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Apocalypto: An Undeserved Retrospective

I originally wrote this review back in 2007, a while after the movie had come out, and because the internet has always been the internet, I was mostly yelled at for what are apparently crazy far-left SJW hot takes. And somehow, to this day, Apocalypto seems to be generally viewed favorably. So I’m afraid this doesn’t read dated at all 12 years later.

Here’s what happens in Apocalypto. The good injuns, that’s the ones with the long hair and not quite as many tattoos, they kill a tapir. As they’re cutting it up, we learn that this movie is about the goodest of the good injuns, Jagger-Pooh.

Apocalypto

You can tell he’s good because he has the roundest eyes and looks almost European. The good injuns also make fun of Big Beefy Dork for a bit because he can’t get his wife pregnant. Heh. It’s almost like they’re human, you know.

Enter the bad injuns. You can tell they’re bad because they have lots of tattoos and mohawks. That’s well-established ethnological fact, based on the sheer amount of colonial fiction about noble savages out there that I’m sure must be statistically relevant somehow. Now the bad injuns, they’re man-hunters, and they capture lots of the good injuns, including Jagger-Pooh and Big Beefy Dork.

The bad injuns with the tattoos and the mohawks take Jagger-Pooh and Big Beefy Dork and the other good injuns with the not as many tattoos to their city. Which turns out to be some sort of… carnival freakshow, I guess, where everyone’s on drugs, and they have weird hairdos, and there’s cripples and midgets. Clearly, this is a bad place: they harbor midgets. So the evil midget-harboring junkies want to sacrifice Jagger-Pooh and his buddies to their god because all the drugs are making them think they’re Aztecs or something. But then there’s a solar eclipse and Jagger-Pooh gets away. The details aren’t that important, what matters is that everything in the city is, like, totally bad, not like in the countryside (or in this case, the jungle), where folks are decent, and really, you can tell the Maya weren’t a highly developed ancient culture, but just primitive savages who threw their dead behind the cornfield. Except the round-eyed ones.

apocalypto-screenshot-7

So anyway, Jagger-Pooh makes a run for it and the head honcho of the man-hunters is mad at him because he killed his son or something. Then everyone runs around in the jungle for a while and they fight a panther who’s all cranky because he got fired from the Muppet Show for not being lifelike enough. Until for some reason Jagger-Pooh runs to the beach just in time to see the conquistadores arrive on a boat, carrying a big cross in case we forgot they’re Christian. And Jagger-Pooh’s wife was in a hole in the ground the whole time and has her baby at the exact moment the bad injuns with the mohawks show up looking for Jagger-Pooh.

All this takes about two and a half hours, and the point is that „a great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within,“ which Mel Gibson makes sure to insert as an opening epigram right at the start, so you don’t wonder what he’s mad about this time because there’s no Jews in this movie. So like, the Maya were a bunch of savages with bad haircuts who took drugs and harbored midgets, and their women had babies at the worst possible moment, so it’s a good thing the Catholics showed up to save them. Also, tapir balls taste gnarly, bro.

Yet somehow this is considered to be one of Mel’s good ones?

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Joe Rogan vs Twitter: Tim Pool asks the wrong questions

Both of my regular readers will remember that I had a lot to say about #patreonpurge and what it means for the future of free speech, or more specifically, that despite most of the complaints coming from the dumbshit end of the political spectrum, I actually do agree it’s a problem that the most important forums of political and social discourse are owned by for-profit entities, and that in the long run, this will be bad for everyone.

So naturally, when Joe Rogan decided to host Tim Pool interviewing Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and exec Vijaya Gadde on his podcast, I listened with quite a bit of interest. Think of Joe Rogan and Tim Pool what you will, but this is important stuff. It’s just that I would’ve preferred someone else to be asking the questions because they kept asking the wrong ones. Whether it’s because they themselves just aren’t smart enough to be having this conversation or because they’re intentionally pandering to their audience, I don’t know. What I do know is that this was a giant missed opportunity. We could’ve had the actual conversation about this issue, but as usual, we got the simulation instead.

None of this is about a left-wing political agenda to “silence conservative voices”. Tech doesn’t “skew left”. Or maybe it does, but that’s not why this is happening. Those are just stupid conspiracy theories. It’s about corporations trying to maximize profit based on what they think they know about their customers.

