December 23, 2013 § 3 Comments
I can’t remember how Katie came across that first copy of Jack Frost. I can’t even remember the year. Were we in high school? Community college? If it was community college, she would have been working at this truck stop video store just off the 5 in beautiful Castaic, California, which in addition to having the funniest selection of porn I have ever seen (it had me at “Anal Princesses”), is likely where the mutant killer snowman first caught her eye. If however it happened in high school, I have no idea. I do remember watching the VHS tape in my childhood home, so taking into account the film’s release date, our first viewing could have been anytime between 1996 and 2001, when my mom remarried and we moved from Awesometown to a still-rural part of Castaic, just a few miles up the freeway. Not very helpful. Then again, I like that those details escape me. I quite literally cannot remember my life before Jack Frost, lending a cool time immemorial quality to our fandom.
Which is to say — our fandom isn’t just about the movie itself. Don’t get me wrong, the movie itself is a cinematic achievement, as the following clips will attest:
But beyond the razor-sharp dialogue, terrifying special effects, and salacious sex scenes (“looks like Christmas came early this year!”), Jack Frost is special because Katie is special, because I have laughed more with her over the years (decades, actually) than I have with anyone. I’ve written some about our longstanding Martha Stewart fandom (fandom which precipitated my exploration, and ultimate rejection, of the term “anti-fan”) in this post, an edited version of a much longer essay written as Katie’s engagement present. The longer version is more personal, and places our Martha obsession in the appropriate context — we were taking many of the same community college classes, ran together on the cross country team, and spent much of our free time giggling about our various classroom nemeses, including one million year-old, shark-eyed, predatory English professor who had, let’s say, taken an interest in me. This last thing was actually pretty traumatic, but that just made our jokes about him funnier. Somehow references to Martha Stewart Living got woven into these proceedings, and when things got really creepy with the Dark Lord (as Katie and I half-jokingly called him), Martha’s star text functioned as an odd sort of lifeline. It gave us something to latch onto and laugh about. What can I say, Martha just fit in, which is an inside joke you probably won’t recognize (oh fine, here).
And it’s the same with Jack Frost. Our giddy declarations that fucker’s a snowman, or that I only AXED you for a smoke, and jokes about antifreeze, Snowmonton, and State Execution Transport Vehicles are actually references, however indirect, to all the serious real-life shit Katie and I have navigated since first meeting in 1993. Like the time (one of the times, jesus christ) I got my heart broken in graduate school, and Katie hopped on the next plane to Eugene so we could laugh at old episodes of Dawson’s Creek (Dawson: “Dad, will you teach me to kiss?”) and Beverly Hills, 90210 (Kelly, smelling her mom’s newborn baby: “mmm, toast!”). Or the time she called while I was living in Boston and told me she’d just gotten engaged to her now-husband Brent — after which I happy-cried for like an hour. Or the time she IM’d when I was sitting in a coffee shop in Eugene and told me she was pregnant with her first baby — after which I happy-cried for like a day. Or the times I’ve sent her deeply disturbing Christmas presents designed to gross out her husband, for lulz (I do it because I like you, Brent). Or all the times I’ve emailed her about my most recent poor life choice(s), and she’s talked me off the ledge, usually by making a Jack Frost or Martha Stewart joke.
What I’m saying is, the sort of antagonistic, or at the very least highly ambivalent, laughter that accompanies these sorts of fandoms –any fandom, really, including/especially the ones that strike non-fans as weird– are actually quite sweet, in their own way. Because ultimately, they’re about connection, shared memories, even communitas if you want to be fancy. This is even true, or maybe even especially true, when the people engaging in this sort of laughter are separated by geography. The texts we engage with ground us, and make distances seem less far. So it makes perfect sense that this Christmas eve eve, Katie and I will be simultaneously streaming Jack Frost and ichatting that shit to shreds. Frankly I can’t think of much else I’d rather do this holiday season. Well except maybe cuddle up on a couch with my family and play Dirty Unwrapped (i.e. watch The Food Network’s Unwrapped, a show that goes inside America’s food and candy factories, and yell “lol he said X” whenever host Marc Summers makes a reference that could be interpreted as sexual and/or scatological). Try it out for yourself! Because candy cane “trees,” sure.
And with that, I bid you all a merry night before night before Christmas. Later this afternoon I shall prepare a pitcher of antifreeze (pumpkin liqueur mixed with bourbon; also spoiler alert), get Katie on the ichat, and cue up Jack Frost on Netflix. It might be weird, but it is going to be perfect.
April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of my dissertation defense, which…how, but ok. This reminded me of some of the odd compulsive behaviors I normalized during those last few months of writing. I had this thing about music, and not just music but bad/weird/otherwise shameful music — I would ironically-ish listen to the same, say, Britney Spears song one hundred times on repeat, which I’m assuming kept the snark part of my brain occupied while I wrote. Whatever, here is one of the songs I must have listened to two thousand times during that summer (a bad lip read of this musical splenda-fest). I love this shit so much. It is playful, completely unnecessary to society, and not mean. I’m going to listen to it ten times right now!
