Have Video Games Taken Over Hollywood

Have Video Games Taken Over Hollywood?

Undeniably, the response to the recent release of the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V, proves the video game industry is the new money maker in the entertainment world. While the numbers have shown this for quite a few years now, this blockbuster of a video game seems to be the bar raiser that really makes it concrete. With the games production costing 265 million US Dollars (more than any movie in history, other than Pirates Of The Caribbean 3) this industry has certainly come a long way from arcade games such as Pac Man.

One thing that’s really mesmerizing about these numbers is that Rockstar Games (the company that develops the Grand Theft Auto series) managed to make all of their 265 million dollars back on preorders of the game alone. What really sets this game, as well as a plethora of modern video games, apart from the former arcade styled games, is the cinematic way in which the story plays out. For anyone unfamiliar with the game world in recent years, it’s no longer full of the somewhat childish, mindless, and highly repetitive games of the past. Some of the games are pure works of art with gripping story lines complete with character depth, emotional roller coasters, and masterful voice overs. The video games of today are full blown movies, where you are the protagonist, and your actions decide the result.

Profits between the video game industry and Hollywood grow further apart every year. Although movies will always be enjoyable, they may become a thing of the past as technological advancements continue to expand the business aspect of entertainment. What’s next is the big remaining question for an industry that creates products once considered a mind numbing, juvenile, waste of time. Video games bring in far more earnings than pretty much any other form of entertainment. Safe to say, video games grabbed the attention of many people, and with a tremendous rate of growth, there’s nowhere to go, but up.

Writing On The Wall

It’s More Than Writing On The Wall

In practically any city around the world, you will see Graffiti Art on a wall, sign, or bus. Technically considered a criminal offense, there is more meaning to Graffiti Art than vandalism. Since the emergence of Hip Hop culture, Street Art became a widespread phenomenon throughout urban areas in America, and never really went away. Beneath the words, or pictures, is an underground culture of artists who, for varying reasons, use the city as a canvas.

There is a loosely knit system to Graffiti culture with rules such as, not tagging over somebody’s art work. There is also a sort of ranking hierarchy, based upon how many places, and how unique, and visible the places an artist paints. At the same time, an underground culture of artists use Street Art as a means for conveying messages. Take for example, world renown Graffiti Artist Banksy, who through many distinct, high quality paintings, has become almost as much of a political figure as an artist.

Banksy even held an indoor art show with paintings he made; including a live, painted “elephant in the room,” all while remaining anonymous. Through these remarkable creations around the world, Banksy is one of the few mainstream recognized Graffiti Artists. However, there are many others with similar ideas, along with those who paint on walls for entirely different reasons. Undoubtedly, the world of Street Art runs deeper than most people might think when they walk by a painted up alleyway on their commute to work.

So whether you consider Graffiti a crime, or find it impressive, there is surely a lot more to Graffiti than children writing obscenities on their desks at school. While we sleep, artists are in the streets conveying their messages about the world, getting their names out there and simply, creating art.


top secret

Who is Bradley Manning?

If you’ve been alive over the past few years, then you’ve probably heard the name Bradley Manning. Who is he, and what did he do? Technically, Bradley Manning is now a she, and goes by the name “Chelsea,” after recently deciding to live life as a female, after suffering from gender dysphoria for at least the past few years. That’s not why you keep hearing about her. Quite frankly, gender dysphoria has nothing to do with it, and the real reason for Manning’s notoriety is much bigger than the issue of gays and transgendered people in the military and has a much greater affect.

The story begins in 2008, when Manning joined the U.S. Military. After going through basic training, where she received much bullying from fellow soldiers, she eventually graduated as an Intelligence Analyst. A year later, Manning was deployed to Iraq where she continued to face much isolation due to her sexual orientation, but again, that is not where her supporters came from. Being an intelligence analyst, Manning had access to classified information on the military’s computers, which is where her story began.

While using the military’s computer system, Manning came across a shockingly large amount of what has been called “sensitive information.”  Simply put, documents, as well as video footage of war crimes committed by certain members of the United States Military. There were videos of innocent civilians viciously murdered without cause, proof of torture used, and all kinds of disturbing, as well as previously unknown, information. Manning previously contacted Wikileaks, a controversial website that posts classified documents, and other forms of information on the Internet for the public. Well, Wikileaks is why the name Bradley Manning first became part of the public’s consciousness.

Manning was discharged and arrested on charges of aiding the enemy, violating the Espionage Act, stealing government property, and a few others. This is how Manning began to gain supporters from all over the world, as well as some enemies in America. To people who disagreed with her actions, she was a “traitor” who jeopardize the safety of the U.S. To her many supporters, she had risked her own freedom for the sake of exposing atrocities, war crimes, and downright evil acts. Consequently, she was held for multiple years before going on trial in conditions some considered torturous, to the point of being placed on suicide watch. After a long period of cruel and unusual punishment, her mental state was certainly not its best. However, in June 2013, after imprisonment for 1,293 days, Mannings trial began.

