Mass Effect: Romance X Morality

I’ve found it’s hard for even seasoned pundits to predict future trends in games, whether it’s an overestimation of Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system or dialogue wheels, the latter of which did persist through the odd (and odd) title for some time but has at least shifted function in the modern RPG space, with its loot shooting and open worlds. I have a feeling this is also the case with Bioware’s signature morality system. … More Mass Effect: Romance X Morality

Media Criticism: Definitive Snapshots

Recently, I was watching a review of a new movie when I heard something odd. This was, let’s say, a citizen critic YouTube channel guy, which is a label earned exclusively by his sudden insistence on “critical objectivity” in the year of our Lord 2018. Apparently, the gamers of 2005 are old men, and a new generation is taking their place, enjoying zero institutional memory. This old line is stereotypically trotted out in response to others’ disagreeable opinions, that if you, professional critic, didn’t like the movie I liked, you need to be more objective. … More Media Criticism: Definitive Snapshots

Notes on Instagram

I posted my first photo to Instagram late last night, after having used the platform unfortunately for years: let’s not apply scientific rigor, but I posit my following 50 people (mostly women) and never posting anything is the creepiest thing I do. Or, did, now. Blank page on creepiness. But it’s the first time I’ve thought about Instagram, on top of why I’d never uploaded anything. That’s twofold, that I don’t actually do anything to take pictures of, and plus, it’s a girl thing. … More Notes on Instagram

Knowing When to Not: Discretion is the Better Part of Opinions

I went into Mad Max: Fury Road a little bit too strong. Looking back now, it was 100% a nerd territorial thing. In 2015, I loved the idea of Mad Max, despite that I’d only truthfully enjoyed about five-twelfths of the existing films: let’s say half of Mad Max, three-quarters of The Road Warrior, and zero of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. But along with John Carpenter movies and the Verhoeven scifi trilogy, it was part of the canon of the science-fiction cinema I loved dutifully. So much so that I excused the rape scene in The Road Warrior, simply because it was part of my identity to have said “this movie is important to me,” like others did. … More Knowing When to Not: Discretion is the Better Part of Opinions

Chasing Endgame: “Star Wars” Between the Legends

Despite its roughly two hour runtime, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in fact a three-year long film — experienced before, during, and after. In this time, not only do fan theories rise and bake like clay, but the founts for these theories are arguably overinterpreted to suit them. Supreme Leader Snoke is overestimated because he is, again, three years in existence, despite actually existing for a few minutes. It’s unfortunate, but the similarly overblown “fan backlash” is essential to the metanarrative of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, now, and is mentioned here because an attempt to psychoanalyze the fans in question raises an issue about modern storytelling: the point. … More Chasing Endgame: “Star Wars” Between the Legends

Equal Opportunity Badassery

When I was a small child, I saw enough of action movies and thought enough of action movies (a lot and a little, respectively) to codify with an emotional association the ubiquitous signage of real life, that toughness and even violence were the language of an ideal human. Not only did these movies center-stage their violent hero, they gave them an oversized task: the ultimate actualization in the context of their world. These fucking great guys could do anything, unlike the other, less heteronormative bit players around them (though usually racially homogeneous, it was about gender, body type, or archetype). I know I’m not alone in this, as we were all small children once, and many continue to be. The wild thing was, I didn’t know just how much those movies had impacted my thinking until after I graduated college, and how much that thinking needed to change. … More Equal Opportunity Badassery


The purpose of Joker is to be a Great Film; entertainment is secondary. However, it is not a Great Film. It barely even feels like a film. It feels like television. Bad television, albeit bad premium television. You know the kind. Any given Showtime show that stretches one episode of story into a season, or one of those weird Netflix things that horribly Photoshops its actors into the key art. … More Joker


If I had to choose just one emotion to describe Mindhunter, it’s “somber,” which is great, because I can’t think of any others. The show is emotionally reserved and its characters are emotionally intelligent. In a romantic subplot, there are a few instances where characters shrug off accidental slights that would’ve spiraled into a shouting match on other shows. Based on the commentary I’ve read on this season, this reservedness may be working against the show, clashing with what feels like a dip into the arch with Tench’s subplot. His adopted son was at the scene of a grisly murder, and has been socially regressing ever since, and more than one observer cited this for being too coincidental or too contrived. This is the show where the action comes from the dialogue, less like a Tarantino movie and more like math. Any plot contrivance feels like contrivance. … More Mindhunter

Better the Second Time

As a modern nerd, I can no longer make generalities about my nerddom experiences and expect everyone to nod along. In fact, I wouldn’t want to. Also, nerddom is a terrible term, as with anything which interpolates “nerd,” but with more severe affect, as it’s encroaching on connotations of royalty or domination, and that’s counterintuitive. But one thing I like to think of as a constant in nerddom is the arc of finding one’s nerd community. It was, for me, a near-lifelong process, dotted by false starts and curveballs and dead ends. It isn’t easy to bring the people you love into your sequestered world. It’s probably like the proverbial “bringing your boyfriend or girlfriend to meet your parents,” though as a nerd, I wouldn’t know. See? Nerds are having babies these days. … More Better the Second Time