What Tim Pool refuses to acknowledge is that all of this is the result of the most basic mechanism of media economics. Media organizations, whether it’s Twitter, Vice, or Breitbart, are always simultaneously competing on the viewer/user market and the advertising market. And the money comes from advertising. Always has. Back when people still bought actual print newspapers, what they paid for them only covered a fraction of its cost – the rest came from advertising. The only difference is that now it’s all the money.

So really, what a media organization does is, it tries to fill the space around the ads with something as many people of the right target demographic as possible will want to look at, and that advertisers want to see their ads associated with. Sure, the individuals who work for these corporations may have ideals and goals – I believe Jack Dorsey when he says he wants Twitter to be a place for as many people as possible to speak as openly as possible. But he’s also running a business. And media organizations are in the business of selling ad space.

And that brings me to the questions Tim Pool should have asked instead of harping on the perceived “political bias” of Twitter because he desperately wants to believe American conservatives are being persecuted despite the fact that they’re living in the “grab ’em by the pussy” presidency.

Who is refusing to advertise in the context of the content Twitter is banning, and what are they basing this decision on? What kind of studies have been conducted that came to the conclusion that it’s not profitable to have ads on a platform that doesn’t ban people for things like misgendering trans individuals or using racist slurs? Why is this not profitable? That’s what’s actually interesting here. Instead, we got to listen to Joe Rogan get on his soapbox about trans athletes for the millionth time because he’s still butthurt about the Fallon Fox fiasco.

Tim Pool did make one very important observation that I completely agree with, though. If you drive people out of the public discourse because their opinions aren’t palatable to the zeitgeist, i.e. advertisers, they’re not just going to disappear, and they’re not going to change their views. They’re going to find their own spaces where they can voice their opinions, unchallenged because these spaces are only inhabited by people who already agree with them. And as if that’s not enough echo chamber reinforcement, they also get to feel persecuted. This, aside from the “what if it’s us next” that I mentioned in my previous blog, is something we should really be concerned about.

But that came at the tail end of the conversation and it was quickly abandoned. Because what these two people who’ve put themselves in a position where they can ask important questions of people like Jack Dorsey and Vijaya Gadde really want to know is why it’s not okay to call people kikes and trannies. Because, you know, that’s the really important part of the free speech debate.

And by the way, that’s also why everyone seemed to be happy at the end of the conversation – because it was just a simulation. Tim Pool and Joe Rogan got to throw around their totally-not-right-wing talking points about free speech mostly focused on “why can’t I say my favorite slurs anymore”, and Gadde and Dorsey got to recite from their PR manual about protecting their users from harrassment instead of answering questions about what their advertisers have to do with all of this. Everyone wins.

The Great Irony of the Patreon Purge

If you’re a person on the internet, you’ve probably heard by now that Patreon banned Milo Yiannopoulos and Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin last month. This incited quite the brouhaha, particularly in those corners of the interwebs where the right-wing dumbshits congregate to complain about political correctness and “triggered ess-jay-dubyahs”, i.e. on Youtube, and actually caused Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson and intellectual flyweight Dave Rubin to either quit Patreon or announce their intention to do so soon. The gist of the reaction to this from the, ahem, “intellectual dark web,” or IDW, as they appear to be calling themselves these days (I have a hard time typing this without giggling), is of course that this is an assault on free speech and, in Harris’ words, evidence of “political bias.” You know, the usual stuff right-wingers like to cry about when someone disagrees with them.

Now we’ll get into what all of this really has to do with free speech in a bit, but in the strictly technical sense, this is not a free speech issue at all. Patreon is a business, and they made the business decision that it was no longer profitable for them to be associated with Tubs McBeardy and his Women Haters Treehouse Club, so they severed ties with him. Whether this was because they themselves decided that being in cahoots with people like him or Milo was a bad look or if it was done at the behest of Mastercard is really irrelevant. They’re a business, and they made a business decision.

And that, of course, is the great fucking irony in all of this. Right-wingers like basically everyone who’s crying about this now (in fairness, we’ll exclude Sam Harris – I don’t like him either, but he’s not a right-winger by any stretch of the term) are always yapping about the free market and deregulating businesses, particularly Koch-cum gargling corporate mouthpiece Dave Rubin, even though he can’t back up his “libertarian” viewpoints if he so much as receives a softball question about it from a stoned comedian. The gub’mint ain’t good fer nuthin’, folks, the free market does everything better.

