Tag Archives: Internet

Link Dump: #10

Let me just get this out there: I love the movie Cat People. I love it so much that I’d be OK with it if, every time I was aroused, I turned into the movie Cat People. Don’t question how that’d work. The point is that I really, really love that movie. I love its brevity, its odd visual poetry, its confusing but wonderful morals; I love Tom Conway’s sleaziness and, most of all, Simone Simon’s fractured innocence. Cat People is complex, poignant, perverse, and really sexy. I fucking love Cat People. Anyway, I just wanted to talk about that because I haven’t touched on that movie at all this month. Oh, and I have some links! Read them at your leisure.

  • Have you bought issue 10 of Paracinema magazine yet? If not, look at this. Now are you convinced?
  • Wow, even Fangoria hated the I Spit on Your Grave remake! Then you know it’s bad.
  • THIS is an incredible video and I love it. It’s just so in-your-face and totally refuses to bullshit. Fuck hate! Fuck yeah! (Share it with everyone you know who can take the word “fuck”!) [Via Four of Them]
  • Here’s another great video, this one being an ultra-NSFW song by MC Sex about period sex, accompanied by clips from dozens of gory horror movies. [Via Hold onto yr genre]
  • This is a really, really stupid NYT article that just wastes space. Oh no! We don’t have lines like “Stupid is as stupid does” in movies anymore! How can we endure?
  • Christopher Nolan is finally disclosing some Batman 3 – excuse me, “The Dark Knight Rises” – details. I’ve been back and forth about Nolan lately, but I have to admit a measure of excitement for this movie. And I, for one, thought it was obvious that he wasn’t going to use the Riddler, since 1) how would lime green fit into the Nolanverse color scheme, and 2) wouldn’t another joke-cracking villain be redundant??
  • Neil Gaiman on Arthur. This makes every fiber of my being happy; while watching it, I was literally giggling with joy.
  • And speaking of Gaiman, want to be one of his most iconic characters, Death from The Sandman, for Halloween? Well, The Powder Room’s Locus Ceruleus Media will tell you how with this awesome makeup tutorial.
  • Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, here’s a listing of some great Japanese horror movies, including a few we’ve talked about on this blog. Any list that includes Jigoku is good enough for me!
  • A few sites have pointed out this video of a Texas NBC station asking the leading question, “Will acceptance of gays lead to the downfall of America?” Jesus. Fucking. Christ. It’s pretty abhorrent and unbearable, and it just gets worse toward the end. People like this make me fucking sick.
  • There comes a time in every boy’s life when he has to explain the Internet to a 19th century Cockney street urchin. This flowchart should help.
  • To tie it back to Paracinema, their blog has been doing a Halloween Countdown of their own! It’s got snuff films, Japanese wackiness, Vincent Price, and more. And on a related note, Stacie Ponder of Final Girl is rounding down her list-tastic Shocktober lists. Read both of these for some great movie suggestions as Halloween arrives! (Just two days.)

On the search terms front, we had some weird shit this past week. One searcher complained that “women never have sex with men”; another creepily wrote, “my daughter in law has good pussy.” I saw the perfectly unpleasant instruction (?) to “pull my pussy n hurt it grrr,” as well as the more reasonable injunction of “don’t piss off your plastic surgeon.” I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what “professor & the sexy girl japanese movie” refers to.

My mention of Ava Gardner’s performance as a real estate agent in The Sentinel earned us such anomalies as “real estate agent rape scene” and “simulated ava gardner naked fucking” (??!). Finally, my favorite two of the week: “licentiously yours,” which I think should replace “sincerely” or any similar sign-off in correspondence, and “recorded in bathroom, guitar, died, fall,” which is just… I don’t even know. What does that mean? I think it means “Happy Halloween.” So yes. Happy Halloween.

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My gripe with Avatar fandom

Fandom, at times, can be a little frightening. I like to think about the psychological effects of mass media and the Internet; I spent part of last night reading about “online disinhibition effect” – a consequence of virtual anonymity that we’ve all observed, whether we’ve seen flamewars or trolls or insulting posts in online forums. Today I’ve been reading into the sometimes terrifying world of the newly-born Avatar fandom.

