Mediocracy: How the Democratization of The Internets is Ruining Entertainment

If I ever get a hold of a time machine, the first thing I’m going to do…or more like near the top of my list of “’Things To Do’(if I get a hold of a time machine)” is go back to 2007. I will find and slap that me who thought that the democratization of The Internets was going to be a great thing. Then tell 2007 Me to start a YouTube channel. It doesn’t have to be of any quality, just know that in a decade I will be able to make a living off it.

I would return to present day and make thrones of all the YouTube cash!

I didn’t start treating YouTube like an entertainment vehicle until very recently. I started in earnest back in 2014, in the wake of #gamergate, when this seemed to be one of the few outlets where you could find any real information on the topic. Sure, you could read what had floated up to the mainstream: a bunch of sad, lonely, neck bearded goony men were harassing women, or you could browse a few YouTube videos that broke down the real reasons, and perhaps a little guiding light as to what to do next.

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As it is well known, #gamergate became a punch line and shorthand in the games press, and “we” all moved on.

The YouTubers I started following changed course or discovered, as I had, that there was a lot more going on outside of the games realm when it came to social justice. To say nothing of how the games press was failing to do its job, it then proffered the notion that the mainstream press itself wasn’t doing anything either! Instead of investigating something like a #gamergate, the mainstream press looked to the games press and just copy/pasted their words and moved on.

With The Internets being a content machine that constantly needs to be fed, of course these YouTubers I was following weren’t going to cut it. Doubly, you can only listen to the same rhetoric of “Look at these silly SJWs” before you move on. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the YouTuber. No, unlike other media, internet based entertainers aren’t given the heave-ho when their numbers start lagging. Sure, there is less ad revenue, should they choose to partake, and that may lead them to find greener pastures. However, for a LOT of them, it’s a hobby or a side project. For a few, it’s a living that they procure from crowd funding, which is where the current problem is bubbling up.

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There was time, not so long ago, and maybe it is still true, that not every single person gets to follow their dreams. The world couldn’t handle so many ballerinas! But now that modern society has allowed adolescence to extend in to the late 20’s…we’re seeing a lot of people still out there trying to hash a dream out of being a YouTube star!

In my “research” for this article, I’ve just been scrapping the bottom or YouTube and iTunes trying to find hidden nuggets and gems of entertainment. Like a lot of you, I’ve become tired of the same grip of people sitting around “ranting” or “critiquing” the content of others. The “Hot Take” culture fits certain things well: sports, news, and entertainment. However, “Hot Takes” do not work so well for video games and fellow YouTubers. I’m sure some of the internet drama that crops up on YouTube rings that lizard brain bell need for “entertainment”, but it is not nearly as compelling as a finely crafted and edited reality show. That these internets beefs can stretch on for years is amazing to behold.

However, my problem doesn’t really lie in that. It’s the dreamers that need to get a job and stop clogging YouTube with their bullshit that have my ire.

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It’s times like the news of PewDiePie being “literally a Nazi” that the dark underside of YouTube rears up. That so many “content creators” suddenly felt compelled to lodge a PiewDiePie in to their video titles and deliver their staid “Hot Take” on it. Just how many of those are actually a unique take on the subject? Very few, sadly.

YouTube fosters a cult of personality complex in people that really shouldn’t be anywhere near it. People that actively proclaim to have social anxiety and other mental health issues somehow find comfort in participating in a digital striptease for the few voyeurs curious enough to click on a picture and a link. They will then try to leverage a fan base via crowd funding to further some goal that needn’t be bothered with, especially considering how little support they often wind up with.

The cult of personality eventual tickles out those who hide behind “characters”. Oftentimes, I enjoy just a static image and someone just talking over it about a topic I like. In fact, a lot YouTubers do something along those lines, then one day…they hit a threshold or come to some understanding and then *BAM* I click on a video and get to watch a fat neck beards chins flap around as they stare blankly in to a the camera and do their thing.

Some people just don’t need to be seen!

Better yet…why? Even when a homunculus shrinks themselves down in to a corner of the frame, it’s still ridiculous to watch them bloviate over a static image of their topic. In a video that runs over ten minutes! Boring!

Perhaps treating YouTube like an educational entertainment channel isn’t the best mind set, but more often than not, I’ve found myself pining for the days of yore when we had a few gatekeepers that we trusted and nothing more. Sure, you had that one guy that would be your go-to for whatever they specialized in. For example, I’m the “movie guy” at work and amongst friends. But now every single one of those guys has this compulsion to plaster their nasty asses in front of green screen and jiggle over whether a piece of pop culture is shit or not.

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They don’t even have to be subjectively “good” at their “jobs” either! At least in ye olden days there was some level of expertise and knowledge within a critical circle. Thanks to the democratization of The Internets, some fan boy carries just as much “intellectual” heft, and he doesn’t even know what he’s talking about outside whether a movie gave him a chubby or not. Every single bit of his output is a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of critical analysis.

