Video game humour that is conveyed verbally is the worst humour. Devs and writers produce visual humour about as well as your average Adam Sandler "comedy" "film" (i.e. they repeatedly mistake pop cultural references and violence for jokes, but I can't blame them, since smart people games repeatedly mistake cultural references for intellectualism and that is arguably worse PS: did you know that Nietzsche exists), mechanical humour, which they could excel at beyond any other medium, is twenty years behind of what it could have developed into, but emergent (as in, you see traces here and there), but almost anything that uses words is just plain bad. It's either edgelord humour, dad humour, or "attempts at adult humour", possibly the worst kind. I can live with edgelord humour. That just makes me roll my eyes and hope that the devs will have outgrown it in five years when they've realized that South Park is not the pinnacle of comedy, but rather just privilege soliloquizing. Most devs don't make it a full five years in the industry anymore though. Or they just never outgrow South Park. Then there's dad humour, which is attempts at jokes that are not edgy, but the only people the devs ever heard making jokes are George Carlin and their dads. I find that version kind of funny because it's twentysomethings who ostensibly hate dad jokes making dad jokes because that's their full repertoire of joke techniques. The absolutely worst though is jokes that are made to seem like adults wrote them for other adults, which usually coalesces into animated adults quipping or bickering sarcastically at each other because the writers of Dr. House had this grand idea of mixing a Byronic hero, the mould for everything that ever wants to be a video game protagonist, with surface-level bitterness and a five o'clock shadow. Yes, let me spend more time with this character who childishly verbally abuses his coworkers while aliens attack. I am so sold.
For some reason, Ludosity's brand of silly humour is a rare and wonderful exception. I should feel too old for this, but I repeatedly find myself booting up Card City Nights and just enjoying the purity of it. They even make pop cultural references that make me not roll my eyes. How is that even possible?
I made the mistake of googling PopCap. I knew they were owned by EA for years, but their website's deadness is sad nonetheless.
Then I remembered distinctly how much hatred they got from the hardcoregamerdudebro league back in the day for producing notoriously derivative cash-in games that looked nothing like CoD. I, being the dirty casual I am, sung their praises because of how much I loved Bookworm Adventures 1 & 2, Talismania and Chuzzle Deluxe (their best games by far because no zombies), then PvZ hit (which I also invested 60ish hours into because I also am a hopeless completionist) and I think it's safe to say that that was what basically destroyed them because its unprecedented success made them miss the cultural shift in gaming around 2009 and delayed an adaption to the new mobile market - and it made them attractive to big-budget investors and thus they were never allowed to move on and create anything new after the buyout. The 'new' stuff is not even worth raising an eyebrow about, which is so strange considering that this once was a 'dirty' company that now seems so quaint and admirable compared to what's on the market today because in the end, they made functional, stand-alone, one-time-purchase games that were on the addictive side to keep you playing (instead of urging you to pay additional fees to not have to play as much), which does not fit into modern games culture at all. I'm almost happy that they died because I would've hated to see them evolve into an actual dirty company. I prefer the sad shadow of themselves that kinda attempts to exploit their player base, but so anaemically you barely even notice.
Nowadays the hardcoregamerdudebro league reminisces about the good ol' times when PopCap were still a thing. Nobody ever hated them, promise.
This is the first time I first-handedly experienced how a cult following is born. You'd think it would either be cool or melancholic or nostalgic. Instead it's just really awkward. It makes me wait for the time when the hardcoregamerdudebro league reminisces about the good old days when Clash of Clans and Candy Crush were still a thing because their exploitation mechanics were negligible or something, either retroactively confessing they played it back then or trying to retcon their own gaming history to belong to an in-group no one should want to belong to. I don't want to belong to the PopCap first generation player base in-group because that looks bad on a resume which otherwise tends to make me look like a kinda sophisticated fella. But I do. That's my legacy. I played PopCap games before they were cool.
Adventures in cognitive dissonance, episode #326:
While I take cultural appropriation very seriously, I also think that all of music history is easily eclipsed by the short period in Europop when it was de rigeur to create disco songs centered around historical figures while wearing incredibly inappropriate and culturally insensitive stage attire.
Also, it is a wonderful experience to introduce Boney M to someone who genuinely never heard of them.
A friend of mine is reading Crime and Punishment for the first time and two chapters in he informed me how surprisingly sad and dismal the setting and how not just flawed, but outright unlikeable and rough every single character is. He's not one of those who think world literature is supposed to be candy-coloured self-help bollocks, but still... brah, it's world literature as imagined by a Russian. What were you expecting? World literature is essentally normal literature with the saturation on low, contrast on high, colour temperature on cold and a vignette added on top. Y'know, like when they try to make superhero movies look like films for grown ups. And a Russian writer is essentially a normal writer who lives in Russia.
I hereby propose the term "poshlivious", henceforth to be applied whenever a writer employs a copious amount of undoubted and obvious elitism in their verbiage or narrative while simultaneously appearing entirely oblivious to the fact.
Case in point: Obrist's Ways of Curating contains a passage in which he describes his struggling as a young curator, aged 23, with no gallery to curate (we've all been there), so he had to host an exhibition in his kitchen. The artists who participated? Oh, no one special. Just a bunch of dudes like Fischli & Weiss, whomst he happened to know casually.
The book is nicely written and all, but mainly consists of name-droppings and the regurgitation of opinions of people Obrist likes - most of whom he knows personally, and fear not, he will mention it. So what I'm learning from the book is as follows:
1. To be a curator, you need to be humble, somewhat reserved, willing to steer off the beaten path and know a lot of famous people willing to help you out.
2. The word "curator" or "curated" is applied to many shitty things that would have better used the term "trash collector" or "damage minimiser". (We agree on that one, but he worded it with a tad more grace.)
3. Isn't it a shame that as a poor struggling student in Switzerland, all you can afford is a multi-room apartment on your own of which you don't use the kitchen because you always eat out, an old (!) station wagon and the occasional Interrail ticket to visit your artist friends in Rome and Venice?
It's hard to decipher game reviews sometimes. Whenever there is a Western indie game with slightly anime-esque graphics of the 'comfy' persuasion, they will be described as "Ghibli-esque" or "reminscent of Studio Ghibli", and that can mean so many things:
(0. It actually took inspiration from Studio Ghibli's animation style and even borrowed some narrative techniques.)
