Could A Writer’s Strike Prompt Hollywood Studios To Experiment With AI Written Scripts?

by Shelt Garner

I was so busy thinking about how a recession might cause the widespread adoption of AI that I totally missed a scenario whereby a Hollywood writers’ strike was the thing that caused it to happen.

The Robots of Hollywood.

So, the thinking goes, should there be a major, long-term Hollywood writers’ strike, the studios might, out of desperation, begin to experiment with AI-generated TV and movie scripts. This sounds pretty dystopian and hysterical, but it’s exactly a shock to the system like a strike that might cause the adoption of AI to write scripts.

And, remember, the issue is — new technology just has to be good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough.

It will be curious to see how things work out. It could be that AI just isn’t developed enough for my fears to become a reality. And, yet, I suspect if a writers’ strike lasts long enough that someone, somewhere is going to at least try to see if they can avoid using human writers altogether.

Will A.I. Bring A Broadway Renaissance As Hollywood Fades?

by Shelt Garner

As is suggested in the movie “La La Land,” there is still a lot of truth to the myth that young people with a few bucks in their pockets make their way to Los Angeles in hopes of making it big in Hollywood. The rise of A.I. generated entertainment might change all of that, however.

Instead of going to Hollywood, young people in the near future might flock to New York City in hopes of making it big on Broadway and leveraging that fame to get a full body scan that will allow them to live passively off the scans use for years to come.

I say this because I wonder if the potential death of mass media because of A.I. generated entertainment might might lead to people turning to live theatre in a way not seen since before the advent of Hollywood in the first place.

I’m not saying I think this will happen for sure, but it’s definitely a possibility. It’s very easy to imagine a future where AI has grown so powerful that we have a “Her” movie situation. Instead of paying $15 a month for Netflix, we will pay a similar amount for access to the “scans” of actors over the years that we can use to populate our very, very specific movies.

Now here’s another interesting idea — will there be any market for mass media entertainment at all outside of the theatre or will everyone just use A.I. to generate very personalized entertainment? There won’t even be a need for a prompt — your digital personal assistant will just know you so well that you sit down and watch entertainment it generates on the fly based on what it knows about your personality from use.

But I still think it’s possible that live theatre — and Broadway specifically — could balloon in cultural significance as we transition away from Hollywood having any humans involved.

A.I. Killed The Hollywood Star?

by Shelt Garner

I had a really interesting Space conversation on Twitter with a guy who proposed the following provocative concept: the rise of AI generated technology will mark the end of Hollywood as we know it.

He posits that the entire celebrity parasocial edifice will come crashing down as everyone can tailor their entertainment to be very personal and without any “real” actors. Everything will be generative, no IRL humans involved.

This is a really interesting idea. And I like it because it forces me to challenge some basic assumptions and to come up with and answer to this guy’s very valid observations.

The more I think about it, the more I think Hollywood celebrities have nothing to worry about, for no other reason than they still have time to warp the advance of technology such that they thrive. For instance, just because you may be able to create a completely generative movie or TV show in the near future, doesn’t mean you will want to, especially if there’s a huge marketing campaign to make you feel that your generative actor isn’t as “special” or entertaining as a scan of a real person.

In fact, there is a novel by David Brin that deals with something like this. It’s called Kiln People and it has some really thought provoking ideas about the nature of celebrity. Anyway, I think in the near future when we Petite Singularity is in full force that instead of Hollywood being burned to the ground that the basic elements of Hollywood celebrity culture will simply exist in a different form.

So, when you sit down to watch a TV show or movie, yes, you will create something generative…but you will also probably be willing to pay a premium for a scan of, say, Harrison Ford (and other actors) to plop into your generative, personalized content. In fact, one could even go so far as to say that in the future you will be paying a flat monthly fee not for Netflix, but for access to the scans of a multitude of actors you might use for your movies and TV shows that you generate via a prompt

And, what’s more, once AI technology reaches something akin to that seen in the movie “Her,” you might simply tell your personal assistant to create the content for you using voice commands and you can be even more lazy.

I still think that instead of going to Hollywood in the near future that young starlets will head to New York City to see if they can make a name for themselves on Broadway then get scanned into the Big Hollywood Database and then live off the passive income of their body scan. I don’t feel enough people are listening to me about this possibility.

Anyway. It definitely seems as though the future of entertainment is going to have a lot of twists and turns.

More Of My Delusional Daydreaming About Going To Los Angeles

by Shelt Garner

It is beginning to sink in that I’m now an Old.

Age is far more than just a number. I’m kind of fucked. What’s worse, even if I get what I want — to write a break out hit novel — I don’t get what I want, which is run around New York City and Los Angeles with hot chicks on each arm as a young person.

Any success I get at this point will be in the context of being an Old who has done jack shit with my life for way, way, too long. In fact, even if I endup writing something as successful as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo….oh boy. The whole context of my success will be different than all the many elaborate dreams I’ve come up with over the years.

