Tommy Wiseau: An Exercise in Rewarding Failure?

Tommy Wiseau isn’t funny.  Tommy Wiseau isn’t brilliant.  Tommy Wiseau doesn’t deserve the cult status you people give him.  Even if it’s crappy “hur hur memes r the lulz” cult status, because even when you’re laughing at the fail on such a widespread level, you’re still acknowledging that Tommy Wiseau exists, and you really shouldn’t encourage this level of failure.

For the three people who probably don’t know who this guy is, Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, starred in, produced, and probably catered for a movie simply known as The Room.  While saying this out loud isn’t exactly new, thought-provoking discussion, it still needs to be said: The Room is garbage.  I’ve literally seen TROMA movies that had more effort put into them, and you’d be amazed how often Uncle Loyd recycles some of those shots of people driving cars.

Tommy Wiseau HIMSELF…  A lot of people are convinced he’s trolling us, and that his persona, coupled with his shit movie, is the single greatest act of trolling ever.  Somehow, I’m not buying it.  I genuinely believe this guy thinks he’s a lot better at what he does than he actually is.

It’s one thing to be proud of your work.  Hell, I’ve written a dud or two in my time (cough Family Reunion), but even I feel good about having a story out there in public.

It’s one thing to feel proud about your project, though, and it’s another thing to delude yourself into thinking you’re good at what you do.  I’m not really sure what Wiseau thinks he’s doing.  I’ve theorized that the man is either an anticomedian, a space alien, or one of THOSE artists.  Neither of which are positives that justify his movie, but all the same, it gives me something to anchor to.

If it was just a bad movie made by a guy whose first language CLEARLY isn’t English, that’d be fine.  Worst case scenario, it drifts around the ether of Amazon.com or wherever, we never hear from it again outside “art” circles, and the world is a beautiful place.  Except I remembered that I live in the version of Earth where Donald fucking Trump is president, Tim Heidecker gets as many TV shows as he wants, and “I Miss the Misery” by Halestorm is considered a party song.  So of course a movie that sucks this much gets elevated to cult status.

I personally subscribe to the Kevin Murphy philosophy that was briefly mentioned in his book, A Year at the Movies.  I believe that failure shouldn’t be rewarded.  Bad movies don’t deserve to be talked about.  The Razzies, while fun, and possibly even cathartic to some, is ultimately the spirit award of cinema.

“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?  How about that movie you made that bombed at the box office and nobody liked.  Sure was a piece of shit, wasn’t it?  Here, have a trophy.”

Failure shouldn’t be rewarded.  At absolute most, failure is something you should keep in the ole disappointments room, and kept around only as a reminder of how yall done fucked up.  Take that failure, and learn from it.  Remember that this right here is how NOT to make a movie.

I grew up between the generation that buried hundreds of thousands of unsold E.T. cartridges, and the generation that says “Wow, Bee Movie sure did suck.  Let’s spend an entire spring break polluting the internet with Bee Movie memes and convince the internet it’s worth remembering despite the fact it clearly isn’t.”  Which basically means I received a spirit award or two (they were called fourth place ribbons when I ran track in high school), but I was encouraged to not put them on the same level as a medal or an actual trophy.  They were a way of saying “Hey, you suck too much to get a medal, but at least you didn’t come in last.”

The fact people make The Room memes, or do parodies of popular movies on YouTube in the style of The Room is more recognition than this movie deserves, and more recognition than Wiseau HIMSELF deserves.  With all due respect to the author, I don’t plan on reading The Disaster Artist out of fear it’ll only fuel the machine.

Now I’ll own up to liking a few bad movies in my time.  I’m literally the only human being on Earth who seems to have actually LIKED Apollo 18, for example.  I am a loud and proud fan of The Purge movies (though I really need to see the third one).  Hell, I even liked Tusk.  These movies are also bad…  But unlike The Room, or anything else Wiseau has put out, these movies looked like someone actually put FUCKING EFFORT into them.  There was a good idea here.  There was a sequence of events that, at least in context of the universe, made perfect sense.  Go ahead and disagree with the possibility The Purge could happen one day, or believe all you want that The Lost Cosmonaut Theory is bunk, but surely you can at least agree that there was some thought put into all this.

The Room…  Ugh, The Room.  I’ve seen honest to god Skinemax flicks that had better acting than this.  Better set design, too.  Hell, even the plot was more coherent and not repetitive.  And have you actually WATCHED sex?  Take your dick out of your hand, take all the anticipation and excitement out of it, and just watched it from an analytical level?  It’s probably the most repetitive, monotonous activity out there!

Just because a movie is funny for all the wrong reasons doesn’t instantly make it good.  Or even redeemable.  It’s admirable that you managed to find a way to enjoy cinematic torture, but if I’m supposed to be taking this dead serious, yet all I do is laugh the entire time, yall done fucked up, son.

And I know memes don’t usually pick on good movies, but at the same time, the fact we’re even acknowledging this movie and this man even exist in the first place seems like we’re only encouraging him to keep existing.  Hell, I’ve written, like, three pages or so of text at this point, and I’m already trying to justify posting this incoherent ramblefest outside the fact I’m fucking sick of seeing Wiseau memes on my Facebook feed.

I probably make it sound like I’m furious, but really, I’m not.  Hell, at this point, I’m barely annoyed at absolute best.  After years of being taught that failure isn’t something I should be proud of (not necessarily ASHAMED of, but not proud of either), I’m suddenly finding that we’re reveling in it.