In fact, a lot of depth and nuance is being lost to YouTubers and The Internets collective hyper-attention deficit. This goes further with the thumbs “up” and “down” system of I suppose letting the content producer know how a particular video is doing? YouTube doesn’t seem to care one way or the other, as they can sells ads on every single bit of content on its service, which in turn facilitates people who should have no business doing so making content for “entertainment”.

To be fair, this “entertainment” isn’t being foisted on to me. I am punishing myself by scraping this said barrel and trying to discover the secret sauce as to why someone would go through the hassle of trying to hack it at the business of being a marginal YouTube celebrity. Maybe that’s it, those vaunted fifteen minutes of fame, but on somewhat your “own terms” of not leaving your house.

Perhaps the day will come when equilibrium of sorts will take hold and the vaunted gatekeepers of yore will reappear much like the four horseman of the apocalypse and lay waste to these less than charlatans that disguise themselves as critics. I’m highly doubtful, but doesn’t something have to give a some point?

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Mediocracy: How the Democratization of The Internets is Ruining Entertainment

The Worst of 2016

According to whom you talk to, 2016 was literally the worst! “This is the darkest timeline!” kind of stuff. However, there was a lot worse out there that may have gone unnoticed and for that I bring back the tradition of highlighting a few things I found to be subjectively the worst about 2016.

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Ghostbusters “Think Pieces”

Ghostbusters (2016)(heaven forefend anyone actually get a good and bad Ghostbusters films mixed up) was a mediocre movie, in a summer full of movies (see below) that wasn’t very good. However, before all that even happened, people started filling The Internets with “think pieces” about what Ghostbusters, with an all female cast, would mean for women…and science? How about the film being shouldered with the awesome responsibility of “proving Hollywood wrong” by anchoring the film with four leading ladies to show that that is nearly enough to fill seats with more female butts, thereby supplanting the dudebro iron grasp on butts in seats during summer movies?

I’m sorry that teenage boys tend to “muck up” the summer movie season. It’s either go see some banal movie with loud noises for hours at a time, or sit at home harassing women all day on The Internets.

It wouldn’t be so bad, had so many social justice websites not spent all their time leading up to the movies release being “exhausted” about the supposed nature of a film that they hadn’t even seen. Then take people (read: men) to task for hating on the horrible trailer, then the second horrible trailer that addressed certain aspects of the first trailer, flinging around accusations of racism and misogyny for no real reason other than it was apparently the perfect springboard to  finally cross the streams of nerd culture and social justice as critique. This would legitimize the entire enterprise I guess? Substantiating the need for the form?

What happens when the movie is mediocre? Silence. Snow falling on a winter’s night silence. Even social justice minded “movie critics” had to contort themselves in to liking the movie, because if you don’t like, then you’re a misogynist and racist and on and on and on. Better yet, where are all the “think pieces” on the Ghostbusters “think pieces”? The art form of critique cannot get better if there is never any self-reflection.

Or better yet, maybe next time social justice warriors pick their battles better.

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Amy Schumer

2016 was a pretty good year to be Amy Schumer. Your stock is never higher, you’re in a lot  more commercials, you are everywhere. Then the inevitable backlash as fans turn on you. First, there’s accusations of joke theft (a cardinal sin in the joke world), then a shitty fourth season of Inside Amy Schumer comes and goes, one of the shows writers, Kurt Metzger goes on a Facebook “supposed rape apologist” tirade that she gets dragged in to amid an internets shit spiral, then a horrible parody of a Beyonce video sends The Internets in to another shit spiral. What a great year to be Amy Schumer!

I wanted to preface this entry with a whole “I’ve been a big fan of Amy Schumer for long time, but…” and it’s true, I have been a fan of her work for a long time. When Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo came out last year, I felt something shift. The jokes weren’t that good; it was lower grade material than what I had seen from her in recent times. It quickly became apparent that after three seasons of a TV show and a movie, that maybe the Amy Schumer joke barrel was nearing the bottom.

But it’s not even that, Amy Schumer’s success has unleashed this monster of a person that’s not even remotely relatable anymore. Better yet, she has come to resemble what the olds think of the “millennial generation”, along with her compatriots Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham. Why do we give a shit when any of them fart on a napkin and post it to social media? Why is it news that Amy Schumer isn’t ashamed of her body? Who gives a shit? It’s been a part of her “act” for over a decade.

As an aside, Amy Schumer got on this list mostly because one episode of her show featured a “sociopath” named M.E. Thomas.

I read her book Confessions of a Sociopath and it is the most insipid, boring, grating, gross book I have ever read. M.E. is one of those people that has grown up and resided in a bubble their entire life. Being raised hyper-religiously in the Mormon sect, the book reads of some sheltered girl “pushing the boundaries” of…being a dick to everyone and little else. It’s reading a girl learn “How to Woman to Succeed” with the kind of results you expect from a selfish asshole: Nothing’s ever her fault and she’s always the winner.

The beginning of the book even has a doctor’s note saying that M.E. is a clinical sociopath, but if you read the note carefully, you see that M.E. has apparently been shopping around for this diagnosis and knows how to finagle diagnostic tests to get the results she wants. So much for being a sociopath, huh?

