Category Archives: Pop Culture

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch & Detroit: Become Human – Why interactive story telling sucks

I can’t help it but to compare the new episode/Christmas edition special/movie of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch to Detroit: Become Human. They are of different platform but very similar. Both are based on making decision and different path of the story will play out.

There are a bunch of good things about both of them. I enjoyed both of them very much. Detroit was great for going back and fort trying to get all the different outcome. While Black Mirror *spoiler alert* surprised me with the interactivity with the character, it was a surreal experience.

But, both titles left me confused at the end. To simply put it in words, not all of the alternative endings make sense and some even contradictory to what the characters are there for.

I think there’ll be lot’s of spoilers going forwards, so this is going to be the big warning.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Let’s start with Conor, the character in Become Human. He’s a detective android and although his “destiny” (air quoted because it’s super limited, I’ll explain later) options are simple, to be or not to be a deviant, he didn’t have much choice but to follow order and hunt all the deviants down. He had choices for moral decisions, like if he would kill the androids or let them go etc. But those doesn’t decide what he is, but merely a game mechanic, not a story telling one. Because in the end, you can choose to let every deviants go and still turn into a psycho android killer in the end.

One of the Conor’s ending is that CyberLife planned this whole chaos, making them the ultimate evil. It sounds like a great arch, but none of the other endings or story progression actually support this. It’s a totally unrelated destiny. Even when Conor succeeded in eliminating the deviants, CyberLife simply thanks him and didn’t mention anything about their other bloody plan to push him into leading the deviants. Because I’d love to see an option to be a pretend deviant from the beginning, but there’s no such option.

And that leads me to Bandersnatch. One of the ending is that Stefan was in a studio but he didn’t know it, but everyone knows about it except him. The other kinda a branch from that is that he is a subject of an experiment. The movie make it very vague that it might all be just a dream. But it was also an ending nevertheless. And the same problem with Detroit that the lack of singular truth makes the story telling inconsistent and dodgy.

Arguably, the creators meant to have a “canon” out of all those story branches. The “real” ending if you may. And that strikes me as lazy? I think. It can not be an interactive story telling, or players decide the actions if the destiny is so fixed and limited. In all of the characters in both titles, everyone have a set limit of endings. The decision you make throughout the story/game will lead you to one of these said endings. Now the limitation is that you could arguably do everything in random and you end up in one of the ending and it won’t make any sense.

The idea of a 100% accurate prediction came out again last night while I was debating nihilism with some friends. “Well, it’s not a prediction if it’s going to be 100% accurate” said one of them, which was funny. Anyway, I argued that if we have all the variables of the universe, we can “predict” everything in the future. “prophesy” maybe?. So, the idea of a making decisions in games like Detroit or Bandersnatch is that it’s not a decision making at all. It’s a set of predestinated choices. In real life, we have a much wider freedom of decision. We can walk off a cliff, or say some million different other things and see what the universe respond. And this makes me think of The Sims. It’s more interactive than Detroit or Bandersnatch. There’s no set “endings” per se, there’s no ending at all other than death. But what you do will influence the variables in the world. Although limited, it’s a world of freedom. I guess most sandbox games like Minecraft or Kerbal Space Program would fall into this category.

Ultimately if it’s about telling a story, there has to be a story, the truth. The aesthetic of how the story is delivered would be of much more importance than having the audience choosing their own ending. After all, I walk into a cinema to listen to a story not making one, else I’ll just walk into a bar.

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Call me by your name – exploring myself

Hmmm… Hmm.. Peaches..

I chuckled as I thought of the word, the fruit that I’ve never tasted, the experience that I’ll never have. Yet, I chuckled, not of the absurdity, but of envy.

I don’t envy the pain. But I envy you the pain.

Has it started out of the curiosity? started with the movie, the intentions were so subtle, especially of Oliver’s. The famous, everyone loved, Oliver. What did he want. Why did he want it when he could have everything. But not the love of another man?

