Arrowverse Elseworlds

Before I start, I’d like to say if you haven’t seen the Elseworlds crossover event: you should. You can watch it free on the CW app (not sponsored).

Over the course of the last few days (Dec 9-11), the CW aired the Elseworlds crossover event. The three-parter once again brought Flash, Green Arrow, and Supergirl together. And this time (spoilers again) they took on a Monitor. This Monitor gave a reality bending book to some seemingly random person. The Monitor as it turns out was testing the worlds of the DC Multiverse because of a “crisis” and someone more powerful than he was coming *cough* Anti-Monitor *cough*.  After the heroes and their friends “defeat” the Monitor, the credits announce that “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was coming Fall 2019. 

After I saw the announcement, I started to wonder if that meant Flash and Supergirl were going to end. In the story “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (spoilers), Barry and Kara die. In fact, in part three they were suppose to die but Oliver talks the Monitor into sparing them because they are true heroes and an inspiration to everyone. Throughout the whole crossover, all the characters (but most notably Green Arrow) kept talking about how inspiring and heroic Flash and Supergirl are. That kind of sounds like they’re setting up for a series finale. Also, Flash in 2019 would be on its 6th season and Supergirl would be on its 5th. The powers that be might see this as a good time to end the shows before they become stale.

On the flipside, when Oliver demanded that the Monitor save Barry and Kara, the Monitor asked him what he would give up in return for their safety, which we never saw in the crossover. It could be that once again Barry and Kara are about to die, but Oliver sacrifices himself and Arrow (which would be on season 8) would end. And with the introduction of Batwoman, and her storyline being set up for a series, the CW might be looking for some space.

Of course, the CW could really go wild and do what the “Crisis” did in the comics and reboot everything. They could reboot the Arrowverse into something else. In the comics, the “Crisis” brought all the universes into one world. Maybe there’ll be a new Arrowverse where they’re all together–one that’s a combination of the DC Universe and Arrowverse. Considering the popularity of the Arrowverse, I doubt they’ll completely get rid of it.

What do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Super Sons Returns

I was looking through my YouTube feed trying to find something to watch during my break time when I came across Caped Joel’s video on the Adventures of the Super Sons series. I thought it had been cancelled, so I clicked on the video. Yeah, it turns out it is still cancelled but they are doing a short run to finish up what was already done.

It’s a shame that the series is ending because it was great to see Robin (Damian) and Superboy (Jon) team-up. It’s like reading a Batman and Superman comic only more…uh, teenage. The two aren’t young version of Batman and Superman; they have their own personalities; but at the same time, it kind of makes you feel like this is how Batman and Superman would have acted towards each other if they’d meet as teens. You feel like you’re reading a comic from “the good old days” but also reading a “modern” story.

It’s really entertaining to see what kind of mischief, misadventure, and more traditional heroics the two get involved in. The two make a great team and the stories are well written and well drawn. I hope DC will bring the series back one day in some form.

Joe Rover eBooks are available at Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and many other online retailers.

Support Article 13? Pt 2

In the last post, I gave an overview of The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (aka Article 13). I talked about how it is meant to help creators by tightening the copyright laws, such as making service platforms like Twitter responsible for making sure posted content is not infringing on copyright. I also talked about how even though the proposal doesn’t aim at memes, they could suffer. But in this part, I want to talk about the service platforms, the creators, and the customers.

While the proposal is meant to help creators, it could harm them. And I’m not talking about how things like gameplay walkthroughs or theory channels or possibly review channels would be affected–they wouldn’t be able to show clips from the movies or games they are talking about or show cut-outs of the characters. I’m talking about the same thing that’ll affect both creator and customer: the money.

Let me explain…

Right now, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and so on are free for customers to use. Those customers include creators who post their vlog on YouTube or tweet a link to their latest blog entry to authors who use Facebook to advertise their latest book. You can also include those who just chat and show pictures of their lunch as customers. These services are free because Twitter (et cetera) don’t really do much. They are there as a tool. They are just the place to store and distribute whatever it is that people are posting–much like eBay is a marketplace distributor. But unlike eBay, YouTube and gang don’t charge a fee when someone buys a product…yet.