1. "It looks like anime, but, y'know, not the shitty kind of anime. The one other kind of anime there is. The artsy kind that was not a mistake."
2. It's cutesy and commercial, but divorced enough from everyday, garden variety cutesy and commercial to not warrant the description.
3. There's talking animals in it.
I haven't read much of Mary Stewart Relfe, but the UPC-666ers are a very fascinating bunch, especially because I believe they are close to nonexistent outside the US and so gradually I get the feeling that this is specifically a Cold War era thing - I mean, Relfe saw the devil in basically everything, but the overall stance seems to have been that Satan will get you for your consumerism - these people felt very uncomfortable about capitalism and its turning people into buyers and non-people into wares, but they lived through the McCarthy era and thrived during the midst of Reagonomics, so everything criticizing capitalism was communism to them, and communism was evil, so they could not use left-leaning language (or never even learned how to use it), and right-leaning language was absolutely not on their side for this particular thing, but since they were used to (and probably liked) its prohibitive nature, they borrowed from the same source right-wingers in general like to borrow from when it comes to demonizing something - bible verses they heard once, several years ago.
I got this weird pipe dream of paying someone to hack into some really big influencer accounts and make them post stuff like "my January reading list #bookstagram #bookworm #booklove" and "finishing my TBR #readwhatyouown" with the same lame photographs as always but instead of the usual suspects (poor Joan Didion, poor Baudelaire) they then post really long and complicated quotes by Deleuze, Butler, Saussure, Foucault and Kristeva about power, language and intertextuality.
This could have multiple great effects:
One: if big enough, the seized account (idk, is Kylie Jenner still relevant?) would inspire hundreds of thousands of young people to buy those books, confuse bookstore owners, and the kids might at least read them up until to a point where they can find a good quote to post online.
Two: The influencers might see this as a new way to generate revenue and try their hands at paying some job seeking scholars to produce more #booklove quotes: "Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society. -MF #OMGsotrue #power #institution #complex #society #particular".
Three: It would make all of the aforementioned writers so popular that academia and critics would immediately abandon them for a while because nothing hurts an academic more than being perfectly intelligible at parties. They'd find some new stuff, maybe Lautreamont, maybe Heidegger, to write PhDs about. Then I'd pay my hacker again to ruin those as well.
Four: Some of the info might actually stick.
I know that entertaining pornography exists, but because I guess I hate myself, I decided to playtest CherryKiss's catalogue of terrible hentai VNs to see if there was something worth talking about to friends and family in them.
Weirdly enough, there is (my friends and family are very understanding people).
I guess because I got lucky (?), I happened to get my hands on two games in a row in which the basic scenario is that you, the protagonist, are the only man or one of very few men in all of Japan to not suffer from erectile dysfunction. Which means that by default, your dick is important business and your morning wood an act of pure heroism because Japan's survival depends on your ability to find a hole to stick it in (Welcome to a universe with no such thing as a fertility clinic or viagra).
In the first, uh, "game" (it was a kinetic novel, no choices at all except for picking your own name, much disappoint), that led to my character being tasked with impregnating an entire village of horny women while their barren husbands cheered him on (they are never seen though). This was accomplished by basically having sex at least eleven times a day (the number of women in the village) if not much, much more (What was this VN's idea of "older women", by the way? The ones calling themselves old women looked exactly the same as the ones who were supposed to be in their early twenties. Is it that christmas cake thing and the "older women" were all just like, 26?) while they praised and worshipped the existence of hard dick. No foreplay, no buildup, just boob jobs and vaginal intercourse because women's erogenous zones are basically "Whatever a dick touches", and weird abstract descriptions of the scent of semen that led me to question either the veracity of the translation or the translateabilty of certain Japanese idioms I was unaware of (that is most of them).
I sat in front of this laughing and also deeply, deeply afraid because for an old fuck like me this reads like a complete horror scenario. Only a 15-year old lad who thinks he has no qualities besides his raging pubescent morning wood and his seemingly indiscriminate lust for anything with a boob or two would think that having to constantly copulate with a village of women thinking of literally nothing but his genitals day in, day out is a desirable scenario. Women throwing themselves at you constantly is nice if you have genuinely no other interests, but let's just assume the guy wants a day off at, like, age 25 to go on a hike or meet up with his parents or read a newspaper from start to finish (In a world with no fertility clinics, they probably didn't develop past newspapers yet). These women are so mentally unstable that they'd become horror villains in less than a second once they realised that he really, really is not in the mood this one day. I was actually not only completely turned off because man, how can you get harem fantasies that wrong, but really uncertain at some point whether I was approaching a very horrific twist near the end in which my character would be turned into a sex slave by the cult of dick.
The twist is that the game designers really needed to bend reality to make this scenario work. Just like pandering to the assumed player's weak ego and self-esteem not by giving him any desirable qualities, but by taking his one (assumed!) noteable real-life quality from every other male character around, the game cuts off before any of the women's due date because then we would be hit with the harsh reality of the women becoming temporarily unavailable or just being really psychopathically shitty mothers, and option one is inacceptable for the player's ego, option two would break the reality of the game that everything is good because of hard dick. By the way, the character you play is an emotionally immature asshole and all the ladies dig that shit because of course they do because assholery equals dominance.
The second game (no kinetic novel! Options to screw people in different orders! Game qualifying mechanics!) was similarly horrific. The main character, man who can get it up, takes advantage of his aunt and cousin who instantly mindbreak and become his "breeding pets", that universe's equivalent of 100% 24/7 BDSM subs as envisioned by Christian Grey. The game makes clear that your cousin, a well-respected honour student and tennis player, is also a bitch because she mentions that you constantly play video games and tend to wake up late and maybe her mum shouldn't be the one responsible to wake you up every morning AND HOW DARE SHE (the designers of these games must think very highly of their player base). So, rape, repeat. In this scenario, you are a truly shitty person (no dom would ever roleplay that bad) and "your pets" love it and when you copulate with them in public, women are swooning over you and talk about how lucky your "pets" are and men admire your manliness. It had all the hallmarks of Bo Burnham's "beautiful dick" skit without any of the wit and charm.
