Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.
Actually, that's not entirely true: The Oregonian managed to do that, though it aped Lynch pretty slavishly.
Also, in other news, Yellowbrickroad is a good little budget horror movie. It doesn't explain itself entirely, but that's probably the point. Weird Fiction rather liked it.
I made you a garmonbozia but I eated it?
At least they seem to be moving away from QTEs, but people who've played the game tell me the "intuit which direction the game wants you to push the stick" system isn't actually that much better (and if anything is sometimes just weird and arbitrary).
Person that pointed this article in my direction thought this was the bit which drives the knife home and I am inclined to agree:
This constant push and pull between our sense that we are impacting the story and the story itself has always been at the heart of everything David Cage has created, but it’s examples like these that highlight just how passive Beyond made me feel. There are, of course, choices: on Quantic’s whim, you can choose how Jodie responds in conversation, whether she’ll dance at a party or not, or take revenge on someone who has wronged her. But unlike the critical decisions you make in Heavy Rain, Beyond’s choices feel small, and the story will storm onward no matter how they are played out, never pausing to toss you a crunchy moral quandary to change its direction in any way that feels significant. It’s disappointingly unadaptable.
I can illustrate this by comparing two scenarios. In one, Jodie is preparing for a date: you have the ability to choose her outfit, what she’ll cook for dinner, if she cleans up her apartment or not, and so on. How she completes these tasks will affect the outcome of the date. In another, Jodie is instructed to kill a man. You have no choice in this.
Also they have some really good looking collections of queer SFF short fiction + SFF short fiction by Asian and African and Caribbean writers.
(found via Tori Truslow)
As for Moffat, I think in his case it's more like even a blind chicken finding a grain sometimes.
I think that's a bit too harsh. Sure, his ideas might not be original, but many of them are still good ideas, and often does a better-than-decent job of executing them. (Though admittedly, his batting average has slipped considerably since he took over as frontrunner.) Sure, many of his stories have massive problems even setting aside his social justice issues, but many of them still stand out among the best in their respective seasons. If he can do that despite weak characterization and incompetent continuity, I have to figure he's got some measure of talent. (And I'm not even counting the dialogue, which seems to be good pretty much across the board.)
I think it's both fair and unfair to say he sucks at arc-plots, because his arc-plot stuff is mostly bad (in the same way, I would argue, that it was bad under Davies), but he sometimes does something competent with them, and occasionally something which I find genuinely cool and interesting.
Then again, Series 1 is my least favorite season (I think even after the mess that was Series 6), and I'm inclined to apply the same blind chicken analogy to Russell T Davies, so I suspect our views on this point may be irreconcilable.
By the way, the actual script editor to get all those S1 scripts to a filmable level and into a cohesive whole was Helen Raynor.
Oh really? Huh. She also wrote that astonishingly bad two-parter in the third series with the Daleks in 1930s Manhattan. And also the pretty-okay but a bit unimaginative and cliche-ridden Sontaran two-parter in the fourth series.
He started his very brief answer with "If you hadn't said that, I would have had a discussion with you"
God, that's gross; it sounds like he thinks he has some kind of moral high ground there. As well as that attitude that... condescending to discuss it would have been some kind of boon for him to graciously grant, if only you'd bent over backwards more to avoid any kind of implication that he'd done anything wrong and thus avoided hurting his fragile little feelings. I hate this attitude that if you're going to call someone out for something, then you have to start with a million different reassurances that you're sure they're not that kind of person; that you're sure they're really a good, smart, funny, kind person who would never hurt someone on purpose and probably it's just a misunderstanding--no, probably you're just misunderstanding what they meant, or maybe it was an accident somehow, or someone changed what they said to make them look bad--and so on. You can't admit anyone did anything wrong: wrongness just sort of happened, somehow, without anyone (but especially the person you're talking to!) being actually responsible.
I'm sorry you had to deal with that. Hugs?
even a blind chicken finding a grain sometimes. (Sorry, I don't know the equivalent English idiom.)
"Even a broken clock is right twice a day", maybe? I mean, if you think about that one, it seems to have more of a flavor of inevitability and less of chance, but I don't think the inevitability is really... emphasized, there. Not that the chicken idiom is unclear, or less appropriate, I mean--just that if you want a pretty similar one that's common in English, that's probably it.
