> During one visit to Google’s headquarters, in Mountain View, about six writers sat in a conference room with Astro Teller, the head of GoogleX, who wore a midi ring and kept his long hair in a ponytail. “Most of our research meetings are fun, but this one was uncomfortable,” Kemper told me....
> “He claimed he hadn’t seen the show, and then he referred many times to specific things that had happened on the show,” Kemper said. “His message was, ‘We don’t do stupid things here. We do things that actually are going to change the world, whether you choose to make fun of that or not.’ ” (Teller could not be reached for comment.)
> Teller ended the meeting by standing up in a huff, but his attempt at a dramatic exit was marred by the fact that he was wearing Rollerblades. He wobbled to the door in silence. “Then there was this awkward moment of him fumbling with his I.D. badge, trying to get the door to open,” Kemper said. “It felt like it lasted an hour. We were all trying not to laugh. Even while it was happening, I knew we were all thinking the same thing: Can we use this?” In the end, the joke was deemed “too hacky to use on the show.”
Tyler expounded on his reaction in a rare Library of Congress interview made public back in 2012. "That movie bummed me out," he said, "because I thought, 'How dare they? That's all real, and they're mocking it.'"
To be fair, Silicon Valley (the show) never interested me... kinda found it to be boring. But it _is_ hilarious when you run into these art imitates life imitates art things.
silicon valley is really insufferable. i don't understand that place at all and don't ever wish to be there. and i am often reminded of adam curtis' documentary all watched over by machines of everlasting grace. i wish he would do another one along these lines.
Do the show producers feel something similar to some in their own industry or their surreality is just reality for them? Are they brave enough to mock powerful people they may wish to work with later?
Would be fun to watch one on Hollywood and they should have very intimate details to bare.
Try Californication or Entourage
The only time I've been able to stand Hollywood critiques in recent memory is BoJack.
Are you SURE
Silicon Valley is the show most startup founders will refuse to watch. My startup was featured on TechCrunch Disrupt, we were on stage talking about how we will change the world with our product. Then things didn't particularly go as planed.
I discovered the show and started watching it shortly after. It was painful to see that they portrayed our exact journey as it happened. Only the show poked fun of the mistakes we were making. I watched it not only as a comedy, but also as a documentary that would predict our fate. It was eye-opening!
My favorite part (and most humiliating) was when we pitched our startup to a non-silicon valley investor and she simply replied: "OK, cut the crap. Which website are you scraping?"
All my co-founders were offended by the show. I must admit, its painful to watch someone else make fun of the things you put your heart to. But from time to time, someone has to make fun of you or you start to take yourself too seriously.
If you are trying to make it in silicon valley, please watch the show. At best, it will help you make your startup more grounded.
My own startup has been mostly outside of America, but we get enough brushes with Silicon Valley culture -- or, worse, wannabe Silicon Valley culture -- to make the show really resonate.
Even closer to home, for me personally, is the Australian comedy "Utopia" (or "Dreamland", depending on the market). It's about a municipal urban development corporation, which is basically my startup's customer group. One episode features a sendup of what my own startup does (online collaborative infrastructure planning and stakeholder engagement) -- or, more to the point, what some of our would-be customers want it to do. You can tell that the writers know what they're talking about. Damn near killed me to watch it. Highly, highly recommended!
Hah! Anecdotally, I've had the opposite experience watching the show and running a startup in the valley. Most of my co-founder friends have seen it and see it as a sort of catharsis.
"We aren't the only ones, this happens to everyone, so much so, there's a show about it"
And then there's the inspirational, "Let's have the team coalesce around a deadline and jam out something that's never been done before", episodes. Also very real.
I'm a huge fan of the show, but one thing I would like to point out is that I don't think everything of the show is negative. sometimes it makes me wish I was developing (data science here). my favorite moments of the show is when they overcome some huge challenge (spoiler like with 2 days of the condor)
So, so true. I tried to start watching it when I was running my startup but it literally felt like I was watching the same place and people I was spending 9-14 hours/day at the startup accelerator I was in.
