March 20, 2013
Girls Season 2 redeemed this show

SPOILER WARNING: cause Tumblr hates spoilers as bad as they do triggers.

So this season finale happened. And it was glorious.

I am a member of what you could call the “Anti-New York Monopoly On The Arts” league, which as far as I know I’m the only card carrying member and I’m the only one who stopped caring about Lena Dunham’s nepotism to instead decry an entire American metropolis for making claims about itself that NYC is the only place to be if you’re a creative artist of any kind, of which I believe is the worst propaganda in recent times since Mission Accomplished during the middle of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. New York City has a lot to be proud of, but as a city it has no right to tell the rest of the world where the arts of any medium can and cannot prosper. This is my bugbear about shows like Sex And The City and Girls, and the New York City monopoly on the arts in media is without a doubt the most glaring blind spot in the last decade that the counter culture that remains has consistently failed to question.

But you didn’t come here to hear the Oceanic based anti-establishment rantings of an Australian art student. You came here to figure out what’s the deal with Girls Season 2’s finale.

And I loved it. My brother who’s actually in a romantic relationship with his girlfriend thought the parts where the guy were lambasted by his girlfriend for having a lack of ambition was brutal and real, I, the virginal not-girlfriend-having autistic twin brother he has was given a glimpse into an issue that happens to real people. And then the guy character destroys his girlfriend’s outright naive expectations of what she’s wanting from him, Hannah got rescued by her shirtless ex in a panic attack brought on by OCD and a pending publisher lawsuit I hope gets addressed next season, and this New York bubble of privileged white women finally got put in a position where they must prove their human worth to the world and the soul crushing bohemian myth city they thought would allow them to suffer no consequences for not addressing core problems much longer.

After two seasons of my non-US/NYC citizen brain being subjected to IKEA furniture catalog like fantasies, the drama of young people who don’t know how lucky they are to have friends and even lovers at all, the backstabbing of each other when they should know better… shit just got real, to quote Bad Boys II.

This series, if it gets as good as this and better next season, will justify the hours invested, all that hype, all that outrage by both genders, to the viewers and critics that didn’t know what to make of this at first.

I eagerly await where this is going. This went from New York City hipster fantasy to real life that made my cold heart care.

March 14, 2013
An Un-Quirky Manifesto

And I don’t care that manifestos these days are associated with mass murderers and crazy people, what I was taught in art school was manifestos used to be about art movements or aesthetics and that’s the excuse I’m going with.

I’m not quirky. I’m an Australian, high functioning autistic man who is somehow expected by the worldwide arts community of the 21st Century to rebrand myself as quirky. This will not stand.

Zooey Deschanel crowned as an IT Girl when the only thing I remember her from is (500) Days of Summer, HBO giving Lena Dunham her TV show Girls which led to her winning Golden Globes, I’m putting an end to it, and by that I don’t mean women in the entertainment industry, because I watch female Internet comedy geniuses every god-damn day on Blip.tv, Nostalgia Chick, Obscurus Lupa, for all their snark they still feel a lot less forced than the people non-Internet TV is trying to pass off as the voices of our generation.

People think sincerity is dead, that snark is all that we can do against the tide of an awful economy and a Hollywood entertainment complex that crumbles a little bit more every second, but I’m sure I’m not the only one taking a stand against quirky.

I bought an iPad mini yesterday, since I write books as my intended future and have motor skills problems that would make a Moleskine notebook inconvenient and hard to manage. I do not buy a bloody typewriter so I can prove to the world how connected I am to the past tools of my chosen trade.

I refuse to buy coffee from pretentious baristas who charge five dollars for a tiny cup, and hence I write most of my novels at home. That said, I’d sooner take my recently bought iPad to a cafe over a fucking typewriter, because I saw that photo of the guy who did that and it made me take people who write on laptops in cafes seriously. That’s how low society’s fallen.

I don’t listen to music I don’t like because other people think it’s cool. I listen to music because I enjoy it. Pavarotti lives on in my iPod playlist at least, and the musical stylings of The Beastie Boys, David Bowie, a-ha, Riz Ortolani, and Ice Cube have earned their place in that playlist through my respect for their talent.

