Posts Tagged ‘fandom’
* The Department of English invites applications for an entry-level, tenure-track Assistant Professor position in medieval literature, language, and culture, primarily British, before 1500. Marquette English is hiring!
* Maybe my new favorite page on the Internet: r/DaystromInstitute’s list of long-running Star Trek what-ifs and what-abouts.
* I think I’ve linked this thread before, at least a different version of it: “I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.”
* Creative Destruction: Tech and the evolution of the desk, 1985-2014.
* Bousquet breathes some fire: This change in appointment types is not accidental or caused by outside forces. The adjunctification of faculty appointment has been an intentional shock treatment by campus administrations. Of course, there may be some claims regarding saving money; however, most critical observers note that “saving” on $70,000 faculty salaries generates a vast, expensive need for $80,000- to $120,000-per-year accountants, IT staff members, and HR specialists, plus a few $270,000 associate provosts. Not to mention the $500,000 bonus awarded to the president for meeting the board’s permatemping target and successfully hiding the consequences from students, parents, and the public. It should be obvious to most of us that any money left over from bloating the administration is generally directed to consultants, construction, and business partnerships.
* The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a recent survey that questioned the correlation between internships and full employment upon graduation.The findings were astonishing. Hiring rates for those who had chosen to complete an unpaid internship (37%) were almost the same for those who had not completed any internship at all (35%). Students who had any history of a paid internship, on the other hand, were far more likely (63%) to secure employment.
* Casinos are the autoimmune disease of city planning. They destroy everything else in the area, then die when the host is dead.
* …white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.
* BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren won’t save us.
* Unskew the polls! Democratic Senate edition.
* Today in climate change neologisms: “Megadroughts.”
* The arc of history is long, but: “Doctor Who ‘lesbian-lizard’ kiss will not face investigation.”
* A unique experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe—including whether we live in a hologram.
* Asst. Principal Fined for Changing His Son’s Failing Grades 11 Times. This story has everything:
According to the New York Daily News, Ali has been reassigned away from Bread and Roses, but has not been placed at a new school. He remains on the Department of Education’s payroll with a $104,437 annual salary.
The school, the Daily News reports, is expected to close by 2016 for poor performance.
* ALS Foundation floats trademarking the concept of an “ice bucket challenge,” but immediately gets talked out of it.
* Thoughtcrime watch: Dorchester County discovers one of its teachers is a novelist, completely flips its wig.
* The inexorable march of progress: This Cheap Exoskeleton Lets You Sit Wherever You Want Without a Chair.
* Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker: What’s the point of studying history?
* The Politics Of Every Major U.S. Religion, In One Chart. Way to claim the vital center, Catholics!
* Suddenly I’m up on top of the world: They’re rebooting Greatest American Hero.
* If you want a vision of the future, imagine Mitt Romney running for president, forever.
* And just this once, everybody lives: Family Cleans House, Finds Pet Tortoise Missing Since 1982.
* Commencement speech bingo. More links below!
* Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries. Well, yes, I’m definitely worried. That’s madness.
* “Hood disease.” My God, don’t call it that.
* It places the United States in the top spot, ahead of Sweden and Canada, which come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Yet when the scores are adjusted for national levels of income, the United States drops to 15th place, behind such developing countries as China and Serbia.
* If you want to help low-income students succeed, it’s not enough to deal with their academic and financial obstacles. You also need to address their doubts and misconceptions and fears.
* The proposed rule would cut off student aid to career-focused programs at for-profit and nonprofit colleges if the program’s student-loan default rate reached 30 percent or if half of its graduates failed two student-loan debt standards.
* MRA city councilman files Title IX complaint on behalf of U Oregon players arbitrarily kicked off team after DA slow-walks the process to protect their eligibility for March Madness and then declines to bring charges, thereby completing the circle of shitshow.
* According to faculty accounts, deans received an email from the administration on the evening of May 5, alerting them to a meeting the next day about staffing issues. At that meeting, deans in certain colleges were told they needed to cut a prescribed number of full-time faculty positions. Of 16 total cuts, 11 were to come from the College of Arts and Sciences, faculty members said. Deans were given two days – until Thursday – to consult with their department chairs about which faculty members to terminate. Affected instructors were notified that day.
* The best way to think of the dilemma is keeping in mind the three things Obama wants his regulations to accomplish: He wants them to effectively reduce carbon pollution, he wants them not to cost consumers too much, and he wants to be sure they can survive legal challenge. The trouble is that he can only pick two of these. And the primary question weighing on administration regulators as they make their decision will be how to read the mind of Anthony Kennedy.