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Summer Movies 2016

Goddamn what a shitty summer for movies! It was so bad that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows was my favorite movie of the summer. That movie wasn’t very good, mind you. To its favor, it lessened the Megan Fox presence, added Bebop and Rocksteady…and Casey Jones, it has to commended for that…even if the plot was nonsensical and clearly globe trotted for tax write-offs.

Even movies I thought would be great like Kubo and the Two Strings were just “Meh. Maybe the source material didn‘t speak to me, the film is beautiful to look at and what Laika manages to do with CGI and Stop-Motion Animation is astounding. Nevertheless, the film is overlong, boring and the voice acting is miscast. Now You See Me 2 possessed none of the charm of the first film and Lizzy Caplan continues to be an actor that cannot seem to adapt to a scene. I can always tell she’s acting, I don’t see any characterization, I just see Lizzy Caplan being snarky and sardonic in everything she does. She’s like an uncharismatic female Seth Rogen.

I mean most of the filler of “Top Ten Worst Movies of 2016” is the vast bulk of these summer 2016’s movies! This goes even further when you look at just how lazy some of the movies were, with their banal-ass bad guy(s) sitting around some giant world destroying hole in the middle of a major city. This is mostly a holdover from a lot summer movies past! Nothing from this summer stuck out…in a good way…and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pretend that summer starts at the beginning of May and laud Captain America: Civil War for not being a hot garbage fire!

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Waypoint/Vice

When any new site dedicated to video games pops up, I tend to get a little excited. For every one of those that pop up in a calendar year, there’s the inevitable two or three other sites closing down. Which leads to a free agency of sorts of the same faces you know and love/hate from other sites doing work hither and yon for the few that remain. Vice hiring Austin Walker for a new video game themed venture seemed like a good idea. And there was a time everyone thought that Polygon was a great idea too.

Austin Walker has done some great work, the things he writes about pop culture and gaming are insightful in a way without being too stuffy and “try hard”. He critiques on the video game industry, and by extension, the games press, leads one to believe that if given the opportunity his new website could be the shift towards better.

You begin to wonder why social justice types complain about diversity of thought and person and the like in the video games industry, when given the opportunity to be “game changing” they stick with their version of “status quo”. This is what Waypoint represents in the fullest.

Filled to the brim with people of dubious ethical integrity, such as Patrick Klepek and Danielle Riendeau, Waypoint states that it’s the future of games writing, but has the hot stale breath of an aging whore, who’s seen a few things, tried a few things, and BOY does her breath stink of sameness! I get the notion of hiring two “veterans” of the games press: access, after all, is golden. But those two specifically have proven to be less than worthy of serious journalistic and ethical merit for some time now.

In the sites infancy when it was just another “blog style site” about video games, I emailed Vice/Waypoint and asked if they were going to have someone like me on the site to be the consumer advocate type. Gaming is expensive, I stated, lots of us daisy chain trade-ins and use sales to stay current in gaming. I feel we’re being left behind. To his credit, and several months later, Austin Walker got back to me.

He agreed that there should be sites for that “everyday consumer” but thankfully, “dozens” of those sites exist. Did he give examples? Hell, no! However, he did go on to mention that Waypoint firmly established their direction and voice. But this was well after I sent my email. I visited nigh daily and was aghast at how little the site spoke to actual gamers. Who was this site for? He also continued that it was much more important for the site to focus on what they do and do it well.

This point is odd because, again, what is Waypoint doing and doing well? Even in it’s infancy it was little more than a concern troll Kotakuesque blog about racist aspects of Mafia III, deep diving on God Hand making the writer feel icky because it’s Japanese as fuck, and other articles that you surely couldn’t find anywhere else, like say a Polygon or Kotaku…or The Mary Sue?

Even now, with it’s voice and direction firmly established, what is Waypoint doing that supposes this is a future trend in games coverage? Do we have to endure another E3 where Austin Walker looks sad and frustrated at a trailer that “triggers” him? Patrick Klepek’s social anthropology experiment of watching gamers “oggle” the breasts of a video game character and then be disgusted to be a white male?

The site design is awful, and though there is daily content, there’s nothing of real value here. Unless you like scrolling down an article about something as “insightful” and “intelligent” as yet another BioShock think piece, and getting slapped in the face with a Taco Bell ad!

It’s an odd marriage, a site dedicated to critically thinking about video games and the Vice brand. Though they share that “academic try-hard douche bag” DNA, there’s an air of venture capitalist money demanding Vice add more verticals to their brand, and it just so happened to be video games’ turn. Waypoint is the video games press at its most self-indulgent and hedonistic, masking itself as insightful and cerebral. I don’t foresee it being around for too long when there are dozens of other sites out there that do this kind of stuff better.

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The Witness

Well, I got one game on here. The Witness is an overpriced iOS game with a $35 Jonathan Blow tax slapped on it. I tend to look at the $40 I wasted on this game as an investment in to future Jonathan Blow games, and that maybe the next one will speak to me more.