Now, fandom isn’t always negative; as I wrote about Trekkies, sometimes fans can band together to create bold, new works out of the preexisting substance of the franchise. Ashley and I both wrote mediocre fanfiction when we were younger (her about Harry Potter, myself about Digimon), and it helped us start writing. However, I have some issues with the massive Avatar following that’s sprung up online.

Now, I grant that this is an enormously popular, successful, profitable movie. Not an especially good one, as I noted in my review, but somewhat imaginative and extremely well-loved. But I feel like the explosive interest in Avatar, which includes multiple wikis, forums, blogs, etc., reveals additional problems with the movie: namely, it’s contrived in order to create a huge base of fans, so that maybe Avatars 2 and 3 can join the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time, too.

I mean, the movie’s purpose is to launch a franchise, to sell peripheral merchandise, to spread Avatar brand awareness through lunch boxes and stickers and whatever else you can cram into middle school lockers. It’s a fucking blockbuster – that was its mission, which is now very well accomplished. Yet intriguingly, and disturbingly, some people see it as a worthy cultural object to base their life around.

Through two lovely blogs, Geekologie and Ramblings of a Film Snob, I’ve recently learned about the worst of the worst amongst Avatar fans: those who get depressed because “the dream of Pandora [is] intangible,” as a CNN article informs me. Against my better judgment, I visited a forum called Naviblue.com, and glanced over some of the more egregious topics:

Coping with Avatar/Pandora Withdrawals
Why are people claiming that Avatar has a racist message
If your Avatar were to die…
What do you think avatar hidden message is
Real Life Na’vi Tribe (NOT on the Internet!)

Now, I know this is just par for the course in the age of the Internet. If there is some phenomenon – especially within the realm of fiction-world-based sci-fi – somebody’s going to obsess over it. There have always been nerds. What were alchemists but a kind of proto-nerd? But I think that the CNN story linked to above isn’t just pointless hysteria along the lines of “Video games and Marilyn Manson make our kids violent” stories of the past; I think it’s symptomatic of something greater, which possibly connects to online disinhibition effect.

I’ve expressed before an interest in child psychology – how children are sometimes incapable of distinguishing between fiction and reality, and how they process media differently. I wonder if these reactions to Avatar have to do with this kind of childlike perception. Hell, when I was 11-12, I desperately wanted the Harry Potter world to be real. I actually mused about how I’d be able to cast spells in heaven. You know why? I was a stupid 12-year-old, that’s why.

However, Live Journal user tireanavi, who writes “We Are Na’vi [Na’vi Reborn],” doesn’t look 12. Glancing hesitantly through their entries, it betrays a slightly frightening level of devotion to Avatar, as well as a connection to “Otherkin” culture, which I was heretofore unfamiliar with. I have to wonder, are they being serious when they ask, “do you have any memories of your life on Pandora? How clear are they, how detailed?” It reminds me in a way of Jack Chick’s “Dark Dungeons,” and the total disconnect from reality that Chick perceives in D&D users.

Now, I’m not just a “hater.” I have a genuine interest in exploring what’s psychologically behind these actions and claims. At a certain point, fandom does start entering into cult territory; I’m reminded of the stories of violence against Twilight haters (granted, that’s from a virulently anti-Twilight website). You’re an unhappy or desperate person, you find something to latch onto, and you defend it against any who object to it. The quality of the cultural object doesn’t matter: it’s yours, and you need it. Scary? Yes, I’d say so. I think of Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle, searching for any purpose, or of this very dark Onion article about desperate fandom.

I’m not really able to draw any conclusive answers here about the hows and whys, but I do think that the mentality being fostered in Avatar fans who dream of living on Pandora or being a Na’vi – even to the extreme of, to quote a forum user named Mike, “contemplat[ing] suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora” – is on the verge of cultlike. And I don’t think that’s a total coincidence. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, Avatar is basically prefabricated fan material. It’s designed to acquire fans; its universe isn’t all that organic or lived-in, but it does have a sufficient number of tiny details for fans to obsess over.