Anger was what I felt after the movie. More than curiosity. I was angry with Elio. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Would Elio’s pain worse by not knowing that Oliver would love him back? Would hating Oliver been better than to have lost him after the intense love affair?

Is it better to speak or to die?

I hated Oliver for being such a cold hearted bastard. What do you want? What do you want from Elio? Does Oliver really love him that much? Can’t you leave everything behind and be with Elio? Why would you lift him so high only to crush him to the ground? Maybe he chose slower death, for speaking would also mean death.

I moved to the book as soon as I finished the movie. I wanted answer to Oliver’s coldness. There has to be more than fear of people finding out. For love should be stronger than fear.

On my bed in the mid South Australian winter, it was ten degrees Celsius out but it was cold enough to be snugged up under my warm blanket in the middle of the day. Page by page I got hooked into Elio’s simple, plain, honest narrative. As he ushered me to his version of curiosity, I forgot about Oliver for a while and wonder around my own teenage memories or anytime I’ve felt attraction to someone. Where did it start, why did I like them.

It was late afternoon when I took a break. Oliver was still a stranger, Elio had grown into hate loving him. He hated his coldness, his “later!s”. He hated that he desired him while unsure why.

The next few days for me was hell. I was drowning in this melancholic, saudade. I searched myself for answers. Why did I feel this way? Why do I feel this way? What am I feeling? The longing for someone I desire who desires me back? I thought of people around me, the beautiful people I desire. Is any of them my Oliver?

As I lived through my days hiding this piece of emotion I was carrying, Sufjan Stevens songs fed my sorrow. His simple voice, so simple and beautiful. His was the music that I would play in the background when I read the book. His was what I listened when I write this piece of me down.

I yearned for free time to continue Elio’s story, which I don’t usually do with books. I read when I have absolutely nothing else to do. But I was willing to give up my dancing time and tv time to read this piece of work.

Continued on Elio’s struggle in acting on his desire, the movie was really close with the book, to the exact conversations they had. The one when Elio vaguely confessed his desire and Oliver weirdly understood. The one when Oliver touched Elio’s lips and kissed him. The exchange of notes and the midnight meeting.

What Oliver said after the first time they kissed was the only obvious clue for me on the struggle that Oliver was having. That brought me back to being curious about Oliver. Was he afraid of people finding out. Was he ashamed of what he desired. But he had kissed him. That was something to be ashamed of.

So far we’ve behaved. We’ve been good. Neither of us has done anything to feel ashamed of.

On the note, what does that even mean, grow up? Grow up and understand the world that they were in? Grow up because love between two men is wrong? Grow up and do what you wish. Talk to me if you want it. Touch me when you desire it.

Grow up, meet me at midnight

I loved that one detail in the book after they had made love for the first time. Elio was physically uncomfortable and emotionally disgusted by what they had done. Oliver was showering Elio with great love and caring while Elio was unsure if he would still desire him. Oliver was scared. Maybe scared of both being found having sex with another man and scared that Elio didn’t love him as much as he did. He went to the town later after breakfast and was so happy that Elio came to see him and shown that he didn’t hate him. And that was when I fell in love with Oliver.

From that moment on, I longed to read more about Oliver. Say something, Oliver. I wanted to know him more. I loved that scene when Elio found Oliver on the rock next to the sea. I loved Oliver’s relationship with Vimini. I loved it when Vimini was around talking about Oliver. I loved it when Oliver ate the peach.

It struck me that all I wanted was for someone to love me back.

One thing I didn’t like about this book or movie was that there was no much detail around the friendship between the two. There were summaries. Oliver loved Elio for his abundant knowledge of music and literature. While Elio seemed to have attracted to his coldness, fame and physique. There were many unwritten conversations between them on their routine next to the pool, swimming or jogging. Oliver was also a very intelligent man. But the lack of details made the story less plausible. Do they really love each other that much?

Even when they were in Rome, their relationship was not more than physical. However, I loved Elio’s interaction with other people in Rome. There were moments where Oliver was not in his mind. And just like that Elio was alone in a train station.

