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Moonlight meanderer

Imitation and The Content Avalanche Ahead?

Banes at Aug. 31, 2023, midnight
tags: frikkin-ai-again, thursdayswithbanes

During the filming of Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock was unable to be on set one day. His crew filmed the scene for that day (I believe it was where Arbogast, the detective, goes up the stairs where he encounters Mrs. Bates). Hitchcock saw the footage, and said he had to reshoot it completely. It was shot as though Arbogast was an aggressor, and needed to be shot as though he was a victim.

Some stories from comics that were massive successes have been attempted in movies several times (the Dark Phoenix saga, or a portion of it, comes to mind). It has never been done to the fans' satisfaction as near as I can tell. Other stories have been adapted with great success. It's usually successful when the adaptation retains some faithfulness to the original story - but changes ALWAYS have to be made in an adaptation.

After the release of Pulp Fiction, which was earth-shattering at the time, many movies copied its tone, gangster/crime characters and shocking material, comedy combined with violence, and jumping around in time. Most of those imitators are long-forgotten, while Pulp Fiction still packs a punch when people watch it now.

Think of the glut of slasher movies post-Halloween, the raunchy comedies post-There's Something About Mary, and the imitators of The Beatles and Bob Dylan and Nirvana and so on and so on.

When something really pops, the imitations come in droves. It's the way it goes!

Science Fiction writers (and readers, and other folks) have dreamed of a future where the difficult but necessary work is taken over by automation, and that in a wise and humane society, this would free up humanity for other pursuits - very likely creative pursuits, or other fulfilling activities, whatever they might be.

The question of AI is a major source of disagreement between the studios and the striking writers. The studios' point of view is obvious - using AI to write will be faster, cheaper, and avoids the human element to a degree (but only to a degree - someone needs to prompt and edit the AI output).

Like the human imitators we've always had, Artificial Intelligence takes what already exists and produces works based upon a blending of various elements. It can understand structures that can be measured mathematically, and can regurgitate existing facts it has access to.

But it has no understanding of how long to wait, in tension, before a break is needed. Like a joke or a jump scare. It doesn't know when or why to suddenly pivot between a lighthearted interaction and a devastatingly serious one. The contradictory nuances of humans and human interaction are beyond an AI's understanding, and my layperson's opinion is that they will remain so for a long time to come.

I can't help but think of the arts and entertainment as an area where AI is the LEAST suited. As a supportive technology, sure. But to capture the spark of humanity needed for real art, or even real entertainment - the nuances and the moments and the accidents that resonate with audiences…No!

How this will all shake out I have no idea. Will the imitations be released by the thousands mere days or weeks after something new clicks with audiences? Will most of us be constantly occupied with more new shows and movies than we can handle, with AI scripts, actors, and music along with editing and distribution? Or will all of this stuff ring hollow to most audiences before too long?

Anyway, these were my scattered thoughts on this, this week.


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Moonlight meanderer

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