Tag Archives: Interesting

Recollections, Labels and Justifications


The other day a work colleague referred to one of my recollections as one of ‘Wayne’s stories’ and I wondered whether I’d spent too much time reminiscing and not enough time moving forward. Perhaps it was his sutble way of telling me that I should be working and not sitting down telling everyone about the further adventures of Wayne.

But I actually take his comments as a compliment, not least of all because it plays on my own natural abilities, one of those being the ability to engage and capture an audiences attention through storytelling. Authors, filmmakers, script writers, journalists and musicians are just some of the people who have this ability. That’s not to say every journalist or scriptwriter has the ability to paint you a mental picture and captivate, but I believe if they’re any good, then they should possess these skills.


Labeling people is nothing new, funneling people into the most convenient definitions, I spent most of my education judged by educators and classmates on my social skills, my achievements with the opposite sex, my achievements with the same sex, my music taste,  my grades and my aspirations. Bowling 4 Soup probably hit the nail on the head when they said “high school never ends” and it’s as true as the sun will rise tomorrow that people will label. For many, it’s an opportunity to break common ground in the most efficient time possible. Telling you everything in a sentence but saying nothing in a lifetime.

Labelled and processed, you may feel the need to almost justify yourself, your own existence, your interests, hobbies and passions.  This is certainly something that happened to me. In school, for example, it was common to make such a huge statement of music taste, commenting on the bands that were allegedly fighting or the next album coming out. It wasn’t so much about what you actually liked as the way you liked it – the opinions you had were meaningless, nobody was going to debate the finer points, instead they just expected teenage hormones and wild flowing statements. You defended your beliefs, partly because you believed them, but mostly because it was part of the group you’d been labelled with.  And the worst thing you could imagine was being outside the box.

Social media has, in my humble opinion, made this even worse. It’s almost as if Facebook is the Inquisitor, asking you to justify constantly your abilities and strengths, exposing your shortcomings and reminding you to keep in line with social status. Add to this the platform it gives us, that we each have a choice to use or not, to shout about our day in the most constructively positive or negative manner we can think of. Thoughts that were once retained, only for a moment, now immortalized in a status update. My journalism lecturer used to tell me straight – libel was worse than slander because it was printed for all to see – a single voice can only reach so far. But Facebook is the voice of many.

You can, of course, choose to remove these libelous or self deprecating posts when you’ve “calmed down” or “thought it through”, and a few do. But most do not. Of course, that opens another – more curious – box, that of censorship. If you say something out loud to 400 friends in a packed hall with a microphone, the information cannot be retracted. You can apologize and make amends if needs be but you cannot simply erase that information from their minds or hope half of them won’t hear it. You can’t selectively choose to alter the words spoken or give the impression you were misunderstood.  Should you have the right to censor and modify those Facebook posts, does it make us subconsciously feel that people should treat us with a different approach in “real life” when we do the same thing? Is our online persona different to that of our real life, primarily because we don’t expect to be judged in the same way for both personalities?

There are people I know on Facebook who I’ve never met in reality. That’s because they’re contacts for stories, I’ve sold things with them online, met them through trading forums…that kind of thing. And there’s also a lot of people I’ve met in real life but haven’t seen in years. I lived in Edinburgh from May 2008 until December 2009 and loved the city, the experience of meeting so many different people. I left my home city of Dublin shortly after finishing University. In both of these examples there are ‘friends’ on my own Facebook with whom I’ve exchanged virtually no contact – asides from perhaps a nostalgic reminiscent post if someone tags you in a photograph.

Now just as I’d like people to think I’ve changed, grown and learned as I’ve become older, so too would I think these ‘friends’ of mine would like me to believe they’ve changed as well. So the only contact I get with them, real or otherwise, is through the medium of Facebook. There’s no reunion, no alumni…people lead their own lives…they disappear into the fullness of time and that used to be the way it happened, naturally. But now we find ourselves reunited with old friends, old lovers, old rivals…and even if we’re not reunited and we’ve just moved on…to what value is a random persons comments on my news feed going to make? How many people will click this link on my Facebook feed and even bother reading this article? If they offer no value to my own life then why should I spend time listening to their daily negativity? Their daily struggles and problems? Why should they care when I’ve my own problems?

