The Null Device


Multinational companies are now moving away from call centres in India, because of communication problems:

In spite of TV and e-mail, people living thousands of kilometers away and without local knowledge cannot always answer inquiries authoritatively. According to reports, England is full of jokes about operators in India who master Scots or Midlands accents, but falter over small physical details. Kate, a doctor based in England, recently on a visit to India, told this correspondent that grappling with rail inquiries in the United Kingdom can be quite hazardous as often the information is incorrect as the person at the other end just does not understand the query.

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Not all terrorists carry almanacs; some prefer copies of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

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Director John Boorman (of Deliverance fame) on how Hollywood studios' insistence on blockbusters is killing them, both by raising the bar to higher and higher budgets and by restricting plots and concepts to the most facile and simplistic ones that won't lose any of the audience.

Is there an inherent flaw in a socio-economic system whereby everything gets bigger and bigger until it collapses under its own weight?

Boorman describes what it would be like to attempt to make Deliverance in today's environment:

Today, I would have received pages of detailed notes from a number of studio executives. I would have been obliged to hone the script down to a simple, direct storyline that is clear and undemanding, and eradicate any eccentricity or quirkiness. When the script satisfied their requirements, the studio would send it out to a star. If the star passed, the studio's response would be to hire a new writer. Further rejections by two or three stars and the project would be dropped. If they found a star who was interested, the title, cast and storyline would then be test-marketed, asking people in the street if they would go to see such a film four men canoeing a river and one gets buggered.
script gurus such as Robert McKee have brainwashed a generation of screenwriters into constructing scenarios along rigid lines: introduction of characters, statement of conflict, development of narrative, division into three acts, carefully placed climaxes, conclusion. This contributes to the sameness of movies and feeds into audience expectations of comfortable patterns, and makes them uneasy if a film diverges from that formula. Little by little movies become more and more similar to each other, with marginal variations. One can imagine them evolving into a form where only an audience inured to them can discern any differences.

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