And that brings me to Elio’s conversation with his father. That was when I weeped on a Thursday night cozy in my couch. Out of the whole book, this was what touched me the most. I understood why I was weeping. I wasn’t sad because Elio lost the love of his live. It wasn’t because I felt lonely either. I weeped for I wished I’ve had someone like Elio’s father who would say those words to me. Words full of understanding, compassion and love. For he was not there to judge Elio, but to be there when he needs him. I was longing for someone to know my struggle in its purest honest form, without saying a single word.

Just remember: I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not with me that you’ll want to speak about these things. But feel something you did.

Feeling something, emotion, even the terrible ones, is what make life feels alive. For feeling pain is better than feeling nothing at all. I enjoyed this week as I was filled with this unusual emotion. I am looking forward to finding more books like this. Something that make me wanna throw everything else away and be with the it. Or maybe someone.


I can’t touch you

I’m so out of place right now that I decided to write a song about it.

I don’t know how you’re feeling

but this is what I think

that you are so far away from me

but yet you are so near

 

I don’t know what you’re doing

but I’m sure it’s not for me

there is a glass wall between you and me

 

I just can’t touch you

There is no distance

but this wall is blocking everything I love from me

and I swear I tried and the world will not hear me

I can only watch you from this near

I can’t touch you

 

A glass cage in the dungeon sealed and so strong

Within my doomed faith I sit in silent

silent is what I seek for the rage within me

roars breaking everything but the glass between you and me

 

I will hold you, lift you, bury you in me

and I try to break free as if that I could

all my strength are silenced by your mystery

and I want to hold you free


About Time – Extending the ability

If I have the ability to travel back in time like the one that Tim has in the movie “About Time”, I will use it to the best possible way ever and here are my top 5 ways.

The time travelling ability works this way. The ability user go to a dark place, clench both his hands tightly, close his eyes and start to think of a moment in life you want to go back to. A very nifty ability I should say. But, let’s elaborate a little bit more and I’m going to make it into a bullet points.

  • He can only travel back in time, not to the future.
  • He can only travel to the moments that he’s been through. i.e. only events that happen in his own life. Not somebody else’s.
  • He can travel back to the original time at will.
  • There is no side effects discussed.
  • However, event of the futures will changes and everything will become different if something significant (for example involving another person) changes in the past that he traveled to.
  • He can bring another person along by holding their hands while time travelling.
  • When he arrived at the past, his body and stuffs he wear will turn into the body of that time of the past and the things that he were wearing during that time.
  • His memory doesn’t seems to change at all despite the changes of the timeline. This suggest that he has his own timeline. But he doesn’t seems to get older than the normal person even though he actually lived far more longer than anybody else.

Here comes the top 5 ways I will use it.

#5 Free entertainments / intangible services

Most entertainments involved having a special moment or experiences. Things like reading a book or watching a movie doesn’t really leave you with a tangible object to own. Instead, everything you’ve seen or experienced goes to your memory. Since memory doesn’t fade in time travelling, I can always pay for something, experience it, go back to the time before I pay for anything and go do something else. The money will not be spent, but you’ve actually did something fun.

#4 Immortality

So, I’m not so sure if there is any limit of going back in time. But let’s assume that there is no limit. You can go back in time for as many times as you want to. And, here is the plan, I live up to probably 30 years old, and from that time onward, I will stay in the past. I can go back 5 years or 10 years back and continue my life as it was. Live through the years until I’m back to the time where I traveled back in time, and then, I traveled back another 10 years again. Repeats until infinity. But I just need to make sure that I don’t die accidentally.

#3 Become rich

Oh my, where do I start. With time travelling, you can win lotteries easily. The easiest way to become rich of course. But there are many other ways to become rich. I will choose the hard way. Why not? I am immortal. Time is not a problem for me. I will start a business, start it small, see how it run, and travel back in time now and then to fix the catastrophes that might happen. It’s easy. But at the end, I should probably just go with the lottery.

