You know that week that was going to disrupt our activity that I mentioned in the last blog post? Well we started it, and here’s what’s happening.
Basically, the second and third year students from game design, animation, film, and a couple other courses are getting together and forming about 23 groups, each consisting of about five students, and we were all supposed to try and make music videos within three days as part of a design sprint. As crazy as that sounds, you should know the rest of it. The project has something to do with a guy named Christopher Evans, a Welsh entrepreneur who invests in biotechnology. Apparently he has an interest in music, and has been producing an album basically consisting of emotional pop songs sung by various artists, with various other performers lending their musical talent to the project. The songs have already been made, to my understanding, but we’ve been challenged to make music videos for it. Apparently, this is all for the cause of fighting cancer, but the songs themselves have nothing to do with cancer, and are instead based around letters sent from soldiers who were fighting during World War I, sometimes revolving around specific battles that happened there.
The first problem I have with it is that it seems kind of pretentious to me, in that I fail to understand what relevance the conflict of World War I and the feelings of the soldiers have to do with curing cancer. The only connection is that the profits of that album would be funneled towards cancer research, but I don’t see how this album could do it in any way other than propitiating the dull minds of the masses. The second problem I have is that I don’t see how this needs to involve the game design students. There are film and animation students who would be more useful in making the actual video. All we might be able to offer is management skills, but my history with the game design course leads me to be a little cynical about our general ability to offer said skills. The third problem is principally that we are going to assist the production of what is nothing more than sappy, manipulative dribble. This project aims to gain money by pulling at the heartstrings of the highly suggestible sheep masses, and that’s just wrong. Added to that, this is all ultimately backed by record company types who approved of the material put forward by Mr. Evans, and there are expectations involved as a result. And I’m not sure, but we might actually see some of these record company people on Friday when there will be a showcase for all the videos. So as much as this is ostensibly for fighting cancer, to me it feels like nothing more than propitiating record company lowlifes and commercial expectations.
I would opt out of this sort of thing, but it’s kind of a forced extra-curricular activity. You could opt out and refuse to participate, but there’s nothing for you if you do, since the lectures that would normally run will not run this week. There is the possibility of continuing to do actual work, but you’ll have to do something very substantial this week if you’re not doing the design sprint at all. Also, I had already gotten into a group not knowing what I was getting into, and I told them I would be seeing them tomorrow, so I’m not going to bail on them, and I may have found a way to work with the idea in a subversive manner.
The biggest problem for me is Mr. Evans himself. Aside from being the man behind the sentimental garbage we’re working on, he seems to want us to think that buying his album is the alternative to purchasing beer like we students would normally purchase according to his logic. All that says to me is that he views the priorities of all students as being basically the same. He also seems to think that, if you don’t care about fighting cancer, you’re a miserable creton. I’m going to be honest here, I’m not particularly invested in that cause, but judgement like that might just put me off that sort of thing a whole lot more. But I can’t help but think that it makes sense. To me, cancer and World War I are crazy-makers in British culture. In the case of World War I, that’s been true pretty much since the war began and when anyone who didn’t fight was labelled as both a coward and worse, and in Britain we remember those who died in the fighting with poppies and people may accuse you of not respecting the armed forces if you don’t wear it. In the case of cancer, just look at Dr. Richard Smith, who dared to suggest that we shouldn’t spend billions on cancer because he felt cancer was actually the best way for a human to die, and was subsequently viewed as a monster by the public and the Twitter masses. Honestly though, Evans seemed to be driving an unpleasant moral anvil to us, and it just made me think to myself, “it’s really far more moral to oppose the manipulation of people’s emotions for commercial gain instead of acquiescing to something you oppose because it’s ‘for a good cause'”.
I will say though that we can at least be thankful that this is a one-off sort of thing, and we won’t be seeing it again in October 2016. And at least I have a plan to deal with it.