Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Future Man is ... Smarter Than Stranger Things

So the marketing got me. After having the commercial preroll ads over and over and over on various Youtube videos I gave in and watched Future Man which looked like nothing more than a 13 episode  College Humor sketch poking fun at 80s movies and time travel rules.

And it is that.

But it also comments on those 80's movies. And I can't help but contrast it Stranger Things.

Look I love Stranger Things. It's basically the best 80's sci-fi show not made in the 80s which is what it's trying to be but after awhile I can't help but feel it's a bit hollow. It's not the 80s. We have roughly 30 years of hindsight.  30 years of contemplation of what the decade, it's events and culture all of it meant in the broader stroke of human history.

Stranger Things tries so hard to be of the 80's that it kind of stops being about the 80s. Future Man is about the 80's or at least 80's pop culture.

The plot is (in movie terms) what if Kyle Reese and T2 Sarah Conner used Starfighter to find T1 Sarah Conner.

At first the show runs on the metajoke of inserting "reality" into these movies.  Playing a video game does not equate to growing up and training in bad future #682: Cyberpunk.

But that metajoke slowly turns the characters from one note knockoffs designed to poke fun at how silly those movies were to actual human beings as they respond to the fact that they are not actually in an 80's sci-fi movie or at least not a world running on 80's science fiction rules.

And in that space the show can and does actually comment on the culture of the 80's in ways I didn't expect from it. That's not to say it's a grand intellectual exercise. At it's heart it's still a Seth Rogan comedy working with Youtube production values but given what it is it made me think.

All pop culture is culture. All of those movies, books, tv shows, songs, video games, and music videos originate in the minds of people grounded in the surroundings of their world. And as such all of that pop culture can't help but to a certain extent reflect that world even if it set out to.

That's the interesting thing about a lot of 80's pop culture.  The zeitgeist of the moment was an exhaustion of the overt politics of the 1960's and early 70's, the pop culture of which was often trying to be overtly political. But a lot of mainstream by the 80's was trying to run as far away as it could from any topic that could be overtly read as political.  That's not to say there weren't political movies or even political sci-fi but just that those generally weren't the blockbusters the industry was banking on and supporting. Even the original Terminator was a relatively low budget feature with $6.4 million.

A lot of the 80's movies we remember aren't exactly the ones that people were going to see. Film geeks tout 1982 as the best year in genre film history and sure a lot of those movies make the highest grossing but Tootsie beat out everything but E.T.

My point is now we look at all of the stuff that was going on under the surface but that's just not where your typical denizen of the time was and the media of the age reflected that. There is a dissonance between the reality of the 80's and the version of it we have in our heads, between history and nostalgia.

Stranger Things and Future Man aren't made for people living in the 80s but people living in the late 2010s who have experienced either via memory or media the remnants of the decade.  Future Man acknowledges it while Stranger Things doesn't. And honestly, it makes me kind of like Future Man a little bit more.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fraternization Is Always a Bad Idea

Okay so for "reasons" (I want to be clear Stephen Henderson is still a personal hero of mine. And even now represents the guy I want to be in 10 years, but he's fallen a few rungs off the pedestal. And I'm still working my way through Tavis Smiley. Well at least it is not a bad as that time when I got into a Twitter fight with Adam Baldwin. And yes that actually did happen. Notice how I never changed my website's tagline.)  it's become relevant to discuss the nuances between sexual harassment and workplace romance.


But before I even wade into those waters I feel the need to admit, I don't date. I'm not a particularly social person, at my age it's hard to meet new people anyway and I've had one and only one quasi-romantic relationship ... in which I didn't take it seriously and acted like a complete and total jackass. The slow realization of that has pretty much permanently turned me off of romance though I can't  bring myself to quit Disney. Let's just say I have regrets. (Southpark's Heidi arc hurts.)

That having being said:

Don't hit on women while they're working. There is some wiggle room after hours but still, it's generally a bad idea regardless of if you are a coworker or a client.  It's pretty common knowledge for folks under about 35 but older folks don't seem to get it and it's kind of my thing to explain things.

Part of the social contract of working means being pleasant.  Everybody and I mean everybody has stories of putting up with stuff at work that they otherwise wouldn't because they were getting paid for it.