“This movie sucks!  Let’s give it ridiculous amounts of attention!  Let’s have special viewings, and make dumb parody videos and put them up for everyone else to see!”

I just don’t get that mentality.  Then again, I also don’t get why it’s suddenly okay for thirty-year-old men to admit out loud they watch cartoons for seven-year-old girls, or why after years and years of developing technology to where video games are practically fully rendered movies, the most popular things to play are the same fucking 8-byt “metroidvania” games we played in the days of the NES.  Believe me, I could, and on occasion, HAVE ranted on those topics individually.

I just feel like all this time we’re spending giggling at Tommy Wiseau is doing two things:

First off, it’s not helping the guy.  If anything, it’s only encouraging him to be as horrible at his job as humanly possible.  By portraying The Room as “a spectacle”, and celebrating its horridness, you’re only telling Wiseau, and future generations (maybe) that this is okay.

Secondly, I feel like all this energy we’re putting into this clearly could be spent on better things.  There are great things on Netflix right now that we could be watching.  Sure maybe everything on Netflix’s original category isn’t for everyone, but surely there’s something there that’s more worth investing time in than the same fucking garbage cinema you’ve been meming, parodying, and overall inflicting on all of us for the last decade now.

Thumbs Vs. Stars

Netflix had been talking about switching from the five stars system to the thumbs up or down system for a few months, but up until earlier tonight, I had dismissed it as a rumor. However, I logged on to Netflix after a day of work, proofreading, and what not, and found that they finally made good on that promise.
I wonder out loud why they bothered switching from one system to another like this. A friend of mine is convinced that the thums system was set up after Amy Schumer threw a fucking temper tantrum over the fact her special was getting record-setting amounts of one-star ratings. Some people (Schumer herself included, apparently) claim it’s people being assholes because a woman is doing stand up. Others believe it’s because Amy Schumer is legitimately not funny, and spends more time talking about her vagina stink than actually telling jokes. Normally, I belong to group B, but as far as whether it’s the reason Netflix switched from stars to thumbs… I don’t know, man, I think it was a lot more complicated than that.
Well, whatever their reason is, they switched to thumbs. So instead of five possible options, now you have two: thumbs up, or thumbs down.
Am I in favor of stars, or thumbs? Honestly, I don’t know. They both really have their ups and their downs.
Bill Burr: stand up comedian and recent hero of mine, was on his podcast talking about the negatives of the thumbs system. He made claims that one simple, petty complaint that ultimately contributes fuck all in the longrun might be enough for Mr. Petty-fucking-asshole to thumbs down your standup special. “Oh, I didn’t like the color of the background. Thumbs down. Oh, that one joke wasn’t funny. Thumbs down.” etc.
In a way, he’s definitely on to something. I’d like to think that the average Netflix bingewatcher isn’t a savage retard like about ninety percent of the people who leave comments on YouTube videos. Of course, we are talking about people. This may be my misanthropic attitude from my early twenties talking, but people are assholes, there’s too god damn many of us, and the world would be better off if seventy-five percent of us died right now.
The star system had more variety. If you liked a show, but didn’t LOVE the show, you could just rate it four. If you thought it was just okay, you could rate it three. Five and one were the extremes. A lot of the time, you could follow the same philosophy a lot of Amazon.com users follow, and trust only the four, three, or two star reviews. The ones who rate it five or one probably love or hate the show that much, but someone who rates it four, three, or two is probably more guaranteed to be genuine, and not a kiss-ass.
The thumbs system, meanwhile, demands a lot more of you. It takesaway the ambiguity four, three, or two stars may leave behind, but with the thumbs system in place, you either love it, or you hate it. No middle ground is possible.
If Amy Schumer hissyfits were really the reason for this change in ratings, I have a hard time seeing it accomplishing anything. The people who rated it two stars, or even three stars will probably just thumbs-down the standup special now. Which between my friend’s comments, and my own research, means people still fucking hate her special. Congratulations, dipshit, you accomplished nothing.
In the longrun, I prefer the stars. There’s more flexibility in the star system. There’s a lot of stuff I watch on Netflix I don’t feel deserves a positive rating, but it doesn’t deserve a negative rating either. I give shows like Bordertown a nice neutral three, because while they keep me amused in the moment, I don’t see myself watching it again. I only ever give the truly horrendous a one-star.
In the thumbs system, though, there is no nice neutral rating. You either love it, or you hate it. Or you decide not to rate it, but that’s not really contributing anything. Dead silence is the worst thing you can give an artist. Or an actor. Or a comedian. Or a lonely blind guy on OKcupid trying to find some sort of companionship in a fucked up world where Donald fucking Trump can be president, but I can’t even get a book published for real because…
Uh, got a little sidetracked.
I personally favor the star system. But maybe I’m a fringe minority. Maybe people prefer the thumbs system. Hell, maybe the next step is to put a Facebook esque system in place where there’s no thums down. Either like my show, or get the fuck out.
What do you say, audience? Stars or thumbs? Or do you even care?

Addicted to Dating?

