In an article posted by KATU News (here), Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds conducted what seemed to be a very noble and supporting move for the LGBTQ community and the LDS church: ending teen suicide. What wasn’t written about was the massive ignorance and trauma originally caused by Hollywood (music artists, actors, etc.), and society as a whole; which then heralded Reynolds as a hero when in fact, he may have unwittingly hurt more LGBTQ kids.
First off, let me clarify that I “HATE” the term LGBTQ. It is another nonsensical label used by a massively, puritan-based, condemning society that seeks to segregate people. However, for the sake of this article, the term shall be used in conjunction with the reference to those folks who have physical and emotional gender contradictions. I am not saying that anyone who has contradictory sexual feelings in their emotional state and physical state is right … or wrong (that is not part of this discussion).
That said, Reynolds’ actions were akin to outright accusing the LDS church for teenagers in Utah committing suicide because they didn’t feel like they “belonged” (IMHO). Now – to you [the reader], let’s be clear, I am one of the most outspoken people in the world, contradicting science and psychology, stating that the need to “belong” (or “fit in”) is one of the MOST important, fundamental human needs (my article is here). However, there is a distinct difference between fundamentally needing to be loved and accepted vs. artificially. Please allow me to ‘splain:
The teenagers in Utah are NOT committing suicide because the LDS church does not condone or accept their beliefs. No – that is the RED HERRING! Please note how important this is! The truth lies in the underlying principal whereby society [at large] has created a new, emotional movement of needing to “feel special“, by first labeling people (such as “LGBTQ”), and then systematically segregating them in a massive, media-hysteria driven outrage. In this scenario, children whose emotional and physical sexual feelings that do not precisely coincide to fit what that VERY SAME society [at large] has defined as acceptable and not acceptable, now require others to go out of their way to acknowledge them, or they feel rejected.
Put it this way: you can have red hair, black hair, brown hair … or hey … no hair. It’s no big deal, right (aside from commercials telling you how ugly and imperfect you are)? But, if the ENTIRETY of society were to suddenly define “normal” as NOT having blonde hair … then all those “blondies” would suddenly become weirdos. Worse, if that same society started a movement to reinforce that “blondies” needed additional acceptance and mass-spread recognition, or they would continue to be hated, then those “blondies” would become emotional wrecks at the mere thought that any one of the millions of people around them didn’t go out of their way to love them.
Sound stupid? IT SHOULD. If you don’t grasp that the idea of segregating blonde haired individuals and labeling them to create a genre of hatred is outrageous – then try being a blonde female, or a bald guy, or anyone of a group of people that are constantly segregated by Hollywood.
Now, herein lies the “real” problem. It is NOT LGBTQ to have a male body part, and cry at sad movies, love musicals, or even have a little bit of attraction to other men. After all, sons love, hug, and kiss their fathers (and vice versa). What happens in the shockingly still “puritanistic” American culture of absolutes is that society continues to apply these extremes to the definition of “normal“. And, this is reinforced by none other than Hollywood (beauty, fashion, behavior, etc.). Starting in the 50’s, gay, lesbian, and straight actors and actresses all partook in a sort of social experiment whereby “men were men“, working to take care of the family and “women were women” raising children and living in the kitchen. This was a follow-up to the originally puritan ideals that were not Catholic or Christian, but rather, a protestant side-track of “black-Bible thumpers” who were so overly anal and out of control that fathers did NOT hug their children, men were to fear NOTHING, and women should never speak unless spoken to!
Thank the Heavens those days are dead (okay … mostly … except for radical Muslims and other state-side and international weirdos). It was NEVER Christian for women to sit in silence. If NOTHING else proves that – go READ THE BIBLE. Mary Magdalene, who was forced into a life of prostitution by dirty, rotten old men, was saved by the SON OF GOD, so that she may help carry forward the message of love and equality. Of course, there is a huge segregation in church between the roles of men and women, but for the sake of this article – let us set that aside.
Back to Reynolds. What has he done? From the same, damnable Hollywood platform that labeled LGBTQ as “wrong” or “weird”, and set forward the movement that everyone else has to accept their lifestyle or be shamed and shunned (a double-edged sword of mass manipulation), he is trying to force the LDS community to show their love of LGBTQ individuals. Why? Children are dying. Therefore, if the church does not secede their opinion, they are therefore child haters and killers. WTF? That, in and of itself, is another labeled, stereotyping prejudice!
This is wrong on so many fronts that the level of idiocy is beyond astounding. First of all, a church that promotes family, safety, faith, and world-wide fights for the well-being of children should not be the target of a Hollywood ignoramus attack lest the innocent, suffer. In this regards, Reynolds is actually a HATER of children with the ability (whether it is intentional or not), to harm millions upon millions of children internationally with no care as to the accountability of his behavior. Simultaneously, Reynolds is feeding the labeled, segregation, love-needing frenzy of LGBTQ children who are not being given the proper tools to become successful and happy. By this, I mean that children – no matter their sexual identity (which, is and of itself not a matter for the general public and abhorred that Reynolds is using this), should learn to stand on their own, two feet. Whether it’s a volatile society of never-ending “fad” shifts, mean people, or just life in general – everyone must learn to stand against the storm and learn that they only thing they can control in life is themselves and their own choices.
Empowerment is a tool of infinitely immeasurable value. Dis-empowering anyone to reinforce their “segregated” feelings, or create those feelings where they don’t exist, is not only dangerous, but should be viewed as criminal. Did every teen in Utah who was LGBTQ care what the church thought about them? There’s a possibility – no matter how remote – that NOT ONE of them actually cared about that … at least, until now. Until now, the LDS church’s stance on the LGBTQ community was internalized with one, succinct and recurring message: “do not judge“, “do not hate“, “and love people for who they are without any thought of changing or controlling them“.
THAT IS THE MESSAGE. I personally know, first hand. Now, that message is being corrupted by a self-indulgent bast*rd whose only goal is his own popularity, selling albums, and manipulating the LGBTQ community to become thoroughly dependent on him so that they keep buying his records. That is what is REALLY happening. Sorry to all those who think we need to “respect” Reynolds as a hero … but a hero … he is not. In this case, he has focused on the most obvious, superficial and media-heated debate he can, using his position as a member of the Church, to try and bolster his position.
After all – why not ALL Christians? Why not society? Why not help the children to stand on their own? See … that would create independence. That would create freedom and education whereby the kids could actually think for themselves. After all, psychology will tell you that suicide and suicidal thoughts are a complex matter of underlying issues that must be sequentially and carefully addressed. Feel-good concerts only serve those children who are already strong enough to weather the storm. The ones who are really hurting, still remain silent, hiding in the shadows, and don’t come forward. That’s the unfortunate, difficult, and terrifying truth of suicide. Something that a “pop star”, caught up in his own “glorification”, may not care enough to learn. Again – sorry to seem so “attacking”, but suicide is not a joke, it’s not a “cause” for rock stars, and is not something that should be used as a tool.
So, let’s not shortcut the importance of ending teen suicide. Children who are involved with the LDS Church are more often than not kept in a safe place, with good messages, and overwhelming love. It is NOT sexual. It is not intimate. It is just a mere love of brothers and sisters. At least – that is what it is supposed to be. Reynolds’ personal agenda is one of hatred, manipulation, and control (again, IMHO). Yes, I get it that telling children that being “gay” or “lesbian” is not in accordance with the idea of families. BUT IT IS NOT A MISSTATEMENT. Sorry all you warm-fuzzy people out there – but the truth hurts sometimes. Two women don’t make a baby. Two men don’t make a baby.
It doesn’t mean that they are “wrong” (and this should never be taught – which if it is – should be brought to the attention of the LDS church leadership for disciplinary reasons and to help those who were given the wrong message – as it would be very few and far between). What being solely gay or lesbian does means that they are not going to have a family “with children”. That’s not Biblical – it’s part of nature! But, I’m not going to engage (at least not in this article) in the he-said / she-said of what the LDS church may teach. I’m just pointing out that using the Church as a red-herring is “misdirection”, which is a deviant, thinking error!!
And, if a boy likes to wear pink and play with dolls, the ONLY one who is calling him gay is SOCIETY and the stereotypes cast through puritan ignorance and Hollywood. If a girl feels an attraction toward another girl (or a boy to a boy), after or during purity – here’s a newsflash, folks:
THAT IS NORMAL. Did you know that? (Read it here). It is PART OF SELF IDENTITY. And those folks who strike this down – or worse, “label” it as LGBTQ (and force it into a segregated identity) – are the most bottom-feeding cesspool of moronic anti-evolutionary @$$holes to walk the face of this planet. Even grown men are curious from time to time. It’s ONLY in America (mostly), where it is a “sin” in SOCIETY for men or women to “fear” their curiosity. In fact, for those who did not know this – it is NORMAL to NOT be attracted to EITHER gender, too! Yes – it is true. You can actually not feel like being pressured into sex with anyone and you are actually normal. Why? Because “normal“, is “human“. And, “human” is an infinitely diverse condition that is always changing and evolving. Again, I just HATE this LGBTQ segregation garbage. But, it’s important to recognize just how dangerous it is for the emotional and mental well-being of young people who need to have freedom to explore self-identity. Yet, it’s as equally important to recognize that stereotyping “normal”, or attacking a church to justify a segregated “normal”, can hurt grown men and women who need to know that curiosity is just one of those things that comes with “free will” and is for each person to deal with ON THEIR OWN – NOT in the public spotlight.
What isn’t normal:
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. What a horrible person he has become. Now, these poor kids who suffer from nothing more than “normal” curiosity, who have a chance to get away from the cr@p that Hollywood and society dish out and discover their own feelings (whatever they may be), will forever be trapped in their segregated mode of “not normal”. The LDS Church’s position on families is its own. It has no reason to change it, nor should it. It is not the job of the LDS church to fix the whole of humanity. Altering a belief to suddenly become “accepting” of the segregated, labeled teen with a predisposed societal (and puritan) assault on their emotions WILL NOT HELP THEM. Even thinking that, is stupid.
What will help them? The Church continuing to stand strong in its faith, unshaken and unwavering. No – it doesn’t fit the new, societal paradigm of segregated LGBTQ individuals who need “special attention“. What it does is to reinforce the idea that it is okay to be unique, it is okay to be an individual, and it is okay to hold to your beliefs, no matter what they are. THAT is the message these teens should have been given. Their sexual preference belongs TO THEM. The ONLY personal or sexual inquiries by the Church will be limited to one’s own efforts to stay and pure. THAT has NOTHING to do with gender. And, if this message were carried with the resounding power that the otherwise manipulative Imagine Dragons’ singer has, teens who felt like self-harm, alteration, or segregation, might have found their way toward a resolution (through healthy, emotional self-identification separate from societal pressures). Maybe the boys are still attracted to boys and the girls to girls – or maybe not. But, to have a family, with children, had Reynolds actually possessed the testicular fortitude to be a decent human being, those kids could be shown that tolerance starts by tearing down labels and families “with children” can be had by people who feel emotionally different than their physical body.
I know – I’ve been personal friends with family men who were attracted to men, but committed themselves to having a family. And, they made GREAT fathers. They were loving, compassionate, and believed that it was okay for fathers to hug and kiss their children goodnight and children to have mixed feelings as part of their normal growth. It didn’t make them “weird” or “different” and there was nothing “sexual” brought into that context. When we stop labeling, shaming, and trying to manipulate others to fit an unhealthy societal paradigm, it opens the door to real, personal growth.
Sorry to go on about this, but it is infuriating to see child abuse on such a massive scale and the rest of the world too damned ignorant to put a stop to it. And, what Reynolds has done is potentially a form of child abuse (manipulation of mental stability by misdirection and unconscious segregation reinforcement – IMHO). I don’t know how you all feel – but I hope that whatever it is – no one judges you, segregates you, labels you, or makes you feel so inadequate that you don’t know how to get through the day without being a victim. Because, that, sucks. I don’t know what you believe (personally or spiritually), but whatever it is, I hope that those parts of your belief that may differ from others doesn’t become an obstacle. And, if the road sign ahead has mixed messages, keep your faith, keep your identity as part of your self, and through experience, trial and error, time and patience, you’ll find the right path … not a stupid concert that promotes a band’s sales.
