How Oliver Stone and Pokemon Go shows up the state of comics journalism

There’s a point in the San Diego Comic Con panel where Joseph Gordon Levitt during a panel on Oliver Stone’s new film Snowden talks about how ideas these days are disseminated in the length of the average Tweet. It is a truth. It diminishes informed debate.

This brings me to this article on this panel.

Oliver Stone revealed his thoughts on Pokémon Go today while doing a panel at Comic-Con for his upcoming movie Snowden, which is based the story of the now infamous whistleblower. Let’s just say, they were not good.

“It’s not funny,” Stone said.

Oliver Stone is probably best known for such films as JFK and Wall Street, which give what could be described as a semi-biographical take on history. The director himself also is known for not shying away from controversy. Controversy with a little bit of paranoia added for flavor. Stone had to interject on Pokémon Go after Snowden actor Zachary Quinto was asked to further his thoughts on the mobile game. Quinto had previously made fun of the app on his Instagram account, and was met with laughter from the audience.

Stone said at that point it was not something to laugh about, which probably did not help alleviate the audience’s laughter. “I’m hearing about it too, it’s a new level of invasion. Once the government had been hounded by Snowden, of course the corporations went into encryption, because they had to for survival, right? But the search for profits is enormous.”

At this point we’d like to say Stone rambled off about getting those “damn punk kids off my lawn.” However, he continued by describing Pokémon Go‘s phenomena as “what some people call surveillance capitalism,” being part of “a robot society,” and finishing his thoughts with “It’s what they call totalitarianism.”

You can read the bulk of Oliver’s comments here. Why is there not YouTube video of this panel on the internet right now so we can share the director’s old man rant with you that way? Oh yeah, that’s right. Because it’s 2016 and not many people consider him or his movies relevant anymore. Which might be why he is commenting on one of the hottest trends currently and linking it to the theme of his upcoming movie.

Well, there’s YouTube video of the panel up now and it’s actually worth around 50 minutes of your time as it puts everything in context.

Taking aside Stone’s obvious discomfort through the entire panel, his comments (at around the 40 minute mark) are thoughtful, and the idea of surveillance capitalism is a new idea we’re only just starting to define let alone be able to identify.These are big, new concepts and GeekFeed think they’re the ramblings of an ‘old man’ and that Stone’s trying to use Pokemon Go to publicise his film when as you can see in the video, he’s answering a question.

Now I’m not 100% in agreement with Stone. I do think there’s things about Pokemon Go that is concerning regarding mainly data mining, and I’m aware you can turn these settings off but how many people are even aware of the fact that games like this mine your data or how to turn them off? How is surveillance capitalism going to affect us? How will it change culture and society? There’s loads of questions coming out of this, but no GeekFeed boils it down to lazy, crap cliches and in doing so proves Levitt’s point about boiling things down to Tweet levels of debates.

This is what annoys me for what passes as ”journalism” in the comics/”Geek” world. The GeekFeed article is at best, a Tweet or a half arsed blog post. There’s no journalism here, no attempts to delve into Stone’s words, no attempt to even research the ideas. Just a lazy shite line about ‘crazy old men” ageist nonsense. It isn’t even an opinion piece because it isn’t an opinion worth listening to because at best this is clickbait.

But if sites like GeekFeed don’t inspire to do better and even fail to report basic facts they do the subjects they speak about an injustice. By speaking down to their readership they do them an injustice, unless of course they’re pitching to their readers confirmation bias in that anyone who says anything critical of something they like must be attacked because a few critical comments on Pokemon Go is a direct attack on them personally. That’s showing the emotional and intellectual maturity of a small child or a Labour MP.

If comic/”Geek” journalism is to improve into something better it needs to have people not just willing to question their own ideas, but it needs to work out what’s the purpose of what they want to do? If it’s editorialising then fine, but it isn’t journalism and if you are editorialising make it at the very least informed because if your level is ‘old man on lawn’ lines then you’re a waste of space and giving an industry with a poor reputation an even worse one.