The first season resonated the most with my experiences, but I know others who recognize their own experiences in different parts of it.
Running home - "Hand Covers Bruise" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXdFJggkjzM
Starting work - "In Motion" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y2mDjPR7oU
"During the review process once the footage [of Techcrunch Disrupt] was woven in, another editor criticized the crowd shots for not featuring any women and blamed Berg for the oversight.
'...Those were real shots of the real place, and we didn't frame women out.The world we're depicting is f---ed up.' said Berg"
Sorry for the amp link, the main page was broken.
There's been debate about whether "Silicon Valley" the show should have more diversity than Silicon Valley the place, but Berg argues that a show made for entertainment not meant to be a "social-action wing" or be a force of change - the show is just satirizing the reality that the tech industry itself needs to take care of.
At least in my Silicon Valley career, the "cast" around me has been vastly less so.
Yahoo Tech workers 31% white
Ebay Tech workers 29% white
My experience is that white male Americans are roughly 25% of the Silicon Valley workforce, but if you bundle in white immigrants and women you might reach 40-50%.
As I remember the TV show, the main characters are 80% white, and the Indian guy is the whitest one I've seen.
Small sample, I know, and I'm not offended. Just a little bored...
What do you mean by that? Can you explain?
Maybe he means culturally
Not at all surprising considering it’s Hollywood, but amusing nonetheless.
Not only did I have that exact same conversation with my coworker the day previously about the exact brand of yogurt, on post-analysis we're pretty sure our company has stocked the exact same spoons they used in the show.
What Bevis does/thinks/likes versus what Hank does/thinks/likes versus what Richard does/thinks/likes could not be farther from each other. Just because they're all white doesn't mean they're all interchangeable.
In King of the Hill, our white Alpha, Hank Hill, the only guy with any common sense, tries to stay sane and keep it from all falling apart in a world that has gone Haywire.
In Idiocracy, our White Alpha, Joe Bauer, the only guy with any sense, tries to stay sane and keep it from falling apart in a world that has gone haywire.
In Extract, Joel, our down to earth White Alpha, tries to stay sane and hold it together in a world that has gone haywire.
And in Silicon Valley, well- you get the idea. I love Mike Judge films, he is an astute observer and hilarious. but his ouvre is not broad. He's got a formula, and it works, and that's fine.
Ah, that's not my memory of King of the Hill. In it Hank is the biggest idiot and it's only those around him that have any common sense.
I probably only watched the first season but I remember one episode in particular where some Laotians moved into the neighborhood and Hank couldn't except that they weren't Chinese or Japanese. His father who fought in South East Asia knew immediately that they were Laotians but Hank refused to acknowledge any kind thing other than Chinese or Japanese. Hank's wife went on to bake a "Apple Brown Betty" (I think that's what it's called) and got upset when the Laotian neighbor made it better.
For a while I couldn't decide if it was life imitating art, or a tongue-in-cheek nod to the stereotype we were seen as. But it wasn't the latter, the founder/president wasn't that self-aware.
I can't imagine who thought that the community of some of the world's biggest nerds wanted to listen to Flo-Rida !?
Of course I'm not trying to say all ML researchers are dweebs, but if that description applies to 10% of attendees, you've got a line.
Say what you will about the world's biggest nerds, but irony, whether purposeful or inexplicably accidental, is not lost on them.
Ninja Edit: New conference name :)
That was fast.
I was all for a name change from a juvenile pun, but "NeurIPS" is hilariously bad. It confirms, that everyone but the press, continues calling it NIPS.
> line to see Flo-Rida went around the block
I mean, if it was a free (already paid for) concert, then I would go for it too.
BTW the whole renaming of NIPS to NeurIPS could be an episode of SV, where a board of directors are all offended by names of body parts!
Traveller is where of course Elite ripped off the initial space combat system from.
“I should’ve made it 10 years later and set in the present.”
With grade inflation and babysitting modern age students, what are the realistic requirements to attain a university degree in a low-difficulty major at a mediocre school? 80 IQ? 85?
The literacy argument is trivially refuted in a similar manner. Reading by itself is not indicative of higher cognitive function above an elementary school child.