Except it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, these snowflakes start howling the songs about free speech they’ve been howling since the 90s.

Before I tell you what I really think about all this, I’m afraid I also need to remind you of one Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cake Shop, who somewhat famously opted to refuse his services to a gay couple on the grounds of gay marriage clearly being incompatible with his Jesus-y conscience. This was, you’ll remember, accompanied by much frothing at the mouth across the conservatard internets and cries about “religious liberty.”

Yet when Patreon decides to no longer provide its services to a right-wing fucktard on the grounds of his right-wing fucktardery being unpalatable, apparently their right to run their business any way they damn well see fit doesn’t really matter all that much anymore. The irony is so thick, you can slice it better than a wedding cake.

And finally, let’s please not forget that it was the Republicans who abolished net neutrality in the name of free enterprise. Let’s not forget that.

So what we’re looking at is a couple of pieces of shit with nothing worthwhile to say being eaten by a monster that was born when hypocrisy fucked irony and swiped a credit card through its buttcrack, and I really do believe that the thinking part of our species is very much entitled to a little gloating about all this.

But here’s the thing.

There is an actual problem here. We’ve handed the keys to free speech over to corporations, and of course they’ll happily run it off a cliff if that’s what makes them the most money, because that’s what corporations are designed to do. Every single online platform where the 21st century’s “marketplace of ideas” happens is owned by for-profit entities, mostly Google and Facebook, and if you understand why free speech is actually important, you understand that this is going to be really bad for democracy really fucking soon.

Yes, it amuses me to no end that it’s exactly the people who won’t shut up about the importance of free enterprise who are getting fucked by this first, but what makes you think it’ll end with them? What makes you think it’s going to take more than 12 hours of media outrage over a story where the word “antifa” is mentioned a few too many times for left-wing bloggers to be targeted next? The zeitgeist currently doesn’t favor people like Sargon of Asshat, but that’s not always been the case and it can change again. We just cannot have a situation where only those opinions that are profitable for corporations to be seen associating with have access to those platforms where they’ll be heard.

I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t expect soft-brained spouter of half-remembered catchphrases Dave Rubin and his unwitting father figure “JB” to be successful with their alternative crowdfunding platform (alt-crowdfunding? Okay okay, I’ll stop), and it doesn’t really address the root cause of the problem. Having thought about this for about a week now, the only thing I’ve come up with is that once they reach a certain size, access to online forums like, say, Facebook or Twitter, has to be considered a public good, and the companies can no longer deny it to anyone. Good luck trying to rally the Intellectual Sun-Don’t-Shine Web behind a market regulation that “disincentivizes success”, though. Maybe if they demonize “Silicon Valley” as some sort of left-wing cabal hell-bent on silencing them long enough, they’ll talk themselves into finding the idea of regulating them palatable. We’ll see.

In the meantime, though, let’s laugh at the irony of it all for a while longer. Just another minute, mom. I promise I’ll get off the ride then.

Bandai Perfect Grade Unicorn Gundam

destroy cu landscape

Yeah, I know. Because it’s totally not like I’m already doing too many different things on PVNBC, I decided to also start dumping my rantings and ravings about model kits in here, and now this blog makes even less sense. Then again, since I never post anything here anymore, hey, at least I wrote something, right?

In fact, if it turns out that I’ll actually post more of this stuff, I may start a separate blog just for Gunpla and Zoids reviews. We’ll see. Anyway, I built my first PG Gundam kit over the course of the last 3 weeks, and now you all have to suffer the consequences.

Note – I actually did start a new blog for this. I call it RoboShop and if you’re interested in this stuff, follow that one. I’m really only leaving this one up because PVNBC gets more hits at the moment and I’m hoping I’ll be able to redirect some people to the new one this way.

accessories

First off, accessories! As you probably know if you googled “PG Unicorn Gundam” long enough to find this blog somewhere on page 50 of your search results, this version of the Unicorn has two of those nifty vulcans in addition to the beam magnum, bazooka and shield that you’d expect. Important note: I love vulcans. I really do.

As you can see, I decided to paint the various guns white and blue (in addition to Tamiya’s chrome silver and gunmetal, that is) to match the colors of the suit itself. I’ve never liked the monochromatic look of the weapons on just about every Gundam kit out there and decided to go all out this time.