I don’t believe everything my faith says – but I also don’t take that as a point of segregation or need to pronounce my differences that I am working through, personally. I can still teach it, listen to it, and learn it. Maybe one day I will believe it. Maybe, I won’t (based on my own, personal relationship with the Lord). Either way – whatever you believe – it is your PERSONAL freedom and right. If you know a teen who feels suicidal, call the suicide prevention hotline, shut Hollywood and those narcissistic hellions down, and educate the parents to stop following 200+ year old puritan ideas.
Thanks for reading.
“I think prejudice is one of the most stupid things on Earth because there are so many perfectly good reasons to dislike people on an individual basis.” – J.J. Wall
Have you ever played a mobile game (the new definition of mobile “entertainment”)? Clash of Clans, Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch, Pokemon Go, or any of the other ‘pay-to-play’ games? If so, you might not be surprised to find out that your gaming experience is not exactly what it appears to be. On its face value, these so-called “games” appear to be highly interactive, low-skill, time wasters. You push a few buttons, complete a few so-called “skill” challenges, and the result is that you either win (with flashing lights, positive music, and a “reward” mechanism), or you lose, having your failure blasted in your face.
Those sounds, flashing lights, and “rewards” are not just arbitrary creations of a creative mind. The mobile gaming industry was a $12.6 billion dollar industry in 2016 (online-psychology-degrees.org). While this might just seem like a really brilliant strategy (infiltrating a massive, billion+ user network of potential clients through the mobile platform), is far more deceptive. Mobile gaming uses a series of cleverly timed psychological strategies to manipulate the players (joyofandroid.com). Taking up over 30% of the entirety of billions of application installations annually [just on the iPhone alone] (Psychguides.com), mobile games utilize every strategy from misleading “costs” with words like “freemium” to dopamine activating psychological triggers to suck people in.
It could be argued (again, only superficially), that due to free will, people could choose “not” to play the game and therefore the mobile entertainment industry is doing nothing wrong – but that would be entirely untrue. One of the important aspects in understanding the ethical and moral aspects of this manipulative behavior is in understanding human needs. Recently I published an article [here] where the rise of social media has most definitely exposed a potential concern that psychology has ignored: human beings have a need to belong, to be important, and to be in control more than even the fundamental need of eating. I’ve also addressed the unscrupulous tactics of corporate ethics [here] and an even larger concern over corporations using outright emotionally abusive tactics [here] to forcibly influence consumers. It is not a harmless marketing strategy. These culturally pervasive organizations have caused a paradigm shift in the course of human evolution where intolerance, lying, and hatred are at an all-time high (Polygon.com).
Let’s take a perfect example: Camel Cigarettes. Their mascot, Joe Camel, existed from 1987 until 1997. Within ten years, studies showed that the number of children (as young as six years of age) that associated the cartoon character with Camel Cigarettes was equivalent to the number children that associated Mickey Mouse to Disney (The American Journal of Medicine / Wikipedia). It had become astoundingly clear that using cartoon characters on dangerous products was in and of itself, dangerous. The association between the two was not only manipulative for adults, but even more specifically, for children:
But, how about adults? Let’s evaluate several of the tricks used by casinos to manipulate players (Vegasmaster.com):
No clocks. Ever notice that the mobile games go “full screen” and specifically block out being able to see the time? Time is valuable. Stealing time from a person’s life is literally criminal. One of the biggest complaints from folks who play the games is how much “time” they have lost.
Crazy Carpets, Bright Lights, and Pleasing Sounds: The backgrounds, bleeps, sounds, and constant animations are attention grabbing and force one’s brain to ignore the world around them to simply maintain a minimum of focus. This is so comprehensive that several of these mobile entertainment industries even go so far as to sell their game music as soundtracks!
The Labyrinth: While mobile games are limited to a 2-dimensional platform, they have as many sub-context in-game links, activities, and actions that entrench people several layers within layers within the so-called “gaming” / aka “gambling” experience.
Playing with Digital Money: This is perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of mobile games. Like a casino, not only do you spend cash for their proprietary, in-house digital money, but it goes beyond just losing track of how much is spent. To avoid the so-called “gambling” aspect, mobile entertainment does not allow you to spend money directly within the game, but rather, purchase a “commodity”. In turn, you use that commodity to proverbially “spin the wheel” and that is where the technical “gambling” begins, as per their definition. In reality, the gambling began before you even spent the cash. Worse … mobile entertainment does not pay you back for your hard earned cash. You never win. It is virtually an infinite loop where the idea of those small rewards becoming a bigger reward is what keeps a person indefinitely “wrapped up” in the game (it is the same premise of needing to believe in control and not being “wrong”, such as the reason behind feeling trapped in bad relationships or continuing to watch a terrible movie).
Control: Mobile games have a “freemium” value which is only a false perception. It’s easy for someone to believe that because the games claim to be “free” and they don’t “necessarily” have to spend in-game money, and there are “supposed to be” laws and rules that prevent emotional and psychological abuse, that a free game is just that – free. Colleges and Universities even require courses in business for this exact reason: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Yet, in such a manipulative culture, everyone is looking for a small amount of control back in their lives and desperation leads to bad choices. The games are never free. The marketing to people and sale of personal information provides billions in revenue. While the in-game advertisements may be an acceptable balance, the control and manipulation of personal information is a violation of countless international laws that govern the right to privacy.
The Big Win: This is one of my favorites. Originally, mobile entertainment games like “Angry Birds” were single player only. Over time, they figured out that social media was a cash cow. Every one of these games now links in Google accounts, Facebook pages, Twitter, blogs, and so on. And, every one of these games hosts some sort of a contest that shows one player so far ahead of the curve that it is [literally] physically impossible to achieve, but provides that “big win” concept that keeps people rolling the dice. The games go so far as to propagate Youtube videos and post “false” big wins on forums just to perpetuate this emotional trigger.
Free Perks for Loyalty: How many of these games have some reward for logging in daily? All of them. Yep. “Free” perks … hahahahaha. No.
And, the list goes on.
Is there any doubt that these games are not only addictive by design, but take it a step further and push the envelope of manipulation to keep people wrapped up in them to the point it is personally and socially destructive? There is a mobile entertainment forum that has an ongoing thread where players talk about their getting away from the game, being pulled back in, frustration at one another, and heartache created by the game’s interference in their daily lives (which I will leave anonymous here). It’s not only that these mobile entertainment games are emotionally abusive to individuals, but they clearly perpetuate a cultural and social dissension that is incredibly negative (at minimum), and potentially violent (inevitably … in the long run – on top of what is already happening, Kotaku.com). In a response from the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) regarding the illegitimate conduct of mobile entertainment, this was their response:
Really? So, the agencies designed to protect against commercial abuse and manipulation merely guide you to two articles: One link helps encourage shopping for mobile apps, but doing it “responsibly” (you know, like Heineken posting worthless commercials that say “drink responsibly” in the knowledge that people won’t, but it makes them “seem” caring); and the second blatantly states the dangers that mobile entertainment presents, including an outdated 2012 study that full disclosure of the addictive nature and harm of mobile entertainment for children was not being properly mitigated.
I’m going to pause for a moment … because, umm…
Right now, if you were to discuss this with a mobile “gamer” (or if you are one), the most typical response you would hear is denial. There is no way that a “silly” little game like Candy Crush Saga could be so psychologically manipulative that it border-lined emotional abuse, right? If mobile games were honest – Cracked.com:
Video gaming has harmful effects – period (Vanderbilt.edu), and it has been validated through countless studies. For instance, I’ve previously posted [here] that the rise of dis-associative disorders, memory problems, visual problems, stress, sleep loss, and other factors can easily be attributed, in a good part, to how our attention is divided between a “real” world, and a “virtual” world. We’re not talking about reading articles or emails – but about an immersive, three dimensional environment that is so detailed that the human brain has to perform as many, if not more (due to mentally converting two-dimensions into three-dimensional spaces), calculations to process the information. This is only a recent trend in cultural evolution and the entirety of damage or effect has yet to be fully realized. That list goes on … too.
So, without going into the entire “book” that could be written on this topic, the evidence is there and the answer is ‘yes’: Mobile Entertainment ‘games’, are gambling / addiction platforms with not only emotional consequences, but financial consequences (and worse than Las Vegas – financial consequences without any chance to “win” or recuperate … and children get in for free … ). The gambling aspect of all mobile entertainment gaming has been widely recognized and reported on (CNN) – even though the public seems to still be without a major awareness of this fact. By the lack of attention or care by the U.S. FTC and other international organizations (on commercial trade and privacy protection), this is also, potentially, now the most “legal” form of gambling that exists and comes without the type of control or oversight needed to protect an individual from identity theft, addictive behaviors, or taking advantage of children. Unlike cigarettes, alcohol, or gambling, age restrictions do not exist (and would inherently be unenforceable). And, the creators, like Rovio Entertainment, have no issues with justifying the fact their games are aimed at children:
“We get a lot of fan mail from grandparents and families that play together. We get a lot of fan mail from parents of kids with disabilities, because this is the first game that their kids can play with the other kids because this doesn’t require lightning fast reflexes. Anybody can play it. Angry Birds opened up a completely new market for games. Your mom probably doesn’t play any games, but she plays Angry Birds. It’s a little bit like what the Nintendo Wii did. It was more approachable.” – Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer, Rovio Entertainment, Ltd.
But, make no mistake. These games aren’t easy because they care about children. The ‘skill’-less games (with spend money for the literally impossible to complete areas), are a manipulation tactic (toucharcade.com). But, it sounded genuinely sincere, didn’t it? Maybe that Little Red Riding Hood story about some girl believing a wolf could be her grandmother – is not only timeless – but a little easier to believe. Hmmm ….
There is no end in sight for these mobile abusers, and they will continue to push the envelope, especially when companies like Rovio now net more advertising profit than Google (slowly meeting their outright stated goal in 2010 of becoming “larger than Google”).
But, there is one truth that most of these big companies and their corporate officers neglect to realize: abuse can be a double-edged sword. While they are using abusively and emotionally addictive techniques to literally “hook” people in, their justifications and lack of personally moral, ethic, and spiritual behavior is in and of itself, an addiction. For every person they hurt, their pocket book grows, and they are not as “in control” as they would like to think. It’s just a shame that society will let so many tens of millions of people be hurt before something is done about it (or these corporate megalomaniacs grow a conscience).
I personally know of a multi-millionaire who developed an online system, made his money, and then sold it because he didn’t want to participate in those abusive strategies to manipulate consumers (it was a good product that sold itself). So, it is possible to be a developer and still keep your soul.
Well ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages – since it was Star Wars, I decided to waste more money than we could really afford this Christmas and go see the new Star Wars franchise movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
And – my feelings are mixed. Let me preface by saying that I do not read fan or “critic” reviews before I post mine because frankly, I don’t like (or care about) other reviewer’s comments (usually – except for Cinemasins, HISHE, and Honest Trailers). Sometimes they are spot on, most times not. I have heard that there is a Twitter backlash against the director, Rian Johnson, and while much of it may (or may not) be deserved, at least it is not J.J. Abrams (you know, the ONLY guy other than Michael Bay, that I know of, that could literally screw up bread … just eating bread … they can’t seem to get ANYTHING right)!
So, for those who like to get to the point more quickly, I am scoring this out as a 3.2 out of 10. I may revisit this as there is a lot to process still (and I wish I could record scenes to go back and re-watch to make sure I covered it all). However, it’s the Christmas season and if it will help get you out of the house with all the family present … and you see the less expensive version and can get there a little early – yeah … this is a good one for the “family” and I would recommend it for that purpose ONLY. No high expectations, no “Star Wars” dreams … just a face-paced, sleepy-movie that will still tickle your Star Wars inner child, provide a little good vs. evil (mostly by context, not action), and is a great way to spend with a little one you love (I know … I did). Otherwise … wait for Netflix.
