One of the Greatest Things

July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

…Is this video of Joaquin Phoenix’s super serious forehead flipped upside to look like a monster’s smiling face. Just trust me.


The High Tragedy of a Thwarted Chatwatch Viewing Party of Flowers in the Attic

January 20, 2014 § 3 Comments

I was so excited to hear that Lifetime, the great fuckery purveyor of our time, was going to air a remake of the supercamp classic Flowers in the Attic (not convinced? watch this video). Plot summary: Woman marries her uncle and gets disowned by her crazy wealthy, crazy religious and generally just crazy parents. Seventeen years and four incest babies later, her husband-uncle gets killt and suddenly the family has no money, and desperate times etc. So the woman decides to return to her parents’ million-billion dollar estate (we’re talking some Queen of Versailles shit) and tries to win back her dad’s love before he dies so she can have money again, to support her life’s aspiration of being beautiful, I guess. The dad’s like “sure but only because you never had kids with your uncle, also take your shirt off so I can whip you,” and his daughter is like “….right, and ok,” so then she tells her kids, who she was already hiding in the attic because she knew her dad wouldn’t approve, that they have to stay locked in the attic till her dad dies and while the kids are in the attic the oldest boy and girl prove they are their parents’ children, plus drink each other’s blood cuz hungry, and other trials and tribulations that one would expect when incest siblings are locked in an attic together for four years. Over time their mom’s visits become less and less frequent, and at first the kids are worried about her, until they realize she’s getting remarried and planning on leaving them up there forever and WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO?!?

The 2014 version stars Heather Graham as the vain incest mommy, Helen Busrtyn (who I can only imagine signed on for the lulz), Sally Draper as Heather Graham’s oldest daughter, some Zac Effron-looking bro as her oldest son and some other people, who cares. Anyway I’d hoped to chatwatch this art film with Katie, but alas she’d already seen it by the time I asked. So, I decided to ask Nathan, my year and a half-old pitt bull. He said he’d be happy to (i.e. Chris agreed to play along), but then TRAGEDY STRUCK. Despite the fact that it’s streaming on, and should be available for all hatewatchers because democracy, the damn thing is locked behind a cable provider ISPwall (like paywall, but for internet service providers). We don’t have cable –which is no problem 97% of the time– and for some reason no one’s uploaded the file to a streaming site (dunno about torrents, our connection is fine for streaming but too slow for anything properly illegal), meaning my day is officially RUINED.

Hopefully someone will upload a copy after tonight’s encore presentation, but until then, I guess I’m stuck watching a marathon of sexually uncomfortable episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, i.e. every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is what Chris is making me watch today. God this show! So many spitty mouth noises, set against the silent vacuum of space. Dis-gusting.

“I know it will tickle our honoree, as she’s also a rabid man-eating feminist like me!”

January 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

The speech Meryl Streep gave at the National Board of Review awards is great and heartening and fun to read even if you haven’t seen the film for which Emma Thompson was being honored. This is the way that people (especially women) should honor each other, including the part about how you call world-famous racist and sexist assholes out for being exactly what they are — all while being kind and gracious to those who deserve it. Here’s a snippet; full article here.

Some of [Walt Disney’s] associates reported that Walt Disney didn’t really like women. Ward Kimball, who was one of his chief animators, one of the original “Nine Old Men,” creator of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Jiminy Cricket, said of Disney, “He didn’t trust women, or cats.” And there is a piece of received wisdom that says that the most creative people are often odd, or irritating, eccentric, damaged, difficult. That along with enormous creativity comes certain deficits in humanity, or decency. We are familiar with this trope in our business. Mozart, Van Gogh, Tarantino, Eminem … Ezra Pound said, “I have not met anyone worth a damn who was not irascible.” Well, I have — Emma Thompson.

Not only is she not irascible, she’s practically a saint. There’s something so consoling about that old trope, but Emma makes you want to kill yourself because she’s a beautiful artist, she’s a writer, she’s a thinker, she’s a living, acting conscience. Emma considers carefully what the fuck she is putting out into the culture! Emma thinks, “Is this helpful?” Not, “Will it build my brand?” Not, “Will it give me billions?” Not, “Does this express me? Me! Me! My unique and fabulous self, into all eternity, in every universe, for all time!” That’s a phrase from my Disney contract. I’m serious! “Will I get a sequel out of it, or a boat? Or a perfume contract?”

A Scary Happy Story

December 24, 2013 § 5 Comments

Because iChat transcripts are the poetry of our time, and because it’s Christmas Eve, I thought I’d share the below cyber viewing e-party forward slash liveblog. The art film (which is NOT the Jack Frost starring Michael Keaton you guys) is currently streaming on Netflix so if you really want to get interactive you can watch while reading our commentary! omg asynchronous. Ho ho ho everybody!!!
Katie N.
Whitney P.
r u ready????
Katie N.
Whitney P.
i’m just making myself some antifreeze
Katie N.
for your oats
paused at 2sec
close enough!
Whitney P.
let’s hit play on the count of 3

Darkplace: The Gods Have Spoken

October 22, 2013 § 4 Comments

Let your conscience be your guide

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love television (and films viewed on television, which also includes computers because it’s 2013 and what do those distinctions even mean anymore), particularly awesomely bad/weird/creepy television. Shows that make you go WAT, if you will. Television is, hands down, my absolute favorite expressive medium; if someone were ever to write an epic poem about my life and legacy, the opening line would most likely read “All she ever wanted to do/was watch television.” At least, it had better.