If Article 13 passes, these sites will need some kind of system to monitor the posts (I gave a few option examples in the last post). As I stated in the last post, all the options cost money and time. That money has to come from somewhere. Right now it is mostly from advertising or from special memberships. If the proposal passes, the services will need to spend more money to meet the new regulations. At first, it is unlikely they’ll charge for their services, but as time goes on and the cost of business exceeds the money from advertisers, they’ll need something. It’ll probably start out as an ad-free membership service. The free service will probably be garbage compared to the membership, prompting others to use it. Eventually, you’ll have to use the paid-for service or suffer.

So, customers will have to pay. That includes both creator and traditional customer. Many small business owners, such as animators, artists, authors, and so on rely heavily on social media platforms in order to create, distribute, and advertise. Even if developers/creators, like Epic Games, allow the walkthroughs, many of the YouTube creators won’t be able to afford publishing the video anyway. If they have to pay YouTube to post their video, chances are they won’t be able to afford it.

So, the creators lose their jobs and there’s no more content. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not paying $9.99 a month (or whatever the subscription fee will be) to watch cat videos. So…there goes the platform and countless other jobs.

You don’t think it’ll happen? Well, it’s already starting. YouTube has had their streaming/cable service for how long now? Also, look at television. At first, advertising paid for the show. You watched the ads and the creators got paid (sounds sort of familiar doesn’t it). But as costs went up, the stations needed more money, so they began charging the customers. And now years later, streaming services have come along and charge less causing people to dump the cable and subscribe to Hulu or Netflix.

How about the old video rental places like Blockbuster? Netflix charged less and offered more by having the movie sent to the person. Eventually Blockbuster closed and Netflix started increasing their price. Or how at first, you could get an iTunes song for $0.99, but as more people switched to digital, the price went up!

Sorry, my train of thought derailed there a bit.

What I’m trying to say is that at first, I supported the proposal–copyright is a good thing: people should be getting paid for their work (the Society of Authors makes a pretty good argument). But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if it passes no one wins. The people who make reviews and theories and such lose their jobs. The platforms like YouTube and Twitter have to pay more to keep up with the new regulations (and if they can’t, they either fail or have to start charging or charge more). The customers will have to pay service fees to use the platform. The creators that the whole proposal is supposed to be protecting lose too. They could lose the free advertising and word of mouth that they get from social media, reviews, and theorists theorizing. They could lose the places that distribute their work, regardless if they are “original” or “review.” And, of course, the memes would get caught in the overzealous algorithm that would need to be created to meet the proposal’s regulations.

But hey, that’s just a theory…a business and human nature theory. Sorry, I had to get one more meme in…while I still can.

But in all seriousness, the proposal is a not that horrible of an idea, they just need to rethink their wording. Right now, the language is vague and really opens itself up to those with nefarious plots who wish to exploit the loopholes.

Joe Rover eBooks are available at many online retailers.

Support Article 13? Pt 1

I’ve spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out where I stand on the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, or as it is more infamously known as–Article 13 (you know that thing where everyone is shouting #savetheInternet). Or maybe it was just the caffeine. Wait, I don’t drink coffee…

The directive is an effort to tighten copyright laws. If passed, it would only be a EU ruling, but it could affect everyone. Right now, organizations like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are protected by “safe harbor” laws, which means if you created a video and then someone copied it and posted it on YouTube, you can’t sue YouTube (more on safe harbor can be found here or on The Film Theorist Channel for a simplified explanation). Which makes sense, YouTube didn’t break the law…the poster did. Under the new directive, Facebook, YouTube, and their digital brethren would be responsible.

As an author, the directive might actually benefit me. It would make sure that I got paid for my work. For instance, according to WIRED’s article, Article 11 would require news aggregator sites to pay a link tax for the articles they share.

