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CapitolTV: Mandatory for Fans and Marketers

In News & Media, Sci-Fi on October 23, 2014 at 8:35 am

Watch CapitolTV. It’s mandatory.

Lionsgate is ramping up publicity with a new video marketing campaign for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I” in the final month before the movie’s Nov. 21 release date.  After the numerous trailers, TV spots and teasers for the penultimate Hunger Games movie, Lionsgate did something different to capture fan attention without overexposing the movie.

There are 3 big reasons CapitolTV is awesome (I’m not being forced to say that, either).  It enhances the series with world-building, it celebrates YouTube and it embraces viral marketing to reach the film’s key demographic.

Check this out:

District Voices harkens back to the propaganda theme of earlier trailers.  The new campaign reinforces the movie’s trailers and, in a subtle way, tells the reader what to expect when they get to theaters in November.

Mockingjay was the most politically complex book of the series.  Transferring context for page to screen is tricky.  Building the atmosphere ahead of time will allow the movie to flow faster and focus on plot.

If you watched the video above closely, you may recognize some big name YouTubers such as Threadbanger.  Lionsgate (AKA The Hunger Games marketing team) acknowledges a cultural shift in how people – not just Millennials – consume media.

But CapitolTV spots don’t just star YouTubers.  They celebrate them.

Watch Closely:

Where was the video located on YouTube?  I’ll give you a hint/answer:  the District Two spot, starring YouTuber and self defense teacher fightTIPS, is uploaded on his channel then saved on a CapitolTV playlist.

The placement acknowledges that fightTIPS and other CapitolTV guests aren’t just performers. They’re creators.  Uploading the video to a YouTuber’s channel is a tip of the hat to the people who make YouTube such an interesting and entertaining community.

This is great because it increases movie exposure to a population segment that might not have tuned in otherwise.  District Two’s video on fighting skills highlights the action you’ll expect from Mockingjay Part I, targeting viewers who are obviously into defense and fitness.  District Eight’s video is about DIY crafts and costuming, an aspect of the movies that some viewers really enjoy.

That’s also why you won’t see a CapitolTV video posted to the Vlogbrothers channel.  Nerdfighters didn’t need any motivation to go see this movie.

Waterworld: Becoming the Kevin Costner Movie We Didn’t Know We Could Be

In Creative, Movies/TV, Pop Culture!, Sci-Fi, The Great Outdoors on April 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Why Sea Level Matters – Even if We’re Not Waterworld

Environmental textbooks like to emphasize that ours is a water world, driven by a complex hydrological system that both regulates global temperatures and nourishes the land.  But that’s not the kind of water world I’m talking about.

I’m talking about Waterworld, the 1995 post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie starring Kevin Costner.  It’s a bizarre film – and not just because its eco-friendly protagonist sports webbed toes and gills.  Waterworld’s western parallels play out on a vast, post-apocalyptic ocean where the desert is made of water and all the horses are boats.

Costner plays The Mariner, a drifter whose very nature makes him unsuited for civilized life.  The gruff nomad finds himself drawn into a woman’s quest to find Dryland, a mythic place in this distant future where the polar ice caps have melted and drowned all dry land.

dystopian sci-fi, waterworld dystopian sci-fi, climate change in pop culture,

Check out what the world will look like after the ice melts!

The good news is that scientists think it will take up to 5,000 years for all the ice on Earth to melt – not the mere 500 years it took in the movie universe.

The mechanics of sea level rise are fairly simple.  Heat absorbed from the sun is warming ocean water.  Warming water expands, its extra space contributing to higher sea levels while its heat melts smaller ice caps and glaciers.

Most of the Earth’s warming over the past 40 years has been hidden in the ocean, and that’s unsettling because it took scientists almost as long to figure that out. Meanwhile, the combination of atmospheric warming and ocean warming has helped global sea levels rise 1.0 – 2.5 millimeters per year over the last century.

At the same time, global warming patterns are expected to speed glacial melt and increase tropical sea temperatures.  Sea levels are difficult to predict but could rise between 6 – 37 inches by 2100 … if Antarctica holds.

WAIS, antarctic ice sheets, map of antarctic ice sheetsThere’s a reason most research on sea level rise leads to the Antarctic.  The continent, which is covered in snow and glacial ice, holds more than 800,000 years of climate history in its ice.  With ice shelves extending off 75 percent of its coastline, Antarctica is the Big Boss for climate change.

