“Batman” appears in England, clown sightings, VR+current tech trends & advertising ethics

2010-2012: Discussion in college (NYC) that the times make people crave a certain kind of movies… like, all the superhero movies could stem out of a need for “escape” from daily life – a hope for something good to come.

2015: VR movie exhibits in New York, “VR” glasses in cardboard appear in Sweden…

2016: VR painting and VR games now emerge, and—while movies are good and all (Marvel had a big deal with Netflix and released a bunch of new series)—people start to create characters in daily life, like: clowns… and Batman – who take it to the (REAL) streets. So, people crave, perhaps, something more than film as their escape now because with time, digitalization has really stepped up as well! Just watch this clip right here. Someone dressed as Batman is currently out “protecting” people against wild clowns in England (Villasor, 2016). It’s supposed to be funny too, but it’s kind of too much for me right now. I just watched clips from someone playing the Batman Arkham VR game for playstation last night – from the look of it, the digital graphics work is quite highly detailed. With both your body and eyes fully immersed… it’s a long step forward from the days of Nintendo Wii (GameRiot, 2016). I’ve read some discussions that people think this whole clown matter is a result of a kind of mass-mania—I wish I remembered where I read that, sorry about that (“Google is your *friend*”)— but basically think about it… the Brexit? Trump potentially becoming the new President of the United States of America? This is all some intense news – no wonder people are in shock! I remember that I saw an online video of BoJo’s (Boris Johnson’s) reaction to the news about the Brexit—or sometime around that result getting official—he was heading to the golf course! Like it wasn’t affecting a whole lot of people. 

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Furthermore, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of scary movies out right now and in the last few days there has been countless of times that the trailer for HBO’s Westworld (HBO, 2016) has popped up at 0:19 seconds in with a strobe light—without warning—in an automatic-ad for other content. Every time it has happened I haven’t been able to help myself but to think about how an epileptic person would’ve felt if they were me and that commercial came on as a surprise.

I’ve also followed to two quite “scary” Swedish podcasts this year. One called “De Dödas Röster”, roughly translated into English: “The Voices of the Dead” (Bergmark Elfgren, 2016)—a documentation and stories in regards to a real murder that happened a few years ago in Sweden, apparently categorized as genre: drama—and another podcast that still is in production: “Creepypodden” – being categorized as: culture/entertainment (Sveriges Radio, 2015), which is basically a podcast telling ghost stories from Swedish folklore and pages like the NoSleep forum and Creepypasta that you can find by a quick Google search.

The so called “Slender Man” case, as mentioned in a Rolling Stones article from this summer (Dunlap, 2016), is originally a fictional story from either Creepypasta or NoSleep that I heard about through Creepypodden which has gone “from horror meme to inspiration for murder”.

I also can’t help but think about much of the latest emerging tech that I’ve seen come up in my Facebook story feed as well, such as boxes for locking up your cellphones while you study? Now that many of us have got rid of the landlines in our homes, how does one call for emergency help with that cellphone locked in a box? I’m certified in CPR from this year and have learned how to work with heart starters, anyway, it’s not like you get a heart attack and you have time to log into your laptop that’s up on a table and Skype-call emergency services! It seems the idea of these *lockup containers* is to make it impossible for you to access a thing for a certain amount of time (unless perhaps you break the box with force, which you won’t be able to during a heart attack so… too bad). As a family looking for family-time (some of you I’ve talked to already), please take security into consideration before shutting off all technical communication methods, OK?

But then again, we may wonder how much other people track us simply by having our electronics switched on. I suppose people may get a little paranoid from thinking about that too much, too. I noticed a message on WhatsApp sometime this year (August) about how my messages now were “secured with end-to-end encryption,” which meant “WhatsApp and third parties can’t read or listen to them.” So I suppose that would be better because before they could track and and read all the things that I sent?

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I haven’t noticed Creepypodden release any new stories in regards to the clown-sightings that apparently have started in Sweden now as well and is fully happening “right now”. According to a Swedish newspaper source video “there have been over 100 clown-sightings in the last two months” and way more in America where it’s supposed to have all *started* (Wikström, 2016). 

If the clowns are simply a PR-stunt for a movie or alike that comes out in a while – I don’t think it’s ethical to threaten people by walking around with machetes near or on people’s yards as some of these clowns seem to have done. So maybe change tactics now, huh? The joke is not on “you”, *PR-firm*, this whole thing has spiralled too far. I just find it hard to believe that someone would do this for PR, you know? I know it’s close to Halloween but, come on?