The game also cuts off before the two women are due because, well, they are so absolutely mindbroken that I can only assume that the newborns would immediately be taken into state custody or the player character had to take care of them.
Come to think of that, that would have been an exciting twist, having the player mindbreak around for three hours, then followed by sixty hours of tedious baby-raising gameplay while your "pets" in their cages also need care and attention. The Final Fantasy of hentai VNs. But these games being what they are, it would've just turned into Princess Maker with incest at the end.
And here I come back to a game that was very boring. Doki Doki Literature Club, which I dislike for a variety of reasons, one being that the game designers acted like the game was about fighting harmful tropes'n'shit, but then started selling waifu merch for the different characters. But Doki Doki has at least two much bigger issues - One: they add in too much gratuitous horror elements. The horror in these strange VNs is already there. Both of the games I played were creepy from start to finish. I didn't need the game to be literally possessed by a demonic waifu. Doki Doki spelled the horror out in words because, uh, easy, and then added visual horror in because, uh, I dunno, creepy anime girls stabbing themselves to death is also easy.
Two: Doki Doki assumed that the player is actually a good person who wishes the dateable characters well and the game mechanics kind of prohibit a healthy relationship from developing because the women are just programmed to fall for you. That's what it gets wrong about the games it satirises (though I know it tackles dating instead of hentai VNs): The designers of the VNs I played here knew (or assumed) that the sex is only part of what gets the fapping going. The characters I embodied here were relentlessly manipulative, enjoyed degrading women and reveled in being able to honestly perform these parts of their limited personalities. They did not like these women, they liked the idea of being the one to fuck them and build up their own wounded masculinity through that. The fantasy is not the part where sex is happening. It's the part where it's made clear that this is because of you being, not just having, a huge dick.
If you want to play a good VN poking fun at tropes successfully, play The Senpai.
Žižek is a sagacious fella and also very formulaic and... wrong. Like, wrong like popular science is often wrong. Wrong because for popularity, you need to be wrong a bit. A how-to Žižek writing guide would basically be:
1. Tell an older news story in an anecdotal decontextualized manner. Generalize it broadly.
2. Liken it to a scene in a film. "As it were..." Lacanian reading of the film is a given.
3. "As we can clearly see in the writings of Hegel/Lacan/Agamben, this exemplifies..."
4. Insert opinion left-leaning people will dislike, but give it a spin to actually make it pro-left. Then berate the left for not getting it.
5. Then state a weirdly popular leftie opinion that is so general and well-established that it's kind of weird that you even mention it.
6. "And so on and so on."
But: BOY, is he fun to read. I actually look forwarding to reading page after page of his stuff no matter what. Whenever I get frustrated with a writer whose opinions I actually find interesting if it weren't for their dry, self-referential, repetitive style, meandering, obfuscated verbalization of very simple concepts that wouldn't sound high-brow if not embedded in layers upon layers of unnecessary stylization, and their very recognizable impostor syndrome ("People will find out I'm a fraud if I write one sentence below 25 words!") keeping them from being straightforward when applicable, I turn to Žižek. I take wrong and blunt and obvious over right and complexified and obvious.
Streaming services and the ever-increasing rental culture is big money saying "Fine. You want your communism, here you have it. For a fee."
And who can blame 'em, we're not getting it from anywhere else anytime soon and I need my fix. I wouldn't even know how to deal with proper communism anymore outside of a subscription-and-consumption model. If you told a bunch of younger people that libraries are free, they'd probably just argue that that sounds like a terrible business model (an aside: the amount of understanding and honest concern for unethical companies some kids radiate when talking about the disregard of workers' rights, environmental issues or money laundering is comical and I love having conversations with many of them because no one needs to say anything against anything - They usually just enunciate their deep compassion for Amazon firing people who want to be treated as people and then suddenly seem deeply horrified by themselves, and that's the end of the discussion).
The only downside except for everything else is that most subscription services just let you subscribe to stuff you'd rather own while not letting you rent stuff you don't want to own. I like to have my music, films, books and games on my hard drive where they belong. But a second table for guests? I neither need nor want a second table for guests. I'd rather occasionally rent one. But furniture leasing is a hassle if you don't do it in bulk and/or for unreasonable time periods.
And that's why communism doesn't work I guess.
Bone Tomahawk is a strange beast of a movie. And I don't mean the superficial stuff every other better reviewer already remarked on - that it foolishly attempts to tell a deeply racist narrative without the racism parts by having a Native American in a suit declare the Native threat a troglodyte (and therefore not even properly human) threat instead, as if racism was an ingredient instead of an integral part of the whole effing structure the movie apes off. That's not #deep, that's noticing that the movie thinks "I have a black friend" is a valid defense strategy in an otherwise hopeless situation.
No, Bone Tomahawk's strangeness lies in the movie I actually would like to watch while seeing this sad shadow of the rollercoaster ride that could have been. Because there is something interesting about a movie that seems so convinced that it's very much PC by having removed all interpersonal acts of racism while leaving the systemic parts of it entirely untouched and which therefore, accidentally, becomes more realistic; it's like cognitive dissonance examining itself in a fever dream.
I want to see the inverse of that movie. And I don't mean the movie as told from the troglodytes' perspectives. Nah, I want to see the exact same movie, same camera work, same editing, same screenplay and dialogues, same direction. But with Native Americans, none of them played by Johnny Depp, attempting to save people from an inbred Puritan settler clan even other white settlers don't want to have anything to do with. See how a narrative birthed from racist ideas works if it's used in reverse. Then watch the three film reviewers who'd pick it up for their B-movie blogs call it a strange revenge fantasy / exploitation film / victim narrative.
Are hot takes old people stuff yet? Because then I can finally do one.
I know about as many of Tom Clancy's novels as I absorbed Jordan Peterson's alphabet soup: Ten paragraphs I actually read, the rest is cultural osmosis and pattern recognition allowing me to fill in the gaps between the garble.
(btw it's completely fine if you like stuff like that and I only judge you because I have to. Guilty pleasures keep us three-dimensional.)But LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF JACK RYAN. The Amazon show. The Amazon show I recently watched the first episode of on DVD, because I'm old. The Amazon show based on Tom Clancy's iconic (as I've been told) Jack Ryan.
GOD THE BEAUTY.