I wanted to like The Witness, I put a good few hours in, solved a bunch of puzzles, but learned nothing. I even looked up a little map to get some “direction”. I was punished for brute forcing puzzles and not learning the “correct way” of things. And while I was dazzled by some of the deeper elements I encountered, I was left deflated by what was on offer and my brain hurt.

As it stands, The Witness is a boring, pretentious, overly designed asshole of a game that is not worth buying at any price.

The Worst of 2016

The Best of 2016

It was pretty difficult finding much to love about 2016, compared to the worst of 2016, which I, as usual, had plenty of. It was almost to the point of doing that stupid “honorable mention” nonsense that creeps in to other lists. No! I am better than that.

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Swiss Army Man

A movie that uses people holding in farts as an allegory to human emotions and how we deal with them, Swiss Army Man is something to behold. What initially appears to be a gross out black comedy, really digs in to that dark black matter towards the end in a twist that you should see coming, but don’t. This is mostly because you’re spellbound by the performance that Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe get up to. Taking up the majority of the screen time, the great chemistry and bizarre world machinations of human interaction that two actors share takes you away from the real reason Dano’s Hank was hanging himself in the opening moments. That the movie ends with a giant prolonged fart joke makes this a modern masterpiece in its own right.

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The Batman parts of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

BvS wasn’t a great movie, fine, I’ll give you that. Nothing that Warner Bros. and DC are doing cinematically to set up this “cinematic universe” is really lighting up the cinema world. However, both BvS and Suicide Squad made a lot of money, so it can’t be ALL that bad, right?

I have a little Batman bias though, and I think the Batman parts of BvS are superb. If there was an “extended micro cut” of the film with just Bruce Wayne/Batman and Alfred fucking shit up, then I’d still pay money to see that. As an aperitif to the inevitable future Batman movies, the Ben Affleck helmed The Batman, it was a fantastic tease in to just how much potential this could have.

Ben Affleck is a phenomenal Bruce Wayne and Batman, which hasn’t ever really been the case in the previous castings. You mostly had to settle with a strong Bruce Wayne and an “eh.” rubber-suited Batman. Affleck is handsome and charming enough to pull off Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy, and brooding, square-jawed (and ripped) enough to play a….I don’t know what that suit is…Batman.

Jeremy Irons as Arthur and a sexy modern Batcave introduced in BvS shows nothing but promise, and made that movie infinitely better than it hoped to be.

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DOOM (2016)

DOOM was a game I was itching for that I didn’t even know I wanted. I started playing Wolfenstein: The New Order earlier in 2016, hoping to scratch that OLD SKOOL first person shooter itch. It got close, but when I started playing DOOM a few weeks later, that itch was scratched and then it kept clawing deeper drawing blood and horrified screams of maybe glee as I got exactly what I was looking for.

Hell, DOOM’s later levels eerily reminded me of Quake III Arena, so much that I was more than open to the notion of a NEW one of those.

Sure, the multiplayer is a mish-mash of also ran modern-day FPS baloney, but my god is that single player campaign the greatest thing video games had on offer in 2016!

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Stardew Valley

I’ve played games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing; they suck me in for a time, as is their wont. The “just one more turn” button in my mind being mashed repeatedly, as I try to make gains in those types of games. Then inevitably, the grind loses its appeal and I abandon my tiny little world. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that Stardew Valley hooked me real hard earlier this year.

Developed by one man, Stardew Valley was a slice-of-life simulator like no other. The only problem  was hitting the wall in terms of things to do. While there are lots to do…there’s not enough of it, and after a while I had gotten good enough at the game that I wanted for nothing, and all the years started their Groundhog Day like march of sameness. However, we’re talking after nearly a hundred hours of play.

It doesn’t look like much, but Stardew Valley is a hell of an indie game.

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Atlanta

Just squeaking in here at the end is Atlanta. Donald Glover’s “Twin Peaks with rappers” show that doesn’t quite fit that description, but what does that even mean these days? Weirdness jammed up in the mundanity of everyday life? Something that seems cool in the writer’s room that winds up being a throwaway gag at the end of an episode?

Better yet, an entire episode that is essentially a straight half hour of a public access television station? Where only one of the main characters, and it’s not Donald Glover, is the only face we recognize. This kind of stuff is unheard of a first season of a show.

Superbly acted from top to bottom, with Keith Stanfield and Brian Tyree Henry being the MVP’s of the series, carrying it deftly and hanging with the show as it changes beats on a dime. Atlanta is the type of show that needs everyone bringing his or her best, and a network like FX that lets the show operate as needed.

Atlanta’s humor is perfectly balanced with representing the darker side of living life everyday. The odd interactions that we all have from time to time. When you answer the door and a man in a gray sweat suit, wearing a Batman mask asks if your cousin lives there, then runs away. All the while, it tells a great underdog story that ends in a very small, realistic, victory. Atlanta recognizes that the road is long and hard, and it is going to take a lot more than ten episodes to suss out.

