Category Archives: the hell?

I’ve seen the problem, and it is us

I talk a lot about my hangups regarding fan culture here, even going in depth as to my reasons for not wanting to label myself a geek or nerd anymore. It would be great if I could leave it at that. No one wants to read the incessant rants of cultural nay-sayer or, worse, a nerd shamer. But I can never be done with it so long as there is more fuel to add to the fire. Read the rest of this entry

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Video games – destined for the trash bin

It is with great difficulty that I admit that I am losing faith in video games as a powerful, artistic storytelling medium. The potential is clearly there, but all of the executive decisions point to the very sad fact that video games are nothing more than disposable entertainment. Game releases are less about shaking the industry to cause a permanent impact and more about creating a flavor of the month. Read the rest of this entry

Can we ignore Ebert now?

Poor taste isn’t reporting the facts on whether or not someone was definitely drinking and driving. Poor taste is trying to make a cute joke hours after the death of someone’s loved one. This is the utter definition of “Too soon.”

What happened? Well, hours after the reported death of Jackass‘ Ryan Dunn, Ebert twatted, “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” It is true that Dunn had been drinking before getting in the car, but making it a point to crudely and pejoratively use the name of the show in a message to the masses was beyond unnecessary. It is snide and judgmental. What it should tell the world is that Ebert is a prick. Unfortunately, as I caught wind of the message on EW.com, it just puts the wind in the sails of other pricks.

We know that drinking and driving is dangerous behavior. It’s not a public service announcement. Be happy Twatter wasn’t around when Walt Disney died. Hours after the announcement of his death you might have encountered message like, “Smoking is dangerous. There isn’t much you can do about an Epcot-sized tumor in your lungs.”

I know that this message draws unnecessary attention to him, but from here on can we just ignore Ebert? It seems he knows he is on his last legs and his relevance is fading fast. The man does not make public appearances and cannot speak. All he has are his reviews and observations. Only when there is some sort of controversy for being snide (such as saying video games are not art) does anyone pay him any serious mind anymore. So let’s just stop responding to him.

Especially since a statement like that makes him a bigger jackass than some dude who put a toy car up his butt.

Geek Bullying

It’s arguable, but in the last decade or so nerd and geekdom has come to be celebrated by the mainstream. Pop culture is attempting to cater to geek tastes, and we don’t deride people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for not extremely attractive or sports personalities. The 80’s certainly didn’t give as much credit to those of us on the more niche end of culture. Times have changed.

Or maybe times haven't changed that much. This was the face of empowerment for fringe cultures. The repackaging suggests that this is STILL supposed to be that face.

Have times changed for the better? Sure, when I was in college it was acceptable that some friends and I could found a video game enthusiasts club and wear shirts featuring Pac-Man and the Konami code. But we’re at the point where video games are so embraced today that motion controls are flying off the shelves so parents can get their children to incorporate some movement into their lives. In some schools, DDR was accepted into the gym curriculum. Games are simply accepted as a part of young culture and require workarounds to make sure kids are physical. There’s something wrong with that.

Then there’s the culture empowered by acceptance. This is a problem largely found on forums and large-scale blogs, but enthusiast clubs and conventions will reveal their fair share. Empowered geeks find it acceptable to condescend to others, mainly because the source of geek identity is internal and can only be expressed through words. No one has a problem with people sharing their knowledge or preferably anecdotes, but there are those out there who believe that they are entitled to belittle others and eschew common courtesy. Why? Because they know stuff. Read the rest of this entry

Modern Video game Warfare

Dear Cracked.com,

You have visually summed up everything I have said about the triteness of modern video gaming. It quite literally renders thousands of my words meaningless.

Video games are pretty much a waste these days

Interesting Response

For those who missed it, the author of the previously mentioned book (see below) responded to my entry. He disagreed with me, and I disagreed with him. I stopped responding, though. It wasn’t a discussion but rather someone being really defensive and simply saying, “I’m right! You’re wrong!” Still, the reach of that entry was impressive, especially in that it was responded to within 2 hours of its being posted. Maybe I’ll discuss Paramount and their irresponsible treatment of the Star Trek franchise next.

Edit: The comments originally posted with the previous entry did not transfer over to WordPress, so I’ve decided to include them here for prosperity.

Blogger Loren Coleman said…
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read most of my book, and commenting thoughtfully on your feelings, insights, and critiques in response to The Copycat Effect.

I won’t address everything you raised, but allow me to reply to some general items you discuss.

First and foremost, my book is clearly not a call for censorship, but an attempt at awareness, an alert regarding research findings tied to behavior contagion linked to media reporting. It also is a challenge for the media to begin a discussion on the topic to fine tune the reporting on mass violence.

Indeed, I directly address the issue of censorship on pages 255-256, in my subsection “Time for the Media to Wake Up.”

As I say there, I am not “asking the media to stop reporting the news.”

