An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Cop Kills Unarmed Naked College Student?

Boy, it’s almost getting hard to take this stuff seriously, isn’t it?  I mean, how can this possibly be real?  What kind of cop in his right mind would shoot a naked college student?  Here’s the story

In south Alabama, a college student, named Gil Collar, was doing as college students are want to do, and was running around naked.  Hopefully this wasn’t the result of a stupid Frat pledge or some other dumb thing.  However, this student found his away to a police station.  He was banging on the doors there, and an officer came out.  According to the officer, when he came out, the kid adopted a fighting stance.  The officer claims to have repeatedly tried to back off and “diffuse the situation,” but the kid just kept coming.  It was then that the officer’s next course of action was to draw his gun and kill the kid.  Yeah…this explanation is as bogus as it sounds.

First, let’s look at the facts.  This is a 130lb college student.  He is butt-naked, and has no weapons on him.  He is banging on a police station window at 1 in the morning.  He supposedly took a fighting stance when a cop comes out after he was banging on a window.  This officer, who probably not only had a gun on him, but probably had a taser, or a baton, or some mace, and also his fists (which come equipped with hours upon hours of hand-to-hand combat training), shot and killed this kid.  Seeing the problems?

How could this officer have felt that his life was in danger?  This is a well-trained cop going up against a naked kid.  That is not only ridiculous, it is down-right silly.  And as you can imagine, this story that is filled with plot-holes has not been well-received by the community.  They think that it is just as bogus as this particular blogger.

There is no way, unless this was some idiot rookie who didn’t know that all that training can actually be used for something, this story makes no sense.  And of course, the “horrible” punishment for an officer who appears to have killed someone for no good reason is that he has been put on paid leave while they investigate.  These cases almost universally favor the cops, so you can bet that the officer won’t be punished in any significant way.  In fact, he is probably going to walk away unscathed, as police almost always do.

We have talked about this before, but it bears repeating – something needs to be done about the cops!  Are are giving thugs uniforms, badges, guns, and almost complete legal immunity.  These are a class of people who have no fear of the hammer coming down on them.  That has to go!  We need oversight on these guys!

Every week, it seems, we are hearing stories about the police killing people’s pets, like in Missouri, where the cops killed the family dog, pepper-sprayed the puppies, and were going to kill the puppies, all during what was supposed to be a marijuana bust (and they only found a bag, which was enough for a misdemeanor charge).  And the murdering of pets is nothing new.  There is a blog where it is documented when police kill a family’s animals.

There are a lot of states in this country where people are getting in trouble for filming the police.  That’s interesting.  Why would the police not want to be filmed?  Could it be because they don’t want their thuggish tactics and their blatant abuse of power getting out.

A warning to all cops – you are now being watched.  You are now in the public eye.  You are not safe.  The internet knows who you are, and the internet does not forgive and forget.  The internet will still be here tomorrow.  The public is wise to your game, and we are going to fight back.

We. Are. Watching you.

A Woman Judge Blames a Woman for Being Sexually Assaulted?!

Reading this story was a lot like reading about Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court Justice who grew up in the Jim Crow days and had to live with the racial segregation that that entailed, thinks that black people shouldn’t have rights.

Here’s the premise of what happened – a cop goes to a bar.  He is drunk.  He flashes his badge at the door so as not to pay the entrance fee.  Once inside, he goes up behind a woman.  He grabs a hold of her, puts his hand up her skirt, and starts rubbing his hands on her genitals.

As you can imagine, it was insane.  The cop, Robb Gary Evans, was immediately fired from the police force, and arrested.  At the trial, he was convicted of sexual assault, and sentenced to two years in prison, and to be put on the sex-offender registry, as is proper.

However, there was a twist.  The judge in this case, Jaqueline Hatch, said that sentencing this ex-cop to jail time was excessive, and instead sentenced him to probation, and 100 hours of community service.  Also, he is not going to be put on the sex offender registry list.  But it doesn’t end there.  Judge Hatch had some choice words for the victim of this crime –

If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened.

That offensive enough?  Well, she continues.

You learned a lesson about friendship and a lesson about vulnerability.

Or maybe this.

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.

Yeah, a woman judge is who is actually telling a victim of sexual assault that she is at fault here.  Yeah, by that logic, if a person chokes on food, it’s there fault for eating.  If a kid gets caught by a stray bullet at a drive-by, it was his fault for being there.  If your house gets destroyed by a hurricane, it’s your fault for living there.

This is offensive.  This is totally and completely offensive on so many levels.  This is a judge, an actual judge, who gives this sexual predator a slap on the wrist, at best, and then decides to make this about a woman being in the wrong place, and painting her as not the victim, but the reason for this to happen.