Also, proportions are what matter here. I doubt the proportion of people with high fluid/crystallized intelligence is higher now, than it was, say in 1850. The only difference is that now a higher proportion of the general population have degrees.
I realize we're talking about humanity as a whole, but I don't see the appeal of the 70's.
Similar story to Peter Jackson who started with Bad Taste.
OK, now I have to watch it.
This is what Iannucci says about making more of The Thick of It -- it's impossible to do because current politicians are self satarising in ways that are unbelievable if you put them on screen, even if those things actually happened in real life.
They said that the mom is the eagle-eye over the brand and pushing it to ensure max profit for them.
While i wanted to respect that, and i respect the hustle, it just shows that you can go too far with brand exploitation.
The daughter had the brand advanced through high profile sexual scandals (sex tape, personal relations etc)
The fucking dad had a transitional sex change to keep the limelight ( Nobody cares if he "wanted to be a woman his whole life" - thats his business. Not mine and not worthy of attempting to grab attention dollars.
IMO, the kardashian enterprise ilustrates only one thing:
The dicotomy of the education gap in this nation. Never mind a wealth gap. Education gap is why the US is doomed.
Or just awareness of how brands are operating now in general. I don't know if it's as dramatic as education.
It used to be the brand name/logo/trademark itself held all the value (e.g. Apple, Nike, etc.), except now we're seeing the value shift to how the brands correlate with consumer's identities (e.g. privacy, kaepernick, etc.). Kardashians, political parties, and corporations are especially cognizant of this social shift and are adapting faster than people are aware of it happening.
I personally blame social networks, which have made consumers hyper-aware of how decisions affect their carefully-constructed image of themselves online - but it's probably more complicated than just that.
What has changed today is hyperconnection. That changes the rules of game.
I mean, the show is painfully obvious in being scripted. It's like the Truman Show sans Truman.
The scene was two women fighting over something. Between takes, the director and players were riffing and helping each other to develop their nasty insults and "bitchy" comments.
take trump for example. nytimes detailed about $600+ million in wealth transfer to him from his dad. while we don't have tax returns or financial statements to confirm this, he's probably worth about a billion dollars now. that rate of return is (roughly) less than 2% yearly. he would have been way better off putting that money in an index fund--he'd be worth about $3 billion if he had.
To keep up with the index is probably really hard.
and sorry, i misremembered the numbers. he got over $400 million (at least) from dad, and that would be worth about $2 billion if simply invested in an index fund (according to the article).
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2015-09-03/should... is a good critique of these kinds of calculations in general - they usually assume perfect market timing
the trump wealth transfer started over 60 years ago. over the long run, market timing doesn't matter that much.
(EDIT: and that opinion piece was not coherent; the author mixed up trump's businesses with his net worth, and convoluted other finance concepts to render his desired "opinion". it was awful.)
Besides, there's no claim that he was given anywhere close to $400M over 60 years ago, nor can anyone be realistically expected to invest their inheritance starting at the age of 12.
Don't forget to factor in Trumps' heavy spending over those years which greatly reduces his rate of return. You could just as easily say that he is keeping his value level with respect to inflation and spending the rest.
And at least in the UK people and families that want preserve wealth actually run their own funds. There are a number of listed self managed Investment trusts (with low TER) based on preserving family wealth.
RIT Capital Partners is one example 12.6% pa for 30 years its base was Rothschild family money and there are others Much older.
That said, Silicon Valley probably belongs on both sides of the Venn diagram. Lots of people enjoying the show without realising they are the joke.
The Kids In The Hall is a seminal example of sketch comedy, but as a broadcast show, the audio from the live audience had to be engineered into the sound channel of the program, since live performances have to mic the audience, to capture their laughs as part of the recording, and mix it properly, so that its volume pairs well with the broadcast performance, just like a sporting event.
The show really does hold up, years after the original recordings, still proving funny and awesome. But it turns out that the sounds of the audience change the whole dynamic of the humor. This is demonstrable if you stand it next to their movie, Brain Candy, which is also funny and watchable, but a different experience, without the noise of an audience.
