The 90s Disease and The Global Star Wars on Terror

This is the first of two editorials tangential to political things including 9/11, the Global War on Terror, and how much of a cunt George Lucas is.  I have written this particular piece while in a rather spirited mood.  There is offensive content here and its payload has been calibrated to maximize its potential.

I was in a World History class, freshman year of High School when it happened.

This is one class I will not forget, though I don’t know it at the time.  It will teach me far more than I expect.  We are to be taking a short test on some material we recently covered.  I wasn’t worried, my memory always did serve me well in areas like history.  Twenty-five questions, and then a new lesson.  Twenty-five questions on the origins of Islam.  The strange mechanisms of the world already winking at my future self through a multiple-choice pop quiz.

When the television went on I saw the towers burning.  They still stood over New York, then.  At first the world thought “Tragic Accident”.  Then the second plane hits.  At first the news thought the towers couldn’t fall.  Then they did.  We all watched them fall.  We all watched them die.  Many of my classmates had family working in the Pentagon.  DC is very much a company town.  I’d never been to New York.  I knew people there, the internet had permeated my life in a Very Big Way already, and through IRC I knew people who lived and worked there.  My mind was too dumbstruck to register that they might be in danger.

The reactions of the students were telling.  Mine was that of pain and rage.  None of us had known the horrors of the Cold War, the grim sword of damocles that was Mutually Assured Destruction was foreign to us.  War was something other people made.  We were observers, all, and none of us knew that our world had just been swapped for some new monstrosity, a warped mirror that reflected all the wrong parts of ourselves.  I knew there would be a war.  I knew whoever had done this would feel the unchained rage of an empire.  I knew we would feel the same rage.  And I knew that rage would always be more dangerous to us than it ever would to our enemies.

There is no image I can think of that is so primal, so repulsive to the very core of one’s humanity, and so mortally terrifying than that of a mushroom cloud.  Nuclear annihilation.  As I said we were the first generation removed from the Cold War.  We didn’t know the same fears.  A mushroom cloud, the modern face of death itself, was now all that I could see.  I saw the towers fall, I saw the fires and deaths, the jumpers, the secondary collapses.  I saw them and I thought “Yes.”  I saw mushroom clouds rising over some foreign land.  I thought that death by nuclear fire would be too kind a fate for those responsible.  For the first and only time in my life I was posessed of a terrible notion: We Must Kill Them All.  No exceptions, no hesitation, no remorse.  The world would never before or again see a more fearsome reprisal.  This would never happen again.  Not while We stood upon the bridge.

Some of the students, however, watched, riveted to their seats.  I realized something awful.  They were actually being entertained by this.  Whether the sheer magnitude of this was too much for their feeble minds to grasp I do not know, I do know that there was more than one person that I previously thought was smart who actually commented on how “cool” this was.  And everyone knew why this was getting people off.  I’d seen such destruction before, we all had.  We all paid for it at the movie theatres in the summers.  We lined up to eat popcorn and watch aliens or asteroids or some Other destroy us, only to be vanquished by the might, ingenuity, and wisdom of Humanity.  The 1990s was the Great American Victory Lap and it showed in all our media.  We’re All So Fucking Great, because we survived the Cold War.  If we could avoid annihilating ourselves, we could truly overcome any obstacle the universe would send our way.  The 1990s are why George W. Bush would later challenge the terrorists to “Bring it on”.  The threat to us in the 1990s seemed to never be human.  We had conquered our demons, we were masters of our domain.  Without nuclear war to worry about we could build fantastic new wonders like the Internet, cure diseases, bring the world together, throw down tyranny and lift humanity into a brighter future.  We were building a space station, we were mapping the cosmos, the whole world seemed to peek its head out into the blinding light from a dark cave, just for a moment.  We thought everything was going to be okay, soon.  What could this new millenium bring other than the triumphant dawn of mankind?  And, admittedly it was understandable, justified even.

Star Wars should have taught us differently.  Episode One, specifically.  At the ass end of the ’90s the most sacred of our pop culture icons was going to return with all the majesty of modern CGI and budgets greater than the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa.  A great big fucking fireworks show to cap our cultural bender.  It didn’t even occur to us that it would be remotely possible for Star Wars to be Bad.  Try and remember that time.   The time when Star Wars was always going to be good.  The time when its only blemishes were written off as a minor misstep by the visionary Lucas.  Its important to remember the time when Star Wars couldn’t possibly be fucked up, even if  spasticated rhesus monkeys suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome, smoking crystal meth wrote the screenplay in the AIDS-infested mongoloid spunk of the aborted baby Jesus.  Star Wars was perfect.  Then, Episode One came out.  It was a fuckfest of legendary proportions, childhoods were retroactively ruined, and the insult would only seem to get worse with time.