What this episode did for me was not exactly something to make me thank a higher being for the gift of sight so I could behold all of the intense stares between entirely heterosexual manly men. It was rather something that made me wonder, and then gave me answers to a question: Who is this show seeking to empower?
Let's talk about John Krasinski. Let's talk about why they cast someone who was born to play an uncredited supporting role or someone's accountant as the lead of... I guess an action TV show? - the exact genre left me confused.
Basically, Krasinski does play an accountant. He does accounting things. Watches money transfers. Quarrels with middle management. Exchanges heated dialogue and intense stares with older, more powerful men. Then awkwardly flirts with their daughters. Then white people are shot by brown people, then the same happens the other way round. Basic stuff. Very boring. And I need to emphasize: This show is very, very boring. And I like boring usually. But this was a bit much and I was ready to give up, but then a scene happened.
A perfect scene.
A scene Neil Breen could have come up with if he weren't on such a tight budget and knew how coherent dialogue basically should sound and look like. Just not as creepy.
(btw as someone who lived with someone who thought of himself as a/the messiah/Jeebus, I struggle to find Breen amusing at all. I just get flashbacks to arguments about brain damage via boiling through WiFi signals, the necessity of toilet paper and fridges and someone listening in and then chatting me up on my shower soliloquies to tell me that he thinks I might be insane, a pervert, and also I should clean the shower more often after he washed his sheep wool pullovers in there because the devil lives in our washing machine or something.)Sooo that scene. I don't remember it perfectly and I don't have to, but here's the gist:
Jack Ryan/someone's accountant is on a birthday/work related party of an old friend/employer who wants him to do something he really does not want to do. Jack Accountant tells his former boss he won't do the thing he does not want to do. His former boss then insults him and calls him a loser in front of all of his rich people friends. Someone's Ryan then chats up blonde lady who turns out to be the former boss's daughter, which is so embarrassing.
THEN A HELICOPTER APPEARS ABOVE THE OCEAN; A BUNCH OF ELITE SNIPER PEOPLE OR WHATEVER JUMP OUT OF IT AS IT LANDS ON THE PARTY GROUNDS, YELLING: "DOCTOR RYAN, YOUR EXPERTISE IS NEEDED." JACCOUNTANT RYAN HUMBLY FOLLOWS THEM, EXCUSING HIMSELF IN A CHARMINGLY AWKWARD FASHION. EVERYBODY SEES HOW HE WAS ACTUALLY THE COOLEST GUY ALL ALONG AS THE HELICOPTER DISAPPEARS INTO THE SUNSET.
This scene is the heart of Jack Ryan. It's the wet dream of every guy who looks like Krasinski minus the abs and probably plus some body hair. It is a series about how the accountant from middle management is secretly always right, full of unseen potential and actually the coolest guy at the company barbecue.
There are other scenes in this pilot that are similarly rich in symbolism, but not as "And then the whole bus clapped" in terms of excitement. The show establishes that Ryan and his new boss have some kind of thing where they don't respect each other's opinions very much whenever they meet, but then it turns out the boss believes Ryan is right and does the right thing, namely whatever Ryan suggested. This is visually explained by the boss looking at pictures of Ryan and his credentials. Not at evidence. Not at anything relating to the topic at hand. He uses his office hours to dote on images of his subordinate and then freezes a bunch of bank accounts in the Middle East. This is how we're gonna stop ISIS, people.
And I get it. After an argument with your boss, the thing that hurts the most is that you know you're thinking more about it (and him) than he ever will about you. He goes home not thinking about you one bit while you fall asleep fantasising about how you'll show him how right you were in increasingly exaggerated ways. Don't tell me at no point in your fantasies a helicopter descended onto your workplace's parking place, followed by soldiers jumping out, screaming how your country needs you right now. It happened to me. The fantasy, not the helicopter thing.
Jack Ryan (the show, not the accountant) establishes that this boss thinks about his employee all the time whenever they argue, while Jack Ryan (the accountant, not the show) does not think about his boss personally, but about his rational and important topic. After all, he explained everything with FACTS and LOGIC.
Also every episode of Jack Ryan I've seen so far seems to rely on at least one tiny shot in which we experience Ryan topless so the audience is reminded that he has been tortured and is no mere accountant at all, but rather a retired special agent. He also wakes up from bad dreams a lot. This show takes all the shortcuts.
Jack Ryan is for the poor nameless white human male resource who's a tad too old to still feel empowered by Call of Duty, but not quite old (or progressive (or imaginative)) enough to relish the escapism of Star Trek. It's for someone who would have loved John Wayne a few decades earlier if only John Wayne had some more scenes in which he worked in an office. Jack Ryan is for the guy who doesn't quite hate himself, but who hates that no one treats him like a hero for doing splendid, grade-A accounting.
Most provincial things to do in your life, written as a fun game:
Talking about how much you're over this fucking place in fucking nowhere and how everything and everyone here is just so terribly provincial.
Moving to a (the!) big city officially to be out of bucolistan and "see more of this world than just the same three streets every day before you turn 50" or "hunt for realistic job opportunities", but inofficially to prove to yourself that you, too, can be a hip city kid.
Realising the hip city kids are fed up with your ilk and the ones who aren't are these weird types that tend to only talk about how great living in a (the!) big city is like... y'know... you.
Realising you're sitting in a room with 20 other 20-somethings who all moved here from 500-soul villages and small towns because moving places does neither change your habitus nor your social capital and in fact you never quite hated your surroundings that much, you just hate being insignificant and lower middle class, which you still are.
Realising the hip city kids don't even come to your part of town and you're basically trapped in the province of a (the!) big city just like you were before, but your rent is higher and you can't delude yourself into thinking that if only you got your chance, you'd make it.
Moving back, sick of seeing the same three streets every day and in need of some realistic job opportunities, acting all "I had my adventurous big city phase, but now I want to move on from that part of my life". All your friends do or did the same and nobody ever talks too much about why exactly that adventurous big city phase was retconned into a phase, hence the cycle continues.
Telling people you "had to get out of there" because you "got into some trouble with some - uhm, some shady people, one might even say, uhm, no, I can't safely name names", being all mysterious and stuff. In the distance, a cow moos.
