pop culture

/Tag:pop culture

People worse at reading genres they don’t like.

The study is specifically about science fiction, but it could apply to any genre.

In retrospect, the fact that “whiny self-involved man books”1 are my least favorite genre may explain a lot of problems I used to have in high school English class…

  1. Yeah, I mean Catcher in the Rye. ^
2018-05-21T09:49:44+00:00 21st May, 2018|Tags: books, culture, pop culture|0 Comments

The difference is in the tights.

But this fourth space for superheroes to occupy for non-otherworldly threats poses problems for Marvel (and for DC). This vacuum was eluded too but not examined in Captain America: Civil War. Captain America’s stance not to sign the Sokovia Accords was not well examined or explained. Instead, the rightness of his stance is largely just assumed as an extension of Steve Rogers own integrity. That manages to just about work in that film so long as you don’t pay too much attention to it but on closer examination Rogers really has to choose to be either an agent of the state or a vigilante. If you call yourself ‘Captain America’ then you can either be a soldier employed and held accountable by the state or your indistinguishable from a nutty ‘militia’ hiding in a compound and plotting against the BATF.

Camestros Felapton on the problem with superheroes.

This, as some of you may be aware, is why superheroes don’t really “work” for me, at least not in their vanilla Marvel/DC incarnations (I usually quite like deconstructions like The Maxx or The Authority). As a member of groups that have historically been on the receiving end of violence from the sort of self-righteous, no-due-process vigilantism superhero comics try and make chic—and also coming from a culture where vigilantism in general is frowned on—I’ve never been able to really “sit back and enjoy the escapism” that the genre supposed to represent…

2017-12-19T13:44:35+00:00 20th May, 2018|Tags: pop culture|0 Comments

The violent gaze.

Still thinking about “This is America”, TBH. Also see this thread, and this one.

One of the things I think is most glaring about TiA is that it is very, very strongly aimed at the white gaze. Moreover, Glover’s “persona” in the clip—with a few exceptions, such as the final scene—is framed not as himself as an African American man but as a caricature of the sort of Blackness that is considered “acceptable”/commodified for the consumption of a white audience (ref. the poses and expressions in his dance that mimic Jim Crow/minstrelsy/blackface). In the clip he has himself become, in other words, The White Gaze. Moreover, every expression of sincere Black joy or creativity is shown as being either violently obliterated (in the case of the guitarist and church choir), ignored (in the case of the everything in the background), or exploited and made complicit (in the case of the dancing schoolchildren) by this Gaze.

It’s a grim message, in other words, and I do think criticism of it from the “in decrying the exploitation of Black pain for the white gaze isn’t this just playing into the same?” is, like. Valid.

But damn if it isn’t an effective piece of art either way.

2018-05-08T15:54:14+00:00 8th May, 2018|Tags: culture, pop culture|0 Comments

Tales from the slushpile.

This list of the ten novels agents have already seen is mostly amusing, although it did make me raise an eyebrow at #7. Mostly because I think there are some rather sizable industries that would, in fact, disagree that “picture books for adults” aren’t A Thing…

2017-11-16T11:33:47+00:00 6th May, 2018|Tags: books, pop culture, publishing|Comments Off on Tales from the slushpile.


When it comes to developing any game experience, the player is at the heart of it. In most games, developers make the game give you a good roll if your past few rolls were bad, we make your computer enemies always miss the first shot so you have time to respond, and we will count a jump a frame or five or six too late as a jump anyway. Our goal is for you to have an engaging time, and it’s more important to us that it feels fair than it is that it is fair. We’ll pretend things are harder than you believe just so you feel like you’re better at it. We’ll make the game less fair if that makes it feel more fair to the average player. Almost all games – whether its an obstacle-less experience or a masocore unfairly difficult platformer – are secretly rooting for you.

Rami Ismail on video game difficulty.

This is from what is probably the best essay I’ve ever read on “difficulty” versus player experience. It’s specifically about video games, but if you’ve ever run, say, a tabletop RPG some of the challenges will seem very familiar.1

I’ve mentioned before that I am a consummate video game cheater. I have a lifetime sub to a trainer download site, and have literally never played a (single player) game without cheat codes, guides, rampant min-maxing, playing on casual, walkthroughs, save scumming, hex editing, or some combination of all of the above. There is a type of gamer that finds this attitude sacrilege, but Ismail’s essay is so compelling to me because the reason I cheat in games is due to the fact I’m never not aware that the game itself is—in any situation, on any difficulty—letting me win. Video games are like the dad who jogs backwards so his very young children can “beat” him when they’re racing. Players are always the toddler to Game Engine Dad; no matter how fast you run, Game Engine Dad is just one pace in front or behind you, but only by his choice, and a “victory” over Game Engine Dad is always on Game Engine Dad’s terms, never because you legitimately outran him.

Maybe it’s just me, but I never found being “allowed to win” particularly compelling.2 So “challenge” in games was never my thing; I’m an Explorer/Achiever, so everything from engaging with the plot to enjoying the art of different models and environments was always more compelling to me than whether I could “beat” a boss or solve a puzzle.

But, y’know. It’s all subjective; some people are really into the challenge, and more power to them. Enjoy the game the way you wanna enjoy it. Just, like. Don’t get your ego tied too much up in being Good At Games™ while you’re at it…

  1. Or, for that matter, played against an aggressive, kill-’em-all DM. My First D&D DM was like that, and as someone who’d come from the more collaborative-storytelling-orientated Word of Darkness lines, the attitude always baffled me. Of course the DM can obliterate the party at any time! The DM is the game’s God; they can make arbitrary changes to the world on a whim, including smiting the shit out of all the players. But so what? This, incidentally, is the main line I think separates good DMs from bad ones; a good DM knows the world isn’t “fair”, but that that’s not the point. The point is that the players have fun. If that means fudging rolls and giving monsters “bad AI” so a party doesn’t get wiped out by random encounters on the way to the main action, then so be it. DM screens exist for a reason. ^
  2. There’s probably some kind of gender analysis in here, too. The narrative of a man “letting the girl win” for his own benefit is as universal as it is patronizing. As a “girl”, the only way to win this game is to not to play at all, and it’s possible that attitude carries over. ^
2018-02-08T08:42:26+00:00 29th April, 2018|Tags: gaming, pop culture, video games|Comments Off on Difficulty.

Stanley Kubrick is a fucking hack.

Yeah, you heard me. His films are bad. They’re sterile and soulless paeans to his own perception of his own “genius”, and nowhere is this more obvious than in absolute ratshit performances he can push out of even the most talented of actors. [Content warning for the link, which is about the abusive men of Hollywood.]

It takes, I think, a special sort of megalomaniac to so determinedly and systemically grind down the talent of everyone else he works with, so that only his own “greatness” can be recognized. Sadly, it seems a pervasive attitude in many1 industries, from politics to Hollywood.

  1. coughmale dominatedcough ^
2017-11-08T08:17:24+00:00 23rd April, 2018|Tags: culture, film, pop culture|Comments Off on Stanley Kubrick is a fucking hack.