Where does this judge get off?!  Where does this come from to believe that she has the right to tell this woman that this is her fault?!  The absolute LAST thing that a woman who was in this position needs to hear, from a person in a position of authority, is that this was their fault.  The levels of cruelty in that statement are unforgivable.

But beyond that, it is worse because think about this – she is advocating that men who sexually assault women shouldn’t be accountable for their actions!  How sick is that?  This is one of the most disgusting pieces of inhumanity that has ever been uttered by a federal judge.

Where do people like this come from?  People like Todd Akin, who stupidly enough said that if a woman is “legitimately raped,” the body will just shut it down, and that it isn’t that bad.  Sure, he said that was a dumb thing to say, but here’s the punch line – he never said he was wrong!  And the reason he did that is because of the next voting cycle.  He knows that if he admits that that was a stupid thing to say, his opponent will come in and say that it’s true that a woman who is raped doesn’t need an abortion, because that is what the morally backwards base wants to hear.

Judge Hatch is a disgusting human being.  She is a foul, venereal disease on the zeitgeist of America.  But here is the truly horrifying thing – she is in a position of power.  Her, and people like Todd Akin are getting into positions of power in this country.  Why?  It’s not because of a lack of liberal voting, though that certainly is an issue.  No, it’s because, and we need to accept this, the Republican Party, which makes up half (give or take) of this country’s voting block, is perfectly fine with electing and having these monsters represent them.  That is the kind of people they are.

This country is filled with voters who want to see women suffer, to see women get assaulted and raped, and when they are put in a position to justify their point of view, they will say – it was the woman’s fault, because she was there.  That is what America has produced.

These are the kinds of people who have a voice in this country.  America, there are a lot of days when I find you to be a disgusting place.  Can you blame me?

America and Creationism

There was a video that is getting a LOT of attention right now floating around YouTube.  In it, famous science celebrity, Bill Nye, has his opinion about a trend in America.

Denial of evolution is unique to the United States.

He’s got a very good point.  6 in 10 American do not believe in the Theory of Evolution.  For those who will come at us saying that it is just a theory, you need to understand the definition of a theory.  A lot of people confuse this with a hypothesis.  A hypothesis is when you have an idea about why something is, but have no proof for it, and you mean to test it.  A theory, on the other hand, is something that has been tested and has proof.  So why not call it a law?  Well, while there can be laws of physics, there cannot be laws of science.  We know so little about how the universe truly works that there is no way that we could say that evolution is a law.  We have a mountain of scientific evidence for it, so it is true, yet we cannot say that it is a law because there is always a chance that it could be proven wrong.

But, even with the mountains of evidence that exist for the theory of evolution, 6 out of 10 people in this country believe that it is not true.  So, what do they believe?  Well, in America, the bulk of them believe that a celestial being, either called God, Jehovah, or Yahweh created all the things in the universe.  It took seven days, and it wasn’t millions or billions of years ago, it was thousands of years ago.

They call this “creationism.”  Now, many will deny that, saying that the theory of creationism (which is there word for it.  There is NO proof of this) is that a being, an unnamed being, created the universe.  Or rather, could have.  But which being?  The Christian God?  Well, if that is the case, then your position becomes much, MUCH, more complicated.

For one thing – there is absolutely NO scientific evidence that suggests that the universe is only 10 or however many thousand years old.  The Theory of Evolution has a mountain of evidence, yet 6 out of 10 people believe in a story about the universe coming into being that has no evidence at all.

Another thing – if the “theory” goes that the universe was created, and we are going to say that this theory has proof, then which being?  Was it the Christian God?  Was it the Jewish God?  Was it Allah?  Was it Vishnu?  Was it Ra?  If they are going to try and prove that this universe was created by a heavenly being that left no evidence for its existence, how can you prove that it wasn’t another heavenly being that did it?  Through the course of human history, there have been countless religions and countless stories about the creation of life on Earth.  How can you prove one without proving another?

Bill Nye went on to say that if people wanted to believe that this world came to be from a heavenly being, and not through a process that has a mountain of evidence, that’s fine.  But the problem comes when people are trying to get that taught in classrooms.

Let’s be plain, here – this is not science.  Creationism is a theory in the same way that a tomato is a vegetable.  It simply isn’t.  There is no evidence for it.  But a very solid amount of people in this country want this “theory” to be taught in classrooms.  Well, that is just plain nuts.  Something that has absolutely zero basis in science doesn’t deserve to be in a scientific classroom, and anybody who thinks that they can argue that it does have a place there should see the previous problems.