With hindsight, the white is probably a bit much, though it looks better as soon as you see the suit holding the guns because it makes sense in context, so to speak. You might also spot the unicorn logo on the beam magnum’s scope and the shield – I had these left over from the sticker sheet that came with the action base for the MG Unicorn, so I decided to use them here.

I also painted all of the scopes red. Somewhat disappointingly, these all come molded in straight clear plastic with foil stickers, which frankly I think is ridiculous for a PG kit. Not a difficult fix, though – I just painted them red on the inside, which gives them the appearance of clear red as soon as they’re attached to the guns.

unicorn mode

On the suit itself, I decided to pre-shade all of the white armor. Sadly, the photos barely show this, other than the mismatched shades of off-white on some of the armor pieces (which you will now not be able to un-see because I told you they’re there.) It looks better in real life, but with hindsight, it really wasn’t the smartest idea to choose the PG Unicorn as only the second kit in my life where I did pre-shading. There are something in the general vicinity of 130 white pieces on this kit, and getting them to match was basically impossible, at least with my limited skill set. I really tried to be careful, but I still ended up with about three different shades of off-whte that are randomly scattered all over the kit. I’m going to keep pre-shading stuff, but the next kit I try this on is going to be something, um, simpler. I also wonder if it’s generally difficult to do this with white or if I just shouldn’t have used black for the pre-shading – the blue pieces on the feet, backpack and the guns are pre-shaded too and came out looking much better because of the way the black blended with the dark blue.

Overall, I’m glad that I painted the kit and it’s still an improvement over the unpainted look despite the numerous flaws and imperfections, but if you’re thinking about buying this thing, the plastic actually has a very nice matte finish to it and you’ll probably get a good result without that toy-like sheen to it even without so much as clear-coating it.

unicorn mode magnumHere’s a shot with the shield and the beam magnum. I really think unicorn mode is kind of underrated, I like it a lot. Actually the reason I built an MG Unicorn before this one was so that I could display that one in unicorn mode and this one in destroy mode. Turned out to be a good idea anyway because building the MG teaches you a lot of stuff that comes in handy when you build the (vastly superior) PG. I would actually recommend that you do this if you have your sights set on the PG kit, I really thought it helped.

bazooka one handBazooka! Yeah, it’s big, and contrary to popular belief among people who don’t attach the shoulders correctly, the suit can hold it up just fine. You may have already noticed on the first pic that I did by far the most detailing on the bazooka. I did similar things on the MG version already because I really don’t understand why this thing has all this detail molded into it and then it’s all just a solid chunk of dark grey.

bazooka kneeling closePoseability, as you can see, is excellent. The knees actually bend almost 180 degrees with the LED wiring inside them. I kind of wish the ankle was more flexible so you could do this pose with the foot planted, but it’s still pretty impressive, and given the MG’s weak ankle joints, it’s probably a good thing Bandai emphasized stability over flexibility. Here’s two more shots of this pose.

And now what everyone really wants to see: destroy mode!

destroy facing awayI decided to spray-paint the lid for the battery case red, as you can see, and added a few stickers from that other action base. Those white marks under the suit’s left foot are scratches from when the legs fell off with the feet not attached to them. No idea how that’s physically possible, but they’re there now. I may go back and repaint the entire base because it has kind of a shitty plastic sheen to it anyway, but if I do that, I’ll never be able to stash the accessories in their slots again.

draw saber facing cameraDid I mention how fantastically poseable this thing is? The arm actually bends back far enough for you to pose him drawing a beam saber from his backpack. The only problem is that you can see the wiring in the armpit.

Here’s two pics with the beam saber out. I couldn’t make up my mind which angle I liked better. Hey look, I took over 100 pictures for this blog, so this is already me with maximum restraint here.

magnum two hands downshotThe beam magnum, of course, comes with a handle on the side that allows the suit to two-hand it like so. And here’s some more beam magnum pics.

