How the Sacred Movie-watching Experience Survived the First Round of Extinction

When I graduated from film school in 2008, the landscape of the entertainment industry was changing, morphing with the technology and trying to catch up to new innovations.

Young filmmakers, like myself, anticipated the expiration of television and were just starting to accept all that YouTube had to offer. Meanwhile, grand cinematic spectacles were calling attention, i.e. Avatar in 3D. Yes, it seems as though there was going to be a whole spectrum of viewing habits.

But will movie watching experience be as sacred as church? Or was it going to be a secular pastime, one we try to catch up on like talking to an old friend at a party or a novel on our nightstand?

Inspired by the recent Oscars, I give you the five nominated movie-watching experiences as voted by me—nope, not movies, but movie watching experiences.

NETFLIX

For a while Canadians were reluctant to subscribe to Netflix, mostly out of envy—subscribers from the States were getting more than three times the content—but the on-demand-movie-and-television service suggested that if more people join Netflix, the more content it can generate, both by hammering out legalities through traditional licensing models and by producing their own shows.

House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development won many viewers over, and once they got hooked to the binge watching lure of Netflix—it’s not so easy to quit.

TORRENT/STREAMING

The pirated movie and television distribution market is competitive market, albeit an illegal and risky market. With memories of Megaupload still fresh in many downloaders and streamers’ mind, this well-known paradigm is still one that most are treading lightly on.

While many consider this method to be a hassle, others consider it the most reasonable. Viewers are paying by sending traffic to the hosting sites, dealing with pop-up ads and the occasional glitches in download and streams. “Just let it buffer!”

The “no honour among thieves” mentality lives on in this movie watching experience that have existed since the dawn of the digital era. As long as the leaches and seeders continue feeding off of each other, this category will not disappear anytime soon to the chagrin of the big media companies.

APPLE TV and WEB-ENABLED TELEVISION

Bridging the gap from your phone and computer to the television—this relatively new all-in-one model is bringing viewers back to the couch. At least that was the plan.

Unfortunately I don’t know many people who use Apple TV, or even consider getting it. The living room battleground is a tough one to win, even for a trusted brand like Apple. After all, just look at all the different boxes and consoles you have under the television. Needless to say, there is still a lot of convincing needed to prove that cable is obsolete and that the video game consoles won’t suffice. But I think that is just a matter of time.

REDBOX

Since the closure of many video rental stores, Redbox have been the alternative. Standing tall, proud and unobtrusively at a grocery store, the video vending machine offers hot new DVD releases the same way ol’ Blockbuster used to. Comforting to many and laughable to some, Redbox fulfills a service that is still in demand.

As a result of having a secret Santa that no longer cared for the physical medium, I received an arm full of DVDs and BluRay last Christmas. I still relish the nostalgia of DVDs. Seems like just yesterday my family was arguing whether to buy a HD DVD player or a BluRay player, I’m still not sure if we made the right decision. Unlike VHS, DVDs have a bit more to offer in terms of bonus features. And they are compatible enough to remain an impulse buy. But being compared to VHS is never a good thing.

MOBILE

We watch movies everywhere: in bed, at work, on the bus, at a coffee shop, on the john and even in the movie theatre waiting for the movie to start. Personally, I can’t watch a three-hour movie the same way I check my Tweets. But content on the go is what the public wants.

Last year’s study by Motorola Mobility’s Fourth Annual Media Engagement Barometer showed that 55% of smartphone or tablet owners have downloaded and stored movies and TV shows onto their devices. There is so much content in the world that if we were to spend every living moment watching something new, we would not do anything else. Mobile devices are fostering that challenge and allowing people to consume on the go, in addition to hoarding content.

As much as filmmakers want to get people into the theatre, they must also consider the other audiences, and choose to whether nurture the new platforms or not. We’ve come a long way in five years—who knows where we’ll be in another.

Chivalry is dead and feminism dug the grave

 

Is my shining armour sexist? 

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 11, 2014

I believe in equal rights—at least, I want to. I believe I’m like a lot of other men, straddling the line between sexist and feminist, teetering back and forth by the push and pull of social expectation and traditional beliefs. Yes, I’m the kind of guy who wants to hold the door open, who wants to pull the chair out, and who also wants to split the bill at the end of the night. I want to be chivalrous, but what does that word even mean anymore?

Men pride themselves on being financial supporters. If my situation were different, I would pay for everything, despite the fact that my female counterpart will be earning the same amount or more. After all, a woman’s success is her success, not my failure by any means.

