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Worth a Look: Luke Cage Edition

Worth a Look: Luke Cage Edition

Marvel/Netflix’s Luke Cage has a lot of people talking a mere week and a half after being uploaded to Netflix’s servers, and for good reason. While ostensibly linked to the more popular popcorn faire that is the “superhero genre” of films created by Fox, Sony, Warner Bros., and Marvel over the last sixteen years, Netflix has done more to push the genre forward and upward with its four seasons of shows than has really been done since The Dark KnightLuke Cage alone has elevated the discourse in our popular culture to the point where the greater populace can not only talk about blackness in America, but it’s getting white America to listen to conversations about blackness in America. The last time a live-action superhero production instigated a larger conversation about deep-seated issues in America was not this summer’s Captain America: Civil WarBatman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, nor X-Men: Apocalypse, but last year’s Jessica Jones––a Marvel/Netflix (Martflix?) show. Like Jessica Jones before it, Luke Cage approaches its issues in a variety of incredibly subtle, as well as not so subtle, ways, but the fact that it’s approaching them at all––and giving these issues narrative prominence––sets it apart from most other entries in the genre.

source: BlackNerdProblems
source: BlackNerdProblems

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m an English teacher (albeit not one of Literature, but of Composition and Rhetoric), but I noticed right away how many books dominated the show (at least in the front half––I’m not quite done with the season yet as of this writing) and how diverse Cage’s tastes were––in terms of race, sure, but also in terms of genre.

Dr. Tara Betts briefly discusses the books given center stage in the show, but expands that view into a full reading list that addends and complements the show. Some are a bit jokey (the Where’s Waldo? choice), others are referential (picking a Geoffrey Canada book since the writer was referenced by Cottonmouth at one point), and others are thoughtful on a pedagogical level (Acres of SkinCutting Along the Color Line), all of which could be used to describe the show itself.

Like I did for the “Worth a Look” about Stranger Things, I’m featuring this article even though I didn’t read it yet because it boldly sports a spoiler warning, and I––wishing to hold onto some aspect of nerd integrity––want to watch the rest of Luke Cage clean.

source: iO9.com
source: io9.com

Evan Narcisse’s article is presented as a dialogue between four writers discussing the major cultural issues as presented and challenged in Luke Cage. In fairness, many articles have been written about this aspect of the show, but this gathering of different points of view on the same subject is an attractive and important approach. Especially as a white dude from the coast of California––and as a teacher––it’s these discussions that I need to find and listen to.

Episode 102 – An Existential Poem

Episode 102 – An Existential Poem

ShowCard102

WEEK IN GEEK: To serve the purposes of research, Andrew punishes himself by rewatching Torchwood: Children of Earth while Dan listens to John Carpenter’s sequel to 2015’s Lost Themes album of original music, Lost Themes II.

THINGS ARE STRANGE: Dan and Andrew dive deep into the latest Netflix phenomenon: Stranger Things. They talk about its influences (and reference this interview with creators, the Duffer Bros, at Nerdist), its use of Dungeons & Dragons and its Lovecraftian influences.

CAN’T CAGE ME IN: The new, more fulsome trailer for the next Marvel-Netflix series, Luke Cage, hit the internet and Andrew and Dan dive into what seems interesting, troubling, and exciting about it (mostly exciting).

Leave your thoughts on this week’s topics, and read exclusive new content, at ForAllIntents.net. Be sure to join the official Facebook and Google+ pages  for exclusive links and conversations.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Stranger Things Theme” by S U R V I V E
-“Heart is Full” by Miike Snow (Run the Jewels remix)
-“Persia Rising” by John Carpenter

Episode 101 – The Black Arts of Algorithms

Episode 101 – The Black Arts of Algorithms

ShowCard101

WEEK IN GEEK: Andrew recovers from his serious bout of time-travel last week by watching Wil Wheaton’s tabletop adventure, Titansgrave: The Ashes of Volkana while Dan finds room on the bandwagon to jump on and start watching Netflix’s Stranger Things.

SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY?: Even though DC/Warner Bros.’ Suicide Squad only hit theaters today, audiences at premier screenings have been walking away less than happy, possibly sounding a cloister bell for the cinematic universe they’ve been trying to build since Man of Steel. Dan and Andrew investigate how the fate of this movie may influence future DC/Warner Bros. entries.

STATISTICS AND RHETORIC: Unintentionally hitting both Andrew and Dan’s wheelhouses, they examine a controversy that surfaced on the Manfeels Park blog where the author examined the strange disparity in the language around the interpretation of box office returns for both Ghostbusters and Star Trek Beyond. Despite having similar budgets and similar opening weekend numbers, Ghostbusters was declared by some to be a disaster for Paramount, while Star Trek‘s similar numbers were hailed as being a great success. What is going on here? Is it intentional? Is it warranted? Is it bad or good analysis?

