Friday, February 20, 2009

People are dangerous (I)

Yes my dear readers. People are dangerous. I fear this will be a long post with one or two which will come afterward. I try to keep my posts consistent, and will touch more than one point in this series of posts, because frankly my dear readers, this latest turn of events is by far, the thing that appalled me most in the last 3 years.

Definitions
fanboy = "Fanboy is a term used to describe any individual who is devoted to a single subject in an emotional or fanatical manner, or to a single point of view within that subject, often to the point where it is considered an obsession." ~wikipedia.org
critique = "to judge or discuss the merits and faults" ~dictionary.com
diplomacy = "skill in managing negotiations, handling people, etc., so that there is little or no ill will; tact" ~dictionary.com

Setting
So you know where I am coming from, I will provide a few links towards 2 youtube channels that have been the focus of my attention for the last day or so, and an article in last week's edition of The Escapist online magazine. The links are not suitable for work.

First of all I mention Hellsing920. http://www.youtube.com/user/He11sing920
This guy has been ranting out there for a while about different things. I've went through all of his videos and found them entertaining at least as well as some other good things that may vary from person to person, which I will not mention. The videos in question are related to The Dark Knight movie (Entitled "Fanboy Chronicles - The Dark Knight part 1 and 2 ")

Second it is lillylivers. http://www.youtube.com/user/lillylivers
This girl has also been out there for a while tossing messages with hellsing and others into the vast sea of bile, vomit and garbage that is the internet, and in particular, youtube. While I don't personally support the way she has argumented and concluded some of her rant and fanfucktardery videos ( ie "go die", "nobody likes you", "you will die alone", etc) the things that she actually points out are wrong with said communities are pretty much true. Also, the video about the Twilight series ( entitled "I think I have just trolled the twitards" ) is the thing that finally pushed me to write this.

The article is this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_188/5741-Crazy-in-Love
It is an article on what fandom has brought to people and I must say that while reading only the article may give you an understanding on what I'm talking about, only following the links to the actual evidence that the author of the article brings forward, will you trully dip into the putrid swamps of fanboyism.

Brass Tacks
Those being said, let's start by differentiating fanboys and fandom. These two terms are extremely different. Because real fans, don't want to be mistaken with fanboys. Fans will say, "Hey, that movie is good, you should try it" whereas fanboys will say "THAT MOVIE IS GOD'S GIFT TO HUMANITY!!!!" and if you do not agree with them or, divinity forbid, challenge their belief with another movie and argument why it is better than said movie, you will find the discussion reduced at hitlerium, degrade into namecalling or degenerating into a fist fight, even when only women are concerned. I will elaborate on my last point later on.

Finally let us really start the discussion. If you read the links that Pat Miller provides in his article Crazy in Love, you will see some forum screen shots of people fantasizing about Sonic the hedgehog. Erotic fantasies of a furry. Now that in itself is something to behold and shock. I think that, if I was on the Sonic creator and maker team, and laid eyes on those boards... I would hang myself, only so I could twist in my grave. There is one person out there who claims to be Sonic's wife. And she doesn't stop there. "I would eat his vomit". If you look enough in the screen shots of the boards, and I think it is mentioned even in the main article, you will see that line. I will leave you, my dear readers, to formulate your own opinions on this phenomenon, I know I have, and to tell the truth, the sad thing is that people mistake these ... people... with actual fans. I say sure, if it makes you happy go right ahead, be batshit crazy. But when on the offshot that these people go outside and talk to a person and somehow Sonic comes up in the conversation, as is usually the case when someone is obsessive about something and they meet a new person, and in the chance that people say that they don't utterly adore the damn little hedgehog, you will see a pocket sized nuclear bomb go off. There will be screaming, shouting, name calling, cursing, slapping and even fist fights.

It is true, I have never seen such a thing in my life, however, I know where I live. And I know a group of people as fanatic in their beliefs, just as those people. I have probably mentioned manele before in my posts, if I haven't please leave a comment and I will expand on the subject there. I assume that any person saying that they do not particularly enjoy that type of music, or even dare to say that that type of music sucks, will get some sort of reaction close to the ones I have specified before. Again, I have not witnessed such a thing yet, however, I know the society I live in, and such a reaction, not only is in the realm of possibility, the probability of it happening are pretty high in normal circumstances. Because these people are comparable to US stree gangs. They don't know the meaning of "I'm minding my own business", and will often take any sort of opinion that diverges from their own as an assault.

There are 2 more concrete examples of these occurrences that I will elaborate, and they use the videos I named at the begining of the article.