To walk around in ‘V for Vendetta’ masks has been banned before (Pollak, 2013) and I even saw one article mention that the ‘Anonymous’ mask (same thing?) has now been banned in America… but don’t quote me on that because I’m not completely sure about my source there, so I’ll leave it for you all to find out. Overall though, who likes to see people wear masks around anyhow? It’s creepy! Perhaps in a museum or somewhere boxed in where you know that it’s for art purposes and don’t have to feel threatened – or how about keeping it to the good old amusement parks or something? But I guess the amusement parks want to expand on their creative approaches too. So much or art is “free” to get access too nowadays, you know, you don’t have to pay any service fee on youtube for example, but rather you pay for the ads that cross your path. Perhaps youtube will have to start implementing a premium-option where you can get rid of all the ads? They haven’t got that yet, right? 

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I can’t say that it’s easier to handle creepy stories just because I live in Sweden, even though crime is a big genre here. I feel like horror and reality-based fiction is the new crime of late. I’ve noticed a lot of covers on hardcover books are way more graphic these days… perhaps in the last 5 years or so? From what I’ve seen, that is (my mother is an avid reader)! Some murder stories are apparently categorized as dramas, such as the case with that podcast I mentioned, and you can’t be sure to avoid getting scared these days. I’m simply curious as to where all this will lead?

We discussed picture ethics in class the other week and I wrote this analysis about an advertisement (by The Royal Opera House of Sweden) that had brought about an ethical debate in the news at the end of year 2015. The immigration number during that time was really high (in Sweden) too – you can check out October through November stats from that year via Migrationsverket. Another world crisis that may have caused that kind of mass-anxiety and such, right!? Not having a home and having to flee your country on a boat must be absolutely terrible and I can’t imagine the fear and worry… fleeing from war… I can’t go into it all in this post but these are some harsh times right now. Pictures from these kind of news have also stirred up much debate. Nightcrawler from 2014—movie—great performance by Gyllenhaal… the story about a guy who does anything to get that news footage – definitely touched on a similar kind of ethical debate.

Anyway, so in class, we also got to see examples a bunch of pictures and materials created, etc. that had been questioned sometimes many years later for being potentially or sometimes clearly unethical. OK, so I asked the teacher: “How can we ever be artists if what we put out now, being ethically alright at the moment, won’t be in 10-80 years?”
“Well,” the teacher said. “Interesting point! You can’t know that it all will be fine but without any kind of risk-taking in art, how can you expect to create something original or noteworthy?”

Clown phobia, or “coulrophobia” (Goldhill, 2015) may have existed for some time, but I can think of countless comedy sketches, movies and examples where clowns are portrayed as fun but albeit a little sad characters – supposed to cheer people up. I had a friend who worked extra as a clown in America, at kids parties. Well, I suppose nobody would pay to have a clown come to their party now, right? Or am I wrong? Maybe old clown ads will be the subject of ethics class for future college students? The Ronald McDonald clown has been around from 1963… that’s 43 years ago. But will *he* (/it) be around 10 years from now? 

People thought old playstation games etc. influenced kids to get crazy ideas and have a hard time separating life from fiction. What about the breakthrough or VR? Could it be more than just a cool advancement of tech – how will it affect the kids of tomorrow who won’t have reference to the world as it was before this kind of technology strongly mixed with everyday life?

 Thoughts?

 

Bebe

Bibliography

Bergmark Elfgren, S. (2016). [podcast] De dödas röster. Available at: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/741005?programid=4947 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Dunlap, B. (2016). ‘Slender Man’ Trial: Why Trying These Girls as Adults Is Absurd. [online] Rolling Stone. Available at: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/slender-man-trial-trying-these-girls-as-adults-is-absurd-w431464 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

GameRiot, (2016). Batman Arkham VR Gameplay Walkthrough Part 2 – PENGUIN (PLAYSTATION VR) Full Game. [online video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njQgPkR0AhA&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Goldhill, O. (2015). Why are we so scared of clowns?. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/halloween/11194653/Why-are-we-so-scared-of-clowns.html [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

HBO, (2016). Westworld Trailer (HBO) – MATURE VERSION. [online video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuS5huqOND4 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Sveriges Radio, (2015). Avsnitt 1: Black eyed children. [podcast] Creepypodden. Available at: http://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt?programid=4845 [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Villasor, T. (2016). Real-life Batman stands against Clown Attacks. [online] GMA News Online. Available at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/585064/scitech/technology/real-life-batman-stands-against-clown-attacks [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].

Wikström, S. (2016). Clowner sätter skräck – flera larm till polisen. [online] Expressen. Available at: http://www.expressen.se/gt/brak-med-clowner–polisen-pa-vag/ [Accessed 15 Oct. 2016].