Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘meth

Wednesday Night Links!

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Readers in a frenzy as Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments released early. Why It Matters That Amazon Shipped Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” a Week Early. Look for my review of The Testaments in LARB soon!

* Maybe the aliens are already tired of us.

The coming death of just about every rock legend.

* CFP: Extrapolating Nostalgia: Special issue of Science Fiction Studies.

* The job so nice they posted it twice: Assistant Professor of Fantasy/Science Fiction Literature.

Author Walter Mosley Quits ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ After Using N-Word in Writers Room. Why I Quit the Writers’ Room.

* The real Dickinson scandal appears only at the margins of Wild Nights with Emily, at the start and at the end. The movie begins with a disclaimer: “The poems and letters of Emily Dickinson are used in this film with permission of Harvard University Press.” But why does anyone need permission from Harvard to make a movie about Emily Dickinson? The answer involves theft, adulterous affairs, a land deal gone wrong, a feud between families, two elite colleges, and some of the most famous poems in American literature.

* As of today there are no longer any children who were alive on 9/11. Never forget the worst comics page in history.

* “The grand neoliberal experiment of the past 40 years has demonstrated that markets in fact do not regulate themselves. Managed markets turn out to be more equitable and more efficient. Yet the theory and practical influence of neoliberalism marches splendidly on, because it is so useful to society’s most powerful people—as a scholarly veneer to what would otherwise be a raw power grab.”

* Liberalism can’t defend itself.

* Whose Apollo Program?

* Another world is possible.

* Shock of shocks: Administration Within UW System Grew While Faculty Numbers Declined.

* The great enrollment crash.

* California to force NCAA to pay athletes. More at the MetaFilter thread.

* Ronan Farrow exposes MIT. The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites. The Moral Rot of the MIT Media Lab.

Her University Publicly Accused Her of Using Meth. Here’s How It Came to That, and Here’s What Happened Next.

* Another trip inside Cheating, Inc.

* The WSJ takes aim at the English major, again. Some college major data from the Center on Education and the Workforce.

* Hard not to think we’ve grown obsolete.

* Another free speech exception.

* Inside Liberty University.

“We’re not a school; we’re a real estate hedge fund,” said a senior university official with inside knowledge of Liberty’s finances. “We’re not educating; we’re buying real estate every year and taking students’ money to do it.”

Ah, they’ve got nothing on Columbia or NYU.

Elite schools say they’re looking for academic excellence and diversity. But their thirst for tuition revenue means that wealth trumps all.

* I worked at a website that rated professors for political bias. This is what I learned.

* ‘UVA has ruined us’: Health system sues thousands of patients, seizing paychecks and putting liens on homes. “Johns Hopkins deliberately puts poor people who seek its care into medical debt so they lose their homes so Johns Hopkins can buy the land for its expansion.”

Congress Promised Student Borrowers A Break. Education Dept. Rejected 99% Of Them.

Over 60, and Crushed by Student Loan Debt.

The administrators who handle sexual-misconduct investigations aren’t sticking around for long. That’s because they have one of the toughest jobs on campus.

* Inside the cuts at Marquette. Under the circumstances I feel overly relieved that we’ve moved up in the US News rankings.

* When Active-Shooter Drills Scare the Children They Hope to Protect.

* Daughter should have been armed, it’s the only way to prevent these things unfortunately.

* Richest Could Lose Hundreds of Billions Under Warren’s Wealth Tax. They wouldn’t even notice it missing.

UBI Already Exists, We Just Need to Redistribute It.

* Climate change is here. Climate change isn’t an intangible future risk. It’s here now, and it’s killing us. Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world. The heat is on. James Cameron says “people need to wake the fuck up” about climate change. Invest $1.8 trillion to adapt. Climate change also means retreat. In an era of climate change, everything feels strange. Even the places we call home. Mississippi Beaches Have Been Vacant For 2 Months As A Toxic Algae Bloom Lurks Offshore. Tired: The Anthropocene. Wired: The Carnivalocene. The novel in the Anthropocene. Winter Isn’t Coming. Prepare for the Pyrocene.

Island of 50,000 People in the Bahamas Is 70% Under Water. Hurricane Dorian Survivors Were Turned Away & That’s A Chilling Look At Our Future.

NOAA staff warned in Sept. 1 directive against contradicting Trump. I knew he’d slip up eventually!

* Hope in the Midst of Ecological Dystopia: Cli-fi books for the young-adult reader.

Agribusiness against the Amazon.

* “When I say state’s rights,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

* From the mixed-up files of the top Republican gerrymanderer.

* Today in the wisdom of markets.

* For every grift, a mark: Meet The Hyperloop’s Truest Believers.

When the State Enforces “Straight Pride.”

What’s Missing From “White Fragility”: Robin DiAngelo’s idea changed how white progressives talk about themselves—and little else.

* And speaking of white fragility.

Indigenous Women in Canada Are Still Being Sterilized Without Their Consent.

TWO MONTHS BEFORE my operation, I dreamed I was a character in a video game. As sometimes happens in video games, I died. When I respawned, I had a new face, the face of another woman altogether. Upon discovering this in the dream, I collapsed into my companion’s arms and told her, through tears, that all I had ever wanted was to become unrecognizable to myself.

* The rise of anti-trans “radical” feminists, explained.

Care Work Is the Next Feminist Frontier.

In Chicago, more than 16,000 students are homeless.

* The Center for American Progress Is a Disgrace.

* Don’t Be Fooled — Kamala Harris’s “Criminal Justice” Plan Is Not Progressive.

* Baby Boomers are charmed by his rose-tinted revisionism. Younger Democrats see the past more clearly. The Historical Amnesia of Joe Biden’s Candidacy.

* Joe Biden can’t stop lying. He lies for popularity, he lies to protect billionaires’ profits, and he lies to cover his own misdeeds. If he were to quit lying, Biden would be exposed for who he actually is: a happy stooge of industry trying to squash the rising demand for a better world.

* Imagine if we had a democracy.

* Trump’s already cancelling elections.

* Corey Robin on Clarence Thomas’s theory of race.

* The case for changing the voting age to zero.

The Fall of the Meritocracy.

Yes, GamerGate Was a Misogynist Hate Campaign.

* Rethinking cities, from the ground up. Cars are pushing out bikes and pedestrians to the applause of the influential and powerful.

* Ex-lawyer who stole from clients in part to finance his ‘Excuseman’ character given 3 years in prison.

* sometimes I just get overwhelmed by how regular and normal our country is

* extremely normal very normal

Document reveals the FBI is tracking border protest groups as extremist organizations. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has accidentally revealed the whereabouts of a future “urban warfare” training facility that is expected to include “hyper-realistic” simulations of homes, hotels and commercial buildings in Chicago and Arizona. The Capricious Use of Solitary Confinement Against Detained Immigrants.

Made In America: For $9.50 An Hour, They Brew Tear Gas For Hong Kong.

* California Bill Makes App-Based Companies Treat Workers as Employees. UPDATE: Uber already refusing to comply.

* Republicans Republicaning, part 7998.

How We Shut Down the Nation’s Largest Child Detention Center.

* The US military may have spent millions to help prop up a Trump resort. Gee, I hope someone was fired over that blunder!

* TSA PreCheck: It absolutely shouldn’t exist, and is absolutely an incredible value.

* Frenchest news item of all time: man dies having “adulterous relationship with a perfect stranger” on business trip; court rules it was a work accident.

* The struggle to save Day-Glo.

* Whatever happened to Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar?

* The original Civilization, running inside an Excel spreadsheet.

* A history of Tetris randomizers.

* How we became nostalgic for Minecraft.

* 44 African Architectural Styles.

* Where there were more than 2,000 staff cartoonists at work a century ago, and 180 as recently as the 1980s, contemporary estimates are grim: a 2011 survey by The Herb Block Foundation, an educational nonprofit, estimated that fewer than 40 such jobs still exist.

