Good Fun… or Gambling? Micro transactions in ‘FIFA 18’ 

Many of you, just like me, have been playing FIFA religiously since the days before Ms Dynamite lit up the games’ soundtrack back in 2003. However, despite the countless hours played or numerous controllers broken, it seems the game we all know and love may be losing the charm that kept us coming back.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is by no means in decline, the numbers show that. FIFA 18 managed to sell  a whopping 10 million units worldwide and ever since EA released the first ‘FIFA International Soccer’ back in 1993 they have managed to have pretty much uninterrupted market dominance over football gaming. EA churned out classic after classic each year, making it clear they were focused on creating a game that simulated every aspect of the sport in the right way. This is where their famous catchphrase “EA Sports: It’s in the game” originates.

But there’s something new “in the game”…  and it is micro transactions.

If you’ve played pretty much any of EA’s releases in the past few years then you’ll certainly know what these are, but if you haven’t, they are essentially any purchase you make inside of a game, after the initial purchase. FIFA use these to sell FIFA points, a digital currency for Ultimate Team. In fact, EA earned $1.68 billion through micro transactions in 2017 alone.

You can’t deny that these massive digital sales are impressive and they have undoubtedly revolutionized the gaming industry as a whole.

It’s forecasted that 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137.9 billion on games in 2018. This represents an increase of +13.3% from the year before, or $16.2 billion.

Micro transactions are the leading force behind this and have become a great source of income for developers, thanks to our ever increasingly digitized society.

photo of person typing on computer keyboard
Photo by Soumil Kumar on Pexels.com

So what’s the issue?

Well… this isn’t the first time FIFA have used digital currency and micro transactions for their Ultimate team platform, however, many players are becoming aggravated with the reliability of micro transaction drop rates.  Meaning that some players could spend thousands and get nothing good and another player could spend £3 and get the best player in the world. This has lead to a growing narrative that FIFA has become a ‘pay-to-win’ game and therefore spending more and more money has become a necessity to be competitive.

Could this be dangerous?

Chris Lee, Hawaiian state representative, held a press conference where he labelled micro transactions as ‘predatory gaming’ , and he is currently working on legislation to ban children from buying them. On top of this, in a recent Reddit post , he added that ‘these kinds of micro transactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are designed’.

According to the NPD, 91 % of children age 2-17 play video games… and these numbers are rising, coming up nearly 13 percent from 2009. The gaming community clearly has large number of minors within it, which only seems to be growing, so could these shifts towards micro transactions be influencing them? Could this be installing bad gambling habits in the kids? I guess only time will tell.

For now, you may be interested in a Reddit post and campaign called #FixFifa that has been gaining a lot of backing online. This movement has also gained over 40,000 signatures through their Change.org petition.

night television tv video
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The impact of Crowdfunding on the Music Industry? ‘A look at Amanda Palmer’

With crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundme and Indigogo growing and becoming increasingly influential in the creative industries, could crowdfunding be the future for music artists?

The meteoric rise of the internet and the rapid digitization of society have clearly had a massive effect on the music scene… however so has crowdfunding and similarly, it’s difficult to determine whether this impact is positive or negative.

Artists have been using Crowdfunding to defy the conventions of music labels

The best example of this has to be the case of Amanda Palmer. The musician whose Kickstarter project closed after it managed to successfully raise $1.2 million, making it the 7th Kickstarter project to reach $1 million and the highest funded music project the site had ever had.

Amanda broke with her label back in 2010; because of this she decided to start a project with a $100,000 goal to fund her album, an art book and a tour. She obviously smashed this goal, with most of the funders donating less than $100 but there were also a small amount of much larger pledges. For example, two people who actually pledged around $10,000 each for a personal art sitting with Amanda, followed by dinner.

Palmer has revealed that she had just shy of $100,000 left from the extremely lucrative campaign after she finished completing the album and the art book; made all of the arrangements for music videos and tours and finally made sure she has paid the featuring artists. This is just one example out of many that proves that when everything goes right, crowdfunding can be very powerful. Although Amanda believes the biggest success is the plain, hard evidence that ‘major label refugees’ can utilise Kickstarter as a primary source of funding.

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Fans are using Crowdfunding too!

Artists are not the only ones that are deciding to make the most out of the crowdfunding platform. There has been a surge of fan led campaigns being created, in the hope of convincing their favourite artists to create.

A funny example of this happenend with Run The Jewels, a hip hop duo from America, when they revealed various ways in which fans could buy their new album, Run The Jewels 2. The jokingly mentioned the idea of paying $40,000 for the two to completely reshape the album, taking out all the instrumental sounds and replacing them with cat noises.

Fans, however, could not resist the temptation and so then arrived the ‘Meow the Jewels’ Kickstarter campaign to back this idea. Hilariously, the duo was up for it if the 40k target was met. The campaign managed to gather over $60,000 and attracted other major producers to the project such as The Alchemist and Just Blaze.

Another interesting example of this fan intervention  was back in 2014,  where big Foo Fighter fans from Virginia created a page on Crowdtilt, that sold tickets to a performance that the band had no idea of, praying that the band would see the demand for the show and decide to go ahead and play it. It turns out they saw the page and wanted to do it! It became their first show in the particular town in Virginia for 16 years.

These are just a few examples of successes of crowdfunding, but unfortunately it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Is Crowdfunding good for the industry?

Some people argue that with the crowdfunding model, young artist are able to get the their money way before they have even created any music, so this could potentially deter them from putting in the valuable hard work needed to create a good product. Artists could become lazy.

Although, crowdfunding is helping major label rejects, independent artists and small record companies to grow and be able to raise substantial amounts of money that they may not have been able to before. This sways me to believe that overall, crowdfunding is an asset to the music industry and a potential game changer for the future.

people in concert
Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

 

The impact of the internet on TV, film and video

 

Prior to digitalisation, TV consumers tended to have limited access to film and video services, apart from TV.

The internet, including smartphones, has given people the ability to access content at anytime, anywhere which has brought about significant changes in the way people now consume content.

 

cinema-dark-display-8158.jpg

 

So, what has the internet done to the media world?

Our world of media is slowly changing into this age of streaming which is transitioning into online content.

 

Now that we are increasingly watching everything online, this is having consequences in multiple ways. Streaming services create their own content, e.g. Netlfix, but apart from that, for them to able to continue to provide their audiences with content, they get most of their programming from movie studios and TV networking.

 

There is the ease of staying at the comfort of our own homes instead of paying for cinema tickets and popcorn etc. These streaming services provide limitless options at our fingertips.

 

comfortable-female-food-1040158.jpg

 

Now with all these options online, TV industries and movie outlets will continue to falter and slowly lose their rank, meaning that the content they produce will also decline. The less money they have to operate will mean that less content is produced.

 

Ticket prices will rise for cinemas; less content will be produced and therefore there will be less movies available for streaming. It’s like a vicious, never-ending cycle.

 

The TV and film industries influence so much of our daily lives that characters and quotes are remembered forever. Us being the consumers, we have the ability to control what lives and what dies.

 

The advancement in the evolution of TV networks has also brought about the intensification of competition.  The TV industry has evolved from black-and-white TV, (1950’s) to Colour, (late 1960’s) moving onto flat-screen TV’s in the 1980’s and HDTV in the 1990’s/ early 2000’s.

2010 brought about the emergence of smartphones and tablets which meant that everything became easier and these streaming services eroded the traditional TV infrastructure.

 

The increase on content available online has changed what audiences consider as valuable content. Top-rated shows and films are now usually available online and via mobiles/tablets which means that TV programming is losing its importance.

 

Ian Hargreaves talks about this as a digital disruption and how it can be both a threat and opportunity. The increase in technology and online content being available to individuals makes access easier. However, this also threatens traditional means of entertainment through TV industries and film networks.

 

Nesta has acknowledged how digital streaming services are now increasingly being accessed online and through smartphones and this means the changes in technology have knock on effects for creators in these sectors given the relationship of digital technologies and creative work.

 

 netflix

 

 

Focusing specifically on just one type of online streaming service; Netflix. It’s effects on the TV industry and movies in-particular are hugeeee, considering their own created content is also on an increase.

People are now more and more binge-watching programmes rather than waiting to watch an episode a week, they’re watching all episodes in a matter of days. This is seen to be the future of television, we’re all engaging in it and its what people want.

 

However, there is a counter argument of this. People still attend the movies and movie premieres. They still have as much impact, if not more, than what they did a few years ago. Arguably, the best writing comes on television. The argument here is however, the TV and film industry are able to continue to operate alongside this new buzz of online streaming.

