Space Ramblings

Go Home The Following Season 3, You’re Boring

It's happening again... no really, it is.

It’s happening again… no really, it is.

The first episode of The Following Season 3 is named New Blood. If Only.

Instead we get a serial killer conspiracy headed by the dumbest and dimmest member of a second group of serial killers that were the B Team last season. And that was a season running on fumes.

Season 1 of The Following was brilliant. And then it was over. Season 2 tried to say something about religion. It failed because it couldn’t shake its addiction to Joe Carroll. And Joe Carroll still isn’t dead and probably is running the whole game from behind bars. And that’s probably optimistic.

Instead of moving on to new threats, The Following Season 3 is about more amateur serial killers recreating murders. Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy is reduced to constantly pointing out that something had happened before. And that’s the writers announcing their own repetitiveness.

Why?

Lilly Gray might have been just as compelling as Joe Carroll in her own right. Instead it was the Joe Carroll show. And that meant turning a mediocre novelist into a cult leader obsessed with religion. It didn’t work. Now what’s left of the band is back together again. And it’s a bad band.

Season 1 wasn’t afraid to kill people. Season 3 burdens us not only with Max, but with every boring second banana. The episode opens with the lesbian wedding of the FBI boss who was stupid enough to serve as an unwitting back channel to Joe Carroll. All that was forgiven, but we’re supposed to believe that Congress cared enough to hold hearings on their tactics for catching the serial killers. Or that anyone in the FBI would take accusations from crazed serial killers written in bodies seriously.

Season 2 was critically panned. Why after getting another season would The Following dig through the trash of its failed last season?

The Following Season 3 isn’t bringing anything new to the table. It’s a watered down version of the last season just like that was a watered down version of its edgy raw first season. It’s spending so much time rehashing what happened last season that it won’t attract new viewers or even win back old ones.

Mansions. Messages left for Ryan. Ryan wavering over whether to get close to someone. Captured serial killers sneering at Ryan. Ryan telling him that he had done this before. Because it’s all been done before.

 

Willful Child by Steven Erikson Book Review, a Lame $25 Star Trek Parody

Willful Child by Steven Erikson is supposed to be a Star Trek parody, but its real joke is about the publishing industry which will put out a 50 year joke as a 25 dollar hardcover novel because its author has a few bestsellers under his belt.

Funny parodies have been written about Star Trek. Take John M. Ford’s How Much for Just the Planet? Or Peter David’s New Frontier novels which take the basic MPQAngag of Erikson’s Willful Child about a psychotic Kirk-like captain and play it straight while adding characters and deadpan comedy.

If you ever heard The Firm’s Star Trekkin’ with its chorus of “We come in peace/Shoot to kill” then you’ve already sat through Willful Child, but without reading through hundreds of pages.

That’s all there is to it.

Willful Child’s captain Hadrian Alan Sawbuck is a psycho who wears stretchy shirts, seduces female crew members and blows up aliens. And he’s the only realized character in this. He’s Futurama’s Zapp Brannigan without a Kif, just a bunch of disposable female sidekicks with names like Joss Sticks (Yes, Steven Erikson is a master of comedy) whose only joke is saying “Like” in every sentence.

And that’s just for starters.

If you wanted to read the kind of groundbreaking comedy about Star Trek that dates back to the 60s, Steven Erikson delivers. There are jokes about how fake the sets look and how other planets look like Northern California. Did you ever notice that?

But Steven Erikson also daringly ventures into the 80s and even the 90s by making jokes about how awful Celine Dion and Barry Manilow are.

This is material that Jay Leno would call lame. Guys doing standup in Branson would ask for something fresher. The only people who didn’t are Tor editors.

It’s a bunch of a Mad Magazine gags with a glowing recommendation from Robert J. Sawyer, because that’s just how the publishing industry works. And considering how old the jokes are, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was just a trunk novel/bunch of papers Erikson had lying around in his desk from high school that he handed over to Tor to buy some time. And they published it. As a novel.

Want proof? Sulu is renamed Zulu. I refuse to believe that an adult did that.