There is no evidence of a holy being of any kind existing.  All secular evidence that exists about the universe shows that this universe is billions of years old, not thousands.  All secular evidence holds that life on this Earth did not get created at the same time, with humans playing on a swing hanging from a Brontosaurus.  It gradually evolved and changed over time.

Bill Nye is absolutely right.  Creationism has no place in schools.  And if we are teaching our kids that it is okay to ignore science, ignore evidence, and ignore facts, then what kind of future could they possibly have?  America is getting left behind by the rest of the industrialized world.

It amazes me that we don’t get it.

Chick-fil-A, the Muppets, and Gay Marriage?

Yeah, this is a set of things I bet that most people never thought that they would see together.  It all started when the fast food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A took a hardline stance against gay marriage.  After this happened, Jim Henson pulled the Muppet toys from their kid’s meals.

Of course, so as not to have us all believing that they decided to take a really stupid stance on an issue that has really turned around in the last…30 years, they tried to pass it off as the Muppet toys were unsafe, hence and that is why they got rid of them.

After this sad attempt at damage control failed on Facebook, one of their PR people created a fake Facebook account, pretending to be a teenage girl.  Of course, since the internet is smarter than Chick-fil-A PR people, apparently, the internet realized that that the photo of the teenage girl, named “Abby Farle,” was a stock photo from Shutter Stock.

Now, after having taken a stance against gay marriage, lied about why Jim Henson ditched them, and then tried to cover up their lie with a fake person on Facebook, there is a Category 5 PR meltdown.  And to be honest, the people at Chick-fil-A have nobody to blame but themselves.

This is…dumb.  Really dumb.  This is like PR retardation.  It doesn’t get any stupider than this?  One must ask an honest question – where did the PR people who work for Chick-fil-A get their education?  I am a JPC student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and even I could have told them that this is the stupidest thing ever.

Let’s take apart how stupid this is, because we are only a couple hundred words into the post, and I feel like it.  First, there is the stance against gay marriage.  Coming out against gay marriage is just bad business.  There has been a HUGE social change on this issue.  People who are against gay marriage are not the norm.  They are becoming more and more the social outliers.  The Westboro Baptist Church and the Mormons are every day making the anti-gay cause look worse and worse, the decent people are not playing ball.  There is still a large chunk that is against it, and against the LGBT community, but you can be that things are changing, for the better.

Second, you said that the reason that the Muppet toys were pulled was because of finger injuries?  Wow, what a pathetic lie.  I mean, really, that is about as bad as saying that the reason you don’t sell bananas at your store is because somebody slipped on a banana peel.  Saying that kids got their fingers’ stuck in the Muppet toys fooled nobody.  But this leads to the final point.

Third, you created a fake Facebook account?  As a teenage girl?!  Man, that is just pathetic!  I mean, that is literally the bottom of the barrel.  You can’t possibly come back from that.  It was so easy to fact-check this, because the account was created 8 hours before the post.  Did nobody at Chick-fil-A realize that that brain thing that their teachers said was so important actually can be used for something more than just space filler in the space inside the cranium?

All in all, this is the dumbest PR move in history.  Chick-fil-A, you aren’t coming back from this.  Whoever’s idea this stunt with the girl, using a stock photo, it was, they should be fired.  And I hope you learned something.  As bad as the Komen For the Cure debacle was, it pales in comparison.

But the biggest stupid mistake that this company has made is that they are going to lose business.  Big time.  Boycotts are already in place, and I am not one of those people who says that those are wrong.  If conservatives want to preach the free market, well guess what – here’s the free market in action.  People are given a choice, and they have made it.

Chick-fil-A, somebody, or a lot of somebody’s need to get fired.  I am with the boycott, not because you are bigots.  That at least makes some sense to me.  But being stupid at your business, that’s just unacceptable.

Lefty’s Special Comment: The Aurora, Colorado Massacre

I haven’t done one of these in a long time.  I haven’t thought about something this seriously in a long time.  After it happened, I did a post about the fact that before people even knew all the facts, they were jumping on the two major bandwagons that exist in this country.

The first bandwagon is the liberal one.  It says that this happened because there it is so easy to get guns.  If we make it harder for people to get guns, then these sorts of crimes won’t happen.  The second bandwagon is that if people had more guns, they could have stopped this.  That people with guns could have made a difference.

I want to be far more thorough in this special comment than I was in the other post.  Here’s the thing about the liberal argument – it’s lazy.  It is a lazy argument to say that if we get rid of guns, violent crimes will go away.  Because it deliberately ignores the investigation into why these things happen.  So many people just say, “he’s crazy.”  “The shooter was mentally ill.”  That is also lazy.  There seems to be a phobia among Americans when it comes to looking at things critically.