Baz Lurman once said that “the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young” and I think, much like the fact that Lurman ‘borrowed’ these lyrics, that statement has only an element of truth to it and should not be followed literally as instructions for life. Remaining friends with someone with whom you worked nine years ago just so you can see their holiday snaps or watch them announce their pregnancy, a level of intimacy you never would have shared with them when you saw them every day, seems like such a bizarre and confusing ritual. Trapped in a cycle of perpetual nostalgia. Holding on to those fading memories of the good times. We label because it allows us to more easily find and sort those memories, categorize our relationships and make us not feel so bad when we don’t speak to a school friend whom we later find out committed suicide due to depression.

Labeling is our way of living in the present. We have access to more information than our parents or our grandparents. We have more choice of how to spend our money and less restriction on where we have to live or the rules society says we have to follow. Class structure and family hierarchy still exists but only insofar as providing a safe place for people to retreat when life is overwhelming. In many respects I believe there is too much choice in the world today and that can lead to a lot of people becoming very lost and insecure.  And very early on. Labeling is a way for people to restore order, find a way not to get overwhelmed with their feelings and to essentially treat life like a work fridge where every person has a lunchbox, a label on the box and a specific contents inside – dietary requirement, personal taste, financial means and practicalities are all inside that lunchbox. But from the outside it looks the same as everyone else. Just like Facebook.

Nowadays I take my labeling with a sort of pride. I see them as character strengths rather than weakness. Someone tells me that I’m always telling stories I’ll tend to assume that I therefore have the ability to tell such stories. Stories people take away and remember, stories they know come from me personally and ones which (in some small way) entertain them. Having recently started working for a newspaper for the first time in my life, first studying journalism some thirteen years ago with those hopes and dreams, I’m glad that I still retain the basic instincts and abilities needed to bring a story to life.

 

@Metallica – Ride The Lightning #Metallica #RideTheLightning

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“Slaves. Hebrews born to serve, to the Pharaoh. Heed. To his every word, live in fear. Faith. Of the unknown one, the deliverer. Wait. Something must be done, four hundred years”

For as long as I can remember people have been debating the sound of Metallica’s music and their musical direction. The band caused controversy and upset in 2008 when they released their “clipping wars” album Death Magnetic, even leading the album to feature in a BBC radio documentary that suggested the album’s “alternative mix” in the popular video game Guitar Hero Metallica was proof the band had tampered with their own sound. There was backlash over St Anger, an album which drummer Lars Ulrich was quoted as saying was “the album Metallica needed to make to survive” and yet didn’t sit right with fans. In 1996 fans complained about the direction of music in Load and in 1988 complained about the lack of bass on And Justice for All. And that’s before we’ve even mentioned their self titled “black” album from 1991.

The longer Metallica have continued to make music, the more controversial their fans have seemed to be about it, yet I’d wager there are only a handful of “original” fans left. Those who were standing on the front line when the band released their debut album Kill Em All in 1983. A mere ten months after the release of their album, Metallica had recorded its follow up in Denmark, an album in which the band broadened its approach by employing acoustic guitars, extended instrumentals, and more complex harmonies. The result? 1984’s Ride The Lightning.

Now hailed as a masterpiece of modern metal, it’s perhaps easy to forget that this album attracted almost as much criticism from “fans” as St Anger had in 2003, those who had already accused the band of selling out. On the other hand the musical press were quick to commend the album for it’s maturity and depth from a band who hadn’t long since released their debut record. Part of this credit must go to Cliff Burton, the bands bassist, whose study of music and composition was heavily influential in teaching the band more about the music they played and gave Burton a more pivotal role in writing for the album. It’s his subsequent death, just two years after this album was released, that is perhaps the biggest tragedy of all as we review the 2016 reissue.

Released on Metallica’s own ‘Blackened Recordings’ with a gate fold sleeve and mini vinyl quality, there is unfortunately nothing particularly special about this release. It is a real shame that Metallica included none of the demo material from larger box sets on the standard …Lightning re-release, likewise both the linear notes and CD art are carbon copies of the original, giving us nothing new to look at and no new retrospective from a band (or one band member, at least) who are usually very eager to reflect on their material. It’s highly probable that if you’re a Metallica fan you’ll own a copy of this album already, so no new incentive (beyond that of the highly priced box set alternative) seems rather unusual.

