Jul 30, 2009

The Backlash Against Race

We have ostensibly reached a point in this country where race is a liability in the exact opposite context of a hundred years ago. Fifty years ago, even. Henry Louis Gates' situation only highlights the sort of intolerance for racial grandstanding - playing the race card, in effect - that pervades our culture and our media. This non-story has been on the news for a week now, and all because a president - notice I don't say "black" president - invoked stupidity in the course of a wrongful arrest.

That the officer turned out to be using more or less correct protocol and Gates phrasing his assault in sophomoric language - can a Harvard intellectual not be in possession of the patois of the schoolyard? - only complicates the issue, even though as I have stated before, it is a non-issue. But, even an admission of it being a non-story only acts to buoy the race issue, since it has become a nationwide fascination, and provided those who think the plight of minorities in today's world to be dubious with a little more vitriol.

What must now be considered in our discourse on race is sophistication in discussion. There are few blatantly Rodney King-ian situations to hold up against our societal fabric and say, "Here! Racism is obviously still here." Racism does exist. The question is, to what extent does it exist and to what degree is it implied? Racism has become more pervasive, just as its opponents have become more attuned to both rhetorical and actual minutiae of social interaction.

It's easy, when judged against earlier standards, to say that it doesn't exist whatsoever, but that is misleading. It both exists and does exist, and each nationally televised situation cannot simultaneously be both. But this is the point we have reached, when someone labels something as such and another person must play contrarian. American is now filled with mutually excommunicating factions, making exactly opposite claims on race. They creates "sides" to which we must subscribe, so that we can be identified as one or the other, when in fact the spectrum of race in this country is much wider, more like a continuum than a simple binary.

Henry Louis Gates might have stood on sturdier ground not to first point to race in the case of his arrest, but as someone who has spent a majority of his life attached to racial deconstruction, it is naturally his mode of discourse. What is being lost in the story is the sense that the lines of communication in this debate are not open. Indeed, it's not a debate at all, but a screaming match. Race is complicated, and should be treated as such. Ratings-driven broadcasters have oversimplified the issue for the benefit of ratings, because two people yelling discordant statements about race plays better than two people actually coming to an understanding. How much better would it be if two people from ostensibly different sides compromised? My naivete precedes me, but I can think of nothing better than not feeling like I have to dig in my heels against a person of a different opinion.

The opposite of that is also not conceivable, and I concede that point as well. We cannot proscribe a list of commandments which says "this is racism" and "this is not". Every situation requires we look at it from a unique perspective. In that way, and forgive the phrase, it is not so black and white.

Edit: And what is ironic about this is that I chose to blog about race rather than Health Care or the Banks.

Jul 25, 2009

An 11-Year Old's First Time - With Contra

I always talk about older video games in terms of what my own generation thinks of them. That's why I like the video I posted, in which an eleven year old talks about his experience of playing the first Contra. His answers aren't very illumination - he obviously doesn't like it, and really who can blame him - but it is interesting to get that opinion. He talks about Halo 3 a lot, so that should give you an idea of where he is, gaming-wise. The interviewer probably could have done a better job of asking questions that couldn't be answered in with a simple yes or no, but it's a pretty good video nonetheless.

Jul 23, 2009

Gamers Against Racism

Gamers Against Racism!

Jul 21, 2009

Speaking of Landing Something...

As if we needed any more proof that Buzz Aldrin is a badass.

Jul 14, 2009

Halloween 2 Trailer

Jul 11, 2009

Auto-Tune The News

Finally, the machine that gave Britney Spears a career and T-Pain a wonderful cameo now has a purpose. This is the first time in history that John Boehner has enhanced anything.

The Comfort Wipe

Jul 9, 2009

Book Review: 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'

You might be asking why I'm reviewing the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, years behind its publication date and mere days away from the release of the sixth movie. It has directly to do with my pursuit of blowing through the first six books in preparation for the release of 'Half-Blood Prince' and indirectly to do with my growing admiration for the series. I wasn't very impressed with the first two books, I have to be honest. They were fairly good, though in and of themselves, I didn't think they necessitated five more books, of increasing length no less. But my opinion changed with the third - and subsequently the fourth - book.

