Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dial B for Butuh

Some of my contemporaries wondered what I was doing, socialising with bloggers.

Well, if you've read Watchmen and understood the significance of the Minutemen, and figures such as Hollis Mason, Sally Jupiter, The Comedian (Edward Blake) and the rest, then you would understand my weak impersonation of Dan Dreiberg.

See, super-heroes, celebrities and bloggers who hang around each other have that peculiar element in their socialising.

It is kind of both sad and great at the same time.

It's difficult for me to explain. Have you ever watched an acclaimed performer do his or her thing in an empty venue?

People who get paid tens of thousands - if not millions - to express themselves in artistic ways, playing to empty seats and tables?

I have been privy to these occassions, as I have been in the entertainment industry for the entirety of my short career.

I find myself marvelling at some for their well-tuned craft, and feeling sad that they are doing it for no one.

Same thing with these people.

And getting out publicly with what you think, in a judgemental and immature world, with your name and face known to everyone, is akin to putting on spandex and leather and spirit gum and go fight crime or something, without a mask. Just like the customed adventurers in Watchmen. Both noble and pathetic at the same time.

Dangerous? Definitely. The way of the civillian or the coward or the victim, or perhaps the smart, is safer and infinitely more intelligent.

I mean, if you had thoughts most people don't agree with, you don't have to be held accountable for it in the real world. Be it socio-political or simple stupidity.

I believe that like Hollis Mason's Under the Hood, there is a book here somewhere.

I remember that in the past, there were personal websites. I made mine in 1999. Marks in the Sand. Telling the world about my aspirations to be a writer. Only two other people saw it, because I forced them to immediately after I finished my notepad coding.

Then I fought with a lot of people in message boards and email groups. I find that I do not belong in groups. I feel uneasy, awkward. I work best alone.

When I first started out The Malay Male, it was supposed to be a parody of everything. Especially blogs. I was not influenced by anything, except perhaps Tatsuya Ishida's Sinfest. Sinfest is drawn by an Asian who digs black culture.

SOme people have drawn parallels to Maddox's The Best page in the Universe, but I have never heard of him until a disbelieving guy mentioned it to me. I think he still believes I copied the man's style, but really Maddox's writing is not the first of its kind.

I encountered a lot of it in international boards and newsgroups in the late 90s and early 21st century. Used it myself to pick fights with people in e-mail groups and chatrooms.

I have had words even from the very beginning, against any form of organisation or 'super-group' for online writers.

That some tried to establish that did not surprise me. That some form of it survived, did.

I had always maintained the belief that trying to organise online writers is like herding cats. It can't be done, except with a truckload of special effects.

I mean, in the late 90s and early 2000s, there were efforts to capitalise on websites. Ford, or was it GM, at the time spent a quarter of their advertising budget online. That's USD1 billion.

The TV people were not happy.

And yet, even with the influx of real-world money, real-world conjecture was far from manifesting itself in the online world.

The so-called 'new media' will have a tough time IF theyw ant to displace the 'old media'.

Example: While newspapers and TV stations refrain from all-out attacks against each other, bashing one another is the cornerstone of online writing.

'Old media' was born in a more civilised world. By redcoats and people of the old world. The 'new media' was set-up by the revolutionaries. The children of the atom. I mean, the Sixties' and Seventies' flower generation. And now, by the children of the 80s, Generation X, Y and I.

Sensibilities are different.

The Internet cultures and subcultures were founded on stupidity and rebellion. Try and tell a civilisation, a culture, wehre being stupid is a value, to smarten up and be serious.

Their response? Why so serious?

And then an avalanche of child pornography.

The online community is as close to pure id as possible. As people who are mild-mannered turn into bullies as soon as they get behind the wheels, so does the transformation happen when people get behind the keyboard.

The Internet, in my view, is a celebration of the stupid. People put so much into being smart in real life, this is perhaps the last bastion of stupidity humans will ever have.

This is the 'equal and opposite reaction', the antibody to society.

And yet, I am intrigued and interested in some people maintaining their real world standards in a crazy and delirious online reality.

Some, fared very well. Neil Gaiman keeps a sensible online journal, without finding the need to regress into a shit-chucking ape on a regular basis (I do). SOme online writers even preach about morals - MORALS, HA!

I shall continue to document their efforts, as I believe that it is no passing fad - as some Luddites posed. This is just another rung in the ladder of the evolution of communication. Granted, it would be mostly stupid communication, but it is communication nonetheless.

Like I said, there could be a book at the end of all this.

Bit Players: The Rise and Fall of the Malaysian Socio-Political Bloggers


Suck My Dick: A History of t3h Malaysian Interwebs


Key Strokes: The Death of the Internet


MalBlogs: How Idiots Destroyed the World


Vainglorious, Verbose and Vagina

For now, I shall be content with getting free food and the occasional ride.