So, without further ado, here it is, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!
This Star Wars was a refreshing break from the last one, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That is NOT to say that it was well done, but it may be a stroke of genius to have permitted J.J. Abrams to butcher The Force Awakens so that no matter how bad Johnson may have done, it was still better! Not that this is a good way to make movies … but … well … dang … it worked (a little). Of course, they could just make the movies right from the beginning … you know … just saying … That aside, here is why:
This movie had, at many points, more of the “feel” of Star Wars than the last one (without being a 100% ripoff .. only a 65 – 70% – but I’ll delve into that, later). While Johnson may have not done many things well, how do you fix something J.J. Abrams and Disney, broke? Let’s face it, Disney has historically broken every movie, legend, mythos, and … well … child actor, they’ve ever touched. It’s sort of their “thing”. So, Johnson had no easy task. But, in fulfilling the role of Director on this most recent film, we had action (some fast-paced flying, a light saber battle, and so on), a little romance (Rose and Finn … but I’ll digress to further comment on that disaster here…), plenty of comedy (I actually laughed on several occassions), plenty of aliens, fun with robots (and cute things), and so on. To that end, Johnson deserves a kudos and a shout out. Yes, we’ll get into how slow and padded the movie was and how poorly it was written and directed, but the mix of “Star Wars” type elements helped keep this one going (for 2 1/2 hours of movie … 30+ minutes of previews).
The music was … AWESOME. One of my MAJOR “nitpickity” items is the sound. I require justifying the cost in a theater to be based AT MINIMUM, at 50% of the ENTIRE experience on the quality of the video and the audio. I did NOT see this in 3-D (as I’ve mentioned before, that cost is no longer justified as nothing will ever be the quality of Captain E-O (apparently), and therefore, is just loud and obnoxious). But, in a Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sound, cramped Regal Cinema theater, I was impressed. And, I did something different –
I sat in the front.
Why? Well, not because I wanted to; the theater was packed. However, the audio was so fantastic that it really boosted the entire experience and I eventually even forgot I was in the front. The score was as traditional Star Wars as it gets, and so well timed, that it was utterly moving (minus the Imperial March .. although that might have pushed the copy-cat Empire portion of this too far). For instance, when Luke snaps out of his Jedi long-distance hologram-battle with Kylo Ren, and looks up, realizing it’s his end, I expected the long, sad Star Wars music that played when he looked over the sunset at his home on Tatooine (after his family was killed). And … cue the music … perfection! This was mastery over filming timing and music that among many other glitches, kept the movie enjoyable.
The video footage was both terrible and good. I will get to the bad later on, but for now, the good … was REALLY good. Not only was every scene filled with action, having characters in the background everywhere (demonstrating a “living” Star Wars universe), but the scenery was gorgeous and the Dreadnought ships / super ATATs were stellar! There were epic and heart-pounding scenes, such as Luke standing off against a small battalion of super-ATATs that was literally the “picture worth a thousand words” that every director should strive to accomplish. The end credits were in the semi-blurred, blue text of old, as shaky (and with a shaky background) as the original movie, as was pointed out to me, in what seemed like a bit of a homage to the older days of the franchise itself. Of special note was the light speed ram of the Dreadnought by Vice Admiral Holdo (played by Laura Dem). This scene was something that I would expect from an A-rated, top of the line director like Steven Spielberg. There were SO many ways to handle this, yet, I have to humble myself and boldly pronounce that I believe that Johnson’s directing of this scene was the ONE and ONLYway that it should have been done. It was … perfect.
For a brief moment, after the suspense builds and three simultaneous story-lines are at their peak, Holdo rams the Rebel Cruiser into the Dreadnought as a final act of martyrdom, and everything … goes silent.
Nobody’s face is seen. No words are spoken. No sound is played. Not so much as a peep from an entire audience that held its breath. (and that’s how you know … it was GOOD). For a moment … everything stops and we [the audience] are held in the briefest, frozen moment in time. …
Then – KABLOOSH! A ginormous explosion that rocked the theater and was amazing! This is directing at its finest. It’s a shame I will have to rip into this movie so hard in the next, two sections. *sigh*.
As for the story line, well, the majority of that will be in the upcoming “bad” sections. But, as previously said, there were plenty of subtle and fun / appropriate jokes. For example, When Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), offers her childhood home as a complete place of solitude and loneliness and Luke obviously feels challenged vs. his home planet of Tatooine, upon learning that Rey grew up on Jakku, he consents … hers was “pretty bad”. Funny. BB8, an addition to the franchise that I’m not too happy about, was better handled in this movie. He was a bit funnier as far as the “droids” should be. Another special note was bringing back Yoda for a quick blurb. I have some faults with it, but for now, the timing and sequence within the story line was well placed and really gave great support to Luke’s ascension. Finally, as to Luke’s ascension, the same with Obi-Won Kenobi “not” having been struck down by Darth Vader, but having ascended to the force just as Vader’s saber reached him, Luke ascended. It was the resolve of finally finding peace – like Yoda on Degobah.
Rey was much better in this movie (while Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver … who still talks and walks like he’s full-time dazed and confused, was not). Her acting was much more diverse, her realism improved, and she delivered her lines, and herself, very well. Other than just being another, beautiful face in Hollywood, she’s obviously got some mad, acting skills. You go, girl!
At least … In summary for the good, I’ll say this: I think Rian Johnson tried. That is, in comparison to his predecessor, Abrams.
Ohh … where to begin …
While I do tend to jump around, let’s start with the “pre-movie” stuff … like the commercials. Let’s say it’s gonna cost you a few million dollars to get your commercial aired to a COMPLETELY packed audience of TENS OF MILLIONS of people to see your commercial. Do you: A) Just show the same, boring cr*p you run on cable television in front of tens of millions already, or B) spend the money for a funny, ground-breaking commercial that will have better infiltration into the public than the NSA? Ahhh … “A”. Why? I can’t even begin to explain this (although I’ve previously addressed [here] the stupidity of American marketing and how they ineffectively waste money as if nobody working for these companies has half a brain). I don’t spend eleventy gazillion dollars to go see a movie to see the same, re-run commercials that I already mute (and DVR fast forward through), at home. To those advertisers – you wasted a LOT. For example, there is that commercial about the master space battle guy who can’t find the keys to his ship. Mildly amusing, mostly stupid, and “I think” (without looking it up), it’s for Geico … but hey, I’m not sure, and I don’t care (because even after it is blasted constantly on cable television – it’s poorly done and it’s only based on repetition that I could even guess what company did it). Great job Hollywood and Corporate America – way to screw the pooch on that one!
Fandango. Yes, you read that correctly: Fandango. While it may be unfair to include it in a Star Wars review, I promise not to count it against the movie at the end of this. So, other than the over-priced tickets and the stupid surveys I keep taking that are focused on “how can we make you feel like you’re still at home with all the comforts while being in a movie theater and justify making you pay a week’s salary for one movie and some food?” – are their dumb give-away’s. I just recently posted an article [here] on how Fandango is one of the many corporations that literally use “bullying” to get customers – but it doesn’t stop there. Now, you can buy your tickets AND get a FREE, limited edition (you know … limited to EVERYBODY) poster, if you spend $20 in shipping. WTF? It does NOT cost $20 to ship a poster … I KNOW first hand (not even 3-day delivery!!). What DOES cost $20 is … the poster! So, it’s not free. Fandango is just being SO cheap that they hope they can screw with enough apathetic and unobservant people to take advantage of them. HEY – FANDANGO – ARE YOU LISTENING? THIS RUINS THE MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE BEFORE WE EVEN GO. DO YOU GET THAT? YOU ARE HURTING THE INDUSTRY. *Stupid*
Ahem … ladies and gentlemen, my apologies. I think it was finding out that Regal cinemas is selling a TIN POPCORN BUCKET with some Star Wars wrap-around for TWENTY DOLLARS at the concession stand that threw me over the edge. TWENTY DOLLARS FOR A FRICKIN’ BUCKET! (*ooohhh… plus 1 free refill … whoopty-doo!) What a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d*ckless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey sh*t … oops … sorry … just got done watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation … but it DOES apply here, too!
On to the awesome hyperspeed ramming scene of the Dreadnought by Vice Admiral Holdo: only after 10 – 12 ships were destroyed did she finally decide that was a good idea? First off – no one had to stay behind and “pilot” the ship. It’s a safe bet that the reason Hyperdrive works is because the computers can do a large part of automated piloting for them, so this was some ex machina “b.s.” (and that’s not being a “science guy” – because even 5 year old kids understand that). Then, they drug out the barrage of the fleeing rebel fleet being destroyed, watching them all die as we waited in suspension to see if this is how they were going to remove Carrie Fisher (love out to her and family), from the franchise. No … it just kept going … long … slow … and painfully. While the dreadnought already demonstrated that it had a massive cannon capable of wiping out the ENTIRE rebel fleet in one shot (which was a hilarious ultimate Storm Trooper move to shoot and hit nothing ’cause the fleet done left already), the New Order opted for the “shooting one plasma ball at a time”, option. A “real” General Hux (played by Domhnall Gleeson) would have A) penetrated the shields on the rebel cruiser with the planet killing canon, and B) decimated the fleeing rebel ships the same way. This was just bad movie writing, ignoring of technical elements to make things work (after having realized how they sort of cornered themselves), and padding the run-time of the movie for convenience. I hate movie convenience.
Speaking of dreadnoughts is the infamous attack on the rebel army at the beginning of the movie. Wow. One dreadnought was all they brought when clearly, another was just waiting nearby. Okay … I “guess” I can look past the obvious. What I CANNOT forgive is a 20 minute attack on a dreadnought by a small band of rebel fighters while THREE (or two? … whatever) Star Destroyers sat there and literally DID NOTHING. Sure, General Hux wanted to show off his dreadnought’s powers, but, when you realize that not only is your so-called ship of ultimate doom (that’s equipped with a whopping 7 or 8 canons, FAR less than a typical Star Destroyer), failing, YOU SEND OUT FIGHTERS and start an attack on the rebel fleet with a Star Destroyer. Basic “bad guy” 101 here! This was just bad writing, bad directing, and bad treatment of the audience. Not “all” of us are stupid. Treating us stupid ruins our faith in the rest of the movie – and this was at the very beginning. *sigh*
The padding of this movie was painful … really … really … REALLY painful. For example, there was a “big” scene with Maz Kanata (from the previous movie) where the conversation is pointlessly drug on because she’s busy fighting off some “union” bandits. But, hey, we’ll just ignore all of that (after all, she said it herself: “you don’t want to know“) … stupid. Then, she sends Finn (played by John Boyega) and Rose Tico (played by Kelly Tran) off to some gambling planet (so unimportant … I don’t care what it was called), to find a guy with a red, flower bloom pendant. Fine … off they go. After some wasted time discussing the philosophies of the New Order and the “bad guys” in the universe that they want to beat up, they finally find the guy they’re looking for. Do they talk to him, interact with him, or even know anything about him? Nope. They’re zapped and taken away by the guards. The movie goes out of its way to have the guys’ girlfriend take interest in Finn and Rose as if it were important, but don’t worry, apparently it’s not. Instead, the “only” guy in the known galaxy that can break the code to get into the dreadnought is actually only “one” of the guys that can do this, because … reasons? Their jail partner, who’s been sitting in jail for apparently no reason (other than to imply it was a trap from the beginning … or something?), was waiting to get out of jail until they arrived and save the day? WHAT? This was BAD. THIS WAS REALLY, REALLY BAD. There were a thousand ways to fix this or make sense of it even after Johnson was backed into a corner with this stupid padded filler so that it could be meaningful … but … he didn’t. So – a big hit on quality of the story line (and this is only one of the examples).
