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the privilege is all mine

I have two devices on which I play video games: a Nintendo Switch and a low-to-moderately powerful laptop. This puts me in the privileged position of being a gamer who is able to keep up with modern trends from the relative safety of machines that couldn’t run most big-budget AAA titles if they wanted to. Over the last few years the graphical ineptitude of my Switch and laptop have protected me from my own morbid curiosity towards a number of notorious gaming disasters such as Fallout 76, Anthem and, most recently, Marvel’s Avengers.

Marvel’s Avengers is The Muppets, except it’s the Avengers and not the Muppets, as well as being a game and not a movie. Kamala Khan stars as Walter, a Muppet who grows up as a lifelong fan of The Muppet Show (The Avengers) and goes on an adventure to reunite his childhood heroes, including The Hulk as Kermit the Frog and Iron Man as Fozzie Bear, in order to bring them back to their former glory. The ancillary plot details are faithful to the film and comics universe they’re based on — by which I mean they’re extremely complicated while also being too stupid to give a shit about — but the core story does an admirable job of adapting the Muppet reboot into a new medium, and I’m sure Jason Segal is nothing but pleased with all the residuals he’s certainly received from Square Enix by now. …


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i’m just here for the free food

I didn’t have anywhere to live during the 2016 primaries, but if I’d had a permanent place of residence I would’ve definitely cast my vote for Bernie Sanders. I intend to make the same decision in 2020; I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since I was a year old, and as such I have a lot of skin in the Medicare For All game. And a great many of his other beliefs and ideas, like his general inclination towards ramping down US imperialism, hold a lot of water with me as a voter as well.

I like what the future of a Bernie Sanders presidency would probably hold. But increasingly, I really don’t like how the people I have to think of as my fellow voters are behaving about him. Any time his campaign hits a bump in the road, the baby explodes on contact with the window in an attempt to bail out the bathwater as quickly as possible. Saying he did something wrong is not the same as saying you don’t want to vote for him, and it’s time to stop thinking of all criticims of his campaign as a personal attack. …


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illustration by Laura Knetzger

I shall have to train my senses, make them at once stronger and more delicate, at one moment tough, at another fragile; in a word, more lucid. I shall hear with my sense of sight and with my skin; I shall cover myself with eyes. Everything, even judgement, will be touch and hearing. Everything must be felt. I shall also think with my eyes and my hands: everything must think.

­­Octavio Paz, “From Criticism to Offering”

Last year, I began praying for the first time in almost two decades. I don’t remember the precise reason I started it back up, but I sure as hell remember why I’d given up prayer so many years ago. It was the night of December 17th, a week before Christmas Eve. I was 13 years old, and I’d just been told, by my mother, that my father had been found dead in his apartment. I remember thinking God, I don’t really feel like talking to You tonight, and indeed I ended up keeping that line of communication shut off for many years. …


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illustration by Gallery Provence

I’m working on a much longer piece about 6ix9ine right now, but I wanted to take a break from that project to briefly discuss something about recent developments in the Daniel Hernandez/6ix9ine case. Namely: the media has been doing a dog shit job of reporting on recent developments in the Daniel Hernandez/6ix9ine case, and you should not take what you read at face value.

Yesterday afternoon Page Six ran the rather audacious headline “Tekashi 6ix9ine Testifies Cardi B is Member of Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.” This struck me as suspcious for a number of reasons. Firstly, Cardi B has been open about her affiliation with the Bloods in the past, and has talked about her time with them using regretful, cautioning language. …


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I couldn’t tie my shoes until I was in the 5th grade.

Pay attention to that second word. “Couldn’t.” I could not do it; I tried and tried for years and it wouldn’t work. And it wasn’t for a lack of effort: there were specialized physical therapists who did their best to help me, there were countless scattershot days of the week when I was pulled out of class for gentle-yet-intensive drills on how to pull of a simple Bunny Ears loop on my little sneakers.