 

 

 

 

All images available at: https://www.pexels.com/public-domain-images/ 

Why co-working could change the world in the eyes of entrepreneurs…

The Oxford dictionary provides a definition of a co-working space,

“The use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas and knowledge.”

 

If you’re a creative individual and thinking about starting up a new, small but innovative business this information could be the motivational push for you.

 

achievement-agreement-arms-1068523

 

There’s an increase in these creative working spaces where people can interact with one another and share ideas.Co-working spaces are on an increase in the past years after the first hub in the UK to open was in London (2005). Just five years after this there were 600 spaces all-together worldwide and a global estimation of 7,800 to be made by 2015. The numbers paint the picture.

 

With Creative Cardiff offering over 10 co-working spaces, creative individuals now have a place to share ideas, collaborate projects and have control over their own ventures.

These spaces consist of individuals who work for different companies or on different projects which enables them to have their own individual identity, making each and every one of them interesting and distinctive.

 

Co-working spaces offer the control and flexibility to its members allowing them to be accessed 24/7. They also have control over what type of atmosphere they would like to work in and this ranges from interactive, enabling them to make networks, to quiet spaces, ensuring that they can focus.

 

What has enabled this change to happen is the increase in technology which has made it easier for individuals to become more independent. People are using their talent to make work.  Ian Hargreaves discussed this change as it has impacted the creative economy and the policies that have been put in place. Anybody in the world can now do any kind of work, in any place.

 

Corporations are now increasingly interested in using these co-working spaces to enhance networks and community based connections outside of work, this gives them a chance to meet individuals with strong skill sets. Creative hubs welcome everyone, with an idea looking to bring it to reality.

What’s better than being able to meet brilliant people whilst doing what you enjoy most, being creative geniuses. Anyone looking to start a new business will know that it takes a lot of time, effort and passion behind the idea because when things get tough it’s that passion that keeps you going.

 Time is money. These spaces allow you to utilise the time to make efficient innovations whilst being motivated in a work based environment.

Co-working spaces could be the make for an entrepreneurial individual to start up their career with all different kind of spaces available on a global scale, from Beach Hubs in Thailand to Patchwork in Paris.

 

 

abstract-adult-background-1079033

 

 

Co-working spaces give you an alternative to working from home or in a coffee shop, they offer both operational and tangible tools, providing you with a place to work and giving you access to the best professionals if needed.

You meet people from all different types of backgrounds with all different training, whether this be graphic designers, videographers or animators. These spaces give light to new entrepreneurs, isolated entrepreneurs and any creative individual looking not just to talk about their ideas but to put them into practice.

 

adult-analyzing-brainstorming-1080865.jpg

 

We are increasingly entering and entrepreneurial economy a vast amount of people have considered either staring a small business or a project. Co-working is becoming part of a community who have the same interests and desires but from different backgrounds with different projects where there is an intent to help one another.

Co-working is argued to change the world one day with its motivations around encouraging productivity and engagement. Working from home or in coffee shops doesn’t give you that important connection with the community and building networks which is key to entrepreneurialism.

 

 

 

 

All images used available at; https://www.pexels.com 

 

Makkah: A Mecca for Creative City Potential

Makkah: A Mecca for Creative City Potential

“every city could have a unique niche…the realization dawned that every city could be a world centre for something if it was persistent and tried hard enough”

– Charles Landry 2008

IMG_4694
Sadia Mahmoud

 

Saeed Alamoudy’s doctoral thesis entitled Urban Transformation Through Creativity: Applying the Creative City Concept to Makkah has opened my eyes to the nature of the Creative Cities literature I have been pouring over in recent weeks. How existing models and definitions can be reshaped so that we can consider how the concept would apply to a conservative Middle Eastern society such as that of Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

The research focuses on the concept of creativity with regards to problem solving, as opposed to just the presence of artistic creativity. It was framed this way due to the specific context of Makkah, as a city with issues that could be solved by the Creative Cities approach. Don’t let this fool you though, the city is brimming with artistic talent and creativity. My month-long visit to the region exposed me to incredible calligraphy, exhibitions, heritage sights, architecture, gastronomy and unparalleled levels to diversity; visiting Makkah is like meeting the world. Let me explain.