Also, under this directive content such as game walkthroughs would be gone. With no more Fortnite videos, people might actually pick up a book…or at least watch YouTube videos done by animators. This might give animators a shot at making actual animations and not vlog animations. Right now the YouTube algorithm supports longer and daily videos, which is very difficult for animators to do. With no long, daily gameplay videos popping up, the algorithm would have to be changed to support the shorter, less frequent videos (or even longer, less frequent videos) that animators or other storytellers can do.

But in reality, it is unlikely that Fortnite videos are going anywhere, even if the directive passes. The YouTubers who do gameplay videos can get away with it partly because the creators don’t raise a stink about it. First, it would be a nightmare for Epic Games to monitor every post for any Fortnite gameplay, which is one of the reasons the directive was proposed in the first place. The directive designers want Epic Games to spend their time and resources on making, well, epic games instead of scouring the Internet looking for copyright infringement.

Second, Epic Games (like many other developers) realized these YouTube videos were free marketing. Even if a theory channel (cough, The Game Theorists, cough) makes fun of the game, people are still talking about it. And sometimes someone making light of your product is more effective than someone praising it.

So, even if the directive does pass, the companies will probably still allow the walkthroughs. They’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot by getting rid of their free advertising. It’s why authors allow reviews done on their works. It’s free advertising and customers like knowing what they’re getting before they pay for it. I know I’m not paying $60 for Marvel’s Spider-Man if I don’t know if I’ll like it. Also, the genie is out of the bottle. People know about and love the idea of watching walkthroughs. The companies don’t want the bad PR from being the one to “destroy the freedom.”

The other rallying cry of those who don’t support Article 13 is the idea that memes will be banned. Turns out, nope. Memes are considered parodies and therefore, OK. The problem is that computers can’t tell the difference between a parody and the real thing. They have to be programed. So, there are a few options. And while I do have a degree in computer science, I don’t work for Google or Apple so they might have more effective ideas.

Anyway…

One option is YouTube, Twitter, etc will need a database for their copyright catching net to search through. Someone uploads a video and the system scans it and either okays it or rejects it. It’s how your bank password works (roughly). You enter your password and username, the system checks and says, “Yup, that matches” and let’s you in. It’s a lot more complicated with a lot more firewalls, security, and such but that is the basic idea. So, the system would need a reference, which means a server containing every movie, book, video game, and so on. That’s a lot of server space and it would take forever for you to upload a video as the computer tried to search through the files. So, that’s out.

Option two: some kind of code embedded into the object, like DRM codes that eBooks, music, and such have already. The system scans the upload and says either “there’s no code; you pass” or “there’s a DRM…YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” (I had to do it. I am talking about memes.) But…if you wanted to make a meme you’d need to figure out some way to remove the DRM. Or you would need to pay for some kind of meme-DRM.

Option three: forget the computer and hire people. The services could hire people to check the videos/posts and see if they are memes or not. Like that’ll happen. They would need to hire a lot of people in order to monitor every tweet or video that gets uploaded. And that’s all they would do…all day.

Option four: licensing. The creators, such as Epic Games, do as they do now (just more officially) and allow the memes, the gameplay, the reviews. They work with YouTube, Twitter, and so on. Of course, someone will abuse the system and upload the whole Toy Story 4 movie and then YouTube gets sued by Disney which is the whole reason they created the safe harbor law in the first place. So, then Disney and everyone else removes their permission and we’re back to memes being banned and YouTube channels being shutdown.

Pretty much all the options are costly or inefficient. Ironically, the best meme-protection is the system already in place.

So, it’s not looking too good for the memes, legal or not. But in the next post (because everyone loves a two-parter…not), we’ll look at the one’s who’ll suffer the most if the directive passes: the service platforms, the creators, and you (the customer).

The Hearts in Ralph

Spoiler warning!

A couple days ago, I went to Ralph Breaks the Internet. It was a pretty enjoyable movie. I liked the plot and the after credit scene was funny. They even managed to sneak in a Stan Lee cameo. Also the Big Boss battle at the end was awesome; they did a great job animating the character. (And who wouldn’t want to be in a book club with Sonic the Hedgehog?!)