You could argue that the performers have had their performances altered by the demands of improvisation and the give-and-take interaction that occurs with a live audience, but in retrospect, as a viewer watching the same show twenty years later, I don't really care about whether the audience effects are manufactured or not.
The truth is, the quality of the show has the sounds of the audience built into it as an integral quality, that boosts the entertainment value of the show.
The Kids In The Hall seem to have realized that the live improvisation really was a strong aspect of what made their show good, which is why they opted to engage in touring as a live show, instead of continuing as a broadcast series. I think if anyone were so inclined, though, the right kind of genius could be applied purely as post-production. It's just that the authenticity is preferred for obvious reasons, and ultimately, it's probably actually cheaper to just be talented.
If you film a comedy in front of a live audience, the actors have to adjust their delivery to speak around the laughter. If you take the laughter out of the final cut the pauses were the actors were waiting for the laughter to die down make it weird and awkward.
If a scene only needs one or two takes to get right, they can just go with the laughter from the live audience. If it takes several takes, they will still be getting laughter from the live audience, and so changing the timing of the delivery, but it won't be as intense as it should be for the quality of the joke, and if that live laughter was used it could change the perception of the joke for the broadcast audience. (Our perception of a joke is influenced by how we think others perceive it).
Hence, if you use a late take you need to replace the late take live laughter with either earlier take live laughter or laughter from a laugh library.
There's a lot of stuff filmed outside the studio though I'm certain they don't have a live audience for. The IT Crowd does use a laughter track a lot of the time.
More correct: every live action sitcom used a laugh track and/or live studio audience.
Really. It's probably on the Top 3 stupid gimmicks by showbiz bigwigs together with the Loudness Wars and anti-piracy messages on original DVDs
- Office Space, check!
- Idiocracy, check!
- Silicon Valley, check!
For Silicon Valley it helps he's actually worked for a startup, a hardware one at that.
That movie is full of memes that haven't been relevant since the mid-00s (and specifically, the humor in the movie has a distinct Bush-era vibe which straight-up feels foreign in 2018... it feels like a period piece even though it's set in the future), and I lost whatever enjoyment of it that I had left when actual Neo-Nazis began using the movie to promote their pseudoscience about race and intelligence.
Are you sure? Who is the POTUS now?
I'd say you can't make this stuff up, but Mike Judge made this stuff up before it was real life!
The Bush era—or rather the core of the era, from about 2002 to 2007 (i.e. after the dust from 9/11 settled and before the housing crisis), was a boom time, and much of the future situation feels like it comes from "what if this boom lasts forever?" (i.e. society becomes wealthy enough to automate everything, so people just sit around and watch Ow My Balls and drink Brawndo every day instead of having to work). Something made nowadays would probably start with a premise that comes from "Millenials can't afford anything".
Mainstream culture during the Bush era was also before the sudden explosion in nerd culture. Superheroes hadn't eaten the entertainment industry yet, nostalgia wasn't yet a driving force in pop culture, and it was still uncool to admit that you enjoy RPGs or reading comic books or doing whatever else nerds do. A parody of modern cultural memes would resemble Ready Player One more than Idiocracy, and Ready Player One wasn't even intended as parody. Instead, Idiocracy spends a lot of time lampooning shock reality TV (e.g. Ow My Balls), which was a huge thing in the mid-00s with shows like Jackass and Fear Factor but isn't big anymore. And the general culture is different. Like, you had people saying things like "you talk faggy", which sadly was common in real life during the mid-00s, and as such it was a ripe target for parody, but would be completely taboo now. Even in bro-culture you wouldn't see that in 2018 (I mean, there's still a lot of homophobia around, but you don't see those slurs dropped casually anymore), and so a parody of modern bro-culture probably wouldn't even mention it. TBH, a parody of modern bro-culture would probably involve MRAs and redpillers and pseudo-intellectuals who worship Jordan Peterson.
