Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

Linkblogging for 04/0610

Posted in comics, linkblogging by Andrew Hickey on June 4, 2010

Linkblogging for 23/09/09

Posted in films, linkblogging, music, politics by Andrew Hickey on September 23, 2009

Posting will probably be light for the next few days, as it’s a busy time at work. To tide you over, here are some links.

Al Ewing is reviewing Beatles: Rock Band one song at a time. The interesting thing here is that Ewing – as he admits himself – knows almost nothing of the band’s music and is using this as a way of getting into them…

In other Beatles posts, Jog has a post on the comic insert in Magical Mystery Tour, along with some thoughts on how this would translate into the digital age in comparison with the film and album.

Todd Alcott continues his look at Kubrick with A Clockwork Orange part 2 .

For those of you who think I’m too hard on the anti-immigrant propaganda coming from people like racist UKIP, this is why.

James Graham has more on the ridiculous events at conference, which appear to involve the leadership briefing against the party…

And Chris Dillow has an interesting post on a fundamental disconnect in the debate between the religious and ‘new atheists’.

Linkblogging for 14/09/09

Posted in comics, computing, linkblogging, politics, religion by Andrew Hickey on September 14, 2009

Well, if I’d realised how many hits a blog gets just from saying “Beatles”, I’d have done that years ago. Beatles Beatles Beatles… you have a go…

I do hope some of you stick around and read my other stuff (especially those of you who came linked from a Doctor Who site – I have tons of Who material on here) – I’ve written quite a lot about music here, and I’m planning on reviewing the rest of the Mono Box one disc a week.

Anyway, on to links (no longer post today as I’m suffering from exhaustion).

Firstly, an old one – I’ve been arguing today with a USian fundamentalist (well, I say arguing, more ‘hurling abuse at’, but in fairness I’ve known him twelve years and he just *will not shut up*) so now’s as good a time as any to link to Brad Hicks’ excellent series of essays from a few years ago, about the perversion of USian fundamentalism into something he considers literally Satanic, Christians In The Hands Of An Angry God (part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Charlie Brooker on the plans to ban p2p users from the internet.

David at Vibrational Match on Adam Curtis’ It Felt Like A Kiss.

Over at the Mindless Ones Amypoodle has a great post on the Joker, Morrison & Quitely’s Batman & Robin, mental illness and concepts of the self.

Abhay on crime novels.

And Cameron Stewart has previews of his Batman & Robin art

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Linkblogging for 22/07/09

Posted in comics, computing, films, linkblogging, politics, religion by Andrew Hickey on July 22, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posting over the last few days, but I was unprepared for the amount of vitriol that came at me for that “Ten Things…” post (not, I hasten to add, from my regular reader/commenters, who mostly kept civil, whether here or over on Charlotte’s response – and I’m very impressed with some of you, like James and Pillock…). I’ve been mostly scared away from the internet by this (meaning I’ve also not done a few important things like sort out hosting for a website I’m working on…) . I’ve also had some other problems (lost my passport, someone stole my wife’s bike, someone else tried to steal my wife’s purse) which have been rather more pressing than this blog.

I would like to say though, ignoring the actual abuse and so forth, that one thing I found annoying was when people saw two apparently-contradictory statements and said “That’s a contradiction, therefore you’re stupid!” rather than “That looks contradictory to me – how do you reconcile those points?”

I will be doing a post, soonish, on how ‘evidence-based medicine’ as currently practiced is actually in many respects anti-scientific, but I’ll be leaving it until the fuss dies down. I’ll also be on holiday next week, without net access, so don’t expect anything from me then. But this week I’m hoping to get a few more posts done, on the usual subjects rather than anything controversial. Today, though, some links…

Most Lib Dem bloggers have been talking about the proposed policy document that’s just come out, which will not commit us to as much spending in the event we were to get into power. (We will still *hope* to spend as much, but recognise it’s not likely as the current GDP is fifty pence, and that’s being taken out of the country and held in an off-shore tax haven by Rupert Murdoch). Alex has what I suspect is the most accurate take on this, but Darrell and Costigan both have good posts too.