What got my attention the most was the idea of the hearts equaling money. I know that hearts (aka likes or subscribers) can help with getting money, by boosting your spot in the algorithm, but it is mostly the people watching the ads placed before or throughout the video (or at least watching 30 seconds of the ad). I thought how nice would it be if that was true: instead of getting paid when someone is actually nice enough to sit through an ad, you got paid each time someone liked your video. I know a lot of bloggers, vloggers, and YouTubers who’d love that system.

It is getting closer to that system in the form of crowdfunding, doing a pay-for subscription, or donations, but it still requires the person to pay. It’d be so weird to just click the like button and the person gets money. In the movie, you don’t see people paying or see them sitting through an ad–they just hand over their heart (wow, that got creepy there for a moment).

Can you image how much more people would be saying, “click that like button, subscribe, and hit the notification button.”

I’m sure the money was actually coming from the advertising. (It had to come from somewhere.) The hearts for money thing was probably an easier way to explain the system–it was a family movie and they didn’t have 40 minutes to explain economics. Also, animating a little heart is easier and more visually interesting than showing people sitting around watching commercials.

Maybe there was some kind of message in making the likes be hearts. The people were tossing their hearts at the screen and getting them sucked up into a machine so that the video creator could make money. We just toss our trust or love at some random Internet person that we only know what they choose to tell us.

Or it could have been that Disney didn’t want to/couldn’t use the like button icon.

I should end this with some kind of bee pun, but I won’t. (If you saw the movie, you’d understand.)

___________________

Joe Rover ebooks are available at many online retailers.

Tricks and Treats

Happy Halloween all you Internet pumpkins. My plans this year involve watching scary movies and eating candy till I puke (which at my age is like one Snickers bar). But, here’s a list of Halloween tricks and treats you might enjoy. Stay safe and have fun.

  • 1. Fang and Claw by @GlennKoerner (an anthology)
  • 2. Tricks No Treats by @Cal1018
  • 3. Trick-or-Treat Man by @SebJenkins & @arielklontz (comes with an alternate ending by each author)
  • 4. The Last Vampire by @JEHallows (ongoing story)
  • 5. A Tale for Halloween by Colin Garrow, free at most online retailers
  • 6. An EVO murder mystery, Minecraft YouTubers Netty Plays, SystemZee, Solidarity, and others are invited to dinner at a mansion
  • 7. “How to Beat Michael Myers” by The Flim Theorists
  • 8. “Pumpkin Girl: An Animated Horror Story” by itsAlexClark
  • 9. “10 Scariest Piston Doors in Minecraft” by Mumbo Jumbo
  • 10. Disney’s Hocus Pocus
  • 11. The Haunting in Connecticut
  • 12. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
  • 13. And because this is my list, my own collection of scary stories Tails from the Fallen Worlds
  • Fear the Skeeter | COW Oct 19

    Welcome to another “Confessions of a Writer” (or COW for short–FYI, I totally didn’t plan it to work out like that, maybe it should be COAW).

    Halloween continues to inch closer. And then the real horror begins…National Novel Writing Month (but that’s a post for another day). This post is about Halloween and how every year it makes my thoughts weirder than normal. Take this one that woke me up at the Witching Hour this morning.

    I woke up thinking about all the bloodsucking and/or biting creatures of the night. We’ve got vampires, zombies, werewolves, and even more. They all turn you into one of them with their bit or scratch. Suddenly, I became very thankful that mosquitos are not on that list. Could you imagine if that happened? You get bit by a mosquito and you become one! We’d have shows like The Walking Skeeter (though flying could work I suppose). And a half human-half mosquito creature…*shivers.*

    So, what do you think would be the most disturbing thing people could turn into thanks to a bite? What would be the most hilarious? What would be the weirdest? Personally, I think a banana. That’d just be weird if people started to turn into bananas. I’m not sure how a banana would bite someone, but then again there have been killer tomatoes.

    Joe Rover eBooks are available at most online retailers.