The voluntariat performs skilled work that might still command a wage without compensation, allegedly for the sake of the public good, regardless of the fact that it also contributes directly and unambiguously to the profitability of a corporation. Like the proletariat, then, the voluntariat permits the extraction of surplus value through its labor.
But unlike the proletariat’s labor, the voluntariat’s has become untethered from wages. The voluntariat’s labor is every bit as alienable as the proletariat’s — Coursera’s Translator Contract leaves no doubt about that — but it must be experienced by the voluntariat as a spontaneous, non-alienated gift.
* Medical nightmare of the week: Morgellons disease.
* Speculative genetic explanations for social phenomena have an old and undistinguished history, some of which Wade reviews superficially, presumably to demonstrate his skill at reviewing topics superficially. The common thread, though, is that such explanations have always been (1) put forward to establish a bio-political point, to draw imaginary limits around the social progress of certain human groups; (2) accompanied by the dissimulation that they are not political statements, but merely value-neutral science; and (3) false.
* The Bay Area author of an upcoming book shatters the image of California’s historic missions as idyllic sites where Franciscan friars and Indians lived in harmony. Speaking before about 100 people Saturday at the American Indian Resource Center at UC Santa Cruz, Elias Castillo, author of “A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions,” said in reality the missions were “death camps.”
* He also had a theory about colonizing the solar system using nuclear bombs. We could terraform other planets, he argued, by pulverizing them and then moving them closer or further from the sun. What could possibly go wrong?
* Turns out academic freedom isn’t free: Michigan State University could risk losing $500,000 if it does not stop offering courses that allegedly promote unionization.
* “They call us professors, but they’re paying us at poverty levels,” she said. “I just want to make a living from a skill I’ve spent 30 years developing.”
* In Silicon Valley there really is a class war going on, a wage-fixing cartel that’s pitting the one percent against everyone else.
* LAX Baggage Handlers Took Whatever They Wanted From Bags for Months. I’m actually pretty sure they stole our camera, which we haven’t seen since we left California.
* The typographical sublime: Switching from Times New Roman to Garamond could save the government almost half a billion dollars.
* End of an Internet Era: Television Without Pity Gets Shuttered. It’s Hard To Imagine The Internet Without Television Without Pity. Raised on Television without Pity. MetaFilter mourns. The real tragedy here is the absolutely unnecessary closing of the forums; there’s a valuable decade of Internet TV writing and fan commentary, lost overnight.
* Dialectics of Stephen Colbert: We Want To #CancelColbert. What We Can Learn From the Embarrassing #CancelColbert Shitstorm. A profile of Suey Park.
* Rebecca Schuman on The Most Important University in St Louis. More from the new, Serious™ Schuman: Save Fulbright!
* Free speech having a tough time tonight: Arrest Climate-Change Deniers.
* Unpaid Interns In New York City Are Now Protected From Sexual Harassment. Well, obviously, of course they would be, what could be more obvious — wait, now?
* Oh, America empire, you’re incorrigible! As our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we’d let them in.
* Wisconsin also having a tough time tonight: BP Admits To Spilling Even More Oil In Lake Michigan.
* Come back here, we’re not done getting bummed out yet: The Pacific Ocean Is Turning Sour Much Faster Than Expected, Study Shows. Texas Oil Spill Is Killing Birds, Threatening Fishing Industry.
* How The Justice System Is Rigged Against These Cheerleaders Suing The Raiders For Wage Theft. Federal Judge Tells Women Lawyers Not To Dress Like ‘An Ignorant Slut.’ Virtually the entire judiciary is made up of former prosecutors and corporate lawyers.
* Tumblr of the weekend: Shit Settlers Said.
* The ASA is now asking for $100,000 in donations to defend itself from attacks resulting in its decision about how to spend a few hundred. Well done, everyone!
* So old I can remember when teaching was a career. Standing Up to Testing. New York Schools Are the Nation’s Most Racially Segregated. And if you only count the best-performing schools, charter schools are doing great!
* This is a land of peace, love, justice, and no mercy: Shanesha Taylor, Homeless Single Mom, Arrested After Leaving Kids In Car While On Job Interview.
* And at least it’s almost all over for humanity: Crazy Stone computer Go program defeats Ishida Yoshio 9 dan with 4 stones.