As for Moffat, I think in his case it's more like even a blind chicken finding a grain sometimes. (Sorry, I don't know the equivalent English idiom.) I don't think he's that great a writer at all. He got lucky with the for him exceptional TEC/TDD being his first and therefore longlasting impression. And okay, "Blink" was at least interesting, though it has feminist problems and only really stands out from the crowd because no other NewWho writer had done anything at all creative with causality logic and simultaneous timelines before. (Similar ideas can be found in 80s/90s mainstream time travel movies, however, so it didn't feel sooo amazingly original to me as people usually make it out to be.) But in general, I feel if you can't write other people's characters in-character or at all (mainly RTD's Companions), fail to give female characters any sense of a deep inner life and instead rely on casting luck to bring your flat one-off characters to life and on repetitivly using the same archetype again and again for your more 'developed' female characters, and you don't even care to keep your own continuity straight, never mind respecting other writers' work, then I just don't think you're a good writer for episodic TV, no matter how snappy your dialogue is. From what I gather from other people's comments, he seems to suck at developing a satisfying series arc plot, as well.
I actually wonder sometimes how much of his scripts under RTD's rule actually was his own original ideas. I mean, I've heard that RTD could be very meddlesome with the other writers, and IIRC at least Robert Shearman complained that the actually filmed version of "Dalek" really doesn't have much in common anymore with his original script. (I've once read what supposedly was the original script online, and if it was the real thing, he's completely right. But it could have been a fake, so I don't know. That script certainly did have quite a bit in common with Shearman's DW comic "The Cruel Sea".) And AKFAIK, RTD specifically asked for Jack to be introduced in TEC, he wasn't Moffat's creation. In The Shooting Scripts (Yes, I'm enough of a NewWho series 1 fan to have imported that heavy tome from the UK.) it also says that the way the Nanogenes work doesn't really make sense because he was forced to cut out a few minutes out of the climax of TDD due to scheduling problems with the night shoots. Lines that were cut before they actually filmed the scenes aren't actually written in the book, so I don't know.
(While I have the book open, Moffat's commentary to those scripts also has these in hindsight rather telling paragraphs:
"The mysterious crashed vessel was once Captain Jack's own ship, time-looped and invisible, having arrived the previous month from the near future. Yes, well, clever in its stupidly complicated way, I suppose. But Chris would've need three extra pages to explain it all, plus a flip chart and a pointer. [...] Anyway, as Phil wept like a grown man about the budget, Russel H Gardner (for decency's sake, I'm conflating the Welsh) guided me towards a simpler story, Julie would keep asking me to change my set descriptions from 'stunningly vast' to 'stunningly compact', and Helen would tactfully suggest that explaining the plot at some point would be a positive, and Russel would enthuse away Welshly, demanding more death and destruction, like Neddy Seagoon in a fit of blood-lust." )
I was refering to the film cutting editor before when I said that some problematic lines didn't make it into the broadcast version. But they're still in the shooting script and probably would have been on the DVD if the BBC hadn't burned all the cut footage. Sadly we also lost a few really good bits from RTD-written episodes that were probably cut for running time. Such as Rose calling Adam out on some mild but typical adolescent male geek sexism/classism, or a bit at the end of "The Parting of the Ways" that made it clear that RTD understood that it wasn't okay for the Doctor to rob Rose of her agency and send her away like a child. By the way, the actual script editor to get all those S1 scripts to a filmable level and into a cohesive whole was Helen Raynor. I shudder to think what the early series would have looked like without her. Well, IMDB says she was also script editor for much of the second series, including "New Earth" which I consider to be one of the most offensive and worst written NewWho episode ever (RTD is far from perfect), so perhaps she didn't have as much positive influence as I thought.
Daniel F: I'd been tossing up throwing some money SFDebris' way for a while
Me too. I've greatly enjoyed his reviews even of stuff I've never seen/have no interest in seeing. I've got a couple of movies and TV episodes I'd quite like to see him take a whack at, once I have the money to sponsor an episode. Now though ... yeeeah, maybe if he cleans up his act. Not that I'm going to hold my breath on that on.
