Social Media Gremlins

PrintE-mail Written by Kris Griffin Monday, 14 November 2011

alt src=

I still see social media as just the logical evolution of the forum. It's just bigger, quicker and much easier to access. As natural progression goes it really is textbook stuff. But like the forums of old, social media is plagued by the same issues. Just why is it the obnoxious and the downright crazy seem to have voices louder than everyone else?

I still don't quite understand the motivation for someone to sit on their computer and spill hatred and vitriol in the direction of a stranger. It's pretty apparent these are the same people who, in real life, just wouldn't act like this. But online, in the anonymity of the digital world, they can be as big and as tough as they want to be. Just take a trip over to the Ain't It Cool forums and see what I mean. 99% of the posters are cool-as-beans and are members of the online community we all enjoy being part of. But it only takes one, just one person to wind others up, just one to post the most horrific, anti-social comment and it can affect the entire community. So for a social medium where the contact is far more direct like Twitter this abhorrent behaviour can be much worse. Most celebrities on Twitter have had the most appalling encounters with abusive members. Thankfully on Twitter we can block and report, but for some it's too much and they've just left. People like Chris Evans (@achrisevans), Richard Madeley (@richardm56), Tom Spilsbury (@TomSpilsbury) and the Doctor himself Colin Baker (@SawbonesHex) have all been victim of these personal attacks. One such incident had Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) fly the Twitter nest for a period of time. This just wouldn't happen in real life so why is it allowed to happen digitally?

alt src=

Colin Baker as Doctor Who urging social media users to behave themselves.

The majority of the time this is triggered by a simple innocent comment and because a person doesn't feel they have to face any consequence, they say what they want in reply. I've had it myself, several times in fact, the worst one was where I posted a positive comment about a young male singer who had done some great work for charity. I received several particularly unpleasant tweets from someone who had made it their life work to ensure everyone knew how much they hated this singer. There were blogs, Facebook pages and thousands of tweets. If their behaviour wasn't so horrendous you would have to commend them for their dedication to the cause.

I've also been very aware of the behaviour of a certain section of Doctor Who fans who will never allow anyone replace David Tennant in their hearts, or anyone else's heart for that matter. Sadly I've seen this crazy bunch in the flesh when they made David Tennant's life miserable as he appeared as Hamlet for the RSC (@thersc) in Stratford-upon-Avon. Whatever happened to live and let live? The anger and obsession these people display suggests that their problems don't simply lie just with their love of Mr Tennant. This is a social problem. People whose sole desire is to live a life of conflict, one day to the next like the Christmas episode of EastEnders. The blur between reality and fiction completely lost on them and the social lessons they therefore learn twisted and corrupt.

alt src=

David Tennant as Doctor Who scanning the room for crazy fans.

It's time social media users started to take responsibility for their own actions and, I'm afraid, I'd advocate the use of a licence to use online services. The licence would link to your user name and in the event of any anti-social behaviour there would be nowhere to hide. This would, I hope, clean the internet up in an instant. I realise it wouldn't be a popular suggestion and if I was being honest, I don't like it myself. Living in such a data rich world the value of these licences to unscrupulous merchants, and I'm referring to the not-so-obvious here like Tesco, Amazon and Virgin Media amongst others, would be high. But where do we have left to go when innocent members of our society are being abused? The 'right to privacy' brigade wouldn't like it either for the same reason they aren't keen on the National ID scheme and again I do have an element of sympathy. But how bad do we allow the problem to get? Just why is this any different to the bullying that goes on in our schools which we tell are children that we shouldn't tolerate? Companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google all have a part to play in this but I'm afraid the problem is bigger than all of us, and them, combined. History has taught us that people will always misbehave; but until there is a repercussion we are powerless to do anything apart from block, ignore and let them to move onto someone else or simply set a new account up.