I’ve had an OKcupid account for the better part of three years now. I’ve deactivated and reactivated it on several occasions throughout those years. In 2016, it was because I found someone who could put up with my dumb neurotic ass for more than one date. Usually, though, it’s closed because I get ghosted repeatedly and thus get mad at the fact that I’m apparently not worth so much as a generic “this isn’t going to work” message that a fucking autogenerator can produce in seconds, I close the account saying “This time, I fucking mean it!”, I spend a couple days to a couple weeks in the pit of perpetual depression and ennui, and then reactivate the account despite my previous intention to close it and keep it closed, and convince myself that somehow it’s going to be different this time.
The fact I’ve been doing this for three years should convince the most spectacular of all flunkouts from any given science program that it’s never different. It drives my roommate insane when I go into the pit. My friends have urged me to give up on OKcupid. One friend in particular has suggested I just give up on dating altogether and embrace the single life. Even my mom thinks I “need a new hobby”. By all accounts, all of these people are probably right… And yet, I just keep going through with it.
The thing about OKcupidis that, unlike any other dating site I’ve used over the years, I actually get results. I had a plentyoffish.com account for about the same amount of time as my OKcupid account, but I didn’t take it NEARLY as seriously because in that entire time, a grand total of ONE PERSON ever responded to me. I had a Match.com account for a grand total of nine months. I met people on there, but I had to pay to use their service. It’s hard to commit to something that has a monthly fee looming over head. Probably why I never got into MMOs back in the day, although just as much of that was because I didn’t have that kind of money. For Match.com, or for MMO games.
OKupid, in short, has been the best of both worlds: it’s free (mostly), and I actually get results. Disappointing, self-esteem crushing results it seems, but results all the same. And I think that’s why I keep going: because I get just enough results to give me hope, but not much in the way of legit success.
After nearly three years of disappointing dates, getting ghosted, and spam-likes from some asshole in Kernie, Missouri who doesn’t seem to get the hint that I’m not going to fall for their obvious fake profile (and even if it’s real, I’m not going to god damn Kernie , Missouri if I can avoid it), you’d think I’d quit by now. Shit, I quit playing Gems of War a month after I bought it, and that ended up being MORE of a headache than this. But For some reason, I just keep coming back to this dating site!
After thinking it over for a while, I can’t help but come to one conclusion: I have a gambling problem.
Dating is a lot like gambling: it’s a complete and total crapshoot, the house always seems to win, and there was a point where I was convinced the dice may be loaded. And yet, like that slot machine that occasionally gives me back all the quarters I put into it and dares me to keep going, I keep putting money and effort into it thinking this time I’m going to hit the jackpot. Hell, almost a year ago, I thought I DID hit the jackpot. But I’ve been over that in my 2016 retrospective.
The thing is I’ve been to casinos, and never really got hooked into any of the games. Half of the games the local casino offers are games I’ve never even heard of. I played slot machines, but didn’t really see what the big deal was. I played a round of craps, and ended up finding it more tedious than anything else, what with the fact you have to roll over and over and over again until you either make point, or seven out.
I get obsessed with a video game from time to time, but have you seen video games lately? It’s just as much of a game as it is a cinematic experience. I’m more obsessed with seeng how the story ends than I am with actual rewards. Especially since a lot of games think fucking concept art is a reward. Maybe if I were an artist, but I’m not. So no, no it fucking isn’t.
Dating, or really on-line dating, is a different story. I don’t know why I keep coming back to this when it clearly isn’t working, but I do. My roommate is on record saying I seem to have developed an unhealthy laser focus on the idea of having a girlfriend. Except really, I’m not even sure that’s what it is anymore. Sure, that might’ve been the endgame back when I started… But now, I think I just want to roll the dice for the sake of rolling the dice.
I don’t know. It’s 2:00 AM, I just got through telling someone that they really should’ve indicated on their profile they had kids from a previous marriage, and I really have a bad feeling I’m a week away from explaining all this to a therapist or something. And I don’t exactly have money for a therapist, but it seems like this may be on the horizon no matter what I have to say. I can smell the intervention all the way from here.

My Adulthood Experiences with D&D

Dungeons and Dragons.  Admit it, you’ve heard of it.  Lord knows I’d heard of it.  For the longest time, though, my experience with D&D has been pretty…  Mixed.

I’d first heard of Dungeons and Dragons when I was a wee little lad, living out in Western Kansas.  Western Kansas, for the record, is the single reddest part of one of the reddest states to ever red.  Meaning that if you ever brought up D&D, regardless of context, you’d be getting a lecture about how it was the work of Satan, and all yall chilins should shut the fuck up and read your damn bible.  I didn’t see the connection as a kid, but I ended up following the advice on the grounds adults are smart, and always know what they’re talking about.

Then I got older.  Suddenly, I realized adults aren’t all that smart.  I mean shit, most of them voted for Bush.  Twice.

I also quickly learned that individuals who declare that “[X] is the work of the devil” are either VERY poorly informed, or sanctimonious pricks.  They said D&D promoted Satannism, but they also said Harry Potter promoted Satannism.  Because apparently, Jesus is the only person allowed to cast spells I guess.  They said Pokémon promoted Satannism.  I’m still trying to figure out how they came up with that one, honestly.  These same people said stuff like The Life of Bryan was blasphemous, and that The Da Vinchi Code needed to be boycotted, and that The Passion of the Christ was the single most important movie ever made.  Life of Bryan is hilarious, Passion of the Christ was nothing but a two hour snuff film starring Jesus, and…  Well, The Da Vinchi Code wasn’t great, but heaven forbid something come along and challenge your perspective on life.  Slowly but surely, I was starting to realize these people were either stupid, or sheep.  And let’s be honest, sheep aren’t very smart to begin with.

