Monday, May 14, 2012

Science fiction double feature

I watched a documentary called American Scary over the weekend.  I really enjoyed it and thing you should give it a look.  It's about TV Horror Hosts in America and the creature features they presented.  This was an important part of the television landscape that had basically vanished. I enjoyed it for two delightful little thoughts I was left musing after the movie finished.  Those being locality with regard to the Internet and the introduction of lexicon.

I want to first talk about the introduction of lexicon.  I am using that term for something far larger; the introduction to the hidden world of a new subject.  It ties in a bit with my post on John Water's and is introduction to underground cinema; in that he gave me new keywords for my lexicon.  Basically allowing me to investigate the worlds hidden within those words.

There is immense power in the teacher of hidden knowledge.  In American Scary they often used the term Shaman.  I don't like the mystical tone this gives, but it is correct.  There are certain subjects, especially those falling in fandom, that are outside of popular grasp.  You need a weird uncle or older friend to guide you, the hosts of these shows were every ones weird uncle.  If I can give some personal example, an acquaintance brought his daughter to a party we were at.  She mentioned being into anime but only knowing a few shows.  Several older guests were geeks and talked at length about shows like Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets.  Having blundered into the subject via friends at school she lacked the history of the subject and missed the lexicon.  This guide is also familiar to any fan of heavy metal, though often its is just someone who gives you a gentle push.  Often just a long haired guy at the record store who encourages you to buy Sabbath instead.

These hosts or guides are really something we now lack and need.  As information expands and become ubiquitous inroads to subjects become more difficult.  With the expansion of storage space both physical and within the cloud and on demand sources becoming the norm people really don't know what to demand.  The host who guides the initiate becomes even more important, taking the viewer on a journey through the subject.

One aspect of these hosts that made them unique was their locality.  These were not some national personality talking of comicon in San Diego but rather a local voice mentioning Westercon in the next big city.  I really is of little use to say Gencon is the best convention of Dungeons and Dragons there is; as a kid even a hundred miles is as far as Europe.  Telling someone the name and address of their friendly local gaming store is a help. In American Scary they talk about the power of showing a kids picture on TV, the joy it brings.  This close connection to audience only comes with locality.  we have some tools for geotargetting of content on the Internet already.  Most of these revolve around targeting of ads but the technology is certainly there. 

Taking these thoughts of locality and lexicon into mind I will end this with a thought. Our content providers should open themselves up to addition connect and the control of their own content.  This would allow for an interested party to create a host person and take the user through the monolith of content that exists as on demand.  Concerned persons could adopt a persona and present shows with garage level production values that very much approach the quality of early Horror Hosts. It should be local as that has value.  Perhaps it even exists already, let me know.

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