There are two interesting AV Club pieces tying to Game of Thrones. Tasha Robinson looks at the meaning of the Red Wedding, and where the series goes next. Brandon Narwalk and Todd VanDerWerff consider one reason the show holds up so well to repeat viewings.
What we’re talking about is, I think, a new way of constructing television. Let’s look at a fairly classical serialized drama like Breaking Bad. On Breaking Bad, we tend to get the motivation before the character takes action. There are places where a character’s actions seem a mystery to us (namely with Gus Fring in season four), but for the most part, we watch as Walter White learns he has cancer and launches his desperate plan, bit by agonizing bit. I think shows like Game Of Thrones andArrested Development are putting the action before the motivation. We watch as Jaime Lannister or George Bluth Sr., wanders around, doing things that seem surface-level, then we get the motivation later on. Again, it’s a novelistic conceit: We delve into the characters once we’re hooked into them on an actions-first level. It’s the first really major alteration of the Sopranos template when it comes to making quality television, and it’s exciting to watch it play out, even if not every step pans out along the way. Other shows do this from time to time, but the shows of this era seem increasingly to only do it. Mystery becomes the reason for existence.
That aspect of the Spider-Man origin which Byrne considered so unacceptable—the apparently random coincidence—was in fact one of the strongest aspects of the origin.
It was that awful randomness, the incredible unpredictability, that underscored the terrible lesson that Spider-Man learned. Thirty years ago, the robber appeared out of nowhere, disappeared back into nowhere, only to show up from nowhere again. His facelessness made him all the more frightening and disturbing. It accented the capriciousness of fate, and brought into strong relief the eternal vigilance that would be Spider-Man’s price for the powers he had acquired.
The recent revelations about NSA spying have made this a good week for Rand Paul. The New York Times softened an editorial against President Obama. Andrew Sullivan published a letter he sent the Times for a piece about Glenn Greenwald.
I count Glenn as an honest blogger whose passions in real time can sometimes lead to misreadings of others. But we’re all vulnerable to that in the blogosphere, and in our various spats, I’ve always enjoyed the give-and-take, rather than resenting some of the occasionally unfair barbs. They come with the territory. But once you get into a debate with him, it can be hard to get the last word. A friend described debating him as like engaging with a rhetorical trampoline. But I actually enjoy rhetorical trampolining, as long as no one gets hurt too much. I do not take anything he writes about my work personally.
His passion is a great antidote to the insidery access-driven village of Washington journalism, but at times, I think he has little grip on what it actually means to govern a country or run a war. He’s a purist in a way that, in my view, constrains the sophistication of his work.
On Comics Alliance, Chris Sims suggests that cancellation is worse for a comic book character than death, and suggests that Deadshot had the best return of any character thanks to Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’s Detective Comics and John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell’s Suicide Squad.
Cracked had a great entry: 13 texts superheroes sent out last night. And this introduced me to textsfromsuperheroes.com.
If there is a lesson to be learned from Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite, it is this: the rigid form of the action blockbuster game is inimical to themes of emotional or intellectual power. The blockbuster can make the attempt, and it can succeed in bits and pieces, but maintaining a tight, tense action-packed thrill ride seems to become the dominant force of the game no matter what. The increasing importance of non-blockbuster games, like the massively successful The Walking Dead, an examination of ethics in a post-apocalyptic world, or award-winner Journey with its meditation on faith, point to a different kind of video-game industry. Given the volatility of a business model for which 3.5 million copies sold can be both failing and successful, trying to attach depth to a blockbuster seems risky. BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider should both be lauded for being willing to take that risk, even if it only demonstrates the impossibility of the thematically smart, successful blockbuster video game. Microsoft, Sony, and several other game publishers will likely be throwing money at game developers to create prestigious blockbusters for the impending releases of their next generation of Xbox and PlayStation consoles coming later this year. But without a dramatic and unlikely rethinking of the core form of the blockbuster, huge-budget game, they’re almost certainly going to remain action-packed combat games with the occasional stab at meaning.
Larry Alex Tauton of the Atlantic asked atheists how they came to that philosophy, determining the ways many became disillusioned with the religion they grew up with. I think he makes a slight mistake making it seem remarkable that so many of the young atheists started out as Christians because this would be very likely in a nation in which the majority of the populace belongs to the faith.