The worst thing ever the French gave us is the auteur theory,” he said flatly. “It’s a load of horseshit. You don’t make a movie by yourself, you certainly don’t make a TV show by yourself. You invest people in their work. You make people feel comfortable in their jobs; you keep people talking.
While working on sitcoms, [“Six Feet Under” creator Alan] Ball had compiled a list of things that would be different once he had control over his own show, and for the most part, he stuck to it. He exhibited few of the autocratic impulses of other showrunners. “He had a very different style from some of these other guys,” Soloway said. “He didn’t wield the big bat. Alan once described the masculine style of showrunning as standing in front of your troops, saying, ‘Come on! This is where we’re going.’ The feminine style is standing behind your troops, pushing them forward so they lead you. Alan did the feminine style. The show exists in the center of the room, and we all come to it with our minds and let it rise up, and it belongs to nobody.”
I see my role much like a small-town praire banker in the 1880’s. My job is to project an aura of calm, solvency, and permanence in an industry where none of those adjectives applies
Isn’t it striking that the most-typical and most-maligned genres of Instagram imagery happen to correspond to the primary genres of Western secular art? All that #foodporn is still-life; all those #selfies, self-portraits. All those vacation vistas are #landscape; art-historically speaking, #beachday pics evoke the hoariest cliché of middle-class leisure iconography. (As for the #nudes, I guess they are going on over on Snapchat.)
Why this (largely unintentional) echo? Because there is a sneaky continuity between the motivations behind such casual images and the power dynamics that not-so-secretly governed classic art.
Technology has so democratized image-making that it has put the artistic power once mainly associated with aristocrats—to stylize your image and project yourself to an audience as desirable—into everyone’s hands. (Although the parallel to art as “celebration of private property” is probably most vivid in the case of those who most closely resemble modern-day aristocrats. See: “Rich Kids of Instagram”). But images retain their function as game pieces in the competition for social status. “Doesn’t this look delicious?” “Aren’t I fabulous?” “Look where I am!” “Look what I have!”
This paradox between our affluence as consumers and our precariousness as workers poses economic, political, and moral conundrums. If we can produce more with less, and workers become redundant, who will buy the goods? A robot can make a mobile phone but it cannot purchase one. Workers are also consumers. Fire your workers, your profits will rise until the day no one can afford to buy your product. Henry Ford was a visionary for paying his workers enough so they could buy his cars. Ultimately, our production possibilities frontier and so our societal wealth is determined by our level of technology. That keeps expanding. Thus every year we should be richer. Each generation should be better off than its parents. That we are not is a problem of distribution.
Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated
Things like real management training and recruitment training and HR processes designed to make sure employees’ work lives are non-horrible get thrown out of the window. Because that’s how old people do things, and how many people north of thirty do you know who made billions by disrupting x with y when they were barely old enough to drive? None. The old way is the bad way, and under the new way we get to run our companies without paying attention to what is essentially the equivalent of due process in employment terms – basic rights and safeguards that people should be entitled to in the course of doing their jobs – and everyone gets super rich.
So how do you both give credit to ISIS and maintain its absolute otherness? Recast its leaders as corporate raiders! It’s perfect. It’s a type that’s both recognizable and difficult to empathize with; it explains a group’s motivations without requiring you to understand them. It’s a business narrative—a disruption narrative—which is increasingly the dominant type of narrative, laden with clean premises and familiar, if unknowable, forces. It aligns, for a Western audience, the foreign desire for an Islamic state with that inevitable quality of industry: The unquestioning, inevitable, unexamined desire for growth.