Also, unrelated, here is another thing I like. Posting only things that don’t give me an ulcer is fun!
March 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
This 10-second video posted by Neil Cicierega via the Slactory Tumblr is an important Public Service Announcement.
February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was afi (away from INTERNET) most of yesterday, and am just now catching up on the last 36 hours of cats and general fuckery. I don’t like missing INTERNET, it makes me feel the way normal people feel when they’re sick or on vacation and their friends end up going out and doing stuff without them and the next time everybody gets together their friends keep giggling about “sloth penis is not a meme, is now a meme” or whatever, and they’re all like hey. Yup, that is precisely the relationship I have with INTERNET.
Also, yeah ok so, this morning BuzzFeed posted a clip of the BBC chasing down an RIP troll irl (they interviewed me for the program, though I haven’t seen the whole thing so don’t know if I was just a consultant or if any of my statements were actually used) and linked to the Gawker piece which talks about my piece which is…weird. Here’s the vidya:
The interesting this about this is that the producers assume he’s going to try and justify his behaviors, freak out, trip over some tortuous self-aggrandizing logic — which of course is not what happens at all, and reminds me of my favorite clip from MTV’s H8RS. The premise of this latter show is like, bullying is bad, and forces “h8ers” to confront the celebrities they hate (get it, H8). In the first episode, Snooki from That Show I’ve Never Watched ambushes her biggest “h8er” and demands to know if he’s willing to say the same things to her face. The “h8er” is surprised, but holds his ground. “Yes,” he says, then tells her she’s terrible. Back to actual trolling: when the host asks “Nimrod” if he knows the impact his behaviors have, his answer is unequivocal. “Yeah,” he says. And when asked what he thinks, Nimrod shrugs. “Fuck ‘em.” This doesn’t surprise me one bit, but it does surprise the producers. “There you go,” the host says. “An internet troll. That’s what they look like.” All I can say is, well, yes and no…
January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
While we’re on the subject of Jeff Goldblum…
I for one laughed.
January 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
This thread has me all unironic and dawwing. Make fun of me, see if I care. I’m pretty much perfect.
December 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
And I really thought these kids would make it.
October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Andy Clark, “Technologies to Bond With,” Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and the Future of Human Intelligence (2003)
Los Alamos! Bunkers & printers! The Black Hole! i.e. “an elephant’s graveyard of Un-transparent, In-Your-Face Technology.” Which perfectly illustrates the difference between transparent (intuitive; unobtrusive; human-centered) and opaque (something to trip over; conspicuously mechanical) technologies! The move towards transparency is neither natural nor necessary, rather is the result of co-evolution between hombre & machina! Basically anticipates smartfones via –at the time– pie-in-the-sky predictions about Wearable Computing and Augmented Reality. (“It might sound crazy but someday we may just have GPS systems built into our sunglasses!”)
Ian Cook, “The Body Without Organs and Internet Gaming Addiction,” in Deleuze and New Technology (2009)
Internet addiction is the latest in a long line of technology-related moral panics! In this essay we frame the question using Deleuze & Guattari’s conception of the “body without organs.” BUT OF COURSE! Body becomes plugged into the froggin Matrix, addict prefers that reality to real reality. Behaviors thus functioning as constant repudiation of the really real in favor of the really virtual (“reconfiguration”), except with bigger words & junk.
David Marshall, “The New Intertextual Commodity,” The New Media Book (2002)
Let’s talk about THE MATRIX again, except this time in terms of Hollywood/mainstream marketing. These days –not that this is a brand new phenomenon, I mean what is, but increasingly– the goal is to create layered transmedia worlds, well beyond a particular self-contained text. Hence “intertextuality,” which emphasizes play and the commoditization of similar. Well-placed headings speak a thousand words (no really): The Resurgence of the Play Aesthetic, The Dialectic of Interactivity, Game-Film-Game, The Multimedia Event, The Centrality of Play Within a Culture of Promotion. In conclusion, play is the key to petty much everything.
William Mitchell, “Homo Electronicus,” in Placing Words: Symbols, Space and the City (2005)
Interest in computers is waning I guess? Yes, not unlike the 17th century’s tulip frenzy. It was fun while it lasted! Except. The legacy of this apparently past-tense digital revolution can be still be felt in global telecommunications networks, which have spurred the proliferation of instruments of displacement. You know like smartfones and LCD displays at bus stops. Everything is (or could be) a screen, whisking us ever further from the Edenic condition, you know, before computers, back when everyone was happy and there was no such thing as war or lying. I’M CLUTCHIN MY CYBERPEARLS Y’ALL.
Mitchell and Clark’s essays reminded me of this, a thing I wrote fifteen thousand selections ago all mind = blown in response to Clay Shirky’s TED talk, particularly the bit about topless mermaids on Flickr. Logically I knew –not that I’d ever thought about it before, because I never had do– that pictures online aren’t automatically indexed. But image search has become such an integral part of my life that I don’t even notice when I do it, so spend even less time thinking about how the pictures got there. I mean, half my day is spent on the prowl, either for information or for images (sometimes both). So Shirky’s talk was one of those “by George, the world has changed while the fuck I’ve been in it!!” revelatory moments that belong on an episode of House.