Like, the _idea_ of a movie about the future being full of stupid people would still be relevant in 2018 (and you can thank Trump for that), but it wouldn't be Idiocracy because Idiocracy was more about parodying mid-00s pop culture than anything else. I'd imagine a late-10s Idiocracy would involve some combination of nerd culture turned mainstream eating the world, '90s nostalgia (with "only '90s kids remember" somehow being reiterated over and over 500 years in the future), avocado toast, and nobody being able to afford a house.
I think the movie is a reflection of the time it was created, but it's a little less tied to that moment than you think. If you think of it as a subversion of the generic Jetsons vision of automation leading to mass complacency then it could be a more universal film than you portray it as. (Probably pre-Jetsons but '50s postwar sci-fi probably exemplifies that vision the best. Or maybe it extends further back, and the Idiocrats are just tackier versions of the Eloi from Wells.)
I think the big realization we have now is that automation is far less utopian than we expected, it comes with complications and externalities and inequality, with a lot of what we have now is just abstracting away work so that someone less well-off and farther away is doing it. Funnily enough one minor "plothole" I always had with Idiocracy is that if everyone is stupid, how were the machines still semi-functional? How did their society produce the cameramen at the monster truck death rally? Obviously, the whole movie is a satire or lampoon, but it made me think how society could culturally regress while still remaining technologically semi-functional, buoyed by artifacts of the ancient past like the Eloi or some descendent race from a fantasy setting.
I think if you were to make an Idiocracy today it would have to be focused on how social media and the 24/7 online culture have disrupted the way we relate to one another. Instead of 1001 channels of trashy reality TV it would be conspiracy theories and fringe ideas and charlatans appealing to both emotion and pseudo-logic. (Interspersed with unboxing videos and ASMR and live-streaming, sure.) It feels like anti-intellectualism today is fueled more by anger and zeal (this applies to all political stripes). The current boom feels a lot less even and people are far more desperate and stressed out. Our attention spans are even more frayed. Whereas the original Idiocracy was more about complacency birthed from prosperity, as you pointed out. (Though that rather ignores specific Bush administration policies that could be criticized as anti-intellectual, whether culture wars at home or military aggression abroad. But maybe their absence from that film makes it, as I mentioned earlier, more generic.)
It was a fairly modest aggregate growth period with unusually poor distributional effects, where the bottom 3 quintiles so real income drops and the fourth was flat.
Which is actually a lot like the subsequent expansions.
> what if this boom lasts forever?" (i.e. society becomes wealthy enough to automate everything, so people just sit around and watch Ow My Balls and drink Brawndo every day instead of having to work).
Er, the trend of automation and distraction hasn't really changed (indeed, it's gained even more cultural currency), though the shock genre has moved from reality TV to online video venues, often relayed by social media; not any less of a thing, just a slightly different medium. Though I guess a VR headset worn on the smart toilet would be more 2018 dystopian futurism than the big screen.
> Like, you had people saying things like "you talk faggy", which sadly was common in real life during the mid-00s, and as such it was a ripe target for parody, but would be completely taboo now.
No, using slurs implying homosexuality and lack of manliness as anti-intellectual insults isn't less of thing now than it was then. If anything, both anti-intellectualism, it's time to homophobia, and it's tendency to conflate those two opposed things has increased.
> but you don't see those slurs dropped casually anymore
I've seen them about as much in the last two years (including on mass media outlets) as I did in the whole of the 1990s, in the specific confluence of homophobic insults with anti-intellectualism. Less of “gay” as a generic equivalent of “bad”, sure, but that wasn't the context of “you talk faggy”.
(Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/603/)
But...they are (or, rather, they can reasonably be expected to produce genetic changes which reinforce themselves.) Because cultural changes effect mate selection, and also otherwise improve the relative fitness of those naturally inclined to thrive in the cultural environment.
There’s nothing racial or political about this.
It’s certainly ethically dubious. And I’m not certain it actually has any effect.
Eugenics is always political.
> It’s certainly ethically dubious. And I’m not certain it actually has any effect.
Then why are you defending it? I'm confused.
I see it mainly as an implementation problem, not necessarily objectively bad by itself.
