Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

28Apr/1730

The Farfield: Found Footage

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

The Dyaltov Pass Incident

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

I’ve been increasingly focused on junk television, likely because both work and play - in the form of Electron Dance writing - tend to be mentally taxing. Firing the trigger on a new, engaging series with multiple storylines is tough. If you want to know how bad it is, I’m still watching the execrable Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Confession time: I watch a lot of horror, a lot of rubbish horror. I also have particular dislikes, such as when people are being victimised just for someone’s kicks - I feel exhausted and abused after an experience like Ils, in which a French couple are terrorized in their new country home, or F where school staff and children on detention are terrorized and brutally killed by hoodies. While I like the sense of dread that hangs over the first half of In Fear in which a new couple are lost in the Irish countryside, it eventually degrades into a game of unexplained sadism. In these type of films, the antagonist or antagonists often appear to have superhuman powers to be in the right place at the right time to maximise impact.

The horror film is much more of an audience game that many other film genres; the art of the thrill is the art of designing an intricate roller coaster. Good horror is intensely aware of context and audience expectations with films like Scream and The Cabin in the Woods deliberately exposing the game with a knowing wink to the audience.

I could easily write a whole essay on how I feel about horror but, look, I don’t do much critical pontification about what horror means or why it works. See, I disliked The Bababook which got critics applauding. That shows you my credentials. Even worse, I remain fatally attracted to the “found footage” subgenre, where the film is based on “real footage” recovered amidst mysterious events like a documentary crew gone missing or a spate of murders.

As an accidental connoisseur of this derided subgenre, I've decided to list every found footage film I’ve seen with a little bit of commentary. I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum. Here we go.

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6Jul/1510

The Farfield: OXI

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

Why do I talk a lot about Greece on Twitter?

  • Save the cheerleaders, save the world. When Greece was on the verge of defaulting a few years ago, instead of letting the creditor banks take the hit, the EU ran in to save them. But it was a broader assault than it might seem: saving Greece was also a way to neutralise a domino effect as Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy had similar problems. Bank exposure to these countries was reportedly around €1 trillion. Recently economist Ken Rogoff declared: “I believe that Ireland would have been far better off today if the Government had not taken over so much of the bank debt, and instead allowed bank creditors to absorb a significant loss.”
  • The Parable of the Lazy Greek. So now private banks were off the hook and Greece had to face the ECB, IMF and EU instead (the “Troika”). The story of reckless lending was gradually replaced with the image of the Lazy Greek who had dined out in style on the backs of others, then refused to pay the money back. The Lazy Greek story has been sold so strongly that the German public, for example, would not support any government that agreed to go easy on Greece.
  • The Parable of Austerity. There’s been a broad push since the financial crisis to rewrite the story of bank recklessness as governments spending beyond their means. This morphed into a political romance with austerity, the idea that governments must spend less right now. There is substantial evidence that inflicting austerity on a troubled economy makes things worse. In a nutshell, if the public feels insecure about the future and stops spending, then the government should fill that spending gap to help the economy recover. Austerity in times of strife is a vicious circle; if a government tries to save money, it damages the economy, which reduces tax receipts, thus undermining the whole exercise. Even the size of “fiscal multipliers” – which measure the impact that changes in government spending has on the economy (GDP) – has become a political football. The previous UK coalition government bolstered the case for austerity with research that showed that large government debt was economically destructive - but the data later turned out to be in error and showed no such thing. Further, the IMF just last week published a report arguing that Greece needs to be cut some slack and a good portion of its debt written off. After six years of austerity, Greece has lost a quarter of its GDP.
  • Austerity victims show little solidarity. There is another reason why Europe does not want to give in to Greece: the political consequences elsewhere in Europe. Because other austerity victims have given in to pressure (such as increasing retirement ages), they want Greece to fall in line rather win a special deal. If Greece does win concessions from Europe, expect serious things to happen in Spain and Italy.
  • Driving up Anti-EU sentiment. The fact that Europe is actively punishing a member state (particularly its poorest citizens) is not going unnoticed. The European Central Bank (ECB) offers support to avert a bank run with a programme called the ELA (Emergency Liquidity Assistance) but the ECB pulled the rug out last week, forcing Greece to close its banks. Last week Paul Mason wrote "The European Central Bank has proved, yet again, that it can crash an economy if it wants to." And today, the ECB turned up the heat some more. This is not the first time we've seen the ECB push buttons in this way, go back and visit Cyprus circa 2013. The contempt the EU has for some of its members is pumping up distrust of the European project. Consider this is happening at a time when the UK is going to hold an in-or-out referendum on EU membership in the next couple of years.
  • Russia. Some think if Greece leaves the euro it may seek assistance from Moscow which, considering tensions over interventions in Ukraine, has wider political implications. The US does not want to see Greece leave the Eurozone.
  • Οχι. The referendum result rules out Greece signing up to the latest offer from the Troika. If it remains politically impossible for European governments to give ground, then Greece will likely default and leave the euro. This is why the Sunday referendum was labelled a referendum on euro membership.
  • The euro becomes reversible. The EU has always described euro membership as irreversible and the ECB would “do anything it takes” to save the currency. If Greece leaves the euro – irrespective of the terrible economic damage that would inflict – it would be proof positive that these boasts are untrue. It would undermine the currency and eyes will once again scrutinise Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland which continue to struggle with debt burdens and austerity.
  • A perfect storm. Everyone is talking down “contagion risk” – that Greece blowing up will hit markets hard – but that’s what politicians and central bankers do, they try to talk the market down from the ledge. But some fear that no one got to grips with the financial crisis of 2008 and that the real reckoning is still to come; that particular can was just kicked down the road. Greece leaving the euro at the same time that China is entering its own long-awaited financial crisis may ignite the touchpaper for a new global conflagration.

