- A lot has been written recently about the “film,” Innocence of Muslims, notably its offensiveness to Muslims (and film lovers), the violence that’s erupted in its wake, and the duplicitous nature with which it was made. Now, via Neil Gaiman one of the actresses speaks out:
It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all. It’s painful to see people being offended with the movie that used our faces to deliver lines (it’s obvious the movie was dubbed) that we were never informed of, it is painful to see people getting killed for this same movie, it is painful to hear people blame us when we did nothing but perform our art in the fictional adventure movie that was about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it, it’s painful to be thought to be someone else when you are a completely different person.
- I’m not quite sure I buy into the idea of Breaking Bad as a “White supremacist fable” entirely — it’s probably true the show doesn’t get the drug trade right, but, then, it’s not really about the drug trade, is it? — but there’s some interesting food for thought here:
White-washing the illegal drug market involves depicting it like markets wealthy viewers are more comfortable and familiar with, namely those of the farmers market or the local pharmacy. Walter White combines the ostensible moral complexity television audiences demand in a post-Soprano protagonist with a cleanliness that allows him to market expensive cars. The U.S. is still very much a white supremacist country, but classic cowboys-kill-Indians narratives don’t play with wealthy viewers or the critics who help determine those tastes. And Jack Bauer can drive only so many cars. For the credulous viewer who likes to imagine he’s a couple of life crises from being the Larry Bird of meth — and for the people who sell him stuff — White is right.If nothing else, the article makes me want to re-watch The Wire.
- John Green on self-publishing and Amazon:
Here’s my concern: What will happen to the next generation’s Toni Morrison? How will she—a brilliant, Nobel-worthy writer who doesn’t have a huge built-in audience—get the financial and editorial support her talent deserves? (You’ll note that there’s no self-published literary fiction anywhere near the kindle bestseller lists.) Amazon will have absolutely no investment in that writer, and they won’t need to. Over time, I’m worried this lack of investment will hurt the quality and breadth of literature we actually read, even if literature remains broadly available.
- This isn’t new, but: Jonathan Coulton on the future of music, 3D printing, and scarcity:
This is my bias: the decline of scarcity seems inevitable to me. I have no doubt that this fight over mp3s is just the first of many fights we’re going to have about this stuff. Our laws and ethics already fail to match up with our behaviors, and for my money, those are the things we should be trying to fix. The change is already happening to us, and it’s a change that WE ARE CHOOSING. It’s too late to stop it, because we actually kind of like a lot of the things that we’re getting out of it.
- And finally, PBS asks, “Can fandom change society?” [via]
- Here’s a question: Who inherits your iTunes library? Maybe a follow-up to that: would you want someone to inherit it?
There’s a significant difference between shelves of books or stacks of records and folders of e-books or mp3s. There’s no re-sell value to the latter, for instance, either because of the difficulties of transferring the files or because of restrictions inherent in the licensing agreements we sign. So the only reason to bequeath your digital media is if you feel the person receiving it in your will actually will want it.
- Ass-whooping on NPR.
- In other news, they were still printing Nintendo Power Magazine?
- Writing credits in documentaries: apparently a bigger issue than you might think.
- And finally, Space Stallions!
More information here.
- “Local business owners say Yelp offers to hide negative customer reviews of their businesses on its web site…for a price.” [via]
- The GOP’s Blatant Racism:
The problem with the illusion of a postracial society is that at almost any moment the systemic nature of racism, its legacy, methods and impulses, might have to be rediscovered and restated as though for the first time. If the problem has gone away, those who point it out or claim to experience it are, by definition, living in the past. Those who witness it in action must be imagining things. Those who practice it are either misunderstood or maligned. [via]
- The Tragedy of the Smurfs:
Imagine what that must feel like, to be forced into a single role at birth, a role that not only defines what you’ll do for the rest of your life, but what you’ll be. Trapped. Unchanging. Your name is a black hole, and no matter how hard you try, you’ll never escape its pull. And then to see in humans a freedom that you yourself will never know.
