Tag: television

On spoilers

Everyone’s going on about spoilers at the moment, and I feel a little strongly about them (relatively, I mean I don’t consider it an issue of social justice or anything). So I’d just like to reiterate my position: you only get one chance to experience a story without knowing what’s going to happen. It doesn’t matter if it was transmitted in another country last night, published two decades ago, filmed in technicolor in ’39 or chiselled into a tablet by Mesopotamians – not knowing is a one-time thing, and if you’d like to experience it that way then you should get the chance.

Back in the days when television piracy travelled at the speed of international airmail we communicated via mailing lists and newsgroups, and spoiler space was a staple and everyone used it. The onus was on the watchers to avoid spoiling the people yet to watch. Perhaps this was because the only people in danger of being spoiled were fans talking to other fans in other countries. You could easily opt out of such discussions by leaving a forum for a while, but those other fans wanted to keep you around, so they were courteous and took precautions.

I’m not sure when that responsibility shifted to the person who is “lagging behind”. Now social media is ubiquitous, and the things being spoiled are part of wider popular culture, not just fannish obsession. But even in this age of torrents being available hours after initial broadcast and wide access social media, it’s not hard to ask if someone has read or watched something before discussing it, or use hashtags to enable filtering, or to put discussions in private Facebook groups, or if that’s too much, in comments with a warning in the status update where they can be easily skipped.

Because if you’ve seen it, it’s not about you. It’s about the people who still have that one chance to see, hear or read it without knowing what’s going to happen. Let’s let people have that wherever possible, yeah?

Lab Coat Season

While media misrepresentation of science was a big part of , it was way back in my first show, Listen to the Man in the Lab Coat where I tackled that old idea that putting someone in a lab coat makes them an instant authority figure in advertising. Recently, however, ads have taken a different slant. It was looking good for a while – remember the ad in which the German car engineers erotically shaped a model car out of clay? It seemed that science was allowed to be sexy – albeit an acceptably nerdy form of sexy (the male engineer remained awkward throughout, and the female engineer wasn’t allowed any kind of ownership of her sexy behaviour). But those days are over; advertisers have declared open season on lab coats in the latest ad for Coke’s failed energy drink, Mother.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a startling piece of advertising, and I’m sad the Gruen Transfer finished before they could tackle it. A spokesman for Mother tells viewers the company (identified as Mother, not Coca-Cola) listened to the feedback and have made an all-new version of the drink which tastes “nothing like the old one”. Then, proclaiming that “here at Mother, we don’t do things by halves”, he unleashes a team of crack troopers to “track down the people responsible” for the original Mother. They rappel down a building and burst through the windows into a laboratory, where they chase down and, the blows hidden offscreen behind benches, brutally pummel – perhaps even kill – a group of helpless scientists. (All men, too; presumably showing a gender bias in the sciences is the lesser of two evils when it comes to depicting violence against women, though of course none of the special ops squad are women either.)

What makes this ad particularly odd is that the original Mother campaign didn’t involve scientists at all, but instead attempted through the use of CGI animals to suggest that it was derived from all natural ingredients. The name Mother was presumably chosen to tie in with this idea of a “hard core” mother nature.

So why blame the hapless scientists? Why recreate the age-old, tired and – especially at this extreme – borderline offensive “jocks beating up nerds” scenario? Surely if a product was brought to market that consumers didn’t like, it’s the market research department who should be hunted down? But perhaps I’m asking a bit much for marketeers to make an ad in which their own are beaten, perhaps to death.

Not the Nobel Prize!

It’s been a while, I know; the web site is undergoing a redesign behind the scenes, which is why things have been a bit quiet there. But I had to let you know about an upcoming gig at the Melbourne Museum for Science Week!

Yes, science week is only a week away, and on Friday, August 24, the Museum celebrates in uniquely Melbourne style with “Not the Nobel Prize”. Four scientists will present their theories – but only two of them are presenting real science! A panel of comedians, consisting of Tommy Dean, Claire Hooper, Sue-Ann Post and yours truly, will have to figure out which is which.

Personally, I think I have an unfair advantage…

Tickets are $12/$10, and the show kicks off at 7pm. You need to book, and the number to call is 13 11 02. There’s an unconfirmed second show at 9pm on the same evening, which likely will depend on numbers.

For more info, check out the Museum’s web site or head to the Comedy Festival site’s gig guide.

And don’t forget, there are still a few more weeks of the Channel 31 programming featuring me! You can catch Planet Nerd on Thursdays at 10pm, and TheatreGames LIVE on Fridays at 10pm.

Until next week, keep your Ockham’s razor nice and sharp!

Planet Nerd

This is a heads up to those of you in Melbourne that this Thursday, June 7, is the premiere of Planet Nerd, a new variety show hosted by Dan Walmsley covering everything geeky, nerdy and interesting – and featuring me! It’s true – geek is chic, nerd is the new cool, and you can dive right in to a whole geeky universe of fun with Planet Nerd! The first episode features one man’s tale of anguish over the iPhone, the Weekly Whedon with Simon Barber, and the real deal with roleplaying conventions in a documentary presented by yours truly, Ben McKenzie, kickin’ it live on location.

Planet Nerd screens at 10pm on Thursdays from June 7 to August 30 on Channel 31 in Melbourne. If you’re not in Melbourne, you can still get a taste by hitting the Planet Nerd web site at http://planetnerd.tv and checking out some of the clips we’ve posted on the Interweb.

Hope you all had a lovely World Environment Day on Tuesday – I spent mine at CERES 25th birthday!