[The following essay exaggerates my opinions for comedic effect; please don’t take it too seriously.]
Back in high school, I wrote a short story about a dystopian future in which every film was produced by a sophisticated artificial intelligence; provided with a prompt consisting only of a brief synopsis, a genre, and an intended demographic, the program would utilize advanced CGI to generate the sort of cookie cutter, paint-by-numbers media that greedy, unimaginative corporate executives adore: popular, profitable, and utterly predictable. The plot wasn’t particularly well developed, but the premise still intrigued sixteen-year-old me; what, after all, could be more terrible than the demise of art?
Last week, my brother texted me a link to a Twitch stream entitled Nothing, Forever. At first glance, it appeared to be a crudely animated parody of Seinfeld, distilling the show’s trademark inane, mundane conversations into absurd, incoherent non sequiturs. A bit of research, however, revealed the horrifying truth: Nothing, Forever is the product of an A.I. futilely laboring to understand and mimic the intricacies of humor (reminiscent of how such "esteemed auteurs” of trash cinema as Tommy Wiseau, James Nguyen, and Neil Breen struggle to comprehend and replicate the idiosyncrasies of human behavior*)—an automated sitcom broadcast in real time for (theoretically) eternity**.
My nightmare has invaded reality.
There are, of course, limitations to what the technology can currently accomplish. Bugs and glitches abound: characters frequently respond to their own questions, and on at least one occasion, the ersatz “Jerry” model failed to materialize during a comedy club scene, resulting in an awkwardly prolonged shot of an empty stage. Nevertheless, this primitive attempt at mechanized storytelling clearly demonstrates that the concept I created in Mrs. Doxey’s classroom—which was meant to be purely figurative, a satirical metaphor for the gradual erosion of self-expression as entertainment becomes increasingly commodified—is now unnervingly plausible.
*Despite this superficial similarity, Nothing, Forever is sorely lacking in the personality, ambition, and genuine passion evident in The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, and Fateful Findings—incompetently crafted masterpieces that will endure in pop culture for decades to come, while watchmeforever’s disposable “content”—designed by an algorithm to be thoughtlessly consumed and discarded ad infinitum—will ultimately fade into obscurity as new “innovations” render it obsolete.
**Ironically, the channel hosting Nothing, Forever has been temporarily banned (as of February 6, 2023) after an alleged scripting error caused the program to inadvertently generate transphobic comments—which coincidentally parallels one of the major twists in my dystopian sci-fi narrative. Apparently, I am cursed with the gift of prophecy.