Welcome again to We Have Always Lived in the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first, a little Seafood for Thought.
As 2016 barrels onward, it’s become clear that life has changed significantly for the worse. Nowhere is this more apparent than with modern phones, which are horribly, terribly boring.
I’m not saying my phone is boring. My phone is full of video games, books, music, an internet browser, and the other internet browser I only use for pornography. My phone is great. It’s your phone that’s terrible, and that’s because modern phones, particularly but not limited to the iPhone, are the least dramatic means of communication ever designed. Albert Einstein once said, “Any quote attributed to me is automatically assumed to be true and wise.” He also said, “The best way to see any trend is to compare a hit movie and the TV show based on it,” and that wise, true statement is exactly why I’m glad Al’s frozen brain has yet to be thawed out and shown MTV’s Scream.
The original Scream was a masterpiece that successfully navigated between the rocky, trendy shores of irony and the deeply uncool, treacherous waters of sincerity thanks to the careful melding of self-aware teenspeak with a good old-fashioned murder mystery, which I guess in this scenario is a strong nor’easter? I don’t know sailing or metaphors. The point is, MTV’s television adaptation, also called Scream, is like all of the Scream sequels–just a little bit shittier thanks to life’s most nefarious villain, the Inevitable Passage of Time. To wit, the original Scream updated 80’s slashers by adding cordless telephones, which meant that the soon-to-be-slashed could wander their absurdly mansion-esque houses while having creepy conversations with absurdly Manson-esque killers. In other words, they could be unnervingly alone, yet mobile and connected, a state that hit dead center for the demo at the time. But today’s youth have cell phones and Twitter and apps and everything else Andy Rooney died to escape, so when MTV (“MTV: Desperate For Relevance”) decided to make a television version of Scream, they had to incorporate all of this into the story. And it ruins the whole thing.
Sure, the show isn’t awful; people sure do get stabbed by a mysterious person in a mask, which is really all you can ask from the franchise at this point. But it’s filled with scene after scene of people getting supposedly creepy texts (in ALL CAPS! SPOOKY!) and “DM”-ing each other hate messages and getting calls through a “99-cent voice modulator app” that uses the magic of technology to turn the killer’s voice into that of a snarky asshole. (Note to cops in Lakewood: confiscate all phones, arrest anyone with the app. Bam. Case solved. You’re welcome.) And it’s all so boring! The show can gussy things up all it wants, have characters read their texts out loud like they’re tragically enfeebled or throw enough text boxes on the screen to gag Benedict Cumberbatch, it still doesn’t make silently tapping and rubbing a flat piece of glass to dial or answer a call any more interesting than full court press ESPN coverage of a paint drying contest.
This is the nadir of a century-long trend of designing less and less cinematically enjoyable means of communication. We need to go back–back past the brief, Matrix-y heyday of flip phones, past cordless and corded and rotary dials and even the thing with the separate ear cup to the real deal: – . .-.. . –. .-. .- .–. …. … and TELEGRAMS STOP WHICH ARE LITTLE PAPER EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTERS STOP and the absolute pinnacle of cinematic excitement, handing a letter written with a quill by candlelight to a young man on a fast horse. “Ride like the wind, Jonathan! for this missive sails on the crest of a grim tide which may utterly drown the masked murderer-infested town of Lakewood and all its fortunes upon this earth!”
Now that’s drama. Apple, you have my number.
Josh Kyu Saiewitz
From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this week.
Monday: No new content, but how about a haiku.
Most glorious of your name
Please stop eating sharks
Tuesday: No new content today, but if you’ll step right this way, our time-traveling Delorean will take you back to when we did have content. Or you can just check out the archives.
Wednesday: Today’s content was canceled due to rain. “But surely,” you say, “rain cannot be so bothersome to people living in an ocean environment?” Well, smart guy, I didn’t say what was raining down on us. Trust me, you don’t want to know.
Thursday: David brings us another edition of The Anticipated. But which movie will it be? No one knows… except for my Computotron 5000, of course! I am now asking Computotron: “QUERY: WHAT WILL THIS WEEK’S ANTICIPATED BE ABOUT?” Hang on a second while it thinks… Okay! Computotron says: “ANSWER: ABOUT 2,000 WORDS.” Damn you, Computotron! (Update: David reviews The Little Prince. Was that so hard, Computotron?)
Friday: There’s no new content today, because Computotron deleted it. You’ve screwed us for the last time, Computotron!
Saturday: Baturdays continues with Detective Comics#48, “The Mystery of the Secret Cavern.” This is either gonna be a story where Batman breaks up some kind of underground criminal enterprise, or a story where Batman introduces his faithful audience of young boys to all the wonders of the human vagina. I know which one I’m hoping for.
Catch of the Week:
Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.
Kyu: This week I’m recommending a pair of obscure music documentaries. Wait, don’t go! They’re super good. I’ve been watching some of the movies I hadn’t seen yet that are discussed on the podcast The Canon, and was impressed by two films I’d never heard of, The Decline of Western Civilization and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Both are really fascinating looks into particular music scenes in Los Angeles–punk in the late 70s and metal in the late 80s, and they’re both fascinating in different ways. The first is more laid back, with extended performances in a dive by bands so anti-establishment sometimes they refuse to sing into the microphone, and really gets at the anger the underlying punk’s nihilistic viewpoint. The second is the sort of scathing expose you can only get by recording and playing back people in their own stupid words, a very pointed (yet understated) critique of 1980s America through its rock bands, who are uniformly materialistic, status-obsessed, sexist, self-aggrandizing douchebags. I wouldn’t want to hang out with them, but I couldn’t stop watching this movie. Both films (and a third I haven’t seen yet) are by director Penelope Spheeris, whose own life story would make a pretty fascinating documentary–and probably a pretty depressing one, given the way her filmography has kept her pegged her whole career as (paradoxically) either a documentarian too grim to direct entertainment or a director of comedies (Wayne’s World, The Beverly Hillbillies) too silly to take seriously. At any rate, I’m glad to know about a female director I hadn’t heard of before, and to have seen these really interesting and worthwhile documentaries. Check ’em out!
Keskel: This week I recommend this media remix. (The phrases “campaign commercial,” “parody,” or “music video” all fail to adequately describe it.) Aside from being a grim warning of a possible November 9th, it’s also a grim warning of what all politics will become in the age of memes.
That’s it for this week. Visitors to the Kraken should always take care to mind their p’s and q’s; the cafeteria staff swear they don’t know which serving vat contains the poison pea soup, and Management reminds you that anyone cutting ahead in queues will be punished as harshly as your indemnity waivers allow.
(This tortured pun was brought to you by Computotron 5000. In response, this morning he was shut down forever. And then shot.)