This is a 25 dollar hardcover novel in which the characters actually keep shouting that their adventures are “episodic”. They keep doing it like a standup comedian getting up off stage and elbowing you in the ribs to laugh at his joke about how white guys are all like this and black guys are all like that.

It’s not just that Willful Child’s jokes are lame. A lot of them aren’t even jokes.

Like the name of the ship. Willful Child. Or the rogue AI named Tammy Wynette. They’re placeholders for jokes. Or desperate randomness.

And those are the good parts. Two thirds of the way, Erikson loses whatever is left of his plot and begins randomly throwing out alien attacks. It might have made Willful Child worse if ‘worse’ was an option. It’s not.

Erikson interjects lectures on how social media is destroying our society. Willful Child is so bad that I can’t tell if he’s being serious. It’s so bad that I don’t really care.

The only joke here is what a miserable mess the publishing industry has become. The joke is that Tor will publish this, but it won’t publish actual Science Fiction. The only actual big picture SF novel I see in their new releases in John C. Wright’s Judge of Ages.

What Willful Child reminds me most of all is when execs chose to turn Batman into a bad TV gagfest because they refused to take the original material seriously. The last laugh was had and it wasn’t by the executives who refused to take comic books seriously.

Putting out Willful Child while boycotting actual blue sky Science Fiction is an act of contempt by Tor’s editors who refuse to take Science Fiction, the traditional kind, seriously. Science Fiction, with its spaceships and galactic empires and silly men in silly suits exploring the stars, will have the last laugh.

It’ll have to because there are no laughs to be had in Willful Child. Not unless you think jokes about Celine Dion hold music are as funny as it gets.

Terrible Books – A Barnstormer in Oz by Philip Jose Farmer

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Philip Jose Farmer was famous for writing unofficial sequels to famous works that no one wanted and would have paid money to pretend never existed.

A Barnstormer in Oz is probably the worst unofficial Oz sequel and considering some of the terrible ones that have been written, that’s saying a lot. But A Barnstormer in Oz might also be the worst sequel to have been written to anything.

How bad is it?

Around page 11 there’s a description of Glinda’s nipples. Glinda the Good. But for equal time, Farmer also offers horrified readers a description of the Tin Woodman’s nipples. And his cock.

But that’s not even what makes A Barnstormer in Oz so horrifyingly bad. Philip Jose Farmer was a writer who flew by the seat of his pants and he might have made a book in which Hank, the pilot son of Dorothy, visits Oz and lusts after Glinda while fighting off the armies of President Harding and made it work.

But no. It’s the Tin Woodman’s cock that’s the problem. Philip Jose Farmer decided that the best approach to take with a modern fairy tale about a fantasy world with talking animals was hard science.

Yes, hard science.

A Barnstormer in Oz sets out to explain every detail of the imaginary world based on some kind of science. The munchkins are humans who moved through an inter-dimensional doorway to Oz and then intermarried with neanderthals. The Tin Woodman, Glinda transferred his consciousness into a tin robot. With nipples.

People reach Oz because the air force is conducting experiments in inter-dimensional travel. In 1923.

Since there are talking animals, the hard science approach doesn’t get very far. But it does fill up huge chunks of the book. Instead of an adventure, A Barnstormer in Oz really follows Hank around as he tries to explain an imaginary world based on even more imaginary science with concepts that no one had heard of in 1923.

None of this is exciting. It is very boring.

Most of the Oz characters are not recognizable. Glinda dominates the book and the main character as a ‘good witch’ who rules as an immortal dictator who kills munchkins who don’t follow her One Child Policy and sends hawks after her enemies. What makes her different than a bad witch? Hank wants to sleep with her.

That’s basically it.

I gave up on A Barnstormer in Oz around the time that Hank writes a 5 page letter to President Harding renouncing his American citizenship. It was either that or renounce my sanity.