The Best of 2016

How the SJW Mindset Propelled Trump to Victory

Look, there were a lot of reasons why Hilary Clinton lost, but I thought I’d focus on one pet theory of mine and run with it. You can go everywhere else and find myriad reasons, both true and hyperbolic as to the “how’s” and “whys” of the 2016 election. Nevertheless, here, you will only find one.

SJWs propelled Trump to glorious victory!

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“But Chad,” You may be asking. “How is that possible? Trump is literally the antithesis to the SJW hive mind.” Moreover, this is true. SJWs helped build a giant asshole fumed filled bubble and trapped many left-wingers, millennials, young women and fooled them in to thinking that there was just no way Trump could win! I mean, the polls literally said so!

The SJW mindset permeated deep in to the Hilary supporter and brought a host of problems to a political campaign. Namely, tertiary and duodenary bullshit “problematic issues” that needed to be addressed that, frankly, no sane person actually gives a shit about.

For instance, the false notion of a woman making 77 cents compared to a man making $1. The SJW mindset dictates that the Hilary campaign focuses and harp on that point. Women are being taken advantage of and being held under the heavy stifling yoke of the patriarchy! When Joe Sixpack, who has been largely underemployed or unemployed for an interminable amount of time, looks at this, he sees that he’s making zero cents to anyone’s money. This not only alienates him, it makes him angry, and when Donald Trump says he’s going to “fix it”, Mr. Sixpack is more than happy to support that.

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Instead of that, Hilary could’ve focused on the universal umbrella of something approaching a higher minimum wage. Everyone’s wage would go up, there would be better paying jobs that Joe Sixpack could possibly get a chance at. Ideally, women could possibly make more under the idea, seeing as they purportedly work the majority of the minimum wage jobs in the first place. Perhaps it wouldn’t quell the white-hot misogynistic anger that resides deep inside Mr. Sixpack (next to his nigh constant urge to rape), but it would go further to not out-and-out alienate him from a Hilary presidency.

The vast majority of Trump supporters, “old white people”, actually vote. Speaking Anecdotally, I heard so many first time voters call in to the local (right-wing) talk radio station on Nov. 9. Men in their mid-to-late 30’s feeling compelled to vote for the first time. It wasn’t outwardly said, but they’ve been under attack from SJWs for a good many years and found this election as an opportunity to “correct” a perceived “wrong” by putting anyone but Hilary in to the presidential office.

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Repeatedly I would hear that it was more a refutation of her than an implicit support of him.

Oddly enough, the “old white people” voter contingent has largely been unchanged. The same numbers that voted for Trump in 2016 also voted for Romney in 2012. Hilary lost the youth vote because of the SJW mindset.

Outside of a “yokel” like Joe Sixpack, several white millennial men were left hanging by a Hilary campaign that actively coddled SJW feminists and dickless doods. Who actively told the white men that they’re refusal to support Hilary was because of their suddenly exposed misogyny, sexism and bigotry. “All politicians have faults, it’s time for a white woman to run things…you’ve had your turn for, like, centuries…YEILD!” Moreover, this somehow wasn’t going to alienate millions of male voters somehow?

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As I’ve stated before, the SJW mindset doesn’t have any notions of the long game. They naively believe that things can be done in an instant and that everyone will fall in line because…well who’s totally AGAINST social justice, right?

They have no problem selfishly pushing for single-minded agendas that inevitably alienate more people than help in the long run. On top of this, even the mere suggestion of tapping the brakes is met with instant ire and accusations ending in “ist”. Makes you really  want to get behind a candidate that would seemingly support this, right?

This goes hand in hand in the election aftermath witnessing as the butt hurt and salt flows freely from SJWs that declare bigotry, misogyny and sexism were the main driving force of a Trump victory. There is no self-reflection, no need to check the volume on the rhetoric and hyperbole or tacit support of a shitty presidential candidate. Just the absolute need to alienate as many people that “aren’t like them” as possible. Which sadly still means white men.

There’s a litany of other reasons Hilary lost this election, but you cannot deny that SJWs and their mindset cost her dearly with a plethora of the sane voting bloc. You cannot even begin to approach the notion of unity when the bulk of your supporters are busying themselves “othering” people that dare have a different opinion than them. There’s no discussion or debate, they shout “You’re wrong AND a bigot AND a sexist!” and move on, leaving nothing but scorched earth behind them.

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How the SJW Mindset Propelled Trump to Victory

Taking Your Review Ball And Going Home With The Games Press

What’s a games press to do when all of the sudden they’re not privy to early access to an upcoming video game to review? Especially from a publisher that has already started anti-games press things like “blackballing” certain outlets, and by “outlets” just Kotaku and not releasing early review copies of the most excellent DOOM earlier this year.

Bethesda Softworks, creators of such fine video games in the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series announced a couple of weeks ago  that they were essentially doing away with day and date reviews for their games. Citing the previously mentioned DOOM and its glorious reception from both gamer and games press alike, it has decided to forego sending out review copies of games of Skyrim: Special Edition and Dishonored 2 well in advance of their release.

