Tags: television


bronies before honies: fandom is magic

Shit, there's no way to measure it
Not everypony grows up to be a pegasus
You gotta let people be hypocrites
Count your blessin's and mind your business

- Atmosphere, "Like the Rest of Us"

If, twenty years ago, you had told me I would be voluntarily attending a My Little Pony convention, I probably would have run into traffic. Twenty years and two death-defying auto accidents later, here I am, dancing to a techno remix of a song about dressmaking with a bunch of teenagers in homemade unicorn costumes.

This isn't as Lord of the Flies as it sounds. I can explain. Honest.

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Okay: Unlike two thirds of LiveJournal, I'm not a couch potato. I rarely ever watch TV. I've never seen half the shows people on my friendslist squee about, nor do I ever visit any of the ontd communities except to get off on anonymous fangirls screaming with lust over some actor I've never heard of. (Does this make me a pervert? Well, it takes one to know one. Biblically.) If it doesn't give me an excuse to leave the house, and I can't do it in ten minutes during a coding break, I don't have time for it.

But then I saw this trailer by DJ Steve Porter, the same guy who did the Slap Chop rap video:

Hooked. Instantly.

Community. It's a comedy about a study group at a Colorado community college. It's got some of the most original characters I've ever seen, including a Palestinian pop culture expert who is basically TVTropes with feet and an aging anthropology professor (played by Betty White!) whose teaching qualifications are based on her years spent in the South American jungle as Rambo.

And then there's Senor Chang, the Chinese-American Spanish professor. He is the best Asian-American television character ever, despite being completely, absolutely batshit unhinged.

The show, I admit, makes me feel a little better about having finished college yet not actually getting anywhere. (The sight of that cafeteria makes me squirm...)

wait, uncrop. that reflection on the window. zoom. enhance. rotate by 270.

Dear television writers: I know that most of you are from the early 1970s, are not physics or computer imaging experts, and are writing on tourniquet-tight deadlines. But for the love of all that is spiffy how did you get away with this for so long--with teams of tech-savvy camera people, digital editors, lighting folk making it for you, not to mention Wikipedia at your fingertips--for this to become a trope:

CSI is by far the worst offender on contemporary TV for this trope, but it is by no means the first. At least Blade Runner was science fiction:

In an era in which Windows Movie Maker and iMovie ship with most new computers, are audiences really still so naive about image manipulation that they can continue to suspend their disbelief about this bullshit?

the harder they fall

So apparently the financial news media has taken Jim Cramer's interview on The Daily Show like a kick to the balls. America watched, and laughed, and went on with their lives (gathering cardboard boxes, killing rats for dinner, etc.), but the corner of the news industry I inhabit went kind of apeshit. Tina Fey's Sarah Palin impersonation on Saturday Night Live aside, I've never seen furrowed-brow straight-up news types like the Associated Press and CNN show so much interest in a single episode of a cable comedy show. (They don't generally do fluff pieces the way the regional papers do. Who, incidentally, have the hyperbole turned up to LEVEL 9 -MAX-. "Jon Stewart Ices Jim Cramer," bellows Robert Schlesinger from U.S. News and World Report. "Is Jon Stewart The Most Trusted Man In America?" adulates a headline in the New York Times. If you could use the word "pwned" in a major commercial newspaper, you'd be seeing it everywhere right now.) CNBC has responded by advertising the bejeezus out of Cramer's Mad Money 24/7. The newest commercial features footage from that clip of Jon Stewart amicably poking fun at Cramer's "THIS IS ARMAGEDDON!!" meltdown after the subprime crisis, as if to point out that YES EVEN JON STEWART ADMITS CRAMER IS NOT FULL OF SHIT PLEASE LET US HAVE SOME CREDIBILITY PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. (Despite what Wikipedia and The Huffington Post say, a few Google News searches verify that it's still too early to tell what effect the interview had on CNBC's ratings. It's only true that no publicity is bad publicity if your credibility hasn't been dynamited.) CNBC's head honcho Jeff Zucker made some offhand comments about it at some kind of boring media industry meeting, saying that Stewart's comments weren't fair and that it was preposterous to assert that CNBC caused the financial crisis. Way to straw-man, Zucker--Stewart never even implied that. Failing to report an impending disaster isn't the same as causing one!