In a Barnstormer in Oz, Philip Jose Farmer manages to take a pilot from 1923 reaching Oz and fighting flying monkeys and makes it as boring as dry paint. And that’s not even mentioning the racism and sexism. The creepy sex. And the Tin Woodman’s anatomically correct buttocks on the cover.

Old Mars by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois Book Review

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Price: Several Slightly Less Mediocre Softcover Themed Anthologies

Number of Inner Light Ripoffs: 6

Number of Good Stories: 3

Number of Great Stories: 1

Number of Stories by Martin Pals: Too Many

Reason for Existence: George R.R. Martin Twinkie Fund

Themed anthologies are invariably bad. Asking readers to pay 30 bucks for a hardcover themed anthology is insane hubris even for George R. R. Martin who put out a hardcover collection consisting of things like his unpublished TV scripts. But here’s Old Mars anyway.

On paper, unpublished paper, Old Mars sounds like a good idea. A tribute to the Mars of John Carter that we lost when we saw the real Mars.

On actual paper, Old Mars is a miserable collection of bad writing from both good and bad writers. The worst offenders are Chris Roberson and Melinda Snodgrass with stories that are terrible and mediocre at the same time. But that’s also the overall tone of Old Mars.

Old Mars has more ripoffs of the Star Trek TNG episode The Inner Light than an entire fanzine. This collection is filled with humans encountering Martian artifacts and getting visions through them of the lost Mars that was.

Story after story of the same thing. And almost none of them are any good.

Aside from S.M Stirling and Mike Resnick turning in another overpulped homage, this isn’t John Carter’s Mars. It’s supposed to be Ray Bradbury’s Mars if Bradbury had been a hack who could barely spell his name. Countless stories of conflict between human settlers and Martian archeology. Countless stories of the one human who can magically detect the original Martians while no one else believes him.

That’s not even the weirdest part there. There are two, count em two, stories of 16th century British sailing ships traveling to Mars at the command of an English King. The second story was by Martin pal Daniel Abraham, but it’s still too much.

Some of the mess that is Old Mars can be put down to mediocre writers. Who picks out Melinda Snodgrass for a theme anthology? Or Chris Roberson, a guy whose story about pirates on Mars reads like something a six year old would come up with? But how do you explain Michael Moorcock’s pulpy entry which is bad enough to be pulp, well enough written to remind you that Moorcock can write, but still a bad story?

The closest to the advertised vision of Old Mars comes from S.M. Stirling’s Sword of Zar-Tu-Kan. But that’s just another story set in Stirling’s own Old Mars, an idea he had long before this anthology and extends from his novel, In the Courts of the Crimson Kings. Old Mars is just a paying market for an existing Stirling universe.

Phyllis Eisenstein’s The Sunstone is YAish, but is the best of the Inner Light reworkings because its Martians are understated tour guides keeping a hidden culture alive, instead of the ridiculous visions in other stories.

The Queen of Night’s Aria by Ian McDonald is the best and only genuinely great story of the lot. Martin and Dozois know it which is why they positioned last. And that means they also know the value of the rest of the lot. McDonald delivers a personal story of an eccentric Irish musician contrasted with a world in which War of the Worlds has been going on since the invasion, the British and the Ottoman Empire are trying to occupy Mars while dealing with a bewildering array of species and a ruthless Martian Queen plotting under the surface.

Queen does what the rest of the stories in Old Mars fumble to accomplish, casually tossing off locations, technologies and a war without infodumps and while keeping the focus on an eccentric character and his ambitions. It’s a masterful performance that only makes the rest of the volume seem that much worse.

The Dark Knight Returns’ Batman is Really Ra’s al Ghul

Nothing like Ra's al Ghul. At all

Nothing like Ra’s al Ghul. At all

Frank Miller’s Batman is bound to be an asshole. But what struck me when rereading The Dark Knight Returns is why he’s an asshole.

Batman may be dark and menacing, but he protects Gotham because he cares about the people. Miller’s Batman in Dark Knight Returns has nothing but contempt for the people of Gotham.

