Horror Movies: A Mood, or a Series of Tropes?

Since Scream, there’s been an expectation of a certain level of meta-horror film, a film that turns the tropes upside down. Parodies of the genre have become almost old hat.

Films like Cabin in the Woods and Funny Games are of a piece with this idea, that the “genre is dead” and that deconstruction is necessary and possible, that we can talk our way out of this.

Nope. The essential message of Cabin in the Woods is that we enjoy visiting false visions of terror onto ourselves, in order to stave off the real thing. And while it’s useful to ruminate on why that happens, ultimately it defies explanation.

For example, I recently put Wolfcop into my Netflix list. I don’t remember doing that, and when I spotted it there when flipping through the list with my wife one evening when the kids were in bed. We both vigorously denied having put it in the list before deciding to watch it.

It was precisely what we expected: a rather silly, but competently shot B-movie. We both enjoyed it. And while the script had a couple of MST3K-level moments (wife: “Apparently everything happens in the local honky-tonk at 10:30 in the morning.”), we were more impressed with the visual mood the film created when it was moving from plot point to plot point. What it lacked in script it made up in cinematography and mood.

A sense of doom and foreboding is not something civilization loses. Horror is a means of dealing with it. It will always have an audience, no matter how earnestly nerds intone otherwise.

Nigeria Army Rescues 200 Girls and 93 women from Boko Haram

Andrew:

Unexpected good news is the best kind….

Originally posted on American Infidels:

By Ben Ariel
Soldiers from multinational force fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria
Soldiers from multinational force fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria’s army has rescued 200 girls and 93 women during a military operation to wrest back the Sambisa Forest from the Boko Haram Islamist terrorist group, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

“Troops this afternoon rescued 200 girls and 93 women from Sambisa Forest. We cannot confirm if the Chibok girls are in this group,” the army said on Tuesday, adding Nigerian troops had also destroyed three camps run by the terrorists there.

Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls near the northern village of Chibok in April 2014, causing an international outcry.

Diplomats and intelligence officials say they believed at least some of the girls were being held in the forest about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Chibok, although U.S. reconnaissance drones failed to find them.

Nigerian forces backed by warplanes invaded the vast former colonial…

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The Game of Thrones Celebration Post de Jeur

It’s such fun as a cord-cutter, having HBONow, watching GoT like a real show, instead of bingeing it a year later.

It’s also sort of fun as a book-reader, now that small divergences are leading to major divergences. Pretty much all of Brienne and Podrick’s current arc did not happen in the books, and this is largely due to a certain character no longer being present. Jaime and Bronn’s current show arc didn’t happen in the books. Sansa and Littlefinger’s arc may bear some rough estimate to what happens in TWOW, but I’ll have to wait until next year to know. I’ve stopped minding this and decided to enjoy the surprise of it.

So we’ve got stuff from the fourth book and stuff from the fifth book, which are supposed to run concurrently, getting possibly overtaken by stuff from the sixth book, which isn’t published yet.

allrightythen

It’s also fun to completely nerd out with deep, New Criticism-level readings of the existing books. If you’re the sort of person who’s ever thought the words “Game of Thrones? You Mean ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’?” then you should definitely check out A Winterfell Huis Clos, which analyzes the Winterfell scenes from A Dance With Dragons.  Just be prepared to hand in your nerd card, because this guy has out-nerded us all. The layers of meaning and the significance of minor characters we don’t even recall will Keanu your mind.

An Open Letter to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Computer

Dear Mr. Cook,

We’re an Apple family. My wife and I have been using Macs exclusively for years (saving the Dell laptop I have from work). We use iPhones. We even have a Time Machine. We’ve all but decided to swap out our old Roku for an Apple TV. We’re not techies; neither of us could tell you how Apple works versus how PC’s work. It’s all wizardry as far as we’re concerned. Our preferance for Macs is probably an aesthetic thing. We just like them.

However, your recent op-ed in the Washington Post has made me wonder if I should start figuring Linux out.

This isn’t about me disagreeing with you. Unlike many on the left, I don’t screen my brands for political correctness. You’re allowed to have whatever opinion you want on Indiana’s RFRA law.