That’s the true dystopian horror of the Smurfs. [via]
- Zack Handlen on the most recent Supernatural episode:
As a straight dude, I have a sneaking suspicion I missed out on one of the main appeals of 1944 for a large part of Supernatural’s audience, but an outfit isn’t really enough. If Mad Men did an episode called “Christina Hendricks Goes To Bikini Island,” I wouldn’t automatically praise it. I’d watch it, sure, but c’mon.
- And finally, Philip José Farmer’s calling card [via]:
- An Outtake from Word Freak: The Enigmatic Nigel Richards. Possibly the world’s greatest Scrabble player…though he doesn’t take much enjoyment from the game. [via]
- Israeli Man Changes Name to Mark Zuckerberg to goad the company into suing him. I have no love for Facebook, but his company seems like a pretty clear violation of Facebook’s terms of service, and the man himself seems like an ass.
- Jon Scalzi on the “flying snowman”:
This is not to say that, when encountering fantasy work, one has to abandon all criticism. But if you’re going to complain about one specific element as being unrealistic, you should consider the work in its totality and ask whether in the context of the work, this specific thing is inconsistent with the worldbuilding.
- Zach Handlen on the TV adaptation of Bag of Bones:
A good genre story is designed in such a way as to distract you from its inner machinations. Intellectually, you can go back and say, yes, this was a scene of rising action, this was a character development moment, this was a piece of information that will become crucial later on, this was was a resolution of an earlier mystery. Everyone quotes Chekhov’s comment on a gun in act one going off in act two, and at heart, that’s all stories really are: First you load the pistol, then you aim it, then someone pulls the trigger. It’s a method of delivery for a series of stimuli designed to provoke audience response, and the better the book, movie, or TV show, the less time you spend thinking about the mechanics of the process, and the more time you spend luxuriating in the response.
I have to admit, I kind of want to see it now.
- I noted this on Twitter, but it bears repeating: if you’re offended just by the idea that some Americans are not Christian…then you are a bigot.
- Terry Gilliam continues to dream the impossible dream.
- As much as I think I’d love any movie where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy do nothing but talk to one another, I kind of hope they don’t make another Before Sunrise movie. The two, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset work so well together, and I feel like revisiting the characters would be going to the well one too many times. (They also appear in Waking Life together.) Still, I’m willing to be proven wrong.
- A gorgeous photo of the Milky Way from the top of the world [via]
- Speech Synthesizer Could ‘Resurrect’ Dead Singers. I think that sound you’re hearing is the echo along the Uncanny Valley. [via]
- And finally, some wonderful bedtime stories from Doctor Who cast members:
- Tintin’s Lovecraftian Adventures
- Along the same lines: What If…Herge Created the X-Men?
- And also, what if Charles Schulz illustrated H.P. Lovecraft? [via]
- Today in infographics: The Rules of Magic, Doctor Who Timeline, and Good Versus Evil in the Superhero Comic Color Palette [via and via]
- The truly odd story of New York’s Hartwick College and their “Methuselah” trust from a one-time benefactor:
Because thanks to an eccentric New York lawyer in the 1930s, this college in a corner of the Catskills inherited a thousand-year trust that would not mature until the year 2936: a gift whose accumulated compound interest, the New York Times reported in 1961, “could ultimately shatter the nation’s financial structure.” The mossy stone walls and ivy-covered brickwork of Hartwick College were a ticking time-bomb of compounding interest—a very, very slowly ticking time bomb.
One suspects they’d have rather gotten a new squash court. [via]
- Sorry, folks on my Christmas list: Mailing Chicken Pox Lollipops Is Illegal, Reckless. Maybe just a card? [via]
- A Tree Grows in Queens (Right Through An Auto Body Shop!) [via]
- “Sure. Alternate realities. You could have, like, a world without shrimp. Or with, you know, nothing but shrimp…” – Anya
First top predator was giant shrimp with amazing eyes. (“You have amazing eyes! Please don’t eat me, giant killer shrimp!”)
- The Higgs boson: Why scientists hate that you call it the ‘God particle’ [via]
- And finally, Bobby McFerin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale [via]: