Cultural Criticism

The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project is a fantastic series of video about “sexist patterns associated with female representations in games, and to illuminate how these patterns reinforce and perpetuate harmful attitudes about women in our culture”. I watched part one (embedded below) on “Women as Background Decoration” in games. And part two, which centers more representation of male violence against women in video games.

Via The New Inquiry, “TNI Syllabus: Gaming and Feminism”.

The Washington Post published a video that shows “How Fox News has shifted its coronavirus rhetoric”.

For weeks, some of Fox News’s most popular hosts downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, characterizing it as a conspiracy by media organizations and Democrats to undermine President Trump.

In all, it has been a complicated dance for a network whose hosts are among Trump’s most ardent boosters and defenders — an increasingly challenging position to take as the crisis grew in magnitude. Trump, meanwhile, has long looked to Fox News and its personalities for guidance and approval, a dynamic that may have been pivotal this week after host Tucker Carlson reportedly visited with the president in person to urge him to take the coronavirus seriously.

As a long time ago player of the online role-playing game World of Warcraft I found this video about “5 Ways Classic WoW Has Changed” quite interesting. The game is quite old but has been recently re-released. The maker of this video goes into some of aspects on how even though it is mostly the same game, it is played in a drastically different form. The main difference I understand that there is a lot more knowledge sharing of how the game should be “played optimally”. Which has been made possible through the rise of for example live streaming, Youtube, etc.

With Classic WoW been out for a few months now, the game is played in a very different way than how it was played in the past! In this video I go over some of the ways gameplay has changed over the years!

Two interesting articles from the Economist 1843 magazine:

  • In this article from the “Postscards from Silicon Valley” series the author discusses the “San Francisco’s Salesforce Park”, the parc’s links with the tech industry and how the design/architecture of the park excludes some people.
  • And another article about San Franscisco and Silicon Valley explores “the gradual absorption of the counterculture by capital”.

I’m always interested to learn about influences on culture and traditions that are otherwise taken for granted, or are considered “natural”. So I’m pleased to find out via Wikipedia about “The Pizza Effect” as one perspecive on such a phenomena:

“(…) phenomenon of elements of a nation or people’s culture being transformed or at least more fully embraced elsewhere, then re-imported back to their culture of origin, or the way in which a community’s self-understanding is influenced by (or imposed by, or imported from) foreign sources. It is named after the idea that modern pizza toppings were developed among Italian immigrants in the United States (rather than in native Italy, where in its simpler form it was originally looked down upon), and was later exported back to Italy to be interpreted as a delicacy in Italian cuisine.”

Looking at a keynote presentation of Lisa Nakamura at the transmediale 2018 “Call Out, Protest, Speak Back”. She focuses on the importance of critical race and feminist theory for understanding contemporary culture of digital technologies. Interesting use of Audrey Lorde’s quote that “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” and how we can’t fix technology with more technology.

Can our phone use shape how we eat our food? A funny article from The Guardian provides some examples of devices to “tailor the dining experience around our phone-centric lifestyles”.

It seems that some "literary elites" feel threatened by the approach of Marie Kondo to only keep books that “spark joy. I agree that books don’t have to necessarily give you joy, and from my perspective you should only keep the ones that had an impact on you and you reach for regularly. But if you care so much about hoarding your books, is there not some part of you that simply needs them to keep up your profile as an intellectual? I have a few books myself that I want to keep, but most of the books that I have read and shaped me are also on the shelves of public libraries, or I have given away again.

Great video essay on the channel ‘The Pop Detective’ on a trope that is used in the US television show The Big Bang Theory of adorkable mysogyny: “Adorkable misogynists are male characters whose geeky version of masculinity is framed as both comically pathetic and endearing. And it’s their status as nerdy nice guys that then lets them off the hook for a wide range of creepy, entitled, and downright sexist behaviors… These types of characters are shown engaging in a variety of harassing, entitled, and sexist behavior where women are concerned. They consistently stalk, spy on, lie to, and try to manipulate the women in their lives. They’re overbearing, they refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer, and they often ignore the basic tenets of consent.”. Also check out their other video on The Complicity of Geek Masculinity on the Big Bang Theory.

Agree with this article from the Washington Post on how it seems that so much classical is being promoted as soothing or something to fall asleep too: “This is a deeply unsatisfying way to describe one of our most storied art forms. Even music that is superficially calm and slow can contain depth, tension and difficult themes. The industry sells classical music as a mellow monolith when it is in fact capable of stirring any and all emotions, serving any and all ends — divine and hellish. The way we talk about culture, any culture, shapes how we think about it, so we should not be so narrow in our choice of language.”.