But this, this is a problem:

What is this? This the largest retailer of Apple Products in Saudi Arabia. It’s located at the Mall of Arabia in Jeddah.

Are you, Mr. Cook, aware of what they do to gay people in Saudi Arabia?

How many executions in Saudi Arabia do you suppose have been recorded on an iPhone? Do you ever wonder about things like that?

Or take the United Arab Emirates, a country you visited less than six months ago, in order to open up markets to your product. Did you know that they still punish homosexual acts with imprisonment, fines, chemical castration, and even death?

If you know these things, do you care?

If you do care, do you just not care enough to forgo the potential profits?

And with all of that unanswered, just how seriously am I supposed to take your opposition to a law that has never once, the 28 states that have similar laws, been used to deny services to a gay person?

Because I’m rapidly approaching the conclusion that your opposition is but a nexus of bandwagon-jumping and empty posturing. I’m considering the notion that you like to stand up for your political ideals when its convenient and risk-free. Harder to meet with the Sheikh of Dubai when you got a fatwa hangin’ on your head, huh?

Hypocrisy is an easy charge to bring. We are all of us guilty of not following our principles perfectly in every instance. But to meet with a head of a goverment that castrates gays in December, and to issue a cri de couer against a state religious freedom law, that could be used to discriminate against gays, the following March constitutes a level of hypocrisy that fairly begs to be called out.

Thus, Mr. Cook, your moral preening on this issue is repellent. Your self-righteousness is nauseating. And I would kindly ask that if you are prepared to leave your politics at the door when doing business in sharia states, perhaps you will be good enough to do the same to your fellow countrymen.

Otherwise, Mr. Cook, I may just decide to replace my MacMini with a System76 Meerkat, my iPhone with a Samsung Galaxy, and to get that Roku 3 instead. If Mozilla can be purged, so can my house.

Yours,

Andrew J. Patrick

Hillary-Clinton-Crazy-Face

In Which I Say All the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say About Hillary Clinton

Thanks to the Daily Caller for sparing me the trouble of reading the Super-HRC Supporters manifesto of fail.

Is Hillary Clinton polarizing? Always has been. Kind of a no-brainer.

Is Hillary Clinton calculating? I should hope so. Politicans that don’t calculate are failures. What I think this means is “insincere”, so let’s move on to…

Is Hillary Clinton insincere? Again, most politicians are. But Hill seems utterly incapable of establishing any kind of real sincerity. She reminds me of no one so much as Tracy Flick from Election, except she’s not cute anymore (is that sexist? Would it be all right if I said Bill wasn’t cute anymore either? Because he’s not).

Is Hillary Clinton disingenuous? I fell like we’ve covered this. The answer is yes. She has no firm commitment to principles. She talks like a lefty, when it suits her, but sits comfortably in Wall Street’s pocket. She makes unctuous noises about community but clearly doesn’t care about the little people. This is all a big game to her.

Is Hillary Clinton ambitious? She’s running for president, so I should hope so. Is her ambition the only thing about her that’s real? Maybe. She is the crowned representative of the Ruling Class, and she is here to collect what belongs to her, and that’s that. She is no different from her oily husband.

Is Hillary Clinton inevitable? As far as the Democratic nomination goes, it sure looks like it. Elizabeth Warren isn’t running, and Martin O’Malley doesn’t have the head start that Hill has. As regards the general election, no. No, she is not.

Is Hillary Clinton entitled? She had her own email server while Secretary of State. Government email wasn’t good enough for her. Whether this was done deliberately so that she could conduct secret deals with shady persons is an unanswerable question, but it speaks to just how special a snowflake she thinks she is. Hillary is supposed to get what she wants. When she doesn’t, that means you’re a sexist.

Is Hillary Clinton over-confident? I honestly don’t think so. I think she knows her weakness, hence the determination to silence all talk of them. But in the sense that she feels that This is Her Time, then yeah, maybe.

Is Hillary Clinton secretive? Does a bear defecate in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic? Is Bill Clinton a creep?

Will Hillary Clinton do anything to win? We are talking about the woman who blamed her husband groping an intern on a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, right?

Does Hillary Clinton represent the past? No, the 90’s were just yesterday. Her generation is PEAKING, you guys.