One thing I really wanted to try was this pose with the two vulcans. I’m happy to report that it worked just fine. I did have some problems with the left arm popping off at the rotating joint under the shoulder; I think that may have something to do with the wiring not being placed correctly. At one point I tucked the wires back in there and reattached it, and it’s been nice and firm ever since.

vulcans downshotvulcansIf you’re building this thing with the LEDs (and you really should, it’s totally worth it), I’d have to say be very careful to put the wiring in place correctly in the arms; once they’re attached, they’re never coming back off because of the way the wires tuck into the sides of the body. This is an infamously difficult step of the building process, and it’s pretty much irreversible. Once they’re in there, they’re in there. You’d have to take the entire torso apart to change anything. So make sure you get that right. And it does work, by the way – I’ve seen some reviews where people complained that you can’t get the wires in there the way the instructions show, but you absolutely can, you just have to get it exactly right, and I’m guessing the Japanese text in the instructions would help.

accessories stashedThe accessories, of course, all have slots for them on the display base. If you’re going to paint them, though, I don’t know if I’d recommend doing this. I managed to scratch the back of the bazooka the first time I put it in its slot. This is also why I’m reluctant to paint the rest of the base even though it doesn’t look very good in its current state.

Another complaint I have about the display base is that as huge as it is, it’s still not big enough. It’s pretty much impossible to get the suit airborne in destroy mode. You can get the feet maybe half a centimeter off the ground and do a few things with the legs, but it’s really kind of a shame, given how poseable the kit is, that the base isn’t constructed to really let you get the most out of it.

The vulcans can be attached to the arms with the shield on top of them, as seen on the full armor versions of the Unicorn. This looks frickin’ awesome, and it’s the way I have it displayed. It’s kind of a pain to do, though, because you have to take apart the hinge that holds the shield the regular way and put the pieces back together on the vulcans. Plus you’ll probably end up scratching the paintjob on the vulcans. Sigh.

destroy lit upHere’s my attempt at a picture with everything lit up. You’ve seen other pictures and videos, I’m sure, and let me just tell you the same thing everyone else says – it just doesn’t photograph well. It looks positively amazing in real life and I promise you the first time you light it up you’ll get all giddy. I plugged the torso in and lit it up before I’d even built anything else, and just doing that made me so excited that I couldn’t stop working on the kit for about 8 hours straight afterwards. It’s that cool.

unchained fullAnd then of course there’s unchained mode. I didn’t quite get what I was going for with this pose, in part because I think it would have looked better if I’d been able to get the suit off the ground, but it really is damned cool, especially those opening panels on the legs. Here’s some more pics, including one with the LEDs lit up.

And that’s all the pics I’ve got, folks.

As I said further up, this kit took me almost three weeks to complete, but that’s mostly because of all the painting I did. If you forego that and just do some panel lining and the stickers, I’m sure you can build it in a weekend. Apart from some of the wiring you have to do for the LEDs, it’s actually not that difficult to put together, it’s just a lot of parts. I really thought it was a lot of fun. The legs in particular are an absolute engineering marvel in the way everything snaps and clicks together and how well the transformation works once they’re complete.

You’ll appreciate this and many other aspects of this kit even more if you’ve already built the MG version. It has very little of that kit’s flimsiness and most of its major issues seem to have been very consciously and directly addressed, like the idiotic way the knees transform. Don’t think this is a super-sturdy toy or anything either, though – it still has parts that pop off everytime I transform it.

Still, though, the long and short of it is that this is without exaggeration the greatest model kit I’ve ever built. It’s really that good. I immediately went online and ordered another one, plus a Banshee and another LED kit. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with all this stuff, I just had to have it because this is now my favorite model kit in the universe.

So that’s it for this one. Please leave a comment if you’ve actually read this far, I’ll write more if there’s interest in these ramblings here; I actually build more Zoids (HMM and the originals) than I do Gunpla, and I could go back and review some of those, plus I’ll probably be doing another HMM Zoid soon.

Dear Fat People: a Conversation about the Conversation about the Conversation

If you’re someone who follows stuff that happens on the internet with no real life relevance whatsoever, you’re probably aware by now of the controversy sparked by Nicole Arbour’s “Dear Fat People” video. Well, I’ve decided I want in on it.

From her Youtube. I'm guessing she won't mind.

The reason I want in on this latest episode of The Internet Arguing with Itself is because I think it’s an odd blend of interesting and infuriating how everyone who’s talking about this, even the relatively rational folks at TYT (in this video and also their offshoot ThinkTank), seems to want to discuss everything but Arbour’s actual point. They talk about bullying, about whether her free speech rights have been violated by Youtube, whether it’s hypocritical for her to disable comments on the video, and as usual, everyone is suddenly an expert on comedy and dissects her abilities as a comedian, contemplates whether describing this video as “satire” is an accurate use of the term, all the stuff you’d expect from a good ol’ internet firestorm in the year 2015.

