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August 1, 2014 - Comments Off on Slime – Ultra-Violence in a Modern Society

Slime – Ultra-Violence in a Modern Society


I am gross and perverted

I'm obsessed 'n deranged

I have existed for years, but very little had changed

I am the tool of the Government and industry too, for I am destined to rule and regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious, but you can't look away

I make you think I'm delicious, with the stuff that I say

I am the best you can get. Have you guessed me yet?

- Frank Zappa, I Am the Slime

I recently found myself held captive in an alternate universe on the planet SyFy, to partake in a rapturous, cinematic marvel entitled Sharknado 2: The Second One. I was sucked into this deluge of gore and social media pornography predominantly by the promise of an all-too-short and relentless escape from human existence, performed by the "less-than-stars" of television's past -- and starring thousands of poorly CGI-generated, starved sharks. I was also glued to the television to look beyond its blank cathode gaze to observe the rapturous power of social media on the massess, hoping to gain some valuable insight for our next podcast entitled "What Makes Content Go Viral?". Preposterous events like the Sharknado films will eventually be taught in Social Media university courses in the future, where desperate educators will attempt to decipher the marketing approach taken to garner 3.9 million viewers and more than a half a million related tweets from nearly 200,000 unique authors. The lack of the Sharknado effects team's quality and attention to detail might have also been part of my personal draw, but sadly contributes to the long-term destruction of the creative profession in general.

"Mindlessness", as a concept, draws us into alternate realities partly because we've been so desensitized to the reality of our own surroundings. Day-to-day reality is too safe, it's a place where most activity is experienced as expected, so we have to generate more complex and interesting hyper-realities. Escapism, along side the advent of virtual and increasingly visceral entertainment (shared with potentially millions through television and the internet), is too easy to blame. Everything that is outside of the experience of life can easily become a gateway to moronic pleasure and escapism. Consider the increasingly detached comedy and climate of our political system, the popularity of "reality" tv, or a television world overrun with mindless hordes in "The Walking Dead" - pure escapism is, and will continue to be, the novocaine for the pain of reality. Who wants to worry about the planet or the homeless? I'm too busy being ensconced in the escapism of enacting some real ultra-violence on a CGI shark - my weapon of choice is a running chainsaw...Pray tell, what's yours? I wonder if the popularity of the undead combined with our fascination with designers consistently revising, revisiting and regurgitating the past is a just a passing fad, or a dystopian vision of our eventual future?

A second installment of Sharnado is not a surprise. Utilizing images and concepts from the past is nothing new. Warhol did it, and Hollywood repeatedly does it. If it works the first time, why not try a second, third and fourth time rather than try to imagine something completely new? Originality in art and design has been reduced to a photocopy of a reproduction; exponentially malleable.

You will obey me while I lead you

And eat the garbage that I feed you

Until the day that we don't need you

Don't got for one will heed you

Your mind is totally controlled

It has been stuffed into my mold

And you will do as you are told

Until the rights to you are sold.

- Frank Zappa, I Am the Slime

Stupidity is a bi-product of malaise. An overly complex lifestyle, including the use of overly complex software and engaging in the overstimulation of Sharknado-type programming can further detach one from focus. Alternately, simplicity is a hard-earned bi-product of thought. Simplicity, when it's done well, calms the mind. Entertainment and our user interfaces and applications have become too complex - software solutions should perform one simple task and do it well. Focus is key. The age of overly complex design has ended for now, and is an offshoot to the lessons of the simplistic clean design movement first pursued by Microsoft's Windows Phone design. John Maeda's 10 Laws of Simplicity is worth a read, but if you don't have the time - have a look at his video from TED.

[ted id=172]

Films like Sharknado, while marvels of cinematic foolishness, are also catalysts for gathering humans with other humans. This might not be too bad of an idea. Collectively experiencing violence of unimaginable proportions has been interesting to us homo sapiens since the days of pitting gladiators with tigers. Technology via the motion picture is allowing us to enjoy exceedingly horrific images of unfathomable gore and destruction not seen since we gathered in front of a television to watch Mike Tyson eat portions of his opponents in boxing, or enjoy wrestlers like Jake Roberts throw live cobras at "Macho Man" Randy Savage. You see, we're all savages, being driven backwards to the caves by the masters of media and entertainment. Maybe if we're sitting around talking about how stupid it is, it might save us. Or not.

It's fantastic to imagine that our societal march into ignorance is being orchestrated by the advance of technology and the warlocks who command it...

I may be vile and pernicious

But you can't look away

I make you think I'm delicious

With the stuff that I say

I am the best you can get

Have you guessed me yet?

I am the slime oozin' out

From your TV set.

- Frank Zappa, I Am the Slime