Archive for capitalism

“Oops… I said it again”: Pop Stars and Their Window into Our Racism

Posted in celebrities, humor, politics, racism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2010 by Sunshine Superboy


yo, I know this is old news, but I wanna post this during this lull of feet-in-our-mouths cuz Its not even about John Mayer and racist crap that Pop Stars spout…
The thing that really gets a lot of people of color and anti-racist organizers miffed is the useless circus of inane conversation ostensibly about “race” but actually about whichever celebrity blabbermouth in question. (oh right, sometimes I forget how broad the blackmaps audience is: We’re talking about this bloke to the right, who writes pop songs and won a Grammy a minute and a half ago (who hasn’t??!). He famous also infamous for his utterly brilliant tweets (!) and for being an ex of both Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson, and no there’s no reason for you, or any of us to care, but he’s been on the cover of Rolling Stone recently, and apparently some people in the world give a damn about who he is. Great, we’re all caught up!)

The lightening-rod of so-and-so actor or such and such politician said some racist bullshit (surprise…) serves as a big distraction not to mention a misframing of what racism really is and how it operates. This isn’t the place/time to belabor the theoretical pillars of racism as a legacy of institutionalized inequality.

Nevertheless, I think its a quick and important intervention to just point out in those moments when the media zoo gets all fired up about our unspoken consensus on being non-racist (!), (as opposed to being anti-racist?!), that its not about individuals, or even the things they may do or say, but a historically entrenched system which carries global momentum in dispossessing groups of people through the clever metrics of colorism and ethnic scapegoating. And its gonna take people getting organized in a big way to overturn those patterns. No paparazzi-flanked apologies are going to liberate people of color and white people who are all bound up in these systems of oppression. Least of all, since capitalism has everything to do with it, and lets not forget, pop stars looooooooove capitalism.

We dont’ have to hate them for it. We can enjoy goofy 3-D flicks and guitar hooks even as we begin to piece together how capitalism is operationalized by racism (and vice versa). Lets just keep these things in mind as we co-opt GaGa Radio tunes as inspiration and fuel for our movements.

oh, and for the record, John Mayer is a douchebag.

Up up and Away,
Sunshine Superboy

Monopoly and Its Anti-Capitalist Origins

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

Some kid from Cincinnati thinks I should blog about this…
(not that this is a pic of his town. its actually Atlantic City by nite)
atlantic-city

According to the BBC

A massive multi-player version of the popular property game Monopoly has been launched online. Monopoly City Streets, developed by toymaker Hasbro, will go live on 9 September for four months. The free game uses Google Maps or the open source Open Street Map as the playing board. The toymaker claims it will be “the biggest game of Monopoly of all time” and will allow players to purchase almost “any street in the world”. The goal of the game, like the real-world version, is to earn money on real estate and become the richest property magnate.

New players are given three million Monopoly dollars to build their virtual empire.
Every street in the world is, in theory, available for purchase. Once a player has taken control of a street, they are able to charge rent and build new virtual properties. Streets can also be traded and sold with other players. The game makers have introduced chance cards, which allow players to sabotage neighbouring rivals by building rubbish dumps, prisons or wind farms on their property to reduce the rent value of their neighbours. Players can only remove a hazard by bulldozing it off their property, again through the use of chance cards. The game will close on the 31 January 2010.

map_boardwalk

Yay playing at capitalist dispossession!

BFD. I was always more into the olde skool trivia- this being one of the oldest board games in my relatively young country. Like how, on the one hand I was probably half-way to college by time I’d learned that the properties were all based on streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey (Hence a bunch of streets that aren’t in New York for some reason, and the Boardwalk being the big payload). In fact, the little orange link below has some interesting clarifications on where exactly these names come from geographically (its not all actually streets), including which trains really ran in Atlantic City 100 years ago and so on, and what-have-you.

What really struck me, on the other hand, was the moment when my partner (who is quaker), told me about how Monopoly was created by a Quaker who wanted to make a game that taught people how effed up capitalism was, and how it makes everybody go broke (except for that one jerk who wins by exploiting everybody else). I was skeptical but wanted so badly to believe the rumor. After all, it totally made sense. So I did what most high schoolers, and too damn many undergraduates would consider “research”. Thus, according to wikipedia:

The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1904, when a Quaker woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George (it was intended to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, The Landlord’s Game, was commercially published a few years later. Other interested game players redeveloped the game and some made their own sets. Lizzie herself patented a revised edition of the game in 1904, and similar games were published commercially.

By 1935 a board game named Monopoly was created much like the version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers and its parent companies throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st. The Parker Brothers’ version was created by Charles Todd but sold to them by Charles Darrow. Several people, mostly in the U.S. Midwest and near the U.S. East Coast, contributed to the game’s design and evolution.

So all this got me to thinking about how the Monopoly board, for all its iconography is also a bizarre slice of urban history in its representation of Atlantic City. For example, Illinois Ave (the real one for which one of the “red” properties just past free parking was named), has been Martin Luther King Jr Blvd since sometime in the 80s. Weird huh? I bet a lot of folks would be much more excited about a version with that guy’s name on it instead of the state that in recent history made Rod Blagojevich (he and some other political, movement-leading black guy) famous.

