Loki's retro-tech world is the best 19A0

Originally published at: Loki's retro-tech world is the best 19A0 | Boing Boing


I was an extra for a couple of days on the production about a month before COVID hit. We filmed at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Atlanta, a beautiful mid-century modern design by John Portman with a dramatic open atrium. There were about 30 of us TVA workers walking around in variations of the “uniform,” which were made in Italy. Mine was a suit that featured lapels that were – for lack of a better description – “embossed” into the jacket. Beautiful material. In the final cut of the show, they added so much CGI to the building, they might as well have filmed in a studio with greenscreen, and you never really see us extras walking around in the background – again, CGI could have sufficed.

I do love the mid-mod production design on the show, but wish the overall lighting wasn’t so dim, so one could better appreciate the details.


Does the 19a0s aesthetic have a “-punk” suffix genre associated? “punkpunk”? “wavepunk”? “punkwave”? “wavewave”?

Is 1Q84 a 19a0s book?

Also, after looking back at Rob’s original 19a0s article: I miss FFFFound.


Near as anyone can tell it’s not a lighting problem but a Disney+ problem.

They seem to use some down right muddy encoding on a lot of stuff. And it’s even worse on the audio side, with very low levels overall and weirdly murky mix.

The audio problems seem to hit everything. The video problem seem to only be on certain newer films and the original shows. But people have actually gone so far as to compare DVD releases with the streaming images and the web is full of people (fruitlessly) seeking a fix for the audio problems.


“Loki” seems a lot darker and muddier than either “Wandavision” or “Falcon and Winter Soldier” were, but yeah, I hear what you’re saying. Especially the audio. We’ve had to hit the 30-second rewind button on our remote that displays captioning several times while watching “Loki” to understand what people were saying.

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So was Mandalorian and Black Widow is pretty bad. Especially on the audio front.

I often don’t have too much of a problem with either since I usually watch things on a good quality IPS computer monitor with nice headphones. Buy it’s really apparent on my dad’s big ole nerd TV, fancy screen and speakers not withstanding.

It doesn’t seem to be an issue, aside from low audio levels, on most things pre-existing Disney+. Especially if it was previously available streaming. And it’s less noticeable on things that are brighter or less contrasty to begin with. But it’s been a regular WTF all over the service since it launched. Mandalorian even made national news for how muddy it’s first couple episodes were.

“Cassette Futurism” or “Bitpunk” are close, but it’s really just … cyberpunk?

The -punk suffix as a genre thing is a two sided coin. On one side, it means “with marginalized individuals at the threshold of effecting social change”. On the other side, it means “as a fetish for socially decontextualized period aesthetics”

A “problem” for 19A0 is that it a) is reminiscing about a failed revolution and b) imagines itself as a secret influence on other aesthetics rather than representing one in its own right. It fantasizes “what if actual punk in the late 1970s took over all of it, all the symbols and structures that were not punk” but recognizes that this is itself a doomed nostalgic affectation.

In a raw sense the subject of 19A0 is media and memory, “artifact and artefact”. So you could call it mediapunk. Mnemepunk, perhaps.


Which soul-crushing, anachronistic bureaucracy is the best of all time?

  • TVA from “Loki”
  • Afterlife bureaucracy from “The Good Place”
  • Vogons from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
  • The government from Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”
  • Any given DMV

0 voters


Loving this show. Hiddleston is fantastic. Loki’s chemistry with both Mobius and Sylvie is spot on.

And the other Loki’s are hilarious.


This is the first time I’ve come across the concept of the 19A0s and I haven’t had time to get to grips with it yet

But coincidentally I has a conversation about this very subject earlier today. The Loki movie came up in the conversation so I’m planning on watching it later. And for my part of the conversation I recommended the movie High Rise which is based on a story by JG Ballard and by another coincidence also stars Tom Hiddleston.

I can’t remember whether the movie is good or bad because I was too busy grooving on the late '70s early '80s visual nostalgia to pay much attention to what was going on.


I was going to say that the TVA definitely reminds me of Ballard’s High Rise, both how it’s envisioned in the film and prose as described. Maybe add a dash of Portal here and a sprinkling of Control there. For me the aesthetic is more of a triumph than the messy story.


Me either!


I’ve been watching a few videos about wack old tech lately and a friend of mine has gotten a little too into that whole “cyberdeck” 90’s retro futuristic coding box thing.

So now I desperately want to put a gaming PC in one of these and mount it in a wall or giant wooden desk.

I hope they all make out.

Completely in character.


I assumed it was more along the lines of Maniac or Bandersnatch on Netflix.

The production design on Loki feels to me like a separate ortho-decade, maybe the same one whenre The Prisoner is set, and from which Project Cybersyn leaked out into the i=0 timeline.

(There’s a similar vibe with the time cops in The Umbrella Academy TV show, but it’s much less fleshed out)


As a survivor of the 60s/70s and a typewriter collector, I was impressed by the bank of bright orange Selectrics (I think they were Selectrics…). I would love one of those!

To respond to that little poll, I think Terry Gilliam did lay the groundwork for this aesthetic in Brazil. I don’t know of any (cinematic) example that predates it.


Is the lighting setup designed for HDR?

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People have tried just about every setting tweak or obvious user side problem for both the audio and video issues.

And when Mandalorian hit and had a particularly dark first two episodes I did the fruitless trouble shooting on my PC and Dad’s TV. Which is now full on film school calibrated and looking pretty sexy.

I know HDR settings can sometimes cause this but it tends to be across the board. Rather than one show on a particular streaming service. I’ve also seen it on a whole bunch of different set ups. A lot of which don’t do HDR.

It’s also not the only encoding problem Disney+ has had. Some shows and movies have had individual mistakes that were acknowledged and corrected. Along with the wrong versions of things being uploaded or pre-existing transfers getting hosted at launch.

Streaming services in general are known for using low quality, highly compressed encoding for bandwidth purposes.

Seems to me it’s probably something to do with launching a new streaming service so quickly, and so recently and it will probably improve. But the complaints seem to crop back up with each new highly buzzed release.

Friend of mine does upload and encoding work for Hulu as part of her job duties. The backend systems for these services are often a mess, and ugly files are often uploaded for time reasons until fixes come down.

If you’re asking about the production lighting?

Well it pops up in new stuff created post HDR, and hosted on Disney Plus. But not in stuff that was originally hosted somewhere pre-Disney+ and before HDR existed.

So I doubt that’s the problem.

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I’ve seen Solo in the theaters, and I’ve streamed it. Looks dreary on a big professional display–looks dreary on a prime-day special tv. I’m not sure what’s going though the production companoes head, but, please stop!

Most recently, I streamed The Bourne Identity in 4k–horribly horribly dim.

There 00’s grim dark. And then there’s the Mandalorian’s head is now a series of digital encoding artifacts.

I don’t think anyone is deliberately shooting for the former. Netflix had similar issues for a while, and don’t ask how I know this. But pirated video files often do as well. Especially when they’ve been down shifted from 4k and made extra tiny on the file size end.

Or so I’ve heard.

I suspect it’s something to do with the way these services shift your resolution up and down to manage the connection combined with material that’s already on the dim or contrasty side.

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