But I’ve already gone on that tangent about my time in Christianity, so let’s move on.

of all the things I did as a teenager that were in blatant defiance of the right-winged, uberchristian culture I was born into and forced to endure, picking up Dungeons and Dragons actually wasn’t it.  I didn’t think it was a product designed to promote Satannism…  But it was pretty damn nerdy.

Evidence may suggest otherwise (especially in hindsight), but I never really considered myself a nerd in high school.  I wasn’t good enough at sports to be a jock, and a lot of sports were out of reach for a one-eyed individual such as myself.  I wasn’t a goth kid, because my family had a dog that shed like crazy, and black clothes were a magnet for white fur.  I wasn’t a theater kid, though lord knows I tried.  I wasn’t a cool kid, because to this very day, the more popular something is, the more I tend to avoid it like the plague.  I wasn’t a hit with the ladies…  Partly because impaired kids are NEVER a hit with the ladies, but mostly because I wasn’t a people person back then.  In a lot of ways, I’m still not.

The only REAL clique I truly fit in with were the kids I dubbed “the metal clique”.  They were like goths, but the music was better, and it was less “the world sucks and I want to die”, and more “the world sucks and I want to burn shit.”  They were like jocks, except none of us were ever going to medal in anything.  Depending on your taste in metal, you could probably mesh with theater kids, though you’re a lot less interested in acting out The Crucible, and more interested in recreating something you saw GWAR do on stage.  Not entirely sure if anime is TRADITIONALLY part of the metal culture, but Yu Yu Hakusho was considered quintessential.  Largely because we were all Yusuke Urameshi.  But I digress.

You’d really think something like Dungeons and Dragons would appeal to a group like this.  It had metal imagery like dragons and epic battles resulting in massive carnage and bloodshed.  Blind Guardian, and other bands of that subgenre wrote songs based on D&D, and D&D esque franchises like Dragonlance, or Lord of the Rings.  And of course, the Christians hated it.  Sounds like the perfect match…  Except nobody was even remotely interested.  We may not’ve OFFICIALLY been the cool kids, but we weren’t about to get bumped to the same table as the nerds for fuck sakes.

I didn’t show any REAL interest in D&D until my adult years.  And even then, I didn’t start out with D&D.

Somewhere around 2013, my friends and I tried our hand at the ole tabletop RPG.  However, we went with Shadowrun.  It had cyberpunk elements, which one of my friends was, and still is into.  I myself was also interested in Shadowrun for more or less the same reason at one point.  So we ended up trying our luck with Shadowrun.  And…  Honestly…  It was a disaster.

One of our friends didn’t get the concept of rollplaying at all.  The GM didn’t really explain the rules, character customization, or really ANYTHING all that well, and in the end, we just made shit up and rolled D6 for everything.  The campaign we ended up picking at first was clearly not intended for beginners.  In fact, reading a little more into Shadowrun, I’m starting to think Shadowrun IN GENERAL isn’t for beginners.  I know for sure it’s the one D-20 game I’ve ever seen that doesn’t use a D-20.

So yeah, our attempt at a Tabletop RPG group was pretty much the equivalent of giving birth to a stillborn baby: a lot of pain and agony for a result that left a lot of us depressed for weeks at a time, wondering where the hell we went wrong.  What, too dark?  The original line was going to involve compare it to performing a wire hanger abortion on yourself.  And it’s at this point I realize I’ve been watching WAY too much Zero Punctuation.

Though our group didn’t succeed, like, at all, I still found the concept of the tabletop RPG intriguing.  It also helped that around the same time, The Spoony Experiment, and a couple other TGWTG personalities I liked at the time were trying THEIR hands at…  I think it was Pathfinder?  Either way, as I watched, and learned the rules, I realized something: this game is actually pretty fun when everybody knows what the hell they’re doing.

My friends and I haven’t tried a D-20 game since, but I’ve still found myself interested in the world of D&D.  I’m far from the most knowledgable person on Earth, even after three or four years of on-again-off-again research.  It also doesn’t help they put out new editions every seven or eight years or so, and change FUCKING EVERYTHING in the process.  In any case, I find myself making D&D characters in my spare time on occasion.  I imagine up a campaign idea that, with a large degree of effort, could actually become something worthy of recording and posting on-line.  Hell, I even listen to a podcast that’s basically a dude and his friends playing the game!

highly recommend this podcast, by the way.  It’s pretty entertaining.  Even when they aren’t playing D&D and just talking about video games or whatever.  Bird is my favorite. 🙂

One day, I may find a group of like-minded folks who’ll welcome my novice ass into the fold, and I can actually try this out.  If nothing else, it gives me a reason to buy that Cthulhu dice set and dice bag.  Till then, my fascination is more of a spectator sort of thing.

American Labor Party?

The election is over.  About seventy-five percent of the people sending me petitions and requests for donations have either ceased operations, or I unsubscribed from them.  The remaining twenty-five percent, meanwhile, have reorganized their priorities now that the election is over in an effort that…  I hate to say, seems like an exercise in futility now that the republicans have everything.  Stranger things have happened, and as divided as the democrats are right now between Clintonite shills and Bernie backers, The Republican Party is actually just as divided.  That being said, I’m still bracing myself for anywhere between two to eight years of Christian tallaban rule despite these petitioners and their best efforts.

I bring this up, though, because one petitioner actually has a concept that left me scratching my head.  A petition is circling the net, and if it gets enough signatures, we might be seeing the beginning of The American Labor Party.

First of all, I’m pretty sure the labor party is a British political party.  Furthermore, I’m pretty sure the British Labor Party is basically the British equivalent of the democrats over here.  I could be wrong about that, though.  By all means, correct me on this.