Cheriola: He wasn't actively insulting in his 3-sentence answer and didn't attack me in a sexist way. He was just sulky and refused to acknowledge my experience and arguments
Okay, glad to hear he was, uh, less nasty than he might've been, I guess? Not sure what the right term for that is. Anyway, I know it must have still taken a lot of bravery to put yourself forward like that, and that's shitty to get such a dismissive response, even if he wasn't actively insulting.
at least he can't claim ignorance anymore, even if he really somehow managed to avoid the whole public discussion about abusive stand up comedians and Penny Arcade over the last couple of years.
Yeah. You'd think those last two would be enough on their own.
Re: Asylum of the Daleks
Shoot, I think I missed most if not all of that stuff. Not that it really surprises me.
And yeah, Moffat has at this point driven off two of my three sisters (ages mid teens to early twenties), and the third isn't sufficiently interested in the show anymore to watch it without them. The only person whose interest he's managed to retain to keep watching consistently (despite my many issues with the show) is the sole male sibling. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
this critical analysis of Moffat's recurring problematic patterns as a writer destroyed some of my enjoyment of "The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances", which initially used to be some of my favourite episodes. (Still are, but more for the acting and direction. And the unnamed editor who cut some of the worst lines in the shooting script.)
I'm increasingly of the opinion that there are certain writers (most of them white, straight, and male) who are genuinely brilliant at least some of the time, but who desperately need a script editor to screen their work both for offensive material like sexism, racism, etc., and also for self-indulgent twaddle and general up-themselves-ness (I can't believe I typed that, but I couldn't think of a better way to articulate my meaning). Aaron Sorkin is one such, if the first two seasons of the Newsroom are anything to go by (still haven't seen enough of his earlier work to comment. Steven Moffat is most definitely another. Their work would genuinely sparkle if only someone was around with the clout to cut the most noxious material out of their scripts before shooting started.
I'd been tossing up throwing some money SFDebris' way for a while, since I do still get a kick out of some of his Voyager reviews, but now I think I'm really not going to. Maybe I just avoided the worst.
Ha, now you're making me feel like I haven't wasted my time after all.
(Yes, I am feeling slightly mean and vindictive at the moment, sue me.)
Well, you could wait a while and see if anything comes of my effort. Even if he's just quietly avoiding the rape jokes in the next few months, instead of trying to be a part of the solution by acknowledging the issue sometime in a review (several NewWho episodes treat sexual assault as funny, for example), like I told him would do some good. (I purposefully didn't even mention the option of a public apology, to leave him a graceful way out.) I'd forgive him for reacting touchy and ungrateful to me personally if he'd at least show that the message got through after he gave it some actual thought.
I might understand it more if Sonnenburg received so much mail that he didn't feel he had time, but that "If you hadn't said that, I would have had a discussion with you" comment makes it so much more troublesome.
Well, he answered in little more than an hour, that's how I know he couldn't possibly have already read all the linked articles I gave him. So his mail box can't be that overflowing. And really, how much time could it possibly take to write: "Shit, I never thought about it that way. Sorry about that, and thanks for your collecting those links for me. I will think about it more when I'm not quite this busy."
I was never interested in having a long discussion about this. Like I said, I don't know what there could be to discuss if both parties are decent people, and I made sure to include a link that explicitly listed all the common justifications and an answer to them. Precisely so that I wouldn't have to expend more energy and walk on egg shells for fear of escalating the argument.
Yeah, that kid is quite impressive, isn't she? I wasn't that critically aware until I was in my mid 20s. (You people helped a lot, even though I was just lurking for a very long time.)
