Bri Castellini: It’s Not About Belief – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

I think as liberals, especially liberals who are well-educated about discourse and rhetoric and identity who could be considered the “intellectual elite”, we often get the idea into our heads that if we just won the argument, those who disagree with us will finally come around. I can cite endless clips from comedy and straightforward news programs alike where a liberal reporter or correspondent interviews people on the street with simple questions designed to make them think about their preconceived notions differently. Like most viewers of these programs, I held my breath waiting for just one interview subject to notice how absurd they’re being. Spoiler alert: it neverever works. And so we all feel superior and smug and work on new thought experiments to try again. But in watching the endless and yet also far too brief Supreme Court hearings these past few weeks, I remembered that that’s not how it works. It’s not that these powerful men don’t believe Dr. Ford. Even if the FBI investigation had been allowed to run its full course, the decision makers wouldn’t be any more or less convinced. It’s not about belief. They just don’t care.

People who voted for Trump were not unaware of his history, or his hateful rhetoric, or the disgusting way he speaks to and about women. They didn’t care. There are lots of other reasons they voted for him, but it comes down to the fact that they cared about someone with enough boxes checked in favor of their beliefs being in power. And yet during the election liberals pretended that if we could just show those voters what an awful man he was, we could swing them back to reality. But it wasn’t that we just hadn’t showed them the right news clip or the right audio clip or the right densely-cited thesis on all the ways Donald Trump being in power is the most toxic thing we could do to ourselves. They. Don’t. Care.

And that’s terrifying. And makes me, clutching my degrees and my 6 years in competitive public speaking, feel absolutely powerless and unprepared. How do you combat hate if not with logic? How do you convince the hearts and minds of half the voting public that Russia influencing our elections and perpetuating hate crimes at the Mexican border are not “better than having a Democrat in the presidency” without a well reasoned argument?

One of the most interesting and alternatively most upsetting articles I’ve ever read and then kept bookmarked for occasions such as these is the one about Derek Black, a boy raised in white supremacy who over the course of several years was convinced that maybe people of other colors and backgrounds weren’t so bad after all. That article details how a group of Black’s college peers took him under their wing to slowly but surely get him to a place where he wasn’t just convinced that white people weren’t inherently better, but he cared that they weren’t. That’s the interesting part. The upsetting part is that obviously that’s not a replicable strategy for half the voting public. And it’s all well and good to feel like changing one person’s mind is something we should all strive for, that means nothing when half the voting public elected a man who in public stated an alleged child molestor was better for public office than a Democrat.

I don’t have a nuanced take on all this. I don’t have a solution. I do think it’s worth us all recognizing that the better argument doesn’t win. Power does. And I don’t know how to change that. I don’t know how to look someone who doesn’t care about rape culture in the eyes and say anything that will change his (of course it’s a “his”) mind. I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People. I don’t know how to do anything but argue and present arguments and do research and present thought experiments with obvious answers that apparently don’t mean anything.

For whatever it’s worth, the image on this post is one I took when I attended a McCain/Palin rally with a press pass for my High School newspaper. Palin mentioned “Joe The Plumber” 11 more times than she did the economy. What a thing to be nostalgic for.

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Director at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch the remarkable Ms. Castellini’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE. See Sam And Pat Are Depressed HERE. This post first appeared on Bri’s wonderfully refreshing blog.

John Ostrander: The Doctor and the Judge

by John Ostrander

Two big events occurred last weekend: Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge and the first woman to play Doctor Who (Jodie Whitaker) debuted. One event delighted me and the other appalled me. Can you guess which was which?

There is something that connects the two. Bear with me.

I’m a LONG time fan of the British SF show and this weekend the new season debuted on BBC America (and, indeed, around the globe). Lots of new things – new companions, new composer, new showrunner and chief writer (Chris Chibnall) and, most importantly, a new Doctor. Now, for those of you benighted souls who may not be aware, the show has had a very long run because of a very clever concept. The main character, the Doctor, is an alien, and every so often the Doctor’s body regenerates into a wholly new one with a completely different persona and this has kept the show fresh. This time, the Doctor also changed sex and became a woman, played delightfully by Jodie Whittaker.

Capsule review: I was very pleased. The show had mystery, suspense, humor, darkness, death and a sense of freshness. Mr. Chibnall’s script had a different feel than former showrunner Stephen Moffat that was very welcome and Ms. Whitaker makes a wonderful Doctor.

Not everyone will agree. How do I know? Because some fans were opposed from the moment she was announced, some going so far as to say they will never watch it. This is not altogether unusual; every time someone new steps into the TARDIS, a certain percentage of the fans voice their displeasure and/or anger and vow never to watch it again (their loss).

