Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 7: ABC Doesn’t Get Brownie Points for Diversity

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Mindless Iconoclasm is a series of posts where I argue an unpopular opinion of mine. In this edition, I point out that ABC’s programming for the upcoming TV season is not as progressive as it appears.

ABC announced its schedule for the upcoming television season last week. It consists of the usual assortment of goofy comedies and crime dramas, but there is one thing in particular about it – three comedies that not only star minority leads, but are actually about families of visible minorities. Considering how white American television is, that sounds like progress, right? Not exactly. More

Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 6: Some Unconventional Wisdom About Mirror’s Edge

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Mindless Iconoclasm is a series of posts where I argue an unpopular opinion of mine. In this edition, some thoughts on Mirror’s Edge.

Back in the 2008/2009 holiday season, when Mirror’s Edge came out, it was hailed for its innovative parkour mechanics and its stark visual style. It was and still is one of the most unique games of the past few years and is one of the few that has successfully implemented first-person platforming. However, the game was not without its flaws: players dismissed the story as trite and confusing, and they believed that the sections involving gunplay ruined the game’s flow. I won’t dispute the first criticism, as it’s one that I have also made. But there’s more to the second than might appear at first glance. More

Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 5: Tomb Raider, Sexual Assault, and the Great Promotional Disconnect

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Mindless Iconoclasm is a series of pieces where I present an unpopular pop cultural opinion of mine and then attempt to defend it. This time, I take on the recent Tomb Raider controversy. WARNING: this piece discusses sexual assault in a serious manner but also contains numerous crude jokes. If either of those things or their presence in the same article offends you, then consider yourself forewarned.

Consider, if you will, the following scenario: a new supermarket is opening in town. As a promotion, the parent company sends you a bag of carrots.1 One of the assistant managers at the soon-to-open supermarket tells you that one of the carrots in the bag is actually a dildo.2 There are clearly no dildos in the bag. However, now the media have gotten wind of the story and are accusing the supermarket of being a sex shop in disguise. As ridiculous as that may sound, that’s what’s happening right now with the controversy over Tomb Raider and executive producer Ron Rosenberg’s interview with Kotaku. More

Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 4: Re-examining Halo’s Influence

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Mindless Iconoclasm is a series of entries where I present an unpopular pop cultural opinion of mine and then attempt to defend it. This time, I take on those who erroneously claim that Halo ruined the modern first-person shooter.

Just last week, I finally completed the original Halo. No, I haven’t been playing the game on and off since its PC release in 2003. I picked it up last year, played about a third of it, got busy with other things, then found some time to complete the rest of it last weekend. Yeah, I know I’m 9 years late to the party (11 if you count the 2001 XBox release). Well, at least I joined the party.

So, what did I think of the game? Aside from the excruciatingly bland, repetitive, and uninspired level design, I can see why the game was such a hot seller when it came out: great gunplay; smart enemy AI; an engaging story; competent voice acting; and beautiful graphics (for the time). It’s not my favourite first-person shooter by any stretch of the imagination – that title belongs to The Operative: No One Lives Forever – but I thought it was pretty enjoyable, if somewhat mindless. Apparently, millions of other people thought the same, and this (at the time) one-of-a-kind sci-fi shooter became a massive hit when it was released, almost singlehandedly boosting the fortunes of the XBox console.

Eleven years later, the gaming landscape has changed considerably. The FPS has been the dominant gaming genre of the past decade. Now, sci-fi shooters set in space are a dime a dozen, and to be frank, a lot of them are terrible. Halo has gone from being gaming’s golden boy, credited with saving the console FPS, to being a scapegoat for everything that’s wrong with modern shooters. Now, let’s set aside the fact that it’s ludicrous to blame a game for the way it supposedly inspired those that came after it. (I mean, were the makers of Halo supposed to predict just how influential their game would become? It started out as a freakin’ RTS, for God’s sake!) Instead, let’s concentrate on the fact that those who blame Halo for introducing gameplay mechanics that ruined modern FPSs have a fundamental misunderstanding of what made Halo work. More

Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 3: Better a Fame Whore Than a Rich Nobody

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Mindless Iconoclasm is a series where I present an unpopular opinion of mine concerning pop culture and attempt to defend it. This time, I take on the rich fame whores of reality TV.

These days, it seems as if you can’t open a magazine or visit an entertainment website without reading about the latest Kardashian drama or Real Housewives scandal. Any time we try to engage with entertainment media, we’re inevitably inundated with images and news of people who are famous seemingly for no reason other than the fact that they’re famous. With so many talented people in the world who are far more deserving of recognition, folks understandably get a little irritated at the veritable fame-whore bonanza to which they’re subjected every time they turn on the TV.

But from the level of vitriol hurled at these fame whores, you’d think that they’d murdered kittens or sold poisoned milk to schoolchildren. The Kardashians and their ilk might be self-centred egomaniacs, but I honestly can’t bring myself to hate them. Here’s why: More

Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 2: “Deus Ex: Invisible War” Was a Bad Game, Period

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I’m back with Volume 2 of my “Mindless Iconoclasm” series, where I attempt to defend one of my unpopular pop-cultural opinions. This time, we’re going to take a look at an eight-year-old computer game, Deus Ex: Invisible War. More

Mindless Iconoclasm, Vol. 1: Five Shows That I Like But Don’t Love As Much As Everyone Else Seems To

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One of the advantages of being an anonymous blogger is that there’s no pressure for me to go with the flow and merely reconfirm popular opinion in whatever I write. That’s not to say that I follow the Armond White approach of going against the grain just because I can, but that does mean that if I can offer an alternative perspective on something, then I’ll do so with few misgivings.

That’s the spirit of a series of posts that I’m starting entitled “Mindless Iconoclasm,” in which I express opinions about pop culture – books, TV, movies, games, music – that are, in my experience, unpopular. These won’t be articles where I simply find fifty new ways to say, “Community sucks!” every week. I intend to explain, to the best of my ability, where I’m coming from and why I feel how I feel about the particular pieces of pop culture in question. I’m not trying to change anyone’s opinion here. I just want to express my own in a way that hopefully gets people thinking.

I’m going to kick things off with a look at five TV shows that I like, but don’t love as much as everyone else seems to. I watch quite a bit of TV, and I enjoy almost all of it, but there are some shows that don’t totally work for me as well as they work for other people. These aren’t shows that I hate; they’re just shows that I don’t completely adore as much as others would like me to. We’ll get started after the jump. More