Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, December 26, 2020

Movie posters for current release I Am Legend and upcoming flick Cloverfield are plastered all over the Big Apple, and in both cases, the dominating visuals consist of recognizable New York City landmarks (i.e., the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge) reduced to ruins.

With this in mind, the question is asked: Why is NYC a frequent target for Hollywood-conjured destruction?

The basic answer is that the City is so big and prominent that it serves as a “global shorthand” for conveying apocalyptic impact:

James Sanders, the author of “Celluloid Skyline,” about the history of New York in movies, ascribed the resonance of disaster scenes involving New York to the prospects for special-effects shock. “What would be the point of showing a demolished suburban street? You’d get the point but it just wouldn’t have the punch. You take the most familiar, iconic symbol of civic society in the world — a big city, and for Americans, that’s New York — and that’s where disaster is going to be the most powerful.” He added that New York serves as a yardstick — what architects would call a scale — that illustrates the magnitude for a disaster.

In other words, what would be the point of showing an already flattened-out landscape being destructively flattened? The subtext being that it’s already a wasteland — which might sound like an urban-elitist attitude, and yet that’s how viewers/readers around the world interpret the landscape in this context, by reduction if nothing else. When big buildings fall down, it’s more resonate than if, say, a strip mall or farmhouse gets wasted.

Then again, maybe that’s why those who don’t dwell within urban canyons enjoy watching the big-screen mayhem:

Former Mayor Edward I. Koch, who keeps himself busy by, among other things, reviewing movies for several local newspapers in Manhattan, attributed the persistence of the destruction theme to “edifice envy.”

“They want to see our skyscrapers destroyed because they are envious of them,” Mr. Koch said in a phone interview. Asked whom he was referring to, he said, “‘They’ is the rest of the country.”

But fair’s fair: It’s certainly possible to get across massive disaster on a suburban/exurban scale. Witness this current trailer for the “BlackSite: Area 51″ videogame:

Is this a divide amongst visual mediums: Movies are better at vertical, videogames at linear/horizontal? Either way, plenty of mayhem to go around.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/26/2007 09:56:05 PM
Category: Movies, New Yorkin', Videogames
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Worthy of note: Five key demographic features about the current online social-networking landscape.

This research is courtesy of Pipl, a specialized search engine claiming to focus on the “deep web” for better targeting of person-search queries. Part of that deep-dive involves datamining social networking profiles from Bebo, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Xanga, and Hi5. Hence the resultant research results.

One more note: It’s not crystal clear just when this was all compiled, which is crucial for context. It’s not even mentioned in the methodology. But if you look really, really closely at the graphs, you can discern a “December 2007″ timestamp; and a little digging confirms a November-December 2007 range.

So, without further ado, the five facts:

1. The Women Are Younger, The Men Are Older - The younger demographic is female-dominant while the older demographic is mostly male.

2. Bebo and Xanga Have the Youngest Crowd - Those two sites are heaviest on teens and young adults, with a marked drop-off in users 30 and older. The other four sites are also dominated by youngsters, but there’s a bit more balance.

3. MySpace Is Still the Largest, By Far - Not surprising, with 184.1 million active users. Supplementing that is an 81.5 percent year-over-year growth rate, also tops.

4. European, Asian and South American Members Are Getting Younger - In contrast to the U.S. user bases, which are actually trending slightly older.

5. More Women On MySpace, More Men On Hi5 - This is actually the current trending: More females are bolstering the ranks of MySpace, while Hi5’s growth consists of mostly males.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/26/2007 05:46:32 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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It’s a pretty obvious joke, to post about Pierre Bayard’s “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” while not having read it, nor having any intention of reading it.

But I’m gonna do it anyway.

Partly because this excerpt from the book’s introduction saves me from picking it up. And I’ll go one step further and boil down the intro to this most pertinent portion:

There is a tacit understanding in our culture that one must read a book in order to talk about it with any precision. In my experience, however, it’s totally possible to carry on an engaging conversation about a book you haven’t read — including, and perhaps especially, with someone else who hasn’t read it either. Moreover, as I will argue, it is sometimes easier to do justice to a book if you haven’t read it in its entirety — or even opened it. Throughout this book, I will insist on the risks of reading — so frequently underestimated — for anyone who intends to talk about books, and even more so for those who plan to review them.

A better understanding of a work through non-reading. I wish I could spurn this advice, except that I’m as pressured as the next average reader — always full of the best intentions, but rarely with the energy or time resources to actually crack open the desired book.

So I sometimes resort to faking it. I probably do it far more often with movies, although I readily admit to not having actually caught the flick — the preponderance of preview trailers and buzz make it a lot easier to fill in the blanks for silver screen offerings. And more to the point, there’s less stigma in not having taken the time to gawk at a moving-picture presentation than to have neglected the printed word; the former is more passive, even with serious flicks, while the latter is expected to demand more mental energy.

All that said, I’ve actually got my eye on a couple of tomes to digest over the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep the faking-it advice in reserve for future application.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/26/2007 08:46:57 AM
Category: Creative, Publishing
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