly.

So once much of the death occurs on account to the pandemic, and the subsequent societal breakdowns, your left with a very limited population, with the priority of survival.

In the first while after the die off, things will be quite a mess. I think that those in smaller communities far removed from large urban centers will be better off then those close to the cities. For the simple reason that, as the resources in the cities dry up (which will not take long with a panicked populace), even otherwise “good” people may be forced to do bad things. Not to mention the criminal element that already exists, will take over.
Some will loot what is still left in the cities, no matter who it is in the hands of. And others will move out, and start going after what is close to the cities.

Which means that the show was right about one thing. No matter the post apocalyptic situation, a city of any size is a good place to be far away from, when TSHTF (“The Shit Hits The Fan”. Doomer speech).

For a few years (im guessing), there will be upheaval, as those who remain settle into their new situations. While some will go the mad max route and embrace the anarchy, others yet will form new communities. With ones survival now completely dependent on ones own skills, people will band together for a common good.

Lets say that it takes those who are left, around 5 to 10 years, to reform and build up various sized communes around the world. Each would be different, because each would be reflective of the location (a community here  in Canada, would be different then one in say Russia, China or even the US). There will even be variance within the nations, depending on things like climate.
But I will give it around a decade for these communities to form, and develop good enough food production skills to sustain its current members, and offspring.

So, 20 years seems about enough to develop small, organized settlements and communes. And we will say another 20 years or so, before there is enough children, to possibly restart the electronic civilization that we enjoy today. As the youtube people say, the books will be here, so they can can still be educated in the working of the equipment left behind.

While that is true, before one can  even consider  a reboot of the civilization of old, they have to first repair the infrastructure that is in place. Infrastructure that has been siting in decay for a good 30 or 40 years.

Some good examples of infrastructure decay, can be seen in the past manufacturing power houses in the United States. Detroit, Flint, Cleavland and other such cities and towns. Take these photos of Detroit.






I cite Detroit as an example, because it seems to me that the time frame is more or less aligned with the time frame of this piece. Detroit had its peak in around the early  50s and started its decline around the late 50s and early 60s, which means that much of the facilities have been empty and decaying for 40/50/60 years.

But not only have they been decaying just due to exposure to the elements, they have also been scavenged and vandalized. A recent segment on the TV news magazine series “Vice” showed us how some are making ends meat in Detroit, by stripping, scavenging and selling for scrap, materials out of abandoned factories, schools, hospitals, homes, apartment complexes and other infrastructure in the cities.

In a situation of mass human population decline, I think that one could expect something similar, on a massive world wide scale.

Not only will the buildings and other infrastructure have decades of damage due to exposure to the elements, but there is also the matter of scavengers taking whatever they can find an alternate use for. One of the useful materials may be copper, and other metals. In which case, every town and city has a huge amount of the stuff, in the form or wiring and pipes, among other things.
So not only will you have a lot of repairs due to neglect, but also you have to deal with systems that have been stripped, possibly (probably) on a massive scale.

And speaking of neglect, time and regular weather is not always the big culprit. Detroit has a cold and harsh winter climate, but it does not strike me as a place that would have a lot of VERY severe weather. Like hurricanes or tornadoes. Or even earth oriented situations like earthquakes.

First, one has to look at the power grid. Even what has not been stripped, or worn by the elements, is susceptible to big weather events. Think of the repairs required after localized storms. Think of how much time it took to get the east coast fully online after Sandy, or how long it took the gulf coast to come back after Katrina.

Now imagine all these major and minor weather events occurring as they always have (and always will), but without anyone to repair the infrastructure. And I am not just talking of downed power lines (though that is a massive problem in itself). Think of, places like New Orleans staying under water, permanently. Think of all the critical and fragile underground infrastructure of huge coastal cities like New York, being permanently engulfed in salt water.

This is not even  considering the condition of the oil refineries, power plants, factories and other staples that keep our modern society moving. And its also not considering the question of where one would get the materials in order to even attempt to repair and rebuild. If our critical infrastructure is as dependent on imported goods (and therefore, international trade) as most of us are, then that is a whole new problem.

While I started out initially with this piece to educate youtube commenter’s that there is more to the story then education, writing this has made me realize something. I have come to realize that we are likely living in the golden age of civilization. Possibly in the golden age of our species. But also, that the underpinnings of this golden age that we live in, are fragile.

When we collapse out of the golden age of the modern era, that may not be the end of mankind, but that will likely be the end of life as convenient as we are used to today.
Cars. Cell phones. Groceries in the supermarket, prepared and ready to be easily prepped and eaten. When it ends, its likely gone for good.

Makes you appreciate what you have even more, doesn’t it?