It’s a theme that develops subtly in the media coverage as the people turn one way and then another, the contemptible mayor who answers to the polls, the storekeeper itching to shoot the Mutant until Batman warns him off and finally the climax in which Batman allies with the former Mutants to fight… among other enemies… the people of Gotham.

It all climaxes in the showdown with Superman who let the people push him into being a weakling by comic book Reagan who is just another feeble minded projection of the petty people of Gotham and the United States.

The Batman of the Dark Knight Returns isn’t a hero because he cares about people, but because he follows some Randian imperative to be heroic. Eventually he leads an army of the ex-Mutants, the same guys who were murdering, raping and bombing Gotham, on a quest to build his own system. This Batman doesn’t fight for people. He fights because he’s a Nietzschean Superman. He’s just made to be superior.

And Superman is just a loser who takes orders from ordinary people. Like the people of Gotham and the media. He let them make him unheroic. That’s why Batman does so well against him. Superman doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. This version of Batman does.

Superman didn’t do his job of imposing the right system on humans. So he got stuck answering to Ronnie, a human leader. Batman is going to go down into the caves and emerge with some kind of new order to replace the pop psychology, push polls and political correctness.

It’s striking how different this Batman is from his usual self and from Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil. This is a Batman who belongs in Moore’s Watchmen more than he does in Gotham. He’s not just a fascist because he’s a crime-fighting vigilante. That’s a common comic critic mistake. He’s a fascist because he believes that society is corrupt and that he has the right to impose his own order on it.

The Dark Knight Returns gives us Batman as a Batman villain. This Batman has more in common with Ra’s al Ghul, right down to his own private army, a home in the caves and contempt for human society.

That contempt is what always separated Batman from Ra’s al Ghul. Batman knew that Gotham was corrupt, but he never completely gave up on it. Miller’s Batman has given up. He views Gotham with a cold eye. He treats its people with disdain. He thinks he’s better than them.

He knows what’s best for them. And he’ll punish them if they don’t obey. He is Ra’s al Ghul.

Saints Row 55: Technicolor Yawn Parody Out of Hell

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There’s more DLC coming. With angel wings. And Shakespeare. And hilariously wacky weapons.

Just be glad this one isn’t being released as Saints Row 5 like the last one was.

Saints Row 3 was amazing because it took a GTA clone and asked what would happen if GTA were actually fun and if it had a story that kicked it up to 11.

Saints Row 4 dropped the fun part and swapped out constant parodies for the story. You were constantly figuring out which powers to swap while trying to figure out what game was being parodied now.

Since then it’s been a stream of DLC that no one can keep track of.

Gat Out of Hell throws in a new city still in technicolor darkness and with more superpowers. Like flying. You could fly in SR4, but now you’ll have wings. Also lots of arch references. It’ll be the perfect Comedy Central videogame.

And that’s all Saints Row is now. It’s Family Guy. It’s a Comedy Central show. It’s a bunch of references to things you might have heard of stuck between minigames.

Saints Row 3 walked a line. It was ridiculously over the top, but it had its own story. It wasn’t just a bunch of loosely linked Family Guy parodies of other things. It took the characters seriously in its own twisted way. Its action scenes mattered because of that.

The new Saints Row model is to amp up the jokes, more costumes, more weapons, more minigames, less story and less gameplay fun. Don’t release new games. Just release more over the top DLCs for a game that already sold well and hope everyone keeps on being excited at the latest Awesome Show DLC. It’s like Serious Sam without being fun to play.

It’s back to the manure cannon but with a knowing wink and a topical reference to another game you might have played. You know, an actual game.

Is Mr. Mercedes Stephen King’s Worst Book?

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Mr. Mercedes doesn’t read like Stephen King. It doesn’t even read like Dean Koontz. It reads like Mediocre Thrillerwriter from the four books for a buck shelf.

It reads like a trunk novel from 1992 when the internet was new and scary and a rash of books and TV movies about evil little nerds plotting to kill people with super computer magic were everywhere.

And it wouldn’t surprise me if that was exactly where Mr. Mercedes is from.

The title and cover of Mr. Mercedes strain to convince you that it’s going to be another complicated ride filled with allusions building up to… forget about it.