Character introduction in this movie was SUCH a waste of time. Yes, I am SUPER glad that Rey does not have Finn as a love interest. That would have been too cliche and unnecessary. The point of her character is a strong, solitary Jedi who comes into the Force, by force, and is thrust (as is the mythical hero), into her journey where she blossoms – and it is awesome. Contrarily, we get “Rose Tico”. This is just sad. Kelly Tran is a very sexy, Asian gal who may have some very good acting skills – but you wouldn’t know it from the script she was given. With little to no introduction, we are supposed to believe she is the broken-hearted engineer (as her sister died), who is a “hero” junkie, and has mad flying skills, and will die for someone she doesn’t know, and is wearing a necklace with the one element needed to break into a door on the dreadnought delivering pathetically weak lines like, “… this is how we’ll win the war. Not by dying. But, with love …” *cue the pass-out/is she dead scene*. So … soooo … sooooo … dang … are there even words for how bad this is? Worse – to “save” Finn … she RAMS his ship. First off – Finn was trying to save the last of the Republic … so … in love or not – she’s an idiot. Second, how else were they going to stop the cannon if not ram into it … because otherwise, Finn could have used weapons. At what point do you believe smashing your flimsy ship into another flimsy ship is a good, life-saving technique? Best case scenario is that they are both knocked out and the ATATs or Canon walk/drive right over the top of them?!
Speaking of character development, I’ve finally seen Benicio Del Toro (you know … the guy who gets confused for Antonio Banderas on the beer commercials?), in something OTHER than a commercial (as “DJ”). I guess he was “the Collector” in the Avengers and has had a bunch of other roles in movies (most of which I have not seen), but … heck if I’d recognize him otherwise. This guy had a chance to be really cool (except for the stupid, fake-sounding accent and artificial stutter) … but … they missed it. Not, like, you know, they had an “opportunity” and just didn’t take advantage of it, but “missed it” more like, a storm trooper firing a blaster at a passing X-Wing fighter / the bane of the galaxy’s jokes on bad aiming, “missed it”. This was poor development of a character that they literally set up for a future return when … nobody wants to see him again … because nobody cares. I won’t even waste the time on the story line of “betraying” Finn and Rose – because that is utterly terrible, too.
Not only was character development bad, but character usage was especially terrible. For instance, the “master codebreaker” (played by Justin Theroux) was a four or five word, 30 second inclusion used to pad the movie … stupid. Vice Admiral Holdo was supposedly a martyred character that we should care about – but couldn’t. Not only was her screen time limited, but her attack on Poe was unjustified (almost as much as Carrie Fisher shooting him), because ultimately SHE WAS WRONG. If she had actually told him the plans, Poe wouldn’t have let Finn and Rose go off to be captured … you know … “movie convenience” because the writers and director couldn’t do better? If she had half a brain, they wouldn’t have told Finn and Rose their plan, with a third member aboard their ship, when they weren’t even willing to tell Poe in the first place (to ensure secrecy and ultimately, the rebel ships were victimized because of this vs. living a little longer). And so on. REALLY STUPID. Half way through the movie, some kid who sweeps barns for victimized race animals and somehow has the force, is brought together (not by accident, of course, but by the force – well – if you “know” Star Wars and are a fan), is thrown in for that “family” good measure. I mean … ‘cmon?! We HAVE a main crew and set of characters (if they stopped getting killed off) … USE THEM. THAT … is Star Wars! And, to that end, frankly, the piss-poor use of R2D2 long enough to replay a video from the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope), was dumb. Even C3P0 got more run time than everyone’s beloved R2D2 (supposedly so that people could learn to love BB8 … maybe???), and was just boring and uninteresting (except for his one, Sheldon Cooper moment when he had OCD and had to finish his odds, saying “to one”). Of course, there are meaningless other characters, like the ice wolves, but we won’t get into that … Johnson didn’t *sigh*.
The slow pace of this movie was also, really bad. Beyond the added padding and the few attempts to keep it moving (which I’ve recognized in the sections above), the story was artificially broken out, drug out, and wasted. For example, Luke Skywalker (played by none other than Mark Hamill himself .. yeah baby!) tells Rey that he’s going to wake her at Dawn to teach her 3 lessons. Not only does he NOT wake her at Dawn (to conveniently give a special Rey-Kylo interaction scene), but then teaches her one lesson … and we stop. The other two will apparently be drawn out over the course of the next 18 hours. WHY did she need to wake up at Dawn, then? *sigh*. Another example is having Finn and Rose brought before the ENTIRE New Order for execution (I guess to show other Storm Troopers that betrayal is bad, mkay?). “Here are the traitors, and this is what we do!” PEW (laser blast). Role Credits. Nope … let’s put you on your knees, tell you our master dastardly deed plan, give it some weird timeline/time doesn’t work here filler space … and then give BB8 (who somehow wasn’t captured but was the reason the “bad” BB8 called them out in the first place?), time to take over the ATSTs. Yeah … ummm … wow … that was … *yawn* … what were we talking about?
Luke’s character was “okay”. It was Luke Skywalker, but … long story short (and it is a long … needlessly long … story), is that it feels more like a Tosh.0 comeback for Mark Hamill than actually bringing back “Luke Skywalker”, Jedi extraordinaire. I could go on – but it’s Luke. And, in honor of him, and the tragic loss of Carrie Fisher and Han Solo’s half-good/half-bad departure, I’ll let that go. On the other hand, when it comes to padding run-time, there were more Luke walk-away, “leave me alone”, slam-the-door, “I don’t want to play anymore”, “I know to fear your power (but we all know I’ll eventually show you anyway)”, and so on scenes that it just got annoying … really annoying. Worse, what appeared to be foreshadowing by showing the X-Wing fighter in the ocean (and I’ll get to the Empire Strike’s Back copy-cat later), for Luke to return, was more, “I parked it in the ocean instead of blowing it up, you know … just in case we run out of T.P. on this little island – but I’m here to die!“???!!!
But, back to the long, needlessly drawn out story … not only do we have a dreadnought being attacked by the ENTIRE fleet of bombers that the rebel army had (although … it only took one … so that was … stupid?), but they are the slowest moving ships in the galaxy (that no one in the Star Destroyers thought to shoot … and not even the Tie Fighters could hit … with lasers that is … because they do collide with one). This scene was not dramatic, it was dumb; just dumb. In ex machina movie style, hitting one destroyer caused “1” bomb to shoot out the sides, THROUGH the walls of the bomber (without blowing up), in PERFECT aim for the bombers next to it (on either side), in a slapstick style comedy where each bomber magically blew up the next. I can’t even begin to explain how bad this was. There are … there are just not enough words in ANY language, in this or ANY science fiction universe, to concisely portray the idiocy of convenience and laziness used in the most profoundly dumbed-down, poor story-telling, asinine filming, and imbecilic “we don’t know how else to make this seem “epic” or desperate” scene in space history. If it were not for the epic and awesome hyperdrive ram scene I discussed previously, I would have bottomed the movie out for this one scene.
Oh, and an on that note, the filming and story telling within the scene for the last bomber ship were as equally, if not more, stupid. The bottom of the bomber opens, shields obviously down to release bombs, and the woman (who is apparently Rose’s sister), is somehow able to run around with Oxygen and gravity – just fine. Okay, okay – so I can set aside some “technicalities”. Well, that is until she fell and had the strength to kick the ladder repeatedly to get down the ONLY launch button (Star Wars universe has got to get some redundancy going), to pad the run time (vs. just climbing back up), and then released the bombs only to hang on since she was going to die anyway. Why? So Rose Tico could be upset about the loss of her sister … I guess?
Now, I’ve discussed the fact that Johnson had some epic filming sequences that were astonishing, and some not-so-great. But, following in the recent Hollywood trend of “cut-scene, cut-scene, CUT-SCENE” filming, Johnson is very skilled. The flight of the Millennium Falcon through the salt crystal mines was so broken up and short, that while there was a funny moment between Chewbacca and the alien penguin things … it was too sporadic to really enjoy. The fight scenes were jumpy and cut up to the point that it almost became too flashy to care what was happening. The worse ones were the Luke-Rey scenes where the camera flashed between their two faces so many times (even if just for momentary expressions or long silences), that it felt like watching a tennis match. That … is just poor directing, trying to force an actor’s face up into the audience as if that gives it some meaning vs. just good acting and story-lines.
So, to answer the question I haven’t gotten to read any of the complaints about: was this movie, canon? I think I can sum this up in the final credits: “All licensing, trademarks and copyright of this movie were transferred to Lucasfilms immediately upon completion of filming” (or … close to that). What this says is: “We wanted full, creative control and were gonna do it our way and didn’t want the creator, George Lucas, to stick his big nose in our business, and we’re Disney and J.J. Abrams … so nanny nanny nanny!” Yep … pretty much says it all. They were so desperate to try and keep their “this is gonna go on forever” story … that they won’t let George Lucas anywhere near it. Frankly, the one good point made was that the Force keeps going, sure. But, for the Jedi “order” to have hope – there must be one who still lives. That is canon and should not be messed with, unless you’re Disney and using it to launch a thousand other movies. Otherwise … this movie didn’t kill canon, it just .. butchered it, a little.
The good vs evil is present in Rey and Kylo. While making Rey’s parents some “junkers” who abandoned her was STUPID, there is hope that they can fix that with her either being related to Kylo, or born in the same way Anakin was, as part of the force. This IS fixable and the battle of a hero desperate to unite the force and stop the Empire / New Order is still there.
The Jedi Order and “one who will bring balance to the force” was well done with Rey. While the last movie (that I reviewed here), was profoundly poorly written with how Rey came into her powers, this movie at least purports to address that it was some of what Luke passed on to Rey and her better addressing what knowledge / stories were told of the Jedi that gave way to her power and strength.
The Sith Lord and apprentice relationship – is there. Even if the characters suck … it is there.
The rebellion being massively overwhelmed … is there, too.
So, sorry, but I can’t really “personally” answer the question except to say that the elements appeared in context. To me, Johnson was trying to carry forward the cr*p that Abrams dished out to get us “back” to the fight of good vs. evil and the rise of the Jedi. Maybe I’m wrong, but that is how I saw it. What is sad is that they tried to use DJ to deliver the moral message of the so-called bad guys selling weapons to both sides of the fight when this could have branched us into the other, ongoing story lines. Frankly, George Lucas has been doing an AMAZING job with his Clone Wars followup, Star Wars: Rebels. I have no doubt that there are plenty of folks who don’t like it, but I personally think it is well done. It covers the canon background stories and for Johnson not to have incorporated that or brought it in / collaborate with Lucas, was a mistake of epic proportions. So much of this story could have been “re-canonized” had they simply integrated the two for the Rebels’ escape. So, there are definitely reasons to believe that Johnson butchered this story beyond just the bad elements I’m including here, but for the most part, the core, epic-struggle still exists (after all, as I’ll address in the next section, this is as much of a re-hash of “The Empire Strikes Back” as the last movie was of “A New Hope“).
More run time padding – but this time with Rey in a cave (like Luke in the cave on Degobah … but I WILL get to that). Was there a point? Was it to say that she was not born of parents but of the force? Was it to give us a hundred of her (I don’t mind … girl is cute!! sorry … )? How was the dark side involved with that? So many unanswered questions … if only we had a Jedi Master like … Yoda! He could return from the force and … no … no … wait … he did return … for Luke (and to shoot a tree with lightening and giggle a lot). Yep … I feel a refund coming on … However, I did get it that the “shadowy” figure walking up to Rey was Kylo (or so I “presume”), so when Rey saw herself, it was the understanding that she is to Kylo what Luke was to Darth Vader … but they could have done a WAY better job of this … and not copying George Lucas (you know, they guy they won’t let write the movies??). Just using “shadow” vs. light was insufficient. Kylo’s smashed mask (although a mistake to do that), if restored, would have been a good inclusion for that.
