pop culture

Home/Tag: pop culture


What if there was a song so obscure not even the internet could find it?

I had one of these for years and years as an mp3 I got from a friend who in turn got it from another friend. It took nearly a decade until it started showing up in (English-language) search results, but even now it’s hard to track down the specific mix of the song I’m used to…

2019-10-30T09:14:49+11:0027th February, 2020|Tags: music, pop culture|

Controlled opposition.

Ruminations on 1990s white-collar ennui seem quaint when viewed through a 21st-century lens. Adams based Dilbert on his experiences working as a financial analyst in the late 1980s, but offices have changed a lot in the interim 30 years. The salaried cubicle jobs rejected in Office Space and Fight Club are now objects of desire for survivors of the dot-com bubble and the 2007 financial crisis. The ersatz futurism of the sterile modernist office, unintentionally paying homage to Schindler’s List by sucking the color out of everything but a red iMac G3, is now a source of nostalgia. It could be a “grass is always greener” thing — or it could be that gaining the ability to fuck around online on the clock fundamentally transformed the nature of office work — but a not-insignificant portion of ’90s media is now incurably dated. The standard reaction to this development for those who created such media seems to be a turn toward far-right politics. Fight Club often finds itself misinterpreted by neo-fascists. Office Space creator Mike Judge regularly pals around with Alex Jones, at whose recent request he brought Western culture to its nadir by saying “Infowars dot com” in the Beavis and Butt-Head voice. Scott Adams, though less adept at creating an animated series (the Dilbert TV show lasted two seasons on the now-defunct network UPN), followed a similar path.

Alex Nichols on office spaces.

2019-10-23T13:49:58+11:007th February, 2020|Tags: pop culture|

Acceptable rebellion.

When we see violent characters who kill for primarily political reasons, they are often anti-heroes at best, outright villains at worst. The idea of the full circle revolution – of the secret dictator hiding in the throat of every rebel leader, waiting to leap out and betray the non-ideological hero – is utterly pervasive. It appears in videogames, where good old-fashioned all-American heroes like Jim Raynor of Starcraft or Booker DeWitt of Bioshock Infinite are betrayed by villainous revolutionaries Arcturus Mengsk and Daisy Fitzroy (and after all they’ve done for them!). It is common in films, from supervillains like Magneto and Killmonger, liberationists written as would-be conquerors, to the rebels of The Hunger Games, who vote to continue the games as soon as they’re in power, except with the children of the dethroned elite rather than the children of the poor. The same reversal is mentioned in A Song of Ice and Fire, where rebel slaves, once liberated, enslave their former masters; in the TV version, an evil fundamentalist visits the kind of cruelty on the King’s Landing nobility that they visited on others. In all these examples we see an echo of the primal fear of every oppressive class, the nightmare at the heart of modern white supremacy: what if someone did to us what we’ve done to them? Liberation is re-imagined as the world turned not so much upside-down but mirrored.

Alister MacQuarrie on depoliticized rebellion.

2019-10-15T10:05:52+11:0028th January, 2020|Tags: politics, pop culture|

Monopoly: Socialism.

So this Twitter thread on the execrable Monopoly: Socialism has made me wonder what an actual, good-faith version of the game would look like. And by “good faith” I mean “relatively true to basic real-world socialist models, while still having the capacity to go horribly wrong for the players”.


2019-10-15T09:39:20+11:0027th January, 2020|Tags: economics, gaming, pop culture|

Sunk cost fallacy.

Hey you remember that time U2 gave away an album for free to people with iPhones? And everyone freaked the fuck out about it?

Wild times.

(Incidentally, I listened once to one Songs of Innocence song, by accident on random shuffle, and… I actually kinda liked it? I mean, I still immediately deleted the album from every device I own because people are weird and I’m not exception. But, y’know. That one song was pretty okay.)

2019-12-18T09:52:56+11:0026th January, 2020|Tags: apple, ios, iphone, music, pop culture|

SWTOR cut-scene doodles.

Star Wars: The Old Republic character doodles drawn during cut-scenes.

I’ve currently finished three of the class storylines:

  • Sith Inquisitor (Assassin): My main, and the only class I’ve played to level cap. Class story is bananas in a good way, but was extremely meh on the companions. Played aggressively light-sided, initially romanced the padawan girl (… ick) but immediately ditched her for Space Husband Theron Shan in the expansions.1
  • Imperial Agent (Operative): Story starts a bit meh, gets strong in the middle, and kind of… never really delivers at the end. The “un-reveal” of Hunter left me so annoyed I just shot the guy without listening to any of his end-game speechifying, so no idea what he wanted to try and tell me. Another (mostly) light-sided play-through, romanced Vector, gave the Codex to the Minister and remained with Sith Intelligence. As an aside, the story really, really seems to want you to be mad at the Minister for the codeword thing, though honestly I thought his rationale for it was pretty reasonable in the context of how the Empire operates. The SIS using the codeword, however, was not; I killed everyone who did so and honestly it was enough to make me regret working with them on my main. I can see why people describe this as the best of the class storylines, even if I didn’t think it qui-ii-ii-ite pushed things far enough in the third chapter…
  • Jedi Knight (Sentinel): Ditched at Alderaan for Warrior (which see below). I just… couldn’t. The story is so boring and, honestly, I loathe the Knight’s voice acting.2 I can see why they chose it, but… ugh. No. Ostensibly playing dark-side for lolz, but the actual dark side choices for Knight are so boring—and honestly mostly petty and stupid to boot—compared to those in some of the other class storylines that I’m honestly struggling with it. On the plus side, I really like the aesthetics of Sentinel (setting enemies aflame with blue fire!), so… there’s that.
  • Sith Warrior (Juggernaut): Giant space daddy. Class storyline is straightforward but engaging, particularly if you’re a huge sucker for Lawful Evil like yours truly. Played aggressively neutral-aligned to confuse the galaxy, which was a lot of fun. Enjoyed the companions, but all the romance options for a male PC were super skeevy so romanced no one3 and slept with every NPC the game allowed me to sleep with instead. Enjoyed the play-style more than I thought I would, too.

Currently working on the Trooper (Commando) to unlock all four buffs, and I’m actually enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would—both play-wise and story-wise—though I’m not… hugely enthused with the direction they seem to want to take with the General…

But… yeah. That’s what I did in my New Year’s break!

Also: I still need to buy a new scanner…

  1. He’s currently mad at me; I’m trying to betray the Empire, Theron, but it’s not like the game allows you to defect! I just wanna shoot purple lightning at my enemies is that such a crime? []
  2. I actually re-rolled to get away from the male VA, though the female one isn’t much better. []
  3. I’m also sensing a… theme with the whole “romance your impressionable young female padawan/apprentice/subordinate/slave” which… every class has at least one of these, so like… gross, Bioware. Gross. []
2020-01-06T08:10:53+11:006th January, 2020|Tags: gaming, mmos, my art, pop culture, star wars, swtor, video games|

Full steam.

If goblins and orcs and trolls could think, then why were they always just there to be slaughtered by the heroes? And if the heroes slaughtered sentient beings en masse, how heroic exactly were they? It was a long overdue start on redressing issues long swept under the rug by a parade of Tolkien successors who never thought of anyone green and slimy as anything but a notch on the protagonist’s sword, and much of the urgency in Pratchett’s last few books seemed to be related to them. “There’s only one true evil in the world,” he said through his characters. “And that’s treating people like they were things.”

And in the last of his “grown-up” Discworld books, that idea is shouted with the ferocity of those who have only a few words left and want to make them count. Goblins are people. Golems are people. Dwarves are people, and they do not become any less people because they decide to go by the gender they know themselves to be instead of the one society forces on them. Even trains might be people, and you’ll never know one way or the other unless you ask them, because treating someone like they’re a person and not a thing should be your default. And the only people who cling to tradition at the expense of real people are sad, angry dwellers in the darkness who don’t even understand how pathetic they are, clutching and grasping at the things they remember without ever understanding that the world was never that simple to begin with. The future is bright, it is shining, and it belongs to everyone.

John Seavey on the flattened world.

2019-09-11T09:47:55+10:005th January, 2020|Tags: books, culture, pop culture|