I think a great example is the Na’vi language. I’m not saying a lot of work didn’t go into it. But I think back to before Avatar was released, when a news story about artificial languages discussed Na’vi, saying it’d be the new Klingon, which is notorious for being spoken fluently by diehard Trekkies. And sure enough, Avatar fans are talking and writing in Na’vi; I suspect that this is done so that 1) they can equate themselves with film’s blue, in-tune-with-nature noble savages and 2) they can have a way of speaking that normal, uninitiated folks don’t use. Having a special vernacular is common amongst most fandoms (“muggle”?); Cameron, whose already swollen ego must be close to imploding, just accelerated the process.

So my central complaint is that with Avatar, the following just feels so built-in. While talking to Ashley recently, I compared it to the political practice of “astroturfing” – i.e., artificial grassroots. It’s barely been in theaters a month and already people think they’re reincarnated Na’vi, really? Maybe Cameron tapped into a big 21st century zeitgeist. Maybe it has something to do with growing up with Internet access. Or maybe Avatar isn’t so much a movie as it is a giant, well-oiled fan-acquiring machine.

In any case, now I think I really want to stop talking about goddamn Avatar, but I just wanted to express why it really bugged me. Because this “I saw Avatar and now I’m depressed” story isn’t at all a completely isolated, wacky, extreme case. Our generation is all about losing ourselves in unreality. A few years ago it was Second Life. Or World of Warcraft. And by and large, I don’t believe these types of attractions are good. I believe that works of art can and should improve our real lives, not act as substitutes. That’s what aggravated me about Avatar. And now I want to get back to works of art and my real life.

I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora

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In search of… search results

Search results are funny things. I intended, at some point, to start writing about movies Ashley and I have been watching recently – The Third Man and White Heat, two 1949 crime films with some great performances, in particular – but then realized that between a short attention span, a face with constant blurry vision and sinus issues, and a few other factors, this was unlikely to pan out in the immediate future. Another forthcoming blog could also be about the significance of cult figures or icons in general. We shall see. Because of course there’s such a clamor for my Internet-based wisdom and insight. At least, from me.

In any case, search results. Someone goes onto the Internet. Types in a few words. “I want to know about…” you name it. They go to Wikipedia, Yahoo, Google, whatever resource they know will suit their question, and then go with keywords or questions: Tell me about Facebook. Tell me about the rabbits. What is Twitter? What is my IP address? Unsure about some strange new aspect of the world? (E.g., What is Twittering, dammit?!) That’s why God (or Wesley Chan) made search bars. Instant gratification and access to endless information. Search results by the millions – 380,000,000 for “What is Twitter?” alone. Oh, this curious thing called the Internet and all its series of ever-so-helpful tubes.

Thankfully, my knowledge of people’s searching habits is no longer limited to just guessing: Google kindly shows popular searches with just a little prodding. And that’s the purpose of this post. To express my extreme amusement at the results I find. I tried to search for a line said by Moe to Rainier Wolfcastle and quoted in Planet Simpson, a book I recently read by Chris Turner (and have cited before in this very blog). I saw some interesting search suggestions start popping up, and lo and behold, we have gems like these.

Suggestions for "is it," "is it true," and "is it true that"

Do I really want to delve into the obsessions and curiosities that these searches suggest of the (American) public? There’s the nonexistent minutiae in the lives of low-culture icons like, dear God, the stars of Twilight and beloved ex-lovers Chris “Breezy” Brown and Rihanna, and their high position in the public psyche. We’ve got the whole-hearted paranoia and gullibility, with stories about Obama supposedly not saluting the flag, or the world ending in 2012 (in fact, a lot about the 2012 thing), or your heart stopping when you sneeze. And of course the eternal quandary of using it vs. losing it.