Emperor Snoke in person was actually worse than Emporer snoke the Voldemort / Smeagle holographic cross-over. Wow. Johnson actually found a way to make a bad character, worse. His cgi demeanor was shallow. His ultimate powers and ability to tear into Rey’s mind turned out meaningless as the clearly obvious fact that Kylo was doing the ol’ lightsaber switcheroo (is that a thing? … ’cause … they made it a thing?), escaped him. His character was sporadically shown, not integrated with any meaning, and was just another useless bump in the road to get Kylo back on top while showing that he was as confused as Anakin. Oh yeah … Anakin … Darth Vader … Kylo … character rehashing! Yay! Where’s J.J. Abrams … he loves this stuff … does it all the time … what’s that? Producer of this movie? Oh … THAT explains a lot!.
Escaping through the sewer grating … and then leaving the cover off so the guards could realize (after passing the open cover several times previously), where you had gone. Ugly.
Apparently, the “connection” between Rey and Kylo is all based on Emporer Snoke exploiting it because he somehow knows … even though Kylo says they are not connected?? (with apparently bad timing so that we get a topless Kylo scene … you know … it’s Disney, so, for the kiddies!). That’s … dumb. Meanwhile, the Rey-Kylo interaction scenes were interesting and literally carried forward the relationship Luke had with Vader when, in Return of the Jedi, he connected with Vader just before going and seeing him. Not much else to say except that there are better ways to write … maybe … just maybe … after Disney makes a TON of money on this piece of sh*t, too, they can afford a writer from the Lucas crew. I mean … it’s not a lot to ask, right? Hello? Disney? Hello … (*hear heavy Donald Duck / Vader breathing in the background … be afraid … be very afraid*).
The hyperspeed ramming was a cool scene – yes (by the way, just as cool as watching the light saber explode … although figuring out how Rey found both halves was conveniently ignored since I don’t think that realistically, that would happen). The follow-up, not so much. Everyone in the hanger bay is blown around, knocked over, and separated … except, you know, Finn and Rose … ’cause … that would have … well … um … look over there! BB8 in an ATST! YES! Did it again! Mark one for cheap directing … oh yeah!
Luke the Avenger! This was the most non-canon part of the film and a complete obliteration of the entire story line that J.J. Abrams had tried to stitch / band-aid patch together for Kylo (not to mention a slam on the original story line). Luke did NOT make Kylo … Ben Solo was already on his way down the toilet (and this “destiny” as part of the canon Star Wars, is what gave rise to the birth of his juxtaposed opposite, Rey). But, the “reason” that George Lucas had the foresight NOT to name his 3rd Star Wars movie “Revenge of the Jedi”, is because it would have been a betrayal of the entire story. So – Luke having a “weak” moment – by giving in to the dark side via revenge – takes a whole, different direction. By this, Luke did not “teach” his failure to Kylo, but instead … just … irked him and screwed up and wasn’t worthy as a Jedi? Maybe if Kylo had those “I’m turning bad” Anakin eyes … that might have been cooler / more obvious? No … instead, Luke becomes an Avenger for death, who then realizes that was a bad idea, but not before Kylo reacts. Aww… touching? I dunno … but it did NOT have the same meaning and importance that Anakin’s turn did when Obi-Won entered the Jedi temple and found the little ones slaughtered. So … to sum that up, the story CAN be told well … but Johnson and Disney – DID NOT do their rendition well and literally betrayed that “revenge” / canon / Jedi factor. (This is especially true when Rey pulls a lightsaber in anger on Luke … even if only for a moment. That could have been fixed with a simple force push vs. the anger it takes to have an intent to “kill”).
The ugliest of uglies: Making this movie like the Empire Strikes Back. Wow. As if it wasn’t bad enough that J.J. Abrams just hijacked the first movie’s script, the second movie LITERALLY starts out with the Rebel Army trying to flee their previously “secret” base while the New Order / Empire attacks. If it had opened to an icy planet with ATATs .. I WOULD HAVE LITERALLY WALKED OUT. And, I’m NOT just saying that. When I read the intro, I had my hands on the armrests of the cr*ppy little chairs in Regal Cinemas and was sitting up to leave. In fact, we made it through most of the movie and then … yep … ice planet (okay .. salt/crystal planet with a white, icy-looking surface … sigh) …. with ATATs. By that time, there was only 30 minutes left and I was too invested to leave. SON OF A …. you know! Just a few of the similarities:
1. The young, upcoming padwan off to a remote planet to see a disgraced / self-exiled Jedi Master … check! (In fact, Luke even said, “I came here to die”). Double check!
2. The heroes (friends of the padwan) off to face the Empire alone … Finn and Rose … check!
3. The friends getting captured by the Empire and the young padwan needing to leave to go it alone because the Jedi Master won’t / can’t go … check!
4. An X-Wing fighter under water … Check!
5. Padwan enters a dark cave-place to face herself/himself … check!
6. The Empire / New Order finds the hidden base location / escape route of the rebel army … check!
7. ATATs deployed on an icy planet (or at least, looks icy … especially with crystal wolves) … check!
And, the list LITERALLY goes on. These are NOT just “sort of like it” elements – these ARE identical elements. This time, Johnson at least mixed it up a little bit so the audience wouldn’t catch on from the beginning like we did in the first two minutes of The Force Awakens. So … so … ugly *shaking head*. Did Johnson even read his script or watch ANY of the other movies? I mean, seriously .. I expect this from Abrams .. but this guy? What kind of a lazy $*(#*#$%$%(#$*@##$ does that? Oh yeah .. Disney … big check with 7 digit figures … zombie expression … “just copy script … make movie” zombie chant. Yep, ’nuff said.
“Aw, man! That’s what we get for trusting Disney and those stupid, cgi wolves! They can morph their bodies and fit through tiny cracks!” Yeah, next time, Princess Leia may not be so quick to say, “Well, don’t look at me, follow him.” ‘Cause, you know … unless Rey showed up, that was a really stupid outcome.
Another butt ugly in this movie is the horrific misuse of the super ATATs. Side by side with their Imperial cousins, the super ATATs are cool, ominous looking, and powerful. Yet, the most they get to do in this movie is stand there, looking cool, miss almost everything they’re shooting at, and fire down on a Jedi hologram (although … they had sensors that could detect “life” … so not detecting Luke “should” have been a thing). This was blatant misuse of a GREAT opportunity for an AWESOME fight scene that would have been TOTALLY Star Wars. Scrap the dang Finn/Rose running away on a horse-thingy and get us some ATAT fight scenes – and YEAH! Oh … they did that in Empire Strikes Back? And, this was a planet that looked frozen and would have been another rip-off? Well … that’s how the J.J. Abrams, do! So, what’s the problem? The biggest complaint I have is that they could call on a dreadnought at the last minute, build a quadruple sized death star, but only had 5, grouped-up ATATs to deploy? Didn’t Hux make that mistake the first time by using one ship (Dreadnought) and then doing nothing to back it up?
Star Wars Ship Speed: Maximum forward, or hyperdrive. Otherwise … apparently, the rebel cruiser can stay “just” out of range. Umm … what? I thought the Millennium Falcon could make some run in under 5 parsecs … faster than any other ship. How does that difference in ship speeds NOT apply here?
A particularly stupid scene is when Finn and Rose return, Poe calls for a cease fire as he sees them and is like, “hey, alright, you guys are alive!” (when, in the last movie, he ran up and hugged Finn as if they were best buds for life after having zero interaction??). Then, to really demonstrate how human relatable this movie is, what does Poe ask, “Where’s my droid?” (or something like that) … and proceeds to run up and hug BB8. You know … priorities … I think?
The battle with the Red guards was as pointless as the fight between Finn and … what’s her name? Anyway, the Red guards (who were not Sith … because they used vibro swords?), had NO reason to believe that Kylo had used the force to kill Snoke. In fact, it was worse when they readied themselves to attack when Snoke was throwing Rey around like a Jedi ragdoll … as if they could do anything better than Snoke? Stupid. Anyway, their attack on Rey AND Kylo was not only unfounded, it was late, and was a very WEAK way to lead into the only lightsaber “fight” in the movie. Again, bad storytelling, misuse of characters, blah blah blah … *this is getting redundant sigh*. Finn’s fight with Captain Phasma (which, as a reminder, is a STUPID name), was notably, uneventful. It felt shallow and heck – we don’t even know if Gwendoline Christie was even IN the suit?!?! Bad use of characters in a really, ugly way. Of course, no fight was as pointless as Poe’s internal struggle, “maturing”, from a “rush in with an X-Wing and blow stuff up until the time it’s okay and then I’m too late ’cause the hanger bay just got blowed up” to a “we need to escape, and survive, for a second time, because now that everyone’s dead and Luke is taking the risk, I can be a GREAT leader!” That inner struggle … was probably not noticed by anyone because it feels like they developed him so that no one can care about this character since his introduction in the last movie was limited and poorly incorporated, and his continued use in this movie bears nothing on the storyline. He should have gone away already (he was neat once .. or as a background character .. and that’s it). Yeesh. It’s almost like they’re gearing us up for him to be the next Han Solo and take over his place on the Falcon and … oh cr*p … I REALLY hope that’s not it.
Chewie is still a supporting character with only the comical inclusion. No … there’s no Han Solo … but he gets by on his own … eating and befriending comedic penguins. Maybe it’s because he can’t speak? Didn’t stop Lucas from drilling us with Jar Jar Binks … who literally said, inaudibly, “Ay cun spake!” … *sigh*
The Princess Leia floating through space to get back to the rebel ship was … at best … childish and immature. It was neat to show that she could use the force so well (and explained how she survived a blast no one else could) … but not in that way. A bazillion other opportunities existed to demonstrate this – which I won’t even get into, except to say, this was unpleasant.
In the end, there were literally only a handful of rebels left, and by a handful, it was like, 6 (at most). Yay … we all live! All … you know … six of us … because the rest of the Universe is without hope … except for the little ones who dream of a better future … 20 years from now. Stupid … stupid … STUPID. (Why I keep using that word so much … it no means what I think it means ….)
So, let’s rate this bad boy, shall we?
For filming videography: A perfect 10 for the hyperdrive slam, a -2 for the “every bomber except 1 dies by slapstick and dragging this out”, a -2 for cut-scene jumpy filming throughout, a +1 for an epic shot of Skywalker and the super ATATs, and … maybe a +1 for the old-style credits (which is negated by copying the Empire Strikes Back anyway). So, a 7.
For audio: A perfect 10. That’s the one thing they did right (and I’m assuming that’s because they handed it over to Lucasfilms for the addition).
For story line: A 6 for including humor and trying to keep some elements of the past, going. A -2 for wasted opportunities (ATAT army, Rey in the cave, etc.), a -3 for copying Empire Strikes Back (in J.J. Abrams’ style of “member berry” movie making), a -2 for padding everything, and a -2 for all the movie convenience / lazy story telling. So, a -3.
For Characters: An 8 this time for Rey – she was much better. Nothing good or bad for Kylo. I would subtract for Voldemor– … I mean Smeagl— I mean “Snoke”, but they killed him … so, what’s done is done. A -2 for including 30 second to 3 minute characters with huge involvement and no other inclusion (including the semi-meaningless introduction of new characters like “Rose” into the franchise with no story support at all), A -1 for killing Admiral Akbar … that was below the belt after Hon Solo and Luke, A +1 for the Luke ascension … nice touch (and this includes the Yoda appearance), A -1 for the “R2D2’s not here except as a hologram projector” vs. BB8 and evil BB8 vs. C3PO’s meaningless inclusion, no plus or minus for Antonio Banderas — er, um, I mean “DJ” since I’m on the fence with this, and a -3 for the weak and pathetic attempt at the Finn / Rose love interest. So, a 2.