* Harry Potter Fandom in an Illiberal Democracy.

Woman Shares 18th Century Student Disciplinary Records In Response To ‘Millennials Are The Worst’ Claim.

* A people’s history of labor history.

* They solved the Geedis mystery.

The Lost Issue of Grant Morrison and Chas Truog’s Animal Man From 1988 – “Dominion.”

* Maid of honor shows up to wedding in T. rex costume after being told she could wear anything.

* Cheese can’t fake the funk.

* Every culture tells a different story about why it cages animals, which nearly all of them do. The stories evolve, and the cages do too.

Marc Davis in His Own Words: Imagineering the Disney Theme Parks.

Occupations by frequency as mentioned in the lyrics of David Bowie.

* The art of the Anthropocene: @LegoLostatSea.

* Disney still innovating ways to ruin the Muppets faster and faster; now the series don’t even need to be made to be bad.

* A thread/sincere plea: if you a member of the mainstream/popular press and are writing an article about fandom, you can officially nix any of the following, as it has already been written in 20+ other “101” style articles about fans/fan culture…

We were creating space for ourselves, centering our own positive stories.

* And, once again, Star Trek by the numbers.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Monday Night Links!

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* CFP: ASAP11, “Ecologies of the Present.”

* A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report: Even radical climate change action won’t save glaciers, endangering 2 billion people.

* #theanthropocene

* Great Twitter thread on screenwriting from my old friend Tony Tost.

* And a great thread pitching a black Batman story.

* The end of history.

* Thieves stole architectural gems from USC in a heist that remained hidden for years.

Bennett, who a week earlier had been placed on indefinite administrative leave, was now barred from the university, the message said. Sandwiched between those assertions was a sordid allegation: Bennett’s “recent admittance to police of meth use and access to firearms.”

* Vox talks to Malcolm Harris about the kids today.

* When a utility files for bankruptcy.

Free-market boosters, including Betsy DeVos, promised that a radical expansion of charter schools would fix the stark inequalities in the state’s education system. The results in the classrooms are far more complicated.

* When Democrats actually propose popular progressive policies.

* Crimes against humanity without apology: Finding all migrant children separated from their families may be impossible, feds say. The utter shamelessness of these people.

* Executive time: How Trump’s schedule compares to past presidents.

* Trump wants another fake physical.

African-American women were written out of the history of the woman suffrage movement. As the centennial of the 19th Amendment approaches, it’s time for a new look at the past.

* From c. 1930.

* In one Milwaukee school, on one day, what a difference a small class size made.

* Financial literacy is a kind of formation of its own. Such programs form us to believe that we can make up for one $40,000 decision with forty thousand other decisions that save a single dollar each. In retrospect, it seems fitting that Duke Divinity School required each of us to sit through a brief seminar on financial literacy prior to graduation. The school needed one last moment to shape us as individuals in control of our destiny through wise choices, hard work, and willpower. … Student debt thus exposes a farther-reaching cruelty in a system that treats people, in the end, as autonomous consumers. Until we recognize the deeper problem, we will be hindered from taking collective action to build better lives together. We spend so much time blaming one another and ourselves that we don’t have time to look at bigger, collective solutions like tuition-free higher education or the cancellation of student loan debt. We don’t ask what kind of society we want to see and what kind of collective political action it might take to win it. Our eyes haven’t been trained to see society and its institutions as something we can change. Our imaginations haven’t been formed to desire something better fitted for human flourishing.

Y: The Last Man TV Adaptation Will Premiere in 2020. As we were chatting about on Twitter, it’s amazing how long this took, so long that they’re probably quite a bit out-of-step with the times now.

@talilalewis is warning U.S. citizens about the consideration of forcing cochlear implants on D/deaf and hard of hearing inmates.

* When you’re looking on the bright side.

* Utter shitshow in Virginia.

* Lots of white people having nervous breakdowns lately.

* Billionaires! They’re just like us our parents!

How long could my murderer pretend to be me online?

* Can you trip so hard you never stop tripping?