There was an undercurrent, however, to Ms. Whitaker’s selection and sometimes that current was not so under. It came down to her gender. A certain percentage of that certain percentage of fans said that the Doctor couldn’t be a GIRL. Eeeeuuuhhh! 

This despite the fact that the Doctor is an alien, has two hearts, travels in time and space, is about 2000 years old, and regenerates. No, having him become her is just not acceptable.

I won’t say that every fan who opposes Ms. Whitaker as the Doctor is a misogynist. Some are, themselves, women. However, in many of the comments there is a strong streak of misogyny, a streak that runs through male fandom. Again, not all but a significant and vocal group.

That also underlies the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh as a member of SCOTUS. It was on display especially by the GOP during the confirmation hearings for Judge Kavanaugh. There were credible questions about past sexual misconduct raised by several women, principally by Christine Blasey Ford who, in turn endured attacks by the GOP and mocking by President Trump. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska described women who opposed Kavanaugh’s appointment as “hysterical”, a statement that in itself I find somewhat hysterical.

This misogyny extends beyond Dr. Who Fandom and the political arena. There’s the Comicsgate crowd, a group of comics fans and professionals, who are not pleased with the (as they see it) liberal slant of comics and what they perceive as “forced diversity”. A principal leader in the group, Richard Meyer, referred to a female Marvel editor as a “cum dumpster” and claimed that several female professionals in the industry had sucked their way into comics, among other repulsive comments. To call the man a piece of shit demeans shit.

Misogyny is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “hatred of women”. I think it goes beyond that in all three of these cases; I sense a feeling of anger and fear, a part of the far(alt) right’s fear of not only women but all minorities, of gays, of trans people, of anyone who is not THEM. For too many, it’s a zero sum game – the more power you have, the less I have. For me to win, you have to lose. Because if YOU win, I lose, I have less power, I am less. And that is unacceptable.

I’m not anti-conservative. I was raised a conservative, I have many family members and some friends who are conservative, there are traits in myself that I identify as conservative. I see a need for real conservatism to balance out possible liberal excesses (and, my lib brethren, they do exist). What we don’t need is this knee jerk, black and white, FoxTV talking point, zero sum brand of conservatism. Neither liberals or conservatives are all right or all wrong.

Well, some things are all wrong.

The ramming through of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to SCOTUS was wrong and, for a variety of reasons, including the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, he should not have made it to the Highest Court in the land. It disregarded a good woman’s honest testimony and was a slap in the face to all women.

It made my enjoyment of Jodie Whitaker’s debut as The Doctor all the greater. Not simply because a woman is now playing the part; it’s because she is a really good actor, not because of her gender, but because of who she is. She was given the chance and she ran with it. I’m looking forward to that run.

Justice Kavanaugh’s run on the bench? Not so much. Prove me wrong, broh.

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. It’s been awhile since he’s been here, but now John’s back with a new column at a new blog, PopCultureSquad, where this piece first appeared. You can learn more about John and his many masterworks HERE

Bri Castellini: In September, I did nothing – @brisownworld

by Bri Castellini

Been a pretty piss-poor month as far as productivity goes. And that includes no blogging! I’m the worst.

This is a housekeeping blog because I haven’t done a cop out housekeeping blog in a while. Here are all the things I have to do that I’m currently avoiding doing:

  • Editing Sam and Pat Are Depressed season 2
  • Finishing editing Buy In, a short film we shot in January
  • Editing Bri And Chris Are Depressed, a podcast
  • Writing blogs for this website
  • Paying an invoice for a medical expense because they sent me a physical piece of mail, like I’m an OLD PERSON
  • Cleaning my room
  • Cleaning my bathroom
  • Cleaning my whole apartment
  • Grocery shopping
  • Writing new scripts
  • Finishing old scripts
  • Organizing my budget again
  • Planning an upcoming trip
  • Finishing THIS blog (just took an hour break)

And probably more. Talked to my therapist last night about my tendency to only have two phases: so busy I never take a break or sleep or so unbusy I can barely get out of bed. No middle ground. Should probably work on that.

(better blog coming this weekend. Probably)

(read a better one from August here)

Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Director at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. Watch the remarkable Ms. Castellini’s award-winning web series, Brains, HERE. See Sam And Pat Are Depressed HERE. This post first appeared on Bri’s wonderfully refreshing blog.