Tech: because the Star Wars universe is all about tech. A great big 7 for those cool dreadnoughts (no more since they came 1 at a time?), a -2 for the epic failed handling of the bombers, a -1 for putting 7 canons on a dreadnought and letting Star Destroyers sit there and do nothing, a -1 for the only, remote, button pusher for bombs (and including that space doesn’t suck people out except from rebel ships AFTER being blown up), a -2 for a dreadnought single-shooting fleeing rebels, a -1 for rebel escape ships without shields when even DROIDS have shields, a +1 for a wicked Millennium Falcon re-inclusion, a -1 for a canon / battering ram that will crack the door open “like an egg”, and only makes a semi-big hole, a +2 for Super ATATs … which is negated with a -2 by not deploying them in mass (ie Imperial style). So, a big fat ZERO.
Special Effects / Wardrobe: I’ll give this a 6. I’m a bit torn with the lack of stylized clothing in this Star Wars / Disney brand vs. the traditional (and after watching enough Face Off and being interested enough to learn more about the industry, I believe this is a fair assessment knowing the amount of work that did go into it). Kylo losing his helmet and going shirtless is a -2. The Red Guards were less impressive and focusing on them during filming as if that made them cooler is a -1. Luke as a hologram would be worthy of another point, but I had hoped he would use his powers and either pull the Imperial transport or one of the ATATs down … so nothing there. A broken lightsaber … interesting, but not worth points. A -1 for a bad BB8 with mad scanning skills that the dreadnought’s internal sensors apparently did not have built in (forcing them to wait until AFTER Finn and Rose broke in … *sigh*). A +1 for DJs coding tech management and stuff – for as simple as it was, this was the coolest. So, a 3.
There are miscellaneous other things I could get into … but I think that’s enough said. For the sake of Carrie Fisher (who I will forever desperately miss not getting to see at Comicon before she departed us), I will let the rest, go. But, I think this is one of my more fair reviews as I has a LOT more than usual to say positive about a movie and I felt like I saw Star Wars, even if it was the Disney washdown. If I had to pay more or put up with the fake IMax theaters (aka the “IMax experience” that is not IMax) and weak Real-D theaters for a bazillion more dollars – I would slam this more, for sure. Till then, in summary, this gets a 3.2 out of 10.
Thanks for Reading.
“I’ve said it enough, why don’t you say it this time.” – Princess Leia
I just recently published a cry for Americans to speak out, explaining just how bad the landscape looks for the end of Net Neutrality (here).
Today, December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission, a pawn to the largest media moguls like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others (and if you don’t understand that, read my article), voted to end Net Neutrality.
Already, 15 Senators are banning together to stop this. While the Republicans sit silently by (which, has been their “thing” of late), the world ignores what is happening, overly consumed by the false hope that the 2018 tax cuts will have any value.
Even that, looks dim (trade tariffs, energy-killing measures, and so on).
So, Ajit Pai, a seemingly anti-American human being (and that is ONLY my opinion, based on this article), stampeded over the voices of TENS OF MILLIONS of Americans. This time, rather than the FCC claiming that they were hacked and TENS OF MILLIONS of Americans didn’t support it before, now they are just “magically” losing, already, over FIFTY THOUSAND consumer complaints.
This is NOT how a Representative Democracy works. It’s one thing to protect the freedom of capitalism, but another to do so at the cost of the majority, harming the civilians in the process (and it is pathetic that the government has the power to to decide that businesses can be forced to violate their personal, religious beliefs to serve customers that represent the downfall of their cultural values, but they can’t be ordered to stop hurting the freedom of American citizens and violating consumer rights if they are “rich” enough). This is a sad day in America. Maybe George Lucas was more spot-on than we thought. Maybe the Trade Federation has aligned itself with so many billionaires that are paying off people like Ajit Pai at the FCC, that the large, media moguls win and the people have no voice.
No – that is not meant to be funny. Human beings tell stories of fears and things to come as warnings. We had an opportunity to not be idiots, and still, the U.S. Government betrayed the people and let the economy, and its citizens, down (especially as the FTC and FCC are joining forces in “we’re getting paid too much to actually pretend like we care about people anymore“). Could we literally be any closer to the threat of an absolute Empiric monarchy / Dictatorship needed in order to reign in such open and blatant abuse? Emporer Palpatine, anyone?
So, maybe nothing happens in the “bigger scheme of things”. So, maybe we keep getting tiered, pressured, and cheated, just like the media moguls have been doing in direct violation of net neutrality because people have just become so used to the abuse without any hope of help, that’s just the way it is. And, maybe only one planet (consumer, group, company, etc.), will find itself at the helpless receiving end of the abuse (like the FCC voting to end internet support to bring education to impoverished neighborhoods in America????). But – that’s how it starts. Well, technically speaking, this process started long ago – this is just, “how ‘it‘ dies“.
Even if the Senators ban together and stop Ajit Pai … the question is … why is Congress having to “stop” anyone? How did this happen? It’s not the Trump administration as Ajit Pai sat in the shadows during the Obama Administration trying to kill net neutrality. No – this is the death of Democracy. This literally cries for a vote of no confidence in the entire U.S. Congress, FCC, FTC, and beyond.
Yeah, okay, I sound “dramatic”. I get it. But, maybe that is because I can grasp the full scope of the damage done on this day. The clear violation of the majority’s rights is a demonstration on how the Trade Federation (since we might as well call them that), has masterfully “purchased” its way to the top to ensure that no independent or free business can take place and all must be funneled through them. This was not just about the internet and capitalism, this was about freedom. This was about a small group of villagers, banning together (when a tyrannical King raided the shores of America, trying to funnel them through his control, money, and power), and saying: ‘No more!’ This was about a small group of men getting together, after watching the rise of slavery, child labor abuse, taxation abuse, and the need to fight for freedom, signing a Declaration of Independence to shout out to the world that no single entity, or power, shall dominate the American people and that they shall flourish because of freedom and equality. This was about taking a stand on the principal that America is a Republic, not a Capitalist nation (or at least, it shouldn’t be).
This was about America.
It is a sad end for the Republic.
Good night, and thanks for reading.
Letter sent out to the various Senators and Representatives of my State in the hopes they will stand up for the last, few moments of freedom left in America, futile as it may be:
“I am responding regarding the end of net neutrality. I have posted online in my blog, added to forum conversations, through Imgur, and directly with the FCC. While there may be some need for change, the internet is “not” a free and open space anymore. The internet is a utility providing educational, professional, and other commercial and private resources. America suffers from one of the slowest internet speeds at the highest costs and barely trumps Africa (and similar impoverished countries), demonstrating the already choking hold that the large providers use against Americans (including depriving impoverished neighborhoods IN AMERICA from getting internet access at all). The large companies such as AT&T and Verizon (with Fox networks), even recently, continue to try and violate antitrust laws and have demonstrated their blatant disregard for the America government.
Advertising by ISPs already includes tiered services in direct violation of the existing net neutrality laws. There is constant evidence of throttling and other abuses. And, these companies have demonstrated their blatant abuse of consumer-based charging, double-charging, and constant violation and harm against American consumers. Furthermore, the large ISPs all utilize deceptive advertising tactics always offering speeds “up to” a specific limit, forcing people into shared, neighborhood usage at equal pay with unbalanced usage, and then go a step further and push people into limited packages for internet access unless they pay more (which is what Net Neutrality was supposed to get control of).
If this were a matter of deciding whether or not Safeway and Albertsons should merge while there are a myriad of other stores out there offering decent prices, based on the fact that they don’t lie to consumers, consumer-gouge, violate government laws, or commit other crimes, it’s not a big deal (and I did not say much when there was a clear and concise “extending” of the law). We are talking about corporations that are actively spitting in the faces of Americans and the U.S. Government. Ajit Pai has stood against the voices of millions of Americans (and I’m not talking about some ‘scam’ about hackers sending in 22 million complaints which is not verified as a ‘scam’, but about the real people who pay for internet everyday), demonstrating a clear and concise violation of the Democratic and Representative-Republic politics of this country, funded mostly in part by special interest in ISPs and cable companies, including his own private interests that have been brought to light (of late).
Furthermore, Ajit Pai only supported the people once in the entirety of his career when he wanted to control the costs of phone calls for prisoners and that speaks loads to certain interests of his that may also be questionable. The point is this: 1. Can we justify allowing net neutrality to end, vs. first examining what “portions” of laws need changed, when the large corporations continue to exhibit blatant disregard for the American people and its government? 2. Can we allow Ajit Pai to operate the FCC as his own cash-cow (and I know that is speculation – but NOBODY can offer an alternate / reasonable consideration as to why he is doing this), when it is a government-regulated agency meant to represent the interests of the people? 3. Can we risk increasing the costs to government agencies for internet (and thus, hurting the taxpayers even more), killing off school communications and damaging education, risking medical necessities to save lives and threatening the stability of the American economy, and take other, unreasonable risks?
The concerns that I have presented are only a small part of a large investigation I have done on this matter as a Systems Analyst. While the concerns are not yet happening, they are based on sound and reasonable, historical context, and mimic the voices of educational professors and students (including M.I.T.), scholars, analysts, and more. If there is even the remotest possibility that the large corporations (AT&T, Viacom, and other, large media giants), may act in a crippling manner that harms the U.S. economy and its citizens, then we must pause the net neutrality decision (until such time, 20 years from now, when they can demonstrate that they will stop trying to violate American laws and take advantage of consumers). Ajit Pai has made his personal agenda clear and is worthy of an in-depth investigation (and anyone in the Congress opposed should be equally investigated for personal investments into the Media giants), because there is a legitimate concern in this matter. This is not a personal attack on anyone. This is not an anti-corporate stance. However, I also know history and how power utilities stomped on the U.S. Government and American citizens during President Roosevelt’s days until he took control back. I have been a personal victim of the abuse of cable and internet providers by one of the nation’s most heralded, *small* cable providers in Central Oregon. And, I am not so short sighted that I cannot see the damage that has already occurred and the major risks being taken by ending net neutrality altogether.
The American economy needs repair. It begins by putting an end to the trend (over the last 20 years, much longer for companies like AT&T), of large corporate mergers that destroy competition and then proceed to abuse their privilege and power. America was founded on the principals of not permitting any one person or entity to gain unlimited authority and control over the lives of the people … that was for the King of Britain to do. We must stand together and fight this one, good fight. Then, patiently, an oversight committee can work with the FCC to determine what their fiscal needs are to sufficiently review the laws and make any changes necessary to protect the rights of free enterprise, the economy, the government, and most importantly, the people.“
So, here is the most recent email header spam from Fandango (for the new Star Wars flop … um, I mean “movie”):
You know … like the bullies said back in school:
Don’t be a loser.
Don’t be the outcast.
Don’t be weird.
Don’t be stupid.
Everyone else is doing it.
And so on …
I have recently discussed (here) that in the rise of Social Media, we may be witnessing a paradigm shift in how we classify the basics of human needs, the most important of which becomes belonging / acceptance / love / fitting in. With that in mind, it is no wonder that peer pressure is so persuasive in causing disruptive changes in human behavior. So … do corporations literally use the same childish bullying tactics of manipulation?
In the case of Fandango, without a doubt, they do – and they don’t even disguise it. No slogans like: “seating is limited“, or “time is running out“. No; they come right out and say it: “Don’t be the only one left out“. Why? If you are an outcast, then you will not be accepted by your peers. You will be weird, different, strange, and therefore, not the type of person who fits in. After all … that implies that everyone else is doing it. Sounds like a bad, after-school special about how bullies / peer pressure can get kids to smoke or do drugs. But, in the world of social media justice, childhood disorders like bulimia and depression, there is a common theme: bullying through segregation and isolation works.
While we all know that corporations actively manipulate people into buying and purchasing, physically cheating the aspect of free will and border-lining on criminally abusive behavior (or, at least, what “should” be criminal), using childhood bullying tactics is going too far. Now, to some, it may seem silly when you read it because you don’t feel the peer pressure.
But … if it didn’t work … they would not do it. That means that while you may be able to actively choose to ignore it, over a billion other folks who have been manipulated for so long that they have lost touch with reality (vs advertising), cannot. The funny part about it is that corporations just cannot sell movies or products based solely on merit.