There’s nothing supernatural here. There’s nothing any deeper than the movie of the week here.

Mr. Mercedes is the story of a battle of wits between your stock character, the retired cop still haunted by a case (divorced, alcoholic, thinking of suicide – all the cliche boxes are checked) and an updated Norman Bates who not only has a sick relationship with his mother, but also works on the Geek Squad at Best Buy and has an evil command center in his basement full of laptops with a countdown running.

And he voice controls them by saying “Chaos”.

Stephen King has written bad novels before, but never boring ones. This isn’t Christine. This isn’t The Under the Dome. It’s just bland.

The writing is bad. The characters are bland. The plot is predictable. I skipped 100 pages ahead and sure enough, the Best Buy Norman Bates had killed his mother. I skipped ahead another 100 pages and the plastic explosive mentioned early on had been used to blow up the cop’s new girlfriend.

And then I put down the book for good.

That was the first time I put down a Stephen King book without reading it through. But before King had always put in enough hooks, enough verbal special pleadings, to keep you going. Mr. Mercedes is the first time his talent completely abandoned him.

There’s nothing here worth reading.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe after 300 pages the whole thing turns into a hidden mystical battle between his shopping list and his ghostwriter.

But I’m betting it doesn’t.

If you programmed a computer to write a Stephen King novel, it might spit out something like Mr. Mercedes. It’s unimaginative. It’s so unimaginative that it doesn’t even inhabit the same space as imagination.

There are some of Stephen King’s tics here, but they come off badly. The Best Buy Bates talks like an elderly 60s racist. Really, what twenty something today says “Darkie”. There’s a young black character who keeps saying “Massa”.

It’s embarrassing to read. It must have been even more embarrassing to edit. Except that it obviously wasn’t edited.

King tried to learn something about the internet in the process of writing or rewriting this, but it just makes the basic errors and the context of it even dumber.

The cop and the Best Buy Bates spar through a supersecret connection that sounds like a housewife’s chat room from the 90s. There’s talk about vacuuming crumbs out of CPUs. The Best Buy Bates is an inventor and computer genius who never heard of a Roomba.

I don’t know why Mr. Mercedes exists.

It’s obvious that Stephen King has been having some writing problems. He put out two trunk novels recently and a few sequels. The quality has been weak, but Mr. Mercedes isn’t weak. It has no merits.

There’s no reason to read it.

Google Wasn’t Built for Users or Websites, it was Built for Advertisers

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Google decided to borrow Amazon’s whiny PR company to disgorge this nonsense.

It’s not the case that Google is “the gateway to the Internet” as the publishers suggest.

That’s not what you tell your stockholders. You are the gateway to the internet. And a really shitty gateway because you aren’t interested in content, just in selling ads and that means filling your search results with as much garbage as possible because you have no competition and you want to display as many pages as possible.

Nor is it true to say that we are promoting our own products at the expense of the competition. We show the results at the top that answer the user’s queries directly (after all we built Google for users, not websites)

No you built it for advertisers. If Google were built for users, it wouldn’t be a giant data mining and ad factory. And it would have relevant results.

Your top results are usually Wikipedia and a bunch of keyword mongering index sites that you keep promising to filter out but never do.

Ask for the weather and we give you the local weather right at the top. This means weather sites rank lower, and get less traffic. But because it’s good for users, we think that’s OK.

This is how you promote your product at the expense of the competition. Your example of how you don’t do it, is how you do it.

And your weather results are invariably inferior and out of date, but who cares.

 It’s the same if you want to buy something (whether it’s shoes or insurance). We try to show you different offers and websites where you can actually purchase stuff — not links to specialized search engines (which rank lower) where you have to repeat your query.

You show sponsored shopping results to make money and rip off users.

Five out of every six items that appeared in the sponsored items section were more expensive than those those hidden deeper in the results, according to the newspaper. And on average, the sponsored products were 34 percent higher.

Those are ads that are paid for. And the rest of the results are spam search engines half the time or Amazon or outdated eBay listings.