Now just quickly to get this out of the way because apparently I have to – is Nicole Arbour a mostly unfunny Youtube ranter who actually just uses her videos to garner attention for her showbiz career, and does she get 90% of her views because she’s young, female and conventionally attractive? Yes. What a shocking new thing that has never happened before indeed. Also, am I usually a fan of this kind of anti-PC whining? No. If you have something to say, say it. And if people criticize you, beat them with the facts. Crying about political correctness is just a new kind of victim card, and if it’s all you do, I have to assume you have nothing interesting to say.

Clear? Good. Because all of that is completely beside the fucking point here. The point Arbour is making is that obesity is very unhealthy, and while there are people with conditions beyond their control that cause obesity (which she specifically mentions and says these are not the people she’s talking about), the vast majority of obese people do not have these conditions and could get healthy if they chose to do so. And to pretend otherwise will make it worse, which is bad for these individuals and bad for society as a whole. It’s either that or we’ve had some medically unexplainable sudden outbreak of thyroid disease in the last 20 years that for some reason only seems to happen in countries where there’s unlimited access to unhealthy food.

All this stuff happening online with “healthy at any size” hashtags and the like is a typical example of people who make terrible life choices gathering online to pat each other on the back and encourage more terrible life choices, like many other self-destructive internet subcultures that have formed with Web 2.0. This is bad. Fat parents raising fat children is bad. Advising people to develop healthier habits is not “shaming,” it’s telling them what they need to hear. And the scenario where doctors who tell people they have diabetes because they’re obese are accused of fat shaming isn’t a straw man, as Cenk Uygur claims in the video linked above, this is an actual thing that actually happens.

Well, at least it happens in the den of iniquity that is the “blogosphere,” but that’s where this entire controversy takes place, so I’d say it’s fair to bring it up. There are innumerable blog posts out there written up by people who got all in a huff because their doctors told them their weight is the cause of their health problems.

Anyway, it seems to me that whether you generally like her or not, Nicole Arbour makes a very clear and rational point in this video that people just don’t want to hear, and because it’s hard to argue with, everyone avoids it and instead criticizes everything else about the video. And finally, I realize we live in the Age of Meta, but seriously, just once a year maybe, I’d like to talk about an actual thing and not about people talking about a thing and why we don’t like the way they talk about the thing. Just once. Please?

Giger, das Kunsthaus und der Sexismus: eine Zürcher Provinzposse

Im Zusammenhang mit H.R. Giger hat man immer mal wieder von der Arroganz der Zürcher Kunst-Elite gelesen und davon, wie sie ihn verschmäht hat, angeblich aus Abscheu über seinen Gang nach Hollywood (den er bekanntlich selber gelegentlich bereut hat), aus Neid oder einfach weil man die vielen Schwänze wohl irgendwie pfui fand. Ich pflege auf so etwas nicht viel zu geben, da Angriffe auf Kunst- und Kulturinstitutionen gewöhnlich von konservativen Brüllaffen gefahren werden, die den Museen die staatliche Unterstützung kappen wollen. Liest man aber das Interview des Tages-Anzeigers mit Kunsthaus-Pressesprecher Björn Quellenberg zur Frage, warum es im Kunsthaus nie eine Giger-Ausstellung gegeben hat, sieht man sich mit einer geballten Ladung von all der Überheblichkeit konfrontiert, die ich bislang eigentlich für eine Erfindung der anti-intellektuellen Polterbrigaden gehalten habe. Ein realsatirischer Volltreffer ist das, den ich jetzt zu meiner persönlichen Belustigung (und zur Bewältigung meiner Trauer über den Tod eines der grossartigsten Künstler der Gegenwart) ein bisschen zerpflücken werde.

giger_bettlerQuellenberg beginnt seine Rechtfertigung damit, dass kein Künstler „einen Anspruch auf eine Einzelausstellung“ hat. Das stimmt natürlich, nur hat niemand so etwas behauptet. Die Aussage dient einzig und allein dazu, Giger als jemanden darzustellen, der Anerkennung verlangte, die ihm nicht zustand.