Violent crime doesn’t come from guns.  It has never come from guns.  Long before people had guns, people were killing people.  Of course, I am not one of those people who makes the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  That argument is as tired as it is weak.  But long before guns, murder was still happening.

The reasons why are many.  The first is because there is a part of human nature that is violent.  We are not beholden to it, but it is there all the same.  Before guns, we used swords.  The sword has killed just as many people, if not more, than a gun.  Before swords, primitive humans beat each other to death with clubs or primitive tools.  The violence of the human animal goes back to before we were human.  Violence is a part of nature.  And much as we like to deny it, we are animals.

The next reason is because there are a LOT of social problems in this country.  Before we look at regulating guns, here’s a thought – how about we end the drug war.  It is a safe bet that most violent crime in this country comes from the unbelievably stupid war on drugs, which is hugely tied into the existence of gangs and organized crime.  Where there is organized crime, there is violence.  These two things have gone hand in hand since day one.  If all drugs, not just marijuana, but everything was made legal, it could be controlled, taxed, and taken off the street.  You can bet that if all of the drug market was legal, the illegal market would be crushed in a matter of weeks.  In a matter of weeks, crime would drop because gangs would be put out of business.

If the liberals are going to argue for the making of having firearms illegal, then they have to be smarter about that.  Now, some liberals take a position that owning a gun should be a lot like getting a car.  I am not totally against that.  It is a fact that the regulations already in place are often ignored.  That is taking things from a measured perspective, but to say that we should outright ban them is foolish.

Another thing that must be taken into account is that how would getting rid of all guns be enforced?  It would be enforced by cops.  The police.  Honestly, the cops are far more dangerous than the average criminal.  The police have demonstrated, time and time again, how they will abuse authority and are accountable to nobody.  So, we want an armed and more and more violent force who has shown that cracking down on the public is not outside the purview of what is acceptable to have jurisdiction over what we keep in our homes?

Not only would the cops, who have been proven not to be trustworthy, have authority over average people, but if you take away people’s right to have something, guess what you create – a black market.  Another black market would be made, in addition to the one we have now.  Ironically, the one we have now would feed into this new one.  Neat little spiral of death, isn’t it?

Alright, so we’ve railed off on the liberals for a bit.  Don’t want to see one-sided.  The conservative position – that if all people had had guns, this wouldn’t have happened, is also flawed.

For one thing, it isn’t like people can’t get guns now.  Guns have less requirements to purchase than pretty much any other dangerous item in this country.  I am not for taking them away, but I have a great deal of respect for how dangerous these weapons are.  People in this country only have to go through a background check, and then they can have a weapon.

Here’s another thing – most theaters don’t have laws that prohibit people from having a weapon.  And plenty of people don’t listen to those laws anyway, just going where they go armed.  So, with that being said, would more weapons have made a difference here?  Well, if people could have guns, why didn’t they?  Why didn’t they shoot back at him?

The reason is because guns are dangerous.  They make loud noises.  They are known to kill people.  Most people don’t want to kill people.  Conservatives who talk about getting more guns have, and I think you can bet, almost never fired a gun at a real person before.  They have never had human life in their hands.  Being so cavalier about killing people is part of the problem of our culture.  We can talk about it easy as you like, but doing it?  That’s harder.

Here’s the reality – there is a lot of social change that needs to happen before we can even talk about gun laws.  And getting more guns to more people isn’t going to change things anyway.  But the real tragedy is that not one person is trying to get into the underlying issue that got us here.  Or rather, not one person who is in the mainstream media.  That’s how America is now.

It’s sad, really, when thinking about something is just too hard.

Guns, Gun Control, and The Dark Knight Rises

One of the worst parts of society is how people will exploit just about anything if they think that it will get them ahead in a position that they have.  For real, anytime that there is an incident with guns, the left immediately runs to the “get rid of the guns!” argument.  And the right, meanwhile, runs to the “get more guns to people!” argument.  Both sides talk with such fervor and both sides are completely ignorant.

But it is absolutely, positively, every single time.  Every time that something with a gun happens, those are the only two arguments.  Virginia Tech shooting, those were the arguments.  Gabbie Giffords shooting, those were the arguments.  Columbine, those were the arguments.

Are people just afraid to examine the issues in a critical nature?  For real, instead of saying, “why did this happen?  What got these people to this point?  Were they mentally deranged?  Were they confused?  What happened?”  Instead of asking any of those questions, they decide to simply look at guns.