The holy city of Makkah is the centre of religious devotion for two billion Muslims globally: attracting around three million people for just five to six days annually for the Hajj(major) pilgrimage, (The Ministry of Hajj Portal 2013) and around 7.8 million pilgrimsthroughout the year to perform Umrah (minor pilgrimage). The markets and malls were a kaleidoscope of people, riding the elevator in Makkah Royal Clock Tower hotel, (third tallest buildingin the world I should mention) meant listening to a cacophony of languages. People from the corners of the Earth travel to the city on spiritual journeys or migrate for work and study. I met many migrant workers from across South, and East Asia as well as Africa, who bring their own vibrant cultures. (I also bumped into plenty of British tourists who echoed my desire for a better system of queuing).

IMG_4695
Sadia Mahmoud

This religious tourism has created a dynamic economy, allowing Makkah’s economic development to move in a direction that helps tourists and citizens, in the sectors of transport, property, accommodation, tour guides, and the many other related industries.

However, the sheer number of people, speaking hundreds of different languages, often in the city for the first time, coupled with the nature of the pilgrimage – having to move from location to location, poses the challenge of managing these numbers, and creates subsequent ones around public services, urban developments and entertainment and activities for guests and citizens. Alamoudy is hopeful. he believes the quest for creativity will ‘act like a lever for urban development and the conceiving of new solutions to tackle the challenges of the city’.  And Landry’s ‘try hard enough’ advice is being heeded. Local government have put a number of policies in place to improve quality of life, and the city’s attractiveness, in innovative ways.The Council of Economic Affairs and Development have set goals to achieve by 2030 that will increase its chances towards becoming a Creative City. Some of them include; more than doubling the number of Saudi heritage sites registered with UNESCO and increasing household spending on cultural activities.

These efforts look positive for the future of Makkah, but let’s go back to what I was saying about the reshaping of the existing methods used to test whether a city has potential to be Creative. Alamoudy developed a model that was appropriate for the Middle Eastern context and culture, working around Landry’s index, and Richard Florida’s 3Ts model of creative class, both of which foreground openness and tolerance. The Western understanding of what is valued as open and tolerant cannot be applied to Conservative Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, recognising creative industry proved tricky. The majority of the 13 sectors of DCMS are either not available in Makkah, or there the data on their potential doesn’t exist. Fortunately however,  NESTA’s model classifies heritage activities and cultural tourism as creative industries.

There’s potential for Makah to become a Creative City, and much potential for further research to explore Creative Cities outside of a Western context.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Behold a Pale Horse!” ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 21.49.57It’s a depiction of American issues on race, culture, politics and violence, told over trap beats and gospel intervals.

It is NOT something you can watch once, you WILL miss something. You need to re-watch ATLEAST three times to comprehend the visual metaphors, references, and themes that the video is layered with. Satirical, surrealist, symbolic: it’s a masterpiece. But will it be remembered as one?

The scene opens with the music beginning light hearted, jolly, up-tempo. Its layered with Afrobeat and Gospel Church rhythms. Calvin The Second sits and plays guitar, which caused many to draw similarity to the appearance of Trayvon Martin’s father. Gambino dances slowly, jarringly, his movements and facial expressions reminiscent of minstrel dancing. Then comes the first image of shock; he stands behind the guitar player, who now has a hood tied around his head, and adopts a stance referencing Thomas Rice, the original Jim Crow. Gambino shoots him in the back of the head execution style, addresses the camera, and matter-of-factly states “this is America”. The trap beat comes in.

In details that could be missed at first glance, we see the social commentary of gun violence; as Gambino shifts into modern dancing, the gun is received carefully by hand, into a red cloth, while the body of the black man is dragged off. This could only convey America’s treatment and protection of guns, valued higher than the black body. In the second massacre, Gambino shoots an entire gospel choir with an assault rifle, a reference to 2015’s Charleston Church shooting.

Three worlds exist within This is America. In the foreground, Gambino dances surrounded by black school children, dancing the gwara gwara, to Blocboy JB’s viral ‘shoot’ dance. The children follow his every move. This seems like a comment on the consumption of black culture, at the forefront of entertainment, while the issues of black people go ignored. Around the dancing, the second world; devastation. Rioting crowds, burning cars, falling bodies surround the dancing. The third is that these two realities work within one, is this implying complicity on the black actors?

