Six Seconds for Forty Million Users

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Why the “Vine” is such a success in social media

 For almost ten years, Youtube was the emperor of the Internet video. Billions of people view and upload videos on Youtube about all elements of life. The last year, however, there is an addition on the Internet video on the market: the Vine. Vine is a mobile app, owned by social media giant Twitter, and allows people to create and post short videos. The videos are only about six seconds. In just a couple of months, the number of users of Vine skyrocketed and it became the most-downloaded app of the Apple store. Why is the Vine such a huge success and if there are, what are its disadvantages?

            In the first place, the strength of Vine lies in the shortness of the video. It seems impossible to tell a story in only six seconds, but Hemingway wrote one of his best stories in only six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” (Hemingway, 1992). The limited time of the video forces people to use their creativity and to use to the point material.

It is also fairly easy to use. Vine is one of the simplest applications in the entire App store because it only needs a finger on the screen to create a video (no record button). The option to take the finger off allows the user to create a stop-motion effect.

Vine’s simplicity, however, has another side. It is, for example, not possible to edit the video that is created; it stays in the shape it is recorded. The same applies to the background noises, since it is not possible to choose a song or even to remove unwelcome sounds.

A lot of people do not seem to mind the application’s simplicity though, since the number of users passed over forty million in August 2013.  An important point is that the users often have various backgrounds and are interracial. In a Vine, minorities create ironic and humorous videos about the differences between races, but without getting hateful. This is one of the powers of Vine, because it reaches a large quantity of people and this makes it interesting for companies to promote their concepts.

All in all, Vine owes its popularity to its simplicity, concept of six seconds videos and the varied groups of people that are using Vine. It has some disadvantages, namely its simplicity, which is its failure but also its strength. Fact is, however, that the ball that is named Vine is still rolling and is getting larger and larger. The perpetuity of the Application is uncertain, but this applies to many forms of social media.

Bibliography

Hemingway, Ernest. “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” 1992.

Paresh, Dave. “Video App Vine’s popularity is spreading, six seconds at a time.” June 20, 2013. The Los Angeles Times.

Sippey, Michael. “Vine: A new way to share video.” January 24, 2013. https://blog.twitter.com/2013/vine-a-new-way-to-share-video

Opera Meets Pop Culture

paint breaking bad

Opera Meets Pop Culture

An opera company based in New York intends to turn Breaking Bad into an opera

Sung Jin Hong, the artistic director of the opera company One World Symphony, has announced that he will be turning AMC’s hit series Breaking Bad into an opera called Breaking Bad-Ozymandias, following the recent trend to reach into pop culture instead of only the classics.

Breaking Bad-Ozymandias certainly is not the first of its kind. There have been productions of popular touchstones not only by One World Symphony but various other opera companies as well. These include productions like Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, several bands such as U2, The Beatles and Coldplay, and even cultural icons namely Jerry Springer, Playmate Anne Nicole Smith and Stephen King. These productions were generally regarded as successful.

The trend to create adaptations of pop culture has to do with the intent of opera companies to attract different audiences “who wouldn’t usually be seen dead at an opera house,” but also to acknowledge the operatic tradition of telling stories of extreme fates dealt to the characters.

The reactions for these pop culture operas have been mixed so far, with the more traditional newspapers giving them “lukewarm” or worse reviews, while other more progressive newspapers have been lauding the productions.

Hong claims that popular shows can have the same depth that traditional operas possess, namely that they explore crises of emotion under pressure that can be social, cultural, political and even spiritual. They grip the audience and involve them in the complex plot and the transformation of the characters. In this sense, Hong compares the transformation of Breaking Bad’s protagonist to those of classical opera characters: “The main characters in Grimes, Elektra and Salomé slowly transform from protagonist to antagonist…In all these noir narratives, the seeds are carefully planted in advance, and when they are strategically harvested, the fruits go far beyond our expectation.”

If the aforementioned criteria are what constitute a good opera, then Breaking Bad is suitable as an operatic subject. Hong likens the structure of opera, in which the narrative can be stopped to focus on certain moments and their relevance to other moments, to Breaking Bad stating, “Breaking Bad achieves [the structure of opera] too: sometimes a whole episode is about one idea, or the plot is so twisted you spend time unpacking what it actually means for each character.”