Lingering swine flu fears are there from the start, wondering about if Mexico is a safe travel destination yet. So it seems like when someone’s not looking for frivolous, celebrity-obsessed shit (OMG Miley’s preggers?!?!?), they’re nearly hysterical about whether Obama’s lack of patriotism is going to lead to some global cataclysm before his term is over (in fact, just typing in the word “is” yields the suggestion, “Is Obama the antichrist?” Hysteria indeed!)

So yes, I admit that seeing search suggestions like those both reassures me in my opinions (people are stupid!) and makes me laugh with regard to said conclusion (haha, people are stupid!). Mainly because you have to laugh. Or else you cry. Shut up about 2012, fuckers; you didn’t care about Incan codices before, so what what makes them so important now? Google, of course, is one of many resources for finding out about what’s on everybody’s mind. Since WordPress very sweetly includes search engine terms amongst the blog stats, Ashley and I have been able to witness a parade of curiouser & curiouser keywords being used to find Pussy Goes Grrr. I’ve been meaning to write about these terms for a long time, or at least use them as inspiration for a blog (some are, in fact, rather interesting), but never gotten around to it. Now the chance has arisen. Behold.

rosemarry from titanic heroiens fucking

gay boy

faith gnd pussy

amanda palmer pussy

women leaking pussy

lesbian art

I’ve seen Snopes and Happy Bodies do similar reviews of search terms – they’re just so fun! So fun to glance over the weird and wild ways people navigate the ‘Net. (Especially when it’s done with heavy alliteration.) Someone even found this blog once while searching for Snopes – oddly enough, that’s the same way I found xkcd in the first place. But who can help but enjoy talking about search terms. Meta-examination is just an endless joy, to contemplate one’s navel to your heart’s content. There’s probably some proportionality relationship between wanky enjoyment and wanky uselessness. But all I can determine is that when navel contemplation is involved, the word “wanky” is very, very appropriate.

I don’t know why the word “fucking” is so often tossed onto the end of search terms. For what it’s worth, the most commonly used keywords to find us are “pussy fuckers,” tied with “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest,” which as I recall was discussed in the first post I wrote. But, oh well, it’s a popular movie. We get a lot of pornographic inquiries – we discuss sexuality pretty often, after all, and the blog’s name does include the word “pussy” – some of which make us happy, like “amanda palmer pussy,” and some of which… do not. These are the far more common variety. For your viewing (dis)pleasure):

kid pussy

very young lolita pussy

childhood pussy

infant pussy

It was also a mistake to include the word “necrophilia” as a tag, apparently – it’s led to searches where it’s paired with “monkeys,” “squirrel,” and of course, “pussy.” So what’s the moral of this story? Lots of idiots with weird preoccupations happen to stumble upon this blog? Yes, that’s pretty much it. Though I do like the searches for lesbian art – and since people want to read about it, maybe Ashley and I will incorporate it as a topic of discussion more often. (Same goes for other LGBT topics, though not for human/animal sexuality.) So remember, I guess, when you type a few random, possibly ill-considered words into Google: you vote with your search bar and add to the totality of public consciousness and interest. You just might reveal your love of apple blossom fairy quilts to the world.

"i want to know about..."

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Gazing into the frantic melange

Where to start? Where to start ever? It’s all cyclical anyway. “a last a loved a long the… riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s” and so on. Today I had one of those moments of enlightenment where I saw the world as being chaotic, jumbled, confusing, and incoherent. I had two sources prodding me to write today: the experience of watching the disappointing History Channel show UFO Hunters, and reading Chris Turner’s intriguing tome Planet Simpson. Now, I’m slightly drowsy, so this might all come out entirely incoherent, but that’s the way I like it. My thoughts (more or less):

Turner’s book makes me think about questions and problems that repeatedly come back to plague me, inevitably, as facts of life in the part of time and space I happen to occupy. I want to live life as a creative person and none of us has a choice about when we’re born. And beyond that, it’s thrilling to live in an age where… well, all this shit happens. Let’s confront some of these facts-of-new-life: for one thing, in 2009+, I think that media studies (i.e., my field of study) is the place to be. Lot of reasons for this. One is that, well, we people of this new age that’s dawning tend to learn, process, think, and understand our world and our selves through media.

