Joy to the Stick The Previews Fun!
Finally America has created a distinctive national concept to unite the captive film audience: a game.
One of my all-time favorite seminars at university was a history of audience participation throughout film history. It culminated in an ethnographic study of audience habits. At the time, I was traveling to Europe quite often, and my final paper coincided with a trip I was taking to France to cover a music festival. After four days in Bretagne, I made it back to Paris with my friend Eric and somehow convinced him to come with me to see a David Lynch film. Thank god it was VO. If only it had been "Mulholland Drive" then the paper would have been explosive. Instead this was the year of "The Straight Story," and while we were amused that we had seat service before the film to get refreshments, it wasn't nearly as thrilling the time I went to see Trainspotting in Paris, everyone tapped their feet to the beat and drank in the theatre. There was no "Lust for Life" going on, but it was still a wonderful film. My professor liked to talk about audience participation in India where people sang along to the screen, or threw popcorn at it if they didn't like the film. Over the years, I've nearly forgotten about all the distinct national customs of international cinema, and rarely have given it a thought, until Monday night when I heard about Crowd Control. Finally America has created a distinctive national concept to unite the captive audience: a game. The best part is: it's a low-fi game, akin to Pong. The audience becomes the joystick. There's been lots written on it this week and I assure you, most of it is worth reading.
While I haven't made it to the Bridge yet to experience this firsthand, since Monday, I've become addicted to the online version of it. The premise is simple. Using your paddle and right and left arrow keys, you ping colored bars that reveal msnbc.com headlines. Uncover all the bars to get to the next level, while collecting headlines to earn extra lives. But there's more. During the game, if you choose to pause, or after you've lost, you can read the stories from your winning headlines. Buried in the headlines were stories of all ilk: news to sports, human interest to entertainment even travel stories. Simply playing gave me inspiration to read stories I never would have found. I just loved it. I don't know how the cinema version will be - but I'm still digesting the meaning of the online game.
It's available for you to try here.