Regarding whether there is a research basis to my book, I discuss the ignored and neglected studies on this topic from the 1970s-present, in various locations in the introduction, pages 137ff, and elsewhere.

The book is not meant to be comprehensive, and does serve as an awareness primer, to be read in conjunction with the training incorporated in various manuals I’ve written and consultations I have delivered. It makes no claims for being an overview book on the characteristics of the vulnerable suicidal individuals who are triggered, but only a beginning survey on the subject that was ignored before my first book, Suicide Clusters came out in 1987.

As to my training, skills, talents, and background, I need not get into a lot of defensive verbage here. A brief reading of my lifework demonstrates schooling (Anthropology ’65-’69, BA ’76, Masters in Social Work ’78, Ph. D. programs in Soc. Anthrolopolgy and Family Violence, not completed), professional experience (mental health work 1967-present), university teaching (1980-2003, including 23 semesters of delivering a course on documentaries/news journalism), filmmaking (1984-2003), a fulltime senior research position at the Muskie School/USM (1983-1996), suicide/school violence consulting for the State of Maine (1998-2007), and media consulting (1969-present), which has given me lots of real life background experiences and research data for the book.

My sincere best wishes for a safe holiday season,
Loren

December 3, 2009 1:43 PM

Blogger Gospel X said…

Wow! Simply, wow! I really don’t know what to say. It’s hard to be a snarky commentator when the author of the book actually responds to such an obscure blog. At this point I feel almost disrespectful.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my critiques. My discussion of your credentials was not meant to imply that your thoughts were any less valid. I just like to see research trials and so forth. I completely believe in the copycat effect, but I want to see the effect tested (and, like you suggested, used for positive actions if possible). I also understand that your book is not a call for censorship, but asking for the news to alter their approach and wording can definitely be interpreted as such. I like your suggestions, but I don’t think they’ll work.

I appreciate your reading and responding so quickly to my blog, and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future. It is my hope that some of it is incorporated in the program I will be attending in the future (or I’ll find a way to incorporate it). Have yourself a happy holiday.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have email follow-ups on, this will not reach you directly. The reason for my posting this on the blog is to make sure that people are aware of the dialogue. (And I don’t have your e-mail address.)

December 3, 2009 5:52 PM

Blogger Loren Coleman said…

Actually, the book directly addresses “experiments in natural occurrences” (trials) that tend to prove my hypothesis. See pages 180 and 258, when accidental censorship (post-9/11 terror reporting pushed school shooting media attention from the front pages), newspaper strikes, and mandated blackouts (in Vienna) on certain reporting has resulted in less school shootings, suicides, and specifically, in a good test tube situation in Austria, a drop by 75% in subway suicides.

Furthermore, the model of the media guidelines is based on those created almost 30 years ago which lessened the number of teen suicide clusters (a large problem in the 1980s in the USA), which had been directly linked to media-influenced behavior contagion.

BTW, my email is well-published as

LColeman@maine.rr.com

and my snail address is

Loren Coleman, PO Box 360, Portland, ME 04112.

Happy holidays,
Loren

Crank 2 cranked to HIGH

Or the makers were high…or something…

The release of another Jason Statham movie honestly means very little to me. I’m just tired of the guy playing the same over the top badass who always succeeds and should be feared by his opponents. Hell, he even had that image in Mean Machine! His character was in that movie for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, if I recall correctly. It gets stale.

The story so far: At the end of the original film Statham's character was dropped several hundred feet from a helicopter before bouncing off of a car and hitting the pavement.  This was all told in the styling of an 8-bit video game at the beginning of the latest film.  Now he needs to lick batteries to keep his life meter - er - heart battery from running low.

Having never seen the original Crank, the multiple suggestions I received for seeing Crank 2: High Voltage surprised me. io9 covered bits and pieces of the movie a while back, so I knew what would be present, but people said that I would get quite a bit out of it. Well, I just saw it, and it was everything that it was promised to be. The movie is truly a video game movie. It’s an ADD film with an odd soundtrack and absurd tendencies – not to mention the fact that Statham’s character essentially has a life gauge.

What really struck me about the movie wasn’t the fact that it feeds gamers but rather that it seemed to me like an updated version of Natural Born Killers. In a way, it succeeds more in terms of being immediately entertaining than its predecessor because it refrains from infusing the story with any sort of criticism. Killers accuses television of being one of the supreme evils of the world, but Crank appears to embrace video games wholeheartedly. Of course, this is likely to doom it because the film is absurd, violent, and blatantly objectifies women – and it does so with no merit whatsoever. Killers, by comparison, has value because it tried to make a point. Of course, I may be the only person to even think of comparing these movies. Then again, they both fixate on an entertainment medium, include scenes that are shifts away from the style of the overall movie that were included for the sake of absurdist style (Killers had the sitcom flashback as well as the LSD animation and Crank has the kaijuu battle and talk show scene – with Geri Halliwell! – that let the viewer glimpse at the protagonist’s childhood), and both are presented in a format that is perceived to be necessary to tell a story to the so-called MTV audience of today. Not to mention unnecessary violence and the fact that movies must have been conceptualized, if not made, while on drugs – LSD for the classic and speed for the latest release.