When we were born roughly 20 + or – years ago, the Internet was just gradually coming into being. It had not yet insinuated itself into the technological mainstream. In 2009, I don’t know if a day has passed in college that I haven’t used the Internet or a computer. It’s fucking invaded every aspect of our lives. But we can’t escape. The world has permanently changed; it’s different now. Maybe we’re headed to a technological singularity. Maybe people can study this from a computer science, political science, sociology, or history standpoint. Me? I look at it in terms of media. So I feel like I’m in the right place, intellectually. When I was interviewed for the yearbook in my senior year of high school, I said that in 5 years I saw myself “on the cutting edge of something.” I have 3 more years to accomplish this goal. I, like everyone else, have this unquenchable thirst to do something new. But it’s a brave new world we’re inhabiting, of our own (collective) design. And it’s hard to wrap your head around. One thing I know for sure? I need to watch the other 2 movies in Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi trilogy. Koyaanisqatsi is a masterpiece of coming to grips with our strange breed of modernity. Trying to reconcile the natural world and our place as part of it with the synthetic nature of computing technology. (Why am I saying this? I’m not going to break any new ground, probably. But at least I’m coming to grips with all this shit for myself.)

Considering this topic, I thought of a few major subtopics: the Industrial Revolution (which has been on my mind a lot recently for some reason). Postmodernity. Globalization. And again, the Internet. I have no real interest in being on the cutting edge of anything really high-tech. I just want to light out for the territories like Huck Finn, wherever these territories are, and then seek out new life and new civilizations, like Capts. Kirk & Picard. When did the Industrial Revolution take place? Mid-to-late 19th century, if high school history textbooks are to be believed? Think of everything that’s changed since then. My beloved movies? All of them are post-Industrial Revolution. I was thinking about this: mass. The masses. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Henry David Thoreau. Mass production, mass-marketing, mass media, mass murder. The approach to large quantities of human beings, lumped together as a “mass” – prior to the 19th century, human beings couldn’t be economically targeted by corporations as if with heat-seeking missiles. Now they sure as hell can.

And consider another subtopic that plays into my media obsession: visions of the future. Futurology, and Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, which I once owned 3-4 copies of in different colors but only read small bits of (collectibility of intellectual material? Oh, brother…), and The Jetsons, which I watched an episode of earlier today: “Viva Las Venus” was far from the show’s peak, but at the same time, I think it illuminates something about the phoniness of the show’s futuristic visions. I joked about how someone should point out how the Jetsons’ world is really an Orwellian dystopia. George and Jane drop off the kids from the upper atmosphere down to their relatives in the United States (which is never shown). In this far-future world, the “ground” of earth is never once shown or trod upon. Has mankind forgotten how to walk? It’s an unrealistic vision – George’s car seems to be powered by about as like a source as Fred Flinstone’s feet; there is no energy crisis in the Jetsons’ world, but the ability to freely move about the solar system – as long as you stay within two lanes, apparently. Why are there highways in outer space? The Jetsons wasn’t big on answering such obvious questions. It relied heavily on the suspension of both disbelief and natural curiosity. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good show; it was just as entertaining as any 1960s cartoon sitcom, I guess. But I think how Hanna-Barbera viewed the world to come reveals something about all of our expectations. Especially since, if you ask someone about a cultural representation of the future, they’re just as likely to say “The Jetsons,” as anything. They think of the motorized treadmills that serve as George’s every sidewalk, and of course of Rosie, the sassy robot maid. Sassy? A little sour taste of humanity to give us something to sympathize with. Robot? Technology, wave of the future, sentient AI – glory of glories. And maid? Even amidst the suspended space-bound platforms that form the Jetsons’ humble abode, someone must be condemned to a life of servitude. Otherwise, no work would get done. Rosie’s just another one of the wonders of technology. Consider that: she’s a wonder of the machine age, yet she must be a she, and endowed with a personality. And what of HAL and that computer from the movie Demon Seed? Apparently we just have to give humanoid speech patterns to our machinery. So, what does The Jetsons teach us? God, I have no idea; maybe that the people of the 1960s wanted to see their lifestyles transplanted into a glittery, slightly easier World of Tomorrow where they still have to slave for The Man (Mr. Spacely) and suffer through empty bourgeois lives (that’s you, George Jetson), but at least they had mechanized sidewalks. Thank God for that.