This digital world we are creating is lined with gold and is opportunity-rich but like anything it is open to abuse. As our digital journey progresses we must try to protect it and ensure it is a safe place for the next generation to carry on the evolution. Doing this without smothering and stifling creativity will be a skill in itself but one we must embrace along with the opportunities digital affords us.

Star Wars Begins (Again)

I really think Star Wars (@starwars) has been done to death and the only thing that has interested me in recent years have been the rumours of a live action TV series, which has now apparently been canned. The endless graphic novels, animated TV series, novels, figures all smack a little of treading water. So it was with great surprise I discovered the work of film-maker Jamie Benning (@JamieSWB). He has finished his trilogy of documentary-commentaries on the original Star Wars trilogy. The final chapter concentrates on the first Star Wars film. Like his two previous documentaries, Building Empire (2006) and Returning to Jedi (2007), Star Wars Begins is an unofficial look at the creation of the classic movie and features deleted scenes, alternate takes and different angles, bloopers, original on set audio recordings and a huge amount of commentary from cast and crew, culled from every corner of the galaxy. So in essence it takes the very best Star Wars DVD extra commentary, multiplies it and lets you watch it for free on You Tube.

alt src=

The legendary Star Wars poster.

With careful editing, excellent use of alternative audio visual streams and informative subtitles I can honestly say I've learnt more about the Star Wars films than any other presentation. Jamie has taken footage and audio tracks from every source he can lay his hands on and knitted them all together in a rich Empire-busting tapestry, a labour of love that has taken nearly 4 years to complete. By his own admission Star Wars was the one he had to get absolutely right, “Whilst Building Empire and Returning To Jedi  only took about 8 months each to produce, Star Wars Begins took four years. Firstly I knew this was the most important one with the most potential impact. Secondly I needed to use everything I had learned on the other two projects to make this one really sing. I also had two young kids at this point and a very busy job as a TV editor so it was difficult finding time for my 'hobby'.”

When asked his favourite discovery Jamie enthused, “When Scott Weller of Star Wars Aficionado, an online magazine came forward with the last 20 seconds of the human Jabba scene. As far as we know it has never been broadcast anywhere else, and to this day Star Wars Begins is the only place that you can see the whole scene, complete as one piece. It's not even on the recent Blu-ray release.“

Jamie doesn't make any money from the project and has therefore received the silent nod of approval from Lucasfilm (@jointheforce), in other words they haven't shut him down! What he has managed to achieve is a huge amount of credibility for his work and the love and admiration from a global army of Star Wars films and let's be honest it's always a joy to hear Darth Vader speak with a West country accent.

alt src=

Darth Benning – the man behind Star Wars Begins.

For the technically minded amongst us Jamie used an Apple Power Mac G4 for Building Empire, Returning to Jedi and Star Wars Begins. He uses Final Cut Pro 5 and 7 and a number of utilities to facilitate creative needs.

But Jamie isn't stopping there. He is currently working on an Indiana Jones documentary-commentary called Raiding the Lost Ark which he hopes will be complete towards the end of 2011. “At the moment I'm waiting on interviews with Producer - Robert Watts, Sound Editor - Mark Mangini and Sculptor - Brian Muir. This time I am producing my own interview and commentary material. Partly out of interest and partly out of necessity. There just isn't as much material about Raiders as there is about Star Wars. I also wanted to turn things up a notch for this one.”

Beyond this he announced on Twitter just this week Back To The Future is in his sights. Great Scott! We'd better keep our eye on his YouTube page:

In Other News

New York Times best selling horror author and three-time Bram Stoker award−winner Robert R. McCammon (@MacCammon) has published nine of his titles in digital format with Open Road Media (@openroadmedia).

From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, McCammon, an Alabama native, contributed significantly to the re-emergence of the horror genre by crafting intense, character-driven narratives that blended elements of magical realism, science fiction, fantasy, and Southern Gothic literature. McCammon’s ambitious Swan Song tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which a girl with psychic abilities struggles to evade a mysterious force intent on destroying all remaining traces of beauty and hope. The novel is regarded as a horror classic in the same league as Stephen King’s The Stand and I actually prefer it to The Stand.

alt src=

Great books but shame about the covers. Must try harder!