First is Hellsing's rant and research that critics of The Dark Knight movie (the latest batman movie out there) which said that it was not that good, received threats to themselves, their lives, their families... for doing their job of criticizing a movie. Hellsing himself, if memory serves, had received from hate messages from viewers demanding that he review The Dark Knight. One of them out there actually bought him a copy after a video stating reasons as to why the review of it is 2 months late or something. I didn't remember the details, they were irrelevant.

The second is lillylivers' more shocking video concerning the Twilight series fanboys (remember, the definition is individual, and individual is gender lacking). Short video even shorter, she has had her arm broken, been slapped, her eye-ball gashed with a fake nail and a brick thrown at her head when exiting a book store, because she answered "No" when asked "Isn't Twilight the greatest series ever". Or that is what I understood from the videos. Now excuse my French but what the fuck is going on here? I know I have said that people don't read enough nowadays in a former post, but god fucking damn. These are not the middle ages and she didn't say she didn't like the bible for the love of Mike. If reading will get people to act like this, then stop the presses. Fuck reading. Let them fucking watch Survivor and Big Brother. Take the books away.

I will even be considerate of those more skeptical of you towards things found on youtube, and I will say, for the sake of argument, that lilly may or may not say the whole truth, or fabricating any of those events. My dear readers, if ANY of those events are true, it means that it probably happened again somewhere else. Maybe not the same event, maybe not as dramatic or even more dramatic, maybe even not related to the same bloody book, but it happened and will happen again. When a person cuts his own penis with a kitchen knife and fead it to his dogs (I shit you not, this was on the news a few years back), I can guarantee 100% that at least another man out there lost his penis by his own will and fed it to his dog, since the dawn of time, till now. Maybe it wasn't with a kitchen knife, maybe it wasn't actually fed to his dog but to a cat, a pet parrot, maybe it was cut by a farming tool, but it happened. Because people are good at hurting themselves and others in the most imaginative ways possible. If you don't believe me, look up the Spanish inquisition.

Will be continued
I will stop here for now, for it is already a long post and I have more material especially targeted to all the amateur (and I'm not using the word with a derogatory meaning) critics out there, as well as some other stuff related to how fans of different things might be able to tolerate each other a bit more.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The stigma of culture (II)

Continuing from where I left off the last time I posted. The continuing article is about music

The stigma of classical music
In my frantic search for music which helped me to study, I ran across an interesting site which offered radio classical music. After a while I started thinking about current generation music and how much it differs from what music was a few hundred years ago. More to the point, I was thinking of the upper class of music in those days, because frankly I can't imagine that the only kind of music was orchestra and opera. The participation at such a concert was regarded as status symbol as well as the mark of culture, or elevated education. I suspect that not many people aside from the upper middle class and high class were able to participate at these concerts and because of that, love for classical music was not as widespread.

However, the question that popped in my mind was a bit sudden. Why don't you hear about current generation famous classical music composers? Why are there no classical music concerts on MTV or other music broadcasting tv stations. I'll tell you why. Because the general society would classify those thins as either lame or beyond them. Surely, those who think that something is beyond deserve to have it beyond their grasp. What I don't understand is those who decide classical music is lame. We all know most human beings are as sheep, quick to follow anyone who expresses a strong enough point of view. And under that sudden conformism and peer pressure, even people who would have actually liked classical music will fall into the norm of not liking it, simply because his "friends" would not. Hence why the music stations both radio and tv (aside from those who are for the diehards of classical music) will never air a piece by Mozart played by the London Mozart players for example.

My father, when I asked him if he likes classical music, told me that to be able to enjoy classical music, you need to study the composer and try to think what he meant to say with that piece and I was left speechless. Do you, my dear readers, agree with him? Is it necessary to read about the piece and why the composer wrote it in order to enjoy the soothing sounds of the orchestra? Is studying musical history necessary to falling in love with the warm notes of a piano? Why am I, who never really pays attention to neither author nor title with most of the books or the songs I listen to, barred from being able to enjoy this sort of music? I opposed his idea and I still do.

But the most of my ire goes towards society. I don't think I can count on more than 2 hands the number of people I know (and note I say people I know not friends) who would not look at me funny if I were to invite them for an outing at a piano recital, and not because they hate the piano. How did this come? Why don't we hear more about current classical music composers who have created new masterpieces? Why do we hear more about Paris Hilton wanting to have a duet with Paul McCartney? Sure, you could tell me to go look at the sources who deal with this sort of thing, but this is of course my point. Why do I have to search so deep beneath the layers of information, if it actually exists, in the age of information, where a lot more useless crap is available for us to see right on the top?