All my peers will be empty nesters with one eye towards retirement, while I’ll be crashing into “normal” life 25 years too late. Anyway, the point is, I continue to idly daydream about taking a trip to Los Angeles to snoop around, see how far I can get on just my innate ability to shmooze. I still half believe that if I can just get myself invited to a cocktail party that I might get drunk and talk about such interesting things that some well-connected person at the party might take notice of me.

And, yet.

I’m beginning to fear that that window of opportunity for that avenue of success has closed. Hollywood wants young people who are hot, sexxy and talented, not an Old like me who doesn’t even have a script but, rather a novel. But a part of me is still interested in at least swinging by LA for a few days. Los Angeles is a huge city and it could all be a huge waste of time.

I dunno. With my luck, the person I ran into would be Craig Mazin who I once said “didn’t have a soul” because he didn’t like flowers. (Who doesn’t like flowers? Very strange.) Anyway. Unless something pretty dramatic happens, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Time keeps on ticking, ticking, into the future….

Movie Pitch: ‘Bottom Rail’

by Shelt Garner

There is a famous anecdote from the very end of the Civil War when a former slave is claimed to have told a bunch of white people that, “bottom rail is on top now.”

Ok, here’s my movie pitch.

The movie opens with a montage about a virus that wiped out much — but not all — of humanity. After a lot of chaos, death and destruction, humanity manages to bounce back. But here’s the twist — white people are now in the minority and pretty much the entire globe is run by black and brown people.

You would have to be very careful how you approached this story, but in general, the point would be to confront white people in the audience with how systemic racism is real TODAY. The movie would be an excuse to highlight the macro social injustice that POC have to endure in our modern world.

You might suggest that white people in this future world are blamed for the the destruction of the old world and that only adds to the prejudice that they face. Now there are obvious risks to this move in the sense that Right wing nutjobs might completely miss the point of the story and latch on to it as a parable about the perils of illegal immigration.


This is why we can’t have nice things.

Anyway, it’s an interesting idea. It’s a more realistic end-of-the-word scenario than is in most fiction these days.

Watch Me Try To Figure Out What’s Going On With Emrata

by Shelt Garner

I hate to inform you gentle reader, but I’m intoxicated. As such, find myself going a flight of fancy about what exactly is up with the single best looking woman in the public sphere — Emily Ratajkowski. In short, I’m drunk and I feel like overthinking Emrata’s dating agenda.


Ok. We know that Emrata is a single mom. We know she’s got a very languid and sexual personality. So, now that she’s divorced, she’s sort of sowing her wild oats. She’s still reasonably young, so, lulz. I guess the only quibble I have is Emrata sems to go out of her way to have PR relationships. What I really struggle with is..what’s the point?

Why not find just find hyper attractive man — or woman — and just settle down with them. Or, if nothing else, have an actual relationship with someone, not just a string of PR relationships. Emrata is sufficiently self-aware that I can only imagine that she’s kind of playing with our collective minds with all these PR relationships.

If nothing else, she looks happy, from the pictures I’ve seen of her with man after man in a PR relationship. That’s better than a lot of us can say, you know? I still keep expecting her to dip into the lady pond in a very conspicuous, public way that will get people talking. The ideal woman for her to fuck would be, of course, Julia Fox.

Now THAT would get people talking.

Anyway. Lulz. No one cares what I think.

How I Would ‘Fix’ The Movie Babylon

by Shelt Garner

There was a lot for me to like about the movie Babylon. And, as I’ve written before, there were times — especially early in the movie — when I was really digging it. It was giving off “Wolf of Wall Street” vibes, in a good way, and I was prepared to make it one of my favorite recent movies.

Margot Robbie plays Nellie LaRoy and Diego Calva plays Manny Torres in Babylon from Paramount Pictures.

And….then….the movie’s plot became rather trite. How many times were we going to have to see Margot Robbie’s character screw up, only to get rescued? When the movie seemed to on course to replicate the famous fire cracker scene in Boogie Nights, I bounced out of the theatre.

But now that I’ve read on Wikipedia how the movie ended, I find myself wanting to “fix” it. And here’s what I’ve come up with.

Make the character arc of the Margot Robbie character one of redemption. Instead of time after time her screwing up and getting saved, why not use some of that time to prepare us for a redemption arc. In the end of the movie, she somehow straighten her life out and ends up living a long, long time.

In fact, maybe give her the last laugh with a faux documentary from the 1960s or something where she talks about the “good old days” and the transition from silent film to talkies.

Anyway, if nothing else, I was reminded by the movie the importance of strong character development.

A Hot Take On ‘Babylon’

by Shelt Garner

Even though there were times as I watched “Babylon” that I thought it might the best movie of the year, it ultimately failed to the point that I walked out just around the time we entered the third act. I do this all the time with movies — walk out — so it’s not the insult you might think it is.

Margot Robbie plays Nellie LaRoy and Diego Calva plays Manny Torres in Babylon from Paramount Pictures.

It’s just I really, really hate a certain type of conflict in stories and because I felt the movie had kind of lost the thread by that point, I just couldn’t justify forcing myself to sit through a lot of bad things happening that I didn’t like. The chief thing that led me to this point is, sad to say, Diego Calva. He just couldn’t get me invested enough to go where ever director Damien Chazelle wanted to take me.