I watched Showgirls and liked it, without irony as much as an appreciation of the behemoth it is. I read ebooks regularly, and enjoy a good anime like Dragon Ball Z or a Tezuka or Yuasa work just as heartily. None of these things are consumed in an attempt to fabricate a sense of identity that’s quirky, I gain my identity from the works I create with my own hands even more than what has been created by others.

I am not quirky, and I refuse to buy into such marketing to sell my work.

Now excuse me, while I check my Foxtel IQ box for new Girls episodes so I can watch it without paying for it while I complain about Lena Dunham some more.

March 11, 2013
I AM A DUCK: A positive thing about my childhood was definitely staying up late and...

mrmallard:

A positive thing about my childhood was definitely staying up late and watching foreign movies on SBS.

Here in Aus, we have a channel named SBS, which handles a lot of independent and foreign shows, news, movies etc. and every single night they show at least 1 foreign movie. As a primary…

You know how in Welcome To The NHK the NHK station had initials that revealed a sinister meaning? Later I started wondering if SBS actually stood for Smut Broadcasting Service given the sexy documentaries and foreign films played on Friday nights.

It’s a conspiracy! A pervy, kinky conspiracy!

February 14, 2013

Watched The Tatami Galaxy last night. This show is about the kind of problems people like me, and to a lesser extent, “real people” have. I can’t relate to HBO’s Girls in the least because it’s just not about the kind of people I know or am like.

Anime is a lot of things to me now that it wasn’t for me growing up. I grew up with anime wanting action fighting shows and T&A but as I got older, I was more welcoming of anime that wanted to be about something, about real problems people have. I notice that anime’s probably the last medium of television where a character can say stuff like “I must seize the shining flower of the college life!” or something and totally mean it, these shows are so sincere and beautiful in how they allow themselves to depict a world where beauty isn’t just the sweet smile of a woman, but also the taste of good food with old friends, moments shared with people you love and care about, the craftsmanship put into a beautiful object that experience and time shaped into a wonder.

The Japanese make entertainment for themselves that allows them to be totally sincere about things us nerds in the West would normally laugh at as absurd or weird. But Japan’s entertainment isn’t just good cause it’s weird, it’s good cause there’s so much passion and ambition thrown into something even the Japanese see as disposable entertainment.

And that’s beautiful that people care so much about making something most people would find silly or weird, but to them they’re going hard or going home. That’s why I love anime, no matter how jaded you get from a lonely life starved of wonder and magic, it’s always there, as long as one last Japanese dude with a sketchbook and a passion for sequential art lives it’s a tradition worth keeping.

January 10, 2013
We’re all asking that question, Ralph. We all are.

We’re all asking that question, Ralph. We all are.

(via toocooltobehipster)

July 27, 2012
The Oral Tradition Of MTV Cribs

So I watched a rerun of MTV Cribs I regret that I deleted, since due to the ephemeral nature of shows like MTV Cribs the greatest stories about them are only preserved in the oral tradition by stand up comedians like Todd Barry and media studies bloggers.

It’s kind of weird knowing that MTV’s reality shows are better enjoyed retold like some modern day perversion of Beowulf, but it’s true. MTV reality shows are just funnier when retold like an epic poem where the original context is lost in the sands of time so far the Prince Of Persia can’t even save it from oblivion.

I recorded the show, pressed play on my Foxtel IQ, the grand operatic scale of Soulja Boy’s obscene gloating over his wealth would begin, and he started by pointing to the cardboard cutout of himself that guarded the door, “You need to look him in the eye to see if you’re cool enough to get in!” jests Soulja, inviting the viewer into his den of crass commercialism.

He proceeds to boast of his various awards, depicted in close up. He picked up his Dirty Award like a Game Of Thrones goblet and decided to carry it around like a totem of his arrogance, because he thought it was cool. In frame was the obligatory Scarface poster in the background shot, for what is an episode of MTV Cribs without its own Scarface hero worship based on the 1980s Palma gangster ballad of old? I would have been disappointed if this tradition wasn’t continued in the program we know and love to hate.

Yet the best comedy gold was yet to come, my regret of recording this apology for opulence slipped away as the core tenets of Soulja Boy’s aesthetics and moral code was revealed.

