Serial killer shows are, by my reckoning, the stupidest goddamn things. While I believe their nadir was last year’s The Following, my favorite example of their stupidity was sometime earlier, in some show called “Chase” or “The Chase” or “Chaser” or something, about a marshal doubtless named Chase. Anyway. I watched it because it featured The Wire’s own Mr. Prezbo for an episode as some manner of badass criminal, a sight too hilarious to pass up. He was, of course, a serial killer, which according to the modern paradigm means he is the very pinnacle of danger, physically and mentally unstoppable. Despite being a former English teacher who attacked 16 year old girls, his compulsion for murder gave him the fighting prowess of the Predator and the calculating brilliance of Lex Luthor. In the opening moments, he beat two armed marshals to submission while shackled and escaped. Later, he breaks into an empty home. “He has a knife now,” one of the desperate marshals on the hunt intones. By the next scene, the pursuing marshals are armed for Ragnarok. Kevlar. Bandoleers of flash bang grenades. Assault rifles with nightvision scopes, forward grips, and double magazines for fast reloading. Such were the tools needed to take down this elemental force of murder now that he had a kitchen knife. Moronic.But that’s the power our cop dramas usually attribute to serial killers. They’re the boogey men. We don’t believe in goblins, witches, and ogres anymore, so we have serial killers. And that’s just one stupid patch in the deep, stupid quilt of stupidity that goes into the serial killer show. That matter of taste should be kept in mind when I say Hannibal is one of the best shows on right now. It goes to show that a little artfulness goes a long way.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I generally read reviews after I’ve watched a film, which might seem odd, but is a natural part of my assessment process, seeing what others have to say. Obviously, this time of year, as I catch up with the prestigious and high-minded films catching awards heat, what others have to say gets more diffuse, specific and hair-splity, since in general such films have at least a base level of competence. Usually. Anyways. Two such films I made sure to catch are 12 Years a Slave and Fruitvale Station, which respectively have aggregate review scores of 96% and 94%, and one criticism I saw levied at both, from professionals and cinephiles, hinged on matters of existence. Specifically that they didn’t “say anything [the speaker] didn’t already know.” Looking at the posters for both, you might see something else they have in common. Further, if you’re familiar with the backstory of each, you might see yet another.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
I Don’t Know, I Wasn’t There, But I’m a Human Being with a Brain, so I Have Suspicions Based on the Information I Have Gathered
The human brain is, surely, the most wondrous thing currently known to mankind. Right now, I just opened a bottle of my favorite beer. My brain coordinated not only the entire mechanical process (while keeping me upright the whole time), it managed the impulses that drove me to get one, while retaining all the information required to acquire said beer, where I left it, where I could find more, the process by which I could get more, roughly how much more I could get balance with how much more I should, the qualities that make it my favorite, how it compares to all the other beers I have ever had, and many, many memories surrounding this beer, and it has resolved the philosophical conundrum that while I have never had this specific, individual beer before, it is my favorite, and it continued to regulate the rest of my body’s functions that ensure my continued survival, with plenty of room for a myriad of other thoughts, plans, wishes, memories, instincts, feelings, and so on. All of this, it did, while only weighing about 3 pounds. By way of contrast, the laptop I am composing this upon weighs about 3.3 pounds, and it sometimes runs at 33% capacity with just a document and a web browser running. Yet, this laptop was also designed by a brain, as was the beer, the bottle it came in, the car I drove to get it, the store I bought it in, and the economy that allowed me to buy it. I love my brain, and thus I have little patience for those who pretend theirs don’t work.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Very rarely has it been said of me that my tastes are expected, and obviously, there is never total agreement on quality. Still, in the hype leading up to the 50th anniversary of The Doctor, I was aghast to see the two part “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” mentioned in a positive context. This culminated in a ranking of every single Doctor Who story that placed this bit of idiocy where the Doctor finds the Devil in a black hole and shouts at him at 27 of 241. Twenty-fucking-seven! He meets Satan! Twenty-fucking-seven! According to the list-makers, that was firmly among what were dubbed “Classics,” and above…well, just about every story I’ve seen, except for the girl who draws squiggles and the one with the ass monster—admittedly, it does introduce the Ood and does very little with them. Still, I can’t exactly judge—I really like “The Rings of Akhaten.”
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
In the days since I began my YLT Project, I’ve been asked with some regularity about my current viewing habits. Sometimes, I even get asked what my top five shows are in a given year, and lover of sharing that I am, I share. I’ll even share them here! After all, as many problems as lists can have, it’s always a good idea to inventory yourself.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Subtext can be a tricky, subtle beast. I’ve looked back on my own fictional work and been surprised to find, say, what had been envisioned as a thunderous sci-fi romp wherein humankind was not top galactic dog also happened to look exceptionally critical of the UN if you squinted hard enough. I like the UN! So I understand how, in the push to bank some Harry Potter and Twilight bucks by making something similar, sloppily conceived YA serieses end up with themes and undertones not necessarily intended. Still, though a strange alchemy of themes, tropes, and archetypes, lots of these lesser YA series end up feeling, well, a bit fascist. Specifically, a peculiar, youthful sub-thought I’d call Nerd Fascism, a strange mixture of young alienation, entitlement, cliquiness, with archetypal monomyth elements of the special birth or hidden parentage blended in, creating something that can feel thematically distasteful—a sense that the work believes some people are born better than others. But, in the vastness of culture oriented toward the young, not all special births are equal, and some handle their themes better than others.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Martyrdom is an idea that seems burned into the human soul. We love martyrs almost on instinct, as they reflect our highest ideals, they are what we're supposed to be. The 20th century gave us a host of them, figures that still loom large over American culture, rightly venerated. And in our pop culture, we particularly lionize them, telling their stories over and over. At times, we almost obligate their demises. Earlier this year, as Spartacus reached its final episodes, some fans started speculating that the creators would pull a fast one, and let their historical hero skirt his destined martyrdom and escape into the Italian mountains. After all, we don't really know how Spartacus died. Appealing though a happy ending for long suffering Spartacus was, creator Steven DeKnight, however, quite rightly pointed out how troubling it would be for the man to let hundreds of thousands die for his cause, then walk away. DeKnight was right, of course. But martyrdom is a hefty burden and not all martyrs get such clear moral stakes. In the last act of Dragon Age II, the mage-guarding Templars are ordered to kill their charges, fed by the fear that the mages will soon become demonically possessed. For the mages, there are two options—die a horrible stabby death, or let a willing demon take over their body so they can fight. Each mage picks the latter. Many players didn't accept that the mages would make the choice that, in effect, proves the Templars right. But to me, it was a simple recognition of this truth: the moral high ground is hard to appreciate when you're dead.I've been thinking of this ever since I beat The Last of Us.