a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

Mr. Bond doesn’t like gadgets

craig

Gadgets leave him neither shaken nor stirred.

It’s true. James Bond doesn’t care for all the electronica in today’s world.

And get that iPad out of the bedroom. It’s, um, distracting.

Daniel Craig says he doesn’t like today’s 24/7 Twitter-and-Facebook world.

“I don’t look at myself on the Internet. I’m so much happier.”

He adds, regarding the perception of his and others’ images across the blogosphere,  “You can’t win—that was a lesson in itself, how much of that you can fight.”

Craig is among those who feel that he Internet robs life of its mysteries and randomness. He says he thinks of the pre-Internet age as a “sexier time,” before the world was “full of leering smartphone cameras.” They were present in the moment. There was a distinction between the real and the virtual, something that, I agree, seems to be disappearing.

“Certainly, when I grew up, what everybody else was thinking was not what I wanted to think,” Mr. Craig said. “Lou Reed didn’t worry about what people were thinking on Twitter when Lou Reed was just the coolest human being around. Or David Bowie. They cared, but they cared in a way that was so ahead of the curve because they weren’t interested in what people were thinking. And to now have this whole thing of being completely worried of what everybody’s thinking. Even people who are not famous, they’re worried about what their followers think, what their Facebook people think. It’s just, you’re chasing your tail. And the creativity, I think, just gets stifled.”

Publishers and agents believe writers should have all manner of social media accounts. I have to wonder why. Not why you might want to—that’s fine—but why you have to? Are you, dear reader, really not going to read some book of mine, that you think you’ll like so much, as perhaps you liked the last one, because I don’t tweet at you, and then read a book you like less because that writer does? (Note later: Actually, Yaaho CEO Marissa Meyer got a ton of people to at least say they’ve switched their homepage to Yahoo just by tweeting back at them, so maybe some people are that starving for attention. Or maybe they’re just pulling the wool over Ms. Meyer’s eyes.)

To Craig this social obsession is hurting the arts more than it’s helping.

“With studios—I may be completely wrong, and I don’t care if I am — but so much credence is being given to what is being said by a relatively small group of people that studios keep on making huge mistakes. They think they’re making a movie that’s going to be hugely successful, and it’s a failure.”

As I said in another post, the ubiquitous nature of technology means plot twists and spontaneity—both in fiction and in real life—are going to get harder and harder. Imagine how this will change if Google Glass catches on. (I’d rather not.) Should life be a 24-hour live broadcast like The Truman Show, a 1998 movie that turned out to be eerily prescient? Do people really enjoy this, being “on” constantly, broadcasting themselves at 140 characters at a time?

We used to have layers to our lives, layers people only penetrated after effort and examples of understanding, faith, love and loyalty. Your public face, your face to your relationships and acquaintances, your deeply private face you only showed to a few friends, and maybe the one you only showed to your spouse, or yourself. Now people break up over text, fall in love over Facebook, put tapes of themselves having sex and confessing to homicide on YouTube.

Perhaps it should be called the Too Much Information Superhighway.

Welsey Shaw doesn’t like gadgets either, largely because she’s a prisoner of them, never able to disconnect into freedom. So many people seem to crave this; she does not. (Careful what you ask for is one of the themes of the novel.) She says at one point that if she knew people would be watching her movies on a four-inch screen she would have acted differently in them. Once upon a time there was a difference. Television had one aesthetic, big-screen another, radio another. This has gotten blurred recently and I’m not sure that’s good. Most movies look like TV shows nowadays. And that’s intentional.

Movies, TV shows and even books now believe they have to hook you on the first page or in the first minute or you’ll be distracted. Anything that takes an attention span, even a modest one, is rejected, because they’re afraid a tweet might intrude. Recently Harper Collins held a contest to find their Next Great Novel. The criteria? Submit the first three sentences of your book. They’d judge solely on that. I’m certain consultants told them people only look at three sentences before moving on.

If this is what gadgets do to us—give us the attention-span of a flashcube—then I’m glad I’ve never really be seduced by them. I don’t even have a smartphone. Don’t want one, either.

But I must say, I’m a bigger Bond fan than ever now that it turns out 007 doesn’t like gadgets. What delicious irony! But he always was a bit of a rebel.

More about Mr. Craig’s unconventional thoughts on technology, and the new production he’s starring in of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal—a play that’s all about secrets—here.

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4 responses

  1. Silly! We still layer in LA – when the weather gets chilly ; ) .

    Like

    September 27, 2013 at 6:54 am

  2. I “unplug” on weekends and in the evenings. It helps me stay sane and reasonably happy. Another good one, John. You are very consistent. Happy weekend!

    Like

    September 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

  3. P.S. Man, are his eyes blue, or what!? I wonder if he has them insured….

    Like

    September 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  4. Sounds like a great balance. And you get to unplug on your lovely country porch, probably drinking an Arnold Palmer, or maybe Makers Mark. I am envious.

    Like

    September 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm

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