The second name in the title, Ozymandias, refers to the famous poem by Shelley. Hong states that “Similar to the downfall of Ozymandias, Walt White with all his brilliance and power does not foresee his inevitable destruction and demise of all those that surround him.”

If this adaptation of Breaking Bad will be lauded, or if will turn out to have been a mistake will be left open for now as the production will first be aired in January 2014.

By Riemer van der Hoop

Bibliography

Burton-Hill, Clemency. “Breaking Bad and Anna Nicole: Opera meets pop culture.” BBC culture. BBC,  16 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

Jones, Alice. “New York’s ‘hippest orchestra’ to create Breaking Bad opera.” The Independent. The independent, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 Oct. 2013.

Make Your Neighborhood Safe!

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Did you know that more than 90 % of prisoners return to society within a few years? This is why it is vitally important how we treat prisoners while they are incarcerated.

Part of the problem is that the prisoner, surrounded by other criminals, is more likely to get involved in criminal activities. This will eventually result in reoffending when the prisoner returns to society. We have the solution to reduce the chance of reoffending and even to reduce the number of crimes on our streets with one simple solution!

With your support (only 3 euro’s a month!) Call for Artists makes this all possible with a simple solution: creativity. We will provide the prisoners with creative and cultural workshops to impact positively on the prisoner’s environment and to give them a second chance to step out of criminality.

“My colleague Bandy Lee showed that an intensive creative program with violent male offenders in the San Francisco jails reduced the level of violence in the jail to zero for a year at a time!” Peter Lebowski, 47, San Francisco

The creativity and cultural workshops will lead to:

  • Improved literacy skills
  • Increased employment prospects
  • Maintained or improved relationships with families, peers and community
  • Improvements in the attitudes or behaviour of the convicts, which leads to greater acceptance of responsibility in their own behaviour

“Every month I receive a lovely poem or drawing from the prison in San Francisco thanks to Call for Artists!” Robert Grant, New York

Imagine that: we are stimulating creativity and reducing the number of crimes at the same time. With your help we can!

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A Reaction to the “Zwarte Piet” Discussion

A reaction to the “Zwarte Piet” discussion

Column Rosanna Stek

Zwarte piet

 October: a month in which almost nothing happens. The summer makes place for shorter days filled with rain and except for Animal Day on the fourth, there are no particular events. Nobody is in the mood for it anyway. On the other hand: we have to look forward to something, right? At least, that is what supermarkets and all other shops think. The shelves are stuffed with sweet treats, Christmas-cards and reindeer-hair-bows. In the Netherlands, however, we have Sinterklaas; which takes place in the beginning of December. The fact that Sinterklaas has black helpers cannot ruin the festivities.

                                                        Or can it this year?

In the newspapers it is a hot item: discussions about the “slaves” of Sinterklaas. I asked myself some questions: are we really keeping a racist tradition alive and indoctrinating our children with the idea it is normal for white old men to use black slaves for hard work?

I don’t think so. Okay, we have a history in slave trading and it is quite hard to explain the story to foreigners.

So we might be racist. Sinterklaas is dominant and his black helpers are subordinate to him. In the first place, we tried to soothe this matter with the explanation that Zwarte Piet is black from the chimney. Of course, this is fairly unrealistic, unless there are lipsticks and wigs in chimneys; they are not just black, but they are stereotyped as in Herge’s Tintin in Congo from the 1940’s, with big red lips and earrings.

Piet, however, already experienced a big evolution through the past years: from a clownish “slave” to a clever and even ‘cool’ helper. Kids rather play Piet than Sinterklaas. Also, in the Dutch series “Sinterklaasjournaal” Sinterklaas is portrayed as an old, senile man who has to be saved by his smart, strong (black) personal assistents.

If we think Zwarte Piet is racist; what about clowns? They paint their faces white and act like, well, a clown. Is that racist as well? Or what about the fact that Sinterklaas is a man and not a woman? No single complaint in the Margriet. We can have the discussion whether it is racist or not to have Zwarte Pieten year after year; but the fact remains that some people are offended by this tradition.