It's really easy for people to take advantage of that even if they don't mean to. Screw everything else what separates the boys from the men is realizing when that's what's going on and adjusting behavior to it. Recognizing when people are being nice primarily because they are in a social situation where they can't afford not to be and trying not to that make that scenario any more awkward than it has to be.


Kids be nice to your teachers.

Hitting on women while they're working is a pretty big example of doing the opposite of that. And even after hours, it requires an awareness of both parties of segregating roles that is hard to pull off in the best of situations let alone when there is some sort of power differential. My view is that workplace fraternization is ALWAYS a bad idea.

But then again look where this is coming from. 

P.S.  Money advice is pretty much in the same boat as dating advice. I've got ideas but I'm in such a bad place that I have to have a disclaimer on everything I say. Welcome to my midlife crisis which oddly enough butts right up against my quarter-life crisis.


When the hell does "life" actually start?

Oh and Living Single was better than Friends.

Monday, December 11, 2017

GOP Stop Being the Flight 93 Party

Okay, I hate the tax bill. That's known. And EVERYBODY has pretty much explained why it's bad better than I could. Let's be honest. If I were to go into a point by point breakdown on why it sucks I would be essentially be cribbing from other sources.

But I can't shake what's on my mind and writing helps me calm down so I can focus my brain space on other stuff so let's go.

First thing is first. Everybody hates the tax bill. Even republicans kind of hate it. The last few weeks have essentially been an exercise in watching the Republicans both in the tax bill and in other cases do mental gymnastics to justify the actions they're taking.

So why?

Well, they've said why publicly multiple times.

In the age of Obama the campaign promise of the Republicans was that if they were in power they could do things better. Beyond all the ... "other stuff" that was the pitch. "We know you all hate Obamacare, the regulatory state, and all that other stuff and if we were in power we'd get rid of all that stuff"

I would argue Trump has been more successful than people think and infiltrating the executive branch with poison pill appointees, and the judiciary is going to be red for decades,  but legislatively, Congress just hasn't passed the laws they promised the Republicans. Let me be clear at least for the next few weeks that's a win for me since I HATED all the stuff they said they would do.

But still, Republicans, in particular, have a veneration for Congress as the branch that actually gets things done and if they can't when they are in power then why does the party even exist?

A lot of the Republicans in Congress view this as the last best chance to justify the GOP's existence before it fades into obscurity. Let's be honest almost every shady thing the party has done over the last ten years has been a result of this fear. The obstructionism over Obama,  the moral relativism of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, and now the Tax Bill itself.

Now it's more or less the goal of politics to see your ideas and policies put into action and stay relevant but... stop being the "Flight 93" party. It's not a good look.

Despite previous statements, I made I don't hate republicans in theory. I hate all the stupid shit they've done in the last 18 months, and the party's instinct to double down rather than change course on repugnance.

I may be a hippy liberal, but  I want the GOP to survive as a VIABLE party. I want people who can intelligently and in good faith tell my guys all the reasons they SHOULDN'T try enact the policies I want. Who can make legislation better by articulating the flaws behind liberal ideology.

In short, I want a debate.

And there is a good debate to be had between the parties.

But lately, the Republican Party has been acting so crazy, taking positions that society has already moved past and finds "deplorable" that the debate is moot. Moreover how they are acting makes it seems as if the positions they are taking are logical extreme of the notion of negative liberty which is the cornerstone of the party and American democracy itself.

I NEED somebody who can stand for that without a bag full of crazy, or at least can make the case without feeling the need to lie about the positions they are taking. Which right now isn't the GOP.

They've been so focused on holding on to political power that more and more it seems thier ideas are irrelevant not only to the American people but to themselves. And that's a shame because there is something there that is salvageable when you scrape away all the xenophobia, and lying and racism, and lying and homophobia and lying and social Darwinism, and lying... did I mention the lying yet.

It's the most important part because while the election stands and I'm not going to say, "not my president" it's hard to feel like the GOP won by making an honest pitch about ideology and policy. By saying this is what we believe and this is what we'll do based on those beliefs.  

That tax bill is proof of that. That's why they are doomed to forever be the "Flight 93" party. And this needs to stop.

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