Editorialists on Wall Street are unamused. But fuck them.

As for the rest of the news media...opinions vary. On one hand you've got The Atlantic hyperbolically comparing Stewart to Edward Murrow, on the other you've got the snivelling douchebag from Crossfire (who Jon Stewart also famously chewed out, btw, leading to Crossfire being cancelled by MSNBC) playing the nitpicking missing-the-forest-for-the-trees apologist. And then way down in the right ring toe you've got the BBC, explaining the event to a British audience which has never seen either The Daily Show or Mad Money, and interviewing their own business editor, Robert Peston, so he can editorialize, inside what is supposed to be news coverage, that the BBC would never resort to the kind of shoddy American news journalism that Stewart criticizes. He also says, somewhat alarmingly: "If Stewart tried to do that over here, I think he'd look like an idiot because I don't think there's evidence for falling down on the job in remotely the same way. I don't think it's possible to do it because the evidence isn't there of a complacent, or self-satisfied, or lazy, or unduly optimistic media." American English translation: "Stewart, if you try that shit on our turf we will fuck you up." Which is quite bold, considering that The Daily Show is merely the American heir to a long and storied legacy of excellent British faux news television, all of which heavily satirize the self-importance of the BBC.

Upon being asked what he thought of the interview, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs simply responded: "I enjoyed it thoroughly."

Was it as good for you, Gibbs, as it was for me?

sh15uya = haruki murakami + kamen rider

Okay. So I'll admit it. I gave in and saw all 13 episodes of the Sh15uya fansub today.

I...I think I'm kind of close to bawling.

At first I thought this would just be another awesomely cheesy modernized tokusatsu show, with the powered jumpsuits and the amusing exaggerated melodrama and the rhythmically choreographed fight scenes. And, well, I was right. But then romance subplots started to sneak in, and it got all crazy allegorical and shit--and by the end there was a genuinely beautiful and compelling story. And not just beautiful and compelling by tokusatsu standards (which, if you grew up watching Power Rangers or Kamen Rider, isn't a hard mark to reach), but some seriously amazing storytelling by any genre standard. Color me impressed--these folk have really raised the bar for how seriously I am willing to take a live-action superhero show. Despite the cheesy low-budget CGI and the bizarre decision to cast a female actress for the male lead, this show manages to succeed in exactly the territory where the Casshern movie failed.

And the magical realism element...oh man. As I've said before, Japanese magical realism is the best kind of magical realism. America? Saddle up--we've got high standards to surpass.

Without giving anything away (because you really don't want to be spoiled for this show), it's also interesting how reminiscent this show is of TWEWY, and not just because both were inspired by real-life Shibuya's myriad subcultures. There's a Neku, a Shiki, a Joshua, a Beat, even a Kitanji and a Mr. Hanekoma...not like those archetypes were original to begin with, but I suppose they speak best to what the average Tokyo screenwriter thinks of when he or she thinks of Shibuya. It's interesting how the same inspiration in the hands of two different creative teams produces two very different stories with a very similar cast of characters.

Not much more I could say about the series without spoiling anything, so I'll close with two observations that should already be obvious to anyone who's seen the show:

1. Ema is fucking badass. (Up yours, Japanese gender tropes!)
2. Mike Musashi, the half-Japanese half-white guy who plays Peace, is the coolest angel of death evar--even when he's speaking nonsense Japanese in a silly American accent. I'm sure he's all scary and Other-ish to Japanese audiences, but to me he's just half-naked Batman.
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