Quit after playing Level 1 for a while, embrace your destiny, and mock those who even try to achieve anything beyond the realm of "very likely to work". Be very philosophical about how perpetuating the system by just trying to become a bigger actor within its limits won't lead to the revolution we need to actually make life bearable for everybody. Act very cosmopolitan and point out to your interlocutors that you are not an anti-city village idiot like the rest of the people you're surrounded by (you're still better than those) and that judging by habitus alone actually could have been a hip city kid if you had ever wanted to. In the distance, a cow moos.
I mean, sure, I could continue using CycleGAN for serious experimentation and research. Or I could block myself from using my work station for several hours to train a perfectly fine machine learning system composed of two perfectly fine neural networks to turn images of Angela Lansbury into images of Nicolas Cage. But I'm not a meme person per se. I heavily dislike deepfakes and I think we should just leave Mr. Cage alone. I don't see why I should do that. It's like, entirely on me whether I would want to do such a thing.
I would have to have a serious need to deepcage my entire Murder She Wrote DVD collection to even think of any useful application for such a 5GB monstrosity. Or, I dunno, would want to see Lansbury act her heart out in Mandy. Or The Wicker Man. Depending on my mood.
Dear art museums and galleries still doing shows "On Video Games" and "On Social Media": To people who found out the internet exists before 2017 this looks like you're doing an art exhibition "On Painting" or opening a library section "On Books".
A few years ago I wrote cheap-o song lyrics on demand for one or two musicians. They liked it cheezy and depressive and angsty and I remember writing a closing line for a blues that went "And when my father was my age, he was already my dad" and that rhymed with "long dead" and "dread" and I recall I had to mention Jimi Hendrix somewhere in between as per requested by one of the gentlemen. It was terrible and luckily never saw a release.
Anyway the angstiness, and I know I shouldn't brag about the bad job I did as a lyricist, of that particular line encapsulates your average twentysomething-guitar-boy's arrested development so superbly that I wanted to share it. It became a regular quote whenever the musician in question wanted to remind himself of what a huge failure he thought he was.
He was an okay failure. Nothing spectacular really.
I don't need to read again that an exhibition celebrates an artist for at least a hundred years.
Pro Tip: Don't read Nietzsche on your way to a job interview.
I mean, I got the job, but still. You'll be an asshole and massively insecure at the same time. Reading this dude is like voluntarily infecting yourself with narcissistic personality disorder for a few hours.
I respect Anodyne 2 for all the things it attempts. Most of these attempts fail and I enjoyed hardly any of them and the overall mawkishness in both storytelling and writing style is not for me (I'm over the Porpentine school of writing for now) and man does it have flaws, but I do respect it and its developers and I'd buy a third part because I guess this is my Final Fantasy now. Great visual presentation and soundscape and very interesting choices in gameplay, mechanics and referenced material.
But in general Anodyne and Anodyne 2 juxtaposed are a good lesson on why some vague feelings and ideas should better be left vague because their ascertainment and overexplanation only lead to major and integral contradictions and awkward forced sentimentality. Anodyne was made by very young, idealistic and pensive people who knew that they did not have the language to properly express a certain set of moods and feelings in writing, but they had the artistic ability and skill set to do so in a game. Anodyne 2 is a game by people who are still all of the things mentioned above and who either now think they got the language part of things pinned down (No) or that they need the language because it's a much bigger game now and they need it to say something instead of just expressing it (Also No). A lot of the game is very text-heavy, to the point where a proper script editor might have been very helpful.
Also, please don't tell me at the beginning of your game that it says something. That's an AssCreed 1 move.
And maybe don't just randomly pop up after the standard ending telling me with your author's voice what you think the true ending is. Don't take me by the hand all the time. This game made its message and intent clear in spades and all it lead to is that I didn't try to find a way to fight the game's intended (and, from the start, very obvious) villain, but the game itself.
I ignored transhumanism categorically because I find it a particularly boring sci-fi theme, but now it's popping up everywhere as if it were a real thing and I forced myself to check online how it's doing as if I didn't care about my embarrassing search history.
Holy effing cow, the transhumanist declaration of humanity+ surely is something else.
Have here point 1:
Humanity stands to be profoundly affected by science and technology in the future. We envision the possibility of broadening human potential by overcoming aging, cognitive shortcomings, involuntary suffering, and our confinement to planet Earth.This seems to be from 1998 and introduces the basic idea all following points are based on and it's like... guys... no one has even beaten cancer yet. Or Ebola. Or Alzheimer's. Or measles, because some people don't vaccinate, but probably would put computer chips in their kids' brains to 'cure' their autism once they find out the bleach-drinking method doesn't work. Plastic surgery can still lead to comically unpredicted results. How about taking tiny steps?
Everything I read or found so far about it makes transhumanism appear like a hopelessly naive, elitist, narcissistic and consumerist futuresexual tech-bro wet dream about creating some sort of individualism-as-religion-infested utopia based on the cleaner entries in the chronically aesthetics-obsessed cyberpunk subgenre mixed with eugenics and some other crackpottery, entirely dependent on the idea that throwing enough money at the richest megalomaniac who promises to make, well, at least himself (I'll go with a male instead of a neutral pronoun here because let's be real) immortal, will somehow advance humanity as a whole.
Also, I refuse to believe that the movies and games that operate like transhumanism is an actual philosophical discipline with any credible scientific background are made by people who are at least semi-literate in history. Not a single idea in transhumanism itself is new, and it's not exactly smart or pushing the envelope to talk about Übermenschen like it's 1883. It's an ages old form of escapism that promises that no one will ever have to deal with death again in mushy and inaccurate tech-speak.
I'd be quite curious to know whether parasocial delusion has become common enough by now to rather be regarded as a regular pastime. Asking for a friend.
If I were a mangaka in the 1980s I'd totally make a sentai series built around the fundamental forces. Main character would be Strong Force with his two forms "Fundamental" and "Residual", fighting side by side with his awkward younger sister Weak Force (signature attack: Left-handed fermions) and Electromagnetic, the electrically charged yaoi-bait rival bad boy. They'd be searching for their fourth and most powerful member, Gravitation, a mysterious figure whose true nature is yet to be discovered (mauve hair). The show's title would obviously be Theory of Everything, spin-offs pre-planned with subtitles like "Planck [insert thunderbolt here] scale" and "Particle Acceleration!!!" (though those might also be the Sega Genesis titles) and themes like string-theory-tastic dimension hopping and fusing different fighters for the ultimate "quantum gravity" attack.