Not to toot my own horn, but I have been calling for this for a long time now. I even wrote about why the written review was a useless endeavor for games publishers.
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Of course, this doesn’t mean the utter and complete end of the games press, and I wholeheartedly disagree with Forbes’ Erik Kain that certain gamers shouldn’t be gloating about the games press being declared “dead”. Nevertheless, this does portend a growing trend of their needlessness in general. Perhaps a culling of the apes is in order.

More damning, in that all of the articles and podcast “hot takes” I found no real compelling reason from the games press as to why this was a bad thing. Instead a near universal din of this move being “anti-consumer”. How much this would make a reviewer’s life more unbearable by being forced to marathon a game review in order to beat competitors to be first.

Ideally, this only affects maybe 25 people. Moreover, that’s a games press the world over.

Last year when I quoted the ESA report on video game buying habits, “Written Product Reviews in Video Game Magazine and Websites” polled at an anemic 3% of influencing purchase power. It’s not even referenced this year, instead it seems to have been absorbed in to an all encompassing “Other” of about 22%, or maybe it’s finally fallen of to be statistically a 0%?

Aside from the hot takes, there seemed to be this assertion from many in the games press that this really didn’t matter, as there’s been a shift from “day and date ”to a more long view“ games criticism take on games. There is no need to feed the content monster when you can clog it up with such hard-hitting pieces of playing a ten-year-old PS2 game in 2016 and shaking your head at all the misogyny and general Japany-nonsense all up in it!

More to the point, it’s apparently another way for the games press to pooh-pooh the video game focused Youtubers who once again come out on top in all of this.
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Anecdotally, I’ve always used reviews as a validation device. I buy most video games I want to buy day-and-date, and then I’ll go read the reviews from a few select sites. It’s usually not until the following week that actual discussion and breakdown of a game occurs anyways. So why is there such an apparent “pro-consumer” need for a day-and-date review? Aside from competing websites trying to be the first one and therefore getting the most clicks.

Barring that, most video game websites have a plethora of gamed related “content” surrounding almost every major release, so that regardless of an actual review on the site itself there’s a spike in interest for the game. The game gets some sort of coverage, and with the games press being another de facto wing of the marketing department these days, that’s about as good as you can ask for.

Video is king now. People are more interested in seeing the game in action, getting some form of “hot take” on the video game. Personally, I find this lacking, as most video games are hour’s long endeavors at best, and a quick hot take just cannot do most games justice. I mean how many times have your cemented an opinion on a video game in the first few hours. The only thing you can really comment on is how ubiquitous the tutorials are…at best.
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I’ve always been of the mind that video game publishers are wasting precious resources trying to get video game websites to cover a game. It’s not that’s there’s literally too many  games to play, but the games press is getting smaller and leaner, and becoming more pointed in their coverage. In addition, the average games press member is a chubby white guy in his late 30’s…he’s tired. He cannot stay up all weekend trying to marathon a game for review. Hell, he cannot even bother to write a review in anything approaching a timely manner.

Youtubers, for lack of a better word are what the games press should be now: young. There’s this jaundiced, cynical, chubby staleness to the current games press that can no longer be ignored. There’s a lack of enthusiasm for video games, and it’s gotten palpable to publishers.

What sells games better? “Meh, here’s another one of these.” or “Hey, this just came out and it. Is. Awesome!”

To readers that listen to video game podcasts, how many times have you heard the hosts not even bother playing the games that are currently out, or they’ve only played a few hours to “get a feel” for a game of the year discussion to happen later or to deliver some sort of “hot take”?

More publishers need to follow Bethesda’s example and eschew the games press and just take it to the gamers. Have giveaways on social media for early copies. Get the word of mouth out on a game. That’s what really worked for DOOM, early adopters started playing the game, found it to be awesome and spread the word!
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Of course, it’s not going to work in all cases, a new Elder Scrolls game or Dishonored 2 doesn’t need reviews. It’s going to sell a boatload of copies just on name and previous excellence alone.

Gamers are much more informed than they were in the past, and day-and-date reviews are a more recent development. There were literal decades as a gamer you didn’t know the quality of a game until you played it. If you were really itching for an opinion, you could wait for a magazine to say something….a month later. Typically, word of mouth, previous games in the franchise, or the publisher dictated purchasing a game.

This whole notion of the move away from review copies being “anti-consumer” is absurd. The games press has long proven itself more “anti-consumer” than anything a publisher could do. Taking the message directly to your fans, who actually want what you’re selling, is an infinitely better business move than shoveling your games at a disinterested chubby shaved ape that might not even play your game. In the post, Bethesda even acknowledges that if you are so desperate for a review, just wait for it, then make up your mind.

Nintendo has long proven the uselessness of a games press and many, many year’s later publisher like Bethesda are coming around to this idea. The games press is not your audience, the games press is dead.