And don't worry about not feeling you can be part of the discussion about Moffat's Who. I gave up on his era two episodes in. And not even because of the sexism - that wasn't so apparent at that point yet - but because I felt the plot holes on which the dramatic climax hinged in the "The Beast Below" were so obvious that it was insulting even to the children in the audience, as well as making the Doctor look extremely stupid. (I.e. I could think of at least 5 different, easy ways for the Doctor to help the humans reach their goal after letting the starwhale go free - not in a moment of fridge logic, but while the scene was still running - so his wangsting about having to lobotomise the poor beast was just a big ball of WTFisWrongWithYou?!) Also, the first two episodes recycled a lot of plot elements from Moffat's previous scripts, so that didn't bode well for any fresh new ideas. I had already run out of patience with RTD over the last season or two, but even though my problem with him was more the fact that the Tenth Doctor was written more and more loathsome and terrifying (in ways the writers apparently weren't aware of as bad, which is really frustrating and also real-world-creepy enough to take me out of the show), at least I did feel something about the characters. Eleven and Amy just didn't manage to grab me, and the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. So at first, Moffat just got a maybe unfair "one strike and you're out" attitude from me. But I've been following the reviews, to see if it's worth watching again, and sadly it seems to have gone from mediocre to bad to worse. I still read the critiques, though, because it helps me sharpen my own ability to see the flaws and hopefully avoid them myself. Even if, in hindsight, this critical analysis of Moffat's recurring problematic patterns as a writer destroyed some of my enjoyment of "The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances", which initially used to be some of my favourite episodes. (Still are, but more for the acting and direction. And the unnamed editor who cut some of the worst lines in the shooting script.)
I'd been tossing up throwing some money SFDebris' way for a while, since I do still get a kick out of some of his Voyager reviews, but now I think I'm really not going to. Maybe I just avoided the worst. (I gave up on Torchwood and Moffat-era Who years ago, fortunately. That included watching reviews.)
I'm not sure what else there is to say. I might understand it more if Sonnenburg received so much mail that he didn't feel he had time, but that "If you hadn't said that, I would have had a discussion with you" comment makes it so much more troublesome.
most widely reblogged
That article is really good.
I admit I don't remember picking up on a lot of that stuff on the episode but that's partly because I can't concentrate enough on new Who to unpack a lot of that stuff - it's all terribly loud and shouty and rapid (with the pacing ranging from "very fast" to "really quite incredibly fast") and whenever I try to watch an episode (generally coinciding with Christmas or some other family occasion because my brother is a huuuuge fan of the show) I just feel too old and middle-aged and reactionary to sink my teeth into it.
The end result is a) when I do watch the show my complaints tend to be more basic things like "that doesn't make sense/isn't explained well" or "they have a nice idea there but they're not giving themselves remotely enough time to actually explore it" or "god I wish they wouldn't yell all the time" and b) I worry that I'm just an out of touch fart who's griping about something which isn't actually designed for him anyway. (Though when has that ever stopped me?)
So I think it's useful to have a post like that which shows how someone who's squarely in the show's target audience (seriously, if Doctor Who can't engage 11-year-olds something's awry) ends up losing their confidence in the show because of the issues that holycheeseandcrackers identifies, and it's encouraging to hear that a) 11 year olds are noticing this shit and b) 11 year olds are not going to blindly accept this shit.
Thank you for your kind words. (And everyone else, too.)
And, just in case I've given a false impression: He wasn't actively insulting in his 3-sentence answer and didn't attack me in a sexist way. He was just sulky and refused to acknowledge my experience and arguments, apparently solely because I'd made him uncomfortable by telling him that as a woman I cannot rely on a civil reaction and am necessarily making myself vulnerable to bring this message to him, but that I was hoping for the best despite the terryfing experiences other women had in similar situations.
Anyway, if he got to the part that offended him, he must have read at least my summary arguments (needless mentioning of rape can ruin survivors' enjoyment of your work, if not send them into a spiral of flashbacks and harmful thoughts; and rape jokes make rapists think you're on their side), even if he didn't read the linked articles that explained this in more detail. So at least he can't claim ignorance anymore, even if he really somehow managed to avoid the whole public discussion about abusive stand up comedians and Penny Arcade over the last couple of years.
Yeah, the Pulanski thing is annoying, as are his digs against Councellor Troy, but I don't remember enough about ST:TNG to figure out if that's a mysogynist pet-peeve, or just ham-fisted criticsm of the way these characters were written as sexist stereotypes ('useless damsel' and 'nagging shrew' respectively).
But I guess I should have seen this comming. It takes a very special sort of person not to be able to figure out why a female benefactor would pay him to tear into "The Asylum of the Daleks". I mean, it's not like that episode got some of the most thorough and most widely reblogged feminist analyses of Moffat's whole era... (Those two articles are literally number 3 and 4 if you google "asylum of the daleks sexism", and number 1 is a general tumblr tag and number 2 is a deleted article.) I should have got suspicious when he uncritically agreed with Rory's passive-aggressive emotional blackmail of his wife in that episode, instead of empathising with Amy's trauma.
In fact, I think that review did send me running for a while. But, you know, I'm insomniac and bored, and he's recapping Torchwood: Miracle Day, which spares me from having to sit through the whole overlong mess just to catch up with canon events and decide whether or not to ignore it in my own recreational writing. Besides, if apparently no-one else was calling him out on the rape joke issue, I wanted to give it at least a try and dump the facts of their real life consequences on him, and if he doesn't change after being informed, well, at least I know then that he really doesn't care. I mean, even Spoony, who actively tries to be offensive and as potty-mouthed as possible, and never bothered to criticise sexism as far as I know, recently went "I don't want to be the guy who makes rape jokes" in the middle of a longer RPG rant. (About ten minutes after making a "if you piss off the DM, you'll get fucked in the ass, and you'll get fucked hard" type comment... But he works without a script, so he probably didn't even notice what he was doing in the heat of his rant. And I cut him some slack for being bipolar.) So if even someone like Spoony is now aware enough to at least try to watch what he's saying and to openly tell people that it's something you shouldn't do, I thought the time was overdue to tell the SF Debris guy to act his age and cut it out.
Thank you, Cheriola, though, for making the effort to get through to him in a good cause. I know a little something about social anxiety and conflict-avoidance (and I have several layers of privilege to shield me from some of the worst forms of reprisal), so I can imagine how stressful just making that initial overture must have been for you; and I applaud you for stepping so far outside your comfort zone.
I'm sorry I can't be there to give you a hug in person, I can well imagine that you'd need it (I know I would.)
I always rather enjoyed Chuck Sonnenburg's videos [...] I had Sonnenburg pegged as someone who would understand this.
Yes, that's what I was thinking, too, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. It's like, if you can stop cringing at the ableist slurs, his reviews are usually enjoyable. But once or twice every month, there's something upsetting like a offhand rape joke. I thought, "He can't possibly be doing this out of maliciousness and if he could just stop doing that, the reviews would be so much safer to watch for everyone." In his videos he seems to care about not saying anthing obviously sexist or mysogynist, even if he's a bit hit-and-miss and wouldn't recognise intersectionality if you underlined it three times in red. So how can he have this massive blind spot on such an obvious matter?
I mean, even if I had given him the expletive-peppered tongue-lashing he deserved (The worst I did was call him lazy for not thinking things through and not educating himself. Because that's the most benign explanation I can come up with, and I wanted to give him at least a small taste of how this kind of writing makes you look.), how can you have priorities so skewed that taking offense at somebody's tone would be more important than realising that making prison rape references for comedic purposes (like in the latest X-Files video, though it's hardly been the first time - I've been waiting for him to cut it out for about a year) is a shitty and harmful thing to do? He started his very brief answer with "If you hadn't said that, I would have had a discussion with you" ...How can there even be a discussion about this? What possible argument could you have in favour of making rape jokes, especially one that is more valid in his mind than "you're triggering people and contribute to rape culture". I just... I could understand grudgingly admitting to not knowing any better but not wanting to apologise, because it's hard to face up to having done something hurtful. But this kind of cognitive dissonance? I don't get it. It's not like he's actively trying to be offensive, or lacks the intelligence to follow the argument when it's spelled out for him. It's beyond disappointing or enraging, and instead on some whole new level of alienating and despair-inducing.
Sorry to hear about your email exchange with him, Cheriola. :(
I don't know. I'm just very sad to hear that. Especially since the subject is rape jokes. It's not as if it's a very complex, difficult-to-understand issue. This is basic human decency, isn't it? I had Sonnenburg pegged as someone who would understand this.
*sigh* I'm really sorry that happened.