Monthly Archives: December 2015

Legal Porn (No, not that.)

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The New York Post prints a fair share of dumb articles, but three days ago they published a particularly dumb one which touches on something that I just recently watched, Netflix’s examination of the Steven Avery murder case, Making a Murderer. The headline goes: ‘Why Making a Murderer’ is Better than ‘Serial.’ The article, written by Sara Stewart, talks about both investigative pieces like they are entertainment, which to many they are, and she fails to recognize that it’s this same attitude towards both cases that lead to injustices. The cases began in the media, became legal porn, and many people are already too biased to hear any story that would contradict their biases.

Let me quickly counter Ms. Stewart’s five reasons and why they are at the very least moot and at the worst, serves to further harm the justice process.

1. We don’t know anything about the case (Steven Avery’s) already.
-The reason why people watch a documentary is to hopefully learn something new, not to confirm their biases. I’m hoping this was what both producers of Serial and Making a Murderer were trying to achieve. I believe most people know of Bowe Berghdal mostly through conservative talking points. This makes an examination of his case even more necessary.

2. Its (Making a Murderer’s) subject is more sympathetic.
-This is the type of laziness that leads to so much injustice. Ms. Stewart must not have heard of the Duke Lacrosse case. Rich, white students were accused of drugging and gang raping an African-American woman at a party. And from the very beginning, it was painted as an example of the excesses rich white men get away with and even as a hate crime. Nancy Grace filled hours of show condemning the accused. It was great legal porno. Unfortunately, the sympathetic victim turned out to be a liar.

Being swayed by sympathetic victims is one of the greatest traps people fall into. Ms. Stewart describes Steven Avery as being more sympathetic than Bowe Berghdal. But I would argue that it is exactly this sympathetic bias that got Steven Avery into bigger trouble. Isn’t the zeal for justice for Teresa Halbach a perfect example of the Missing White Woman Syndrome? The volunteers combing an area, the media coverage, the aggressive police action, etc.  It’s like whoever murdered Ms. Halbach took Criminology 101. She’s one of the most sympathetic victims of all.

3. Its (Making a Murderer’s) subject gives firsthand interviews.
-This is just silliness. Comparing the availability of both subjects in wildly different contexts is just dumb. I suppose Sarah Koenig could’ve just gone to Afghanistan to interview Bowe Berghdal while he escaped. Unfortunately we don’t live in such a fantastically ridiculous world.

4. There’s a wealth of archival footage available.
-Ms. Stewart seems to lament that there’s not enough footage of Bowe Berghdal as opposed to the court footage, local news, and police reports that’s available for Steve Avery’s case. I would argue that Ms. Koenig actually took some restraint in not using the wealth of material slamming Bowe Berghdal and essentially convicting him prior to being tried and his reasons for leaving examined.  But doing so would be extremely lazy and basically going through what everyone has already been exposed to. What Ms. Koenig is doing with the “unpopular” Bowe Berghdal might not be as good as “entertainment,” but entertainment is just one part of what Serial is trying to do. It is also trying to inform its audience.

5. It’s (Making a Murderer’s) literally easier to hear.
-Again with apples and oranges. One is a ten-part documentary which most people can and will binge-watch, while the other is an ongoing radio series. It’s the visual media versus the theater of the mind.

I don’t mean to write an examination of a dumb New York Post article, but my frustration from seeing the story is basically the same thing that frustrates me with many legal stories, and it’s something that I admittedly am quite guilty of as well: treating these cases like legal porn. It’s all drama. The characters are just mere characters, not real life people. People opine on whether Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias, or OJ Simpson are guilty or not, but what often gets lost are the web of people they are connected with. Steven Avery is portrayed as some sort of villain in 1985. No one would have guessed that it would later start a domino effect which lands his nephew in prison.  Bowe Berghdal is talked about simply as a deserter… but his issues regarding the military and how it treats its own troops is forgotten entirely. Lots of people become self-satisfied legal experts just watching legal drama on the sidelines, not realizing that it sometimes feeds into the injustice that is fueled by the media (Hello again, Nancy Grace).

Ms. Stewart writes as if she sees both Serial and Making a Murderer as entertainment pieces, which to most of the public they are, like numbers on a Nielsen ratings scale.  They really shouldn’t be, and we should stop talking about them as if they were. These people’s lives are not being ruined by the justice system simply for our entertainment. I would like to think there is more to them than that.

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Making Art for No One

Here’s an advice to artists out there. If you’re gonna make art, make sure that it would actually mean something to someone. Let me illustrate this.

Here’s a fake anime movie poster of Maurice Ruddick, the singing miner. He’s an Afro-Canadian survivor of the 1958 Springhill Mining Disaster in Nova Scotia. He’s a figure of Canadian history not only as a survivor of the disaster but also as a victim of segregation.

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Here’s the Canadian Heritage video about him.

I played around with the poster, and here’s a rather racist version of the poster. It depicts a white character as the central character. And yes, the Japanese is mangled. I know.

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Now, to fully appreciate the whole thing, one has to be:
1. Interested in things Canadian
2. Interested in Canadian history
3. Know about Maurice Ruddick
4. Interested in Maurice Ruddick and the Springhill Mining Disaster
5. Interested in anime like the ones produced by Studio Ghibli
6. Can read Japanese
7. Know about the 12 Years a Slave Italian poster controversy
8. Know that some studios would use lesser characters in films to market a movie simply because they are more marketable/palatable to their perceived audience
9. Is actually willing to have cartoon posters on their wall

Now, how many people actually fit all of those characteristics? Not much. I think I already hit a snag with the second and third criteria.  If you’re planning to sell work, don’t make it too niche. Otherwise, you’ll be making a lot of work to keep to yourself.

