Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bad reviews of future news

Since the post at this blog in mid-January about a viral video set in the future of an inundated New York City, two more supposedly viral videos have joined it online to promote National Geographic Channel's upcoming program, Six Degrees Could Change the World.

The first clip suggests a dust storm in Dallas in 02034. Like the New York underwater clip, there are no people in sight -- it doesn't carry the visceral impact it was clearly after. (And, sorry to say, but again with the shoddy CG animation!)

The second clip is a bit more interesting, from my point of view. Eschewing the (aesthetically unsuccessful) imitation of big-budget establishing shots, it provides a far more subtle, and in a sense relatable (is that really a word?) scenario; a water crisis in Southern California. The footage shows water trickling from a tap, and guys moving around boxes of water-bottles -- exactly the type of mundane stuff a news report would use to represent a story of this kind. So this, as a way of communicating the water crisis scenario, is a metonymic strategy not unlike the present-day still shots I put online this week suggesting a world without oil.

It's unfortunate that they opted for plodding consistency in framing this set of viral videos, foregoing the chance to say anything interesting about how the world -- including news reportage -- might change over the period described (beyond the focal issue of climate). The news screens are shown as interlaced video, which is beginning to look old-fashioned even now, in early 02008, as HD-TV becomes standard. Worse, the hypothetical "CNC News", for some odd reason, uses exactly the same visual style and format (logos, bugs, the headline crawl) in 02026, 02034, and 02051. Was this important to their message? I don't see how, considering the teasers all conclude by sending the viewer, a little didactically, to the same non-diegetic website, which breaks the scenarios' universe right away.

Call me critical (or better yet, sceptical), but I'm disappointed by the wasted potential here.

Could this have anything to do with the slow response of cyberspace? The dust storm was uploaded on 18 January and is showing, as I write, only 83 views. The water shortage clip was posted 25 January and has been viewed 23 times.

(Thanks to John Maus for pointing me to the water clip.)


Stuart Candy said...

I've just noticed that the water shortage clip embedded in this post has been deleted at some stage by the poster, "CNC News".

Weird. Wonder why?

At the moment, the other two future clips (flooded New York and the Dallas dust storm) are still live, however, together with a plain vanilla (not in-scenario) ad for Six Degrees.

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