"This is my Gucci pillows, I love curling up to $100,000 at night, keeps me warm!" he brags, inviting as much hatred as he did pity, like Frodo pitied Gollum’s addiction to the corrupting power of the One Ring. The brand name bragging wasn’t over, "This is my Louis Vuitton rug, I love moonwalking on $4000, feels like I’m Michael!". The desperate attempt to salvage Soulja Boy’s inability to pull off any of Michael Jackson’s dancing talent was a wonder to behold, a more beautiful gem than any embedded in his gaudy bling bling. A slow mo fade, mixed with a choppy, lazy jump cut, there was no hiding Soulja Boy’s desecration of Michael’s moves.

The showing off of his bling, it was expected, the unnecessarily costly $40,000 dollar diamond encrusted watch that could double as a Damien Hirst masterpiece, the bracelet and pinky ring of equal diamond studded decadence and of course, the Soulja Boy bling chain, “So many diamonds, makes you feel sick!” he laughs, somehow unaware his lifestyle may involve blood diamonds, or arms dealing in Africa… in either case Soulja hides his treasure trove in a briefcase with a false bottom, and considering he’d reportedly been robbed by masked men before - so I hear, I would imagine such a precaution would be made by a rich man who clings to his overpriced fashion designer pillow to sleep easy at night, having known the terror of what it’s like to rob him.

The centerpiece of this crass display of capitalist waste wasn’t his pimped out sports car this time, I was expecting such a ride for a rapper of his balling bracket. No, the next display of utter wastefulness caught me so off guard I questioned the core reasons why I would be offended by a program like MTV Cribs in the first place since most people on the show seemed intelligent enough to make the most of the King’s bounty their career earned them.

But this, Soulja Boy’s shameful excuse for a kitchen… I had never hated on this man quite as much before or since then. The chains, the fast cars and rap industry awards, it can all be forgiven in contrast to the sheet ignorance this young man blurted out.

"I got this stove, but I never use it. Ha! I’ll turn these knobs to see if it works… No flame, huh, I guess we’ll never know. I don’t need no stove, no chef, all I need is my fridge full of Gatorade, bottled water, soda, Kool Aid… and my freezer full of Hot Pockets! Who needs a kitchen to cook when you got Hot Pockets? They shoulda just given me a microwave in here."

The… the stones on this man… to admit to being such an ignorant motherfucker on cable TV… It blew my mind after I was raised to know a life where I knew what a stove was and how to turn it off, even if I never used it directly. The nutritional value of those Hot Pockets… made me fear for Soulja Boy’s life expectancy. Never mind his rap career longevity, I express concern about his general health knowing the fool doesn’t understand that while he may have hold chains and Hot Pockets to microwave, neither have nutritional value.

There were lighthearted moments, like where Soulja Boy’s home slice who was dubbed “Commander” of his crew and seemed to exist only to go “Yeeeaaah!” in excitement over the big screen TV, Xbox and gaming chairs placed too close to the TV to be safe for their poor eyes. The Commander seemed to be an alright guy. He clearly had an agenda of living life to the fullest. Yet we weren’t getting his story. We were being treated to another verse in the epic poem that is SouljaBoyTellEm.

And as a result of the personality of the featured celebrities on MTV Cribs, I dare argue that MTV Cribs is no longer the advertising based aspirational television it once was. It ceased to be a program celebrating the mighty homes of the rich we the proles were meant to look up to, but now all this program does is have the opposite effect of making us cling to our frugal lifestyles like a koala as our shock and fear of what these lifestyles do to people’s brains make us mock and jeer at the rappers MTV tried to sell to us as role models.

MTV Cribs is propaganda for crass commercialism that fails to corrupt the mind because the fallen idols of hip hop depicted are already so corrupted, we want nothing to do with what they stand for in a GFC age of frugality and restraint.

July 16, 2012
Why Young People Don’t Read (As Told By A Young Person)

There’s many articles online lamenting how young people don’t read anymore. I read several of these, mostly dithering around with marketing excuses like book covers or genuinely anxious about the future of public libraries.

Good stabs at it, but from my personal experience as a young person who used to read a lot but now finds it a struggle to be motivated in reading many books lately, is a two pronged problem:

1: Young people’s consumerism is linked to social entertainments like film, TV and video games they can discuss with their friends and enjoy each other’s company over.