How ‘Myst’ Changed Everything

“It’s all about the script!” is a commonly repeated refrain when we talk about TV and films, but the truth is that the saying applies to video games as well. Here’s how that came to be:

Myst at 25: How it changed gaming, created addicts, and made enemies
by Benj Edwards

Just a few days ago, as Hurricane Florence approached my home in North Carolina, I popped a disc into my 1990s Atari Jaguar CD gaming console. A familiar animated logo popped onto the screen, and I found myself transported back to a world I knew well decades ago.

It was Myst, the groundbreaking point-and-click adventure game that Brøderbund published in its first incarnation–for the Mac–25 years ago today, on September 24, 1993. I personally happened to have first played Myst on the most obscure platform possible, the Jaguar, but that made it no less of a transformational experience at the time.

In Myst, you explore an ornately detailed island that leads to other vaguely Victorian sci-fi worlds (called ages) created by a character named Atrus. You’re presented with lushly detailed screens—punctuated by animations—depicting the scene around you, and can point and click your way through puzzles that feel woven perfectly into the tapestry of the game. Despite its largely static nature, its groundbreaking pre-rendered visuals (which many people called photorealistic at the time) made Myst feel like the first convincing virtual reality experience, at least in the sense of feeling physically present in a fictional world.

I invited my daughters, aged 6 and 8, to join me in exploring the lush alien world while the rains encircled our house. They took copious illustrated notes and offered suggestions as we played. Despite growing up with much flashier animated graphics, they were still sucked in by the classic world of Myst. As we collaborated over puzzles played out on vintage machinery, my older daughter said, “People back then must have been incredibly creative to make something like this.”

Indeed they were.

The creators of Myst, brothers Rand and Robyn Miller, along with a small team at their Washington state-based firm Cyan, were no strangers to innovation. The company had previously developed the first-ever game released on CD-ROM for a personal computer (in this case, a Macintosh), The Manhole, in 1989. They followed that children’s title with other whimsical point-and-click words crafted in HyperCard, Apple’s Mac-based hypertext environment that presaged the World Wide Web. Creativity came naturally to the Millers, and Myst was the natural next step in the refinement of their art.

Even 25 years later, the emergence of Myst still represents a watershed moment in the development of computer video games. It’s an achievement on par, I think, with the launch of PongSuper Mario Bros., and TetrisMystexpanded the art form, expanded the market, and challenged assumptions. It also made a lot of people happy….

Read it all at Fast Company


Broadcast TV Faces Another Fall Ratings Decline, But They’re Not Giving Up Yet

We’ll say one thing for the out-of-touch and even more out-of-tune executives of broadcast TV. At least they aren’t giving up.

Now if they could only translate their eagerness to please into something more tangible like, oh, how about some better goddamn WRITING!?

by Michael Schneider

The sky is falling for network TV. Then again, the sky has been falling for decades — and yet, the broadcast networks are still here, despite all the gloom-and-doom prognosticators. But the first night of the new fall TV season was met mostly by a yawn from viewers, and will feed another cycle of the-networks-are-dying narratives.

Of course, there’s some truth to that. Just five years ago, NBC led the first night of premiere week (Sept. 23, 2013) with a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49, while ABC was in fourth with a 2.3 rating. This year, NBC led all networks on Monday night — with a 2.1, while fourth-place ABC landed with just a 1.2.

But on the positive front, the four major networks’ total viewer averages combined to 32.3 million on Monday night, up from 31.2 million on the first night of premiere week a year ago. And NBC launched new drama “Manifest” to a solid — hell, for 2018, a tremendous — 2.2 rating and 10.4 million viewers, making it the network’s most-watched drama series premiere in three years. And as has been pointed out, the night’s lowest-rated program, CBS’ “Bull,” still rated higher in the adults 18-49 demo than anything on cable that night (save, of course, ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which trumped all).

Most of the networks’ year-to-year viewership gains on Monday came from Fox’s decision to air the return of two scripted series on night one, “The Resident” and “9-1-1,” instead of last year’s much lower-rated “So You Think You Can Dance” finale. That boosted Fox’s viewership by nearly 4 million viewers vs. the same night last year.

Otherwise, Monday was a story of declines. (Well, except for the networks’ median age — that keeps rising, to over 60 years old). Returning hits like “The Big Bang Theory” (down 39 percent), “The Good Doctor” (down 41 percent), “Young Sheldon” (down 55 percent), “Dancing with the Stars” (down 29 percent), “The Voice” (down 23 percent) and “Bull” (down 31 percent) all slid double-digits vs. last year’s premieres.

Cause for concern? Yes. The steady reality of a business that is already changing its business model? Also, yes….

Read it all at Indie Wire