Nerd Culture Abused

Pop Culture, This Modern Life

This is old, but if you’re sick of the way “nerd culture” has been inflated into a Seriously Important Thing, Red Letter Media is Awesome. NSFW for some crude language.

 

There’s a second episode:

 

You might not get this if you don’t hang around on YouTube, but they’ve been making fun of the hysterical dweebery surrounding Disney and Marvel’s Cinematic Universes for some time. And going by this recent Screen Junkies video, it’s already having the desired effect.

 

The best kind of satire is the kind that makes its targets reconsider things.

A Sober and Logical Analysis of Disney Princes, or No, Disney Doesn’t Hate Boys

Pop Culture

This click-baity article at the Federalist: “Why Does Disney Hate Boys So Much?” way overstates its case. Contra the article, male Disney characters have not gotten lamer lately. As the father of two little girls, and as a boy who had a sister during the “Disney Renaissance”, I’ve seen my share of Princess movies. And when you look at them all, in total, the male characters have gotten much more interesting as the films have gone on.

Don’t believe me? Then absorb this totally objective analysis. Herewith, a selection of primary male characters in Disney Princess Movies, together with how much they speak, and what their function is in the plot. I exclude Aladdin and any other film with a male protagonist (which spares me having to re-watch Hercules and Hunchback of Notre Dame, which seems to be when the so-called Renaissance went through it’s Mannerist Phase, or something).

That’ll Do, 2016. That’ll Do.

Pop Culture, This Modern Life

I had this long blog post about Statistical Clustering and Artists Die, but Art Survives written in response to Carrie Fisher’s demise called Why I Don’t Get Sad Over Dead Celebrities. I was letting it lie to give it an editorial once-over before I posted it. Here’s the part that got Overtaken By Events:

Is it sad? Of course it is. Not merely because she died, but because she predeceased her mother (that’s right, Debbie Reynolds is still alive), and that’s not a thing that should ever happen.

I still think some of those points are solid, but now Todd Fisher has to bury his mother and his sister in the same week. That is just sad, so I’m going to shut up about it. Starting … now.

A Complete Map of Tolkein’s World

Links, Pop Culture

The news has taken up space in my brain and I’m working on finishing a short for the 7th issue of Unnamed Journal, but I just had to post this. (h/t Ace of Spades).

(Click to enlarge. Do it!)

It’s a map of Arda, Tolkein’s world. The Middle Earth you know from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is only a small portion of Tolkien’s realm. You have to read The Silmarillion to get the larger picture, but even so, I’ve never seen the whole thing.

It’s a slice of nerd with Awesome Sauce. Share and Enjoy.

Fisking Frank Zappa, Because Why Not?

Music, Pop Culture

Which is to say, fisking his liner notes, which are irritating and pretentions: the latest post over at Every. Damn. CD.

frankzappafreakout-original454237

Original text in italic, my responses in Bold.

Notes on the Compositions Included Herein

 AKA, I’M A MUSICIAN AND A GENIUS AND I LIKE FISH STICKS IN MY MOUTH.

1. Hungry Freaks, Daddy…(3:27) Was written for Carl Orestes Franzoni. He is freaky down to his toe nails. Some day he will live next door to you and your lawn will die. Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educations system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts. Some of you like pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read. Forget I mentioned it. This song has no message. Rise for the flag salute.

 While it’s cute to see what hippies were called before they were called hippies, and it’s disappointing to read what was said about Motorhead being first said fifteen years before the fact in reference to some rando, do you really think that anyone drops out of school in order to educate themselves? I know you guys hadn’t learned this in 1966 yet, but the kind of kids who go to the library and read are the same kind of kids who do well in school and don’t waste their time moaning about pep rallies, because they’ve already decided that they’re not worth getting worked up over. Kids who drop out mostly stop reading anything except pamphlets in the unemployment office entitled “Chlamydia and You.”

 The song would be better without the stupid helium-voice sound effect at the end of every verse. I mean, I know it’s the Sixties, but damn.

I go on like that, because so does he.

And now, some Tolkien Nerdery…

Pop Culture

First, the same chap who cheekily questioned Aragorn’s claim to the throne of Gondor lists the Most Metal Deaths in Middle-Earth. From the Feanor entry:

While Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and Gandalf all bit the dust fighting individual Balrogs, Fëanor died in battle with a platoon of them. Not only that, his spirit was so fierce it incinerated his body as it left him. That’s so metal I am literally crying as I write this.

Good stuff, and I agree with his number 1 choice.

And I don’t know why I haven’t linked this before, but it’s sublime.

Tolkien wins, obviously. The Master is not to be trifled with.

How ‘Stranger Things’ Got Passed Around Hollywood

Pop Culture, This Modern Life

In the midst of fisking the usual gang of idiots about raaaaaaacism, Larry Correia lets drop an interesting factoid:

For a long time entertainment tried to lump as many customers as possible into one big box to provide dumb bland mushy product to. To make a living at this stuff you needed to sell to everybody, including the easily offended. Now, you just need to appeal to one group of fans, and what appeals to them might not appeal to everybody, but screw those guys. You can make what you want. Technology has evolved so that you can get your product right in front of your target audience. It isn’t just books either. Stranger Things got rejected by something like 15 networks for being too weird, and now it is a hit on Netflix.