In conclusion, I will look back on my previous statement of seeing Mozart on MTV, and realise that he would be twisting in his grave if he were to be placed next to Linkin Park, Britney Spears and Eminem. I know I would

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The stigma of culture (I)

Within the 2.1 decades that have compromised my life thus far, I was witness to some things that, when I look back upon them at this point in my life, make me recoil in disgust. I am not talking about the events of 9/11 or some other bloody struggle. Nor am I talking about some or other death or birth of a great thinker of our time.

The stigma of books
I, like some others out there, probably a bit too few out there have a passion for the written word. I, like even fewer out there, have a passion for reading philosophy. While I am unaware of my ability to actually do philosophy at a high enough level, the purpose of my reading it, is to better my knowledge and understanding of the world around. Take the new ideas I am confronted with, I run them through the spectrum of my principles and discard or adjust my principles depending on how much sense I believe the author is making. Even if I come to the conclusion that the author's ideas were misguided in any way or they do not end up as a ideology I will myself endorse, the experience of reading that book will remain and help my future arguments. The last statement I believe, or hope, is true for most of my brothers and sisters in books out there.

However, I said stigma in the title of this post and I will get to that soon. In my observations of the actions of those around me, I have come to the conclusion that, people in general dislike to read. Well... aside from the usual morning newspaper that most of us read either out of boredom, desire to have something to talk about with our colleges at work around the water cooler, or simply the desire to be informed. We all read ... a bit. However, the reason of my rant today, is the attitude children have towards their peers who have a passion for books. And more worrying these attitudes of .... I'm not even sure what to call them, but I will use oppression in lieu of a better word... have crossed over to the adult world.

"Say, I've noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country man, ever since around 1980... Coincidentally enough... I was in Nashville Tennessee last week, and after the show I went to a waffle house. Right? I'm sitting there, I'm eating and I'm reading a book. I don't know anybody, I'm alone, and I'm reading a book. And this waitress comes over to me "Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk... What'cha readin' for?" Wow, I've never been asked that... Not 'What am I reading?'... but 'What am I reading ... for?' ... Well god damn it you stumped me.... I guess I read for a lot of reasons but the main one... is so I don't end up being a fucking waffle waitress. Yea... that'd be really high on the list... Then this trucker in the next booth gets up stands over me and goes "Well... looks like we got ourselves a readah"... What the fuck's going on here?" ~ Bill Hicks - Sane Man (1989).

So, if we are to believe Mr Hicks words, and we would add the social delay that occurs when things that happen in the western world approach the old soviet block countries we should expect this in the near future, or that it has already been happening. It is my belief that children are the way the future will look. If I remember correctly from my early years, the fact that you had a passion for reading (which in my childhood was not so developed as it is now, and I have to thank a few friends for opening my eyes and my desires to actually read) was looked down upon by most of the other children in your class, and other classes in general. This continued through high school, where most people, while a bit less intolerant to books, were more than happy to let the jesters of the class poke jokes about the few who wanted to reach higher reason. College was not as scrutinized as high school for I have attended less than was wise to, so an educated opinion can not be performed. However, I hold most of my current classmates in a bit of higher regard that those of my select highschool (and I don't use the term ironically).

So how is this possible? I was never educated to have any disdain for those who read, and with time, I actually came to admire then join the few who read more than the newspaper. Did parents then not teach children the value of books? Do parents now not teach children the value of books? Will we, when our turn to be parents, will we not teach our children the value of books? I am not saying that they are obliged to like it. I am saying at least respect those with the patience and determination to go through things they cannot do.

"The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history". ~ Carl Thomas Rowan

I will never understand intolerance, but intolerance to readers is something that simply does not make sense to me. Dear readers, am I overly sensitive about this? Are these observations of mine distorted, or mere exceptions, isolated events?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gays revisited

A while back... not that long, I have spoken about gays, and with some recent developments I am thrown to this topic yet again. Only this time I have disdain for both sides.

Let me start at the beginning. In a city called Cluj, in the immediate future, there will be a lesbian parade if I understood well. Now, of course this sparked the disapproval of the conservatives and certain religious groups, however one politician which I shall not name (cause I cannot remember his name, but I do remember his party) caught my eye. Said politician is a member of the Democrat Liberal party, and with such I was really surprised to see him against a parade, while saying that goes against the family values. Now, please excuse my French but what the fuck? I thought that line was used by conservatives and religious fanatics... Weren't liberals a little more forgiving? He said he does not have a problem with gays being gay, but has a problem with gays being so public about it, which made me think a bit.