Taking Your Review Ball And Going Home With The Games Press

Clearing the Low Bar of Intellectual Conversation in Games

I would love as much as anyone for the video games press to be able to talk about topics like race, politics and the ever-elusive “games as art” topic. Problem is, the games press is full of fucking idiots.

There’s a sheer cliff drop off from the topic of video games and everything else in a general games press’ purview. This was never more apparent than last week with the discussion surrounding Oculus founder Palmer Lucky reportedly giving money to the dark Satan that is the “alt-right” and Vice Gaming’s Austin Walker interview about race and the like in Mafia III with the games senior (black) writer. Then go ahead and toss in some post presidential debate talk for good measure.

I’m here to discuss politics in video games!

As I was listening to the scant few video games focused podcasts I listened to, I found that when the topic of Luckey reportedly giving money to “alt-right” group Nimble America, there was plenty of silence for the most part.  This is standard operating procedure for the games press, especially when it comes to most topics that aren’t video games first.

The fact they were even covering it was also questioned, as it is technically “video game related”, but then that means that the people discussing it have to do the “both sides” dance or be as milquetoast as possible when discussing their thoughts about the topic. Just saying, “It’s gross!” over and over again isn’t really coverage.  So why even bother?

More to the point, it’s in the realization of the utter hypocrisy of the games press, when Alison Rapp (yeah, remember her?) was let go from her position at Nintendo earlier this year. The games press erupted about someone’s private life being foisted out in to the open and the ensuring harassment from those no-goodniks on The Interents towards Ms. Rapp who, mind you, wasn’t just “minding her business doing nothing” to garner this “harassment”. She was actively starting shit with various anti-feminist groups and trolls on twitter, but when it got “too real” suddenly she was just a scared little girl that was being bullied by those big nasty goony men!

But Palmer Luckey? Because he’s a rich white dood…fuck that guy? The harassment and bullshit he and his girlfriend are getting…A-okay? No one in the games press was talking about that aspect. Just how gross and wrong it was that Luckey maybe supported Trump, and that a couple of companies are pulling their support for Oculus as long a Mr. Luckey is around.

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Aside from that, you also get a heaping helping of this somehow having a profound impact on the suddenly “fledgling” virtual reality sphere and you have yourself a slow news week for video games at best.

The problem with all the race bullshit around Mafia III is the not so subtle preemptive disappointment with the games’ shortcomings in the discussion on race. All through the interview the games senior (black) writer, Charles Webb essentially says that the game is only taking a broad approach to race in the game. Sure, he can talk about race and politics all day long, but as it serves the game he is writing on, it doesn’t really matter. Mafia III is being marketed and sold as a broad mainstream open world crime title with vague connections to other 2K Games properties. The game will be no more racially charged than a Grand Theft Auto game, which is typically the only game that attempts to tackle topics like race and class in its narrative/world, if anyone cared to notice. But we’re too busy worrying about the plight of the hookers!

Mr. Walker is mostly upset that Mafia III isn’t going “far enough” with the socio-political elements or that use of nigger is more for color (no pun intended) to really paint the bad guys as…bad guys. They say nigger without any shame for crying out loud!

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Then you get to the spartan comment section and the interview as being lauded as something great and of some note. Which reminded me of the first days of video games site Polygon, with all its high-mindedness and focus on things “gamers” supposedly wanted? Initially, the site offered some of the best features on video games and was actually worth a shit. After a couple of years of losing money that way, it was decided gamers apparently wanted click bait social justice hand wringing bullshit and shitty game reviews focused on tertiary nonsense.

As it stands now, Vice’s “gaming” section is nothing you haven’t seen before and more likely what the new venture will wind up turning in to anyways, another half-coked Kotaku clone. Better yet, it will operate under the structure of having a few fully paid “personalities” that guide the site “editorially”, meanwhile a raft of underpaid freelancers do all the content heavy lifting. Where’s the deep concern and investigation in to that bullshit?

Mr. Walker’s new video game website venture doesn’t really fill a need as is currently being laid bare. There’s (arguably) too many of these pop culture websites focused on duodenary elements of nerd culture and how it’s “problematic”. Then there’s this perceived satisfaction that through articles like the Mafia III interview, the site is elevating the games discussion to a completely new level. Nevertheless, this intellectual bar is a low one, dare I say subterranean in nature.

What’s more, gamers don’t really care about this shit! High-minded or no, this type of content is the niche-est of the niche! It reads more as children putting on dress clothes and pretending to be “adults” than a serious discussion on the relevance of games to the deeper artistic discussion therein.


I would love nothing more than to have a games press that could discuss art, sex and politics…on top of video games. I’ve been a gamer far longer than I’ve been active in the other realms of adulthood as I assume much of them have. However, it has been proven, repeatedly, that members of the games press don’t possess the intelligence necessary to have these discussions.

But what do you expect from people that eschewed college, or were English majors, and people that got their jobs in the games press because they knew a guy who knew a guy and could cogently string together a couple of sentences about flashing lights and loud sounds coming from a television?