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Re-listening to this album it’s easy to see why Kerrang! Magazine gave Metallica their first UK cover story in December 1984, as tracks like ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘Fade To Black’ and ‘Creeping Death’ are some of the most well written thrash songs ever composed. Infectious, powerful and harmonious the sound of this remaster is extremely clear and crisp, with it obvious that the up most care has been taken, to preserve the sound of the original recording. With that said, there is only so much that can be done, meaning that perhaps only the strictest of audiophiles will have something to shout about.

The real joy in this issue is coming to terms with tracks such as ‘Trapped Under Ice’ and even the self loathed ‘Escape’, songs that have plagued Metallica for decades, either as parodies of themselves or have simply failed to become the live staple of a track like ‘Nothing Else Matters’ or ‘Enter Sandman’. When reviewing certain tracks in this way it’s a chance to take another look at songs that serve almost as their own B-Sides within an album, lost and forgotten in the shadow of their more famous brothers and sisters. Whether you consider them silent gems of the Metallica catalog or just whether you’d rather they stayed that bit more silent is completely up to you. But it just remains to be said that from ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ to ‘Call of Ktulu’ this album remains one of the strongest jewels Metallica have, even if that misspelling is going to piss off an entire new generation of fans.

Wayne Madden

#Batman (2012) #DarkKnightRises Review @TheDarkNolan

Originally published in 2012 on the website YRadio.co.uk and written by Wayne Madden, myself, republished here with my own permission as I own said copyright anyway and I’m unlikely to sue myself. Unlikely.

This review is dedicated in memory of the 14 people killed in Denver, Colorado, on July 20th 2012 at a premiere of The Dark Knight Rises.

The Beatles sang about a “long and winding road” and it’s certainly been that for Christopher Nolan. In 2003 he first began plans to resurrect Batman on screen following the commercial failures of a previous trilogy of movies and almost a decade later we’re presented with the final piece of the British American director’s own trilogy complete. The Dark Knight Rises presents a very different Gotham to the one seen in its predecessors, eight years removed from the death of Harvey Dent, and prospering under the crime free paradise that exists following the apparent disappearance of the caped crusader.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), the eccentric billionaire playboy, has long since hid in seclusion – mourning the death of his lost love Rachael Dawes – while his mentor and butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) attempts to bring him some comfort. Into this limo comes Bane (Tom Hardy), a psychotic mercenary with just a single thought, that of revolution and the upheaval of Gotham’s streets.

It’s from here that we enter a different story, one which sees Batman question who he is, while Bruce Wayne also struggles to discover where the mask ends and the Batman Begins. Bruce forms relationships with a number of people including Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and we’re never quite sure if this Catwoman is good or bad. This, more than any other film in the trilogy, focuses on Batman being Bruce Wayne – indeed, at several points his secret is revealed either intentionally or unintentionally – and by the end we discover that a close knit group of people know the true identity of the protector of Gotham.

Lt. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) struggles with his own demons, knowing the secret of Two Face, and how those imprisoned in Blackgate have been done so under false pretense.

As the film unfurls it is Bane who controls most of the intrigue, however, never revealing two much about himself or his reasons for madness – in the same way mirroring The Joker and The Scarecrow from previous films. It’s this, however, that ultimately lets the film down.

While it’s an ambitious project that ends the trilogy in style and grace it does so with an uninteresting back story (slightly fabricated then those in the comic strips) that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.David S. Goyer’s script is not as watertight as Jonathan Nolan’s and Bane just isn’t as interesting to watch as Heath Ledger’s Joker.

On the same topic, whereas most Batman films pride themselves on two villains, Catwoman’s one woman exterior and questionable motives mean it’s almost all Bane representing the villains. Of course, there are some cameos of course, but alone he just can’t compete with previous efforts, especially given the almost one dimensional nature of the character and also the rich tapestry of Batman villains that exists.A lack of humor is also present, which saw an audience devoid of laughter, and raised only a slight applause once the film had concluded at our 5am premiere.

Graphically, as usual, there is much to be praised – a particular highlight being a scene involving the Gotham Knights – and former NFL player Hines Ward which results in the destruction of a football pitch – something that has to be seen to be believed.

