James Hodgkinson and the zeitgeist of faux heroism

So earlier today, a man from Illinois marched his way to the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, where several Republican congressman were something called the Congressional Baseball Game. He opened fire and shot five Republicans, including the house majority whip Steve Scalise, who was shot in the hip, but thankfully is still alive. Eventually the gunman was identified as one James T. Hodgkinson, who was revealed to be a hardcore progressive who supported Bernie Sanders’ campaign, vindicating anyone who guessed that he had a political motive for trying to kill them. As a matter of fact, he was a member of a number of left-wing Facebook groups, including the far-left “Terminate the Republican Party”, a partisan Democrat group whose members will undoubtedly deny condoning violence against conservatives.

Of course, some of us on the right have learned to expect this sort of thing to happen at some point or another. The media has spent nearly two years casting Donald Trump as the cream of evil, the next Lord Voldemort if you will, and his Republican cabinet as a shadowy cabal of assorted villains. No doubt many leftists young and old have swallowed this narrative wholesale, and now see themselves as #TheResistance. The new Dumbledore’s Army, the last hope in the mythical battle of love versus hate. Such delusions inevitably give these leftists power fantasies of rising up against the government and hopefully killing Donald Trump, or at least as many Republican politicians as possible. So it’s no wonder why you have a number of Democrat supporters going violent, or at least calling for it, and yet it’s the Republicans who are supposed to be hateful.

Consider for instance Kathy Griffin’s recent stunt, in which she posted an edgy photo of herself holding the bloodied, decapitated head of an effigy of Donald Trump. People were naturally outraged, and when people found out that Trump’s youngest son Barron thought it was really him, not even CNN wanted anything to do with her, and she was promptly barred from appearing in their annual New Year’s Eve program. Some have said that Mr. Hodgkinson may have been inspired or at leased incensed by Kathy Griffin’s stunt, but because he’s now dead, there’s no way we can ever know for certain, and so it’s basically a coincidence. I only brought it up because she has become a prime example of the hatefulness of the left today. They are so fixated on Donald Trump, and how they’d like to kill him. It reminds me eerily of how the British left during the 1980’s treated Margaret Thatcher, and then someone tried to kill her in 1984.

We live in a time where many of us grew up with a black and white view of the world, as reinforced by pop cultural artefacts such as the Harry Potter films, along with the tribalism of contemporary politics as interpreted by the mainstream left-wing media. In such a culture, the leftie college student may consider himself a hero simply by joining the campus branch of Antifa. After all, through their pop culture-addled leftist lens, Donald Trump is the ultimate bad guy now, and anyone who opposes him is a friend in the “fight against evil” (evidently they’ve never known true evil). It used to be that said tribalism was confined to heated arguments and the odd filibuster. Now you have Democrats calling for bloodshed out in the open, and people honestly wonder where people like James Hodgkinson came from? They came from the anti-Trump frenzy that the neoliberal establishment has created.

When the US media spends nearly two years painting Donald Trump as the next Lord Voldemort, it’s only a matter of time before the lunatic left casts themselves as Dumbledore’s army, and forget that this isn’t Hogwarts. This fake sense of “heroism” is merely a guise for the left’s rampant narcissism, and 2017 has so far has been the year in which such narcissism is leading to terrible consequences. I know Hodgkinson was a man in his 60’s, but he clearly inculcated himself into the worldview of a child. Usually people abandon the notion that the people you disagree with politically are automatically the villains when they get older, but this is what far-left ideology does to people. It turns you into an adult toddler, at least in the mental sense.

So it should be no surprise that America now has progressive assassins potentially waiting in the wings. They’re delusional worldview has been validated by the establishment media and Hollywood celebrities who are telling them it’s okay to wish for the death of conservatives. After all, we’re the new Little Eichmanns aren’t we? Those willing accomplices in the transformation of the republic into a fascist dictatorship by the hands of a Cheetoh man in collusion with the Russians. That’s how they want people to see us, and in their minds, that justifies people wanting to kill Republican politicians.