As a third party man myself (Go Justice Party!  Rock the teal!), I can tell you right now that this is going to be an uphill battle.  The last time a third party had ANY success in America was Ross Perot.  Say what you want about Perot’s politics, personality, and the fact the dude could probably fly by simply flapping his ears, but looking back in 1992, you have to admit, he was a pretty influential figure.  It’s too bad The Reform Party fell to pieces like it did (thanks a lot, Buchanan), because if I were old enough in the 90s, I’d have probably registered as a Reformer.

All and all, you’re more than welcome to try, but I have a hard time seeing this new third party working out for anybody.  The Libertarian Party was at its most popular this election, but even THEY couldn’t win a single state.  And don’t even get me started on Garry Johnson again, or we’ll be here all day, and frankly, I have work in an hour.

But I suppose all of this has little to do with anything, because the most defining feature of any party is their agenda.  The democrats are…  Or WERE a home for lefties.  The republicans are home for the psychotic Christians and corporate tycoons who don’t want to pay taxes.  The libertarians are for those who want small government.  The Justice Party is home to people like me who are sick of corporate greed, government bureaucracy, and cronyism.  The Constitution Party (assuming they’re still a thing) want to preserve the United States constitution, and rule according to it and it alone.  The Freedom and Peace Party are communists.  And I suppose The Green Party is in there somewhere as well, but good luck figuring out what THEY want now that Nader isn’t there anymore.

So what will The Labor Party stand for?  At the time I’m writing this, your guess is as good as mine.  Although it was mentioned in the email that Bernie Sanders’ general philosophies are part of the foundation, so that probably speaks volumes all by itself.

Thing is, though, a lot of those philosophies are already part of The Justice Party.  Hell, The Justice Party themselves opted out of the 2016 election on the grounds Bernie Sanders basically wanted everything we wanted.  A decision that ultimately proved to be an exercise in futility, but I suppose in failing to get our guy past the primaries, this year was the opportunity we needed to build the foundation of our party a little more, and get the funding and support to get senate and house rep campaigns going.

So yeah, if you’re asking me personally, I can’t help but think this Labor Party might be a waste of time.  Maybe if The Justice Party collapses in on itself and kurplodes between now and 2020, I’ll think about it.  Assuming the effort for The Labor Party didn’t kurplode as well, at which point, I’m loudly and proudly independent again.

Still, it might be interesting to see what they come up with.

Is Scott Cauthon an Anarchist?

As I’ve said in a previous article, I’ve followed the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise for a while now.  And by follow the franchise, I mean I follow a couple YouTubers who more or less owe their fame and fortune to playing and over reacting (maybe) to the jump scares.  my shit eye sight is totally not up to the task of surviving ONE night at Freddy’s, let alone five.  It doesn’t help the cameras get fuzzier and glitchier with each installment, but I digress.  It’s been a fascinating ride that has only recently become a bit of a headache.

But the more I look back on FNAF, the more I find myself wondering out loud: is Scott Cauthon an anarchist?  It sounds a little far fetched, but hear me out.

Anarchism is the absence of any and all leadership.  Also known as “SHUT UP, MOM!  GOD!  STOP MAKING ME DO STUFF!  I can’t wait to move out of here.  I can do anything I want then.”

Oh yeah, I went there.  COME AND GET ME, RON PAUL!  But I digress.

Anarchy, simply put, means that there are no rules.  It perpetuates the belief that things are better when there’s no rules, no regulations, and no one telling you what to do.  It’s also been described as “The Purge year round”, but if you actually WATCH The Purge, it becomes very clear The Purge actually DOES have a rule or two in place.  REAL anarchy doesn’t even have limits on what caliber gun you can have, or who you can kill like The Purge does.

Scott Cauthon, among many other things, is famous for  his mini-games within the various FNAF games.

In FNAF2, you’re given short mini-games upon death that give you clear cut instructions: give the kids cake, give them gifts, “GO!  GO!  GO!”, etc.  You follow the rules, and what is your reward?  More jump scares.  Notice that jump scares in FNAF are your punishment.  They’re the games’ way of saying “Yall done fucked up, son.”  Except the only way to WIN the mini-games is to follow the instructions.  If you do what the game tells you, you get punished.  You can’t win.

In the case of FNAF3, and FNAF: Sister Location, you’re given mini-games that require you to go from the start to the goal.  Except if you actually follow the rules, and go from start to goal, you get nothing.  You get zilch, nada, goose egg, the big zero, an overdose of nothingness…  That last one might be a Tristania song, but all the same, you get squat.  Seems kind of pointless then, right?

But if you actually DON’T follow the rules, and DON’T go to the goal like an obedient little drone, you not only find alternate goals, but you actually get rewarded!  You get the good ending if instead of going from start to finish, you actually break the mini-game and go to the goal off screen.  If you ignore the goal altogether in the Sister Location mini-game, and instead bring the ice cream cone to the girl at the starting point, you get access to the restricted area.

Maybe I’m thinking a little too hard about this, but it seems to me that Scott Cauthon is encouraging, maybe even demanding that players stop playing by the rules, and intentionally go against everything they were taught to believe was right in order to get the good shit.  Don’t go to the OBVIOUS goal, because you end up with a whole bunch of nothing.  Instead, glitch the game, break the rules, give the authority that told you this is how you do it the finger, and find this goal over here, and you get everything your heart desires.  You get closure.  You get a good ending.  You get to see how your stupid soap opera with the vampire ends, and a new roommate!