#2 Become a mad scientist

Human are very limited in time. We often only have just enough time to master one area of the vast collection of knowledge. But without the time constraint, I can always go back in time, learn something new and experiment with it. This will make me a rising star in a night. Now that come to my mind, this is quite similar to travelling into the future. I can bring back all the knowledge from the future, apply it in the past, and let the wheel roll again and the future is a lot more advanced than the original future. This way, I can live to see the space travelling. And who knows what that comes after that.

#1 Have many different lives

Things normally changes drastically once something in the past changes. For example, your wife might ended up marrying somebody else, or your kids turned out to be brown headed instead of blonde. But, that’s alright for me. In one life, I can marry Jane. Travel back in time and I will marry Jackie. And maybe next life I will marry Casandra. In addition to that, I can become anything. I can become a musician in one, a painter in another, or astronaut. But that sounds really dangerous. I should probably stick to the safe sides.

So Tell me, what will you do if you can travel back in time at will?


Everything is a time bomb

Dear Jesse.

I remember the first time I met you on the train to Vienna. I loved your smile, your hair, the way you sit, the way you talk. I loved every conversations that we had. Every topic was terrific and fresh.

I remember the first time we kissed. I loved the way your lips hurt mine. I loved the way your hands held mine. The way you walked so fast that I have to run to catch you up. I used to love every little thing you did.

I loved the first time we met again after 9 years of no contact. I loved that you’ve written a book about me. I loved that I’m in a book that you wrote. I loved to sing to you, and loved your expression when you were listening to the song that I wrote about you. I loved it when I was so free to do anything in front of you.

But I’ve come to the conclusion that I love myself more than everything. I missed the time when I don’t love anything. I missed the time when I don’t have you. I missed the time when I don’t hate you. I missed everything that I could have done without you by my side.

And It has finally come to the time when I hate every single thing that you do. Your laughter, you bullshit, your book, your crooked smile. I hate the way you touch me. I hate the way you look at me. I hate it when you keep talking about things that I’m not interested in at all. I hate the fact that I need to see you everyday. This is the end. I hate you.

Sincerely,

Celine

The letter above is what I think Celine should have written at the end of Before Midnight (2013).


The caveman’s bedtime story

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived with her parents and brothers in a cave. She was brave and strong, and also filled with curiosity. One day she journeyed far away from her cave following the trail of a wild beautiful animal that she’s never seen before. Her curiosity is so blinding that she’s forgotten about the time. When she look up upon the sky, she saw the sun had almost disappeared into the western sky, so she decided to ran back to her cave. But before she know it, the sun had completely disappeared and there was no moon that night, darkness is all there were. She can’t find her way home, but she notice something else that is so beautiful, the sky, the clear night sky full of stars. So beautiful that she thought she might just lay there and sleep through the night despite the cold that is filling her world. And suddenly, a wild dinosaur appeared and it attacked the strong brave girl. And she died.

And everybody died.

The story above is inspired by the movie “The Croods”


Unconventional School

Let’s put it the simplest way possible, if I have a huge house and also earning millions of dollar every month without the need to work my ass off, I will build a school.

I hated school. It’s the most boring place in the world, yet that is the most conventional way to get educated. And those who enjoys school the most are normally those that doesn’t really study much.

And also, why should we pay to get educated? The educated people is beneficial to the government and therefore, the students should get paid instead. Just like a company that hires people and also train them if needed, we can build a school where we pay them to study.

How do we earn money? well asked.

But let’s get back to the conventional education for a little bit more. We normally get a lot of lecturers and then exercises, probably. But mostly teachers spending hours talking in front of the class and then the students do something as an exercises or probably take some written tests. It is a normally correct way. I mean, we can do better. How much of those knowledge are actually applied in real life?

And I believe some might have a very practical ways of running their school, like mostly doing while learning. Creating stuffs on the fly. And where does these products end up in?

Now get back to the business model and how we can benefit from this as a company? We can always sell whatever the students make. Whether it’s a handcraft, writing, comics, services or business analytic, we can always profit from those. And the profits will always reach back to the students.

Well, this is a very brief and probably a very stupid idea. But I’m a dreamer. And I’m not the only one.