I have to give it to J.K. Rowling: she managed to fool me again. Shame on me. I just put 'Goblet of Fire' down, and I have to say that I was very nearly disappointed until the last fifty pages or so (I won't give anything away, or at least I'll try). Needless to say, at its length, it has quite the labyrinthine plot, and in parts it became tedious to get through the characters' Bond-Villain-Like proclamations of guilt and motivation, but in the end I enjoyed it. There is one part (which I won't mention) where I thought the book - and perhaps the series - had jumped the shark, so I teetered over into territory where I thought I might actually come away actively disliking the book. I continued to read, skeptical of the outcome, but Rowling actually pulled it all together fairly well, aside from the problem I mentioned above.

'Goblet of Fire' is stronger than the third book, 'Prisoner of Azkaban', but only slightly. Though the plot threads do get tied up in the end, it seemed to have taken quite the effort to get them in position for the denouement, considering how much dialogue it took for everything to make sense. I am amazed at how many details become cogs in a fairly complicated plot machine. One thing I admire about the series is that it really does pay off for the reader to pay attention to even the minutest details, because they may get pulled into the story's climax. That, I believe, is a testament to J.K. Rowling's process of revision, which seems to be astoundingly in-depth. I'm looking forward to finishing books five and six within the next week.

Jul 7, 2009

Cool Star Wars Bookends

Go check out these Star Wars Bookends. If my bookshelves weren't already full, I might consider trying to buy some. You can purchase them here, if you have 198 penciled in to spend on Star Wars Bookends. I, myself, do not.

Kate Beckinsale in '30 Days of Night 2' - Trailer

Just kidding. Does have a similar look/feel to it, though doesn't it, from the snowed-in darkness (which, I know, is a function of geography) and it being based on a graphic novel. I do like Kate Beckinsale, but the trailer doesn't reveal what the movie's about. WHATsoever.

[REC] 2 - Trailer

I have no idea what this movie is or what it's about, but it looks like a FPS, and it makes me think of Resident Evil and perhaps - PERHAPS - that's how RE should have looked. I don't know that ? REC2 ? will be any good, but the trailer is especially bloody.

It is a newer trend in horror movies for them too have a documentary feel. Nearly ten years after 'Blair Witch'. I guess it's for immersion's sake, to make you feel as though you're right there in the action. It was fairly successful for both 'Cloverfield' and 'Quarantine', but I wonder, ultimately, how useful it will be. It's ostensibly a gimmick that does little but allow characters to break the fourth wall. I'd like to see someone use the trope inventively, even though it's an invention in and of itself.

Jul 6, 2009

RubikCubism - Abbey Road and London Calling

'I Sell the Dead' Trailer

It's weird, because this movie looks like something from early Sam Raimi, or Tim Burton, or Peter Jackson, adapting a work of Mark Twain's. Hard-drinking grave robbers and zombies; WHAT a combination. It's decidedly campy, and the plot seems thin-to-nonexistent, but it's going to be one helluva good time.

Jul 5, 2009

'The House of the Devil' - Trailer

This movie is pure 70s exploitation, and it looks wonderfully violent and subversive.

Jul 3, 2009

Tokyo! Trailer

According to Yahoo Movies, 'Tokyo!' is:

Triptych feature telling three separate tales set in Tokyo, Japan. "Shaking Tokyo" centers on a man who has lived for 10 years as a hikikomori, (a term used in Japan for people unable to adjust to society and so they never leave their homes) and what happens when he falls in love one day with a pizza delivery girl. "Interior Design" follows the story of a wannabe movie director who arrives in Tokyo with his girlfriend only to find that parts of her bones are turning into wood.

It has already had a limited release in the U.S., though I haven't heard word one about this movie. Goes to show that my finger is not on the pulse of the industry, I guess.

Jul 2, 2009

Penn & Teller Burn A Flag in the White House

I have become enamored with 'The West Wing', and I haven't so much as watched a single episode. The clips I've watched on YouTube are excellent, though. Does anyone suggest watching it, one way or the other?

And what about the issues brought up by the segment? We all know Penn, at the very least, and maybe Teller, is a staunch Libertarian. This is an interesting moment to talk about the flag, what with the Fourth of July coming up. Any thoughts?

Jul 1, 2009

Transformers 2 FAQ

If you went to see Transformers 2 this weekend (and, if you didn't, you're the only person on earth who can claim that, LP), then maybe some things didn't make sense. Why, for example, if the Allspark killed Megatron in the first movie, would it be used to bring him back to life in the second one? If you have those questions, bounce over to Topless Robot to view the Transformers 2 FAQ. It's nitpicky (Witwicky?), of course, but it's pretty funny nevertheless.