The lesson I got from Scott Cauthon?  Well other than Chuck E. Cheese is fucking creepy at night, springlocks are a terrible idea, and purple people can’t be trusted, is fuck the rules.  The rules are a box, and you’ll eventually be buried in it.  Break the cycle, and overthrow the government!  Or at least don’t go for the obvious end with the big shiny sign reading “GOAL!”.  I’m pretty sure it’s one of those.

Agree?  Disagree?  Have no idea what I’m talking about?

Maybe My First Sin Was With My Right Hand

In 2013, my family and I took a tour of Branson, Missouri.  Oh my god, do NOT take a tour of Branson, Missouri.  There is a very good reason one of my old cab drivers referred to it as “Mormon Las Vegas”.

The trip could be summed up with three categories: country bumpkin production, comedian telling old people jokes I’ve already heard infinity billion times before, and long rides on a tour bus where the driver really tried to engage the passengers.  I, being a super entitled millennial apparently (pretty sure I just barely qualified as Generation X, but I probably read that generational chart wrong), spent most of those rides ignoring the shit out of everybody and listening to Speaker for the Dead on audio book.  Say whatever you want about Orscen Scott Card’s politics, but that guy writes some entertaining stories.  I wouldn’t say I was bored necessarily, but by the time we were on day two of this five day adventure, I was starting to want to go home.

Strangely, though, one of my fonder memories of the Branson vacation came during one of the breakfasts the tour company was putting on.

The person who ended up sitting next to me was a minister.  If I had to guess, based on how he talked about Jesus and the Christian faith, he was probably Southern Baptist.  This was going to be fun, hashtag-sarcasm.  I smiled and waved my way through the conversation, trying my best not to whip out my calculator and trying to calculate the specific amount of fuck I didn’t give about his ministry…  Then, he noticed I was left handed.

“This may surprise you,” he tells me, “but I’m also left handed.”

Well, maybe SURPRISE isn’t the word I’d use, but I suppose it was INTERESTING.  Kind of.

“a paster once told me an interesting thing,” he continued.  “He told me that the majority of people in the world are right-handed because when we commit our very first sin as human beings, we use our left hand.  Which means that the few of us that are left-handed are pure of heart.”

Uh…  Huh.  That’s actually kind of an interesting outlook on things, I thought for about ten minutes.

Naturally, in the name of politeness, and because this thought hadn’t occurred to me till after we were back on the bus, I kept my theory to myself.  However, I eventually came up with a different theory.

I suppose it’s possible that us left-handed folks have yet to commit a sin so bad, it changes us from lefties to righties.  However, who’s to say that I didn’t commit that sin already, and used my right hand to do it?  You ask me, that’s just as plausible.

By the Southern Baptist definition of “pure of heart”, I’m going to hell.  Undeniably, and undisputedly.  I cuss like a sailor, I’ve had sex out of wedlock, my favorite band in high school was Cradle of Filth, my favorite band RIGHT NOW is Ghost, I’ve stolen Pepsi bottles off of dorm staff’s desks and put them in other students’ rooms during my second year senior just to see what would happen…  I quite drinking alcohol (aside from that incident in July), but I think I’ve drank enough to where it counts.  Basically, I look at myself, and don’t think of myself as pure hearted.  In fact, that last one with the Pepsi makes me think I might have sociopathy.  Or maybe I was just a dick.

It’s possible I’m putting way too much thought into this.  I do that sometimes.  Really, it’s just something I thought of today at work, and figured I’d share it here.

What do you think?

Maybe DC Just Sucks

So the advanced screening reviews for Suicide Squad are in, and, shock of all shocks, it’s fucking horrible.  I haven’t seen it yet, and I usually don’t put a whole lot of stock into what a bunch of snobs fresh out the film academy have to say about a comic book movie.  At the same time, though, it’s not especially surprising.

A local morning show insists that there’s some sort of propaganda going around.  Notice how all the Marvel movies get nothing but positive reviews, and DC gets nothing but negative reviews.  Perhaps there’s a conspiracy afoot.

Yeah, or maybe DC just sucks.

Marvel has been getting nothing but positive reviews because their movies are actually good.  Hell, I’ve been going to Marvel movies since Marvel started this fantastic voyage in 2008, and the only real negative thing I can say about any of it is that it’s starting to get a little tiresome.  But even then, that’s only because I’ve been on this journey for eight years.  You’re going to get bored with the formula, and you’re going to wish Nick Fury had actually been dead in Winter Soldier on the grounds it would’ve been ballsy and different.

The only Marvel movie in the last eight years I can say I legitimately didn’t like was Guardians of the Galaxy.  I don’t know why I didn’t like it, either.  It just didn’t click with me for some reason.  Probably because my ultimate thought was along the lines of “A human, a raccoon, a sentient tree, a blue lady, and Dave Batista cruise around outer space and fight space crime in their awesome shuttle.  Is this one of those priest and a rabbi jokes?”

DC, meanwhile, has just been awful in the last 8 years.  Sure, there was The Dark Knight…  Except I actually had my problems with The Dark Knight.  The Dark Knight had the same problems Spider Man 3 had with its need to cram as many villains in as possible.  Did we really need Joker AND Two Face?  Maybe if you’d showed a little restraint and didn’t blow your load all at once, maybe you wouldn’t have had to use FUCKING BANE as your A-lister.  Bane: the villain whose ultimate claim to fame is “ME BIG!  ME HAS FORMULA TO MAKE ME BIGGER!  THEN ME IS REAL BIG!”