In fact, merchandise in general has become so bad in quality, quantity, and price, that no Company is selling based on the product itself and instead, relies entirely on manipulation.
New and Improved!
How about: “Tastes really good“? Where’s that slogan? Even the folks over at MyPillow, found themselves at the “hurt” end of a lawsuit with outrageous claims of how their pillow guaranteed a good night’s sleep. It was the fact that their product didn’t work (beyond the placebo effect) that shaped their advertising: “Buy 1, get 1 free“, “free shipping“, and advertising through popular radio personalities. And, every other commercial and advertisement uses the same tactic: lights, music, big letters, and the thrill of being a part of something so amazing that you get to feel special and included!
Advertisers have been doing this for so long, I am not sure that they even realize what they are doing anymore. If the same amount of money that goes into advertising went into product development, (it is my personal belief that) there is a HUGE possibility, that corporations could sell their products based solely on merit. Companies like Google and Facebook would not have to resort to mass domination of the industry and soul-crushing business mergers that destroy the economy (not to mention their manipulative information and data abuse of consumers), magazines would not have to Photoshop impossible to achieve beauty, and so on.
And, so, the abusive, bullying tactics of corporations continues on. There is no end in sight. How do you tell children – or even adults – not to bully, manipulate, and abuse when it is an active part of their everyday lives on such an epic scale? How do you expect to have an even playing field in justice, politics, or world affairs when people are being manipulated, bullied, and abused at the lowest levels of basic living? If an ENTIRE world culture is based on the principals of manipulation and an inherent loss of freedom (such as net neutrality), how can you EVER have a free world … end tyranny … or hope to overcome the power-mongering depravity of human cruelty?
So, you see, it is not just a matter of whether or not corporations manipulate or bully people. It becomes an issue of just how intricately pervasive this behavior is in society. As it stands now, this trend has led to a culture that is so outrageously abusive and dismissing of personal accountability, we are seeing a horrid shift in the way that adults and accusers (all manipulators alike), are screwing with the public and with politics, changing the shape of the entire world. Unfortunately, this does not mean the *end* of anything. The road ahead is really, really long – and it just keeps going. The difference is whether we walk down that road or whether we are forced along, our faces smashed into the pavement with the hand of abuse crushing down our necks and preserving hatred and anger for generations to come.
If you cannot see the problem, then either you are already a victim (and you have lost control of your own decision making); the one doing (and justifying) the victimizing; or so apathetic toward the abuse this has contributed to [for others] (ie income inequality, social injustice, cultural breakdowns, etc.), that you have become borderline psychotic. Sorry if that sounds cruel, but, from my perspective only, the truth (as I see it) is sometimes cruel.
Thanks for reading.
“Hey! *Smack* We don’t hit … here’s your sign.” – Bill Engvall
So – I am already not a big fan of Netfirm’s services. They are overpriced for the amount of service with limited space and options (for anyone who wants to host their own internet domain/database). There are the dumbed-down and ineffective “helper” applications – but they suck (almost as much as the cost/service). And, even if you pay, you still get ads on websites, downed emails, and a lot of other problems.
Most recently, Netfirms made it darn near impossible to find a way to “submit” a support ticket – this begins my “shock” period (through the seven stages of depression). Instead, when something goes wrong, you can spend an obnoxious amount of time on the phone trying to explain everything to someone who doesn’t understand you (and who is typically incomprehensible), or you can “text chat”. Oh boy, do I love the “chat”. Being in I.T., I’ve literally spent thousands of hours in “24/7 chat support” hell. But, today was especially fun. After getting a bounced email returned to me and knowing that it would require submitting the entire bounced email header to their network techs, and being frustrated I couldn’t just submit a “ticket”, I opted to “chat” … and all was not well with the world. I was already in “denial”, hoping against hope that this could be resolved.
1. We start by submitting our username, email, domain, and account info (because they WILL NOT help anyone who is not actively paying them), and explain our problem. Well … in about 195 characters it maxed out. I couldn’t post the error message even. So, I opted for a quick explanation just to get the process started:
I got an email rejection (with a person with whom we do regular business). Obviously, not enough space allowed to post the header, so I just need to know if this is a Netfirms fix or a fix on their end.
2. Ahh … chat opens and I post the message error .. finally (abbreviated here):
Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender. This message was created automatically by mail delivery software. A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its recipients. This is a permanent error. 550 Sender frequency limited.
Mind you, I’m a little frustrated already because this is the first message I sent our business associate in over a week – and it happened to be time sensitive and important. It was NOT a frequency issue.
2. Tech Support decided to participate … finally (only took a couple of minutes …):
Woohoo. Finally, I’m gonna get some answers … right? My spirits are lifted already! (Nah … just kidding … I’ve been doing this too long to know better).
Hi [user]. Welcome to Chat Support, how are you today?
How am I? I’m at tech support – so I’m not well. Anyone who has done tech support right knows that the client’s here because their stuff is broken and they are NOT doing well! The first rule of tech support is that we don’t ask people to voice how unhappy they are being at tech support with stupid questions like, “how are you, today?”
Things aren’t working. Did they even read my post about what was wrong? Obviously not. “Anger”, sets in.
3. So, I respond:
I’ve already sent you the error message. Do you need the entire header (since I couldn’t just open a support ticket and post it)?
(Looks like I know what I’m doing … roughly translated to mean, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with this problem with Netfirms – or a multitude of other servers over the years).
4. They respond:
Yes. Please elaborate on the issue aswell.
(No – I didn’t write that wrong, it was just fast/lazy typing on their part). Mind you, they clearly haven’t read my explanation, they are a middle man vetting support tickets where it’s an absolute waste of customer time, and I’m already on the “not-so-happy” train … *sigh*.
5. Well, I guess I will explain this, again (and cover my bases to demonstrate that this is not a problem that Vikas can fix … it needs network tech support … again … abbreviated here for space). This is my “bargaining” phase. If I give him all the info, Vikas will get it resolved, right?:
We do regular business with our associate in (country). This is the first time I have received an error message emailing this individual. This was my one and only email to him today – so it is not a “frequency” issue. I don’t know if this is an error with Netfirms, or the server in (country) and am trying to get it resolved as we do a lot of business and it is an important client.
I thought that was fairly well explained. (I also included the message header … which, for anyone familiar with this – it’s a lot of worthless alphanumerical sequences with a few that actually have meaning… and it’s needlessly long. But, if you get a returned mail, it’s what you send the network support guys to help you out).
6. Three very long, silent minutes pass. (Oh, how I am SO glad I did not call them …)
7. “Vikas” writes back:
You were not able to send Email to him? You got bounce back message?
Now, I’m just curious … does ANYONE reading this, up until now, have ANY questions about whether nor not I was unable to send an email message to this particular person? Anyone not understand “MAIL DELIVERY FAILED”, or “I got an email rejection”? ‘Cause, apparently, Vikas doesn’t. Now, I’m ticked. Time is passing by quickly and there is work to be done.
8. I could think of a million sarcastic things to say (that would have made at least *me* laugh), but as I had to get work done, and now 7 minutes into this ticket … I respond:
Um … “Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender” … so … yep
Again, sufficiently explained (like the FIRST time I posted that).
9. FIVE more minutes pass. Now we are 12 minutes into this.
There is no more joy in Mudville, tonight.
10. Vikas, waking up from whatever drug-induced coma he was in, finally decides that, you know, maybe he should write back?:
Okay. I need to forward the issue to our technical specialists to look into this issue. Could you please hold while I provide you with the reference number?
Really? A “technical specialist”? Man … after the 12 minutes of having to explain that: “returning message to sender” means that the message was “returned” … I would never have guessed that Vikas was wholly unqualified to answer the question! Will the surprises never cease?!
What REALLY bothered me (by now), was that clearly, one of three things was happening: A) Vikas was taking the time to read the email header as if he had even the FAINTEST clue what any of it meant (and then, I guess, I would sort of feel bad for him …), or B) Vikas was multi-tasking a few other people at the same time and what could have been closed in 2 minutes was now taking 12 and I had an email to get out, or C) Vikas didn’t even know where in the hell he was and had just come to the realization that he worked for tech support! Under the second (and most reasonable) conclusion – he probably wasn’t being of any help to them, either! Outsourcing DOES NOT WORK!
11. So, among the thousands of jokes I could have made and fun I could have had with this, because of work and needing to get this over with, I resorted to a simple and to the point response:
(you know … because typing anything too complex only confuses Vikas and so far, it’s clear that he has severe ADD and mental problems and this is taking WAY too much of my time!).
12. That … was a mistake. That was a terrible, terrible mistake. 10 MORE minutes passed. We are now almost 25 minutes into a support ticket that requires nothing more than copying and pasting my response into their internal “ticket” system, to get it to the “specialists.” I have lost all hope. To me, the outside world is dead, and I am now forever trapped, here, with Vikas (who is still not even sure WHERE he is or WHY he’s there).
After a few minutes, I type, “Hello?” I get no response. Time drags on. CRAP … did I just confuse Vikas more and condemn myself? Apparently, the overwhelming fascination by Vikas that the computer is talking to him (having once again lapsed consciousness and lost all memory of being a tech support specialist) just cost me another 13 minutes (getting us to the total of 25 minutes wait time, to date)! NO WAY he’s helping other customers because he hasn’t given me more than 30 seconds. Literally … the dude is stoned … handicapped … or something! The clock is ticking and I have dropped into tech support hell. Not the kind where they argue or don’t speak well or even understand you. No … this is that special kind of hell where they stare at the screen trying to remember why they were there in the first place … and who you were … and who they were … and .. oh wait, I need nachos … and ZOOM … off they go again! “Depression” sets in.
13. Then, something changed. a light turned on inside Vikas’ head (you know … the drugs kicked in) and he suddenly realized … “hey, I’m with a customer”, and proceeds to do his job … or … at least I thought so. Once again, as part of the continuing onslaught of victimization by Netfirms of its paying clients, I am subjected to the following question:
Can you please provide your account user name?
… now, take a moment and think about this: You’ve just spent 25 minutes with a “tech support” specialist who suddenly just realized that YOU WERE THERE and where those magic words on the screen kept coming from (even though he can’t read well enough to even see your USERNAME already typed into the support request queue). Lost in the land of ADD … Vikas has finally come out of his coma … and is ready to finally submit your problem. It doesn’t matter that I STILL have an email to send and time is ticking away. Nope, Space cadet Vikas is on the job! Zooom!
Hopelessness does not begin to cover it. Slowly … I drift away into that void where I just don’t care anymore if the problem gets resolved. I just want the suffering to end …
14. I provide the username (“Testing”, looking for a realistic solution, believing that Vikas may have finally woken up and is ready to help). What could have been an opportunity for very sarcastic / funny responses … I let get frustrating. *sigh* Now, I am disappointed in myself along with my ISP, the internet, and humanity in general. I begin to question my life, my hopes, and my dreams. Humanity could not be this stupid. No one could be this idiotic. And, yet, here I was, dealing with the most profoundly ADD, mindless human in existence … and they were getting paid to be my tech support!
15. It wasn’t over. 5 more minutes pass. We are now 30 minutes into this.
I snap out of my coma and realize that I have work to do! I move on to bigger and better things (like playing games on my phone, or responding to OTHER emails). Yay … “Acceptance.” There IS no resolution. This is the world. This is life. Why should I pay attention to Vikas? He’s clearly not even aware I’m here! He slipped back into his coma and now … this will never end. This is it for me. Tell my family I loved them!!!
16. Resolution. Vikas replies. And, as expected, he forwarded the complaint as a support ticket, just like I wanted 30 minutes ago! Finally, a solution! Um … I mean, an answer! No … wait, a resolution! Oh … no … dang. A “wait around for a long time for nothing!” Woohoo! … sort of …
*sigh* … back to depression.