Don’t be evil? You’re evil and you’re a lousy engine.

Why are Gaming Journalists Such Angry Whores?

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Blah blah entitled gamers blah blah culture of misogynistic hatred blah blah blah toxic harassment blah blah GamerGate doesn’t exist blah blah Anita Sarkeesian attacked by ninjas blah blah blah gamers need to just die blah blah just let us do Bioware press and leave us alone.

It’s not the gamers who are angry. Some gamers are angry. They’re the ones who still read blogs like Kotaku, Destructoid, RockPaperShotgun, PC Gamer (online it’s just another blog) and are a little confused about why they’re indistinguishable from Social Justice Warriors Tumblrs.

Most gamers stopped paying attention.

Why even bother? How many people still subscribe to print copies of PC Gamer? How many people care about the previews carefully leaked to friendly gaming journalists? How many people care about an introverted culture of gaming journalists who want to promote the latest pixel art indie about transgender pirate cats as the future of gaming?

Most gamers have moved on. Most non-gamers have moved on leaving behind angry gaming journalists who try to shore up their journalistic creds after all their corporate shilling by attacking gamers as misogynists, because they can’t bite the corporate hand that feeds them.

They’re whores. GamerGate and Zoe Quinn are just tiny little reminders. Mostly the whoring is virtual. Nobody went to bed with anybody to get all star reviews for Dragon Age 2.

Probably.

If you spend your nights shilling for companies and their terrible products, you have to take it out somewhere, somehow. When you can bash a game safely (because it’s not a Bioware game) you do it. And the safest targets are gamers. Dirty, filthy gamers.

There are no gaming journalists. There are employees of gaming websites funded by game publisher advertising who navigate those financial relationships and are told which games they can pan and which games they have to praise.

They’re whores and they’re unhappy whores. They’re the poor whites of the gaming Confederacy. They have to treat someone else like dirt to feel better about what whores they are.

Because worst of all, their line of work is vanishing. Gamers have figured out that the difference between a gaming journalist and an Activision employee is that the former gets paid to pretend that he isn’t the latter.

And they moved on. They get their reviews from Metacritic, Twitch and YouTube. They’ll take rips of the latest exclusive magazine preview which will be on Reddit in five minutes without reading the source.

It’s game over.

Such articles appeared concurrently in Gamasutra (“ ‘Gamers’ are over” and “A guide to ending ‘gamers’ ”), Destructoid (“There are gamers at the gate, but they may already be dead”), Kotaku (“We might be witnessing the ‘death of an identity’ ”) and Rock, Paper, Shotgun (“Gamers are over”), as well as Ars Technica (“The death of the ‘gamers’ ”), Vice (“Killing the gamer identity”) and BuzzFeed (“Gaming is leaving ‘gamers’ behind”). These articles share some traits in common besides their theses: They are unconvincing, lacking in hard evidence, and big on wishful thinking.

quick glance at financials shows that “gamers” are not going anywhere. If “gamers” really are dying, no one told the marketing departments for these publications, which continue to trumpet their “gamer” demographic to advertisers. What is going on instead is projection. As long as these journalists held a monopoly on gaming coverage, they could maintain a dismal relationship with their audience in spite of the fact that “most games coverage is almost indistinguishable from PR,” in the words of disaffected game columnist Robert Florence, who himself wrote about corruption in gaming journalism before quitting Eurogamer. But all that’s changing with the rise of long-form amateur gaming journalism and game commentating on YouTube and Twitch.tv, the latter of which was just bought by Amazon for $1 billion as the gaming press was declaring the end of gamers.

Game companies and developers are now reaching out directly to quasi-amateur enthusiasts as a better way to build their brands, both because the gamers are more influential than the gaming journalists, and because these enthusiasts have far better relationships with their audiences than gaming journalists do. (Admittedly, most anyone does.) This week, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto signaled a focus on hard-core gamers, and Nintendo has already been shutting out the video game press for years. As Gamasutra’s Keza MacDonald wrote in June, the increasingly direct relationship between gamers and game companies has “removed what used to be [game journalism’s] function: to tell people about games.” Another Gamasutra article cited game developers saying that YouTube coverage had far more impact than all website coverage combined.