I gave a presentation this weekend at the Reception Studies Society conference on the figure of the “fan-villain”—what Emily Nussbaum in a widely circulated blog post at the New Yorker recently called the Bad Fan. The Bad Fan is that figure whose investment in the text is excessive, or inappropriate, or misplaced, who takes up the text in ways that go beyond or are counter to the idealized “Good Fan” of the author’s intentions, critical consensus, and/or common sense. What I was interested in at the conference were the ways texts and creators seek to talk back to the Bad Fan, most typically by including the Bad Fan within the text either through paraphrase, parody, or (most characteristically, I think) through personification as an actual character within the fictional universe—and further I was interested in this extent to which this talking back is typically quite hostile. But today I’m interested in the other side of that binary.
To back up: Breaking Bad fandom—as is common in the capital-Q Quality TV genre more generally—appears divided between critically sophisticated Good Fans who recognize the show’s nuanced, complicated, and quite emotionally fraught deconstruction of privilege through (again as with most Quality TV shows) its central protagonist, the White Male in Crisis, and the naïve, unsophisticated Bad Fans who take all this in entirely uncritically and who love the show precisely because they think “Walt Is A Badass.” Nussbaum’s recent writings have pointed to the show’s attempts to speak back to the Bad Fan, not simply in Anna Gunn / Skyler White’s recent op-ed in the New York Times decrying the sexism of this portion of the show’s fanbase, and not only through Walt’s bitter and ugly parodying of the #TeamWalt discourse in “Ozymandias,” but through the addition of the creepy sinister character of Todd, who idolizes Walt in a way that seems both increasingly familiar (as the marking of the Bad Fan) and increasingly horrifying.
As may already be evident, I think this imagined division between “Good Fans” and “Bad Fans” is simultaneously useful and potentially deeply misleading, as we can see from Internet insta-reactions to last night’s “FeLiNa,” the final episode of the series. Here we find the Good Fan feeling flattered and pandered to, particularly in the scene in which Walt “confesses” to Skyler that he ultimately become a druglord because he enjoyed it, because it made him feel alive. “Finally,” the Good Fan sighed, “Walt tells Skyler THE TRUTH!” But in fact this scene is almost directly parallel to the phone call scene, in which Walt the consummate schemer deploys partial truths and well-timed emotional outbursts in order to manipulate those around him. This is about controlling his legacy, about telling Skyler (and the Good Fans) a version of what she wants to hear so that she is (and we are) willing to go along with him on his redemption arc.
A point of critical consensus around “FeLiNa” is that it is characterized by a truly remarkable amount of catharsis and narrative closure, dotting every i and crossing every t. But that catharsis, I think, has to come undone the longer we think about the show; what isn’t being talked about much yet is the complexity and the falseness of the redemption narrative, precisely because both the Good Fans and the Bad Fans alike are happy to buy into it all. This cycle of gaslighting apology, followed by grand-gesture redemptive act, followed by an inevitable slide back to form, is part and parcel of how a person like Walter White abuses those around him; the events of “FeLiNa” only seems to offer narrative closure because this time events have conspired to finally kill Walt at the high moment of the abuse-apology cycle. (He knows his cancer is back, and/so he plans to commit suicide-by-Nazi or suicide-by-Jesse at the camp after achieving “redemption.”) In the spirit of Žižek’s reading of the emergency-exit “happy endings” of Titanic and Avatar, we might perversely imagine the version of the end of the series in which this doesn’t hold: Walt’s cancer has never returned, he does not catch a bullet in the massacre, he lives, and is thereby forced to continue to live in the world and take genuine, not fantasy, responsibility for his actions. How long does his turning over a new leaf last, without the miracle of certain death to propel him forward for a mere eighteen hours, give or take?
As Malcolm Harris succinctly put it in response to some of my tweets:
"Now I realize I was acting out of selfish self-aggrandizement. Will you like me now?" *more destructive selfishness* Sound like anyone?—
Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) September 30, 2013
We can see the Heisenberg-Walt at work even in the moment of Skyler scene; “finally, THE TRUTH,” yes, but also a calculated attempt to set the conditions of her last memories of him in terms that are favorable to Walt. “In the end,” she may have thought, and many Internet commentators actually wrote, “the ‘real Walt’ came back.” And again, maybe, partially; but all the same the legacy money won’t go to her, and her life remains utterly destroyed. Meanwhile his final act is an intricate staging of his own death so that he will receive full credit both for killing the white supremacists and for cooking the blue meth, credit even for the “better than ever” batches he didn’t cook—to again set the terms of reality not in fidelity to truth or to what is best for other people but simply in accordance with the way he prefers things, which as always is having it both ways. Walt’s true chemical genius has always been in controlling the reactions of the people around him, in how easily he gets others (and us) to play along. We Good Fans turn out to be just as happy to be lied to, we just want a different sort of lie.