Dass Quellenberg der darauf folgenden Frage nach „kuratorischem Dünkel“ mit einem vorbereiteten Statement ausweicht, ist nicht weiter verwunderlich – wenn es diesen Dünkel gegeben hat, gibt der Pressesprecher das natürlich nicht zu, sondern er wechselt das Thema. Interessant ist aber der Inhalt dieses vorbereiteten Statements, nämlich dass Giger bloss als „hervorragender Designer von Filmkulissen“ berühmt gewesen und ansonsten unwichtig sei. Gigers Werk habe sich „im kunsthistorischen Kontext“ nicht „etabliert“ und habe auch kein Potenzial dazu.

Nun ist mir persönlich die dieser Disqualifizierung zugrunde liegende Auffassung von einem Kunstkanon an und für sich schon zuwider, aber dass sich eine Institution wie das Kunsthaus daran orientiert – meinetwegen. Ein so richtig von ganz oben aus dem Elfenbeinturm gespuckter elitärer Rotz ist aber die Aussage, Giger habe auch nicht das Potenzial dazu, jemals zu diesem Kunstkanon zu gehören. Mit anderen Worten, was Kunst ist, bestimmen wir, und zwar nicht nur jetzt, sondern für alle Ewigkeit. Und eingeleitet ist das Ganze mit einem wunderbar herablassenden, naserümpfenden Verweis auf Gigers Arbeit in Hollywood, beziehungsweise mit dem völlig unverblümten Versuch, ihn darauf zu reduzieren. Und man hält es nicht mal für nötig, das alles besonders diplomatisch zu verpacken. Giger ist künstlerisch irrelevante Populärkultur, war es immer und wird es immer sein, und zwar weil wir das sagen. Punkt.

giger_saxophonistTrotzdem war das vielleicht für den gemeinen Pöbel noch nicht deutlich genug, und darum muss Quellenberg die elitäre Abkanzelung noch mit zwei aktuellen Reizthemen abrunden: Sexismus und Pädophilie. Wirkt bekanntlich immer, vor allem Letzteres. Also folgt zuerst die nicht weiter begründete Behauptung, „seine Werke“ (Also alle?) seien „ziemlich sexistisch“ (Wie sexistisch ist ziemlich sexistisch?), und als das dem Interviewer nicht genügt, schiebt er noch irgendeinen vagen Schwurbel von „Kindern in kompromittierenden Posen“ nach und dass Giger in den USA zensiert wurde.

Und da kann ich dann nicht mehr lachen. Ich weiss gar nicht, wo ich anfangen soll. Dabei, dass offenbar neuerdings Pädophilie eine Unterkategorie von Sexismus ist? Mit einer voraussichtlich endlos langen Liste von „im kunsthistorischen Kontext entablierten“ Künstlern, die Kinder in „kopromittierenden Posen“ dargestellt haben, und dies mit wesentlich fragwürdigerer Absicht als Giger? Dabei, dass hier ein nicht näher definierter Vorfall von Zensur in den USA, wo bekanntlich für viele ein Foto von einer Brustwarze den Untergang der Zivilisation bedeutet, als Massstab für künstlerischen Wert herbeigezogen wird? Oder einfach dabei, wie unsagbar platt und durchschaubar dieser Versuch zum Rufmord an einem Toten ist, und dass sich der Tagi für seine Veröffentlichung, geschweige denn dafür, dass das Sexismus-Zitat als Schlagzeile gewählt wurde, schämen sollte?

Das Kunsthaus will Giger ganz einfach nicht zeigen, weil er ihm zu populär ist, und begründet das mangels echter Argumente damit, ihn keine 48 Stunden nach seinem Tod als sexistischen, pädophilen Filmkulissendesigner zu verunglimpfen.

Mir ist es übrigens eigentlich schnurz, nach welchen Kriterien das Kunsthaus sein Programm zusammenstellt, und es ist mir auch klar, dass es Aufgabe eines Pressesprechers ist, sich für seinen Arbeitgeber zu wehren, wenn er kritisiert wird. Dass man es aber offenbar für nötig erachtet, einen gerade erst verstorbenen Mann vollkommen grundlos derart durch den Dreck zu ziehen, spottet jeder Beschreibung und lässt nur einen einzigen logischen Schluss zu, nämlich den, dass es eben doch stimmt, dass Giger den Kunsthaus-Verantwortlichen einfach aus Prinzip zuwider ist und sie sich an ihm nicht die Hände schmutzig machen wollen.