I take two things away from this. Firstly that we need to a better job at raising the next generation, so that they don’t succumb to the fatal narcissism that the left prescribes as it loses its way. Secondly, assuming progressive ideology was Mr. Hodgkinson’s prime motive for the attempted attack, we must now come to the conclusion that progressivism has become a thing of pure malevolence – an ideology that requires its adherents to kill in order to preserve its existence. At least we know for sure that the progressive apple doesn’t fall very far from the Marxist tree.

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Nostalgia blindness

There’s something very weird that happens in popular culture, particularly in the realms of music, films, TV shows and video games. After a certain of period of time passes (perhaps a decade or so), we act as though the cultural objects that emerged during that time are some of the best things to happen to our lives, even though there’s a slim chance that we may not have thought that way at the time. For example, various arcade games released in the 70’s and 80’s would have been taken for what they were during their time (simple entertainment), but are now hailed as iconic relics of their time. Often, this manifests itself as a mentality where people are so consumed by nostalgia that it clouds their judgement to the point that anything new is always bad. This is what’s called “nostalgia blindness”

happy days

Because apparently there used to be a time when this looked good.

Before anybody starts throwing a hissy fit, I am not against nostalgia. In fact, I think nostalgia can be good thing. In fact, I myself sometimes can’t help getting a little stuck in the past. Sometimes it’s good to look back on the past and what we loved, but nostalgia blindness does not refer to this. Nostalgia blindness is when we automatically assume anything newer to be inferior to what we knew in childhood. It’s extremely common in gaming culture, where people’s inability to get over nostalgia ruins sequels to video games that are ostensibly superior than their predecessors, but I can talk about nostalgia blindness in video games any time I want, in any post about video games or indeed gaming culture, so today, I’m not talking about video games. Besides, the way I see it, nostalgia blindness goes way beyond that.

I’ve already mentioned how Buzzfeed spends its time promoting pointless 90’s nostalgia (which I’ll get to talk about later on in this post), so let’s stick to a more basic point. Nostalgia blindness kicks in when you grew up with something and your sense of nostalgia blinds you to the flaws of what you were raised with. For example, a number of films from the 20th century now seem very much outdated (depending on what films you actually watch), but survive based on the nostalgia of an older generation of viewers. Because of this, many people forget about the weaknesses of these films based on pure nostalgia. This also seems to happen whenever we remember anything targeted at a youth audience. Whenever anyone wants to rant about how bad the present day is (and I know I’ve done this before), they bring up examples of things that were marketed to the youth of their day as either “more tolerable”, “good”, or even “classics”. Of course, back then, the older generation would have been the ones deriding that as terrible compared to what they grew up, saying the exact same things as we would be today. It’s a neverending cycle of pointless cynicism from the older generation, and equally pointless sycophancy from the younger generation.

Entire periods of history can become victims of this, especially the latter half of the 20th century, and with that in mind, let’s start by talking about the 1950’s, which is the subject of the famous American sitcom Happy Days. Many who are nostalgic about the 50’s focus on the vibrant optimism of the decade, the golden age of American affluence, and the dawn of rock and roll. However, the 50’s today are famous for the notoriously buttoned-up cultural norms that dominated the American landscape. Because of this, almost everything from the 50’s now seems bland  to anyone who didn’t grow up during that time. Also, let’s not forget that the 50’s was still an era where sexism and racism were institutionalized norms of American society, and anyone who disagreed was branded a “filthy communist” who threatened the “morals of society”.

The 60’s was an interesting case. It started out as barely anything different to the 50’s, except that the early part of the decade gave rise to the era of the archetypal jet set playboy. Of course, people today remember the 60’s for the hippie counter-culture, the Beatles, pop art, psychedelic rock, LSD, the civil rights movement, the space race, and the sexual revolution. The 60’s is etched into modern culture, primarily because the people who came out of the decade haven’t stopped going on about how great it was. When they talk about how great the 60’s was, they tend to leave out the negatives. Much of what happened in the 60’s happened in the context of both the Cuban Missile crisis and the Vietnam War. The flower power dream was crushed in the midst of riots, social unrest, government oppression, and Altamont, all of which tended to be ignored by 60’s nostalgia. And then the 70’s was remembered for disco, funk, punk, Space Invaders, classic rock, the golden age of porn, and a wealth of sitcoms and Saturday morning cartoons. That aside, the events of the 70’s helped shape the world into its current form, but was frequently ridiculed as the decade where disco was popular, which makes no sense when you consider that disco was only around for a few years until the decade ended. Also, historically speaking, 70’s was a decade of confusion and disillusionment. The Vietnam war still raged for a time, the energy crisis had the Western world running out of gas for the first time, and crime was going on the rise. Also during the 70’s, people were depserate for something to take their minds off of the bleak landscape of the era, and so Hollywood obliged by introducing a new wave of 50’s nostalgia, and by setting into motion the dawn of blockbuster cinema.

