Journal of the Emerald Specter 69: Pump Up The Volume

Here’s a little bit of a different column, I’m going to be writing about two topics (with one obviously taking the majority of the column). There was a movie that I wanted to discuss, sort of in the vein of the nostalgia trip I took with the last three weeks, but without the solo RPG angle. I mean, literally, this movie defining something that literally isn’t a thing anymore.

I’m talking about Pump Up The Volume.

In Pump Up The Volume, Christian Slater players a teen named Mark Hunter who is an introvert and doesn’t really socialize a ton. He’s got a lot of pent up rage and discovers that his shortwave radio allows him an outlet to rant against the injustices of society. He’s got himself a post office box under an assumed name to receive mail, his voice is obscured with some technical mumbo jumbo, and he’s doing all of this as an airwave pirate, something that was quite illegal.

I bet you can tell where I’m going with this already…

Everything that happened in Pump Up The Volume is literally happening right now. Podcasting is allowing anyone to put out anything and they don’t get arrested for it. In fact, there is no FCC involved at all and that, I find, is hilarious, because this movie now is not only terribly dated but it is quite anachronistic, too.

Using the music of others without paying royalties, like apparently is alluded to in the movie (it’s been close to 30 years since I’ve seen the movie, that would catch the FCC’s attention (along with the use of profanity, which I do remember is quite prevalent). The broadcasts that Hard Harry, the alter-ego of Slater’s Mark Hunter, are limited in range and wouldn’t really catch a large scale attention because they were so limited in range.

Put this in same category as Footloose, as in the premise is slightly ridiculous and over the top. This was a typical 80s thing, where they came up with something and made it plausible, then resolved it within the confines of a two hour movie. Unlike Pump Up The Volume, though, Footloose is a totally ridiculous premise.

Podcasting has busted open the idea that anyone can say anything at any time and there is an audience for that. If you look at iTunes, Google Play, or other podcast aggregators, there are thousands of podcasts (I have three of my own) where people are talking about all kinds of subjects, using whatever language they want, and some even are clouded mindedly pretending to be ON the radio, giving weather and station identification… between their playing of music that they aren’t paying for and don’t own.

Now, I’m all for using a clip of some music for some theme song stuff, but to play the entirety of a song without giving any props to the artist is downright stupid.

Watching this moving now would feel completely confusing, like watching Smokey and the Bandit and wondering why the Enos Brothers couldn’t just go pick up some Coors at the store. The world was a very different place 30 years ago, and is hard to understand why people did things the way they did them.

In fact, when someone wants to “relive the good ‘ol days” because they remember it being awesome, I like to point out that sometimes those memories are heavily shaded with the rose colored lenses that they’re wearing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie. I haven’t watched it in a long time and after writing this, I don’t think that I could get over how awkward things were back then. It’s just nice to know that we’ve advanced and evolved to a place where our options aren’t limited by an “overseer” like the FCC.

I used to play a game called Ingress, and technically I still play that game but I haven’t really done much of anything in the game for the better part of a year. As a recap, Ingress is a location based game where you are trying to either free or enslave the minds of humanity in order to create peace or free will options.

As I’ve said in a previous column, and actually several previous writings on this website, I belong to the Enlightened (the green team) and I’ve made quite a few friendships over the time I’ve played, though my ability and/or desire to play the game recently has waned because of a lack of time and difficulty achieving the next few levels I need in order to be “at the top.”

There is a problem with bias and cheating in the game, though, and I’m going to be talking about that aspect of the game.

I’ve met a lot of players, and of those players, I’ve come to understand that there is a problem with cheating going on in the game. The thing I’ve noticed about all the cheating of which I am fully aware is that the Resistance (the blue team) is responsible for the majority of that cheating.

I’m stating that I am positive the Enlightened have cheaters as well but I’ve not personally met any of them. As far as Resistance cheaters, I’ve met more than I care to talk about.

The first instance in which I understood cheating was happening ended a long run of my holding a portal, which provides a badge in game. I was within 10 days of meeting the highest badge possible for holding a portal. My streak was ended when a player, who was living in Maryland, spoofed his location to take over my portal and end my (at that point) current streak. His account was banned less than 2 days later due to having been caught spoofing, since one cannot go to Bismarck (North Dakota) to Shanghai (China) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) in the course of less than 24 hours. Despite this banning, I had to start all over with my Guardian.

When you play Ingress, you often meet up with players from “the other side,” participating in mini-games and what not to build a little community. I’ve met several Resistance players who are completely above board with their game play, but even in North Dakota, I met just as many who were spoofing their locations, using apps clearly outlined as illegal per the terms of service, or using the game to stalk certain people. The fact that I’ve met so many players on the same team that do this is, in my opinion, highly disturbing.

I won’t limit this to just outright “cheating,” either. Many of the members of Niantic, the company who makes and runs Ingress, are Resistance players, unbalancing the “hub of arbitration.”

There have been a few instances of unfair decisions coming down from those “on high” that have tilted the game in favor of the blue team, mainly the core team “taking care of their own.” I’ve no examples of this for this particular column, I’m just saddened that the creators had to choose a side and neglect a chance for balance to be present at even the highest levels of the game.

If you can’t guess, the above items are a big part of why I don’t want to play Ingress anymore. I’m sorry if someone thinks that this outlook is unfair, but honestly, I don’t care. I call it like I see it and I see the cheaters and unbalanced decision makers ruining what was once something I really looked forward to doing.

That’s all for now, though… thanks for reading.