The books are available now from most eBook retailers and the full collection includes The Wolf’s Hour, Mine, Blue World, Swan Song, Mystery Walk, Stinger, Gone South, Boy’s Life and Usher’s Passing. You can find an in-depth profile of Robert McCammon at the Open Road media website:

Three years after helping to achieve some of the most amazing imagery in cinema history with 2001: A Space Odyssey, special effects maestro Douglas Trumbull (@dhtrumbull) made an auspicious directorial début at age 29 with the environmentally themed science fiction classic Silent Running. The Masters of Cinema (@mastersofcinema) series is presenting a new Blu-ray special edition to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary. Whilst I appreciate the link that my column has to the release of a new Blu-ray is tenuous I cannot let this release pass me by.

alt src=

Any excuse to use this wonderful poster from Silent Running.

If you are unfamiliar with the film it is set in the distant future where plant life on our planet is extinct. Remaining specimens are cultivated in vast greenhouse-like domes orbiting in space. Bruce Dern stars as Freeman Lowell, dedicated botanist aboard the “Valley Forge”, awaiting the call to refoliate Earth. When an order comes to instead destroy the domes and return home, Lowell takes matters into his own hands, beginning a long and lonely voyage into the unknown.

With its remarkable special effects, especially the robot drones Huey, Dewey, and Louie, glorious score, memorable sound effects, a screenplay co-written by Michael Cimino and Steven Bochco and an impassioned central performance from Dern, Silent Running remains a uniquely contemplative and haunting adventure that continues to make hippies of young children, even today.

For the technically minded amongst you the following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:

"The film was transferred and graded in HD resolution from an interpositive 35mm source element made in 1996 and supplied by NBC/Universal, USA. Further restoration work was completed at Deluxe 142, London. Picture issues, such as dirt, light scratches, and debris as well as warped, damaged, or unstable frames were removed or improved upon using a combination of HD-DVNR, Phoenix, and MTI systems."

alt src=

Silent Running on Blu-ray.

The release will appear in all good entertainment retailers and is available in a limited edition steel-book. The extras include:

• Exclusively restored beautiful high-definition 1080p transfer.

• Full-length commentary by director Trumbull and actor Bruce Dern.

• Isolated music and effects track.

• Optional English SDH subtitles on the feature.

The Making of Silent Running, a 1972 on-set documentary.

• Two video pieces with Douglas Trumbull.

• A Conversation with Bruce Dern, a discussion with the actor.

• Original theatrical trailer.

• A lavish 48-page full-colour booklet featuring rare photographs and artwork from Trumbull’s personal collection, and recollections of the film’s cinematographer, special designs coordinator, and composer.

And finally I'd like to point you the way of #scifichat (@scifichat) on Twitter. A brilliant Twitter chat group, anchored by David A. Rozansky (@DavidRozansky). The group meets every Friday, 2-4pm ET and have science fiction discussions and occasional guest authors. There is a tendency towards science fiction literature but the discussions are active, fun and entertaining. A great use of social media and a fabulous way of drawing like minded people together. If you are unsure how to use hashtags on Twitter or don't know how to access Twitter chats follow this link and all will be revealed:

Until next time.



This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kris Griffin finds himself in the realm of Kidderminster, UK. He writes, shoots and scores (on occasion). He loves Doctor Who, his Kindle, intelligent movies, Twitter, and Richard Burton. He can normally be found dancing the night away, with The Mavericks no less, or working the day job that pays the bills.

scroll back to top

Other articles in Digital Jazz - by Kris Griffin

The Hitchhiker's App To Starburst 14 October 2011

Digital Fiction and Leicester Zombies 14 September 2011

Reverse The Polarity Of The eBook Flow 14 August 2011

Voices 14 July 2011

Digital WHO 14 June 2011

Starbursting Social Media 09 May 2011

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!