Critically Thinking

Of Monsters And Men

April 23, 2013

For the most part, zombies elicit one of two reactions. More often than not, we jump, scream, and run; that’s what most movies that depict the creatures, such as last weekend’s remake of “Evil Dead,” expect of us. Other times, we mow them down with whatever weapons we have available, from machine guns to chainsaws to plants; this response has sold millions of copies of video games like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and, of course, the inimitable Plants vs. Zombies. But there is a third response, and it’s somewhat less commonly tackled in the media:

Read more

To Roger Ebert: For Giving Us So Much

April 09, 2013

On Thursday morning, my plan was to write this article about Tyga. I wasn’t entirely sure where it would go; the initial impetus had something to do with timing, how the announcement dovetailed with public outcry over the verdict in the Steubenville rape trial. If I had an extra column, I might still have written that. But at 3:41 p.m., something much more pressing came up.

On Thursday afternoon, Roger Ebert, a revered film critic and a personal idol, died at the age of 70.

Read more

Error 37: Must Construct Additional Servers

March 27, 2013

SimCity is in a State of Emergency.

Three weeks ago, everything looked to be perfectly in place for Electronic Arts’ first major installment in the series since 2003’s SimCity 4. The marketing was massive and, if the number of pre-sales and digital downloads was any indicator, working. Critical reception, too, was mainly positive, praising the game for maintaining its predecessors’ strengths while adding features to appeal to both seasoned virtual planners and first-time digital mayors. There was only one potential spanner in the works: in the interest of combating online piracy, EA built SimCity to be “always online,” or permanently connected to the company’s servers.

Read more

Tweets Of The Southern Wild

March 05, 2013

With the ever-tactless Seth MacFarlane for a host, there was never any doubt that this year’s Academy Awards broadcast would ruffle a fair amount of feathers. For all of its other failings, the ceremony certainly delivered spectacularly on that front; it took a scant few minutes for the “Family Guy” creator to offend just about the entire audience in an opening number cleverly titled “I Saw Your Boobs.” Indeed, I could easily spend the remaining 600 words of this article just listing which lines he crossed, when, and how, but the time lag between my writing this article and its publication means the rest of the Internet will have beaten me to the punch by the time you’re reading this.

But MacFarlane’s particular brand of offensiveness wasn’t the only one on display on Oscar night. In all of the general uproar about the show itself, one could easily overlook the controversial remarks made elsewhere; but once again, the Internet, our one-stop shop for righteous indignation, has us covered. When nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, the Oscar-nominated star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” struck a pose upon hearing her name, the satirical newspaper The Onion tweeted, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c***, right?” The uproar—and subsequent apology from The Onion—was nearly immediate, and in the many articles that have sprung up over the past week decrying the poor taste on display at this year’s Academy Awards, this joke is invariably included alongside the bevy of boorish remarks from MacFarlane.While I personally didn’t find The Onion’s tweet particularly funny, it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to lump it in with the host’s problematic jokes. True, nobody in the broadcast went so far as to legitimately swear, and if they had, they likely would have been censored, as Melissa Leo was when she dropped the f-bomb in her acceptance speech two years ago. No, MacFarlane crossed the line in what I consider a much more egregious fashion.

Read more

In Praise of Criticism

February 20, 2013

This year’s Oscar nominees are a controversial bunch, to say the least. “Zero Dark Thirty” prompted Congressional hearings about its depiction of torture; “Django Unchained” was certainly racially charged; and “Argo” fell victim to a much-discussed snub in the Best Director category.

Then there’s “Les Misérables.” The controversy there can be boiled down to one word: really?

Read more