2: The recession has left young people spending their money on entertainment that gains a more reliable social outcome, and if some young people have less friends who read than others, money spent on books gives less social advantage to use to gain status in our society, and thus they buy DVDs and video games instead because they can share that with their friends, who don’t read the books Young Person X likes at all, so the people who do read those books feel cripplingly alone and isolated amongst their peers.

It’s not a Facebook, Twitter, iPhone social media problem at all. It’s a sociological problem that can actually be explained by social science that predates social media and iPhones.

Young people’s disposable income is limited in a recession, but so is their time. Young people see less of a social advantage in reading books if nobody else they know is reading that book, so they funnel their disposable income and time into more socially advantageous hobbies which are more likely going to win over friends and possible lovers who also like the same films, TV shows and video games.

In their financial and chronological budgets of time and money, books and reading are prioritised the least because if nobody else is reading the latest book out this month, why would they bother if the other young people they know are more interested in new films, TV and video games that most people their age are already familiar with?

That’s the real tragedy of why young people don’t read. The potential readers who love books enter college and are socially starved by a youth culture that doesn’t value reading until that ex-reader is now just as illiterate as the rest of their friends they had to sacrifice the joy they had from reading books in order not to be a social failure without a friend in the world.

May 15, 2012
A Test Of Character

So I just got linked to this article about Firefly, and since I haven’t seen the show I can only start to piece together why this show is so divisive. Me, I never grew up with Whedon, I grew up with Osamu Tezuka manga reprints and whatever Discworld books Angus and Robertson had when it was still open. Make of that what you will:

http://allecto.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/objects-in-space-black-masculinity-through-the-paradigm-of-whitemale-lust/

In all the discussions I see online about how mainstream media depicts gender, race, sexual orientation, whatever… because so many commenters are focused on defending themselves for being white males or females or non white or non straight… the goal of achieving discussions of real change everybody involved can take away and apply to their lives and works is somewhat lost in an argument over who is even allowed to discuss these ideas at all. When you discount a human of any stripe of providing what may be a well articulated point about something due to their minority or majority status, something’s really lost here. So when we see characters in media, why are we so focused, as a human species about who is feminist, who is sexist and who is allowed to write narrative fiction at all… instead of wondering what it is about the writing of characters who are characters rather than politically charged insults to whatever demographic the character supposedly depicts or doesn’t depict? I spent about two years trying to read posts online and Internet reviewer videos trying to discern how to write effective characters of all genders, and I noticed that the commentators who didn’t yell at their audiences for the crime of being one gender or race or not their gender or race or whatever… made me think far more about how I wrote characters than the bloggers who made worthy points but seemed really hostile to anybody who wasn’t already familiar with the idea being presented.

I’m so glad that female Internet critics like Lindsay Ellis and Sofie Liv can get their ideas out there about what makes effective characters that appeal to everybody to wide demographics beyond a boy or girl core audience.

A common misunderstanding about men watching these kinds of women based media review programs is that they’re “male feminists” who are trying to co-opt the small areas of discussion women have to discuss real problems and “silence” women, when really a lot of the time when I watch these programs, both me and other fans of these female Internet reviewers start to think less of these women as just pretty faces and start to pay attention to genuinely interesting ideas presented by women that give everybody involved to watch their show and take ideas seriously even while they laugh at satirical snark at nostalgic material.

That’s what makes me sad about discussions of media online. The feminism was never the problem with men listening to these arguments, the problem may have been as simple as “Hey, I like listening to these ideas but I’d like it if I didn’t feel as if I’m being yelled at for having a penis even though I’ve never even kissed a girl yet let alone contemplated raping anyone”.

Characters in fiction should really start from trying to create a character versus a strawman or woman to exposit some kind of political filibuster. To explain my point in how vast this problem in figuring out how to depict Africans in your narrative, it’s true that Morgan Freeman and the hero of Hotel Rwanda are great examples of black heroes, you still have to deal with the fact that Idi Amin from The Last King Of Scotland really existed, however loosely adapted from reality he was in that.

