Monday, July 27, 2015

Pop Culture is ‘Boring as F!@#'

Pop Culture is ‘Boring as F!@#’: A Playboy Conversation with Monica Byrne | Playboy

All art translates an artist’s inner world into the “real” world. But science fiction is uniquely oriented toward the future, and so, is inherently political: a hope or a warning, or most often, a complicated mix of the two.

Questions worth asking: "Nobody seemed to react to it much at all. Why was that?"

' ... During the interview Adkisson stated that he had targeted the church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of major media outlets.'

I didn't see a lot of people showing solidarity with the folks who were killed in that church for their religious and political beliefs or declaring war on the people who held such ideas. Nobody seemed to react to it much at all. Why was that? 
July 27 is anniversary of the 2008 attack on liberal church by a conservative ideologue. For context, digby's post was published shortly after the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and several months before the Charleston shooting. Not once in all the coverage of Charleston did I hear reference to this shooting, despite the similarities in motivation. This shooters hatred may be somewhat more diffuse, incorporating liberals and gays, as well as blacks:
Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly. [Knoxville News Sentinel]
Two died and seven were wounded in the attack on the TVUUC. Let's remember the heroism of Greg McKendry (who died because he deliberately stood in front of the gunman to protect others), as well as John Bohstedt, Robert Birdwell, Arthur Bolds, Terry Uselton, and Jamie Parkey, who restrained the gunman. Remember, too, that Linda Kraeger was the other life lost in the attack.

Remember. And keep asking: why is it ever socially acceptable to vilify liberals, atheists, gays, blacks, or any other group? Why do media outlets that routinely give white supremacists, theocrats, fascists, and other hate group representatives a platform continue to enjoy broad support? Why are there still Confederate flags flying anywhere?  Why are there textbooks used by public schools that claim white supremacy and slavery were only side issues in the Civil War while utterly ignoring Jim Crow and the KKK?

Maybe, just maybe, if we stop teaching kids to hate, and giving cover to their hatred when they're adults, we can all get on the same page and work towards justice for all.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

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The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky - "I've got to give them a choice."

The Sontaran Stratagem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 4, Story 4 (Overall Series Story #196a) | Previous - Next | Index

Yeah you will.
Martha's back. And so are UNIT. We've already seen Rose, and will catch a glimpse of her again soon. The Sontarans are also back. And so are Wilf and Donna's mum. Yet, this manages to be less than the sum of its parts.

UNIT without a Lethbridge-Stewart, or a Sgt. Benton is not our UNIT, even with Martha Jones now attached. Pretty much everything about this one feels slow getting out of the gate. And, with a an annoying boy genius fronting the Sontarans, it never feels like we're going to really get to enjoy it.

Our reliance on cars, and the ecological nightmare that reliance entails, feels like a worthy topic for Doctor Who, but I'm not getting like a smart send-up vibe off this story. The boy genius's bravado and vulnerability feel like they are a potential thematic key, but to what lock? ATMOS as the corporate evil? We're getting a lot of corporate malfeasance with our DW these days, but one of the things I like to do when I watch with my kids is ask them questions about they're watching, so they're thinking about why the storyteller is telling this particular story? Watching this one with them, I'm stumped as to what question has a chance of bubbling up an interesting answer. Why this story, told this way?

I wish I knew.

Grasping at straws, I guess we could credit this one with some foresight and, with a Snowden-esque perspective, argue that this story advises skepticism about widely adopting a technology that can easily be used to track us and, potentially be used to control us. (Not that we haven't had enough of these sorts of warnings already.)

The Poison Sky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 4, Story 5 (Overall Series Story #196b) | Previous - Next | Index

The list of things I remember about this one after watching it just a few days ago:

  • The Doctor disarming Rattigan, 
  • Rattigan's final in-your-face "Sontar ... Ha!" 
  • Martha getting caught up in the sudden trip to next week's adventure, 
  • wishing for more Wilf, 
  • that quick flash of Rose on the monitor,
  • the mention of the Sontaran conflict with the Rutan,
  • groaning when Donna's mum gives the eco-friendly speech about all the people riding bikes, even though I'd feel the same way,
  • the Doctor saying, "I've got to give them a choice."

Not that it was terrible, and a few of those are piquant moments. But -- here we go again again, just as in the write-up of the first part, the pattern for talking about this one is: "there was that, but" --
it's the low point of Series 4. All things considered, at least it's not (same writer's) low point of last series, the Daleks Take Manhattan two-parter. (I know, I know. That's what it would have been called if it had Muppets in it though.)

Additional Resources:
Tardis Wikia entry transcript
Sandifer post
Shabogan Graffiti
AV Club review
TV Tropes page

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