Let’s say for the sake of argument you’re stuck at home for a long time watching too much of the stuff we euphemistically call “streaming content,” by which I mean movies and TV. Come up with your own reason — anything from being one of Japan’s pathologically introverted hikikomori to, say, hiding out from some sort of potentially lethal respiratory virus. In any case, you will at some point sour on all the available programming options and scroll glumly through all the familiar title selection menus until you give up. Tiger King is more of a punch line than a TV show at this point, and, sure, you could plumb the depths of history’s most creative auteurs over on the Criterion Channel, but that sounds hard, and if you are like me, you consider reading the morning news emotional labor.
But what if there were a movie streaming service with no downsides? Call it “Black Box.” You would get exactly what you’re in the mood for every time, but unlike rewatching an old favorite, it wouldn’t be a retread, because no two movies on Black Box would ever be the same. On Black Box, rather than selecting a title, you would choose from a menu of options like genres, plots, types of characters, locations, and content keywords to include or exclude.
Want a movie where a protagonist your age, race, sexuality, gender, and religion becomes an Olympic swimmer? You got it. Want a movie where someone demographically identical to your boss gets squeezed to death and devoured by a Burmese python? Your wish is its command. Want to leave out the specifics and let fate decide what never-before-imagined movie will be entertaining you this evening? Black Box has you covered.
After you make your choices — and of course pay a nominal fee for the serious computational heavy lifting necessarily involved — your order is received at Black Box HQ, and an original movie will be on its way shortly.
Black Box converts your specifications into data — or if you didn’t ask for anything specific, a blob of randomly generated numerical noise will do — and the creation process can begin. That first collection of ones and zeros will…