Leave a comment about this week’s topics at forallintents.net. Be sure to also join the official Facebook and Google+ pages for links, conversations, and to meet other listeners. Help the show reach out to new listeners by leaving a review on the iTunes store.

And, for what it’s worth, there is (in a sense) a Transformers Genesis (re: the outtakes):

A legitimate Transformers Genesis. Thanks, Hasbro.
A legitimate Transformers Genesis. Thanks, Hasbro.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

FEATURED MUSIC:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss (conducted by Herbert von Karajan)
-“Halloween Theme – Main Title” by John Carpenter
-“Pseudo Suicide” by Oysterhead
-“Ghostbusters” by Walk the Moon
-“Rest In Peace” by Nobuo Uematsu (from Final Fantasy VI)

Worth a Look

Worth a Look

A large talk that basically started the whole GamerGate mess had to do with representation in video games, specifically with how female characters were presented and utilized within gameplay and narrative with the obvious and problematic conclusion being that female player characters were either underrepresented or, if present, lacked the variety or depth of the male protagonists.

Source: kotaku
Source: Kotaku

However, the newest critical focus––and just as important––looks away from the screen and toward both the community and the developers. If the more forward-looking fans of gaming out there want more representation in games, we should also be asking ourselves about representation in the making of games. With regard to the community, there is a harrowing documentary that I discussed on the show awhile ago, GTFO, about female pro gamers and critics that I guarantee will have you wanting to throw a chair against the wall.

The Kotaku article discusses the story behind––and of––a new book, Women in Game Development: Breaking the Glass Level-Cap, that deals specifically with female developers and their road to being professionals in the field and how that road is paved with sacrifices, shame-dodging, and prioritizing aspects of their identity that males in the same positions never had to make. It’s infuriating how human beings are being treated in a field that, at the core of it, everyone loves so very much.

Another great feature on the book was published at Polygon, “How Women in Gaming Face Hostility” by Colin Campbell.

This is a book I want to read and, it seems, one that gamers should read, no matter what side of development we are on. It’s just sad that this book had to be written at all.

In a bit of selfish rank-pulling, I’m using “Worth a Look” as a “Save for Later” bookmark for myself. This article discusses Dungeons & Dragons as it is used in the recent Netflix hit, Stranger Things (which will be my “Week in Geek” in this week’s episode). Stranger Things has been a Facebook darling, especially for nerds born in, or who lived through, the 1980s and for good reason.

source: Netflix
source: Netflix

Stranger Things is less a snapshot of life in the 1980s and more of an evocation of 1980s adventure movies: The GooniesE.T.: The Extra-TerrestrialStand By MeExplorers, and the like. By mentioning those movies, I don’t mean that is nostalgically mining those movies for characters, plot points, or in-joke references; I would argue that’s not the case at all. Instead, it feels like those movies. The Duffer Brothers (and their directors) have seemingly “figured out” how those movies were paced, how they sounded, and how they looked to feel like a long-lost sibling to those earlier movies. It’s meta-eerie on top of the creepiness of the show itself. It’s able to capture what J.J. Abrams tried to capture (and did pretty well) in his excellent Super 8. But Stranger Things just does it right in an ephemeral way.

The show is framed (or so the article tells me, I haven’t finished the series) around Dungeons & Dragons, which Kunzelman decides to parse not only as a narrative bookend, but also as a thrust, arguing that the game “functions as the primary metaphor for how these young nerdy boys are able to communicate and cooperate with one another and how they contextualize the challenges they face.”

I am eager to read the article, but not as eager as I am to finish the show. It’s so good.

Episode 82 – Backwards Expansion

Episode 82 – Backwards Expansion

Week in Geek: Andrew plays Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India while Dan watches Ex Machina.

Cheap Games: With Andrew’s sideways foray into the normally “AAA” Assassin’s Creed franchise being through the door of a $10 downloadable game, Dan and Andrew discuss the recent widening of prices for games––both video and tabletop––and the implications on not only the content but the culture it feeds.

Flash in the Pan/The Doctor is Out: In unrelated but nearly simultaneous announcements, CBS/CW and BBC announced they are pulling their respective content from the media hubs of Netflix and Hulu, presumably because they are going to launch their own premium streaming services. Will such a tactic work? Should it? Why now? 

Leave a comment at forall.libsyn.com. Be sure to also join the official Facebook and Google+ pages. You can e-mail the show at forallpod [at] gmail.com. Help the show out by leaving a review on iTunes.

For all intents and purposes, that was an episode recap.

Featured Music:

-“Stayin’ in Black” by Wax Audio
-“Ground Zeroes” by Ludvig Forssell (from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
-“Carry On Wayward Son” by GWAR (live recording)
-“Are You Ready for Some Football” by Hank Williams, Jr.

*Dramatic sting sampled from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.