The stip club scene not only subverts our expectations for what we might be exposed to in terms of characters on stage, but it totally exceeds our expectations of the kind of violence that may be inflicted in a titty bar. Crank 2 is made for a certain audience. Properly defining this demographic may take a while, but it’s easy to say that video game fans would be hard pressed to find a better movie presentation of their hobby. I guess it could be said that the movie is made for people who could give a flying crap about the expected movie conventions. The protagonist is not the best of people and doesn’t change at all over the course of the movie, his love interest (the surprisingly formidable Amy Smart) moved on pretty quickly after assuming he was dead and the story doesn’t go the way one would expect upon finding out she was wrong, and they don’t even try to pretty up transitions between scenes. Literally, in one scene Statham is running from the cops in a building. They cut to a card that says, “9 seconds later,” and then he’s out on the street. They just wanted him out in the open without bothering to show the process involved in getting outside!

Coincidentally, Amy Smart has another movie called High Voltage under her thumb. Maybe this one will achieve at least the cult status that she will never, ever have from her ‘97 film. It’s said to be pretty bad.

Crank 2 is a pretty worthwhile and fun film. No reason to drop your shit and go see it, not with Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation around the corner, but it’ll be a good movie for a group of friends. Maybe make it a double-feature with the original Crank or Natural Born Killers and fill a night with madness.

Bechdel Rule: Fail. It took me a second to remember that two women even had a scene together in which there weren’t any exposed breasts. When they were talking, they were arguing over a man.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 announced for download on Xbox 360 and PS3

While internet nerds are rejoicing the good news that came over the wire earlier today, I can’t help but find myself a little bit disappointed.  Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is far from my favorite game, let alone my favorite in the Capcom Vs. line of games.  People have been waiting for this game, both those who continued playing games after the title’s release in arcades and those who recently got into gaming again.  Only two of the three home consoles were announced to be receiving the game, and the Wii was left out in the cold.  What the hell, Capcom?  Aside from two remakes and Mega Man 9, Capcom has failed to provide any sort of support for the Wii.  That really disappoints me in the long run.

Battlestar Galactica – Breaking the Cycle

It is easy to look back on the history of Battlestar Galactica and appreciate what it did to break the conventions of the space opera and how well it played the role of NOT Star Trek.  The series creator, Ron Moore, and his collection of writers made great strides in making something completely different.  It was dark and gritty, and there was nothing but bleakness around every corner.  The ship was falling apart along with most of the relationships the crew had.  The show should not have ended well.

Apollo isn't looking away from his father, he's looking away in shame from his involvement in the fnale

So why did it?  Why did it end with an hour of optimism and the founding of a new race without the baggage of their own hate and technology?  Why say that everything was shaped by God?  The two “head” characters are angels, and one can make the supposition that Kara Thrace was an instrument of God in the long run.  (Or, given how she disappeared, she’s Batman.)

It feels like the last hour of the show and its final revelations were out of place.  The series is the great Battlestar Galactica, which challenged viewers around every turn.  There aren’t too many shows that go out of their way to take five established characters and turn them on their heads – and manage to do so without being a complete deal breaker.  I know that there are people who tuned out at that point, but it was still worthwhile.  It still all worked.

The "head" characters failed to be heady in any way - and were instead a copout

Then comes the ending, which involves everything being far too easy.  Baltar’s redemption, in the eyes of God, is found in carrying a child 10 feet into the opera house.  Caprica Six’s redemption is found in accompanying them.  The opera house was where they were always located!  Cavil, the bleeding nihilist, was subdued by Baltar’s speech regarding theology and the promise of resurrection.  The notes of Kara’s song are actually the coordinates of what seems to be our Earth 150,000 years ago.  The cylon toasters are OK with just flying away in the end.  And the people on Galactica are fine with basically forgetting their relationships and colonizing various different continents.  Everything fell into place way too easily, and it’s all because God made it so.  The worst part of that is that Gaius Baltar, who is supposed to be full of shit, was right about so very much.  It felt cheap.

The entire ending was not cheap, though.  The first two parts of the three-parter were fine.  There were so many things about those episodes that seemed so right.  It’s that last hour that bugs me.  It disappointed me.  It was not Battlestar Galactica.  It was something completely different.  Some might say the challenge in the end was in accepting something easy for a change.  And I say that’s crap.  I don’t know what was going through the heads of all those involved, but this wasn’t right.

I cannot love you, love robot, because I must break the cycle!

And the montage of real-life robots in the end?  All we needed was “THE END?” and to call it a night.  So much for breaking the cycle.  At least one show was cleared off of my Friday night/Saturday morning schedule.