Thursday, January 28, 2010

We Have Too Many Channels on TV

Well boys and girls, I have a little bit of a message for those of you who are in the film and television industry, especially those who are aspiring filmmakers. Like, if you are in Hollywood waiting tables and leaving your script with every receptionist you can find or maybe you are dreaming of being behind the camera telling people what to do. You guys. Let me tell you something. You are a failure if you haven't made a movie yet because it's so easy even a chimpanzee can do it.
Wait, what? What do you mean by that? Please explain that to me. Gladly. It was released recently that one of my favorite organizations, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is going to air a documentary completely filmed by chimpanzees. It is, as one would expect, the first film of its kind. So the monkeys have made a film, and you haven't yet. Sucks to be you.
The documentary actually stems from the work of a Ms. Betsy Herrelko who is pursuing a PhD in primate behavior (you can get a doctorate in that?). She aims to discover how chimps perceive the world and one another. Sadly, I am sure she has a received a grant to do this work, and I wonder why. I can't imagine this will help humanity or the world in many ways. Hey, don't spend that money trying to cure cancer or anything folks.
Anyway, Ms. Herrelko spent 18 months training 11 chimpanzees who were holed up in an enclosure at the Edinburgh Zoo to use technology that my mom can't even use. First she started them with touch screens that allowed them to watch videos, which by the way is a technology that I can't even dream of having in my own home, and surprisingly none of them really cared. In fact, they seemed to be more interested in one another, which is strange seeing as how they are chimpanzees. Did you sense the sarcasm there, company? I hope so because I am laying it on pretty thickly right now. In time though, apparently they started to get it, and eventually Betsy rolled out the cameras. And she taught them that if they pointed the camera at something it would show up on the screen. Then it was on.
Some kind of movie came out, but I can't really vouch for what. It showed yesterday on BBC Two as part of the Natural World program called "Chimpcam." How original. It is said that the chimps, while actively using the camera, they most likely did not understand that they were making a movie and that they likely did not film any particular subjects. Of course not. Because they are chimpanzees. I know they can use simple tools but I don't think anyone expects them to use a Handycam.
By the time you are reading this "Chimpcam" will have aired like 18 hours ago, so I am sure it will be available for viewing on the BBC website or on YouTube or on English YouTube or something, so you can probably check it out if you really want to. Like, if you really like chimpanzees or something. Or perhaps you just like really shaky, poorly focused and centered video that spends most of its time looking at the ground. But in that case all you really need to do it raid any video collection in America or watch the CW.
So I am not sure how I feel about this. Trust me, I believe that it is a colossal waste of money that is for sure, because I can't see where there is a lot of use that comes from finding out what chimpanzees are looking at, but whatever. I also wonder why the BBC would spend time on BBC Two airing that when they could be showing Top Gear, but that I suppose is why I am not a television executive. All I know is that if we are showing shows that monkey's have made, we probably have way too many channels on TV.

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