Calamity Jon has a post about a genuinely touching moment in 60s Superman, which also contains the best description of comic book ‘ages’ ever.

Slacktivist talks about offendedness, including a remarkable picture which is apparently the first ever Christ-on-the-cross image…

The Daily Mail have been reviewing films without bothering to watch them

And Microsoft are ‘donating’ code to the Linux kernel

You Damned Sadist! You’re Trying To Make Them Think!

Posted in comics, Doctor Who, politics, religion by Andrew Hickey on April 14, 2009

Debi has a fascinating post today on ‘the FedEx arrow’ – on the way that once you’ve seen subtext in a work, you can’t unsee it, and the various reactions that can come from that.

Now, I’m not really one to talk about that directly, because I can completely distance my reaction to a piece of work from a recognition of its political flaws – hell, I love Cerebus where for a large part the rampant misogyny and homophobia are text, not subtext. I enjoy the banjo music of Uncle Dave Macon, who recorded songs like “Run, Nigger, Run”. I can distance myself from these things, of course, partly because I’m not in the group being attacked, but also because I can split good art from its message.

However, many people in ‘fandom’ (a group of which I emphatically do not count myself a member ) have real trouble with this. If someone points out, say, that in Star Wars how heroic a character is correlates very strongly with how blonde they are, they go absolutely berserk, asking “How dare you accuse George Lucas of being racist?!” and saying “you’re reading too much into things!” Which is where Debi comes in.

Now Debi thinks, and I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of truth in this, that many of these people are worried that liking something that is (say) racist would make them racist, and since they think (possibly even correctly) that they’re not racist, and they do like those things, then the thing they like can’t be racist. I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in this – one should never underestimate the sheer, overwhelming sense of privilege and entitlement in fan circles – but I think there’s more to it than that. I think fans are often fundamentalists.

Many fans (at least the ones who don’t go around trying to find gay subtexts in everything) hate the whole idea of subtext – you just have to look at the people whose reactions to Seaguy we talked about in this comment thread. There is a sizable contingent of ‘fandom’ who hate metaphor, theme and subtext, and who say things like “It’s what it is, you just need to turn your brain off”. Many go so far as to deny, at least implicitly, the very possibility of something meaning more than its literal meaning (which is to say, they deny the possibility of art).

I’ve wondered for a long time what could cause such hostility to the idea of a layered narrative (and if you doubt that such hostility exists, go on to Newsarama and try to discuss Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, or anyone else who’s a relatively competent writer), and why it should show up in ‘fandoms’ far more than in the general public.Because I think, though I may be wrong, that most people’s reaction if you show them that a work they like is one that works on multiple levels, would be to say “Oh, that’s quite clever!” – to use the metaphor Debi elaborates on, they’re pleased to see the arrow in the FedEx logo, rather than thinking the designer was trying to play some trick on them.

In this, fans are like fundamentalists, who believe in the ‘literal truth’ of their holy books, even the bits that specifically state themselves to be fictional (there are people who believe in the literal existence of the Good Samaritan – Fred Clark has a great pair of analyses of their mentality) and who get really angry if you say “Well, the world wasn’t *really* made in seven days”. With the fundamentalists, it’s because they can’t understand the difference between ‘metaphor’ and ‘lie’ – if you say that some of their holy book isn’t ‘literally’ true, you’re saying it’s a lie.

I think some fans have such an intense desire to *actually live in* the DC or Marvel Universe, or the Star Trek or Star Wars or Doctor Who or whatever ones, that any reminder that these are artistic works – any reminder that they were created by a human being with a point of view, rather than just being neutral historical records of true events, is a reminder that they will never really get to travel in the TARDIS or Enterprise, and they react, at least a little, to that. If something isn’t absolutely, incontrovertibly, linear and one-dimensional, then they won’t be comfortable with it.

Which is, I suspect, why so many things created for or by fans are so deeply, deeply awful.

(This post took longer to write than any other post I’ve done, and is fewer words than almost any of my ‘proper’ posts. I’ve no idea why this should be, but thought it worth noting…)


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