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Keiko and the Canadian Space Arm

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A little too busy today for a long entry. Instead, here’s a picture of a fake anime movie based on one of Canada’s greatest contributions to science: the Canadian space arm.

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Anime STP Marvel Sadness

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I saw an ad for a show that promises anime style oil and acrylic paintings that reinterprets Greek myth and biblical stories. Intrigued, I went and was sadly disappointed that it had nothing but giant renderings of nude anime women. Hard as I try, I couldn’t find any connection with biblical and mythological themes. It’s as if the show description is describing a totally different set of works.

I try not to be too harsh on criticism, but I walked away from the show thinking I could do better. So I started messing around with anime style drawing, this time dealing with Canadian themes. I figure I’ll try to make ten posters or so, see where that takes me.

Scott Weiland passed away a few days ago. The news hit me hard because I was still kinda hoping he would get back with Stone Temple Pilots, despite his solo work has been amazing and his album with the Wildabouts was promising. I remember him being interviewed by Howard Stern when STP got back together and Sterb was talking to them like they were children who couldn’t get along, and in the process of bickering fail to see the bigger picture. I had hopes back then, but even during the interview, I could tell that they were still pretty unhappy and that Weiland was still pretty much on drugs.

Then years passed and STP fires Weiland, replaces him with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, and even had Slash and Duff McKagan, Weiland’s old band members from Velvet Revolver, play with them at MusiCares. It’s almost like a collective F***you to Weiland who obviously needs help. What annoyed me more, aside from never really liking anything Linkin Park put out, is Chester Bennington dying his hair and dancing around like Weiland. I know you’re a fan, but we can tell you’re not Weiland, dude. Sammy Hagar didn’t prance around like David Lee Roth when Van Halen took him in.

And now Weiland passes away, everyone tweets out condolences and what an honor it was to have worked with Weiland. You know, the guy that STP is suing and is being countersued by. .. the guy that Slash and McKagan fired as well. I’m sure it must’ve been difficult working with the guy. Even Weiland admits that he has a bit of an ego. As for the drugs, he surrounded himself with people involved in it. Heck, Weiland and Tommy Black from the Wildabouts were arrested on drug charges, and their guitarist, Jeremy Brown, died presumably due to drugs. The guy was difficult, but he needed help. He wasn’t just a difficult band member, he was also someone’s son, husband, and father. Now he’s passed away and everyone’s tweeting roses about him. I wonder who it really serves, talking nice about someone after it’s all too late.

Stone Temple Pilots was Scott Weiland. Without him, I wish they’d just call themselves Talk Show.



I don’t like what Marvel is doing with some of their beloved franchises. It’s been written about in many outlets but Marvel is slowly killing IPs that do not belong in their studio’s cinematic universe.

I’ve never been too excited watching the Marvel movies. I think the X-Men films, especially the First Class film was far superior. Even the upcoming Civil War film is not very exciting, especially since the movie is based on a book with a dumb premise and characters acted uncharacteristically. But what annoys me is not so much the push for the Avengers characters, after all, it attracts a new generation of readers, but the almost aggressive effort to push out the X-Men from existence. Just look at what happened to the Fantastic Four.

To recap, back when Marvel didn’t make movies, they licensed their IPs to film studios. Two notable and very successful IPs were the X-Men and Spider Man, whose licenses are held by Fox and Sony respectively. The licenses were giant money makers for the studios, and even to Marvel at the time who gained benefits despite movie studios taking all of the risks. But then Marvel decided to make its own movies starting with Iron Man and continuing with members of the Avengers. The movies were very successful but due to licensing agreements, they don’t have control of characters that the other studios continue to own, at least in the cinematic world. The Avengers cannot have stories involving the Fantastic Four or members of the X-Men.

So what’s Marvel to do? Well, what they appear to be doing is killing off the X-Men. I’ve been a regular comic book reader since the late eighties and I know that the X-Men basically was Marvel’s bread and butter in the nineties. Without them, Marvel wouldn’t exist as a company. The Avengers books were gathering dust on shelves. Iron Man was “Ol’ Shellhead.” But now that Marvel is more interested in the movie-making business, they are actively trying to devalue properties which they don’t have full control of or just creatively try to put a spin on characters which puts them in IP limbo. They made a new Spider Man. Not Peter Parker, but Miles Morales. As exciting a change as that may seem, it puts the control of the Morales character into question. Does Sony own the Morales Spider Man license or just Peter Parker?

But what’s worse is that with the rejiggering of the Marvel Universe, they killed off many of its popular X-Men characters (Prof. X and Wolverine) and made all mutants impotent. A fictional substance, Terrigan mist, is killing of mutants and activating the powers of a superhuman race called the Inhumans. Unpopular with readers, the Inhumans have been getting a push in the comic books and now have a movie scheduled to be made in the future. Kill off the mutants and replace them with Inhumans. Good job, Marvel. Even making Cyclops, a character that was never attractive to many fans, the leader of the X-Men seem like it’s designed to turn readers off. In the X-Men movies, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the mutant offspring of Magneto were played by different actors in the Avengers film. To spit at the X-Men movies, Marvel retroactively makes the two characters non-mutants, thus delegitimizing the Quicksilver and the Scarlet With of the X-Men movies for no apparent reason.

This is all nerdspeak, but what annoys me about the whole thing is that Marvel is now letting the movie business dictate the world of its comic books. In the process, it’s spitting at fans who have grown to love characters that have sustained the company for many years. I would argue, that they are sacrificing a medium that is more creative and exciting for a world that it is very lucrative but ultimately shallow.

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