Bleibt nur zu hoffen, dass das absolut grossartige Museum H.R. Giger in Gruyères noch lange weiterlebt. The king is dead, long live the king.

Uncanny X-Men #1-12: Why Nobody Reads this Shit Anymore

Let me pre-empt the obvious before I start: Yes, I realize I should’ve known better than to waste my time reading an X-Men comic written by Brian Michael Bendis in 2013. But I hadn’t picked up anything from Chris Bachalo in a dog’s age, and they were doing a #1, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I didn’t expect to be blown away or anything here. And yes, the first sign that I needed to bump this book off my pull list should have been when it became clear that Bachalo would be more like the occasional fill-in artist for Frazer Irving.

So anyway, I read the first 12 issues of the new Uncanny run by Bendis and (ostensibly) Bachalo, and while I really don’t want to join the ever-growing choir of internetters crying about how American mainstream comics are dead because this and that and [insert pet peeve here], there really is so much obviously wrong with how this panned out that I have to get it out of my system.

dazzler

The problems really start with #1. The core plot point is that Cyclops, Magneto and Emma Frost’s powers are broken, but this has happened before this issue, and we have no idea how and when, or why we care. Also, Cyclops has apparently been branded a terrorist and S.H.I.E.L.D. is kind of reluctantly chasing him, but that also happened before this issue. And a few issues later, alternate versions of characters from the past show up inexplicably and apparently for the sole purpose of standing around being snarky at each other. Compelling stuff, eh?

To be fair, though, I did read all the way until the end of issue 12, so I can’t deny there were a few interesting plot points and I sort of wanted to know what would happen next. But then I saw the ad in the back of issue 11 informing me that issue 12 would be a “tie-in” in to some crossover called Battle of the Atom.

So I open up issue 12, and I’m greeted by the announcement that this is part 4 of the aforementioned Blargn of the Gargn or whatever it was called, followed by a plot synopsis that I really need to quote in its entirety, for effect:

Dr. Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, brought the five original X-Men to the present in a last-ditch attempt to reunite mutantkind. After young Cyclops nearly died on a mission, the modern-day X-Men realized it was time to send the original X-Men home. Young Jean was less than thrilled, especially when X-Men from the future appeared to send the kids home by any means necessary. These future X-Men warned that the presence of the original five would endanger the future, but psychically blocked their minds from Jean’s prying. Afraid and suspicious, she grabbed young scott and ran. With so many people on their tail, the pair turned to the last sanctuary left: the X-Men of the present-day Scott Summers!

I’ll just say this – after you read issue 12, this will sort of make sense. Before I did, I really wasn’t sure if it was even in English.

In other words, I learn that I’ve missed three issues’ worth of bullshit that even its own author can’t concisely summarize in 100 words or less, and this revelation is followed by two pages of Maria Hill basically having a meltdown because all this time-travel is pissing her off and she wishes everyone would just stop. I don’t know if the irony was intended, but I thought it was so funny that I almost forgave Bendis for suddenly making Hill sound like one of his snarky teenagers (and no, that’s not actually all of his characters, just 95%.)

The rest of the issue is, literally-I-am-not-fucking-making-this-shit-up, nothing (I repeat: nothing) but the entire miserable cast of multiple versions of X-Men from different time periods standing around arguing about time travel. Nothing else happens.

To summarize, my investment of reading 12 consecutive issues of this book is rewarded, in the end, with the fourth part of a crossover that I’ve missed, and said fourth part is literally 22 pages of characters standing around discussing the minutiae of time travel for reasons unknown to me because, mea maxima mother-fucking culpa, I only read this one book and not every single “tie-in”. Even if the previous 11 issues had somehow managed to really grab me and make me care about everyone and what happens to them, I’d feel cheated. Actually, scratch that, I’d feel worse about this if I gave a damn.

I honestly have fairly mainstream tastes when it comes to comic books, and I can’t think of a single thing I’ve read in years that’s a more perfect embodiment of Why Nobody Reads this Shit Anymore. If this is what mainstream superhero comics are going to be like from now on, it’s high time we introduced the genre to the back of the barn and the business end of uncle Billy-Bob’s shotgun.