For every noble Bruce Lee there’s a heinous Mao Zedong, for every Machete who’s fighting for Mexico there’s still drug cartels that aren’t really representative of what the Mexican character is capable of in terms of achievements. These are historical, rather than outright blanket facts. Also note that in Mao Zedong’s example there is only one of Mao Zedong and millions of other Chinese who share his cultural race but not his supposed genetic evil you see in a lot of Godwin’s Law style arguments.

You can see why there’s a bit of a divide between history’s greatest monsters and people like Morgan Freeman and Bruce Lee. It’s often not that simple either. Often you get people who are just people. And I think regarding your characters as people with specific upbringings and backgrounds, genders… that’s a better approach to writing your characters than just blanket portraying all of them as insane maniacs hell bent on raping everything. See the movie City Of Life And Death for an example of modern Chinese cinema’s most recent great achievements, a Chinese director managed to give humanity back to what many Chinese would normally see as a two dimensional political enemy. And that’s the kind of storytelling that heals old wounds rather than re-opening them. It also has the honour of having a not-white guy save everybody instead of having a white guy in there by default so white people will watch it.

That’s not to say not everyone in the movie has to be not white. Especially when you’re dealing with that one German Nazi guy who considered in his witnessing the Rape of Nanjing that maybe Auschwitz was watered down compared to what he was in the middle of. That’s what’s great about historical adaptations done right.

If there wasn’t a Nazi guy turned rogue who tried to save Chinese people there in real history, it would be Quentin Tarantino level hack job storytelling. But history has this weird way of outdoing Tarantino every now and then in terms of absurdity.

What I’m essentially saying is this: great white hope movies like Driving Miss Daisy are kind of annoying to persons of colour because it involves the idea that the white guy saves everyone. But what if you have a situation where instead of Morgan Freeman driving around this rich old white lady, he is tasked to drive around this white, yet disabled in a wheelchair dude who is rejected by the other rich white guys as weak and useless even if his company’s inventions are helping him survive? What if Morgan Freeman and Guy With Wheelchair suddenly join forces against an ogliarchy driven capitalist system that hates them both, especially in the time a film like Driving Miss Daisy is set? Now your originally great white hope movie becomes a “two guys disadvantaged in different ways stand up to a system that is a dick to both of them for completely different reasons” movie. And I’d watch the shit outta that.

The most perfect example of a movie that features a white guy desperately trying to get the other white guys who are being a dick to an indigenous culture movie I can think of is Cannibal Holocaust. I’m not even kidding. Robert Kerman’s anthropology professor character not only works as the greatest advertisement for ethical social science I’ve ever seen, but he’s an entertaining character who doesn’t have to stand up against a vaguely orthodox system like in a cheap arse Robin Williams cliche movie. Nope.

In Cannibal Holocaust, the white professor dude is respected by the natives not because he’s white, but because he’s the only one in the jungle with his skin colour who remotely tried to empathise with trading and respecting these Amazon tribesmen after these racist fucktard film students raped and pillaged everything they held dear before poor Robert Kerman realises what a shitstorm he’s been drafted into trying to find what’s left of those imperialist shockumentary makers. He has to earn the respect of the villagers every step of the way, and we see this process of cultural exchange visually through the whole movie. This film is infamous for its animal cruelty but I’m sad to admit I love this movie for how it’s the first real portrayal of a white guy professor in the jungle movie that doesn’t end up feeling forced or not true to how people would really react. It is also the gold standard of inspirational teacher trying to reach “these kids” films in my personal regard.

It also shows you an example of how even if you do the whole “white guy first contact with outside tribespeople” plot, you don’t have to fuck it up and make it Pocahontas. You don’t even have to make it within the structure the MPAA typically allows either. You just have to make a good movie, with good characters, no matter what colour or gender they are.

January 5, 2011
Twenty one

First of all I read this article in the online version of the Sydney Morning Herald.

It occurs to me only now that like Generation X before me, my Gen Y cohort are now the youth culture problem that the Baby Boomers claimed Gen X were. And it feels awesome.

You know why? In the internet age a film like Fight Club, a movie made for Gen X audiences, can have appeal beyond its target demographic into other generational age pools. The Middle Children Of History aren’t really a static thing, it’s a conveyor belt. Gen Y is the latest Middle Children Of History batch who ironically sometimes enjoy Kurt Cobain’s back catalog as much as Gen X indie music fans who were around the first time.

