It’s So Meta

The most frightening thing I watched this Halloween weekend was not any one horror movie, in a marathon of movies, but the Mark Zuckerberg replacement of reality with the Metaverse.

This isn’t an anti-gaming crusade or even an anti-Facebook rant against Zuck and his many friends

Nor is it meant to reinforce the mean girl curated social media image of his supposed alien-like appearance.

not that there’s anything wrong with that #channelingmyReginaGeorge

Nor is it even a knock against his status as one of the five richest MEN in the world.

(Note: He’s at $97 B, trailing Bezos ($177 B), Musk ($151 B), Arnault ($150B), and Gates ($124 B) )

It’s a WARNING to everyone that FACEBOOK has NO INTENTION of NOT enabling FAKE NEWS. 

Instead, they want to take this further and build us into a FAKE WORLD.

In essence, the plan is to invest his many billions to capitalize on a virtual reality universe where Facebook backs, empowers, sells and controls as much of the marketplace as possible. 

… the same thing we do every night, Pinky

A planet where we each sit alone in our rooms but live in a pretend state of traveling the world daily.

An existence where we spend our real money on fake things that only the more, or even less, pretty AVATAR version of us can use.

A personally curated (Note: with a lot of help from Facebook and its holdings) version of our life where we believe that what we SEE or HEAR or PARTICIPATE IN through our glasses, headsets and brain harnesses are truly us.

Does no one remember Google Glass?

What Zuck is advancing, and putting his many billions behind, is humanity existing in a space that is now so technologically advanced that real and virtual will merge to the point where which is what will be truly indecipherable. 

And the majority of the goods and services and technological manipulators of this plane will be Facebook financed, controlled or backed derivatives.


In his two-hour mind-numbing video where he officially attempts to rebrand Facebook as META, Zuck admits that in many ways this sounds like a science fiction movie.

But he attributes that merely to the fact that technology has not yet advanced far enough on a massive scale for us to be able to truly experience and appreciate what he has in mind.

I beg to differ.

Though I’m far more technologically challenged than Zuck (Note: Though as a fellow pale-skinned N.Y. Jewish guy, he does make me look positively sun-kissed, so I do win on that), I get it. 

I truly do.

What he is proposing is a 2021 reboot of the 1978 remake of a classic 1950s horror film, one that I watched this Hallow’s Eve weekend on Turner Classic Movies –



I actually had NEVER seen the quite compelling and now also classic 1978 film starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum, based on the 1954 horror novel.  But I was familiar with its plot.

A San Francisco health inspector (Note: It’s a doctor in the original) and his female co-worker discover over a few days that humans are being replaced by alien duplicates that are perfect copies of them BUT devoid of human emotion.

In the film this is done through human exposure to tiny, irresistibly fragrant pink flowers, each of which has initially miniscule alien pods with the secret capacity to replicate into ANY ONE OF US if given a googol of a chance.

Welcome to the Metaverse

It’s an insidious little m-f-cker because it was specifically designed to smell that damn good to all of humanity AND can infiltrate that damned fast through the human subconscious. 

And if all of this DOESN’T sound familiar perhaps you are already one of these pod people and the Body Snatchers story was never fiction at all.

Sadly, the longer I live through the 21st century, the more I am sure of exactly that.

Not to bring down the room or tempt any flower on my patio, or virtual reality device within 500 yards…um.. miles.

In any event, here’s what all this, that movie and, consequently, the reimagined Meta of it all, tells me:

Zuck has learned NOTHING from the last four years of misinformation and insurrection enabled by Facebook. 

So lifelike!

Check that, he’s a smart guy so he has learned something.  And that is how to take advantage of what we perceive to be his mistake of allowing a virtually rule-free platform of false information, since doing so might curtail ad revenue from lucrative sources and lower his profit margins. 

So basically what he has decided to do is make it far more difficult for us to spot disinformation since, with extended exposure to this new, proposed Meta lifestyle, our reality will become our Facebook generated Avatar reality. 

And with all of his billions behind all his planned technological advances, this fake existence will become far easier to enable and far more difficult to disengage from (Note: It’s worth noting that the 10 minute section of his presentation addressing policing offers no concrete plans for any enforcement whatsoever but merely advanced the idea that it will take us all TIME to figure this out and that some controls are indeed, encouraged).

I’m with Amy and Tina on this one

Oh, Zuck.

Meanwhile, this new world he touts where we won’t be experiencing the world through videos and social media posts but where YOU WILL BE IN THE EXPERIENCE is pretty darn sparkly.  And in true 21st century entrepreneurial style it will take advantage of where VR is now and harness all of it to make YOUR LIFE FULLER.

Though, I don’t know, is fuller the same as BETTER??? 

Just asking for a friend.

Nevertheless, with the wave of a hand, the flick of a wrist, or merely moving your fingers an eighth of an inch on your pants leg, you will be able to transport your hologram self to Europe in a second, attend a John Baptiste concert with your buddy on the opposite coast AND go to the after party with her (Note: Yes, Mr. Baptiste appears in that video), or type an email merely by thinking about it.  That is if you’ve got the right Ray Ban sunglasses on (Note: Yup, they’re tied in, too.) or the correct mini device on your physical body channeling your brain waves.

Could we use some billions to like… do anything else?

It’s the perfect setup where you can have even the most casual (or business) interactions without ever having to commute and sit in traffic because your AVATAR will do it all while you experience it.  Well, sort of.   And he or she or its non-binary version, if you prefer, can navigate in a nanosecond.  You will feel like you are LIVE…and A-live….with anyone.