Glaciologists agree that the Come-to-Jesus moment for sea level rise will happen when and if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) collapses.  A marine ice sheet, the WAIS could become unstable if ocean warming trends continue.  If this one ice sheet melts, it could raise sea levels more than three meters (about 10 feet).

Evidence from sediment samples in ice cores suggests the WAIS melted in previous interglacial periods.  Keeping a watchful eye is not unreasonable, especially after the recent collapses of two major Antarctic ice shelves:  The Larsen A in 1995 and the Larsen B in 2002.  While studies have since shown the Larsen A previously melted and returned, they also concluded that the Larsen B Ice Shelf was a permanent fixture during previous warming cycles.

This begs the question:  Is Waterworld even possible?

Nope!  Melting polar ice caps will not drown the entire known world – but they would rewrite it. If the polar ice caps, land ice and glaciers all melted, the Earth’s sea level would rise more than 200 feet. Swaths of North America would disappear into the Atlantic and whole countries erased, but there would still be land.

While this isn’t exactly Waterworld-type ocean rise, it would devastate already at- risk coastal cities and upend today’s geopolitical structure.

And that’s kinda the point of the film.

For a film that doesn’t openly discuss ecology, Waterworld is surprisingly preachy.  The reluctant hero is a man whose mutations enable him to live in harmony with the environment.  The antagonists, pirates who cobbled together smoke-belching combustion engines, terrorize society from an old oil tanker called Exxon Valdez.  Even its premise evolved with the idea that humans created ecological factors resulting in their own destruction.

“What was different about [Waterworld] was that it had to do with an ecological conflagration, a whole world covered in water because of human stupidity and greed,” said director Kevin Reynolds in a 1995 interview.

the mariner boat, exxon valdez waterworld,

Scientists don’t expect Antarctica to melt any time soon.  The continent, which is buried beneath feet of ice sheets, can survive warmer climates for some time before it gives way.

For now, Antarctica’s western ice sheet is safe.  But should it fail in the future, we may well be on our way to the water world Kevin Reynolds and Peter Rader envisioned.  And, as in the movie, it would be society’s destructive practices that caused it.

TMI: The Problem of Midi-chlorians in Star Wars

In Sci-Fi on March 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Midi-chlorians: the unwanted answer to an unasked question.

Star Wars is basically a fantasy movie set in space. The original series doesn’t attempt to explain the science behind its world-building. The trilogy’s tone implied a mysticism surrounding Jedi Knights, robed warrior-monks who protected the balance of good and evil. People shot lightning from their fingertips.  Lightsabers just worked. The Force remained mysterious.

use the force, star wars use the force, Star Wars is full of fantasy tropes. Beneath the soft sci-fi trappings, it is the story of a young hero called to a task he isn’t ready for. Once he undertakes his quest to save the damsel in distress, he is pulled into the greater struggle of good versus evil and must “come into his own” to defeat the dark lord.

And that’s fine by me. In fact, the fantasy themes within the original Star Wars trilogy added grandiosity to the space saga by implying a spiritual element that carried on after death. True Jedi Masters were at peace with mortality because they understood the physical world as they knew it was impermanent. Unexplained, The Force gave larger meaning to Darth Vader’s redemption story. There was a bigger picture behind Luke’s training and the deaths of Obi-Wan and Yoda.

If I could choose one thing wrong with the prequel trilogy – besides Jar Jar Binks – it’s midi-chlorians. Midi-chlorians are intelligent microbes living symbiotically within the cells of all living things. High enough levels of the microbes allow people to sense the energy field (commonly known as the Force) in the same way that some animals see additional wavelengths on the color spectrum. Therefore, a person’s midi-chlorian count determines whether they are Force sensitive.

midi-chlorians, star wars midichlorians, what are midichlorians,Hard science fiction fans probably cheered at revelation. George Lucas probably cheered, too. After all, midi-chlorians opened room for entire novels in the Expanded Universe book series, revealing that Darth Plagueis’ experiments with the microscopic organisms are indirectly responsible for Anakin Skywalker’s birth.

Anakin Skywalker isn’t the Chosen One as we’d thought for so many years. He’s a case of science turning on its master. Anakin is the poster child for human experiments gone awry – the Sith equivalent of t-virus or Skynet.

Anakin’s origins are cool in their own right, but the franchise’s science-fantasy roots made it popular.  I think the Midi-chlorian Revelation sabotages the source material. It bleeds the Star Wars trilogy drier than Tatooine – and it’s hard to beat a planet where people have to actively harvest moisture from the atmosphere to survive.  

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