That, and apparently there was some online vote a year and half ago where “the world” decided that these were the cities that should be included on a ludicrous 2008 “World Monopoly” game edition. This may make you cry:
board

In case you can’t see it well enough to be depressed about it, the only two countries to have more than one city pimped out on the board are Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, and Montréal), and China (Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai). This is supposed to be World Monopoly. There are no cities in Latin America represented, folks! And none in India! WTeffers?! Riga (the capital of Lativa) is the 2nd most sought-after property in the world?! People!! Join me, please, in reading down this roster of utter disappointment. Going clock-wise from “GO”:

Brown
Gdynia280px-Riian_vanhakaupunki
Teipei

Light Blue (celeste)
Tokyo
Barcelona
Athens

Pink
Istanbul
Kiev
Toronto

istanbul was constantinople

istanbul was constantinople

Orange
Rome
Shanghai
Vancouver

Red
Sydney
New York
London

Yellow
Beijing
Hong Kong
Jerusalem

Green
Paris
Belgrade
Cape Town

Blue
Riga (pictured above)
Montréal

In classic form, now that I’ve brought you down, I’ll leave you on a posi note. By introducing you to Riskopoly!!! Behold:
riskopoly_large

Instructions are as follows

As explained on the map, all of the trains connect. “Attack Jail” is a one way attack to the opposite corner. “Go” can attack any corner. All Chance spaces (question marks) are connected to the deck of Chance cards, and likewise all War Chest spaces (shields) connect to that deck (spaces can attack the deck and the deck can attack the spaces). The Chance/Chest spaces are part of their color’s continent, and the decks are part of the orange and yellow continents.

The utilities (Electric Co. and Water Works) can attack their deed cards laying in the lower left corner of the board. These two deed cards can also attack each other. The bills are also territories connected to each space they touch, and the bills are part of their color’s continent.

This is NOT a one directional board, attacks can go in either directions (except for the special corners as described above). There are 48 territories all together.

This is made entirely with original art, built from scratch. There is no copyrighted material on the map. The names of the spaces are all street names found in Atlantic City. The Parker Bros. patent for Monopoly expired in 1985.

I plan to add some more decoration (some dice and maybe a drink on a coaster…), but will wait until any further structural or game play issues are worked out.

Ideas floating around that could be discussed: make it one way, use Risk country names instead of the street names, no bonus for “free army” space, no penalty for tax space, more money around edge of board, make it a deck of “risk” cards instead of “chance” cards, put “just visiting” back in, etc.

I’ll leave all of that undigested. This may trump (ha ha, get it, atlantic city?!), Simpsons Monopoly as my here to fore favoritest version of the anti-capitalist classic.

À Bientôt!
Sunshine Superboy

Put your makeup on, Fix your hair up pretty
and meet me tonight in Atlanitc City:

Who Will Botch the Watchmen?

Posted in art & music, comics, sci-fi with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

watchmen
I think I’m gonna claim the title fangrrl, cuz, frankly, I don’t fit in so well with the fanboy trope, and I think its a boringly constricting category. Not to mention the, um, social ‘stigmata’ (sic).

So, as the resident fangrrrl (is the use of three “r”s over doing it?), I’ve been anxious about this whole watchmen movie project since the first whispers I’d heard about it several years back. (Note, that if I was a proper fanboy, I would have glibly located my first encounter with watchmen movie rumors somewhere in the 90s). Over the past year, which is to say watchmen-babiesever since rumors started gaining some real traction, I’ve been monitoring pretty closely the ambitious, larger-than-life enterprise that megalomaniac director Zack Snyder so humbly agreed to do on the reasoning that ‘If I don’t make it myself, some other schmoe is gonna do it and they’ll definitely fuck it up’ (um, that a paraphrase, not a quote).

So here is a lesson. Its not a new one, but you may as well start noticing it in all the little places it sticks its nose: Capitalism, in its ceaseless voraciousness will always, always find a way to capture whatever prized morsel of art, aesthetic, experience, politic, artifact, nostalgia, wisdom, rarity, or mundane distraction you might just want to keep for yourself or your people, and spit it out as a consumable which could very well be vivacious or downright dreary.

oh, and if its a mainstream flick it’ll probably charge you ten quid just to witness whether its the former or the latter. Bottom line, capitalism is beginning to expose itself as a brutal natural enemy of fanboys. Or is that frenemy?

watchmen-minutemen

There were many failed attempts by less ambitious and even less plausible directors to bring Alan Moore’s graphic novel to the silver screen- but this isnt a fucking historiography! If I had a chance, early enough in the process to sit down to any of the potential directors (Captain Snyder inclusive), I’d pull up my chair, probably flip it around backwards so as not to too harshly disturb any lingering stereotypes they still have based on black people on TV in the 70s and 80s, and I’d say:


Listen up white boy, cuz i’m only gonna say this once!
Hey, so I just wanna make sure you get one fundamental thing before you royally FUBAR this whole endeavor. You don’t translate a graphic novel into a movie. Don’t fucking try to fool yourself. Its not a goddamn photo essay. The comic book medium is particularly evocative because its depicted in simple iconographic drawings which provide space for we, the readers, to graft our own texture and atmosphere to flesh out the 2-D world. Its not like a novella where we just conjure up whatever. Rather we all depart from the same visual referent, the same props and cues, the same facial expressions, but we add the sweat and the smells, the broader context beyond the four walls of the panel- indeed– the dimensions of time and space and imaginataion that transition us from one panel or page to the next. A book, though most people are familiar with the challenges of adapting it, does not demand that. Even a movie based on a serial comic book, a tad trepidatious in that you never know quite where to position the tenor on the campy-realistic spectrum, is more achievable, in that you just sort of abstract fundamental elements and tell a decent story with it and you can still escape with your life. A graphic novel is the worst most challenging hybrid of both. And thus, you cannot simply pretend that you are translating a “text” nor that you can just “distill” from an essence from a series of pictures. The Watchmen is an epic that is not to be fucked with, cuz you will surely fail.

but thats just me talking. lets hear from our panel of geeky white men:

Brian K Vaughan (genius behind Runaways and Y the Last Man, also a writer of Lost)
brian_k_vaughan
“I’ll go see it if it doesn’t feel like a betrayal of what Alan Moore wants. But its like making a stage play of Citizen Kane. I guess it could be OK, but why? The medium is the message.”

damn straight right.

John “I’m not a PC but I play one on TV” Hodgman (who, I might add had an amazing cameo on Battlestar Galactica a few weeks back getting Starbuck all riled up!)

john_hodgman
“The movie can be good as long as it appreciates that it has no reason to exist. And yet I think Watchmen deserves an homage, and I’m hopeful because Zack Snyder is making it”

how gracious. and our last expert?

Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy, duh?!)
joss_l
“its a comic book about pop culture as viewd through a comic book, so I didn’t see the point of making a movie. But I saw the trailer, and it looked phenomenal”

merh? phernerma-whoo?

And perhaps its only from the nadir of a project doomed to failure that it can aspire to the impossibility of success.

Now I get to be all nicey face and lavish praise on the perspicacious Zack Snyder. Cuz honestly, I think the Watchmen would have really really been a real fuck up if he wasn’t the directrix behind the film. There I said it. I full expect to enjoy the movie, in all its overdone sensational glory, even whilst I mutter intermittently about how such and such pithy element of the graphic novel REALLY ought to have been incorporated into the screenplay, and why the hell would he have overlooked that! …and the like.

Gosh, are you worn out by my drivel yet? Ready for some eye candy? Lets reflect on the ensemble of dystopian anti-heroes:

Dr. Manhattan

Probably the most impressive interpretation of the bunch. Thank christ our ever-present protector Al Gore they didn’t try to pull this off in the 90s. Can you imagine?! Strike that, can you imagine that Joel Silver who produced the Matrix wanted to make this movie (also back in the 90s) and wanted to cast fucking Governor Arnold fucking Schwarzeneger as J’onn John!!! His last name means “black nigger” *(see commentary below)? How did so many of you people vote this turd into office?

ahem, moving on.

Silk Spectre
meh, did they even bother give her the beauty mark on her cheek? possible botch. we’ll see…

Ozymandias
how do you botch casting a prick? they should do okay… I don’t know whats off about him. Maybe he could have been a tad “better looking” in an obnoxious cosmetic surgery kinda way? Hrm… no, thats not it…

the Comedian
Nailed it.

Nite Owl
ummm BOTCH! Nite Owl is NOT FUCKING BATMAN! Its a bloody spoof on batman. This guy doesn’t look old enough, impotent enough, insecure enough, or fucking have a beer with Norm from Cheers enough for a Watchmen adaptation. Botched! Fail!

Rorschach
Okay, here is something to work with. Tone down the fucking Christian Bale batman-grumble about 3 notches and it might be pretty fucking right on. There’s no way to tell of course cuz these shots are lifted directly from the graphic novel. One thing I will say though, is they’re doing some cool ass shit with his mask! Thats not your mamma’s 90s technology my friends!

Okay, this has been a long post. I hope it makes up for the radio silence that corresponded to my flu. 😦

I guess we’re all left with the question, Who Will Botch the Watchmen? I don’t think it will be the director, or the screenwriters, or even the costume folks. The portrayals by the actors themselves may very well determine the merit of this whole spectacle. IMHO, the movie truly ought to be a success, one that might be slightly perturbed by idiotic choices here or there, but these choices should not be so substantial that they take down the whole opera house. And I’m with the PC guy here, this movie has NO reason to exist.

Who wants to go see it with your favorite fangrrrl? (promise I won’t yammer during the movie)

The World is Yours to Savor Before Inevitable Capitalist Co-optation,
Sunshine Superfüry