The sentence was handed down this August. She avoided a life sentence, and although she was not found guilty of all charges, the judge still sentenced Manning to 35 years in a military prison.

Regardless of your, or my opinion about this event, the laws broken, or the consequences, the important question we should ask ourselves as Americans is…if we are punished for blowing the whistle on people who commit atrocities, what kind of system are we living in? If the person who shines a light on slain innocent people receives a harsher punishment than the people who took the innocent lives in the first place, isn’t something wrong here?


Cultural Revolution in a Dying City

We have all heard the bad stories about Detroit, Michigan’s major city that was once as prosperous and alive as any other city in the country. Decades ago, people from all over flocked to Detroit in search of employment (mainly in the flourishing auto industry) as well as a nice place to raise a family. Believe it or not, Detroit once offered all of these things as a land of opportunity. My father spent the first twelve years of his life in this city, his father had a successful career working for General Motors, and was able to retire and live a peaceful, economically stable life until he passed. After the 1967 riots, the city ran into many obstacles and took a turn for the worst.
Decades passed, and the city was going downhill. Crime and poverty were at an all time high, employment at an all time low. Every year more people left. Less than a month ago the city declared bankruptcy; indeed it is a sad thing to see. Yet every day, there is the strangest optimism in the air.

Over the past 10 years, artists, musicians, activists, and all types of people began moving to the city. The vacant lots where abandoned houses used to sit and rot turned into community gardens. Warehouses unused for years are under conversion into venues, and artspaces. Entire neighborhoods are becoming cultural hubs, filled with creativity, new faces, and a sense of community that hasn’t been felt in a long time. Whether it’s students throwing parties in lofts, underground musicians putting on concerts in warehouses, or anarchists planting gardens, and creating a community—this is a city on the rise.

About a year ago, a good friend of mine decided to move to Detroit. When I first went there to see him I had the same feeling most people would. Detroit is a dangerous city. People are murdered every day. Why would he want to live in Detroit? Well, what I saw literally blew my mind, and this is no exaggeration. I’ve been to concerts in old warehouses, where the music was incredible, the people were glowing with creativity, and it felt like a community. I’ve been to parties in lofts with so many people it was hard to walk around. A band was playing, and the energy was unexplainable. They began to dismantle the drumset, and handed the individual pieces to the crowd until pretty much everyone in the room was part of the band, and the sound was still awesome. The experiences I’ve had in the city cannot be compared to anything, there is truly no city like Detroit.

Unfortunately, Detroit has experienced many problems, but the phrase “destruction is the greatest form of creation” has never been truer. This city is a blank slate. There is a cultural revolution taking place, which is truly a beautiful thing. Literally, the city is a ticking time bomb of art, music, and culture. When it goes off, the city will shine so bright New Yorkers will have to put their designer sunglasses on, left and right.
There are numerous stereotypes about Detroit, but things are happening there that no one could have fathomed. Detroit doesn’t need big businesses to set up shop. The city needs people to come together, continue to experience, and contribute to the massive boom of culture, and community taking place. By March 2014, I will trade in my suburban life for a Detroit mailing address.


Let’s Talk About Reunions

Every so often bands, solo musicians, and other performers return after years off stage. Usually a reunion is met with excitement from fans; especially, regarding performers with a large following. It’s always nice to get a chance to see a live show, or hear a new album from an act that hasn’t made music in years. How do you know if returning to the stage is a good idea, or if you should quit while ahead?

There are countless examples of reunions, some are long term, others are one night stands. In many situations, the musicians live up to the hype. However, every now and then legacies are damaged. Whether or not the new music they make is not up to snuff, or they can’t seem to integrate back into the modern music world, there is always concern about returning to the stage. There are many variables at play, but how does a performer know if audience perception will be one of a legend, or a has been?

Much comes down to passion. Does a band return because they truly enjoy performing or they simply need to rake in some extra money? If it’s the latter, you’ll hear it as well as see it on stage. Not only will the new music sound much worse than what they released in their heyday, but the live show will be far less entertaining, and energetic. Wrong intentions can certainly damage the reputation, and credibility, built over the years. On the other hand, if the musicians are at a point where they truly want to come back for the love of music, you can end up with a positive, nostalgic, and generally great reunion outcome.

In the end, perception is determined by the fans’ opinions. No matter how hard performers try, they cannot force the public to like their return act. Bands, solo musicians, and other performers are not certain their return to the stage will be met with open arms. Nevertheless, if intentions are pure, and they have the same passion that first earned them recognition, performers can attract a whole new audience, in a new era of music.

Damian Frederick

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