A bit like communism :)
Sure, and if Elon Musk invented flying hamburgers we could solve world hunger, which is just about as plausible as successfully using genetic selection to solve a non-genetic problem. The premise is false; anything that proceeds from a false premise is useless.
I guess that’s basically why I often feel driven to make comments like the one I started with.
Oh how I loathed that show, especially at height of its popularity. I got so tired of smiling and nodding (or rolling my eyes, depending on who it was) as non-technical people at work and even my mother-in-law made it clear they thought of me when they watched that show (simply because I was the "smart engineer", so obviously a huge nerd with no social ability). None of these people were my age though, they were all signficantly older and Silicon Valley would have likely been much too sophisticated for them.
> I got so tired of smiling and nodding (or rolling my eyes, depending on who it was)...
> ... Silicon Valley would have likely been much too sophisticated for them.
Not to get personal, and I'm sure you're more empathetic in real life, but your frustrations might seem like geeky egotism to your coworkers.
My strong dislike from BBT comes mainly from people associating me with a show that I find wholly unfunny. Not because it makes fun of geekdom and I don't like that, but simply because I don't find it funny at all. I saw a lot of parallels in the type of comedy on BBT and that on "2 and a half men" and could never understand their high ratings.
Have you watched SV?
Season 1 ends with TechCrunch Disrupt, where founders nervously stammer on stage about how their "mobile-first, local-first social media network" will "make the world a better place".
Silicon Valley is a very different show, but definitely on solid ground. And it's unique in that it seems quite popular amongst people its blatantly making fun of.
SV laughs WITH nerds, satirising the excesses of a culture that is presented as filthy rich and dominant beyond belief. It also deals with the actual wet dreams of the culture in a fairly realistic way.
Think about the material that a dim bully could get from BBT (tons), versus what he could get from SV (very little). That’s all the difference.
BBT definitely laughs at nerds. But I don't think reassures the mainstream about its superiority. The characters on BBT are depicted as god-tier geniuses that are successful at doing important work. The nerds are the protagonists.
SV on the other really sticks it to developers and VC. I don't get a sense the SV writers respect was the valley does at all.
SV is just about 20 times funnier though.
I've never seen an episode where they were depicted in actually doing work, just in talking about their social group and the character interaction. They could have all been sitting in a coffee shop or bar for all of the links to their job it had. Whereas SV does have content about their life outside of work, a lot of the comedy comes from their "jobs".
I also really don't think the BBT people are depicted as genius'. One episode I do remember is when one of them was struggling with a physics problem with electron behaviour. He finally solved the problem that had been plaguing him (a 'super smart' physics researcher, because he started thinking of the electrons as waves, and not as particles. Which any 16(17)-year-old physics student would have realized in about a minute.
BBT is outsiders laughing at the image of a nerd archetype many have in their head. It can be entertaining; it can tell you a lot about their relationship with that archetype. But as with all caricature, the distorted image can be a little ouchy.
SV satirizes insider territory with surprising resolution. It can be entertaining; it can tell people a lot about the culture. Where it's ouchy, it's ouchy because the truth can be painful as well as funny.
(I live next door to Pasadena and am acquainted with many Caltechers.)
>The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century. Each show consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music performances that mocked people specifically of African descent. The shows were performed by white people in make-up or blackface for the purpose of playing the role of black people.
 which is problematic as a blanket characterization of TBBT, though it may apply to some players; it seems pretty clearly not to apply to Dr. Bialik, for instance.
 historically, from some quarters it was roundly attacked on the opposite basis, for excessively sympathetic portrayal of blacks, especially during slavery, and especially for it's frequent positive (from the viewpoint of those objecting) portrayal of runaway slaves.
I find that characterization to be as stupid and insensitive as referring to highly paid tech workers in the Bay Area as slaves.
And the butthurt is misplaced. The nerds of the show are definitely a source of the comedy but they are protagonists you are supposed to root for. They have foibles but generally, you are supposed to respect their intelligence and commitment to science, etc.
It's a far cry from steve urkle.
It's much much much closer to a George Lopez show making fun of Mexicans than to Minstrel shows.