* Another truly bananas story from the world of young adult publishing.

* And that’s we in the business call a “win-win.”

Thursday Links!

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* Coetzee: There is nothing wrong with arguing that a good humanistic education will produce graduates who are critically literate, by some definition of critical literacy. However, the claim that only the full apparatus of a humanistic education can produce critical literacy seems to me hard to sustain, since it is always open to the objection: if critical literacy is just a skill or set of skills, why not just teach the skill itself? Would that not be simpler, and cheaper too?

…in the end, I believe, you will have to make a stand. You will have to say: we need free enquiry because freedom of thought is good in itself. We need institutions where teachers and students can pursue unconstrained the life of the mind because such institutions are, in ways that are difficult to pin down, good for all of us: good for the individual and good for society.

* If you can’t make a case for a discipline on the basis of the actual objects studied by that discipline, it’s doomed. The field needs to have confidence in the things it takes as its subject matter.

* Huge drop in humanities majors at Swarthmore.

Not for the first time, vandals are wreaking havoc in central Europe. Russian police say they’re looking for the intellectually minded miscreants who graffitied “Kant is a moron”—along with a flower and heart—on the philosopher’s home outside Kaliningrad.

Keywords for the Age of Austerity 16: Flexibility. Special appearance by Plastic Man.

Higher Education and the Politics of Disruption.

Black UVA Student Beaten Bloody by Police Over Alleged Fake ID: Reports. UVA’s White President Outsources Outrage Over Martese Johnson to Two Black Administrators.

Chapel Hill Will Pay $335,000 to Whistle-Blower in Fraud Scandal.

More Scrutiny of Decision to Close Sweet Briar.

Penn State Fraternity’s Secret Facebook Photos May Lead to Criminal Charges.

Despite Progress, Only 1 in 4 College Presidents Are Women.

The New York Times ran the Duke story—a story about the internal politics of an English department—on its front page.

* I can’t remember if I already linked to Jalada #2: “Afrofuture(s),” but it’s great. I think my favorite little piece is one of the short poems, “Found: An Error in the System.”

Schools Plan Massive Layoffs After Scott Walker Guts Funding.

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor.

Why The U.S. Won’t Let the U.N. Look Inside Its Prisons.

* Modern-Day Caligula Orders Everything Bagel.

* Everything’s different in Denmark: Porn belongs in the classroom, says Danish professor.

* What could possibly go wrong? The Scientist Who Wanted To Bring A Death Row Inmate Back From The Dead.

* Starbucks loses its damn mind. Starbucks Wants To Talk To You About Race. But Does It Want To Talk To You About Racism? Starbucks’s Race to the Center of Civic Life.

* Simians, Cyborg-Women, and Godzilla: 40 Years of Terror of Mechagodzilla.

41 Awesome Euphemisms For Vagina Around The World, Because Your Pupusa Speaks All Languages.

Mars One Finalist Explains Exactly How It‘s Ripping Off Supporters.

* The New Optimism of Al Gore.

* Antarctica appears to be melting from below.

* Climate change and full communism.

* When the CIA funded the National Student Association.

The Problem With History Classes.

Rise of the Gender Novel: Too often, trans characters are written as tortured heroes. We’re more complex than that.

The lonely shame of student debt.

Queer Silence and The Killing Joke.

* #LightenUp: On Comics and Race.

I’m Al Lowe and I created a series of games called Leisure Suit Larry for Sierra back in the ’80s and ’90s along with another 20 games and titles back in that period. I was with Sierra from 1982 until 1998 when it — well, it was the poor victim of a hostile takeover by criminals. How about that for an opening?

* Did Terry Brooks save epic fantasy? Given the years involved if anything did it seems more likely to me that it was Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s a nice remembrance of the franchise regardless.

* I’m good for five seasons at least: Bridgeport Priest Who Ran Meth Ring Pleads For Leniency.

* Really bad idea watch: Sherlock Goes Old-School For Its Christmas Special.

* The Walking Disney.

* The Hidden History of Miscarriage.