Then, suddenly, I see the following:
If you are happy with my service, Please click the “Rate & Exit” button on the top right corner of this chat window to rate my support.
Really? REALLY? What about your service would I be happy with? You took 30 minutes to copy and paste and click “send” what I could have done in two. THERE WAS NO SERVICE. This was a middleman deal so Netfirms could outsource their work to cheap labor. No, not just cheap labor, but completely unskilled and untrained labor, treating their business clientele like trash … and … you actually want me to rate you?
Sure. Sure I will.
The last, and unpublished stage of grief: “Revenge”!!!
But, wait, what should I do if I wasn’t happy? That is apparently, not an option, according to the message Vikas just sent me. If I’m not happy, I guess I get to sit in perpetual never-ending resolution with Vikas for another half an hour!!
So … I rate. Two questions:
Was the technician knowledgeable? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA … oh, wait, I mean, seriously … HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. NO.
Was your problem resolved? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA … again, NO.
At least, it ended with some humor!
Several hours have passed since those days … I remember them well. I look back now and try to focus only on the good times. Sure, I could have used the opportunity to make fun of Vikas, Netfirms, and the complete ineptitude of that experience while it was happening, but I’d like to think, that somewhere out there, Vikas is still staring at a monitor, trying to figure out why the magic words keep appearing on his screen. Maybe … just maybe, with a Christmas miracle, some big wig at Netfirms will be in need of tech support help so they’ll use their 24/7 online tech support chat and up pops the name: ‘Vikas’!
One can only hope.
(And, yes, I spent many, many years as the support tech person – so I know “good” and “bad” support techs).
Thanks for reading. (sorry for ranting, but hope someone gets to enjoy it :P).
“What once used to take 100 people 1000 hours to screw up, thanks to technology, now one person can do in under a minute!” – Unknown
I have posted before about the coming concern of net neutrality ending … but to date, the American people have not stood up. Freedom has not been fought for, and now, it will be lost – even though more than 22 million people have spoken up already and were already outright ignored.
A Petition Against the FCC: Do Not End Net Neutrality
For anyone who has paid for internet service, you are already aware that the major corporations, including (but not limited to), Comcast, Time Warner, and others, have gone through the process of purchasing the smaller, independent providers in a manner which is in direct contrast to the anti-trust laws established in America. To better understand this, please read this website from the New York Times about how and why the U.S. Government is [once again] spending an incalculable amount of taxpayer dollars to stop AT&T from once again trying to buy out all of the small, internet and cable providers to create a massive monopoly.
The results of these buyouts has resulted in an American internet basis which is, on average, only 18.7 Mbps (which comes out to barely double the speed of third-world, impoverished countries), where only 1 in 5 have connection speeds of “up to” 25 Mbps and only Washington D.C. had the fastest internet speeds available (Forbes). For all of you who have internet, you are also aware that connection speeds are rated in an “up to” basis. In other words, you are never, and will never, be guaranteed or given the connection speed for which you pay. Centurylink users often find that a simple 12 Mbps connection, or even a 24 Mbps connection, is no more than an average 2.4 Mbps connection. This is because your internet connection is shared with others in the area in which it is installed (read more here). You do not pay for internet, you pay for the right to share internet with others – at the same time. Imagine if this were used in your homes, your bathrooms, or other places where you expect privacy and freedom?
If you use the internet, you know that your internet is throttled (which again, is against the law as per Net Neutrality, and I personally have evidence of CenturyLink actively doing this to people). The more you use, the more the provider spikes your speeds up and down – against the law (and for no reason, there are additional load times, things don’t load right, delays kick in, etc.).
If you use the internet, you know that you are forced into unreasonable and complex tier packages that are unscrupulous and you are forced to pay double what even third world countries might pay (PBS). Bend Broadband (for example), offers you an “internet only” connection with the claim of a reasonably high speed (up to 40 Mbps), for only $69.99 per month – but you cannot use more than 200 GB, just bare above the “average” U.S. household of 190 GB. However … if you want to pay $59.99 per month but get shoved into one of their crappy television streaming packages for another $199.99 per month, you can get your 40 Mbps and have unlimited. And … that’s how it works. Period:
Why? Power. In America, it is no secret that the biggest and baddest corporations with the most money have the power (thus, my background discussion on Anti-trust laws). Their end goal, to be as cheap as possible and control / force you into spending more (thus my background discussion on limited speeds, shared internet, and costs).
And, now, those same corporations have lobbied the government, paying off the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to end Net Neutrality (the only barrier left between the last ounce of freedom for the internet, knowledge, entertainment, and a complete and utter crushing of the souls of all Americans online). Don’t believe it can happen? The FCC has already voted to end supporting internet for low-income communities (The Hill). This means that low-income families in America, with impoverished children who barely have enough computing power to gain any knowledge (as there is not enough for things like “video games” or “movies”), will have LESS OPPORTUNITY than children in the MIDDLE OF AFRICA! And, to those who do not believe that the FCC is motivated by lobbyists of large corporations, the FCC is NOT funded by taxpayer dollars. They are funded ENTIRELY by the “FEES AND FINES” they collect (read more here).
Even MIT’s technology review wrote an article on this (subscription only), addresses the fact that Ajit Pai, chairman for the FCC, has been a harsh critic against the “Open Internet Order“. The Open Internet Order is the basis that America is founded on freedoms. Antitrust laws stop large corporations from illegally monopolizing industries and taking advantage of people. The poor have just as much right to services as the wealthy. And, the internet belongs to the people, since it is comprised of the computers connected around the world and AT&T, Comcast, and other corporations do NOT have a right to package and market these services as their own. The foolish argument of Pai is that the internet was classified from an “information service” to a “telecommunications service”. This means that the FCC could regulate it like a utility, thus forcing corporations to offer the freedom of knowledge and information to everyone.
The problem here is that while Net Neutrality allows the government to micromanage ISPs (the argument against net neutrality), it forces ISPs into an equal and fair method of data management, pricing structures, and no specialized interest censorship or marketing. While Ajit Pai argues that government regulations are over burdensome and prevent small, independent ISPs from competing, he is also lending support to large ISPs that have already bought out the small ISP competition market? Pai also continues to argue that ISPs will have to be “transparent” about their services so customers can “choose the plan that’s best for them”. That is the most bewildering and idiotic statement ever made. ISPs are clear about their tiered and specialized pricing structures that tell you to pay up – or get lost. Making them “more” transparent basically just tells the ISPs to further “flaunt” their power over the people. What kind of a *$&@*#$ says this and thinks it’s just an okay blanket statement that nobody would notice?
I try to avoid conspiracies or drawing conclusions (so that others may draw their own), but I shall step away from the person I am, to be the person who is not naive. Ajit Pai, is not only unusually positioned against the American people, but the only “people” support he has ever provided was to prisoners and low-cost calling (although this is an important issue). This brings into question what prisoners he specifically supports. Worse, he has been recently brought under scrutiny (and potentially investigation), for using his position as the Chairman of the FCC to push a private, financial endeavor for a specific, lobbying corporation. You have not heard about it in the news or been privilege to it on a wide-spread basis in America … but then again … he “IS” in charge of the FCC. I am sorry to make this connection and I apologize to the person for whom I write this (as this is not something typical of me) – but no one other than a completely evil, greedy, and corrupt whore monger would endeavor his life’s career to build up corporations, censor information to the public (taking away free speech, free religion, and knowledge), and is someone who is completely Anti-American.
Thus, I am reaching out to you, the American people. There are many fights, issues, and matters in our everyday lives that are out of our reach. There are many matters in our everyday lives that may drive us to frustration, anger, and a desire to stop what’s happening, yet, not be matters in our own neighborhood for which we have control. However, we do have control over this matter, and it does impact us. If you do not comprehend the consequences of letting Net Neutrality come to an end, then you should read this article from Quora. What is coming is not an “if”. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, other Universities, researchers, and the public, can not only quote what has happened, but what the large conglomerates are gearing up to do – to tell you in advance what will happen.
And, what’s barely discussed, is the so-called “open transparency” – which COULD be enacted without ending net neutrality, but is supposed to give corporations the ability to “better” cater their services to you. In other words, they get to monopolize their information online, their commercials online, and if you ever thought smart phone pop-ups and Youtube ads were annoying – well – hold on – it’s about to get a WHOLE lot worse. Now, the government will watch you more closely … and so will the big companies who are legally allowed to use “knowingly” deceptive and manipulative means to force your shopping habits to their benefit. America isn’t hurting because of the people – it’s hurting because of big companies manipulating people in unhealthy ways. But – that’s only my opinion. Just remember to think about it the next time you’re slamming your mocha latte or energy drink or fast food meal that you *suddenly realize* you didn’t need or want, but here you are, spending money on it, again.
At no time in American history has the corporate management and monopolization of any service, commodity, or other public matter not come with serious consequences that hurt both individuals and businesses alike. But, there have been few other times in American history when corporations held such power and sway over the U.S. Government. If you do not say anything and if you stand by idly, when you hear the streams of frustration pouring out over anti-Constitutional censorship, the mass anger over income inequality treatment, and watch the economy take another dive (as online commerce WILL be hurt) – remember that you had a chance – now – to do something.
Even some of the biggest players in Congress are fighting this out. And, if you don’t understand what happened to E-Commerce in the 90’s (because somehow, history keeps repeating itself), then read this article from Fast Company. Large corporations were consolidating internet traffic into their own regime, placing huge amounts of control over it, forcing their brand into it, and up-charging for it. E-commerce all but died. Enjoy E-Bay, Amazon, or some other, online shopping service? Had companies like IBM not monopolized and done to the internet what will happen if net neutrality end, then there would be many, many other sites and prices WOULD have dropped!
Don’t just contact your Congressman and Senator and say “I don’t want it”. Do more. Be more. You have power (without the internet, of course – as no net neutrality will exist to stop you from being censored). But – vote. Vote those representatives who betrayed the trust of the American people, OUT of office. And, if you are so inclined, everyone should call for the immediate suspension and removal of Ajit Pai (including an investigation into potential Department of Homeland Security concerns and anti-Constitutional violations of office).
What else can you do? Simple – contact the FCC and tell them what’s going on! And, you can then contact your cable provider, internet provider, and a few networks, and inform them that if the end of net neutrality passes, you will shut off your televisions and end your service. No termination fees will be paid (hard for them to enforce it if 100 million people simultaneously do it). And, what’s the worse thing that happens?
Advertisers don’t get paid. Hollywood actors don’t make money. You get a few months of freedom “jonesing” on your favorite show (which will probably be on Hulu or Netflix soon, anyway). In the meantime, your representatives fight back because businesses are losing money. Hollywood stops putting out for the big corporations because they’re not getting paid anymore. And, suddenly, the nation wakes up and says, “Oh yeah … forgot that we weren’t supposed to SCREW the people we’re already driving nails into… Oops!”
At least, change will happen. But, it can’t just be you. you have friends. You have neighbors. You can wear buttons (I am now … a homemade cheap sticker – but it’s all I have and it gets my point across). You can go to events. You can make phone calls. And, if you get 2 people … and they each get 2 people … and they each get 2 people (and so on), and we use Facebook, Twitter, and all these other stupid social media outlets for some good (for once) – at least you’ll get to see what happens! It’ll be fun!
But, remember – even if you do this – this is America. Money wins. Not freedom. Not Democracy. And, not a Republic. Let the world know, while the internet is still available to you – don’t bother coming here. This isn’t the freest nation on Earth.
If net neutrality goes – this post will probably be banned (or charged for, with no credit to the creator), too. After all … changing history for big money lets it happen over and over. Of course – please do your own research and homework and come to your own conclusions. I can talk about this all day long – but to make an educated decision – you must give yourself an education. This is the base for free choice – which is your right.
Hope I used your time wisely.
Thank you for reading.
Sorry. No quote this post. Nothing to say. Nothing to do now but wait for the voice of freedom to begin ringing out … stretching out … and hopefully keeping some, small faction of America intact.