What was I even talking about? I was contemplating whether the Industrial Revolution led to the advent of advertising as we know it. The large corporations, after all, naturally view the large media that were born as, if nothing else, an excellent way to transmit messages about their product. Thus commercials were born. Think of the word commercial – it’s one of those funny little adjectives-turned-nouns. Do I doth dissect too much, probing into the deeper meanings of words as if that’ll tell us something about the broader world? Sure. Sure as hell I do. But if there’s anything my time in college so far has taught me, it’s that one essential piece of (over)analysis, to produce any meaningful results, is close reading (or viewing, depending). All I’m doing is some close reading of the language we speak now. As I was: commercials. Noun form of the adjective “commercial.” Which means? Pertaining to commerce. So a commercial is some tidbit relating to commerce. Commerce… Commerce Blvd. was the name of the main road through Mound, where I sadly hail from. Towns like to encourage commerce. Commerce, trade, exchange, the busyness of business. The point is? Commercials are inherently trying to sell you shit. One way or another, every single commercial must at its heart be saying: INSERT $$$. It’s a pretty fundamental message. All my talk about the Industrial Revolution makes me think of anarcho-primitivist, mathematician, and murderous terrorist Ted Kaczynski, whom you may know better as the Unabomber, whose infamous manifesto had something or other to do with the Industrial Revolution. I, however, do not advocate mailing bombs to people. Hand delivery gives it that personal feel. (Black humor? Yes. Advocating terrorism? Not quite. Insensitivity to victims? Ask again later.)

I guess my big point is one that, as I said earlier, has plagued me and plagues all of us. Dilemma: I want to create [something beautiful for others to enjoy]; however, living in the year AD 2009, it feels like it’s all been done already over and over and over again. Our output now is reduced to copies-of-copies-of-copies. And worse yet, everyone’s an artist (everyone’s a superhero; everyone’s a Captain Kirk) so we’re all simultaneously trying to unearth that last New Idea in a big frenzied struggle that plays out over all media – television, film, music, books, and of course as always, the motherfucking Internet. There’s Google. Wikipedia. YouTube. The websites no one can live without because they’re so damn universal and they alter our perception of reality – any image or knowledge is a few keystrokes away. But that’s another blog (self-restraint?). Hell, this fucking blog itself is an example. I’m repeating myself and countless others all trying to puzzle out the nature of the media in a rapidly-changing, insane, technomaniacal world torn from the pages of William Gibson (or maybe I’d say that, if I’d ever read any of his work); it’s just all kind of, well, like gazing up at the sky and stumbling backwards and getting dizzy. How am I any different than anyone else; how can I assert my identity? It’s harder to do when all culture and knowledge is thrown together in a frantic virtual melange that turns every string of art or education into one worldwide pastiche. And imagine if you will that as of now, no children will be born who have not heard of the Internet, or likely even used it on a regular basis. Is this good? Bad? Neutral? How the hell should I know? I’m just trying to get a vague idea of what the fuck is going on.

A concluding note: I listened to Nena’s 99 Red Balloons after linking to it, and it reminded me that German women have sexy voices, especially when singing. And I think of Marlene Dietrich, and Nina Hagen, the Germanic influence (via Grass, Brecht, Weill, et al) on Amanda Palmer, and the beautiful, self-possessed Franka Potente from Lola rennt (potentially a postmodern masterpiece itself, and very relevant to this discussion). Falling in love again, wha am I to do? I can’t help it…

(I didn’t get a chance to write about UFO Hunters. Maybe later. This was a fun entry to write. But as always I bite off more than I can chew. I’ll try to correct this in the future.)

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