There came a point, near the very end of the movie when I gave up. Something about Diego Calva-as-Damien Chazelle proxy just wasn’t doing it for me. So I left the theatre before the movie ended, feeling not a little ashamed of myself. Before that point, I was really digging the movie. It’s Wolf-of-Wall Street level of excess was great and interesting.

I was enthralled by the 20-odd minute prelude before the title credit was shown. I was like, “If the rest of the movie is this good, I might actually finish a movie for once.”

And whenever Brad Pitt or Margot Robbie were on the screen I was totally invested. The Robbie plot of the movie did become a bit trite just about when I decided I wanted to leave. And, really, I think if more work had been put into the taking a few unexpected left turns I might have stayed longer. And, like I said, I didn’t finish the movie so it’s very possible it ultimately didn’t end the way I assumed it would..

I have to admit that the movie was very good at characterizations and I was reminded — yet again — that with the novel I’m working on I really, really need to create interesting characters if I’m going to successfully get people to finish the novel in the first place.

Anyway. I really, really like Babylon even though I ultimately walked out. I would have revamped the Diego Calva and Margot Robbie storyline some. It grew tiresome. Instead of dragging it all out way, way too long, I would have wrapped it up a lot sooner and then done some sort of “post-Hollywood success” third act with the Robbie character. (Who knows, maybe they did that and I was just too impatient to wait through all the horrible things that had to happen to get to that point.)

Go see Babylon, though. It’s really good — especially the first 20 minutes.

Could A Chatbot Win An Oscar?

by Shelt Garner

We are rushing towards a day when humanity may be faced with the issue of the innate monetary value of human created art as opposed to that generated by non-human actors. If most (bad) art pretty much just uses a formula, then that formula could be fed into a chatbot or eventually an AGI and….then what? If art generated by an chatbot or an AI equal to a bad human generated movie…does that require than we collectively give more monetary value to good art created by humans?

While the verdict is definitely still out on that question, my hunch is that the arts may be about to have a significant disruption. Within a few years (2029?) the vast majority of middling art, be it TV shows, novels or movies, could be generated simply by prompting a chatbot or AGI to created it. So, your average airport bookstore potboiler will be written by a chatbot or AGI, not a human. But your more literary works might (?) remain the exclusive domain of human creators.

As and aside — we definitely need a catchy names to distinguish between art created by AGIs and that created by humans. I suppose “artisanal” art might be something to used to delineate the two. But the “disruption” I fear to the arts is going to have a lot of consequences as it’s taking place — we’re just not going to know what’s going to happen at first. There will be no value, no narrative to the revolution and it will only be given one after the fact — just like all history.

It could be really scary to your typical starving (human) artist as all of this being shaken out. There will be a lot of talk about how it’s the end of human created art…and then we’re probably going to pull back from that particular abyss and some sort of middle ground will be established.

At least, I hope so.

Given how dumb and lazy humans are collectively, human generated art could endup something akin to vinyl records before you know it. It will exist, but just as a narrow sliver of what the average media consumer watches or reads. That sounds rather dystopian, I know, but usually we gravitate towards the lowest common denominator.

That’s why the Oscars usually nominate art house films that no one actually watches in the real world. In fact, the Oscars might even be used, one day, as a way to point out exclusively human-generated movies. That would definitely be one way for The Academy to live long and prosper.

The ‘Purple’ Politics Of Blue People: James Cameron’s ‘Avatar — The Way Of Water’

by Shelt Garner

My New Year’s Resolution / change as I turn 50 is that I’m going to stop walking out of movies so quickly. As such, I watched the entirety of Avatar — The Way Of Water even though I was very unhappy to be there for much of the time. Not that it was a bad movie, it’s just the moment I understood what was going on I found the whole thing very boring from my own personal storytelling metrics. And maybe it wasn’t even that it was “boring” per se, so much as there was no need for that movie to be as long as it was.

You could have easily made that movie 2 hours and it would have been a much, much better movie. There was just too much self-indulgent padding in it for my liking.

But that’s not what this post is about — it’s about the native politics of the movie. Is the movie “woke?” That is a very good question that is not as easy to answer as you might think. Cameron uses my favorite storytelling tool — subtext — to tell a pretty New Age-ie type story about the Gaia theory set on a different planet. And there’s a lot of “noble savage” floating around in the movie as well.

And, yet, there is also a lot of hoo-rah military porn in there Red State people. Just its presence is enough for jarheads who go see the movie with their girlfriends to get off on it — even if it’s presented in a negative light. I don’t think, however, that Reds would process it as “being bad.” They would just root for the “star people” to win the battle with the blue “noble savages.” In fact, if anything, the fact that “star people” get their comeuppance in the end is the thing that will make Reds the most upset about the movie and suspect that Cameron is being “woke.”

But I think some of some of it is Cameron isn’t “woke” so much as he has a pretty good sense of the expectations of modern audiences and, as such, he felt he couldn’t go totally in the direction of either Reds or Blues.

I liked the movie…I guess? I just thought it was way, way, way too long. I do find it interesting that Cameron found a way to placate both sides of the political debate — in a way.