I generally don’t read gaming websites because I don’t like sifting through rewritten press releases and underage toothbrush incest anime coverage to find one or two genuine pieces of content. Instead I go to affable enthusiasts on YouTube and Twitch, people like Ryan Letourneau (Northernlion), Michelle (TheRPGMinx), Nick Reinecke (RockLeeSmile), Daniel Hardcastle (NerdCubed), and the unfathomably popular Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), a 24-year-old gamer who has 30 million subscribers, the most viewed YouTube channel of all time, and makes $4 million a year off his channel by, more or less, playing video games.

It is understandable that online gaming journalists would be uncomfortable in this situation. The antagonism of the gaming press toward its audience stems partly from justified outrage at the horrible behavior of a small subset of it, but also from helpless resentment toward the entirety of the press’s shrinking audience—hence the self-defeating attempt to generalize the former into the latter. Rather than stressing that the vast majority of gamers are reasonable people who don’t harass women, hold reactionary, protectionist views, or start vitriolic online campaigns against the press, the websites trashed the entire term “gamer” and, to no one’s surprise, earned 10 times the enmity overnight.

Good luck guys, because your scam is past its sell by date.

I am a straight Asian-American male from a working class family. My family survived wars, political purges, and 3 different refugee camps just to be able to come to America. I consider myself politically a left-leaning liberal. I do support worker’s rights, women’s rights, gay rights, transgender rights, religious freedom, and oppose racism. Yeah, the whole deal. Hell, number of the writers and commentators that are vilifying me right now are people I used to enjoy reading and watching. It’s not as if I was always against everything they had to say all the time. I’ve often shared very similar views at times.

This is why the behaviour of the gaming media as of late sickens me. They use the causes and values that I sincerely believe in, and turned it into a shield they can hide behind to avoid criticism. As if claiming to fight for justice forgives corruption and general cruelty to others. They’ve weaponized these issues and values for their own cynical gain. The gaming media presents the narrative as if opposing their corruption and insanity would mean turning my back on the values and issues I care about. As insane as it sounds, this is deeply troubling to me; painful even.

Hope there’s room for more than one Anita Sarkeesian on Kickstarter or you’re all screwed. And not in a Zoe Quinn way.

Paul Reiser is the Best Thing About Amazon’s Red Oaks

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There was a time when Mad About You was on the air and hating Paul Reiser was in fashion. Red Oaks is in its own way as cloying as Mad About You, but Paul Reiser’s club president, a clumsy jackass, is the best thing about it.

That’s not much of an achievement.

Red Oaks is a semi-average when it focuses on the titular club, but it’s dragged down  by its mopey dorky main character and his sitcom home life. Every time Jennifer Grey and Richard Kind show up to do a routine that got old in the 1940s as a neurotic married couple, the show becomes teeth gratingly awful.

And it doesn’t have to be.

There are fun characters in Red Oaks like the stoner valet and the sleazy tennis pro and Paul Reiser’s club president. If Red Oaks jettisoned the dorky protagonist who is there to act as our avatar and drifted around from the points of view of the club staff, this could be a much better show.

Not great, but a lot better.

An ensemble Red Oaks could be fun. It would spare us from the miserable experience of watching another TV dork who is supposed to be a stand in for the audience, but is really a stand in for the writers and producers, having to choose between two beautiful girls, neither of whom would look at him twice in real life unless he were producing or writing Red Oaks, and choosing between a successful career as a CPA and a career as a tennis pro if he can only escape his crazy parents.

I don’t want to watch this. Based on the other responses to Red Oaks, I don’t think anyone does.

Paul Reiser, Ennis Esmer and Oliver Cooper are the good things about Red Oaks. If this thing becomes an Amazon show, it will have to keep its focus on them, get rid of Kinder and Grey.

Or better yet just order The Cosmopolitans.

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