The 80’s is a major target of nostalgia blindness. Everything that was popular about the 80’s is still beloved by anyone who isn’t repulsed by all the neon lights. Even people who weren’t even born in the 80’s can’t stop fawning over the decade of excess. At this point, it’s not so much a question of what the 80’s is remembered for, but what they weren’t remembered for. Popular culture as we know it today was practically born in the 80’s, which brought us Rambo, Nintendo, the moonwalk, VHS, The Karate Kid, New Wave music, and a whole host of other things that we need only to look around for. They’re also remembered for home computers, Hollywood blockbusters, teen movies, and ridiculous hair. We currently live in a time where 80’s nostalgia is still very popular. Pretty much all the clichés of popular culture were created in the 80’s, and there’s a plethora of TV shows, movies, and even video games dedicated to emulating the campiest, cheesiest elements of the decade’s absurdly optimistic neon glow. That being said, there’s currently a major case of nostalgia blindness going on, because all of it ignores everything bad about the decade. Here in Britain, we elected a stern old lady who did about as much damage to the nation as David Cameron is set to do today. Elsewhere, the spread of the AIDS virus created widespread panic, as homophobes treated homosexuality as the modern equivalent of leprosy. Also, America’s political landscape was dominated by the rise of the religious right, as conservative Christians began to gain significant political influence. In a sense, it was almost like it was the 50’s all over again. It’s not as though the culture of the time was much better. In fact, the 80’s popularized a number of horrible teen stereotypes, and brought us the abominable, neon-tinged nightmare of cock rock (better known as glam metal).

cinderella

Thank God we got over that.

Finally, let’s talk about the 90’s, the decade I was actually born into, and also the decade that Facebook doesn’t shut up about. The 90’s is well-remembered by the current generation for the rise of the Internet, Forrest Gump, porn, Bill Clinton (and maybe porn involving him), hip hop music, Kurt Cobain, Disney’s renaissance period, The Simpsons, Cartoon Network, and the birth of reality TV. Frankly, I didn’t care much for the 90’s, primarily because I was a barely intelligent toddler by the time the decade ended. Hence, I get rather annoyed with all this 90’s nostalgia for the following reasons.

  1. The fashion of the 90’s was downright terrible.
  2. The Macarena will instantly bring horrible memories back to my mind.
  3. Everything else that’s horribly wrong here.

The 90’s saw popular culture morphing into its current state, in that movies and TV shows were getting dumber and dumber as time went by. Films began to rely more heavily on CGI, and were often the poorer for it. Meanwhile, rap music became the misogynist, mind-numbing schlock that it is today, with rock music struggling to survive in a time where the mainstream has started to abandon it. The 90’s also brought about the whole “debate” over whether video games cause violent crimes (a topic I will cover another day). It was also the decade when the US and UK started bombing the Middle East in a campaign that eventually culminated in two unjust wars that the people in charge spent the next decade trying to justify. Besides, most of what we choose to remember about the 90’s comes from the aggressive marketing campaigns we may have been exposed to as children. In other words, the 90’s was essentially a drowning pool of jaundiced slogans and committee thinking.

All that being said, I understand that nostalgia can be a good thing. But, as I’ve spent the last six paragraphs illustrating, it’s very easy to allow nostalgia to cloud our judgement to the point that we forget that we could be doing better by moving forward. It’s also important for me to point out that preferring things that were made before you were born isn’t inherently bad so long as you aren’t too closed-minded about it. Yes, we all love reminiscing over the past, but if we allow ourselves to get stuck in the past, then we are less motivated to move forward towards the future, and would be far less happier with life in the present.