Why do gays have parades? Now comes my disdain towards the gay community (again I will enforce that I have nothing against gays and I support them getting recognition, rights and so on and so forth). Blacks don't have parades, Asians don't have parades, nor any other kind of minority which was oppressed and abused once in the past and gained rights. They have been recognized more or less willingly by most of the EU and wheels of politics are in motion, working for them to obtain rights. In the past, these parades were used to remind the world that they are here, and they are not that few to be called mad or the exception from the rule. But with their recognition and the aforementioned politics in motion, what more are these parades going to accomplish? I say that democracy is the liberty to do as you please in the pursuit of personal happyness while not impeading other people's pursuit of personal happyness. While I do call the said politician a hoppocrit, I also call upon the gay community to be a bit more... should I say more... delicate to other people's sexual preference. It is somewhat extraordinary as how some recognised minorities themselves turn to racism or sexism or discrimination, and I find the turn of events as disgusting as I find them amusing.

There are no straight parades out there my dear gays. So why do you still, after all that's being done, still consider it necessary to do so? What I'm trying to say, is that the most you will accomplish by doing so, is to anger those who want to stand against you, without any sort of gain. So what is the point?

My dear and few readers, I may be ignorant of some things, I admit. My thumb is not as much on the pulse of the world as I claim to have it, but I call things as I see them. And I see excess on both sides. Am I asking too much when I ask for moderation?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Feminists and the opposing forces

Well, I am looking at western culture and society and am left wondering. I am left wondering whether the social problems that arose within the western societies will make its way towards us in the future. You might say I'm paranoid, that each society has its own problems, but I am starting to see a pattern. It happened with anti-religion in schools (not as potent as in western countries but still here, and I am quite for the removal of said symbols from classrooms) and to the latest thing, the gay couples rights. Now I am unsure whether or not these will follow a chronological order, but I am worried about feminists and the opposite side making their way here.

There was a time when women were not allowed to do some things, but in my opinions those times have passed. Sure, there will be no utopia concerning sexism. There will be a few men here and there who won't agree with the fact that there are women out there who can do better than a man on a particular man considered job, as well as there are always going to be a few women out there who will believe that there are men out there who can do better than a woman on a particular woman considered job. But those are extreme cases and their frequency will die out with the current generation and the next.

But again, that is not why I am worried. Physics say that with every action there will be a opposite and equally powerful reaction. As we seen, the feminist aftermath has given birth to a man driven group or groups to fight against it. Each have their own views, but for the record, I'm going to lump every pro-man thing in PM and pro-woman thing in PW. These two groups may have elements in common, but that would be just splitting hairs. I'm going for the big picture.

With all these groups fighting for their own goal of supremacy of either one sex or the other, I am beginning to think... when will it be enough? In how much time has passed since feminism and its retaliation group started, have neither of these groups achieved enough of their goals to get to a point where they can say "Hey, we can stop now. It's equilibrium. Let's keep things as they are and start working towards a better goal... like curing AIDS and Cancer". But no, neither of these groups are willing to leave up.

So I will as you dear readers, do you think sexism on either side, still exists? And if so... how frequent do you believe it is? Is it frequent enough to keep both groups working on it, or can they pack up their stuff and go home?

Games are for kids

I can't believe I have let this topic wait this long. And I will start it off with a confession. I am a gamer. I will define gamer as a person who spends a good portion of his or her free time and resources playing video games. I will also define kid, anyone under the age of 12. That being out of the way, I will also state that I won't touch only games but cartoons and animes as well. But let's get on to the topic.

Video Games
I've heard this a million times and it seems that even though the computer games industry is growing as well as the number of people playing video games, a lot of the people out there are under the mindset that computer games are for kids. I came to wonder how this statement stands these days. I mean, the clearest proof of the fact that there is no high end age limit to playing games, is the fact that there are non porn 18+ (or Mature) video games out there. That being said... how can kids, if you will allow me this time to lump in teenagers of all ages with kids, play that specific game.

I'll point out simulators first. Technology has advanced to the point where, with a bit of resources (meaning a joystick and/or steering wheel) you could get to having a pretty realistic experience. So how would you say that flying a plane or driving a car is kid's play when you have the realism to maximum? That argument falls right there. The best example for the simulation genre is Ubisoft's Silent Hunter series, in which you are given command of a World War 2 submarine on either axis or allied side. The part of it that's amazing is that in later games ( 3rd and 4th installment of the series are the ones that I had the pleasure of playing ) you could set the detail level so high, that you actually had to identify the ship yourself and calculate torpedo trajectory while taking care not to be detected. You can't honestly believe that this sort of things appeal to kids.

