from the world's big
Storytelling in a Digital World
Question: Are the best screenwriting opportunities in television?
Robert McKee: Absolutely. Well, you’ve got, I don’t know, countless channels; hundreds perhaps of channels, going 24 hours a day, consuming material at that rate. And so the number of series and specials at commercial networks, but primarily at HBO and Showtime and at the satellite networks, the subscription networks is enormous. It’s huge. They can’t—and it seems to just be ever expanding in terms of the number of series and the number of episodes per series. And so when you have, like, “The Sopranos” ran for nine years, “Six Feet Under” ran for seven years doing, I don’t know, 20 episodes a year. Okay? That’s almost 200 episodes of “Sopranos.” When you have these kinds of enormities, it just demands ideas and quality writing from the writing community. And so the opportunities of what’s already there in order for a writer to write episodically are enormous, but the most wonderful possibility is that you create a series, you’re the next Dick Wolf. Okay? And why not? I mean, they all started somewhere. They all started generally as episodic writers who then got to know people and pitched a series idea. And television, without question is the most creative medium to write today. It is doing things with storytelling that are really wonderful and exciting, and it has length greater than any novel. It has... camera moves in close and so it focuses on dialogue scenes like the theater. On the other hand, it can move out of doors and can do what a movie can do, up to a point. The budget won’t allow spectacles of the “Avatar” kind, but not yet.
But it can also, like a novel, crawl inside of characters' heads because it can get in close, you can see the subtext vividly in the actors' performances. I mean, in a wonderful series like “Damages,” Glenn Close just turning and looking at somebody is, you know, enormously rich in her thoughts and feelings. And so TV takes its strength from all three of the media, and then does it over months, years of time. It’s an enormously creative medium. If it were a young writer wanting a career in the performance stories, certainly television would be my first choice today.
Question: Has digital technology changed screenwriting?
Robert McKee: No, I can’t say that for sure because stories are a metaphor for life and as a result, you’re really saddled with life. And so you can’t get all digital about life. Okay? And so you still have to have characters even if they’re cartoons. They still have to have interactions with each other in their world. They still have to have desires that they’re pursuing. There’s still a question of value or survival or death, love, hate, truth, lie, courage, cowardice, I mean these values are eternal. And so, no, I think, how would I know, I’m not a scientist of this kind, but if I had to guess that the digitalness of things is part of the shallowness of things. And so, I don’t think it changes the way they tell stories, but it certainly appears to have an effect on the content of the stories that they tell.
It certainly changes the way they write in terms of their inability to punctuate. Their inability to spell. Their inability to write a coherent sentence. Their literacy is of a kind I’m not familiar. And it would be annoying; it seems to me that if you had to read these things, reading the same sentence three times over to try to figure out what the hell the guy meant because he cannot communicate in language. I’ve experienced that many, many times.
And it does have an effect of this kind. Even more so than ever, it makes people who don’t write disdain screenwriting, because they become less and less literate. Now that’s, again, a general overstatement. Generally speaking, the films that get made are written by literate people and that’s why they get made because they really have characters, they tell a story. I mean, I’m sure a film like “Up in the Air,” which is adaptation of a novel, that screenplay was probably, I haven't read it, but I’m sure it was superbly written, or George Clooney wouldn’t do it. Because he’s a literate guy. But, yes, I see these trends toward less and less literacy. But you know, in screenwriting, literacy is not a big problem, not on the screen because everything that is literate on the screenplay is going to be turned into images anyway. And so if the screenwriter cannot describe in a literate way it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is the story that they tell. The actors are going to improvise and rework the dialogue anyway. And so, if they can tell a story – I mean, there’s no necessary connection between literacy and storytelling. A story can be danced out in ballet. A story can be mimed. Stories can be cartooned. I mean any way in which people can communicate stories can be told, and language is only one of them. And so the literacy of the screenwriter, in that way, is not a critical factor if somehow they manage to tell a story that grabs people.
But I think there’s an intimate connection often between the literary sensibility of a writer and the quality of their characters. And inasmuch as a film is still concerned about character and character complexity, then the kind of digital mind that we’re talking about is not really interested in character complexity anyway. And so the sort of thing they write is of a cartoony nature, often. And which is, you know, I thought “Up” was great, and I know that [Pete] Docter that had written it is certainly a literate guy. So, I’m just not an expert in the area of digitalness. I just don’t know.
Advances in digital technology don’t change the way writers tell stories, but they do have an effect on the content of the stories that are told.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
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Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.