So when I say that I have a new favorite show (category: lost classic, subcategory: spoof), you know it’s serious. And with that I give you Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, one of the strangest and most glorious television programs in all of Christendom. The premise of the show, which premiered on Britain’s Chanel 4 in 2004, is as follows: Set in the 80s, Darkplace –the eponymous hospital in which the action unfolds– was written, directed and presumably edited by horror writer Garth Marenghi, who opens each episode with a snippet of his own purple prose. (From Episode 5: “Nina’s eyes popped out of what was left of her back. Why oh why had she opened that tomb? The sand turned red. This was because she was bleeding on it. Blood. Ruby red blood. Her blood. Blood. And piss and shit. This was the worst day of her life”; from Episode 6: “He whisked off her shoes and panties in one movement. Wild like an enraged shark, his bulky totem beating a seductive riddle. Mary’s body felt like it was burning, even though the room was properly air conditioned. They tried all the positions: on top, doggie, and normal. Exhausted, they collapsed onto the recently-extended sofabed. Then, a hellbeast ate them.”)

CUE INTRO (starts at 2:14):

According to Marenghi (who is a fictional character, although not according to the title credits), the show was ahead of its time, so much so that Chanel 4 locked away the first season, never to be seen — until now, establishing a fantastically improbable show-within-a-show frame in which Marenghi and his publisher Dean Learner provide present-day commentary on their roles as Dr. Rick Dagless (Marenghi; played by the real life Matthew Holness) and Thornton Reed (Learner; played by the real life Richard Ayoade). The entire series is, in a word, bonkers, and relies on horrendous writing, acting, and production values, including an absolutely pitch-perfect score (complete with Davis Lynchian atmospheric pads) to capture the melodramatic excesses of shitty early-mid 80s and very early 90s television. It is perfect, and has my highest possible recommendation.

Of course, the show isn’t for everyone — and not just because it’s weird as hell. It’s also a winking (if somewhat antagonistic) love letter to a very particular style of television at a particular moment in history. Nearly all the jokes hinge, or at least gesture towards, television done badly. Without understanding –or more importantly, having an opinion about– the components of “good” television (characterized by a specific, historically contingent understanding of what constitutes good writing and acting, proper lighting and sound engineering, and general production values), a person would be unlikely to derive much amusement from the constant, deliberate, and actually quite masterful failures of Darkplace (this show was clearly made by people who know their craft). Rather, they’d likely just see a poorly-made tv show, which in itself isn’t funny. The only people who have any reason to find these sorts of failures funny are the people who know and care about the rules of television so much that their subversion takes on the mantle of joke. I wrote about this phenomenon in my kuso article, and will be revisiting the issue in the below panel proposal for this year’s International Communication Association (ICA) meeting (the conference where I presented this talk in 2012):

This talk will examine ambiguous fan engagement with media content that is, as the saying goes, “so bad it’s good.” Although these behaviors may appear to subvert the hegemonic meaning of a particular text by imposing some new or wholly unintended meaning (Hall 1973), they ultimately adhere to larger and more pervasive cultural conventions, putting a conservative spin on an ostensibly subversive cultural practice. The talk will focus specifically on enthusiastic online engagement with broken memes (that is, variations of a popular meme that get all the details laughably wrong) and the online obsession with failure generally, which worships at the altar of ineptitude and technological incompetence. It will conclude by arguing that appreciation for and engagement with “bad” content is predicated on a high degree of cultural literacy, which itself can only be accomplished via educational and technological access. Put simply, ambiguous engagement with content that is “so bad it’s good” is actually, and ultimately, an expression of privilege.

I’m not sure how or if I’ll be addressing Darkplace in my talk — but will definitely be revisiting the subject in the months to come, as I thrash around to find my next big research project. In conclusion, son of a bitch (I tried cueing it up but YouTube is being annoying; see 3:01):

Gone Archivin’

October 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

compudance cool guy

Way back in the forever ago (last year), I used to write some things for Modern Primate, may it rest in peace. It occurred to me that someday the site will likely be recycled for scrap metal, or whatever ends up happening to decommissioned websites, so I’d best start archiving.

This realization coincided with an earlier realization that I have done a horrible job indexing this blog, due largely to the fact that the whole thing started out as a haphazard repository for snarky PhD exam commentary. I had been tagging certain things as “Digital Culture,” for example, but only in relation to my digital culture exam list. All the actual “digital culture” posts, you know, the ones in which I talk about things on and around the internet, got filed under “Spotlight On” or “Lightning Round,” tags I eventually deleted because they were annoying (which didn’t delete the posts, but rather how they’re indexed onsite). This has made searching for stuff very difficult, which is silly if the whole point of a blog is to write things that other humans can find.

Anyway, in order to kill two birds with one post, I’ve transferred the full text of all my Modern Primate writings to their corresponding posts here. And then because I was already doing that, I figured I might as well collate them all in a separate, more easily navigable MEGApost. No one cares! So without further ado:

On Television:

Of and Related to Dogs:

Internet Culture:

Santorum Slashfic, which got increasingly weird as the months wore on:

Mulder and Scully’s Squee-Inducing AMA

October 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

Screen shot 2012-11-20 at 9.53.52 AM

Twoish days ago (who can keep track anymore), Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny did an extremely cute AMA in which they talked, among other things, about the possibility of a third X-Files movie. Yes please! Scully also gave the greatest, most disturbing answer in the history of television, in response to a question about her favorite Monster of the Week. (Tooms = Doug Hutchison = Courtney Stodden’s husband = HOTEL ROOM BIRTHDAY PRESENT WHAT = could have been you, Scullay)

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