Case and point – at the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colorado, there was a man who came to the theater.  He was armed to the teeth and he opened fire on the people waiting to see the film.  He killed 12 people, injured 50 more.  The identity of the shooter hasn’t been released, by the making of this post.  But before we even know who did it, or why, the talking heads of the left and the right are assembling, ready to debate this.  And you know what the debates are?

The Left –

We need to get rid of guns!  If people didn’t have guns, this wouldn’t have happened!

The Right –

We need to get more guns!  If those people had had guns too, this wouldn’t have happened, because they could have shot back!

To both sides –

You’re idiots.

Let’s attack the liberal position on this first.  Do you really think that violence is going to stop if people don’t have guns?  Let’s take a look back through history.  Throughout history, people have been violent.  Before they had guns to kill people with, they were using swords.  Before swords, they used clubs.  That is because there is a part of the human animal that has propensity to kill other people.  We have a violent side to us.

Now, it isn’t like we are beholden to this side, but we have to acknowledge its existence.  But do the people who look at these tragedies do that?  No.  Of course not.  To do that means to shine a rather unflattering light on America and humanity itself, and we are such a self-pitying species that we can’t do that.  It’s just too hard.

But back to the issues – getting rid of guns isn’t going to stop violence.  In fact, getting rid of guns would create even more.  This is because if we ban guns, it would make another black market.  We already have one ridiculous and pointless black market with drugs.  We shouldn’t have any drugs illegal, because it is pointless and doesn’t help anything.  If it were legal, it could be controlled.  So, with one black market which leads to incredible amounts of senseless violence in the form of gang violence, you want to add another?  It would absolutely cause more harm than good.

And in the case of what happened at this theater, that man could have just as easily come into the place with a machete as he could with a gun and killed people.

To the Right – don’t you realize that these people already had the ability to have guns?  Most theaters don’t have a policy that says that you can’t bring in guns.  People have the ability to get a gun if they want to.  There really is nothing standing in the way of them getting a gun, other than a registration process that checks to see if you have a criminal history involving guns.

So, they could have had a gun and fired back at this guy.  Why didn’t they?  Because most people aren’t horribly violent and want to have guns on them to potentially kill an attacker.  Your obsession with people having guns really does confuse/annoy me, because it’s like you all don’t have a firm grasp on reality.  Well, you are conservative, so that isn’t too surprising.

It all comes down to this – America refuses to look at these issues like they are a bigger problem.  They want to simplify it down to “it’s guns.”  That’s lazy, ignorant, and stupid.

Wow, all terms to describe America.  Convenient.

Lefty’s Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

First things first – don’t see this movie in 3D.  I hate so much that almost every film nowadays is in 3D.  This film doesn’t need it, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it.  3D is a cheap marketing gimmick that Hollywood has whored out to.  This film is awesome all on its own.

Going in to the first film of the original series, I had very high expectations.  It was a Spider-Man movie, after all, and I had had a little bit of love for the character.  Sadly, I was incredibly disappointed.  The dialogue was awful, the effects were crappy, and the villain looked so bad that I laughed every time that he was on screen.  It was a corny and silly and outright ridiculous movie.

You won’t find any of those problems here.  This film is, quite simply, better than the first film of the original series in every conceivable way.  This is what a Spider-Man film should be.  But let’s take a closer look.

The story is of Spider-Man’s beginning.  He is starting out as a superhero, and is learning who he is.  The film opens with his parents leaving him with his aunt and uncle, and leaving, obviously afraid.  They are killed, and Peter grows up with his aunt and uncle.  Through a series of events, he finds himself at Oscorp, and winds up being bitten by a genetically mutated spider.  This begins his transformation into Spider-Man.  Meanwhile, an algorithm that Peter finds that his father made helps Dr. Curt Connors find his own inner monster.

So, the good stuff first.  The first thing to talk about is the dialogue.  This movie’s dialogue and character drama flowed so much better than the first film of the original series.  It helped that Tobey MacGuire wasn’t playing the lead role.  Andrew Garfield did his role incredibly well.  He played Parker as an awkward young man, who isn’t some born hero, but just a guy.  And when he finds himself with powers, he doesn’t just immediately become a hero.

Now, there are a lot of plot points that follow the original film.  Uncle Ben getting murdered, Parker hunting for the murderer, but unlike in the original film, he never finds the man.  And the plot is a lot better handled in this film.  The original film was well-paced, and the story wasn’t bad, but the awful dialogue and the one-dimensional characters like Mary Jane Watson were just tedious and boring.  This film suffered from none of that.

Another improvement was the romance.  In keeping with the original comic, Peter isn’t with Mary Jane, but instead begins a relationship with Gwen Stacey.  Their relationship is believable, and very hard.  There is genuinely compelling drama when Stacey doesn’t want to keep in that relationship because she is afraid (after finding out his secret) of Parker dying, like her father, who is a police captain.  Stacey isn’t just a tease romance like Mary Jane was in the original films.  She has a lot of personality, and is pretty tough.

