We didn’t get a lot of time with Ben, which was a shame, because he’s so talkative and you end up having these deep discussions with him, before realising, “hang on, I’m talking to Crichton”. He’s a self confessed “geek”, fan of Sci-Fi, he has a BS in Psychology at Furman University, and when you’re chatting to him it’s very very odd to realise that you actually share a lot of common ground, beliefs and views.
We know you’ve confessed to being a bit of a Sci-Fi geek, which for you have been the best Sci-Fi movies and have any characters stood out for you?
Right, in chronological order, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I saw when I was a kid, absolutely mind blowing, best character obviously HAL. Obviously Star Wars, best character, Han Solo. Alien, with Tom Skerrit (points towards Tom who’s sat across the hall). I actually quite enjoyed Inception as well. I think it’s pretty spectacular. I thought it was a really cool way of not only using the mind space but VR, and in some ways that’s kind of the direction we’re going. At some stage we’re all going to have this alternate existence. Most of it will probably be augmented reality / virtual reality. But when we finally get to the point where we have full auditory VR, what’s going to drive it is probably going to be human creativity as opposed to machine creativity. I think that’s actually pretty good. You look at what they’re doing with video games these days, some of the stuff, LA Noire, Hard Rain, Uncharted, they have amazing immersive story telling, and Inception sort of reminded me of all of that.
You’re not a William Gibson fan by any chance?
Yeah, I’ve read some of his books. William Gibson, oh and Neal Stephenson, with “Snow Crash”, his stuff is really really good, quite a remarkable writer although I kind of prefer his Baroque Cycle.
You mentioned Star Wars in the list of Sci Fi films, where do you stand on the “Star Wars isn’t Sci-Fi” debate?
In the land of “Hard Science Fiction vs Soft Science fiction”, to be honest, I don’t really care! If you look at projections of what is going to be next, right, what is the next big thing, when we were in the sixties and seventies, everybody thought it would be Artifical Intelligence, they thought that would be “there”. Right now, we realise that AI, in terms of synthiants and the ability of not just doing calculations, but also to do have a “thought” is much further away then a lot of other technologies such as nanotechnology, genetics. So it’s all speculative, it’s just a question of what is vogue at the moment, who knows what’s next. Yeah ok, so Star Wars went a little off the deep end with the Midi-chlorians, trying to put a scientific edge on what is essentially mysticism. There’s a huge debate about that, but at the end of the day, it just is really great entertainment. “2001”, eleven years ago, but when it came out we thought we were going to be there, that that was the path we would take.
Did you by any chance see “Moon”?
Oh yeah, thought it was great. If you ask me if I’ve seen a film, it’s a science fiction film, I’ve probably seen it! Yeah, I’m a bit of a geek! It’s alright, I don’t mind being called that.
I read somewhere that you were coaching football or something?
Actually, I’ve been coaching High School Pole Vaulting for the last five years. So I deal with 14 – 18 year olds, group of vaulters. I usually have between 10 and 20 kids who I coach, with a variety of backgrounds. Pole vaulting is an event you can do well in high School or even College level if you work really hard at it, like most sports, but I think it’s important that when you’re young, you do a lot of different things. I like my vaulters to do well academically, but I also want them doing art. This year I have a vaulter who is probably one of the best violinists in Los Angeles. I have a kid who is going to USC next year for the Theatre programme.
Talking about your coaching, do you think it’s tougher for young people these days to make something of themselves?
I think adults have a great amount of fear when raising their kids, so they cling really tightly. And the tighter you cling the more kids break away. So they live in this controlled environment right up until the point where they’re 15, 16, 17 or 18 depending on which culture you’re in, and then suddenly they’re turned loose on the world. Their lives have been so controlled, they haven’t quite developed that sense of “how do I deal with this on my own?”, so they go way off the deep end, we huddle over them too much.
I can relate to that, I see it as a Youth Worker!
You may find this to be true and you’ll see this, it’s just an observation that I have as a parent! Once they get there, you know, it used to be when kids were 6, 7 or 8 they were turned loose in the neighbourhood. At 9, 10 or 11 could ride the bus wherever they wanted to go, then 13, 14 they were at school they were doing new things. Now, it’s like they get to 16, then suddenly we turn them loose, or 18, and it’s “ooh, let’s go down the pub”.
Or join the army!
Well that’s always been the case, there’s almost always been a war to go to somewhere in the world whether it was Vietnam, Afghanistan, Korea or The Falklands, but it seems to me that we hold them really tightly when they’re little, and then expect them to know how to fly when they’re 16, 17 or 18. Too much then too little perhaps! I don’t know.
We’d like to thank Ben for taking time out at London Film and Comic Con to chat to us, and of course the lovely Showmasters crew. We wish Ben and vaulters every success!
You can find out more about Ben at: http://www.benbrowderportal.com/