Yet, there is still this stigma towards a woman treating a man in certain situations, mainly in public—maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t believe it is. I know that deep down men still strive to be the dominant gender. We feel good when we can open jars for her, do heavy lifting for her, and even put a roof over her head. It’s not that we consider our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc. to be inferior, but like I said, we’re proud.

Women would argue that men do not need to be chivalrous; they only need to be polite and respectful. Many feminists will say that women don’t need men to protect them because they are not damsels in distress. But men want to protect women and save them from distress, even if there isn’t any. Guys, how many times did you feel the need to walk a girl home at night, or at least to the bus stop or the SkyTrain station? You know, because her safety matters. Girls, how many times did you judge a guy for not offering or for outright refusing to take you home? What a lazy thoughtless bum, right?

I don’t want to feel responsible, but I do. I know that if something does happen to her, I would feel guilty, and that is just the way I was moulded to feel. Sure, it wasn’t my fault. I’m not a superhero, I’m not even a mall security guard, but when a man can’t protect those he cares about, then in a way, he can’t call himself a man. It might be my generation’s narcissism or it might just be my own insecurity; either way, I feel a greater need to protect the women in my life than the guys. I’ll hold the door open for you, dude—while I’m here anyways.

It might be the fact that men have been mistreating women since the dawn of time, and there will always be dick heads out there. That was why chivalry existed during medieval times, to protect women from those dick heads. Now in the modern age, the measuring stick is not that apparent for either gender. But guys, whether you are a feminist or not, normal human decency will always ring through; it’s more important than any useless labels.

With all that being said, the chivalry period is over. But that doesn’t mean us guys can’t still do the things Prince Charming did. Yes, we should still open doors, we should still pull out chairs, and hell, we should split the bill once in a while—not only with women, but with all people.

The Report Card: Education

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Originally published in The Other Press. Mar. 11, 2014

Education is akin to medicine, nutrition, and fitness; it’s a vital part of being a person. But knowledge is not about being smarter than the person beside us, it’s about mutual support. In post-secondary, we are forced to think and learn with a competitive mindset—we’re all battling for the best life possible, after all. But for other students, it’s more than simply getting good grades, graduating with honours, and applying for work: it’s about surviving and creating normality. Blessed or cursed, the willingness to learn is what defines us in the end.

Pass: Supporting inmates

We all make mistakes—some more haunting than others—but we must be afforded the opportunity to redeem ourselves since capital punishment is not an option. If you think it’s hard to bounce back after your GPA drops, try bouncing back after receiving a criminal record. Certain doors are closed after that, so it’s even more important to support our inmates as they attempt to make the transition from criminal to lawful civilian.

The current correctional and educational services offered by the Canadian government are available in institutions of all levels (minimum to maximum security). Everything from teaching basic grade school-level knowledge that helps inmates deal with daily problems to vocational education that teaches them certain trade skills.

These initiatives help inmates put their best foot forward the day they leave their correctional facility.

We, as poor college students, may often feel the injustice of having to take student loans and work extra shifts to pay for our own education—leaving us exhausted and in debt; we also begrudge the fact that our tax dollars are paying for the education of criminals. That is a disgusting thought to many people. But that notion in itself is disgusting. Poverty and crime go hand in hand, and the solution for both is education. The same way we offer shelter and food for the poor, we must also offer education and support for the troubled.

Fail: Pressuring prodigies

Our strengths give us pride. Those are the attributes we showcase to employers, friends, and especially our parents. But focussing only on our strengths at a young age, in the way prodigies are often treated, causes the loss of a lot of substances and the sensation of growing up in a modern world.

Today, it’s less about what you know and more about who you know. I believe the prodigy model is fading. Young geniuses are often introverted and reserved, and have shown signs of autism and other social deficiencies in addition to their brilliance. Organizations today are built not with a nucleus, an overruling boss who makes all the decisions, but rather a functioning support staff that contributes to finding solution for every problem that arises. Prodigies not only need to understand complex mathematical concepts or the majesty of music, they must also learn how to interact with others. Therefore, we should avoid pressuring prodigies.

We must nurture talent, but talent does not have to be a single-lane career path. A talent can also be a hobby or an enjoyable pastime. We often preach, “Do what you are good at,” but I believe we should do more than we are good at, we must attempt what we are shitty at as well. We must teach modesty, keep prodigies grounded, and avoid positioning them on a pedestal. Teaching talented individuals to overcome adversity in the form of challenges is support in a different way, and is equally valid.