But by far the best improvements of this film, as opposed to the other film were the fight sequences, and the villain.  This film had The Lizard as the villain.  His look was amazing.  This villain was genuinely intimidating.  Unlike Green Goblin from the other film, who was a joke.  Everything from his look, to his voice-work, you were afraid of this guy. And the fight scenes in this movie were so epic.

Not just with Lizard, either.  Spider-Man fighting it out with random thugs, his first car-thief, and the battles with Lizard were just great.  For one thing, they were a LOT faster than the fights in the other film.  The pace of these fights was so fast that there were times that you didn’t want to blink.  For some movies, that’s a bad thing, but in a film about Spider-Man, that’s just perfect.  This is a guy who can move at split-second reaction.  He can shoot web and jump around.  You want a fight with him to be unbelievably fast and acrobatic.  You expect the enemies of this character to be annoyed fighting him, because catching him is like trying to catch a frog with your bare hands.

So, with all this great stuff, are there problems?  Well, yes, there are a few.  This is really nit-picking, but they are worth mentioning.  The first problem is that the Lizard is cool, and the fights with him are awesome, but it is a little bit glossed over in a way.  You do get into Connors’ head, but it could have been given a little more time.  Of course, the focus is kept on Parker and his adventures, as it should be.  So that really is a nit-pick.

Another problem is that the man working for Norman Osbourne, who is obviously a villain, is a very stereotypical Middle Eastern man.  Oh, and another one – they had ANOTHER scene with an American flag shoe-horned in there!  That got annoying by the third of the original Spider-Man movies.  Here, it was absolutely unnecessary, and kind of uncomfortable.

But to be honest, that is all just nit-picking.  There is nothing staggeringly wrong with this film.  It’s definitely a more serious Spider-Man movie.  We all need to thank The Dark Knight for showing that audiences want a more serious superhero movie.  And we got it in this film.  It is more serious than the original film, it is better acted and better scripted.  It flows organically, unlike the completely surreal and cartoon-y nature of the other movie.  The villain and hero are much better.  It is an overall improvement in every way.

Fans of this hero, or superhero films in general won’t be disappointed.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10

Lefty’s Review: Prometheus

It’s been a while since a Ridley Scott film got me to thinking as much as this one has.  This might seem a little late, since the film has been out for some time, but here’s the thing – I’m what you’d call a “poor reviewer.”  I review stuff, and enjoy doing it, but I rarely am able to see stuff in a timely way because money isn’t exactly rolling in for me.  But, I finally got around to seeing this movie, and man, I am so glad that I did.

Back to the Alien universe, this film fills in some of the gaps from the original films.  The first two.  Not the crappy third and fourth, that were a joke.  But this film fills in some plot holes.  For one thing, it answers how the Company knew about the Xenomorphs.  For another, it gave some back-story to the ship that they found, and the alien lifeforms that were on-board.  It also showed the origins of the Alien itself.  That is very cool.

This film takes the perspective of an actual theory that is floating around that alien life is what got humanity here, also known as panspermia.  I don’t buy it, but hey, it was interesting.  So, a group of archeologists find evidence of alien life interacting with primitive cultures, and they decide to follow a map that they found and go seek these aliens out, hoping to answer the great questions of who we are, and why we are here.  Basically, they hope to answer the oldest questions of humanity.

Like most Ridley Scott horror films, this one is very harsh about things.  It presents what happens as a very raw style of film.  The question of mortality is asked in a very harsh way in this film.  It opens with an alien humanoid sacrificing itself in order to create life on this world.  The head of the Company, Weyland, is dying, and hoping that these aliens can somehow lead him to a better life.  A robot, played by Michael Fassbender, is coming to grips with its own existence.

The best performances in this movie were by far Idris Elba as the captain of the ship, Prometheus, and from Noomi Rapace as the archeologist, Elizabeth Shaw.  One thing about her character was just how hard they went after the concept of what it means to have faith, and what it means to believe in something greater than yourself.  Through the film, she realizes that her beliefs may be wrong.  She still chooses to believe in something greater, even knowing where we all came from, and why.

It is kind of harsh how hard they went at all the themes of this film.  The lack of comaraderie in this movie is one of the things that it draws attention to.  There is no loyalty to anybody.  Everybody is looking out for themselves, and if that hadn’t been the case, I think that there is a real chance that things wouldn’t have turned out so bad.