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 21.59.29

‘Whether imbued with a social or political slant, songs of resistance typically envision a clear villain or threat—a president, a war—but Gambino doesn’t just cough up one, he gives us a multitude. There are no solutions. No paths forward. Just a trove of questions’. – Jason Parham

Gambino does make a point of current black American identity politics, we see black victims and entertainers. We hear the vocals of a number of current hip hop rappers; Young Thug, Quavo and 21 Savage, arguably the entertainers that are being represented by his dancing and influence on the youth.

Far off in the background a pale horse rides in, a dark figure on its back, a Biblical reference to the apocalypse, to destruction, Gambino tells us this is America for black people. This is a comment on indifference, or perhaps a portrayal of perseverance, even more likely, the entertainment is a distraction. The incredible visual masterpiece touches on multiple themes, of black struggle and the inability to escape.

The millions of views that this is racking up, would suggest mass appeal, and consequently this means it will be considered low art. But isn’t this line between high vs. low art outdated?

“Who draws that line?…White men…They welcome the rest of us into their exclusive club “The Fine Arts” if we simply cast their particular brand of intellectualism through a different lens.

They open the door to jazz artists but close it to hip-hop artists.”

The question of high art vs. low art isn’t a question of race, but it is definitely coloured by aspects of it; Things become high culture when their contribution to intellectual diversity doesn’t eclipse their (white) universality– Allie Long.

 

Crowdfunded or Crowdplundered? The Miserable Case of Mighty No. 9

IMAGE: Bago Games // Flickr

To start this post, I think it’s fair to state that Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general are great modern platforms that aim to “help bring creative projects to life”, and have already rewarded us with a number of great projects. Ink made from pollution, virtual reality headsets, and tiles that stop you losing your stuff are all pretty valid examples of the good side of crowdfunding.

There is, however, a bad side to crowdfunding, which of course, relies on you putting your faith (and, more importantly, cash) in a product or project that hasn’t actually been created yet. And that bad side is when the product/project actually turns out to kinda suck. The 2016 video game, Mighty No. 9, is a pretty valid example of that.

Originally born as an idea by Keiji Inafune as somewhat of a sequel to his mega-hit game, Mega Man,  Mighty No. 9 would hit Kickstarter in 2013, and within just two days, nostalgic video game fans had forked out $900,000 to relive their 16-bit ’90s dreams. Eventually, it would raise a console-shattering $3,845,170, making it one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in the site’s history.

Keiji_Inafune_2
Keiji Inafune (Image: Hamedbanaderi // Wikipedia)

However, if you ask the fans who pledged for the game – and even those who bought after – they’ll likely scoff at the word successful. And for good reason.

Mega Man was a great and innovative game when the first instalment in the series came out back in 1987 – but that’s the point. That game came out in 1987, and this game feels like it came out in 1987. Mighty No. 9’s graphics may meant to be some kind of ode to games of our past, but they really look like a digital design student’s rushed first-year project rather than a hugely-funded video game spearheaded by an industry legend.

In fact, a rushed effort may have bought some solace to pledges of the project; upon release, Mighty No.9 must have felt it came out in 2087 – it was delayed continuously through its funding stage, all while the team behind it came with promises of new features and new release dates, as well as new needs to raise funds. Not great from a pledges point of view, and perhaps not a great look for crowdfunding in general.

Clunky and repetitive game play (at least on PC; I can’t speak for console), tonnes of bugs and technical issues – especially during online game play – and a general feeling of disappointment around the project as a whole means this game is pretty much a write off in a world saturated with games. I, like many, looked forward to revisiting the past through this game, instead, it left me sadly reminiscing about times when video games were (almost) all inventive and created with passion… and when there were less altogether.

At the end of the day, it’s not the worst game ever created, by a stretch. But it might go down as one of modern day’s most disappointing, and that may very well have something to do with the fact it was crowdfunded.

The internet’s viral ability to create huge amounts of hype – and hope – for something, combined with crowdfunding’s fundamental functions, such as spreading its financial backers across a large crowd (creating thousands of disappointed people rather than a few backers) and the fact that it offers an unfinished project, created one incredible depressing state of affairs for a game that was supposed to be a return to happier times.