So we have to find some creative solutions. Maybe a (white) Piet? That discriminates the white people. Yellow Piet? Discriminating the Chinese. Red? Indians. Rainbow? Homosexuals. Then maybe the real question is, is the skin colour of the Zwarte Pieten the problem, or the skin colour of Sinterklaas? So, maybe a black Sinterklaas? Or not a Sinterklaas at all: just a bunch of happy Zwarte Pieten. Because children would not miss Sinterklaas that much; but they will miss the Pieten.

New Artistic Director for the Royal National Theatre

The Royal National Theatre is, along with the Royal Shakespeare Company, one of the most prominent theatre companies of the UK.  For the sixth time since its creation, it has appointed a new artistic director. In 2015, Rufus Norris will take over from the current director, Sir Nicholas Hytner.

The Guardian reports that ‘the worst thing would have been to opt for a supposedly safe pair of hands. Instead, the National has put a premium on talent.’ As a director who is known for making unpredictable, fearless choices, Norris fits the bill perfectly. His work in theatre and film has won him several awards, among which are the Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer and the Golden Eye award for best international film at Cannes.

While Norris is relatively unknown, the decision has been met with great enthusiasm thus far. His predecessor has the following to say about Norris’s appointment: ‘An absolutely brilliant decision.. his productions have been as exciting as anything that has occurred on these stages…. His work as a director is always searching, deeply considered and adventurous and I have no doubt he will bring these qualities to the running of the National.’ During the announcement, Norris received a standing ovation from both actors and staff of the National Theatre. Norris himself feels privileged and says he will ‘attack it with as much gusto and vitality as I have.’

While Norris is popular and considered a good choice, he has little experience with Shakespeare, whose works are performed regularly. Additionally, he has never run a theatre before. In other words, it will be tough to follow up after Hytner, who was considered to be brilliant at his work. Norris will be judged by the highest standards.

By Marloes Eskes

Source:

Higgins, Charlotte (2013, October 15). Rufus Norris is popular choice as National Theatre Boss. The Guardian.

Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/oct/15/rufus-norris-popular-choice-national-theatre-hytner

 

Higgins, Charlotte (2013, October 15). National Theatre appoints Rufus Norris as new artistic director. The Guardian.

Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/oct/15/national-theatre-theatre

 

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Man Booker Prize changes the rules

This year’s Booker prize went to Eleanor Catton for her book The Luminaries which makes her the youngest Booker prize winner ever. The Man Booker prize is awarded for the best original full-length novel written in the English language. From next year on, authors from all over the world will be considered for this prize.

Novelist Julian Barnes, winner of the Booker prize in 2011, does not think this is a good decision. Just before this year’s announcement of the winner, Barnes said on BBC radio 3 that “it is much less likely that a British writer, or a young writer, will win it in the future.”

Barnes states that “There’s a certain cultural cringe in this country to the big American books and I fear that British writer will win [the prize] much less often.” Furthermore, he states that he was surprised when he heard about the decision.

Barnes is not the only one who thinks the decision is not the best course of action. Melvyn Bragg said in The Sunday Times that he was “Disappointed […] thought not that surprised. The Booker will now lose its distinctiveness.”

However, there are also people who think the decision is a positive one. Sam Leaith said that “the territory of the English novel is the English language” thus it is only logical to include American books. The only concern he had was the number of submissions the judges would have to read.

Another person who is positive about the change is Kazuo Ishiguro. He said in The Independent that “the world has changed and it no longer makes sense to split up the writing world in this way.” Therefore he believes that the decision is only logical.

Even though the opinions are divided, the new rule will come into effect in 2014. This means that anyone writing in the English language is allowed to participate.

Bibliography

Bury, Liz (2013, October 15). Julian Barnes says new Booker rules will hurt British writers. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/julian-barnes-new-booker-rules-british

The Man Booker Prize (2013, September 20). Weekly Roundup: Reactions to the expansion announcement. The Man Booker Prize. Retrieved from http://www.themanbookerprize.com/feature/weekly-roundup-reactions-expansion-announcement

The Man Booker Prize (2013, September 18). Man Booker Prize announces global expansion. The Man Booker Prize. Retrieved from http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/man-booker-prize-announces-global-expansion