Wednesday various

  • 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]

Tuesday various

Sunday. It gets away from me a little at the end.

I did the crossword puzzle today, went to the movies with friends, and wrote this:


The movie I saw was The Dark Knight Rises. I won’t deny there was a little part of me eying the exits, on the lookout for suspicious behavior, a little extra-jumpy at the (not infrequent) sound of gunfire on the screen. I’m really angry and sad that the conversation about the film, which I thought was very good, has to accommodate the terrible tragedy that happened earlier this week in Colorado. That our enjoyment of the movie had to be so horribly undermined by a murderous asshole with a gun.

At the same time, of course I recognize that that’s the very least of the tragedy. And by calling the gunman a murderous asshole, I’m neither trying to make light of his terrible crime nor suggesting that I don’t have some small amount of…well, not exactly sympathy, but maybe empathy, or understanding, for the very real mental problems he might have, which led him to this horrible act.

But I also don’t want to make him out to be something that he’s not, something that fits into the narrative of the Batman films. Because that’s just feeding into his delusion, and I can’t help but feel that when the media does it — and have they ever — they are in no small degree complicit, or at the very least encouraging to other deranged and violent souls. If your goal is to prevent this sort of thing from happening again, you don’t call the gunman “the Dark Knight Killer.” Better, I think, that you call him a murderous asshole.

Those who are truly complicit, of course, are the gun manufacturers and the NRA and the lobbyists, and moreover the state and federal representatives who have failed to protect anything but the interests of the former three. It’s important to remember that the gunman in Colorado purchased his guns legally, and yet I’m hard-pressed to think of any legal reason why a private citizen would need, or should be allowed, a semi-automatic weapon.

I’m not wholly, across-the-board anti-gun. I’ve fired one myself all of once, on a firing range when I was a Boy Scout, and I’ve never really seen the appeal. But I understand, to some extent, their use for hunting and for self-defense. But a weapon like the one that did most of the killing in Colorado has one purpose — to kill — and because of that we need more, not less, safeguards against it falling into the wrong hands.

I feel like this post has gotten away from me a little bit, more half-formed thoughts than anything else. (Hey, there were some silly superheroes up above!) But it really was impossible to talk about The Dark Knight Rises without talking about what happened in Aurora. In many ways, the film is an indictment of those who would use violence and terror to achieve their ends. It’s a fitting conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — and that, quite frankly, is the conversation I want to be having.


An uneventful day here, incredibly quiet at the office, especially after most everyone else went home for summer hours after lunch. (I think I counted six of us still left on my side of the office.)

I’m just still shocked and saddened by the tragic news out of Colorado. My heart goes out to everyone there, all the victims and their families.

Tuesday various