Thank you Netflix, I'd now like to collect my paycheck. And since I already included an onii-chan focused female character, you don't even need to genderbend a fan-canonically gay favourite.
[A friend made me watch one episode of the CG animated 2019 Saint Seiya series to prove that things you don't care about can still make you suffer. I never had any interest in Saint Seiya or the 'violent boy wish fulfillment' genre and yet I still felt bad for the source material and all of the voice actors who had to read their text straight-faced.]
Whatever drove Yuji Naka to focus on being the Sonic guy when he could have built a career on Girl's Garden is beyond me.
A few quick remarks on ma boi Xenophon, whom I've been reading recently when I couldn't fall asleep:
1. Reading Xenoboi and Plato side by side is like reading two weebs' wildly different fanfics about their identical favourite waifu from some obscure anime no one else ever watched back when it aired, making it difficult to distinguish canon from fan canon - Was Socrates an elitist nagging condescending piece of work or was he a funny drunk condescending piece of work?
2. I concocted this whole theory in my brain that Donald Trump is not an irate madman constantly wallowing in self-pity, but rather an ardent Xenoboi devotee and dedicated performance artist re-enacting "Hiero" absolutely faithfully in front of the public. Can't wait to see who he cast as Simonedes, because his tyrant impression is incredibly spot-on.
3. If Xenoboi's depictions of parties including Socrates and the gang are in any way credible, it must have been a wild mixture of bantering about man love interwoven with geezy sexist jokes on the expense of women in general and Socrates' wife specifically, so basically the atmosphere of a bro bar mixed with the atmosphere of a gay bar, with both a pinch of Wednesday afternoon strip club and Sunday morning country club buffet vibes. The plot of Symposium basically focuses on a rich guy lusting over a socialite athlete and to get to the shagging part of things he invites the athlete, Soc and the gang and his date's dad to a banquet. Then someone calls Socrates ugly. Hilarity ensues.
Occupy White Walls really drove home the point for me that I'm completely done with memes and vaporwave and digital fetishism and the pastel goth color scheme in art and art curation and that the hip young artists the developers got involved in the project all learned what art technically looks like and that you get a lot of "W O W" out of people for creating 2D-renditions of melting blue faces and glitching oversaturated sunsets and collapsing voxel tunnels and ironic MS Paint recreations of classical paintings. What they didn't learn was the difference between design, illustration, decoration, kitsch, camp, and that just repeating "Movements and styles and genres are meaningless, I'm mixing it up, anything goes nowadays #contemporary" isn't exactly a novel idea either (coming from someone who had a glitch phase on this very blog).
Also, as a Sims aficionado, I find the build mode offensive.
I spend a lot of my free time in that game, though. The game's far too conservative for my taste, and yet I build the most conservative gallery I've seen so far. Like, it gets out the worst in me. The newest works I purchased are dated around 1935. AND I bought TWO terrible hyper-Swiss Ferdinand Hodler pieces.
EDIT: I just spent another 5 hours in the game and bought ANOTHER Hodler piece. What's happening to me?
Also I found out that a lot of the art featured in the game is taken from the game's Discord channel and therefore these are probably mostly hobbyist works, which explains a lot and makes me much more relaxed about the melting faces.
You need to put something on the walls of your kitchen, otherwise it's just an empty room with a stove and visitors'll think you're a weirdo with all those cold white walls surrounding you. But whatever you put on the walls will eventually be covered in grease and you'll have to dispose of it if you don't want to put everything in glass frames beforehand, which brings us back to the weirdo side of things because who does that?
So the task is to find something not too tacky or tasteless you would like to see on your wall every single day that you also care so little about that its destruction via grease film and absorbed smoke and spill doesn't bother you at all.
Which is why my walls are still weirdo-white.
Okay. I read my obligatory ten paragraphs of Jordan Peterson and watched some of his interviews. And I'd like to tell a story, just as he likes to do.
Once upon a time, I had a housemate. Seemed innocuous, nice enough, voice a little high-pitched and drawn out, eyes never blinked, but I'm not judgmental (Of course I am). When I told him jokingly once that I thought that after two weeks of living with him I'd be lying cut into pieces in his bathtub, he looked very surprised and, in all seriousness, informed me that he did not have a bathtub.
Turned out he was suffering from a severe psychosis and paranoid schizophrenia that he was keeping at bay with medication, but since he had come into contact with some esoteric baloney recently that had convinced him that mainstream medicine was evil, he was down to a minimum dosage and at one point stopped taking it entirely. Landed him a vacation in the ward, obviously.
Point is, he was convinced that he was some kind of saviour. He wrote articles and entire books about how to combine all three major monotheist religions into one omniferous philosophy for mankind. How homesexuals should not be persecuted, but rather be treated as people who had gone astray and must be lead to get back on the literal straight and narrow (And don't even try to get him started on trans* people. The word "self-mutilation" came up a lot in that context). How eating this and that was damaging our bodies or souls or the environment, how too much freedom for specific groups was damaging to society as a whole et cetera. I read that garbage and I hated it just about as much as he called my writing banal and meaningless. He wrote a letter to my parents, asking them to get me out of the apartment because I was trying to psychologically terrorize him.
He wrote letters to Donald Trump and the Pope, trying to convince them of stuff he commanded. Pestered gallerists in the area, asking them to exhibit his childhood drawings next to his, uh, religious sculptural works. Felt a weird sense of ownership over female bodies in his proximity. Talked about the devil or "the evil" a lot.
Interestingly, once in a blue moon, he brought a woman home. Mostly younger than him and apparently searching for something. One of the women was his age, highly religious, and had lost her husband less than one year ago in an accident. Two adolescent kids and all. Not before long, when she visited, he greeted her with "Why did that take so long?" - She did not leave him for a year.
I found him ridiculous. Most people found him either ridiculous or menacing. His weird messages of love and peace sounded like tyranny, and they were unstable. If he found out he couldn't follow one of his own commands, he just forgot about it. If you called him out on his misinterpretation of a text passage (turned out I and most other people knew the bible better than him), he first wouldn't believe you, then forget about it entirely or later tell the story in a different way, how he had convinced you of his idea. He forgot most things that included him having done something wrong because his psychosis was busy convincing him that he could do no wrong and therefore had to rewrite his memory day after day after day and his paranoid schizophrenia was busy nourishing his persecution complex. He was, however, able to convince quite a few people, at least for a while, that his nonsensically worded rants and opinions were some sort of higher wisdom by an enlightened intellectual. He never had any and never was one. He was a deeply ill man whose own parents didn't know how to help him anymore and whose only saving grace turned out to be that he fell ill long before he had a career and could accumulate any kind of professional pedigree to back up his claims with his social and/or financial status.
In the end, most women didn't show up more than once or twice. Once you saw his part of the apartment was in utter disarray while he proclaimed the new world order and that he blamed not just all of your, but all of his problems on you, it only took you so long to realize your key problem was that this guy was still in your life.
Thanks for tuning in.
Time to be negative!
I stumbled over several redemption story blog and vlog entries and some reddit posts in the past week that all read roughly the same way: Impressionable kid finds Sargon, thinks he's kewl, becomes fash, then finds ContraPoints, realizes she's cooler, unfashes, changes Patreon donations. And while it's nice that that happened, I find it a bit underwhelming, to say the least, that most redemption arcs now can be condensed to "I followed a different YouTuber". Maybe I'm old, but the ex-nazis that got invited to my high school had more... story in their stories.
It's not like I never had my mind changed by a person with better lighting and make-up skills than a previous one, but that just is a story about how the YouTube algorithm decided their viewers might enjoy a change of scenery. There's very little introspection going on in most of these posts (except that they were young, impressionable, vulnerable and depressed) and rarely ever a thought spent on why any kind of real-world interaction or actual research (Not the "Do your own research" kind where you just come out with these convenient kinds of results that solidify your precast opinions as rational facts and logic btw I've definitely never done that), if it ever took place, has less value than a person with some clout and followers talking into a camera, completely relying on Google and Facebook to get their message across. Treating politicial alignment as a streamable outside stimulus basically owned by two corporations does not sit well with me.
I'm also mighty uncomfortable with the possible equation of likes, shares, confession vlogs and donations with reparations, though more from the "How are the trolls going to turn this one around?" kind of angle once they pick up on the new trend of ContraPoints reformists (she seems to be fairly troll-safe so far, but I'm not so sure about her fans).
EDIT: Well, Miss Points herself acknowledged what she calls "her boys", and that by now they've become a cliché. That's ought to be a good sign.
I used to be very much against post-irony, but since I'm reading Chuck Tingle's books for the plot now, I guess that part of my personality went out the window.
I genuinely never read the original Peter Pan before and thought I might give it a go to see what I missed as a kid.
I missed to witness the adventures of an abusive, manipulative and terminally sad psychopathic child gaslighting his friends, taking advantage of a little girl's affection and murdering people for shits and giggles whilst a handsome, cultured and depressed motherfucker named Hook, who is my patronus if nothing else, suffers his way through anxiety issues and the eternal aftermath of his societal downfall whereas admirably managing to not descent into madness like everyone else around him.
My lame take on Suspiria 2018 after having re-read "Against Interpretation":
This is very much an anti-allegorical movie, isn't it? Dr. Klemperer lived through WWII and knows how euphemisms work in favor of oppressors (he even says so in the police station), but faced with a patient bluntly telling him she's being hunted down by a coven and evidence for her point of view is piling up, he still goes for an allegorical approach and interprets the shit out of his patient's "hallucinations" when what is going on is plainly and directly available to him through her diary. The film is so much against subtext that even the witches tell Klemperer into his face that his main flaw is that he prefers to read things allegorically or metaphorically while the movie almost never does. The dances do not represent spells, they are spells. Mother Markos' followers have their heads exploded for believing her to be a re-incarnation of an allegorical figure that decides to show up and make clear how very literal she is.
I even think it does the film a disservice to follow many critics' assumption that this is 'about' something like betrayal between women of different social status. If we cast aside the idea of the Berlin Wall and the RAF as hackneyed metaphors, they instead become the exact environment in which the coven can flourish because the world is busy with other things. "They've been underground since the war" is not so much a reference to reblossoming fascism but more to the blossoming German art and dance scene that is referenced in the movie through nothing but posters and Swinton taking hints from Pina Bausch and, I assume, a good portion of Abramovic otherwise. Gender is strictly and openly a performative thing throughout the entire film and the psychological dependence of the dancers on their instructors isn't so much metaphorical as it is an actual 2011 Wim Wenders documentary.
This is so different from the first movie, which goes all the way "open for interpretation", and my guess is that the idea behind this is that the target audience of "Suspiria 2018" has seen the original film and the reveal of the dance instructors being witches won't come as a surprise for them, so the creative leads of the remake just inverted the thin plot: Let's make the allegory literal, and make it all about the idea of literal witches living in literal Berlin casting literal spells through dancing, and have the reveal be that none of this is open for interpretation. Put in a vagina dentata for good measure. This is mirrored perfectly in the super-precise filmmaking and muted color palette and just the exactitude of the edit.
(I'm very aware I just interpreted a lot of stuff after having read an essay saying that interpretation is the intellectual's revenge on art.)
The only part of the film I completely disliked was the final meetup between Mother Suspiriorum and Klemperer in which she tells him about his wife's death and how she wasn't afraid and thought only of him 'cause true love and hope. That's such a Hollywood thing to say and it is so incredibly odd especially in a movie like this. Suspiriorum is revealed as an unusually kind being (minus head explosions), but her kindness can't retroactively change a bleak, terrible death in Theresienstadt.
Other than that, thumbs up and I'm off to fanfiction.org to search for some Madame Blanc/Susie Bannion slash fics.
EDIT: Oh my God I found the one fetish no one has written anything about. I went out of my way and even searched through Wattpad. There is nothing, nothing, I'm shocked.
EDIT 2: Oh, also Dakota Johnson's wig was very distracting since it was so obviously a wig. I mean, nice foreshadowing with the red hair = witch thing, but still.
Nerdy shit I won't care about in a week, but do so now:
1 - If they hadn't cast Danny Glover as the protagonist of Predator 2, that film might have been the most racist film since Birth of a Nation.
