aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
South Park season 9, Pt 2
The NYTimes tells me that in tonight’s episode “a beaver dam breaks, causing a flood in a neighboring town. Assigning blame becomes the top priority.”
Animated series are not known for their timeliness, but “South Park” is different. When the show began in 1997, Mr. Parker, Mr. Stone and their staff would spend two weeks on an episode. Now they create each one, from start to finish, in six days, handing it over to Comedy Central on the morning of the broadcast. The process evolved from what Mr. Stone called “sheer procrastination” and Mr. Parker called “laziness.”
Doug Herzog, Comedy Central’s president, said: “For Matt and Trey, life is still a term paper. They put it under the professor’s door at 11:59.”
This crunch is what allows “South Park” to comment in real time on zeitgeist themes, from news headlines to video-game releases, but it’s a harried process. Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker begin the Thursday-to-Wednesday week in the writers’ room, where they throw around ideas. When they hit on ones that might work, Mr. Parker writes individual scenes so that the animators can begin creating the actual episode. As days pass, those scenes add up to 21 minutes with, eventually, a beginning, an end and a plot. As for how they arrive at an episode’s larger narrative, Mr. Parker described the different approaches: “Do we come at it from, ‘Remember this from third grade’? Do we come at it from, ‘This happened on the news’?”
Sometimes an idea is character-driven. “Like, ‘We need a Kyle story, there hasn’t been much Kyle this season,’ “ Mr. Parker said. Those episodes, where the boys are just boys, are Mr. Stone’s and Mr. Parker’s favorite ones. “It feels very ‘Peanuts,’ “ Mr. Parker said.
They don’t work for us
Dan is cool to my thoughts of a utopian corporate state that aggregates our preferences into a more perfect post-democratic governing structure.
BOB GARFIELD: If not Google now, then who? And when? Who should be in charge of deciding which books get scanned?
SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN: Well, I actually think that this is the job of libraries. I think libraries should be doing this first and foremost. The Library of Congress should have identified this as a major public need and goal and pursued this sort of project years ago. Instead, they’ve outsourced it to a private corporation, and this corporation, as good as they like to make us think they are, is still operating by keeping us blind. Their technology is proprietary. Their algorithms for search are completely secret. We don’t actually know what’s going to generate a certain list of search results. They don’t work for us. [emphasis Seth’s.]
I’m thinking that neither did Andrew Carnegie, who pretty much funded the birth of the modern public library.
From Time’s The Road Ahead:
O’REILLY: The generation now growing up is going to expect access to information in a way us fuddy-duddies don’t take for granted. Some say the Net will lead to a radical democratization--power to the people--but I don’t think so. When you harness collective intelligence and the power of blogging, it doesn’t mean power to individuals. It means power to the people best able to aggregate those individuals. Google is a profoundly powerful company because it has figured out algorithmically how to learn from millions of people at once.
This is a key to, a hint at, a post-democratic governing structure that can both reflect the will of the people and address some of the limits of democracy.
And it might just emerge from a corporation.
If the sweep of history has indeed taken us from the city-state to the church-state to the nation-state, and if now we’re heading for the corporate-state, perhaps that’s how it will be made manifest.
Not the worst thing I can imagine.
Do conservatives like Bush?
Franklin Foer says apparently not:
This is the striking feature of the conservative backlash against Miers: It hasn’t just involved a searing critique of the nominee, but also a damning assessment of the man who sent up her name. (A small sample of right-wing Bush-bashing from Rod Dreher on National Review’s Corner: “I fully expect that if Justice Stevens retires, President Bush will nominate his dog Barney to fill that vacant seat. After all, who can a man trust to be loyal more than his dog?")
As the Miers debate reveals, many conservative intellectuals have exactly the same problems with Bush as liberals. They disdain his cronyism, doubt his intelligence, question his use of “character” to judge individuals, and can’t stand his pandering to evangelicals. “The trouble with Harriet is that she has given us a depressing glimpse into the vast open space that now appears to be the Bush political mind,” a piece on The Weekly Standard’s website argued last week.