I’ve let this concept slide for a while, so it’s time to get back on track. I’m going to try to shift my focus to include more bloggers, small websites, and positions I disagree with from now on.
“Batman and the Problem of Constituent Power” – David Graeber (guest post at De Dicto 10/28/2012)
I’m a fan of David Graeber as a critic of capitalism; as a critic of film and pop culture, however, I’m much more ambivalent. This is his take on The Dark Knight Rises (and superheroes in general) vis-a-vis the Occupy movement. The main problem with the essay is that it starts out with cliched and at times incorrect or overstated claims about the superhero genre. To put it bluntly, Graeber comes across as someone who is not well-read enough in the existing criticism of superheroes to be writing about them. Because of this, I’m guessing this essay will lose (or enrage) most comic fans and critics early on as he seems to be appropriating something without studying it thoroughly, and doing so in order to make a point about one specific film that he could have made without such overgeneralizations. That said, the concluding arguments about how The Dark Knight Rises ends are worth pushing through to the end and considering.
“The Myth of Meritocracy” – Christopher Powell (The Practical Theorist 11/14/2012)
Powell is one of those relatively rare, practicing academics whose public writing is written clearly, with a minimum of jargon, and without arrogance. He often deals with difficult theory but doesn’t try to make concepts harder than they need to be. I’m a big fan of that. In this essay he lays out the structural inequalities that affect student academic success. Upon reading it, the points he makes seem so obvious that you tend to just nod your head like you knew this all along, which you probably did even if you never articulated it clearly.
“Cowardice, Laziness and Irony: How Science Fiction Lost the Future” – Jonathan McCalmont (Ruthless Culture 10/3/2012)
This long essay and its arguments have already circulated widely in science fiction circles, so I’m a bit late to get around to it. The article is very contentious and, among other things, claims that science fiction has strayed too far from its conventions, though this point is not made from a traditional conservative perspective. Part of this argument is that writers are shying away from speculating about the future because the present is changing so fast. I honestly don’t agree with McCalmont’s points much at all (maybe a post on this down the road, especially his wrongheaded take on The Windup Girl), but think it is a worthwhile read for fans and critics of genre fiction.
A great critique of the recent name-and-shame-the-racist-tweeters campaign that went down at Jezebel. If you can’t be bothered to click-through and read Demby’s piece, Chris Menning of Modern Primate’s video take on the whole mess hits on similar points and is funny (and no, I have no idea wtf is up with the hanging toilet paper rolls behind his head):
“Drought Forces Midwest Firm to Ponder Drier Future” – David Mercer (AP via SFGate.com 11/15/2012)
There are several recent articles on the impacts of this year’s drought and the growing understanding that, like monster storms such as Sandy hitting the Northeast U.S., these events are not aberrations but the new normal. This piece focuses on agribusiness giant Archers Daniels Midland’s public response to water shortages and the possibility of water restrictions being placed on big business in the future. The implications of large corporations, especially those to whom we’ve ceded so much control of our food supply, using their clout and money to seize water sources is frightening.
In news I care about only because I’m curious as to what the tipping point stupid move will be where Facebook finally begins to become the next Myspace or Friendster, Facebook has for whatever reason rolled out new “couples pages”:
“You Can’t Opt Out of Facebook’s New ‘Couples’ Pages” – Aisha Harris (Slate 11/15/2012)
I’m sure the stock prices are through the roof with this. And no, I don’t have a facebook account.