PIcture this: The Higher We Climb, the Lower We Stoop

Apr. 20—A couple of headlines in the photography and videography press caught my eye this week:

Blackmagic Teases Groundbreaking 17K Large-Format Cinema Camera

Old Movies Are Being Enhanced With AI Tools and Not Everyone is Happy

Okay, the first one. "17K" refers to a newer, higher-resolution imaging sensor, in which a mind-boggling amount of videographic data is recorded and stored every second.

Sadly, these cameras are mostly used for two types of photography: the "oh, look at how good my footage is," and the "this movie has a lot of special effects."

Even the 2023 Picture of the Year, Oppenheimer, a flashy, visually rich biopic about the creator of the atomic bomb, was disappointing to me. I haven't finished my review of it, but when I do, one of the things I plan to call out about it is that the bomb that the plot spends so much time discussing and designing wasn't the bomb or even the same design, as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

Don't believe me? Look it up.

This may be the least popular thing I say all year, but I think entertainment is at its all-time lowest value.

What do I mean by "value?"

To drive home my thoughts on this matter, as I wrote this, I cancelled my only remaining streaming service, Netflix. As the years have gone by, more and more products from this, or any other streaming service, have gotten less and less interesting, and, especially, less enlightening than ever before. I am not only bored, I am annoyed at an entertainment culture that continues to give us petaflops of shallow eye candy.

On the second point, about AI, I know I've weighed in on this before, but it merits saying again and again: AI is leading us down a dangerous, ingenuine, and ultimately destructive path. Think about the goal of AI: create something fake out of something real. No matter how you feel about "fake news," fake reality is worse on every level.

I look at the world around us and think of how many people are unhappy, and wonder why we are pushing harder and harder for this unhappiness. We spout off about how disappointing the world around us is, while at the same time devoting our lives to watching and buying the worst of it. Who among my readers is naive enough to imagine, for example, that any of our leaders on either side of the spectrum won't use AI to manipulate us?

What, Richard, will you do without streaming, cable, or television? If you know me, you know how much I love reading, writing, photography, flying, traveling, working outside, taking care of my dogs, and so on. No, canceling my last streaming subscription won't be difficult. In fact, it already feels like one of the best moves I've made lately.