Why was Star Wars bad?  Why, when the first film was made at the end of the Vietnam War, and the series improved to its crescendo in the last great arms race under Reagan, why was this new Star Wars, forged over years in the victorious, pre-utopian 90s, so bad?  Well, the problem was that Star Wars was perfect.  Only someone who no one thinks can do wrong would or could fuck up Star Wars that badly.  People around this man should have slapped the shit out of Lucas, the studios should have detonated his script.  And it was the ultimate 90s script, no tremendous conflict, just a small backwater trade dispute, some political maneuvering, you know, easy shit.  Shit that normal humans deal with all the time, nevermind Jedi.  Shit that Yoda should have sorted out in five minutes.  The whole of Industrial Light and Magic blackout drunk with money, and the entire production in a dissociative trance of denial, with no one challenging the fever-dream bullshit spewing from George Lucas.

A New Hope was made in the fucking desert with props that constantly broke, never-before-tried effects techniques, a veritable shoestring budget, and more problems than anyone knew could happen on a movie.  Everyone thought the movie was going to be horrible!  It was the exact opposite of The Phantom Menace in almost every way.  The script was chopped, cut, tightened, until it was lean and unrelenting.  Comedy and drama in balance, the Hero’s Journey updated for the modern era, and most importantly: Good Triumphs Over Evil.  Not an ultimate triumph.  Significant, but ultimately just another battle.  It was exactly what it needed to be in that time, in that place in 1977.  Star Wars made everyone remember “Hey, we’re the good guys.  We can do this!”  The Phantom Menace made us ask “Hey, you’re supposed to be the good guys, are you sure you can do this?”.

In its own way TPM is also exactly what it needed to be in its time, which is to say an overproduced monstrosity.  A monument to excess.  We let it happen.  We were so busy telling George Lucas how great Star Wars was that he forgot the adversity that gave it a soul.  In the 1990s, we were all in the business of buying our own bullshit and confirming ever so politely to each other that our shit did not in fact stink.  The Millenial Generation had arrived and the Baby Boomers were going to kick back and get nice and fucked up with the hottest new drug for them: Unlimited Power.  How could America possibly get punched in the dick by the Actual Sand People from Tatooine?  Even if that happened, how could America so fuck up their response as to get bogged down in not one but fully two Vietnam-grade quagmires?  We learned that lesson!  We won, remember?  We’re the good guys!  We can do this! What are a bunch of irritable brown people going to do to us, nothing, because we’re America and we’re so fucking Perfect.

In the 1990s the US Economy boomed thanks to the Internet, we had the largest budget surplus in history, and our biggest problems according to the news were blowjobs and sharks.  We gathered all that money, and all that confidence, and when we were attacked we hit back with our own great big Phantom Menace.  An obnoxious, showy, over-budgeted, over-produced foreign-policy Hindenburg called the “Global War on Terror”.  We named our enemy.  The “Axis of Evil” ooh, scary, very Sith Lords, love it.  For Iraq we even got our own Attack of the Clones complete with equally farcical justifications for a war!

The best thing about those movies, the prequel trilogy is that for all its flaws it does one thing incredibly right:  From start to finish, episode one title crawl to episode three credits, the good guys manage to give the bad guys exactly what they want.  The Jedi, through arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence fuck absolutely everything up.  The bad guys play them like a fiddle and achieve almost every aim.  The only thing that stops them from winning completely is that at the eleventh hour, a couple of people get their shit together just long enough to set the stage for the next generation to fix everything they broke, if they can, maybe.

And America did the same.  We gave the bad guys exactly what they wanted, first we got good and scared.  Then, we got good and angry.  We started a war with too much confidence and rage and no decent plan.  We alienated potential allies with our rhetoric.  After 9/11 even Iran was chomping at the bit to help us.  And why not?  They’re fairly modern, certainly when compared to their neighbors.  They’ve got just as much an interest in making sure the Taliban and Al Qaeda quiet down as we do.  We were on the way towards real dialogue when President Lucas threw it all away by naming them to the axis of evil.  And we got distracted, went off podracing in Iraq.  We give radical groups decades worth of justification for their agenda in places where they were as welcome as syphillis.  Now the western economy has tanked, and what did we get for all of this?  We managed to get our shit together just long enough to shoot the guy responsible in the eye.