The theme of questioning where we all came from is one of what I think the weak points of the movie is.  I’ll admit that this partially springs from personal bias, but honestly, where we all came from bores me.  The very thought is kind of uninteresting.

Overall, this was a very fearless movie.  The most fearless that Ridley Scott has done in a very long time.  His last few films have been rather timid and not wanting to really challenge anything.  And don’t say that Gladiator did, because we have seen that story before.  It’s the story of Moses from the Old Testament of the Bible.  This movie wasn’t afraid to take characters, develop them, make them suffer, and have them die.

Another plus of this movie were the sets.  Man, this is what Avatar should have been.  Ridley Scott used special effects to his benefit in this movie, and instead of having them be the focus, they are a plot device, as they should be.

This is one of the best films that I have seen in a long time, and it’s good to see that Ridley Scott can still do a good film.  Hopefully this won’t be his last.  He’s definitely back at his A-game here, and I hope to see more of it soon.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10

Video Games are both Art, and Culturally Relevant

Some time ago, Roger Ebert, the famous film critic, came out with an article that caused a lot of buzz both in the world of gaming, and in the world of art.  There is a clear divide on this topic, and it is interesting that there are people out there who are actually examining this critically.  It is inspiring to see people who take what is going on right now in culture and art as seriously as they do.

Now of course, there are people with no real opinion.  Internet trolls who simply want to complain about things.  However, there have been other people who have had very measured responses to Ebert’s article.  He contends that video games can never be art.  I am a hardcore gamer, but I will take the measured approach.

Can a video game be compared to a great film?  No.  But here’s the thing – can a great film be compared to a great book?  No.  That’s a fact.  Books will always be better than film.  If one is going to look at a medium and judge its artistic merit to what it can’t compare to, then, truly, nothing is art.  Can a description of a place in a book be compared to a great piece of nature in painting or tapestry?  No, it can’t.  There are some amazing descriptions in some great books, but it still doesn’t compare to great paintings.

So, what can be said for the argument of if video games are art or not?  Well, the first thing is that one has to come to a consensus on at least a couple of issues.  The first is – what makes something art.  Kellee Santiago made a great video at TEDxUSC about this.  Great art is something that creates an emotional reaction and an emotional connection with the viewer, reader, etc.

Are there any games that have produced an emotional reaction?  I think there are.  Take a look at the newest edition to thatgamecompany’s lineup – Journey.  This game is what I would want a good short film to be.  The visuals in this game are perfect, absolutely perfect.  They are flawless.  There is an emotional simplicity about the story, the same way that early Disney films were.  Plus, this game did something that most people would think impossible for a culture who demands immediacy – made people care about a character who said nothing, and for a plot that was totally vague.

This game sold fast, and the reception of the audience and critics was amazing.  A simple yet beautiful concept, and it was delivered perfectly.  It was the most basic, yet most ambitious project of thatgamecompany.

Next up, let’s examine the game Batman: Arkham City.  This game was the tipping point for me in the debate if superheroes are this generation’s version of Greek mythological heroes.  The issues presented in this game were incredible.  The ethical dilemmas of Batman and the often harsh view of him throughout this game was beyond engaging.  It was theatrically incredible.  Everything about this game was what one would expect from a great piece of film.  I have made, and will defend, claims that I think this game is better than The Dark Knight.

Now don’t get me wrong, that was an incredible film.  But this game had so much more engagement.  For one thing, the dilemmas of Batman were so much better explored in this game.  He is facing his own mortality, yet to kill the Joker, he views death as a small price to pay.  He is willing to let all of the inmates of Arkham City get killed so that he can go after the woman he loves.  He has gotten to the point where he will brutally assault people who won’t give him what he wants.  He won’t kill, but everything up to that point is fair game.  You really get the sense that he has gotten to the point where views violence as the only solution.  Much more than in The Dark Knight, you question if Batman is the hero or the villain.  He even (spoiler alert) at the end admits that even though the Joker kills and destroys everything he touches, he would still save him.  Implying that those two actually need each other.  And Mark Hamill’s final role as The Joker was simply incredible.  The best that has ever been done on the small screen.  He will never, ever be topped.

Another game to examine is a new one that is coming out – BEYOND: Two Souls.  One can’t even touch the cinematic presentation.  In fact, that is one area that Ebert will never be able to argue video games artistry.  Visuals in most all games that come out now are simply amazing.  But here, there is a definite cinematic presentation.  When Quantic Dreams is making it, you know that it has to be good.  Heavy Rain was an incredible game that was easily comparable to a good film.

Now look, you can argue there is bias on my part, since I am a gamer.  You can argue that I am simply making these claims because I don’t want to accept that games aren’t comparable with great forms of art.  Well, depending on how you look at it.  But the fact is that they are, in fact, art.