But for some reason, The Dark Knight franchise succeeded.  And DC got it in their head that ALL their properties have to be all dark and gritty.  Honestly, it works for Green Arrow, but it doesn’t work for literally every other hero I’ve seen so far.  It didn’t work for Man of Steel, it’s probably not going to work for The Justice League…

“But TJB,” you say.  “Suicide Squad is all about villains!  Doesn’t that deserve to be gritty?”

Honestly, it has the potential to be good like that.  If anything, this movie ought to have been the bizarro Avengers.  I’ll reserve my own personal judgment for when the movie finally comes out.  For now, though, you’ll forgive me if I tend to let track records do the talking on this one going in.

 

Does Nu Metal Really Deserve the Bum Rep it Has?

For those out of the loop, “Nu Metal” was a subgenre of rock and metal that was popular from around 1995-2003 or so.  It’s also earned names like “rap-rock”, “rapcore”, and “funk metal” from fans, and names like “angry white kid metal” and “divorce rock” from haters and dudes trying to be funny.

I know that not everything ages like fine wine.  Some things we look back on, and wonder what on Earth did we ever see in them.  In the case of the 1990s, it could be a lot of things: Beany Babies, Giggapets (also known as tamagachi), The Spice Girls, Jerry Springer, etc.  There was a lot of stuff back then I look back on, and can’t help but laugh at.  And while I’m not about to champion nu metal’s superiority to whatever crappy 8-byt dubstep autotuned robot voice nonsense or ukulele playing pansies are popular now, but I really feel like nu metal gets a bum rep nowadays.

A lot of it unfortunately comes from the spokesmen.  Thrash metal had acts like Metallica and Megadeth: people who not only pioneered the genre, but continue to withstand the test of time today (even if you hated St. Anger).  Progressive rock had iconic bands like Rush, and Queensryche: bands that, while not necessarily popular with EVERYBODY, are popular within their genre.  Power metal has legends like Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian, and Stratovarius: individuals that showed the world the benefits of being a virtuoso at your instrument, and well educated in the realms of fantasy.  Nu metal…  Had Limp Bizkit.

I’ll be the first to admit that thirteen years has done wonders for my opinion of Limp Bizkit’s music, but at the same time, I don’t pretend to forget the past, or abandon common sense.  Even at their best, Limp Bizkit was never shakespear.  No nu metal band was Shakespear, and you should probably go back to power metal if you want that sort of thing.  A lot of the Bizkit could easily be forgiven, though, if Fred Durst himself weren’t such a pain in the ass.  I refer you to the legendary feud he had with the vocalist of Creed, and Woodstock99 for starters.

To this very day, I feel like if nu metal had a different spokesgroup, the genre would have a bit of a better reputation.  Also, if bands like Linkin Park and Papa Roach, the bridge between nu metal and emo, hadn’t come into existence towards the end.

As a brief aside, though, Papa Roach isn’t the worst band I’ve ever heard.  Even when they were straight up rap-rock, they weren’t bad.  The one problem Papa Roach will probably never live down is “Last Resort”: a song that, while having the best of intentions, really didn’t age all that well in hindsight.  I still feel like they ought to have led with a different song.  I’d have gone with “Between Angels and Insects”, which probably laid out the groundwork for my political views in the long run, but I’d have also gone with “Dead Cell”, or the title track to “Infest”.  If it weren’t a B-side, I’d even go with “Legacy”.  They had so many good songs, and they went with “Last Resort”?  Ugh.

Okay, let’s get back on track.

The nu metal genre has many common criticisms.

The first of which, of course, is its simplicity.  A lot of nu metal songs take the old saying of “all you need to know in order to rock is three chords”, and pushes it to the limit.  Hell, some of the founders of the genre made due with only ONE chord!  Are you really going to be mad because someone took your old saying to heart?  It didn’t seem to be a problem when AC/DC was putting it to the test.  But I guess AC/DC came from the 70s, so that means they’re untouchable.  Or at least that’s the attitude around here.

And of course, there’s the popular criticism: all nu metal vocalists are whiners.  I’m not going to defend every single nu metal vocalist in the world, because let’s face it, it’s not one-hundred percent unfounded.  At best, though, I’d say that applies to the mainstream acts more than to the bands I liked.  Linkin Park were whiners.  Limp Bizkit could be pretty whiney when they wanted to be.  Hell, even Korn, the Metallica of nu metal, were pretty god damn whiney on those first couple albums.  But that doesn’t speak for the entire genre.

Whiney vocals aren’t exclusive to nu metal.  If anything, they’re exclusive to emo, except they’re not really exclusive.  I’ve seen my share of whiners in alternative as well.  Some would even say hair metal acts like Poison had their share of whiner moments.  “Every Rose Has its Thorn” is probably the whiniest song to come out of that era.  Bottom line: whiners will always be around.  You just got to sift through the bullshit in order to find good stuff.

People tend to let bands like Limp Bizkit do all the talking for the genre.  They need to dig deeper.  The sooner you quit giving up at the door, and assuming those guys do all the talking, the sooner you can discover something good.  Otep, 3rd Strike, Reveille, Genuflect, Skindred, Trust Company…  The list goes on.  Though I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion in the end.