How TV is built on plagiarism

These days, I just can’t go without hearing about some new programme that’s basically a rip-off of another programme. Everywhere I look on British TV, there’s always some new program that’s essentially a rip-off of a TV show that was already made. For example, there’s a new show called Secrets of the Clink, which is basically a rip-off of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, as if that show even needed to exist.

As I already mentioned a few weeks ago, we recently got a crappy new show called The Singer Takes it All, which is essentially a rip-off of The X Factor. We already had The Voice, which was primarily made to compete with The X Factor, so why did we need another one of those shows? If that’s not enough, there are dozens of reality TV shows about C-list celebrities with fake tan that seek to capitalize on the popularity on the entire reality TV phenomenon, and all of them seem to rip each other off, and there doesn’t seem to be an explanation.

It isn’t just a UK phenomenon. Ever since the History Channel aired Pawn Stars, pretty much every one of its competitors has come out with their own rip-off of that show. Since 2010, we started seeing more shows like Auction Kings and Storage Wars, until all of a sudden redneck reality TV shows became all too common.

redneck island

Because every redneck gets 30 minutes of fame.

The most obvious reason why so many rip-offs exist is because there’s always going to be somebody who sees the success and popularity of one show, and decides that he wants a slice of the pie. In fact, that’s pretty much how Family Guy was created. It seems like it’s the first rule of television to copy a more popular TV show as soon as an original TV show becomes highly popular.

Today, this happens with reality TV shows, and all of them keep appearing from out of nowhere, and it’s obvious that they were made to possible by ripping off another reality TV show. In the UK and America, rip-off reality TV shows plague the airwaves, and most of those shows are now about stereotypical rednecks from the southern US states. Unfortunately, this is why there’s almost nothing good or original on TV, and that’s what happens when TV tries to stick around long after video games made TV shows useless.

Enough with the superheroes already!

guardians of the galaxy

Seriously, it’s out of control.

Since the year 2000, we’ve seen a tidal wave of superhero films, to the point that some of the highest grossing films of the past 10 years were superhero movies. This would be fine and dandy except for the fact that every superhero movie repeats the same formula, and they always feature established comic book characters in sequel after sequel, because apparently people will pay to see the same thing over and over again.

The superhero film has become one of the most repetitive genres in movie history, with almost no original ideas left, all because producers think they can only take ideas from comic books, the rights to which they’re always swarming to get their claws on. After X-Men became a box-office smash, every Hollywood studio wanted to cash in with their own superhero flick, throwing so much money at them that you’ll wonder where all that money comes from.

By the way, why aren’t there any original superheroes in cinemas? You know, brand new superheroes who haven’t had an established franchise yet? How about a new take on a genre that has gotten incredibly stale over the past five years? Will classic Superheroes like Batman, Superman, or Spider-man pass the torch to a new generation, or are the producers so scared of taking risks that originality is simply forbidden?

There are already so many superhero movies it could make your head spin, but what’s even more insane is that there are even more coming up, with each one seeming even more ridiculous. We even have a Batman vs. Superman movie coming out in 2016, which itself is set to be followed by a freaking Justice League movie with an unknown release date. I can’t help but think that by 2016, audiences will quickly grow tired of superhero movies. With cinemas set to be bombarded by big movies in 2015 alone, I kind of expect Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to fail, and be the thing that causes the superhero bubble to burst.

While some of these superhero movies are good, the superhero fad isn’t going to last long. Hopefully, when this fad dies out, the Hollywood producers will start having some sense. But then, even if the superhero craze dies out, something else will take its place, and then the whole pattern repeats itself.

They just won’t let Bond die

007 sean connery

This is the most iconic image of James Bond, which is the one that’s been implanted in our brains for over 50 years now.

If there’s one character who remains in Britain’s collective imagination, it’s James Bond. He’s the archetypal secret agent, and the first Bond movies paved the way for the spy movie genre as we know it. However, there’s one huge problem. Every spy movie since the mid-1960’s followed the Bond formula, and for many decades, the Bond films were stuck in the 60’s.