Clearing the Low Bar of Intellectual Conversation in Games

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond


It seems like every couple of years an executive at Paramount Studios looks over the books, sees that they are a few hundred million dollars light of easy money, and then proceeds to green light another Star Trek movie. That is about as passionless all of these modern day Star Trek movies have felt. Top that off with franchise janitor extraordinaire J.J. Abrams and his cadre of Orci, Kurtzman, and Lindelof, and you are guaranteed some success at the box office.

Nevertheless, it is in that Abramsization that a lot of the soul of the Star Trek series was washed away in lieu of a glossy sheen, vacuous scripts, weak villains and lots and lots and lots of lens flare. Star Trek Beyond attempts to transcend that with a new director Justin Lin and a script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, and it largely succeeds.

Gone is the egregious lens flare, the extreme close ups of peoples faces for no real reason, the glossiness of the future is toned down, and there’s actual Star Trek in a Star Trek movie instead of a bland action movie dancing around in a skin of stitched together Star Trek tropes and the other (better) movie plots stealing nonsense.

In addition, no Spock ex machina to be found! Hooray!st1Sadly, it all seems a bit too little too late, as aside from what was stated earlier, there’s largely nothing here on display either. Star Trek Beyond is the kind of summer movie that you see and then as you’re walking out of the theater is slowly leaves your brain. Therefore, when you decide to reflect on it, or hell, even try to recommend it to someone, there’s nothing noteworthy to say about it. Which is great for a movie in the summertime, but not so much if you’re a Trek fan?

However, that’s been the issue with this entire crop of modern day Star Trek movies, they’re largely empty affairs that are only meant to keep the Star Trek franchise name relevant and nothing more.

If you’re the kind of Star Trek fan that loves masturbatory shots of the Enterprise, you’ll find much to love about Beyond, as there are several shots lovingly draped around the ship as it docks, and later on, rebuilt. There’s also a fair amount of space action, but it’s largely one-sided affairs with the villain possessing a hive-like swarm of ships at his command that are meant to overwhelm and destroy, not hang out and chit-chat with humans.

The acting continues to be the strongest part of this franchise as by now all the actors have their parts down, and what I suspect a lttle nuance, with Chris Pine affecting a little Shatner in his captain logs. Keith Urban’s accent is still a little all over the map, and I swore I heard him try a little southern in an end scene. Idris Elba falls in to the age’s long Star Trek trap of trying to act around a lot of makeup and mouth prostheses that make his lines indiscernible at times.st2Elba is fairly standard as the movies antagonist, Krall, an entity bent on destroying Starfleet Academy for betraying him long ago. His primary point in the plot is to serve as a duality with Captain Kirk’s own burgeoning dissolution in the idea of his five-year captaining of the mission he is currently on. Days are blurring together, the alien races are unfriendly to the notion of Starfleet’s goal of planetary unity and he decides to apply for a vice admiral opening. This even goes to the hilarious symbolic heights of an end fight between Kirk and Krall who is wearing a yellow uniform top. This would be something worth knocking the film for had the last film not had that ham-handed Kahn scene.

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At a little over two hours, Beyond moves at a good clip, but still maintains its Star Trekyness in a sort of shorthand. Beautiful actresses in alien makeup, some macguffin that will do cataclysmic damage to something important, Captain Kirk self-sacrifice nonsense, Spock wet blanketing, Bones curmudgeon grumbling through scenes, Scotty bungling through cramped spaces, you get the idea. Nevertheless, that it stays compelling and not bog down the film is a credit to Justin Lin’s deft hand at directing.

I do hope that Simon Pegg and Doug Jung have a bigger hand in the scripts going forward, which looks to not be the case currently. Pegg and Jung were able to sprinkle just a little more Star Trek in to the modern day franchise that has been sorely lacking.

The more tired elements of the film are more a modern day movies problem than the films. Too many movie fights are the same tired martial arts laden affairs that are just there to provide “action” or make a character look “badass” or some other nonsense that fits poorly in the Star Trek franchise. Sulu is given more “dimensionality” by being gay now, which is somewhat useless and serves no real plot point. It perhaps giving the film stakes as his family lives on the station that Krall is going to destroy isn’t bothered with or even mentioned by the character. Just a picture of a little girl on the console and a couple of shots of Sulu’s husband running around looking scared as it is beset by Krall’s minions is it.st3In fact, a lot of the drama and deeper plot elements set forth in the first moments of the film are quickly jettisoned in favor of the main thrust of Krall’s plan and the action therein, never to be heard from again. Perhaps the next movie will pick those up for further examination? Probably not.

Star Trek Beyond isn’t nearly as flashy as its predecessors are, but it’s certainly just as entertaining in addition to being much more of a “Star Trek” movie. Justin Lin is proving to be a fantastic director with an ability to bring a clean action movie aesthetic (ridding the modern day Star Trek franchise of it’s glossy extreme close-ups and nausea educing shaky cam action), and still allow quieter moments to resonate in the film. Here’s to another three-year wait for the inevitable sequel.

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond