pop culture

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What do you think happens when an entire generation is raised exclusively on Marvel and Star Wars movies, and then ages into boomerdom? THIS. This is what happens. Half a century from now, you’ll walk into a Christmas party at a 6,500 sq, ft. mansion hosted by some McKinsey executive, and the whole joint will be decorated with elaborate Baby Yoda tapestries and ceramic Tony Starks hand-crafted by skilled artisans in Lombardy. You’ll never escape it.

Drew Magary on taste.

2020-01-06T07:30:05+11:002nd April, 2020|Tags: pop culture|

Endgame.

Yet another way to recognize power is the intentional foregoing of selling your product to customers in order to capture market power elsewhere, or what is known as vertical foreclosure. This is most apparent in the new service Disney is rolling out called Disney Plus, which will bundle all of Disney’s massive trove of content into a Netflix-like bundle. In some ways, this looks like [Disney CEO Bob] Iger’s end game in the strategy for global dominance. Disney can produce must-have branded content, force theaters to show all of its branded content, and then leverage that across its global network of theme parks and its dominant streaming service. It is vertically integrated from production lot to the end consumer.

Iger’s strategy is to do what Netflix is trying to do, except with more raw power. Netflix’s strategy is to produce so much content and sell it at a loss through subscriptions, in the hopes it can drive its competitors out of business. One it has a large base of subscribers and no competitors, it can then raise prices on its subscribers (as it is doing in the U.S.) and pay its talent less money. Where else are they going to go?

Matt Stoller on monopoly culture.

The whole article is worth reading and, yeah yeah, no ethical consumption under capitalism and all that, but

But.

2019-12-12T09:13:58+11:0028th March, 2020|Tags: economics, pop culture|

Sleep woke.

There seems to be a much deeper affection in these circles for corporate art — for the Marvel cinematic universe and its bland, calculated inoffensiveness, say — than there is for art made by artists. Movies like Wonder Woman and Captain America: Civil War are evaluated with a generosity of spirit that borders on delusion, cults of enthusiastic acclaim forming around actress Gal Gadot’s onscreen thigh jiggle and the “subtle homo-eroticism” of Thor: Ragnarok. 

Corporate art exists to please. It exists to reaffirm the status quo and to build affection for and loyalty to corporations. From the callous Islamophobia of the Iron Man movies to the US Air Force and CIA-approved wokeness of Captain Marvel and Black Panther, the whole enterprise is bent on saying as little as possible while looking as socially conscious as it can. Fandom’s fixation on finding gay themes and subtext in these blockbuster juggernauts was more understandable when independent gay art was harder to find, but today you don’t even have to brave a convention– you can dig it up with a quick search on Etsy or Gumroad. When independent artists release material featuring actual deviant sexuality, though — from gay content to incest — the reaction from these same people is overwhelmingly prudish. There is little to no desire among them to interact with adult work created by adult gay and trans artists. That art — small art, created for personal reasons — is too dangerous to touch, too full of moral imperfections and frightening images.

Gretchen Felker-Martin on extruded woke product.

Long quote, go read the whole thing, and see also this and this.

2019-11-14T08:52:15+11:003rd March, 2020|Tags: culture, fandom, pop culture|

unknown.mp3

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”.

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