Before I talk about the character, let me briefly talk about the movies. I’ve seen just about all the 007 films, except of course for Skyfall. Out of 22 Bond films, only 11 of them were good. My big problem with the Bond film franchise is that the films tend to get repetitive, particularly the Roger Moor films, which shamelessly recycle the whole stupid formula. GoldenEye was the first Bond film that was radically different from the traditional formula, but now that movie became the template for every Bond movie released after GoldenEye, not to mention that each movie after Tomorrow Never Dies just sucks harder and harder.

All that aside, I’d like to focus on the character himself. Bond as we know him in films was a product of the swinging 60’s, a time when we were afraid of being annihilated in a nuclear war that would never happen. Bond was always portrayed as this suave character who could get any woman he wanted by saying the right things. Back then, there must have been some kind of appeal, but as the 60’s wore on, attitudes began to change, with feminism becoming more popular.

Meanwhile, throughout the tenure of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore, Bond’s character never changed with the times, but perhaps even more bizarrely, neither did the women. A staple of the 007 film franchise is the so-called “Bond Girls”, James Bond’s numerous passing sexual fancies who are used as ubiquitous sex symbols. One thing I’ve always wondered about is how Bond seems to have a different girl in almost every film. Is he sex mad or something? Does he view women as objects? Does he view real love as inconvenient, or is he too busy to think of love in a more complex manner?

This trend doesn’t seem to happen as much on GoldenEye, but then again, GoldenEye was more or less a reflection on how stale the old Bond formula had gotten. One of the best moments of that movie was M’s critique of everything Bond was up to that point. She refers to Bond as both “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and “a relic of the Cold War”. I like this for two reasons.

  1. It sums up everything about Bond up to the time when GoldenEye was made.
  2. It shows that, after over 30 years of the same mojo ad nauseum, people had finally gotten tired of the kind of man Bond was.
roger moore

Especially after they had to endure seeing this jackass for 12 years.

As true as this was, the Bond films still made plenty of money, so Eon Productions, the producers of the Bond films, kept making more Bond films, and will continue to make Bond films until the franchise becomes unprofitable. On top of that, James Bond, and everything that comes with him, have been ingrained in British popular culture, as well as the rest of the world, as the ultimate spy.

I can’t exactly blame them, but for me, the 007 franchise was over after the 60’s ended. Today, the 007 franchise now has 23 major films, with another one coming out next year. With Daniel Craig, it’s almost as though the series is on life support. Why can’t they just pass the torch to a new generation of spy films?

Today, there are so many spy films that it could make your head spin, but sadly, none could meet the challenge of replacing 007. I think we should face the fact that the spy film is a dead art form, mainly because we no longer live in the climate of paranoia and Cold War espionage required for those films to be relevant.

We can’t keep idolizing a relic of the Cold War forever. In fact, how long will it be before we finally shed all the Cold War nostalgia that’s being reinforced by dozens of ageing producers? If it really is true that nothing lasts forever, then I say that Bond is due for a major decline. After 52 years, when will Bond finally retire?

What about Nintendo?

nintendo

Has everyone been forgetting about them?

The eighth generation is fully under way, with the PS4 and Xbox One consoles competing for your attention and money, but with E3 coming up pretty soon, I’d like to ask one question. Has everyone forgotten about Nintendo?

To be fair, this hasn’t been a good decade for Nintendo. Classic Nintendo franchises are either being ignored or slowly phased out, all while gaming culture is being dominated by the EA sports games, the Call of Duty games, and the cliché survival horror games, none of which seem to have any of the originality that games had before the year 2000. Amidst all this, the Wii U is constantly treated as an inferior console, even though its competitors have only been in the market for over half a year.

I’ve always supported Nintendo ever since I was a little kid, so I’m tired Nintendo being cast in the shadow of Sony and Microsoft just they don’t do things the same way. Are Nintendo gamers like me being reduced to a dying breed?

Many gaming journalists now have a pessimistic attitude towards Nintendo as they bow sycophantically to its competitors, and that’s if they aren’t focusing their energies on PC gaming. As for anyone who says the Wii U is inferior, have they actually tried the Wii U for themselves? At least I’ve played a demo of the Wii U. All most people seem to do is judge by comparison. If you prefer the PS4 or the Xbox One, that’s fine. Just don’t look down those who prefer the Wii U.