Unhaggle | How Much Should You Spend On A New Car?

Posted by  | February 27, 2014 |
Ghost written by Elliot Chan. Originally published in Unhaggle.com 
Life is full of those little magical moments and buying a new car is one of them. Whether it’s a Lexus IS or a Honda Odyssey, you have envisioned it for years: the make, the model, the features and even the colour – especially the colour. But, one thing you probably haven’t considered much was how you were going to pay for it. After all, a car is a big chunk out of your piggy bank, so make sure it doesn’t cost more than you can afford.

Gross Income Ratio or Debt-to-Income Ratio

We all have financial obligations: mortgages, credit card bills, rent and other loans. But if you strategize properly, you can fit a car into the ebb and flow of your monthly payments. Start by measuring your gross income ratio.

Add up your revolving monthly debts, these consistent payments are a reliable marker, showing you how much you need in order to sustain your lifestyle. After that, divide the total by your gross monthly income. The result is the percentage of your gross income ratio or your debt-to-income ratio.

For example, if your revolving monthly debt is $600 and your monthly income is $3,000, then your gross income ratio is 20% (600/3,000=0.2). An affordable car that keeps your gross income ratio healthy should prevent it from exceeding 36% after including car payments, according to Consumer Reports. Meanwhile, MSN Auto suggests that owners should not exceed 15%.

Find a happy medium for yourself – since your debt should never exceed 75%. You’ve been warned.

Calculating these figures may feel like punishment, but it’s far from difficult – there are simple online calculators to help you figure out the important numbers.

Down Payment

Ideally, 20% has always been the conventional amount for the down payment (the initial payment, whether in cash and/or trade-in). But it is always better to put down as much as you can, just to avoid the fact that it might come back and bite you later.

That being said, many new owners are choosing to pay a lower down payment. One reason is because the interest rates a getting lower, people are not pressured to pay right away. Don’t follow the trend – car depletion is as inevitable as paying for insurance, gas and sales tax. Less only means you pay more in the long run.

There are many useful tools online, such as this down payment calculator that will help you decide how much you are willing to spend right from the get go.

Monthly Payment

If paying right away is not a viable option, you may consider taking a loan or leasing the vehicle and paying for it every month. But with monthly payment comes interest and that is just something that you’ll need to add on.

So, how much can you afford if you do choose to pay in monthly instalments for your car? Well, the financial experts at Consumer Reports did the math for us (well, at least, they found the formula). Begin by calculating 36% of your gross monthly income. Then add up your monthly payments including mortgages, credit card bills, etc. Subtract your debts from your gross monthly income. The difference is how much you can comfortably spend monthly on your new vehicle.

I’ll use smaller numbers for our example, lest I confuse you more. Let’s say your monthly income is $3,000. Then $1,090 is 36% of your gross monthly income (1,090/3,000=0.36). Now, let’s say you have $500 in monthly debt (1,090-500=590). If the math is correct, then you’ll know that you shouldn’t spend over $590 a month on your car.

Other Considerations

Before you go off and purchase your vehicle, it is also important to note the extra fees that will undoubtedly cost you. Sales tax, registration fees and insurance premiums may cost you 10% more.

There are many things to consider when buying a car that might complicate the whole process and make you sick. If you want to forego all this math and simply want to recognize where you are in the car buying ladder understand the following rules:

The 50/50 Rule

If you make $40,000 a year, you can afford a $20,000 car. Half of what you make.

The 20/4/10 Rule

This rule suggests that you pay a 20% down payment, finance the vehicle for four years and never have the total expense of the car go over 10% of your gross income.

Only (child) the lonely

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 4, 2014

I was a late-bloomer, in the social sense. As a child, most of my time was dedicated to television, artworks, or other solitary enjoyments. My parents were too busy with work to entertain me, and my cousins lived too far away for weekday visits. Yes, being an only child was a lonely endeavour. If it wasn’t for my imagination and my ability to outgrow my shyness, I would not have been able to survive my teenage years, let alone my adult years.

As I watch my parents age and my own responsibilities pile up, I wish I could turn to someone for support; a person who could relate to my family’s erratic behaviour and me; someone to talk to without having to explain a lengthy life story; someone who understands mom and dad’s expectations and their tendencies; someone to vent to without feeling the judgmental reverberations.