In the end, the battle between whether He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or Dragon Ball Z is superior to the other is utterly meaningless. We should be asking ourselves instead why national governments and media corporations are such dickholes to humanity on a daily basis. The same corporate, private sector control that brought you such rerun TV classics like Happy Days and The A-Team are responsible for giving you Bloody Stupid Johnson inventions like DRM and DVD region lock coding. In a word, pop culture that’s corporate owned from previous eras is both parasitic and cannibalistic. We need to move on and do something worth a damn.

I honestly couldn’t care less about what latest failed policy our impotent governments try to ejaculate over our faces with the flaccid members of parliament. Wikileaks is to my generation what the Nixon tapes were to Baby Boomers. It is possible to have privacy on the internet, but sometimes you just don’t deserve it.

My generation inherited the internet in an age where our parents are taught to fear it. The only fear present in my mind is that after searching the vast void of the online landscape, in search of the Internet Dream - I may not have found the answers I was looking for - but I sure as hell found better answers than what I got out of a damned print newspaper that’s obsolete the minute they throw it on your doorstep.

Although I did get a chuckle out of that stupid “Men Do It Longer!” sham erectile dysfunction cure billboard eye infection and blight makers company getting pwned royally after they were discovered to have corrupt practices. Not only that, but I was reminded by the newspaper that better, more effective treatments for impotence were available from your local GP. That’s what SHOULD be in a fucking newspaper. Actual information, that not only critiques our society but gives you useful shit you need to know instead of fucking fear mongering all the time.

If there was more useful information and funny articles about scam artists getting pwned by the banhammer of justice in the newspaper, yeah, I would read it more.

I’ve inherited a world where the curtain has been lifted from the freaking ancient and useless man behind it. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more. Especially now that I can have a drink of beer with Duncan legally at this age in any nation I please.

December 10, 2010
Ghost In The Shell SAC is an anime cop show

And I mean, better than I expected.

You know that feeling you get when you think nothing new interests you, and you fall into a rut of watching internet caustic critics rip on movies you KNOW you’ll never watch because of the precise reasons these internet critics bring up - until you remember there’s still a LOT of anime you haven’t seen yet, despite your complaining there is nothing new you’re interested in?

Well, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex certainly lives up to the “complex” part of the title, but not in a bad way. It’s probably one of the best serialised TV shows I’ve seen in any medium adapted for television, it doesn’t just work as anime, and I don’t have to make excuses for it being watchable merely because it is anime and has craftsmanship to the animation. This Ghost In The Shell TV spin off show is probably a better introduction, or gateway if you will, to those American cop shows you see on TV occasionally while flipping channels, than actually watching a long running cop show where you feel lost as to who the characters are and what their M.O. is.

Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex puts the cop show aspect of television into anime without dumbing it down, there’s still action sequences - which are much easier to create for animation than a live action cop show which would require a much larger, Michael Bay budget - but the spectacle is not sacrificed for depth of character, actual thought provoking plotlines that give you ambiguous messages about the line between man and machine, while still being essentially an anime cop show.

Even the dub in the licensed English translation isn’t horrible, the characters sound good enough to really be in a real cop show, rather than American voice actors trying to be high pitched moe girls. For some anime shows, an American dub can actually provide a different approach in translation - while a dub of something like Love Hina is horrible because the voice acting is trying to translate all kinds of regional accents into national stereotypes - Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex doesn’t suffer from this since it’s almost as accessible as say, its eighties older brother theatrical movie Akira, another anime I love to bits. What I’m trying to say is that the dub of Ghost In The Shell: SAC actually doesn’t detract from what was probably already a kind of sci-fi cop show to begin with, and since we’re used to hearing American accents in cop shows, as horrifying as it is, culturally, to admit this - it’s actually more reasonable to accept this in Ghost In The Shell than a possible dub of K-ON!

Perhaps this is because Ghost In The Shell operates on an accessible American friendly action cop show level, mixed in with Japanese concepts of Shinto applied to living machines in this weird William Gibson way. In this show, machines may well have souls because they were once human. I’m starting to like Ghost In The Shell as a franchise as the separate, action girl sister franchise to the massively scoped Akira, which is more like the Watchmen of manga and anime, if not artistically, then historically.

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