Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Making the world a safer place, to the soundtrack of AC/DC

A visit to the local cinema to experience Marvel's new testosterone-fuelled blockbuster Iron Man 2 has taught me a few things; that playing 'cinema seat roulette' is truly the most stressful thing you can do sitting down, and that I cannot wait until I'm able to buy a computer that I can have witty conversations with and can control by flailing my hands around in mid-air. But perhaps the most important thing I learnt is that we could do with some dependable and unyielding super-heroes in reality to casually sort out the world's scum.

If we had the technology to create a symbiotic suit of armour capable of pounding the world's terrorist ne'er-do-wells into submission, then I'm sure the petty street criminals would fall in line - with Bruce Wayne going around battering the ones that don't. I'm not talking about super-heroes with stretchy limbs, telekinesis and the ability to shoot lasers out of their eyes, that would be absurd; we just need a few billionaire playboys with a righteous conscience and some major cash to burn.

However, the more I think about the film, the more I change my mind about real-life super-heroes. In comic book films, the only reason there are bad guys is because there are caped crusaders to stop them. It's a strange concept, I know, but villains wouldn't be villains if nobody exposed their evil plans and tried to prevent them. We can only perceive opposites if we can see both sides; you can't have hot without cold, rich without poor, or super-hero without super-villain. If we remove one side of the coin, does the other side cease to exist? And on that assumption, does it work both ways: by introducing super-heroes, are we also introducing super-villains?

I should probably concentrate more on the colossal explosions, idyllic women dressed in skin-tight body suits, and being jealous of Robert Downey Jr, rather than trying to find ethical messages within a Hollywood blockbuster. And besides, trying to remove all perception of 'good and bad' is like trying to deprive people of their opinions and emotions - and that's exactly the sort of crazy plan a comic book villain would try to bring to fruition. Overall we're probably better off planning for peace by preparing for war.

Though I can't quite decide what the film is trying to tell us about super-heroes, it certainly teaches us one thing: if we do develop the technology to create a super-suit capable of either protecting or enslaving the world, as long as we give it to an egotistic, recovering alcoholic who displays signs of obsessive and compulsive behaviour and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, then it's definitely in safe hands.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

I should just download illegally, like everybody else

There are so many ways of listening to free music online; from streaming the latest music videos, creating playlists and dodging adverts on Spotify, to listening to live radio and podcast sessions. But despite all the possibilities, I still choose to purchase and download songs directly onto my computer. Like many people I buy music through iTunes - not because of the overwhelmingly large library of diverse content, but because I was drawn towards a shiny iPod like a crow, and I'm now stuck with their music store.

The trouble with using iTunes is that I don't own a Mac computer; I didn't quite fancy paying double the price for a laptop on the basis that it's spotlessly white and it helps me blend in at Starbucks. Whenever I use iTunes it never really works; it takes forever to load up, it hoards me with unnecessary updates, and it frequently deletes my entire music library, leaving me with nothing but smarmy messages telling me how to add songs to my empty library. I'm fairly certain that Apple purposely sabotages iTunes if it's not installed on a Mac.

I know that getting iTunes to work properly isn't the most pressing issue we face today, but it just seems that the world would run more smoothly if we stopped making life difficult for each other. In an ideal world we would clear away our own rubbish at fast food restaurants, we'd give up our place in the queue to an elderly gentleman, and we'd cross the street to hold a door open for a woman struggling with her shopping - but we don't.

I'm aware that spontaneous consideration and the occasional smile isn't the solution to all the worlds problems; politicians will still squabble, wars will still be fought, and the French will still be French. It seems that we're all too pessimistic to believe that our small acts of kindness will have any influence on the bigger, more important issues. Trying to preach that world peace can be found in forgiveness and sanctity is like pissing into the wind, the hippies found that out for themselves; metaphorically of course, though I wouldn't rule out the literal.

Seeing as though world peace isn't on the horizon we might as well go back to randomly pulling out at roundabouts, assuming that somebody else will offer their seat to the pregnant lady, and totally ignoring the elderly. Blame not a broken society or insolent youth, but the slimy, pit-stained software programmers at Apple that won't fix my iTunes because I refused to buy a seven hundred pound laptop.