One chart that shows just how ridiculously huge Wall Street bonuses are.

Where to expect upsets on your NCAA bracket.

* New edition of Catan coming down the pike.

* You had me at fully automated luxury communism (FALC).

* And because you demanded it! Sam Jones Says New Flash Gordon Is A Sequel.

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All the Weekend Links (100%)

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* Jaimee has one of her phobia poems up at Drunken Boat’s “funny” issue: “Derrida Eats a Dorito.”

* CFPs: ICFA 36: The Scientific Imagination. Joss Whedon’s Comics. Assemble! The Making and Re-Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Human-Animal Boundary: Exploring the Line in Philosophy and Fiction.

* MLA Subcon is trying to raise some money for its operations at indiegogo.

* New Study Links Polar Vortex to Climate Change. Speaking for all of Wisconsin: this does not bode well.

* I have to say I really like what Freddie says about privilege and merit here.

Instead, the point should be to ask people to see the ways in which all of our lives are conditioned by vast forces we cannot control, that these forces in general work to the benefit and hindrance of certain broad groups of people in a way that conflicts with our conceptions of justice, and that we can build a more just, more equitable world if we acknowledge that no one’s life is the product only of their work ethic and intelligence.

The long-term project of those who decry the role of unearned advantage in human society should not be to try and parse who is most and least privileged. The project should be to deny the salience of “merit” as a moral arbiter of material security and comfort. The very notion of just deserts– the notion that some people have legitimate accomplishments that we must celebrate because they represent “merit,” whatever that is, distinct from their privileges– is what has to die. There is no space where privilege ends and legitimate accomplishment begins. There is, instead, a world of such multivariate complexity that we can never know whose accomplishments are earned and whose aren’t. Instead, we should recognize the folly of tying material security and comfort to our flawed perceptions of other people’s value, and instead institute an economic system based on the absolute right of all people to food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education.

* Kazuo Ishiguro to publish first novel since Never Let Me Go. I am on board. More links below the photo!

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* And on the other side of the spectrum: Margaret Atwood’s new work will remain unseen for a century.

* Shock, horror: Most college classes cost more online than on campus.

* The Classroom of the Future.

Q. How did you make the transition from professor to president? A. Maybe some of our problems in education today stem from the fact that someone like me is considered an unconventional choice. Maybe academic institutions should be run by academics, the way they used to be.

* Wisconsin inches closer to dubious obesity milestone.

* On Christopher Tolkien protecting The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales from New Line. I hadn’t realized that Peter Jackson was prohibited from making reference to those works in his films; that’s fascinating…

* If Pearson were trying to strike back against a researcher who told legislators that they were paying $100 million a year for tests that mostly measure test-taking ability, it would look an awful lot like what is happening to Walter Stroup.

* “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put ‘u’ and ‘i’ in the same eight-person, windowless office.”

* The New York Times pans a novel for being insufficiently pro-conquistador. The Economist wrings its hands over whether maybe we’re not being fair to slaveowners.

* The Justice Department will investigate the entire Ferguson police force. How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty. Twitter Headquarters Has Painted #Ferguson On Its Office Wall.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson lied when he said he had received “many” specific requests for the videotape that allegedly shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store, according to a new report.

* Feisal G. Mohamed and Cary Nelson debate the Salaita firing. Salaita and the Accreditors.

* This Is What It’s Like To Sit Through An Anti-Union Meeting At Work.

Gaming doesn’t have a problem; capitalism has a problem. Rather than seeing them simply as immoral assholes or deluded consumerists, we should take gaming’s advanced wing of hateful trolls seriously as representatives of the reactionary shock troops that will have to be defeated in order to build a more egalitarian society in the games industry or anywhere else.

* Five myths about California’s drought. The news is not good, friends.

* Here’s Who Really Controls California’s Water.

* Staff at an Arizona gun range reportedly told investigators that the release forms signed by the family of a 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed her instructor with an Uzi last week were unavailable because they had been “blown away by the wind.” I’ve head less convincing excuses, I guess.