Anyway. All this talk of transparent technologies and Wearable Computing (“instruments of distraction” if you’re cranky and wish the kids would get off your damn lawn) got me thinking about how many of my devices I no longer notice. The most obvious example is my beloved iphone, which I can only describe as some sort of brilliantly-marketed cyborg appendage. I don’t need to need it and I still (feel like I) need it — even if I’m just driving to the store and have no use for GPS or internet or you know calling, pssh, as if I’d ever do that anyway. This isn’t just about the device itself, though, it’s what I can do with it. I never think twice (and sometimes don’t even think once) about sending pictures or videos or emails or whatever else, this is simply what one does while grocery shopping.
Obviously it’s not always been like this, obviously at one point phones were phones and that was all. I remember being absolutely blown away when I got my first camera phone (2002?) — every time I sent something it felt like I was hacking life. I had a similar reaction in 2009, when the iPhone added MMS and you could (finally!) send pictures directly to another phone, as opposed to the recipient’s email. Looking back I’m like — lol, pictures to email? HOW QUAINT. But that’s just the thing, my brain has no room for how things used to be. The information is there, but on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t occur to me to remember. This made reading Clark’s essay very odd (and highly entertaining), since in it he speculates about all the AMAZING stuff we might be able to do, someday, with our Wearable Computing devices. Almost all of his predictions came true, including the above bit about GPS being at our fingertips, and in every case I had to remind myself that the shit he’s only dreaming about in 2003 is a) what I take for granted in 2011 and b) seriously amazing, even if (maybe especially because) the technologies have become so transparent.
October 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
Justine Cassel and Meg Cramer, “High Tech or High Risk: Moral Panics about Girls Online” (2008)
Stranger danger online, is it really so serial? Why don’t you take a seat and we’ll talk about it. Specifically re: moral panics! Yet another in a long-ass line, for example parental freakouts over the sexy telegraph and even sexier telephone! I’m clutchin my pearls y’all! And the AOL or whatever is apparently even scarier for gurlz! EXCEPT NAW YOU GUYS NAW, it’s got less to do with actual Pedobear and more to do with sublimated fear of girls’ sexual agency! In conclusion, parents they just don’t understand!
Ellen Seiter, “Practicing at Home: Computers, Pianos, and Cultural Capital” (2008)
Bourdieu reeeemiix! Comparing the piano with the computer! Pedagogy! The “right” skills! Distinction! Financial barriers to entry! An ever-widening access gap! The economic capital of digital literacy! The cultural capital of digital literacy! The social capital of digital literacy! High Tech High! Lucas! Kenny! Technology didn’t save either of them :(
Also OH MY GOD I think the girl at :4 and :40 might be 13 year-old me
Speaking of that little cyberminx, once upon a time my friends and I thought it’d be fun to explore the World Weird Web we’d been hearing so much about from the television. We logged onto Prodigy (my name was appropriately dark and dangerous, BOW DOWN BEFORE Raven22267) and found our way to the kidzbop chatroom or whatever; within about 27 seconds we had a real scott16 on our hands. He wanted to do verbs to my noun! I thought this was just a gas, even though my boring friends were like I’m skawed let’s watch Clueless. But I was like SHUT UP, let’s make fun of this guys’ spelling! “thats not how u spell that u loser,” I wrote, or something to that effect due to THREE GUESSES — and just as he IM’d a particularly descriptive response, my father came tearing into the room probably because the fone was tied up & he realized there were GURLZ ALONE ON THE INTERNET. He saw the last part of me n Scottie’s little exchange and like a good girl I feigned innocence, I don’t know papa, the bad man started saying really gross stuff and he couldn’t even spell it right??? My father, who had been pushing me to be an internet person from the moment I slopped out of the womb, was suddenly Baron Von CEOP and never let me go online unsupervised again — which, for the first time in my life, was all I wanted to do. Eventually my interest passed, however, and Raven22267 remained dormant for the better part of the decade.
I haven’t though about that day in years. I didn’t even know I remembered my screen name. Until I did, and then lol’d. Because RAVEN. But apparently Cassel and Cramer’s argument –that online experimentation is perfectly healthy and maybe even beneficial for girls, and that the moral panic surrounding girls’ online behavior is actually disempowering– struck a chord. And lines up with something I’ve been kicking around for quite some time. Namely feminist applications of trollish rhetoric. inb4 that’s not possible, trolling is antithetical to feminism!! All trolls do is make rape jokes and ruin lives! To which I say bitch please, nothing kneecaps a chauvinist or low-level pervert, either irl or online, like a swift troll to the nuts. Yes it’s important to keep our girls safe blah blah. But we should also teach them how to play, because the alternative –”protecting” them via the reinscription of their weakness, their vulnerability, their apparently essential girlishness– is worse. Not that there isn’t some truly scary shit out there. But there’s also a lot of shit that’s made to seem much scarier than it actually is. And frankly it grosses me out to think that we’re cashing in our Crytime Fear Cards on something that’s barely worth a few choice swears.