This is a tough one.  And now, like it or not, its up to my generation to fix everything the grey-hairs broke.

If we can.

Maybe.

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Why I Am Voting For Barack Obama

I’ve taken my potshots at John McCain and Sarah Palin lately.  Childish, but fun.  I don’t think anyone can really disagree with my assessment in their heart of hearts, that is to say “Ahahahahahahahahahaha”.

I don’t want to joke about that right now, though.  I’ve talked about Barack Obama before, I’ve got his link right over there, obviously I’m a fairly left-leaning person.  I don’t support him because of doctrine, though.  I don’t support him because of his policies or his character or his judgement, though I consider those all positives.

I support him because I didn’t think I could support anyone.  Sure, come November 7th, I’d walk into the voting booth and push the button for whoever the Democratic nominee was.  I’d vote for Governor Warner, help him get elected to the Senate, I’d vote for my congressman Jim Moran.  I’d do it not out of enthusiasm though, or support, but out of desparation.

I’ve grown up in the shadow of the Capital, something I’ve often said drives people insane, and I really think it does.  I’ve said before how in the sixth grade, children of 11 and 12 had to be physically separated during the final vote during the Clinton Impeachment trial.  I was one of about six people who didn’t want to see him thrown out of office, in a class of over thirty.  We sat quietly at the far side of the room.  We knew that Clinton wouldn’t be thrown out of office.  The rest of the class sat huddled around the TV in the corner, jeering at every vote against conviction, as my teacher valiantly tried to stay in control.

That’s what Washington does to you.  It puts you in a box and then ship you to one side or another of the political fence and try to stick you at the extremes.  Black and white.  No gradients, no shades of gray.  People go nuts.  If you’ve ever seen Lewis Black perform, and wonder why he’s so angry, I’ll tell you why.  He grew up in the suburbs of this place just like I did.  And like him, I can’t go a day without seeing something that just pisses me off, and is going on not twenty miles to the east.

So you become cynical.  You become jaded.  At the age of 13, before myself or any of my cohorts could vote, the debacle of the 2000 election unfolded.  Instead of doing what normal 13 year olds might do, play video games, listen to pop music, etc, almost everyone I knew became embattled in the fight.  I remember people making Sore/Loserman pins during art class, or worse, at home, printing them out and wearing them around.  I remember nearly getting in fistfights with some of those people, because thats what it did to me.  Finally, when I was 17, and George W. Bush was re-elected, or elected for the first time depending on who you ask, I watched the attacks, as I walked to a bus stop after school to catch a ride home, I was pretty into the political process.  I didn’t have a car, still don’t.  I wore a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker on my messenger bag.  As I walked, some people would honk and cheer.  Others would honk and jeer.  Still others would stop and sneer.  I’m not lying.  This is just what the place does to you.

Finally, I had enough.  I wasn’t even old enough to vote and I was tired of the whole thing.  I didn’t think anybody could restore the most basic levels of sanity to my city, let alone my country.  I didn’t think anyone could pierce that shell of cynicism, the malaise of the disaffected.  Then, as I watched the primary campaigns much as Jane Goodall might observe the chimps, I started to pay more attention to what Barack Obama was saying.  More specifically I started to pay attention to the people around him while he was speaking.  The crowds, the grizzled veterans of political wars past who sat behind him and smiled, smiles that said “He’s saying what I can’t put into words”.  I saw him go from town to town, city to city, and the people around him didn’t seem caught up in “Obamamania”.   They seemed to be proud of their country again.  They seemed to be free of that cynicism, if only for a moment.  They seemed to believe in him.  They put their trust in him.  Slowly I started to get that smile as I heard him speak.  I started to realize that the maniacs weren’t the ones ecstatically cheering his every rhetorical flourish, but the pundits who were supposed to know how everything works.  Their constant squabbling, infantile, pointless.

They were just as encased in cynicism as I was.  Some of them, even started to say what they really thought.  Hell, they said what they really thought and felt and got mocked for it by their co-workers.

For all his policy proposals and oratorical talent, I don’t support Barack Obama for that.  I support him because he can crack open even the most hardened of cynics.  He can make them feel love for their country, their country’s promise.  I’ve gone from someone who was ashamed to be an American to someone who will stand up and debate a total stranger if they talk down to my country.  Its that feeling that more of us need to have.

At the very least, I’d know I’m not the last sane man left in Washington anymore.

This is why I love politics…

The fact is, everything that is funny in the world is omnipresent in American politics.  Especially stuff like secretive buttfucking during the Republican National Convention.  Check out this family-values enthusiast’s post on Craigslist for the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

young guy in town for the convention, looking for a good time – 25 (near Xcel Center)

Date: 2008-09-01, 6:51PM CDT

Hey guys-

I’m just getting in town for the convention, looking for fellow convention attendees to fool around and have a good time.

No Log Cabin here, nobody knows, so must be discreet.

I’m 5′8, 165 lbs, professional guy, looking for similar. We can grab a beer and talk about why Obama sucks and then get it on.

Hilarious!  In retrospect it was probably a Very Bad Idea for the GOP to host their convention right near the very airport in which one of their sitting Senators, Larry Craig (R-ID) got caught by a cop trolling for anonymous cock in a public restroom.  Seeing as the restroom itself has become a tourist attraction, not to mention being located at the airport that most of your delegates and media will be passing through, might not send the right signal.

Unless the right signal is “Tap twice under the stall and then show America your cocks”.

Wonkette: The D.C. Gossip » Blog Archive » A Children’s Treasury Of Republican M4M Ads In Minneapolis St. Paul.

So now I can emerge from my cave…

It would seem that my good friend Barry Obama has the Democratic nomination all wrapped up!  That’s good, I was running low on beans in my apocalypse shelter.

This whole ordeal, just the ordeal of nominating, mind you, has been the greatest circus I have ever seen in my twenty years of inside-the-beltway life.  Well, technically I’m about half a mile outside the beltway but I think that should still count, the psychosis rate is the same (100%).

Who ever would have thought, that in one year, the battle for the nomination of the Democratic Party, and likely next President of the United States of America, would be a bitterly-fought war between a charismatic, first term black senator, and a brilliant, shrewd woman with enough balls to start her own sports shop.  Do we live in the bizzaro world?  Did this good spaceship Earth fall through the titular chaos fold itself sometime last fall?

The experience, for me, has been so harrowing that I’ve suffered no fewer than two politically-induced panic attacks, and those usually don’t begin until the general election season!

For my part, I’m still a fan of the Clintons, especially Bill, I mean, the man is one of the few personal heroes of mine who is still alive.  The man just loves a good fight is all.

And blowjobs.  Can’t forget blowjobs, but if you run the country as well as he did, I think you’re entitled to a little executive head on the side, or under the desk as the case may be.  George Bush on the other hand, well, lets just say he needs to head down to the Man Bureau and turn in his cock once this is over.  And then walk home.

Come to think of it, its probably a good thing Hillary won’t get the nomination.  If she became President, she’d have to sit in the same desk, in the same seat, as the one her husband got blown on.  She couldn’t go for a pen without thinking “That’s where she was… right there…”

She’d be taking the 3 AM phone calls on the same phone her husband used while America’s Favorite Intern dutifully fellated him!  She’d never be able to get anything done.  Poor girl.

Goodnight, sweet prince…

good night, sweet prince…

The Little Candidacy that Couldn’t 2006-2008.

International Politics + Gaming Forum = Hilarity

So I’m posting on boards.1up.com today, when I come across a thread that asks if it is right or wrong to play a game based on the Iraq war/GWoT.

Short answer, No.

Long answer, No, but that doesn’t mean developers will actually make them. As I intimated in the thread, those are dark and dangerous waters inhabited exclusively by things designed to kill you. Even a respectful game that takes an evenhanded look at both sides and tells a story with the utmost respect to everyone involved, that is to say, a perfectly done Iraq Game, would get endless flak from at least 20% of the population.

Why?

Politics. You can’t please anyone when it comes to this sort of politically-charged topic. Why have there been acres of World War 2 games and almost zero Vietnam War games? We all agreed on World War 2, and we can certainly all agree on its righteousness in retrospect. Well, everyone who isn’t a white supremacist that is. And the white supremacist demographic is a historically marginalized one in the field of global marketing and sales.

Vietnam and Iraq will never be suitable topics for game makers to approach with rationality, because the divisions are too deep and bitter. Revisionists will inevitably say the same thing about Iraq that they said about Vietnam after the fact. “We would have got the job done had we just stayed in there and got the job done!”

Its hard even for me to bring it up without falling into the political us v. them aspect of it all. There is nothing at all wrong with any aspect of making an Iraq game. It just isn’t good business.

P.S. How did that thread end, again? Yeah, someone called me a traitor. And then I laughed. Serious fucking business on this here internets.