April 23rd, 2010

Erstwhile Concept Art

Addendum to prior post: video games caused the Holocaust

I typed the previous entry in a coffee-induced trance with the boiling rage of a hundred thousand angry nerds as my muse, so I'm taking back what I said about being angry at hockey to make some additions and corrections.

Okay, one hockey thing. Last night's game was a great example of how much fun it can be when the refs stop making bad calls. The only one they really got wrong at the end of the day was the Fisher high-stick -- how could he get that when Fleury got roughing for causing it? (blood on the ice, that's why) -- and they really let a lot go after the first overtime, but the players sorted it out themselves and the winning goal was indisputable, as opposed to all the murky "did the net leave the pegs" and "what the hell is a kicking motion anyway" crap that came before it. We're two for three in games with decent officiating now, which doesn't mean we'll even reach game 7 much less win it, but hey, Sens Mile on Saturday night. That's all I really wanted coming into last night.

Also last night, some girl named Angela confided in me that she thought El Topo sounded pretty cool. Rereading it myself, I guess I left that impression too. But as I said, I only described the first half of the movie, and I didn't even mention that it was a multi-hour marathon. So after you've sat through the feature-length halfway interesting part, you still have to watch the gunslinger:

- become a monk and get nursed back to health by a bunch of underground midgets, one of whom he marries
- go to a town full of rich white people who kill slaves for their own amusement to raise money for dynamite to get his midget buddies out of the underground
- meet his abandoned son, who is a priest now and tries to kill him
- finally release the midgets who promptly get massacred by the crazy rich people
- burn himself to death on the town's promenade while his midget wife has his baby and his grown son becomes the new gunslinger

And since you're "supposed" to see this movie at midnight, it's past closing time when you get out, so you can't even drink away the memory unless you stocked up beforehand. It's a long, treacherous haul through a lot of muddy and reasonless symbolism porn, although in its defense it inspired a pretty great video game.

Also, old man Toner, who is singlehandedly keeping the newspaper industry alive, took issue with my general tear-up on Mr. Ebert. I was a little harsh! I freely admit that and would probably even apologize if pressured to do so. But my point, or at least what I thought it was, was that it is strictly impossible to engage Roger Ebert on the basis of the terms. It's like trying to get the Westboro Baptists to read the verse about not eating shrimp, or telling a Pittsburgh fan that the Penguins are a bunch of whiners. (Whoops, there I go again.) We just can't communicate! We're not merely using different vocabularies, we are culturally programmed to be unable to see one another's point. In an environment such as that, where logic and debate are trains running directly at each other on a single railroad track, the only way to be heard is to shout louder than the rest -- and the only reason to be heard is to spark emotional reactions for entertainment purposes. So if I'm really being honest with you and me and all of us, when I say "Roger Ebert wouldn't know art if you brought him a Garfunkle," what I mean is "can I have some pageviews?" But also I'm trying to say "hey, it's a stupid argument, and the only winners are the hecklers on the sidelines."

I said I wasn't going to link to any of the controversy-related articles, and I still won't, but I'd like to share a little comparison I made: the article about games currently has over 3,300 comments on it. A much better article, written in the wake of a scathing review of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", has a third of that. It's called I'm A Proud Brainiac and it is a fair, balanced, slightly aggrandizing but mostly witty response to the accusations that Roger Ebert is out of touch, elitist, or simply too smart for his own good. It's the kind of thing that I'd like to see written by one of gaming's greats to lead us out of this dark age of commercialization and into an era when designing a title means more than just "holy shit, we gotta hit the price point." Until then, I'm going to sit here and goad people into yelling at me and wait for somebody to give me a book deal.