Again working the technology point, there are real-time / turn-based strategy games out there that are complex enough in both political maneuvers and military maneuvers that require a lot of high level planning and foresight. How can you tell me with a straight face that an average 11 year old is capable of such feats? Sure trial and error may reap the desire result after a while but only if said kid has to. There are really a few number of them out there that have the patience and forethought necessary to like such a thing. We all know kids want instant gratification, so this sort of game cannot be appealing to them, now can it?

After writing this first part I don't see that much of a strong case, but I hope that by the end you will get the meaning of my message.

Cartoons and Animes.
Moving on from the gaming industry to the movie industry, why are cartoons generally attributed to children? Sure, there is the mega-corporation named Disney that made cartoons since gods know when, but really now, how can so many people believe that a medium such as a drawing (which in effect is the basis behind the cartoon) be given such a disqualifying audience as that. Yes yes, children are the miracles of our world bullshit, but there is so much more to it than that. The cartoon industry can be so much greater, and I will take the opportunity to make a reference towards Japanese culture and their animes.

First of all I will argue that not all cartoons are targeted at children. I don't really realize how, anyone can say that The Flintstones or The Jetsons are cartoons targeted at children. Sure, they are funny and presented in an odd way, but if you think about it... most of the jokes are adult jokes. How can children relate to Wilma's doubt's that Fred is cheating on her, or the wives spending of the men's little money. How can children get those jokes? Those jokes are targeted at adults, because only after you passed through life a bit, can you get stereotypes like that embedded into your head. Only after you got the basics of adult life and adult doubts and problems can you understand why Fred and George still went to work even if they hated it, why Wilma had her doubts, why Fred and Barney always got pissed at how the women spent their money, why Wilma and Betty always complained that their husbands never took them out or the tragedy that Barney and Betty couldn't have a child. Don't tell me children can get the full meaning of those actions.

Sure, I will give out the fact that there are children's cartoons out there, and they are many more than the adult targeted ones mostly because of the success that Disney had and many other people wanted in on the money train. There was a niche to be had and people jumped at it. But most of them neglected the wider audience that is the adult market, and rightly so. There would be a huge market for adult cartoon industry (and I'm not talking about porn) if adults were going to lower their comfortable "cartoons are for kids" reason and actually watch a proper animated movie. Think of the money they would save on special effects, stunt people, locations, boats and so on, because with cartoons, all you need is animators and a few voice actors. Writers would not be constrained by the human body and possibilities. Their imaginations could run wild. Such stories could be written and portrayed. Alas, that won't happen in the near future. Sure it's begun, with things like Kung-Fu Panda... but it's too little.

Moving on to anime, I have a bit of a bone to pick with most of what's west and east of Japan. There's a preconception out there that anime equals, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Sailor Moon. Well... I'm sorry but I will have to burst that bubble. Anime, unlike cartoons for the western people, have gone over their "anime ar for kids" and targeted the whole of the population with their works. I'm not saying that many Japanese adults watch anime, I can't really say that for sure, since I haven't had a chance to talk to one in person, but I will say that there are animes out there targeted towards adults who are willing to drop their arrogance. Only one example is needed for this and it's called Ghost Hunt. By watching all of it's 24 episodes, I am convinced that it is by far, the best horror thing out there in the industry of viewing. But that's just a minor example really. There are really many many more good animes out there in a wide palette of genres, ranging from dama, fantasy, action, adventure, you name it. I dare to say it is as varied as the film industry, with a lot less known titles. Mostly because to the western world... animes are weird or for kids.

In conclusion
I know it's another long post but I will end it with a rant. Why is it derogatory for an adult to play games or, watch cartoons or animes? Sure, they are different than the mainstream of movies and tv series but when you draw the bottom line... what is the point of the "entertainment business"? Let me tell you. The point of the entertainment business - and I will lump here reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, watching an anime or cartoon, going to the theater, etc - is to provide us with an escape from our reality. An escape in which, for the few hours we can spare, we can watch or imagine our favorite characters going out and doing things we only can dream about. Watching situations that are most definitely never going to happen to us and for the most part, live with them. That is the purpose of the entertainment business. We all want a bit of time out of our lives to be able not to think about our own taxes, mortgage, work, money, boss, school, girlfriend, politics etc. And games, books, plays, movies, cartoons, animes... all of these serve the same purpose. To provide that escape we all need, and hopefully... bring a new viewpoint into our own lives.

I have unlocked the sands of time, conquered the world at the throne of Dacia (reference, Romanian history BC), survived a couple of world war 2s, commanded a submarine, piloted an F22 and a MIG 29, survived a zombie infestation more than once.

I have also been next to Romeo when he killed himself, I've helped Tyler Durden blow up buildings and rescued Victor Mancini from self induced choking and I've been held captive with Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov in a Siberian prison camp.

And that's only off the top of my mind. What have you done?