Posts Tagged ‘ opinion ’

Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children musings

It’s ridiculously early and I’m back into the habit of putting off sleep again, for some unknown reason, so I thought I’d share a little of my ramblings.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m pretty into Final Fantasy 7, and being a student whose studies are part of the core of English Literature/Language, it’s natural for me to read into things and analyse them.

But here’s my thought process on a scene or two from the Final Fantasy 7: Advent children movie. Take it all with a pinch of salt, if you’re familiar with it; these are just my opinions. I really enjoy reading into the meaning and purpose behind FF7 and certain other games, just because they’re such a culturally rich and diverse text. It’s a little nerdy to say, but they’ve molded me as a person and helped me define some of my own values.

So, yes, if you’re into Japanese RPG’s, please do take a look.


Neil Gaiman on Copyright, Piracy and the Web

Click here to listen to Neil Gaiman discussing copyright, piracy and the web in regards to his own work.

Here is a transcript of the interview found here.

“When the web started, I used to get really grumpy with people because they put my poems up. They put my stories up. They put my stuff up on the web. I had this belief, which was completely erroneous, that if people put your stuff up on the web and you didn’t tell them to take it down, you would lose your copyright, which actually, is simply not true.

And I also got very grumpy because I felt like they were pirating my stuff, that it was bad. And then I started to notice that two things seemed much more significant. One of which was… places where I was being pirated, particularly Russia where people were translating my stuff into Russian and spreading around into the world, I was selling more and more books. People were discovering me through being pirated. Then they were going out and buying the real books, and when a new book would come out in Russia, it would sell more and more copies. I thought this was fascinating, and I tried a few experiments. Some of them are quite hard, you know, persuading my publisher for example to take one of my books and put it out for free. We took “American Gods,” a book that was still selling and selling very well, and for a month they put it up completely free on their website. You could read it and you could download it. What happened was sales of my books, through independent bookstores, because that’s all we were measuring it through, went up the following month three hundred percent

I started to realize that actually, you’re not losing books. You’re not losing sales by having stuff out there. When I give a big talk now on these kinds of subjects and people say, “Well, what about the sales that I’m losing through having stuff copied, through having stuff floating out there?” I started asking audiences to just raise their hands for one question. Which is, I’d say, “Okay, do you have a favorite author?” They’d say, “Yes.” and I’d say, “Good. What I want is for everybody who discovered their favorite author by being lent a book, put up your hands.” And then, “Anybody who discovered your favorite author by walking into a bookstore and buying a book raise your hands.” And it’s probably about five, ten percent of the people who actually discovered an author who’s their favorite author, who is the person who they buy everything of. They buy the hardbacks and they treasure the fact that they got this author. Very few of them bought the book. They were lent it. They were given it. They did not pay for it, and that’s how they found their favorite author. And I thought, “You know, that’s really all this is. It’s people lending books. And you can’t look on that as a loss of sale. It’s not a lost sale, nobody who would have bought your book is not buying it because they can find it for free.”

What you’re actually doing is advertising. You’re reaching more people, you’re raising awareness. Understanding that gave me a whole new idea of the shape of copyright and of what the web was doing. Because the biggest thing the web is doing is allowing people to hear things. Allowing people to read things. Allowing people to see things that they would never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.”

I think they’re very sound words and, whilst not excusing illegal downloads and the like, there are other ways to combat music, tv, film and literature piracy and ACTA (just like SOPA and PIPA) is not the way to deal with it.

Perhaps making things available immediately, for a subscription fee, maybe, or a smaller fee than you would pay for a hard copy is a sensible answer – particularly in the current economy.

I could go on for a while about this but I don’t want to (mostly because I’m tired but also because I know feathers will get ruffled). But honestly, in this day and age, as any kind of artist, the realistic expectation of becoming a multi-millionaire off the back of one painting, one song or one book isn’t particularly high and I think some people forget this. It takes a lot of effort to create and this should be recognised. Yet at the same time, to demand such high exacting prices from those giving you their custom, their money, isn’t 100% fair. Even at university, financial aid will only get you so far in buying what you need for your course.

Anyway, /end here because I shouldn’t ramble. I only spout nonsense.

#2 Rainy Days – One Way

One Way – Rainy Days (English unplugged ver.)

One Way are… I guess you could term them an indie/independent r’n’b hip-hop group? Three friends who work together writing and producing music not just for themselves but for a number of other artists as well. They take a lot of inspiration from the classic jazz and soul musicians and if you listen to this or this, you can really hear the influence in not only the song choice but also Peter’s vocals.

Fluent in both English and Korean, the tracks on their mini-album and full-length album combine these two languages in a perfectly fluid fashion, easily conveying a broad spectrum of emotions with a song suitable for any mood that takes you.

Rainy Days features Junsu of 2PM and, in the unplugged version, the acoustic guitar is played by Charm Park. The soft lull of the guitar and the backing track of gentle rainfall don’t dominate the song or detract from the stunning harmonised vocals of Chance (Michael Kim) and Peter (Peter Hyun) during the chorus or the carefully paced rap of the group’s youngest member, Cho Junyoung (known on stage as Young Sky). Instead, they enhance the song, adding to overall mood and meshing seamlessly with the varying vocal layers.

Considering how difficult translating back and forth between Korean and English can be, given that many words and phrases don’t always translate perfectly or have an English/Korean translation, Rainy Days has a smooth composition and is easily comprehensible, regardless of whether you listen to the English unplugged version or the Korean edition. The empathetic song flows as easily as rain downhill, no hitches or awkward pauses. Despite the melancholy tones in the lyrics and the music, this song is surprisingly calming. It has a cathartic feel to it, a sense of release from the tight knot in your chest from a tough day or a bad break-up; after listening to Rainy Days, there’s the sense that things can be approached with a more level-head and a clearer outlook.

For the last few years, I’ve had people ask me ‘How can you listen to music in a language that you don’t understand?’ The answer is really quite simple: music itself is a language – and that language is universal. The Hallyu Wave is making Korean music more approachable for many western fans and Japanese music has long been popular with western audiences (consider Japanese pop, Japanese rock, visual kei, etc), if only in a niche audience which has grown over the years.

To understand the language of the songs that foreign artists produce is easy enough; people post translated lyrics daily. But to understand the music emotionally is all up to you; how a song makes you feel, what mindset it puts you in, whether you like it or not shouldn’t be dependent on if you can translate the words you hear instantaneously. If that weren’t the case, then how could anyone, as an example, enjoy dubstep or wordless dance music? Personally, I find it elitist to want to limit a certain language or genre to a specific culture, gender or country. The artists themselves wish to expand globally and, even as a writer, there is always that idea in the back of our head that it would be really cool to have a piece of work translated into another language.

Regarding One Way, it could be said that they are a perfect gateway into Korean music with their talented blending and weaving of both languages. Their music is approachable on most levels, fusing pop with hip-hop, jazz, r’n’b, soul, dance beats. One of the greatest things about One Way is their cohesiveness as a group whilst still maintaining their own individuality and being able to hold their own as a solitary unit. That’s not to say they’re perfect; everyone has off-days but One Way are constantly learning, experimenting with and experiencing new things.

It’s a lesson all artists can learn from – musicians, visual artists, writers. To improve our work and better ourselves, we have to be willing to put in the effort and hard work, push our boundaries and stray from our comfort zones without clutching a map as a safety-net.