Cameron Diaz in Sex Tape
“No one understands the cloud!” At least not the two main characters in the new farce comedySex Tape.
The movie recounts the tale of a long-married couple, Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel), who want to rejuvenate their sex lives. Their solution? Make a sex tape. Actually, it’s really a digital video on their iPad. The night goes as planned, but then the video somehow ends up in the cloud and soon it’s shared with the couple’s friends, family and acquaintances.
Annie and Jay are mortified:
Jay: “It went up! It went up to the cloud!”Annie: “You can’t get it down from the cloud?”Jay: “Nobody understands the cloud ... It’s a mystery.”
Enter the Cloud
One gets the sense that the cloud concept was sort of slapped onto the film – even the name is an anachronism. No one “tapes” anything anymore (might have been funnier to call it "Sext Tape"). One clue might be in the original script, which tells roughly the same tale, but involves a VHS sex tape. A version of the script showed up online in 2011, according to the ScriptShadow blog, in which the couple use a tripod and video camera. The final film shows Jay and Annie using an iPad, which has at least four times the resolution of that old VHS recorder.
In the original script, penned by Kate Angelo, the tape and camera go missing and the farce is all about the hunt for the tape, not a runaway video file in the cloud.
Obviously, Sex Tape couldn’t come to theaters with such an out-of-date concept. So screenwriters Angelo, Jason Segel, who told The Hollywood Reporter he understands the cloud, and Nicholas Stoller upgraded all the technology and introduced the concept of the cloud-as-villain.
It sort of makes sense. Segel also told The Hollywood Reporter that the cloud — and who has access to your files — scares him: “I'm terrified of the cloud ... We did a lot of research. Everything that happens in the movie could happen to you — it's a cautionary tale!"
The path their video file takes from iPad to Cloud Service is pretty straightforward. Jay is using something called BrideofFrankensync cloud storage, a stand-in for any number cloud services: Box, OneDrive, DropBox, Bitcasa, iCloud, etc. Most of these services will autosync specified directories with duplicate ones in the cloud.
While Jay and Annie don’t understand the cloud and, according to actress Cameron Diaz, no one who interviewed her about the movie seemed to understand it either, the concept is not that esoteric.
The cloud is just Internet-connected server space that you and other people around the world can use. Depending on the service you choose, you can use a desktop or mobile app to watch local folders and, when it sees new files, have it automatically copy them to the cloud (the syncing part).
This is exactly what happened to our protagonist Jay. He simply put the Sex Tape file in the wrong place. It’s also the only believable part of the plot.
The idea that that file could get out of Jay’s cloud storage space and be shared with everyone he knows, including the mailman, is a huge leap. Yes, Jay could be a complete moron and leave all his cloud content as publicly available files, but most services make that difficult, if not impossible.
You see, the servers that host cloud storage are not set up in the same way that, say, Web servers are. Web servers, which actually host Web sites, are designed for hundreds, if not thousands or millions of people to log on and view the same files at the same time.
If you want to share files on a cloud server, you usually have to invite people, one-at-a-time, via their email address or by otherwise sharing links to the folder or file with them. Sharing a link isn’t recommended, since someone else might be able to use it. Though, even then, they might be blocked because their e-mail address is not on your approved list.
I asked a number of cloud storage providers for comment on Sex Tape. None would go on the record, though one sentiment was clear: Just not plausible.
I guess I should be pleased that the Cloud is getting so much play in popular culture. It is, in fact, becoming a part of our lives. We store fewer and fewer files locally and, from the home to the office, rely on a variety of cloud services to both store our files and give us access through any logged-in device. On the other hand Sex Tape’s implausible plot only helps perpetuate new consumer technology as something unknowable to average people.
I know this isn’t true, but it’s still frustrating. And for the record? I understand the Cloud and it does not scare me.
Tags: APPS AND SOFTWARE, ENTERTAINMENT, FILM, SEX TAPE