Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian: on passing off lame anti-feminist nonsense as critique

Great piece in the New Statesman on the vile response perennially chasing Anita Sarkeesian’s work.

I’m 32 and am just getting to a point in my life where I don’t feel D-grade (which should mean, I don’t know, very low-level but still detectable) shame about loving video games. Some of that comes from just getting older and some from knowing more people than ever are into video games but a lot of it comes from the increase in quality, the maturation of the form. And so I hate and almost can’t understand when people get upset or violent about critical engagement with the work. I ranted on the old blog about how a games critic was fired after a flood of complaints in response to his not-fantastic review of Duke Nukem (which was, by all accounts, terrible). And the response to Sarkeesian’s work is an amplification of that same rage in response to someone’s careful unpacking of video games, only now twisted around lizard-brain reactions to any discourse around gender politics. It’s like the medieval church banning common-language prints of the Bible or establishing strictures on who could and could not interpret religious texts: people foaming with rage that someone is trying to better understand–and help everyone better understand–what’s going on inside the thing we all enjoy.

True Tales of Sport #2: Track

When I was a kid I was pretty awkward but not alarmingly awkward. I was pretty large but not super large. I was the kind of awkward and large where maybe in the 90s a movie could have been made about how I can’t find high school romance but am charming and indomitable and then at the end a popular girl falls for me after I save the football team by hamming it up in a mascot costume on the sidelines.

Anyway, I got into 8th grade track somehow even though I couldn’t run. The coach started me on shot, which made sense but was totally insane to me. I can’t remember if I knew what shot was. It seems wild now to remember that I was asked by a paid professional to spend an hour four nights a week spinning in place and heaving a tiny cannonball into grass. Maybe I made it up. Maybe I made up shot.

Anyway, later on at a meet our team needed someone to run the last leg of a 4×400, which is a race where one person runs 400 meters to another, who runs 400 meters to another, who runs 400 meters to the finish line. I was asked to be the fourth person, which meant the coach must have been certain the three others were doomed regardless of my performance. At times in my life this decision has seemed noble and stupid and inept and, not often, mean. I think now it was experimental/generous/casual. I think it was the act of someone with a throwaway race who thought he might be doing the right thing but was not certain but also did not care.

“You can do it!” he said, with admirable certainty. I said something like “I can’t.” “Yes you can!” he said.

So I waited on my mark. I have no memory of how my three predecessors performed, probably because I spent the time between the beginning of the race and my part in it worrying that I would fumble the baton. By the time I had the thing and launched off I think it was obvious we wouldn’t win, only because I didn’t feel any shame as I lumbered around the field. Everything was already over. I brought it home in last place and by such a generous margin that a few people on the sidelines not only found the time but detected the need, the proper amount of failure in the air, to clap me in, hooting encouragement. It sounds sad but it actually was nice. The celebration did mitigate the failure. And I got the pleasure of thinking, I told you so.

Much later, in college, I told that story and someone gave me some vodka. Ha!

 

AWP

I just retumbl’d Mike Meginnis’s post about his AWP activity for you and then remembered I no longer have a Tumblr site, it was obliterated in a hail of asteroids, etc., whatever. Anyway, if you’re at AWP, go read this and then do it. It looks great!

Cover Story

Yesterday I enjoyed this excellent episode of 99% Invisible highlighting the choices made in the creation of striking magazine covers. Most interesting moments:

  • The look at how photography-based covers shocked magazine companies into change
  • The analysis of how retail presentation influences differences in headline placement in US and UK markets
  • The summary of why the cover of The New Yorker looks so different from the cover of Esquire

 

I wrote a spec script for hit TV show The X-Files

INT. DARK BASEMENT. NIGHT.

A flashlight beam plays over basement storage. A MAN with the flashlight steps into frame, pauses, peers into darkness.

MAN: If this is another raccoon–

SOMETHING large shuffles in a dark corner.

MAN: …Hello? Is someone down here?

SOMETHING moves again, this time with more noise.

MAN: Who’s there?

SOMETHING (from darkness, with menace): Interrupting cow.

MAN: Interrupt– what are you doing in my–

SOMETHING: Moo!

MAN: …Wha–

SOMETHING: Moo!

SOMETHING looms into view, an intimidating, hulking creature. The MAN shrinks away as SOMETHING approaches.

MAN: What…what are y–

SOMETHING: Moo! Moo! Moo! Moo!

[OPENING THEME AND COMMERCIAL BREAK]

INT. MULDER’S OFFICE. DAY.

MULDER sits on the edge of his desk while SCULLY looks at a projector screen showing a crudely drawn minotaur.

MULDER: This thing pops up in different cultures across history. In Tibet there are stories about an interrupting yak. In Sri Lanka you hear about someone being trampled by a water buffalo that drowns out his last calls for help.

SCULLY: Are you seriously proposing that someone in Atlanta was killed by an inter–

Two knocks sound at the office door. MULDER and SCULLY look at each other.

MULDER: Who’s there?

Full script available at the request of the Fox network.