I learned from this experience with my kind-hearted counselor that there’s something much more demoralizing about the dismayed sigh of a helpful soul than the taunt of a brutish asshole. Kids aren’t good judges of anything, much less intangibles like character or ability, but when an adult who’s only job is to help thinks you’re notably deficient, that’s when you know you’re a fuckup of some great magnitude. …


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Illustration by Laura Knetzger

Clarence feels as though he should be intimidated as the car shrieks to a halt on the curb beside him, but his response is closer to that of morbid curiosity. A man in a polo shirt comes boiling out of the driver’s seat, lurching towards him in a cloud of apoplexy. Sitting in his compact sports car he seemed normal-sized from a short distance away, but this man is in fact nothing short of a colossus: he looks like if one of the cyborgs from Universal Soldier had been specifically designed for hostile deployment into a Buffalo Wild Wings. …


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“The Angelus,” Jean-Francois Millet

There’s nothing like a romantic relationship to make a person fall prey to the sunk cost fallacy — a concept more commonly expressed as “in for a penny, in for a pound.” Another person’s love will often allow you to see your possession of it as a zero sum game: either it’s entirely there or it’s completely gone. A decent partner will ameliorate this feeling in the other. A manipulator will use it to their advantage.

Here’s the good news: you’re not the type of person who falls prey to head games. Now for the bad: that doesn’t matter. Despots and con artists learned a long time ago that it isn’t necessary to manipulate someone if you can get them to start playing tricks on themselves. It doesn’t matter what you would do or what you would think if “you” turn into someone else. And that’s the ultimate goal of emotional abuse: to transform your values and desires into those of a person that you no longer recognize. …


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no one said it would be easy

FilmStruck was a fantastic idea. As someone who owns a John Cassavetes box set and can make a good case for Masahiro Shinoda being the best Japanese director of the 1960s, I feel as though I fell squarely into this service’s target audience, and I was genuinely excited when the Criterion Collection announced their plans for it back in 2015. Blu-Ray quality art house films complete with extras and commentary, delivered with the convenience we’ve come to expect from streaming services? What wasn’t to love?

But the sad truth is that FilmStruck was destined to fail. I’ve seen a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over its demise, and while it’s important to mourn it as a loss for the film community it’s also important to be realistic about what killed it. It served a niche market in an increasingly overburdened streaming landscape and often failed to make itself easy to use even for people who desired its services, much less users who might have fallen outside its desired demographics. …


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Before their project begins, a documentarian reckons with at least as many ethical considerations as technical ones. For example: How much of a presence should the filmmakers have in the movie? What is the proper balance between respecting a subject and making sure the truth of it is shown? Will a deliberate narrative structure enhance the clarity of the film or inhibit it? A documentary is as much of a philosophical undertaking as an artistic one, and no two films will have the exact same set of answers to these and many other questions the form will ask of them.

Netflix’s Afflicted takes a different approach: it sends all those moral quandries straight to Hell and dives headfirst into a psychological thriller narrative that the filmmakers constructed more or less wholesale out of the experiences of its subjects. The show follows seven people burdened with curious maladies and asks if maybe these poor souls are not simply psychologically distressed and making it all up, or else maybe confusing their weird diseases for intense manifestations of more common ones. …


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I’m not that naive

Imagine you’re watching a movie at the theater. At one point, a character says something that subtly but directly contradicts a plot point from earlier in the film. Later, a different character who didn’t seem very important until now emerges from the ether conveniently supplied with tools or information that could have been a lot more helpful at the beginning of the story. Finally, our heroes reach the MacGuffin, the object or person that the film’s plot gravitates around, and as the climax reaches peak boil a thought suddenly springs into your brain: “Wait, didn’t they already have something that could do that? …

About

Christopher M. Jones

Writer, media critic, and thinker of thoughts based out of Austin, TX. Get in touch at chrismichaeljones@gmail.com, or follow on Twitter at @CJIsWingingIt

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