2 - It's uncanny how obviously the Borg were inspired by the Cenobites from Hellraiser and how the Hellraiser franchise acknowledged that and paid back the compliment in its third iteration and how much every clickbait article about the top ten worst Cenobites throws so much shade at these Techno-bytes because I unabashedly love them.
3 - The Sokal affair is only a powerful means for the destruction of postmodernism for people who haven't looked into postmodernism or the Sokal affair.
If someone ever wanted to display petite bourgeoisie in a zoo, the whole exhibit would comprise of people discussing tableware.
Very late to the party, I finally heard about and watched The strange thing about the Johnsons. Maybe it's because I'm a terrible person or because the acting was so stiff or because I'm used to much, much more intense stuff (thanks Ubuweb!), but I laughed for half the time and was kinda bored at the other half and now I have trouble feeling bad about that and should I even? I'm not very good at the suspension-of-disbelief thing and never was.
This just feels like a rebellious film student's attempt to make something a little more out there than usual. Furthermore, this was a reaction-video-worthy film? 2011, what innocent times.
The film certainly is not a catastrophe, but sadly hasn't much to offer except for its premise, at least for me. I read Malcolm Harris' take on the movie and he sees something valid and important in the film I really didn't, so I might be wrong. Or people come from different points in life and therefore see different things in artistic production.
Other than that, it is always amusing to see how filmmakers imagine writers' lifes.
Donut County says more about the current state of the US than any New York Times non-fiction bestseller reiterating the point that the current POTUS is quite not great.
I wish I had as much going on as the color red in We need to talk about Kevin.
They Live is an effing brilliant movie about a guy catching a glimpse on privilege and inequality, then believing himself to be starring in an action film and relentlessly shooting at the privilege-havers, beautifully oblivious to the idea that the aliens aren't the main problem in 1988's hypercapitalist Los Angeles and maybe also just wanna go to a grocery store, buy a magazine and get a perm like everybody else because "Consume, marry and reproduce" is also kinda their motto. They see those ads 24/7 without obfuscation, after all.
Also, I can see why antisemites dig this movie. It's because they're dumb and they think the movie is just as dumb.
Second worst habit: Incessant quoting.
Worst habit: Incessant quoting of shit you haven't read.
Most of contemporary German cinema consists of Nazi or GDR schmalz and terrible gross-out comedies that peaked in the US around 2001. Sure, language-wise you have Haneke and Seidl, but Austria is a whole ‘nother story. And then there are the Reding brothers making actual movies with interesting perspectives on the German psyche and no one ever watched any of these films, but rest assured everybody knows f*cking Combat Girls. Oi!Warning was almost exclusively available through piracy for a good while, and man, we all need access to b/w films about punks and skinheads making out in the mud or white German rappers playing journeymen.
I've been sad and tired in my life, but never "Peter Jackson in behind the scenes footage of The Hobbit reminsicing his artictic integrity" sad and tired. Holy moly.
Who'd have thought that the hardest artist to rip off base fanart on would be Linda Karshan? When I imagine showing her work to the average non-gallery-loving Joe, I expect an answer like "Huh, like, just straight lines? I could do that!" and then I imagine myself shouting "Yeah, good luck trying, asshole!" but I'd never actually scream in a gallery. Best case scenario is it's taken as an impromptu performance and god I'm bad at those.
The Disaster Artist sounds like a great film idea on paper, and then it's just five minutes of gratuitous meta exposition and far too many minutes of vicarious embarrassment and Dave Franco's face covered in pubic hair, followed by another five to ten minutes of pointless re-enactments of a movie many things have been said about, but certainly not "no one could act like that". And that's not even mentioning that Tommy Wiseau is still alive and, if even remotely similar to James Franco's interpretation of his character, probably not in a mental state in which he can fully understand what is being done to him.
Random comparison: Yu-Gi-Oh! is kinda like Fight Club.
1) Fights/Duels are surrogate intimacy for people out of touch with acceptable human behaviour.
2) The Fight Club/Tournaments are realities, separate from that of grown-ups, in which every inner turmoil and outer conflict will be resolved through this surrogate intimacy.
3) The whole split personalities thing.
4) The decks/The fights are representations of the duelists'/fighters' worldview and personality, dictating twistedness and level of brutality.
5) It's hella gay, and the token female characters thrown in can do nothing about it.
1) Fight Club, sadly, has no "Heart of the Fist" motif, instead winners are irrelevant. Cop-out.
2) Yu-Gi-Oh! could definitely adopt the mandatory "no shirts allowed" rule.
3) Tyler (book version) is expected to come back as-is. Atemu only comes back temporarily when Konami smell cash they don't yet own and need to do something about it.
The Sexy Brutale was a good thing, then the directors decided that it needed the most basic, cookie-cutter, Shutter-Island-ripoff-y, tarot-card-psychology-heavy plot possible because it didn't mean something yet. Now it means that people (men?) cannot endure feelings like guilt except through forty years of violent puzzle game fantasies that look very silly and involve cutesy one-dimensonal burlesque characters, but are super-painful and brutal, believe me, they are. It turned the game into a tour de force about how the mere existence of an explanation can destroy something that otherwise could have been a solid piece of art. I wouldn't like to write an interpretation about something that spells out the very meaning of every polygon in painful detail already. It would be too hard not to write something insultingly condescending.
The parts of myself I am least proud of are also the parts I want to put online the most. So, welcome to this sentence. I'm not proud of it.
I Am A Hero has the best possible ending of any comic book series because it is unsatisfying, explains nothing and is inconclusive. I don't know many non-artistique comic books that dare to go there.
It's really hard to take a philosophy professor seriously after he emphasizes several times that "Batman kills at night", no matter how much you remind him that there's this universe thing and the code and timelines but you can't stress it too much because then you risk your colleagues believing you actually read that garbage. And then you let him have his point, which is based on the "killing at night" thing and all, but hey. Foucault based a whole lot of theories on Las Meninas, and those still work though he read the entire painting wrong. So maybe this man's theory will also survive the fact that Batman's characterization is completely off.
Fight Club is pure sublime gayness, made so surface-un-gay that a straight male audience can bear it and even mistake it for a proto-fascist men's rights cult movie/book instead of just a kinda clumsy gay Republican fantasy.
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