This blog has recently only stuttered back into life to give voice to issues that bother me on a fairly personal and intellectual level, like my failure to understand the extent to which Timecop is inferior to Terminator 2 until recently.* It’s been coming dangerously close to talking about politics though, and I told myself I wouldn’t do that with this blog. This blog is about the apocalypse of culture, apocalyptic culture and cultural apocalypse(s)eses. That’s it. Also sports. I haven’t written about it in a while but I will.
*I always knew Timecop was inferior. I just failed to realize just how inferior it was. I had somehow refused to acknowledge the fact that Timecop actually came out AFTER Terminator 2. To be fair, it is more or less a 1988 film. Then again, the 1990s up until 1995 or so feels like a 1980s hangover anyway. This note is getting out of control. I’ll get back to that point some other time.
So as for Maggie Thatcher, well… let’s just say I wasn’t a huge fan and continue not to be, but I’m a bit sickened by the kneejerk reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. And for younger people, whether you’re extolling her virtues or writing really unpleasant things on twitter about an old woman that just died (oh, you rebel you!) do yourself a favour and read a book. Then read several more. Then form an opinion. Then have considered conversations with people whose opinions you value. Leave twitter alone,* it’s for cat videos and complaining about The Walking Dead.
Boom. Topic introduced.
*I really do wish people would leave twitter alone and that public figures would know when to use it. Steve Martin uses twitter really well; he essentially makes fun of it. Roger Ebert (RIP) was in a gray area for me, but he was good at presenting his personal political opinions. He wasn’t trying to lend any weight to them because he was a “public figure.” I’m sure he didn’t see himself in grandiose terms. But with the Iron Lady passing away finally, it’s striking how many comments on the BBC from public figures were just pulled from twitter. The woman had a huge effect on your country and your political party (whatever that party is), she’s entitled to you getting off your arse and at least E-MAILING a comment to a journalist or issuing a statement in a more conventional way. God. Come on guys. This shit isn’t hard. Just because your advisors are telling you young people do it does not mean it works for everything.
The Walking Dead. I tweeted at the lovely Meredith Borders last night because I just got through with the third season and, being a mindless drone, immediately turned to see what other people thought of it. In this case, I went to Badass Digest’s very cool TV Talk, and started reading through the various reactions to episodes of season three, until… suddenly… well not really suddenly but abruptly for the guy reading through all of them at once… they stopped.
They just stopped. Outrageous, I felt. And so I contacted Meredith demanding an answer. (Note: I’m being facetious. Nobody demands a damn thing from Meredith Borders. Not even her husband. And he rocks intense moustaches.) She cheerily told me that seeing as they were all so sick of the show they felt physically ill watching the damn thing, they had decided to just drop it altogether and move on with their lives. What a dereliction of duty. I was appalled.
Well, I would have been if I thought The Walking Dead was any good. What a weird position to put myself in. I’ve been there before. I’m looking at you, Sarah Connor Chronicles. Looking at you for being shit, but just occasionally not shit enough for me to hold out hope. That’s The Walking Dead in a nutshell. The first season seemed interesting and then became a bunch of episodes of people feeling miserable. The second season was… horrific. Not in the way the show intends to be horrific. Horrific in the sense of visiting a grandparent and realizing you’re going to have to listen to about an hour’s worth of complaints about the Pope just being too damn liberal. I’m not making any political statements on the Pope either way. It’s just not as interesting a conversation as you’d like.
The Space Pope is more controversial within the Space Catholic community than you might reailze.
Dear me, that second season. Honestly, when Sophia finally came out of that barn I actually turned to my wife and asked “why am I supposed to care about this again?” We were watching the episodes one after the other but I had blocked out all of the Sophia storyline. Because the human brain will strive to protect itself from things that will kill it, like really shitty writing.* So, when stuff kind of happened right at the end, we decided we were on board for the third season. There was no evidence beyond that last episode that anything good would happen, mind you. But, you know. Zombies.
*I’m convinced this explains modern pop music. I hate Taylor Swift music, largely because the lyrics are so astonishingly lazy. The music doesn’t really bear thinking about. I don’t think her fans actually hear the lyrics, though. Or half of the production values. It probably sounds like fucking Wagner to thirteen year olds.
This past weekend we finally decided to give it a shot. And… it was really good! For the first few episodes especially, it was great. David Morrissey was an inspired choice to play The Governor. I thought a lot of the show was finally working, including a lot of stuff other people have complained about. Honestly, Morrissey was so good as The Governor that his shift into pure bad guy mode felt like a reveal rather than an unearned change, his descent into lunacy relatively logical. I absolutely love the portrayal of Michonne in this show. The Walking Dead was figuring out the magic secret of writing interesting stories: stuff should happen.
Then, for a few episodes, not a lot happened. They went back to their old tricks. A story that could have been resolved or moved on at the very least was dragged on for a few episodes more. Characters did things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. And the writers went back to that old chestnut “conflict is the essence of drama.” Which, to be fair, it is. However, kitchen sink drama works around kitchen sinks in our present day world where people have to deal with alcoholism and divorce and abuse. I’m not saying that kitchen sink drama in a zombie film/tv show is impossible. I’m saying The Walking Dead failed miserably at it. I mean, really: who gives a shit? About any of these people? I’m sick of them, personally. Seeing boring characters talk to each other about how anguished they feel over their lack of personality (I assume this is why they are anguished) is just not that interesting.
The season picked up again right at the end but now I’m more frustrated than anything else. I have no reason to believe season four will bring anything other than more wife ghosts and looking off to the side in jerky motions while having an argument that doesn’t mean very much and people having arguments over really frustratingly boring things. I mean, Carl is becoming a murderer, and that could be interesting except for the fact that’s it yet another arc that is framed around the mechanic of “OMG can you imagine what would happen to our society if there were zombies, all morality would come into question and we’d be faced with difficult decisions as our belief structures were whittled away by the brutality of killing as a way of life, leading to our next generation being unable to distinguish between killing the undead and the living OMG LOL.”
I mean, for God’s sake guys. We GET it. The zombie genre isn’t new, you know. Kirkman didn’t invent it.* We have a basic grasp of the rules. Intense drama can be done, and done well. Go and play Telltale’s The Walking Dead adventure game. Right now.
*I feel this is a pronounced understatement, to say the least.
There is more drama in this still caption of the video game than in an actual episode of the TV show. Really.
It’s good, right? Like, really good. Could you imagine going back to the TV show after that? Me neither! AND YET I DID. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Ultimately, the Badass crew decided to break out of it, to get out of that particular genre nerd hell of watching something in the hope that it gets good, because we’re better than that damn it. The Marvel films exist. Good Lord of the Rings films exist. Nerds have options now. We need to break free from these unequal relationships with fiction that just isn’t good enough. I need to close the book on this show, because if I turn to my wife halfway through season four and comment on how good the show was the previous season, it’s conceivable that my brain will go into emergency preservation mode and switch me to a solid diet of Jack Johnson and The Big Bang Theory. And I can’t live like that.