* Biden’s warning to ISIS militants: ‘We will follow them to the gates of hell.’ 200 U.S. troops headed to Ukraine for ‘peace-keeping exercise’ as Obama condemns Russian aggression.

Brave Teen Refuses to Attend Middle School, Chooses Jail Instead.

* Today in the rule of law: Missouri May Have Lied Under Oath About What Drugs It Used To Kill People And When.

* But don’t worry: The system works. Antonin Scalia’s Favorite Murderer Is Innocent.

* Death Row Guard Has Always Had Soft Spot For The Innocent Ones.

L.A. Times Reporter Basically Let the CIA Edit His Stories on the CIA.

NYPD Pays $33K to Settle Suit After Mistaking Jolly Ranchers for Meth.

* Police telling victims to solve crimes by themselves.

In New York, a human rights lawyer has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD after she was arrested for blocking the sidewalk while waiting for her husband and kids to use the bathroom at a Times Square restaurant.

* The call to demilitarize police overlooks the longstanding link between policing and empire.

The Worst Airbnb in the Universe: 22 Beds in One Apartment. Imagine this being your home. Imagine this being your neighbor.

* The fight for the Senate is getting weird y’all.

* For Parents Of Young Black Men With Autism, Extra Fear About Police.

* A horrifying new study says one in five women have been raped.

* “After the football season ended.”

* Vox says your revolution is over, the bums lost.

* Our congresswoman was arrested today at a fast food workers’ strike.

* The killable horde.

* For the first time ever, neuroscientists have demonstrated the viability of direct — and completely non-invasive — brain-to-brain communication in humans. Remarkably, the experiment allowed subjects to exchange mentally-conjured words despite being 5,000 miles apart.

* Science fiction classics in the news: Syfy Greenlights Six-Hour Miniseries Childhood’s End.

BP May Be Fined Up to $18 Billion for Spill in Gulf. Almost 18 days revenue, less than a year’s profit…

Workers At Coal Waste Landfill Told That Coal Ash Is ‘Safe Enough To Eat,’ Lawsuit Says.

Joan Rivers Always Knew She Was Funny. Joan Rivers and today’s comediennes.

Downloaded Games Have A Larger Carbon Footprint Than Blu-Ray Discs. There’s some really questionable assumptions in here, but the argument that theres’s some point where this is true is an important one.

* A Child Helps Your Career, If You’re a Man.

Ms. Budig found that on average, men’s earnings increased more than 6 percent when they had children (if they lived with them), while women’s decreased 4 percent for each child they had. Her study was based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979 to 2006, which tracked people’s labor market activities over time. Childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns, while married mothers earn 76 cents, widening the gap.

* Here’s why CVS stopped selling cigarettes.

* Here’s why Twitter shouldn’t algorithmize users’ feeds.

* This is the most detailed map yet of our place in the universe.

* Bold new directions: Shazam will differ from other DC movies by being fun.

* Every popular text eventually gets an “it was all just a hallucination” rewrite. Today it’s Harry Potter’s turn.

New Girl at School Had to Wear “Shame Suit” After Dress Code Violation.

* Werner Herzog will guest star on Parks And Recreation.

* Nothing good will happen anymore: Actually, HBO didn’t commission more Flight Of The Conchords.

* Here’s something I should probably waste all my money on.

* New Miracleman Comics Stories (Including One by Grant Morrison) Coming Soon.

* This Map Shows How Hunting Wiped Out Whales In Less Than A Century.

* And FiveThirtyEight is there with a hot take: If Tony Survived The ‘Sopranos’ Finale, He’s Probably Alive Today.

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Written by gerrycanavan

September 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Bad Fans, Good Fans, and Some Quick Thoughts on ‘Breaking Bad’

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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:

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.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Tuesday Night Links

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A Scholarship of Resistance: Bravery, Contingency, and Higher Education.

Dear Professor James, #YOLO :). Riffing on this story, though this one is also in the background somewhere.

Fat profits at NCAA while athletes play for free.