My parents rely on me for many things, and often times it seems unfair that all their hopes and dreams are now placed upon my shoulders. As an only child, I’m all the eggs in one basket—and they know it as well as I do. I know that having siblings comes with minor annoyances: you’ll have to wake up early to fight for the bathroom, you might not get seconds for dinner, and you might need to move out earlier because your parents can no longer support all of you financially. Those who are an only child face a psychological challenge. I call it “I never asked to be born” syndrome, where the child has to decide whether to do what their parents want them to do or to live their own life. That syndrome is evermore present in only children.

I’m well-aware that when mom and dad are gone, I might be the last branch extending out in an obtuse direction from our family tree. That’s a scary thought, one that only those without siblings can understand. All the affection, all the care, all the attention we received our whole lives will vanish. Memories of family dinners, vacations, and other snippets of normality growing up will be lost—should I allow it to be.

Now, I’m not saying that I want a brother or a sister. That is not a decision for a son to make, nor did I ever pressure my parents to conjure up a playmate for me. From my experience, it’s a flip of the coin on whether you’ll actually get along with your siblings. Regardless, I think a bond between siblings is sacred; they endure the test of time. I find myself attempting to replicate that relationship with my friends and my cousins, but since most of my friends and cousins have siblings and families of their own, the sensation is far from authentic.

A family has a gravitational force that pulls all the beings together. An only child suffers the fate of orbiting alone, like the moon around Earth. Insignificant to the universe, but vital to the planet, we can only wonder what life would be like if there was another.

The Social Media 15 Minutes Of Fame: How Our Online Behaviour Might Be Our Generation’s Legacy

Every now and then a new Internet craze will crowd our desktops. We will try to ignore it like banner ads, but still we end up being sucked in by the gravitational forces of memes and viral trends like neknomination, Harlem Shake, and flash mobs.

Although we might not (want to) participate in those sometimes disdainful, sometimes obnoxious and usually downright embarrassing acts, our culture is influenced greatly. It takes permanent snapshot of the times we are living in, and allows us to revisit it occasionally. These fads come and go like flu season, it seizes a few lives, ruin some reputations and paves way for the next phenomenon. The thing is, nobody ever starts a trend with a bad intention—sure they get out of hand—but it’s often rooted in good old fun or visions of stardom: to peer pressure or to find the 15 minutes of fame (shame).

With a public uproar against neknomination, there is no doubt that the online drinking game’s sustaining power is petering out, just like the way Harlem Shake, flash mobs, planking, and Kony 2012 eventually faded from our memory. They do a little bit of good and a little bit of damage, and remind us that nothing on the Internet should ever be taken lightly. It is a community we are all living in; the drunks, the slacktivist, the trolls, and the brilliant thought leaders, sadly there are more of the formers than there are of the latter.

So how can we, the well-minded individuals, find the higher ground, avoid embarrassment and save face (and our Facebook account)?

First off, following in other’s footsteps in never a good way to gain acceptance. You show everyone that you are a victim to peer pressure, that you are easily swayed and that you don’t have much creativity within yourself to come up with anything new. So understand your purpose for following others initiatives. Are you trying to fulfill some social obligation or are you trying to get more traction onto your site by harnessing something popular?

If the answer leads you to feel optimistic about the project, go ahead create it, but then hold it, allow the initial excitement to simmer down. Watch it critically.

Then think about your online persona; how do you socialize with your network? Do you speak your mind when you see something you disagree with or do you just let it pass? This will effect how your followers will react to your posting. You might have a target audience in mind, but your unsavory video or picture might turn the majority off. Share it privately; get feedback, not approval. It might be worth the laugh, but it might not.

Finally, consider your real-life entity, how do you as a person interact with other real life people? List the top ten people you interact with daily and consider how they would feel about your YouTube escapade. Your reputation will potentially affect them, so it’s only respectful to keep them in mind. Suddenly, what you have made might not be as golden as you initially thought.

Self-awareness will keep on solid ground, even on the Internet. Trends are established all the time, but few have sustaining power. What is more powerful than trend is a personality that is what you want to foster. Nobody cares what you do, but how you do it.

However, if you do still want your 15 minutes of fame, and you want to ride the coat tails of a neknomination, Harlem Shake or flash mob—try the counter trend method; turn the self-indulgent act into a selfless act, like what many are doing for neknomination, daring other to be charitable, by showcasing their kind deeds on the Internet.

But what’s done is done, neknomination is now in the rear view mirror, but let’s learn from this momentous moment in the history of the Internet. Say to yourself: “When the next trend comes along, I’ll use the power for good, and not to show off my ability to drink, dance or make my broskies laugh. Amen.”