"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review of Connected: A Triple Threat Movie by Tiffany Shlain

Just saw Tiffany Shlain's new documentary Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology via private online screening.  I saw an earlier version about a year ago, and was well impressed both times.

The movie is actually three in one -

1. Connected is a sagely and even delightfully presented story of our interconnectedness as a species - among ourselves, all living things, and the technologies through which we extend ourselves and give substance to our imaginations, plans, and desires.   In its warnings about what we can do wrong - such as Mao's killing of sparrows to improve harvests (sparrows eat seeds) which resulted in massive crop failure (fewer sparrows resulted in more locusts, also eaten by sparrows) - Connected is cousin to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.  In the hope it holds out for our new media, it is the kind of movie Buckminster Fuller might have made.

2.  Connected is a passionate biography of Leonard Shlain (1937-2009) - Tiffany's father - whose The Alphabet versus the Goddess (1999) argued that the advent of the alphabet over earlier forms of writing encouraged masculine thinking and dominance.   In its daring media determinism and historical sweep, the book put Leonard Shlain on a par with Julian Jaynes as a worthy successor to Marshall McLuhan in provocative and mind-opening hypothesis.

3. But Connected is most of all an autobiography of Tiffany Shlain, who recounts her inspiration by her father, her struggle with his passing, her struggle to make sense of the curves the universe has thrown her, and in one way or another, throws at all of us.   That's what it means to be an intelligent being in this world, someone who doesn't just accept what she or he finds, but seeks to understand it, get a little on top of it, and thereby have a little bit more say and control over the course of our lives and the world.

Narrated by Tiffany Shlain and Peter Coyote. Animated bits by Stefan Nadelman (of Food Fight fame). Highly recommended for students of media - indeed, for students of life.

Connected opens in major cities in America in September - here 's a list - and Fordham University will be hosting a special free screening on September 25 as part of its Media at the Center McLuhan Centenary symposia.

Note added October 14, 2011:  I was at the premiere screening in New York City - at the Angelika Film Center - earlier this evening.  The movie's better than ever on the big screen, and the audience loved it.  It's become increasingly clear to me, in the past few weeks, that Tiffany Shlain's movie is the story of humanity, and recent history in particular, leading up to the healthy resurgence of direct democracy in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street - triggered, stimulated, facilitated by the advent of social media, or what I call New New Media.  Which is what I'll be talking about when I lead a discussion with the audience after the October 19, Wednesday, 7:15pm screening, at The Angelika.

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