Friday, March 17, 2006

Update 2: GOP Senators Introduce Eavesdropping Bill -

The bill would give the government up to 45 days to monitor calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists when one party is in the U.S. and the other is overseas. Like Bush's existing program, the government would not have to get court approval. After 45 days, federal officials would have to stop the eavesdropping, get a court warrant or explain to House and Senate intelligence subcommittees why the monitoring must continue.

Remember when America had a Constitution? And a Bill of Rights? God, those were the days, weren't they? Well, I guess privacy isn't really all that important when placed next to the government's need to control every facet of your existence. Keep swinging farther to the right, America. It'll make it easier for terrorist organizations to recruit. Hey, have you invaded Iran yet? What's the hold-up?

Monday, March 13, 2006

ESA Says, Vote for Video Games - Shacknews

As you have probably noticed, the legal and political climate surrounding video games and the video game industry is becoming absolutely stifling. The number of laws being proposed or passed on a daily basis relating in some way to the restriction or regulation of games continues to grow. Of course, most of them are struck down by the courts, but the fact that politicians feel compelled to keep proposing them, and elected officials continue to pass them at the senate and house levels, indicates that the general sentiment about games is not a good one. When politicians are unable to pass laws that restrict game sales or content, they obtain funding for surveys that will potentially allow them to do so. At this rate, don't be surprised if some of these attempts end up sticking.

The power structure has been waging war on youth culture for as long as youth culture has existed. If it wasn't rock and roll or long hair or tattoos, it was rap lyrics and heavy metal and video games. We fear what we do not understand, and of course authority figures have never understood young people, despite attempts by public figures like Bill Clinton to look 'cool'. Hell, I have a teenage stepson, and I don't understand him most of the time. The paradox is that a serious percentage of the North American economy revolves around youth culture. Movies, music, games, television, comics, clothes - every player in these industries would tell you that without the under-25 set buying their shit, they'd be fucked. The weekly box office is driven by teenagers - older people wait for the DVD. Who's buying those albums listed on Billboard's Top 100? Are there a lot of middle-aged Eminem fans?

The economy relies more heavily on youth culture than any single industry because they have the most disposable income. You know, the money they should be saving for college. So while those in power rail against the evils of video games and rock music and rappers and morally-depraved movies, what they are really doing is making them cool, because nothing attracts teenagers faster than the idea that old people don't like something they like. The youth culture industries know this and subtly encourage politicians to keep up the 'good' work.

The thing to keep in mind is that this war on youth is all about control (just like the Matrix movies, if you were paying attention). Let's turn the debate towards violence in video games so you aren't paying attention to what's happening in Iraq. The Man is controlling you by keeping your attention focused on the stuff they already control. They don't actually want young people to stop buying games and listening to music. But there is a wild card in all this, a new card added to the game that has everybody nervous. The internet. The government and the corporations are desperate to find ways to control the internet, but its very nature makes it virtually impossible. The Man can't stop you from reading a blog from a native Iraqi. The Man can't stop you from getting your news from alternative sources. The Man can't stop you from talking about the things that interest you. Oh, but they're trying. Teenage bloggers getting suspensions for writing nasty things about their school. Internet providers talking about surcharge schemes to freeze out 'unimportant' network traffic. The DMCA, which grants incredible rights to copyright holders, while stomping all over consumer rights.

So when you read about another politician ranting about violence in video games, or sex on television, or the lyrics in a rap song, remember: it's really an attack on youth culture. An attack on freedom.

Monday, March 06, 2006

So Crash wins for Best Picture, and that's fine, but let's be real - this was a weak year for movies. Check out this list of films from 1994:

The Shawshank Redemption
Pulp Fiction
Forrest Gump
Ed Wood
Heavenly Creatures
Hoop Dreams
The Lion King
Quiz Show
The Madness of King George
The Mask
The Crow

1994 might just have been the best year for movies in the last half-century. I saw Crash, and it would have been lucky to make the bottom of that list. I'd take just about any of those movies over Crash or Brokeback Mountain. Forrest Gump won Best Picture for 1994, but I think in hindsight you'd agree that it's really a fight between Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption, and that's a tough call. Pulp had the greater influence on the industry and the art of filmmaking, but Shawshank had Morgan Freeman and the always awesome Clancy Brown. Damn, I can't pick. Call it a tie. Crash couldn't hold either movie's nutsack, though.

In fact, the 90's were probably the best decade for movies ever. Along with the list I quoted above, we got some amazing movies: Schindler's List, The Usual Suspects, Seven, Heat, Toy Story, L.A. Confidential, The Matrix, Fargo, Goodfellas, The Silence of the Lambs, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs, Saving Private Ryan, Terminator 2, Unforgiven, Boogie Nights, Trainspotting, The Big Lebowski, JFK. In IMDB's top 250 movies list (voted on by registered IMDB users), 12 of the top 50 movies are from the nineties, the largest percentage from a single decade.

This decade started out strong with the Lord of the Rings movies, but it's got some catching up to do. God, I hope V For Vendetta doesn't suck...