Arguably, the majority of the blame lies in the hands of the game’s producers, but Mighty No. 9 is a stark reminder of the risks involved in crowdfunding.

London vs Swansea City of Culture and Creativity

A creative city is a city that seems to insist on encouragement, originality, to form something creative with a big enough influence to organisational culture. I was looking at the effect of the of low and high art perceptions and thought it would be fun to write about it in terms of what makes a creative city with high art perceptions and a creative city with low art perception. As someone who grew up in Swansea, I always thought it was pretty cultured but in comparison to somewhere like London where everything seems to scream culture, Swansea doesn’t quite fit the bill.

76709-640x360-houses-of-parliament-and-london-eye-on-thames-from-above-640
London, Google Images

With the implications of high art vs low art perceptions, it’s easier to associate with high art as its preferred by those with a more refined taste, in other words, those living in London. Low art differs as it’s mainly for the people who search for the accessible art while also being easy to understand, meaning, Swansea art. In terms of high art and low art perceptions, London and Swansea are very different cities but both can be considered creative cities, though Swansea may be slightly more aspirational than London.
For an old industrial city, Swansea has more culture than you would expect, with the Bay Studios, the Grand Theatre and SEVERAL museums. We even had the poet Dylan Thomas, BEAT THAT! However, rather disappointingly Swansea has just lost the bid for City of Culture 2021! I mean come on! We have Swansea City Opera! It may not compare to London’s West End or museums, or its festivals, or music…. Actually now I think of it the architecture is better too, and it’s impossible to argue with all Bond films set in London and making IT one of the coolest places in the world.
However, this isn’t the only reason why London is more appreciated. It probably relates to the fact that people would pay so much more money to go to an art gallery of higher culture in London than they would at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery (opposite Clifton Hill, Swansea – in case you DID want to go).
I think it’s fair to say most people would go to London to see high-class culture but at least Swansea is the perfect setting for low culture, or in other words, popular culture that the working class would like.
I much prefer the comfort of low culture. Not sure about you lot, but to me, there’s a satisfying feeling to see a piece of art and not have to be challenged to find an embedded meaning in the work. Don’t get me wrong examining artwork can be fun but not when you realise nothing like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code is ever actually going to happen.
Although I might just be saying this because I’m from Swansea but I prefer low culture. In London it might be the same to appreciate the things around you more because it’s your hometown. Challenge me if you like!
One thing a creative city DOES need is to think of is harnessing the public’s imagination. Bristol, for example, is famous for its street art. There’s graffiti everywhere, not to mention Banksy is around there somewhere, and rather than have it washed away the city keeps it on display for everyone to see its uniqueness. Bristol even has a day set aside for the public to go out and create street art that encourages community cohesion and therefore makes the art more valuable since it isn’t made for economic purposes. It’s just to demonstrate the love of art.

 

 

Value of the Arts for Social Change

Okay, I’ve only seen it once but Coco (2017) is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen in awhile. Coco is an animated Oscar-winning film that explores the Mexican tradition of ‘The Day of the Dead’ (Día de Muertos) where families will celebrate the lives of their deceased family members. Set in Santa Cecilia, Mexico the narrative explores the themes of love and loss, along with the fading of memories which can lead to the disappearance of a forgotten, loved one. I loved the visual effects employed by Pixar because the colours burst from the screen emphasising the festival as a time for celebration rather than a time for mourning. All this is emphasised in the Oscar-winning stand-out song “Remember Me”. The story follows the life of 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) as he travels to the land of the dead to find acceptance from his deceased great-great-grandfather. The land of the dead is surrounded by bright colours and illuminating flower petals which make a bridge that separates the land of the dead from the land of the living. This really is something pretty cool especially since animation started in black and white in 1919 with Felix the Cat as the first animated movie star – I know I thought it was Mickey Mouse too.

However, despite the amazing, and I mean, AMAZING special effects, (it’s hard to find fault with such a film) and yet someone managed to find something to dislike – for all the wrong reasons. Who am I talking about you ask? Only the 45th President of the United States! Donald Trump seems to have found a reason to dislike the film based on Mexican tradition that celebrates foreigners as it creates a romanticized story in the picturesque setting of Santa Cecilia! The director Lee Unkrich said work on the film started during an unfriendly political climate six years before the film’s release since Trump had publicly called all immigrants rapists. Despite the film making $804.2 million in the box office and had been made by Pixar, an American company, Trump still found a reason to be against the positive portrayal of such characters. Pixar, however, this was there first film with many characters of colour.