Not only are they art, but they are also culture.  They are a significant part of modern culture.  One of the reasons that video games are where they are today is because of the culture surrounding them.  We grew up with games.  Gamers who played low-on-plot, high-on-action games when they were younger wanted their games to mature with them.  And they have.  And they still are.

I would argue that not only are video games an art medium, but they are also a cultural medium.  It is time for the prudish scholarly types to stop being stubborn and accept that video games are a part of both communities.  I think that gaming designers took what Ebert said as a challenge.  Like he said – make a game that could be compared to a film.  And they have succeeded.  Since he is a movie buff, and has admitted his bias, he will never own up to it, but it’s the truth.

Something to think about.

Lefty’s Review: Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America

This is one of those books that every progressive should read.  Matt Taibbi, the author and also a contributor to the political section of Rolling Stone magazine has a gift at being able to make the incredibly ugly very easy to swallow.  His mission with this book was incredibly ambitious – be able to take what is a machine so complicated that to identify all its moving parts is like trying to solve a calculus equation with a European see-and-say and make it all make sense.

The first thing it opens up with is showing that the Tea Party isn’t what any of us believed it to be.  Taibbi put it rather poetically –

They’re fighting a 1960s battle in a world run by twenty-first century crooks.

One interesting point that he makes is that the difference between America and a third world country is that for us, our politicians put on this really extravagant show, with lots of bells and whistles.  A typical presidential election cycle is nothing but a big performance.  What’s more, the American people know this.  They are fully aware of the fact that they are being duped.  They just don’t care.  Every year, a presidential election is more or less decided by who the public likes more.  Who has more charisma.  The informed public knows that none of the candidates are going to do anything, or at least not what they promise, but for some ridiculous reason, they keep hoping that they will.  Meanwhile, the uninformed public doesn’t care.  When you hear people say, “I don’t know that much about politics, but I’ll vote for George Bush because of his faith,” that tells you all that you need to know.

The ultimate tragedy of this country is that the presidential election, something that should be about issues and a lot of deep thought, is about entertainment.  We know that it is a useless waste of time.  So now, we just want to be entertained.  We want to feel like we have been given something worth having.  America’s leaders don’t care as well.  They know we don’t, and they know we will just vote for them because that is how it’s always been done.

The leaders of this nation see the writing on the wall.  The fact is that America is in trouble.  But rather than try and help, they simply want to amass as much cash for themselves as they can and get while the getting is good.

Throughout the book, he looks into concepts like “bubble economics.”  If you want to know what it is, read his book.  There is a reason an entire book was written about this.  It takes an entire book to explain.  The machines that run this country are so convoluted, and this is no accident.  Rather than try and do things secretly, our economic and political leaders have realized that they can simply make things so complicated, and the average stupid American won’t know what to think of it, and won’t look beyond the surface.  And for those who would try, there is a mountain of information to climb, and most won’t even get close to the summit.  It is a brilliantly engineered system.

The problem is that the system has become so complicated that we can pin the collapse of the financial market in 2008 on something they overlooked going wrong.  Meanwhile, while the bulk of the public is looking to pin some rightful blame on the bankers for their role in all of this, nobody is talking about taking the politicians to task for their own role in making legislation that protects the privacy and interests of the financial institutions and Wall Street.

Another point he addressed was something that liberals across America are uniting to cheer, which is interesting to me – the Health Care Reform bill.  One of the greatest cons in the history of this country, and a birthday present to the private insurance companies.  Yet liberals are saying that this is a good thing.  Talk about good marketing.

This is not a pleasant book.  It’s not a book that at the end will leave you feeling good.  I think it’s a great book, and definitely worth checking out for those who want to learn how the mechanisms of this country actually work, but once you understand that, you will find that you have a profound hatred for this country, and for the people who run it, because while you will work hard and try to make a good life for yourself, every single person that you elect is trying to screw you.

There is no party for the American people.  Democrat, Republican, they are all the same.  All sides are loyal to one group, and one group only – Wall Street.  Once you understand that, and you understand that all politicians do is say they will do stuff, while meanwhile sucking from the tit of big money, you can realize just how pathetic this nation’s future really is.

America isn’t going to get better through traditional means.  You cannot vote this problem out of office, because each person who will take that person’s place will be just as loyal to Wall Street as the person who came before.  So this leads to the ultimate question of our times –

What can we do?  What can any of us do, against the forces so powerful, and so uncaring, who feel no remorse from destroying neighborhoods and destroying families?  What can be done?  And perhaps the hardest question of all –

Is it too late?

Tag Cloud