* Against creative writing.

David Simon on America’s war on drugs and The House I Live In. Introduction to TNI‘s marijuana issue.

Open Casting Call for History Based Reality TV Show.

* Plot to rig the mayor’s race in New York City.

* The headline reads, “Pope’s foot-wash a final straw for traditionalists.” Elsewhere on the Catholic beat: A suspended Roman Catholic priest in Connecticut accused of making more than $300,000 in sales of methamphetamines is expected to plead guilty to one of the charges.

* So that’s why they act that way: Refusing to apologize can have psychological benefits.

Did Pacific Islanders reach South America before Columbus?

As Canada scrambles to dig up some of the world’s dirtiest oil, a bush doctor tracks mysterious diseases, poisoned rivers, and shattered lives. From 2008. I’m sure we’ve sorted it all out by now.

* The Atlantic interviews Kim Stanley Robinson.

KSR: With capitalism, we can say that it has very strong residual elements of feudalism. It’s as if feudalism liquefied and the basis of power moved from land to money, but with the injustice of the huge hierarchical feudal differences between rich and poor still intact. What is emergent in capitalism is harder to identify, but there may be something to the idea of the global village, also the education of the entire world population, so that everyone knows the world situation and wants justice, that may be leading the way to a more just global society. Seeing and exaggerating these emergent elements is something utopian science fiction tries to do. So the dichotomy is a sort of x/y graph in a thought experiment.

* One night in the life of a Boston cabbie.

* Game of Thrones renewed for fourth of eighty planned seasons.

Drawing the impossible? Fully dressed Superheroines.

* Wake up, sheeple! Only 4% of voters say they believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power.

* Presenting Adam Kotsko’s grading lexicon.

* Feminism for women who can’t cry at work.

* And your headline of the day: Why I Study Duck Genitalia.

Monday Links

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* Welcome to the future: Another grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild.

* Whiteness and Breaking Bad: America isn’t flooded with pure meth, and it’s not because our chemists are too ethical. The illegal drug market simply doesn’t reward peerless expertise in the same way celebrity cooking shows do.

The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican, to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D marine playing alien in Avatar or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.

* Paging Kim Stanley Robinson: NASA seems to have violated its own Prime Directive by failing to consult its Planetary Protection Officer on the Curiosity mission.

Teachers are striking in Chicago. Meanwhile: How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party. Thank goodness Obama’s winning, so he can finally crush the teachers’ unions once and for all!

* Solitary confinement in schools? Jesus Christ.

* Richard Posner is making sense: The notion of using the criminal law as the primary means of dealing with a problem of addiction, of misuse, of ingesting dangerous drugs — I don’t think that’s sensible at all.

* Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loan Roundup.

“I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represent — for our industry,” the consultant, Jerry Ashton, wrote in a column for a trade publication, InsideARM.com. “It was lip-smacking.”

Meanwhile, America’s defaulted student loans total more than yearly tuition at public colleges.

* Star Trek 2 has a title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Early returns: Pretty terrible! Star Wars on Poverty. Lord of the Rings That Bell.

* James Cameron always envisioned Avatar as 19 films.

I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.

But what happened before that? And before that? And…

* The director of Looper has a metaphor for a model of time travel logic I don’t think I’ve seen before: the universe as a body with an immune system that seeks to push out foreign objects.

The problem isn’t that this is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life; the problem is that it’s seven of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life glued together haphazardly, their inexorable badness amplified by their awkward juxtaposition. Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski wanted to make a movie unlike any other, and they certainly did: Cloud Atlas is a unique and totally unparalleled disaster.

*  Study: There is enough wind on this planet to meet our entire energy needs.

* Tressie McMillan Cottom reviews the captivating documentary The Queen of Versailles, which I caught at the local independent movie house this weekend. It’s quite good—a stunning portrait of the wealthy’s perspective of the “normal” workings of the economy and of the 2008-2009 economic collapse.

* And when polls fail: Do 15% of Ohio Republicans really think Romney killed bin Laden? Probably not.