But you won’t be.  You will be communicating through IT or, perhaps, a proposed hologram, and begin to believe, through repetition, that this IS…YOU.  Much in the way that many of us believe, through repetition, that a fake news story that isn’t real IS REAL because it’s been repeated so many times.   

Sounds tempting, no?

I’m done here

Not to this still barely human being who admittedly IS spending too much time at home still because of the global pandemic.

On the other hand, by the time this all happens en masse my breed and me will likely be long gone or, at least, on our way out.  

So we won’t be much of a factor.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you about virtually everything.  Assuming you can even remember we had this…um…conversation.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Scream

Safety First and Last

Every person I know who has ever worked on the crew of a movie – starting with myself – has at some point witnessed the cutting of corners, the rushing that prompted carelessness, and the indifference to long hours and safety complaints.

Trust me on this.

Not always a safe place

Nevertheless most of us were never employed on a production where anyone was shot and killed by a supposed “prop gun” discharging.  That was the fate of the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the low-budget movie Rust this week when star/producer Alec Baldwin’s gun fired, murdering her and wounding its writer-director Joel Souza.

Still, you don’t have to witness violence and human carnage to understand you are in a situation where it can easily happen.  The fact that you might dodge a bullet this time, or even hundreds of times, does not mean you will necessarily be so lucky the next time.

I’ve worked on movies with stunts in a river, where real wolves attacked people, where veteran pilots did somersaults in makeshift vintage airplanes and where guns were fired and bombs exploded.   Loudly.

Truth be told, I never felt exactly safe but I did believe, given the circumstances, that the risks were…mitigated.

Most of the time.

But not all of the time.

Yikes, Chairy.

For instance, the river movie, non-union with a SAG contract, had young actors in inner tubes with stunt people nearby.   But, let’s face it, that didn’t guarantee their safety if the weather suddenly turned on them or someone slipped on one of the many sharp rocks beneath them. 

The wolf movie, a union deal, had a wolf wrangler.  But once I got a look at the animals this didn’t seem particularly safe to me.  The wolves were going to be encouraged to viciously attack and the first thing you have to know about wolves (Note: As one of the wrangling assistants told me) is that they’re essentially wild animals that are not as trainable as dogs.  So, well, I wasn’t on the set on those four nights except an early check-in prior to the scene.

Suddenly the insane CGI wolves from Twilight seem a lot better now

The veteran pilot film used a guy who did stunts professionally for hundreds of air shows.  Many of the crewmembers were magically enthralled, so much so that between takes he took some of them up in that rickety plane. 

Are you kidding, I thought, on this non-union movie.  And promptly I was branded a chicken and laughed at by the entire production.

Well, cluck, cluck, cluck, I answered back.  This was not a risk I was willing to take.

And when a few years later this same pilot died doing a stunt on Top Gun I didn’t at all feel like gloating.  Though I did feel good about my decision.

sorry not sorry

As for the guns and explosions, this was an all-union crew and everyone was given earplugs, goggles and reminded constantly to keep their distance.  There were so many advisors and stunt people and active military personnel that it was probably the safest I ever felt on any movie set.  Ever.

And yet, most of the crew was still nervous…and happy we didn’t have to be in the scene or shoot it.  Though someone (Note: Actually more than one) did and was.

This begs the question of what exactly is safe

Well, clearly nothing is 100%.  Danger can randomly happen at any moment and so can death.  So we try to minimize our risks or, if we like the rush or are feeling particularly angry or perilous that day, maximize them.

Yeah, not for me

Movie sets have rules and regulations for this very reason.  This is why people are not often seriously injured and usually don’t die. 

It is for these same reasons that most people don’t die in tragic accidents.  Society operates within parameters and has laws enacted to keep people somewhat safe.  Depending on your political views, there are not enough, or too many, or maybe they’re enforced too stringently or laxly.

But given the status quo they at least give us a playing field in which we can operate.   Unless we are operating in a field akin to the wild, Wild West, located in a town with a wan or lazy or cost-cutting sheriff with a corrupt governmental power structure bent on supporting him. (Note:  Or her, because let’s not be sexist.  Though I’d bet we’d all be safer under female sheriffs).

The now closed set of “Rust”

The carnage on the set of Rust was a horrible confluence of events still being unearthed for public consumption and legal scrutiny.  But this much we know.

– Six members of the camera crew resigned several days before the tragic shooting due to unfit working conditions, replaced by non-union members.

– Safety protocols, including gun inspections, were not being enforced.

– Three prop gun misfires occurred prior to the fatal shooting.  And just several days before it happened, Mr. Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired TWO rounds from a gun he was assured was not loaded with any ammunition.


These facts have all been confirmed by numerous crew members, with text messages supporting those facts.

There is also a police investigation underway and no doubt an army of lawsuits pending that will unearth even more of the facts.

Given the additional fact that IATSE, the union covering crew members in which I still pay dues, almost went on a massive strike last week to improve many of these conditions, and is soon to vote on the tentative agreement reached by its reps, there will also be a renewed industry-wide push towards parameters and playing fields that are significantly, or at least a little safe-ER than before.

None of this will bring back a mother, wife and treasured family member like Halyna Hutchins. 

Remember her. #RIP

It will merely be yet another marker of a likely avoidable tragedy had we taken a bit more time to err on the side of caution instead of cost-cutting and wan-ness.  Civility instead of the Wild West, unbridled deregulation of our time tested standards of behavior.

Nothing is entirely safe.  But we need to take the time and the actions to do better.   A lot better. 

And not just in show business.

Solidarity Forever” – Pete Seeger