Is Hillary Clinton out of touch? Well let’s see. An upper-middle class white woman who’s spent her entire career as some form of government official or government spouse. Gee, you think?

Anyone else think this effort is going to end up as a footnote example of the Streisand Effect?

As it Turns Out, People In Jail Commit Real Crimes

McArdle on not being stupid about de-incarceration:

We’re hampered by the rampant perception that all we need is to wise up and stop incarcerating people for simply possessing drugs, something many of us feel shouldn’t be a crime at all and certainly shouldn’t merit prison time. At the event I attended, someone who has actually studied the matter closely pointed out what experts know and most journalists apparently don’t: Relatively few people are in prison for simple possession or for other minor crimes. The shock in the room was palpable.

Yup. As it turns out, the U.S. has a violence problem, and that violence problem drives the desire to build prisons, as anyone who was paying attention during the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the three-strikes, mandatory-sentencing laws were put in place, should remember.

So what is to be done?

We have the tools to incarcerate less — maybe not down to western European levels, but much less than we do. Those tools include “swift and certain” programs such as HOPE and 24/7 Sobriety, which use monitoring and small but immediate punishments to reduce the rate of reoffense. They also include GPS ankle monitors, which enable law enforcement to keep offenders off the streets during high-crime hours while still enabling them to be home with their families or commuting to a job.

This has a level of creepiness to it, in a Big Brother/Minority Report kind of way. But it’s still not as bad as prison. And if it works, we should take a shot at it. Otherwise, we should expect more of the same.

whitepeopleproblems

Confess Your Whiteness

When Medieval Inquistion (of the non-Spanish variety) rode into a town beset with heresy, everybody got 30 days to confess without punishment. This was known as the “Term of Grace”. Anyone who came in out of the cold during those 30 days and admitted their heresy was considered saved through the mercy of the Church. Anyone who didn’t was suspect.

Witchcraft trials worked the same way. So too did Stalin show trials and Mao’s Cultural Revolution. And so does the endless folderol about “White Privelege”. Here’s John McWhorter, calling the whole parade into question in the Daily Beast:

In a society where racism is treated as morally equivalent to pedophilia, what whites are seeking is the sweet relief of moral absolution. Inside they are pleading, “Please don’t hate me!” And I wouldn’t be surprised if there is an accompanying feeling of purification (redemption, even) that comes with such consultant-given absolution. I can honestly say that I would be engaging in exactly this kind of moral self-flagellation about racism if I were white in today’s America.

However, not being white, I can’t help but see it from a different perspective.

The question he goes on to ask, “cui bono?” And the answer is, “Not blacks.”

When your people have been enslaved for centuries followed by another century of lynching, Jim Crow, and worse, the racial ego suffers. A suffering ego is ripe for using the status of the Noble Victim as a crutch; you gain a sense of worth in being a survivor of the evil one’s depredations. The Noble Victim is in control—of the conversation, as it were, of the parameters of moral judgment.

The Noble Victim, most certainly, matters. He is, in a sense, whole. But meanwhile, no one gets a job; no one gets fed; little tangible progress is actually made. The Struggle, as it used to be called, sits on hold.

Which is why I’ve become perfectly fine with being the wrong kind of white person, the kind who “just doesn’t get it.” You’re right. I don’t get it. When I think about race in America, and about blacks in particular, I am reminded, on this feast day of St. Patrick, of my own ancestors, who populated the “inner cities” of the 19th century and were likewise given to poverty and crime. What’s the difference?

Chiefly, any reasonably functional boyo could walk into a mill or the docks and find a job. Not a great job, not even a job that did much more than keep him in corned beef and whiskey. But a job. His life had purpose and function. He could be a husband and father, if he had the sands for it. And over the generations, his peoples built up the wherewithal for a better life.

Today, those jobs are gone. A young black man who gets a diploma from Baltimore City Public Schools can’t just walk down to the harbor and sign on with a firm. Or at least, not enough of them can to prevent the rest from falling into despair. And despite a mountain of good intentions, despite continuous Crusades on Poverty, despite endless Inquisition into our horrid horrid Privelege, white people have been unable to redeem this situation.

Because in order to do that, we’d have to stop talking about ourselves.

Further Reading: