Current Times 16

1. New Savanna has a blog post up about The Thin Red Line, which is definitely my favorite movie. I like the point made at the bottom of the post, that the movie is not about human beings, and that the human is ephemeral to the film itself. The movie just happens to take place near people; it doesn’t need them.

2. The Kill Screen blog has an interesting piece up about feminism and the way that we should approach video games and how they represent the body. The example the author uses is the tragically shitty, visually offensive Bayonetta, and she makes a point in the end that’s hard to argue with: we should learn how a game operates, and really study its symbology, before we damn or love it. And that’s a great idea, except for the fact that when you look that closely, sometimes you miss the big picture. I can’t imagine watching the video that she links (and you should, it’s so strange) and having anything other than an immediate reaction of disgust and wondering “How the fuck was this made?” Read the article, it’s good journalism.

3. This is an awesome video of Matt Damon standing up for teacher tenure rights. I don’t think I share the same opinion as Damon does about the issue, but I like to see him using his celebrity for something good, and we share a similar opinion about what he calls “MBA-style thinking.” What blows my mind (or really doesn’t, sadly) is that the people who put the video together spliced in Damon crying in Good Will Hunting into the middle of the interview. Are they just trying to show Matt Damon as some kind of unmanly guy? He won an Oscar for writing that movie, and it’s one of the most emotionally charged scenes in contemporary cinema. Who gives a fuck if he cried?

4. Do you know about yooouuutuuube? You should.

5. What about Geocities-izer?

6. This Richard Powers essay is beautiful. He talks about the “pomo novel,” but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s closer to the hauntological novel. I especially like the following quote:

And this spring, Berlin — increasingly pretty Berlin — seems to have reached a similar accommodation. The whole sprawling centerless city has fallen in love with play-acting itself again. Berlin, 2009, seems intent on becoming the based-on-a-true-story version of its all-too-factual past. The week I came to town, The Producers opened in the Admiralspalast: “Springtime for Hitler,” in the theater where the Führer himself once kept a private box. Long red banners dangle down the neoclassical Friedrichstrasse façade, the black swastikas against their white circles now twisted into pretzels. Just down the street, the subterranean bunkers of high-ranking Nazis do a brisk business as hip, all-night clubs.

7.  Ian Bogost talks about how ‘gameification’ is bullshit. I largely agree with his sentiments. I haven’t seen many instances when gameification has worked, and I have a feeling that when it does work, it wasn’t because of a the game portion (like Weight Watchers.) A quote:

I’ve suggested the term “exploitationware” as a more accurate name for gamification’s true purpose, for those of us still interested in truth. Exploitationware captures gamifiers’ real intentions: a grifter’s game, pursued to capitalize on a cultural moment, through services about which they have questionable expertise, to bring about results meant to last only long enough to pad their bank accounts before the next bullshit trend comes along.

8. Penny Red talks about the riots in England.

Violence is rarely mindless. The politics of a burning building, a smashed-in shop or a young man shot by police may be obscured even to those who lit the rags or fired the gun, but the politics are there. Unquestionably there is far, far more to these riots than the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting sparked off the unrest on Saturday, when two police cars were set alight after a five-hour vigil at Tottenham police station. A peaceful protest over the death of a man at police hands, in a community where locals have been given every reason to mistrust the forces of law and order, is one sort of political statement. Raiding shops for technology and trainers that cost ten times as much as the benefits you’re no longer entitled to is another. A co-ordinated, viral wave of civil unrest across the poorest boroughs of Britain, with young people coming from across the capital and the country to battle the police, is another.

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