I probably sympathize more with nu metal than most because I was living the life back then.  I didn’t exactly have a girlfriend who drove me insane with rage with all her bullshit (not until 2004, anyway), but things like dysfunctional families, and directionless rage with no other outlet than just screaming unintelligibly and breaking stuff just cuz is the kind of stuff I’ve gone through.  When you’re living the life, suddenly, that whiney bullshit doesn’t seem so whiney anymore.

Also, if you’re a beginner at guitar, nu metal is a fucking godsend.  Simplicity may not appeal to you as a listener, but when you’re just learning how to make chords, it feels like you’ve accomplished an amazing feat when you’re able to play anything.  As much as I don’t like Linkin Park anymore, I celebrated when I learned how to play “What I’ve Done” on guitar.  Too bad I can’t remember how it goes anymore, but that’s beside the point.  Once you master something simple like a Korn song, you can move on to something a little more advanced.  Like…  Oh, I don’t know, how about Jackyl?

Really, though, nu metal was a reflection of the time.  Us 90s kids were fucking sick of hair metal.  Unlike the hair metal generation itself, we had figured out that dudes with bleach-blonde perms who wore leather and makeup was really, really, super duper gay.  Also, six-minute tracks that consisted of two-minutes of song and four minutes of guitar solo…  Nuh-uh, not doing it for us.  We wanted it simple, we wanted it brutal, and we wanted it vicious.  It began as grunge, but eventually found itself incorporating elements of hiphop and rap as it went on.  And before we knew it, we had a genre we could be proud of.  Up until we hit twenty-five, looked back through our old CDs, and wondered aloud what the hell we ever saw in bands like Dope?

This is all stuff I’ve tackled in my old blog, back when I was writing music reviews and going through my old albums that I’d collected over the years.  I’ve said it there, and I’m saying it here: I really think nu metal gets a bum reputation.

It also doesn’t help that metalheads, as much as they probably don’t want to admit it, are some of the most elitist people you’ll probably ever meet.  Seriously, dude, metalheads fucking hate everything.  Including other metalheads.  I ought to know, too.  I used to hang out with metalheads back in high school.  I even considered myself a metalhead at one point, and to a much lesser extent than back then, I’d say I’m one right now.

But that’s a rant for a whole other day.

Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory Would’ve Made a Great Eli Roth Movie

As many people on my Facebook know, my next writing project is a parody: a dark comedy by the name of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors.  I’ve always loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I enjoyed the book when I was a kid, and it’s probably one of the extremely few Roald Dahl books I revisit as an adult and don’t feel stupid for admitting out loud I still treasure.  I loved the 1970s movie, maybe even more than the book if that’s even possible.  The 2003 movie by Tim Berton…  Yeah, I pretend that one doesn’t exist.  But everything else is filled to the brim with warm fuzzy nostalgia.

As an adult, though, I noticed something.  This movie, when you really stop and think about it, could very easily be interpreted as a sort of horror movie.  Hear me out before you go all nuts here.

Typical horror movies have a cast of victims.  Five is a pretty good average, and Chocolate Factory has five kids.  One by one, the victims get picked off by a killer: your Freddy Krugers, or your Michael Miarses and what have you.  One by one, the kids get picked off by Wanka’s various inventions.  Until finally, the one character nobody wants to see die makes his grand escape.  Or in the case of Charlie Bucket, he survives the tour, and gets a lifetime supply of chocolate and the keys to a factory.

“But TJB,” you ask, “all those kids were ungrateful little brats who had it coming!  How is that a horror movie?”

Simple.  It’s the exact kind of horror movie you’d see from Eli Roth: the bane of my, and many other horror fans’ existence.

If I’ve learned nothing else from my horror film phase, I’ve learned that try as he might, Eli Roth just doesn’t get it.  Virtually every victim in an Eli Roth movie deserves everything they get, because before they become victims, every single one of them are unrelatable dicks who you can’t wait to watch die.

In a good horror movie, a maximum of one character should ever be like this.  Maybe he’s the first to get picked off by the killer.  That way, you get a feel for the kind of atrocities the castmembers you don’t want to see die are in for.  You’re not supposed to want to see people die: you’re supposed to want the victim to escape!  Sure, if you’re a horror fan like I am, you know for a fact around three out of five victims are going to die.  Hopefully, it’s not the character you identify with the most, and it’s especially crushing when that character ends up being one of the victims.

Eli Roth is less of a horror director writer, and more of a snuff film director writer.  I watched Hostile a long time ago, and I honestly can’t think of a single person in that movie who deserved to live.  The fact one of them got away was the real disappointment of the movie, and that’s how you know you’ve failed as a horror writer.

I’m not saying make everyone a saint straight out of bible camp (trust me, I made that mistake already, so I know it doesn’t work), but the characters should have some sort of redeemable qualities to them.  Even the jerk deserves to have a moment of clarity before he dies, right?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my opinion, is almost like Eli Roth horror for kids.  I say ALMOST, because Charlie Bucket is probably the only redeemable character in the entire group.  Aside from him, you’re watching characters like Veruca and Violet get exactly what they deserve: an absurd, ironic, and possibly even violent end.  It would be violent for sure if Roth were writing the novel instead of Dahl.

But hey, that’s just a theory.  Not a game theory…  Maybe a film theory, but I’m guessing good ol’ MatPat holds the copyright to that.  Whatever, I’ve spoken what needs spoken.  Am I insane?  Am I a genius?  You decide.

Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors is coming soon.  I’ll be the first to let you know when it’s done and when it’s available.  In the meantime, stay tuned to my facebook for updates on that front.