Westworld [Heart Shaped Box] | YouTube

I’ve just finished watching the second season if Westworld — and wow — but more on that wow at another time. For now I wanted to share this vid, since for me a major part of the pleasure of watching Westworld is the music, the symphonic sounds of Ramin Djawadi, the composer of the music of Westworld. There are beautiful recreations of old grunge tunes, like Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” or “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana. And perhaps that’s meant to be metaphorical, like Arnold and Ford’s recreation and re-imagination of humankind.

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

8 thoughts on “Westworld [Heart Shaped Box] | YouTube”

  1. I don’t know these songs by Soundgarden and Nirvana. Grunge isn’t my era — to my stereotypic ear it’s Gen X dude music. Is this the demographic that Westworld is targeting? Here’s a relevant article identifying the viewer demographics for season 1: mostly male, with higher than average viewership among 35-44 year olds. The article also looks at Westworld viewers’ “social media influencers” — public figures that the show’s audience tends to follow and retweet on Twitter. Compared to the average TV viewer, Westworld viewers tend to be fans of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, JK Rowling, Robert Downey Jr., Neil Degrasse Tyson, and Donald Trump — a kind of techno-nerdy capitalistic influence cluster.

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    1. It took me a minute to acclimate myself to the last of the statistics, but as regards the age demographics I find it intriguing that approximately 75% of the audience is under 44. We’ve already talked about how the Westworldian themes are nothing new, having been excavated in the literature and films of the 70s, particularly influential at the popular level. So Westworld is recycling much of this, but at the same time advance in technology, neuroscience, and in film/cinema make Western feel fresh, contemporary, and relevant. Certainly for the under 44 crowd who are interested engaged, we may very well face many of the Westworld dilemmas. A.I. may produce the next Homo Deus species, or something along those lines.

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      1. I don’t think you can infer too much about the under-45 statistic, since Westworld’s percentage for the 18-44 segment is just about average for the industry. It’s only the 35-44 viewership that’s above average; the under-24 segment for Westworld is below industry average.

        Another enlightening finding from those industry-wide data: the 18-44 segment accounts for 71% of total TV viewership but only 37% of the overall US population. In contrast, people aged 45+ account for 24% of total TV viewership but 39% of the overall population. So in general TV is a form of entertainment that appeals particularly to the young.

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    2. The last aspect of analysis at the article you linked to was personality. Having more imagination seems to be one of the common factors for Westworld viewers, defined as those who “view the real world as often too plain and ordinary. They use fantasy not as an escape but as a way of creating for themselves a richer and more interesting inner-world.”

      If say that this probably applies to fiction readers more generally. Does it apply most especially to those who consume sci-fi, fantasy, and the various forms of speculative fiction? After all these are explicitly alternative worlds that are deliberately created to be other-worldly, as opposite to “realism” where the work is grounded in the world that is familiar and that we encounter (or can encounter) on a daily basis.

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      1. Good observations. Inasmuch as I have watched both seasons of this show and will almost surely continue, I’ like to embrace the idea that my viewership reflects my imaginative nature. But we gotta bear in mind that skewed sex differential, with men comprising a disproportionately high share of Westworld’s viewership. Is it self-serving for the nerdy guys to stake a claim to high imagination?

        The data show that viewers tend spend more time than most in scifi and fantasy, but also in watching TV, reading comic books, and playing video/computer games — creative maybe, but pretty nerdy. They’re less interested than average in fashion, which I’d say is an imaginative interest though a lot of the fellows would dismiss it as shallow. I’d be curious to know how the Westworlders stack up on reading fiction. Women account for 80% of novel reading and, while they’re less into scifi than other genres, women still account for half the readership of scifi.

        Those top five personality traits in the graph at the bottom of the article are subscales of the Big Five personality trait called Openness to Experience. Have you ever taken a Big Five questionnaire, Jonathan? I blow the top off the Openness scale. I’d guess that the women who watch the show also score high on Openness, but less high on other nerdy male interests.

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        1. I haven’t tested myself on Big Five but I’ve been interested in doing so. I’ve worked with MB and I’ve done quite a bit of work and study in the Enneagram personality structure – that’s intrigued me quite a bit. I recently read a book on the Big Five called Me, Myself and Us by Brian Little, and it made me interested in getting tested but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

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      2. Another thought… This imaginative nerdy male Westworld audience is also disproportionately attracted to Elon Musk and Bill Gates. It’s a kind of Silicon Valley vibe. There used to be a cultural divide where artists and therapists were deemed the imaginative creative types while the scientists and engineers were by-the-book technicians without much creativity. That’s changed dramatically in our current popular culture. And it’s demonstrably a male-dominated techie-creative culture, and it’s where the big money is to be made.

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        1. Good point. Steve Jobs and Apple had a good deal to do with that, I reckon, in terms of starting that paradigm shift. And yes, it’s a male-dominated culture, through and through, as recent #metoo events made very clear. My brother is in SV tech, and he has been around long enough to see the trend shifting back the other direction: more and more it’s only a few dudes at the top who really get to flex their creative muscle. Then there are a small army of middle managers tasked with the “grown up” job of making sure that Google et al. are profitable and attractive to Wall Street. Everyone else in tech is becoming replaceable/expendable, with the big money was bound to come the hierarchy. In the early days of tech it was more egalitarian and everyone was encouraged to be creative and imaginative. There’s still the perception that Silicon Valley world that way but the times they are a changin’.

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