This is why I can't stop commenting on Greece. It's kind of huge.

30Apr/152

The Farfield: The 100

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

clarke-bellamy-survey-what-they-have-done

Against my better judgement, I sat my eyeballs in front of The 100 when it started on E4 last year. And I found it offensive. Drawn from a YA novel of the same name by Kass Morgan, it throws teenagers into a post-apocalypse Lord of the Flies type scenario. These teenagers who had been locked up for god knows how long were let loose on a world where quite possibly they could have perished in seconds - yet they acted so flippantly. Yo party on, everyone. The show felt flippant.

A year later, there is no more flippancy. What we have is brutality and grimness.

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8Mar/1517

TV Games Are For Boys

This is the concluding part of The Petri Dish trilogy. The previous parts were on the inexplicable anger of complete strangers and the inescapable clutches of cynicism.

tv-minecraft-hate-table

It seems I’ve been terrified for nearly three years.

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26Jun/14Off

The Farfield: Marmite Anxiety

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

black swan

I got around to watching Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2012) recently and found it stimulating. I’m not convinced it says much about the grander scheme of things but, as a character study, I loved it.

As I usually do after watching a slice of television or cinema that I find engaging, I went online to see whether people had taken to it like a swan to water. Turned out it was a Marmite film. There seemed to be as many people who judged it insufferable, pretentious nonsense as those who thought it was high art.

And I experience this sudden pang of anxiety, that maybe the work has fooled me, maybe it is vapid rubbish after all.  

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23May/14Off

The Farfield: Zombies

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

in-the-flesh

The trouble with being alive for such a long time is that you tend to feel like you’ve seen it all before. It doesn’t matter what it is, blah blah been there bought the T-shirt. I think I’ve had my fill of vampires, for example. The last vampire thing that managed to grab me is Buffy and that was five years ago on DVD.

But zombies. Ah, zombies. They never worked for me. I watched a few zombie films when I was younger such as Zombie Flesh Eaters and Return of the Living Dead. At some point I also indulged in some of Romero's work; Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead were entertaining enough but never hooked me. I tried out The Walking Dead show but we parted ways after the first series. I never ran around hungry for brains more hot zombie action.

Except, when I think about it, this is lies.    

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