I double-checked to make sure that was true, and according to this article in Rolling Stone, Correia was low-balling it:

After they wrote the initial Stranger Things script, they never thought they’d have a chance at pitching Netflix; they thought it was only a place for established names like Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan and House of Cards producer, director David Fincher. Matt estimates the brothers were rejected 15 to 20 times by various networks, while other execs had balked at the idea that the show featured four kids as lead characters but that it wasn’t TV for children. “You either gotta make it into a kids show or make it about this Hopper [detective] character investigating paranormal activity around town,” one told them. Matt recalls replying, “Then we lose everything interesting about the show.” Some other people they knew in the industry understood their vision and helped connect them with Netflix. “There was a week where we were like, ‘This isn’t going to work because people don’t get it,‘” Matt says.

That’s the thing about the entertainment/content industry: they have to have product to connect with an audience, but they can’t know ahead of time what will, and there’s a cost factor with every bet. So if they gate-keepers don’t get it, viscerally, instantly, they assume that the disinterested masses won’t bother. Because the entertainment industry isn’t about connecting audiences and content, it’s about connecting audiences and content in such away that maximizing profit and minimizes loss. Thus, people are going to pass on things because they’re not getting it.

This message has been brought to you by trendiness:

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 4.13.59 PM

Ghostbusters Ghostbusters Ghostbusters blah blah blah blah blah

Pop Culture

A little while ago, I tweeted this:

Apparently no one else has considered this. Because apparently this film sits across the cultural divide like the fulcrum on a teeter-totter, and everyone’s pushing it one way or another.

A comedy film is good if its funny. If it makes you laugh, you account it good. If it doesn’t, you do the opposite. Laughter – and film appreciation in general — cannot be forced. I speak as someone who worked really hard to like The Phantom Menace back in the day. In the end, I couldn’t.

So the Ghostbusters remake will either be a funny film in which some comedic actresses amuse us, or it will be one of those movies that you keep waiting to be funny and never is (I’m looking at you, The Devil Wears Prada).

This has nothing to do with gender. Women are funny. I know this because women have made me laugh. An all-female Ghostbusters reboot? Whatever, why not?

I watched a lot of Ghostbusters as a kid. It was one of the first movies that my folks videotaped on the VCR off of HBO (That’s how it was done in the old days). I know it basically by heart. It’s eminently quotable. But I’m not emotionally attached to it. Yes, its lame that Hollywood won’t stop rebooting old properties. I hadn’t made any plans to see this one in the theater. But that doesn’t mean I was devoted to it failing. I just didn’t care. I’ll catch it on Netflix, probably.

I saw the trailer, and I laughed – not big laughs, but amusement – a few times. Which doesn’t mean anything. But one thing did bother me about it, and that was how Leslie Jones seemed to be doing a caricature of Things Black Characters Say.

You see what I’m talking about? “It’s a Cadillac!” “Aw, Hell NO!” and screaming at the top of her lungs. And maybe I’m only noticing it because in the original film, Winston didn’t seem like the Black Stereotype. Ghostbusters has as its heroes a snarky hustler, a nerd who doesn’t like talking to people, and a nerd who won’t shut up. Winston provided a necessary leavening of this dorkitude, but his role on the film is to be the Regular Joe, not the Black Guy. He has moments where yes, the blackness is more obvious (telling the Mayor “I have seen shit that’ll turn you white” one of my favorite lines, and the Mayor’s reaction is great), but overall, his deadpan responses highlight the audience’s own bemusement at the proceedings, allowing us to recognize and take part in the absurdity of analogizing paranormal activity as a big Twinkie. He wasn’t all Corn Bread and Street Wisdom, is my point. And maybe Jones does that too, just in a different way. Like I said, I’m not committed to this. But according to this guy who saw it, I’m not alone in that impression.

The reviews are coming in, and I’m only seeing bad ones so far. Which may mean this film fails as comedy. If it does, so be it. If it makes money, so be it. But watching people flail over it like it Means Something is exhausting. Oh, what an exciting concept! Female heroes and a male director regurgitating a 30-year-old movie! THE REVOLUTION HAS COME BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

Or, as this commenter on the PJMedia takedown put it:

A culture that reboots “Ghostbusters” is a decadent culture. A culture that erupts in controversy over a reboot of “Ghostbusters” is a dead culture.

Nailed it.

The Roman Polanski Two-Step

Pop Culture, This Modern Life

The old goat is running out of places to not be extradited from.

Zbigniew Ziobro, who also became Poland’s chief prosecutor after the country’s new, staunchly conservative government merged the two posts, argues that it was the director’s celebrity status in Poland, where he grew up, that had prevented him from being extradited in the past.

‘I’ve decided to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the ruling … in which the … court decided not to extradite Mr Polanski to the US in a situation when he’s accused of and wanted for … a rape of a child,’ Ziobro told Poland’s state radio.

‘If he was just a regular guy, a teacher, doctor, plumber, decorator, then I’m sure he’d have been deported from any country to the US a long time ago,’ he said.

The truth! It burns!

And it gives me an excuse to re-link an old Revolutionary Nonsense favorite: “With the Rich and Mighty, or Is Roman Polanski as Smart as Michael Vick?

Let us therefore treat Roman Polanski as we treated Michael Vick. Let us punish him for the crimes he has committed, and then release him when he has served time commensurate with his offense. Let us treat the celebrated director and holocaust-surviving Polish Jew with the same justice as the Black Football Player.

It’s solid dudgeon. Read the Whole Thing.