I bet everyone remembers when Trump first wanted the Mexican people to “build the wall”. Some people probably saw the news headline in Mexico was “Time to Tremble”. As the film celebrates Mexican tradition and history in a positive light and the beauty of the culture it’s easy to see the difference in social change in the value of art as Trump doesn’t recognise the beauty of “the Day of the Dead” but sees it as something that should not be. How annoying is it that this is how Trump treats people like this??

There’s one scene that is interesting in the beginning as the character Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) tries to make it across the bridge to see his family but isn’t allowed. We can definitely say this is supposed to symbolise immigrants trying to cross the border and being denied entry.

I suppose this is similar to Aesop, an ancient Greek author, who wrote fables that hid meanings that commented on the real world without directly stating the world’s problems. For me personally, this makes the art more valuable. With excellent animation, we can convey such a message showing value for art in such a society as this.

Coco is a wonderful film that carries an important message of peace and familial love that should be valued for its artistry, not despised for its celebration of other cultures.

 

Three Billboards sparks community activism

Following the U.K release of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri on 12th January 2018, the sheer emotion and brilliance of the film has continued to resonate with audiences internationally. The film follows Mildred Hayes, played by Frances McDormand, as she confronts the police and publicly calls for justice for her murdered daughter. Mildred hires three abandoned billboards and posts:

 

“Raped While Dying”

“Still No Arrests?”

“How Come, Chief Willoughby?”

 

The ruthless language used on the billboards reflect the evocative nature of the film as a whole; combining brutality and humour in ways that catch audiences off guard and incite emotion. The film and its cast have been highly praised, with Sam Rockwell, who plays the racist and violent alcoholic Officer Jason Dixon, and Frances McDormand both taking home awards at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jit3YhGx5pU

However, the memorable iconography of the three billboards has found a prolonged existence beyond the awards ceremonies. Groups and communities have taken inspiration from the provocative actions of Mildred Hayes in the film and reimagined the meanings behind the three billboards. Three public billboards plastered with rousing statements and questions have become a form of street art activism, in which groups apply the concept to their own causes. This can be seen as the development of a style of creative hub, in which groups are formed through the collective pursuit of artistic expression. In this example, the artistic expression has a shared activist goal.

Three Billboards Outside Grenfell, London:

 

“71 DEAD”

“AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”

“HOW COME?”

 

Members of the Justice 4 Grenfell group created the billboards, drove them around London and parked them outside the Grenfell site. This was in response to the local community’s outrage and sadness at the government’s inaction following the disaster, similar to the film. This form of street art worked to keep the national conscience and media discourse on the issue, and called on government to take action in getting justice for victims. Follow Justice 4 Grenfell on Twitter @OfficalJ4G

 

 

grenfell
Image: Flickr

 

Three Billboards Outside Parkland, Florida:

 

“SLAUGHTERED IN SCHOOL”

“AND STILL NO GUN CONTROL”

“HOW COME, MARCO RUBIO?”

 

Just two days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on 14th February 2018, the three billboards were driven around the Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s offices. These billboards were created by Avaaz, an online activist group that worked together creatively to call out Rubio and draw wider media attention. Follow Avaaz on Twitter @Avaaz

Three Billboards Outside Stokes Croft, Bristol:

 

“OUR NHS IS DYING”

“AND STILL NO MORE FUNDING”

“HOW COME, MRS MAY?”

 

In Bristol, a mural was organised by the Bristol group Protect Our NHS, and installed by People’s Republic of Stokes Croft. The mural showed three billboards and worked as activism through public street art on a localised level. These local groups worked as a community to create art which drew public and media attention, questioned government and encouraged others to get involved with the issues surrounding the NHS. Check out the amazing work of People’s Republic of Stokes Croft at https://prsc.org.uk/. They work to make the local area a creative hub through promoting art in the local community, improving urban environments and working on regional projects as a group.
Follow Protect Our NHS, Bristol on Twitter at @NHSOur

Here is just three examples, but it has inspired activist art far and wide. The spirit behind the billboards in the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri have become iconic and will endure through the different communities interpretations.