But the sparks of energy do little to invigorate in a film that runs past 2hrs and 30 minutes. While it’s a great film that you should certainly watch, it’s not the groundbreaking film we’d come to expect, certainly we can’t think of anything that drives the streak home for a three for three.

Coincidentally, while we emerged from our premiere, news broke in the US about a gunman who (dressed like Batman) had entered a cinema in Denver, Colorado, killing and wounding many who (just like us) had attended a worldwide timed premiere of their favorite movie.

This is disappointing, shocking and saddening news for sure but reminds us that the real world we live in can be filthy, gritty and dirty, realism that Nolan has definitely captured in this new era of Batman.

Wayne Madden

Virtual Imprint (Documentary Treatment Idea)

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Documentary Treatment

Virtual Imprint
Director: Wayne Madden
Estimated Running Time: 90 Minutes

“It is estimated that by 2015 over 50 Million Users with Facebook Accounts worldwide will have passed away”

What is the fastest growing group on Facebook?

One of the most surprising phenomena of recent times has been the encroaching of mortality upon Social Media Networks like Facebook and Twitter. In 2010 alone it was estimated that over 1 Million Americans (with Facebook accounts) passed away. Although not perhaps “the norm” in our society yet, it is becoming increasingly common to leave digital estates in a person’s will, giving explicit instructions how to deal with their digital possessions as well as their physical ones. However, beyond a few anecdotes about an awkward experience or two, is this an occasional curiosity or looming tidal wave that social media just doesn’t know yet know how to deal with?

The objective of this documentary is to examine how death is perceived in the digital world. In a world where mobile phones and social media accounts are normality, what happens when a person dies and their “virtual footprint” is left untouched? How does it affect the grieving process when someone is still being tagged on Facebook, posting in Twitter or even sending text messages? What problems might it pose for those left behind? The film will be wholly objective and attempt to focus on as many digital outlets as possible, discussing the story with people from all walks of life, through as many income brackets and backgrounds and possible.

We look to examine the mobile phone and its impact on those who have died, including deleting text messages and personal voicemail from loved ones or taking a cherished family member out of your contacts list.

We acknowledge that the Internet has been around for almost 20 years in the public consciousness, but this documentary wants to examine a digital age in which we’ve become more personal about our private affairs online then we’ve ever been, more willing to accept the Internet for a tool to help us meet that special someone, get that great job, book that fantastic holiday and even declare all these things in a statement of individuality on a generic corporate platform. When a younger person dies, its common place that their photos or videos might exist in the profile of a friend, who can hardly be expected to remove them from their own profile – thus that person is still tagged and living in those photographs or videos.

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The initial focus of the film will be documenting the history, current state and future of this phenomenon. We’ll speak with representatives from Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter – looking at their own response and observation of this issue – we’ll also talk to traditional print media, such as Newspapers, about their own statistics. We’ll also speak too learned members of the community to hear the opinions of physiologists, cultural observers and traditional practitioners of death on the impact this has on a personal level. Finally, we’ll look at case histories and examples from individuals who have allowed us to share their experiences and grieve in their own loss with them, telling us about the process they experienced.

While the actions and opinions of physiologists, cultural observers and traditional practitioners of death (such as Funeral Directors and Crematorium workers) are likely to prove extremely insightful and informative, we’d also like to talk to the digital age – young people affected by the untimely death of a friend or relative, family members coping with loss and even the employees of digital forums and networks that have dealt with this phenomenon. What is Facebook, for example, doing about the accounts of people who have died – is there a due process? In the distant future, will relatives of those who held such personal accounts (with photographs, blogs and interests) find information – in the same way we might use a genealogy study – by looking at the archives of Facebook? And will the corporation own the rights to, and charge for access to, that content?

The secondary focus of the film will be on the world we inhabit. We’ll discuss the new technologies and advances that companies are making in the Digital Age to improve upon the task of documenting where every living person is at any one time. Asking whether it’s such a “small world after all” and looking at the positive impacts of, what some might argue, is being under “the watchful eye of Big Brother” – with over 500 Million Users, Facebook would be the 3rd Largest Country in the World (Twitter would be the 5th) and we want to see if the 80% of Americans between 20 and 29 that use Facebook are thankful they’re movements are able to be documented so well.

If nothing else, Virtual Imprint will give you something to think about, something you may never have considered before.