Besides, it’s actually way too early to start proclaiming the PS4 or the Xbox One as the superior console. Only 252 games have been confirmed for the PS4 so far, and of them, only 80 have been released. The Xbox One has even less to offer, with only 174 confirmed titles, of which only 42 have been released. The Wii U, though it might not have a lot of support from third-party companies, has been on the market for longer than its competitors. Therefore, it has more games. The Wii U has 327 confirmed titles, and of them, I think about 123 have been released in Europe alone.

I personally want to get the Wii U, mainly because Nintendo is nice enough to allow you to transfer all the save data on your Wii console over to the Wii U, effectively making the Wii useless. Also, it’s much cheaper than its competitors, which in this economy would make the Wii U a much more likely choice anyway.

Maybe the Wii U is basically like the Gamecube, in that it’s actually really good, but won’t sell as well as its competitors. If I’m right, then the Wii U is probably going to have some really good games coming for it, and with E3 on the way, that might not an overstatement.

I’m not saying that the PS4 and Xbox One are basically all show and no substance. After all, the PS4 does have a lot to offer, and the Xbox One definitely tries. However, I’d rather have a console that actually focuses on the games, and thankfully, games are firmly on Nintendo’s mind.

In conclusion, before you just blindly hop on the bandwagon of hatred towards the Wii U, remember that Nintendo will always find a way to turn things around. If Microsoft can get the public back on their side by making the Kinect sensor optional, then Nintendo surely has a way to make things better for the Wii U. All we have to do is wait, and give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt.

On the Harry Potter film franchise

harry potter

As a kid, I was never a huge fan of the Harry Potter franchise, and I guess that’s true in the present day. However, as someone who reviews movies on Rotten Tomatoes, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what the hype was all about. I’ve seen all eight movies, so I can safely discuss the film franchise in detail.

I’m sure everyone already knows that the films are based on the hot-selling novels by J.K. Rowling. I’m sure that at some point, Hollywood realized that Harry Potter was an incredibly lucrative cash cow, so Warner Bros. got to work capitalizing on the hype, and thus, the first Harry Potter film was born.

The whole film franchise started back in 1999, when Warner Bros. bought the rights to the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (which was released just two years earlier). Released in 2001, the film costed $125 million to make, and made nearly one billion dollars. Shortly afterwards, a crapload of merchandise started appearing as though it was out of nowhere. At that point, an entire franchise was born, and with every successful film series that everyone likes, there will invariably be a loads of hype from the media.

To be completely fair, I actually like the first Harry Potter film, even if it is overrated. However, I find that as the franchise goes on, the films become less and less enjoyable, especially as Harry progresses as a teenager.

One thing I tend to notice is that the UK media tends to worship the Harry Potter franchise, to the point that it seems like nobody criticizes it at all. In reality, there are people who don’t like Harry Potter (like me), but the media ignores them because they don’t agree with the millions who do.

The most common criticism that I have against the Harry Potter films is that the film-makers try as hard as possible to pan each film out to at least 135 minutes. Usually, they do this by jamming as much dialogue as possible, and by utilizing a near endless stream of plot twists. I’ve heard that the films are actually very faithful to the original novels, but this is about the films, and not the novels.

This, of course, leads to my next point problem. Because the films are more heavily promoted than the novels, the character of Harry Potter is known more for the films than the books, and the films have made more money than the novels (the film franchise alone made over $7 billion worldwide). Combined with all the merchandise, this makes J.K. Rowling one of the wealthiest women in the world, but it also means that her original novels had become overshadowed by the flashy Hollywood films.

The final point I want to make is about artistic integrity. I did some research, and it seems that J.K. Rowling had a lot of complex themes in mind for the novels. In the films, however, I don’t notice them, which makes me think that a lot of the themes and metaphors were either masked or dummied out in order to market the films to children.

Overall, in my view, the Harry Potter films are massively overrated, but they aren’t horribly bad films (even though I despise The Order of the Phoenix more than any other). In fact, if they given the chance, I would probably do something like it, but better. However, the Harry Potter universe really doesn’t suit me, so of course I wouldn’t enjoy the films very much.