Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gamers Almost Ruined Gone Girl For Me

If you've got a TV or been to the movies in the past few months, you've seen ads for David Fincher's new movie Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck. For me, that's a distinctly iffy combination. I loved Fight Club and The Game, really didn't care for Se7en, and was mostly ambivalent about most of the other Fincher movies I've seen. Then there's Affleck, who can act, but often chooses not to. Ultimately, three things convinced me to the see the movie: (1) After seeing the previews a few times, I was actually curious whether Affleck's character had murdered his wife; (2) When Affleck was on The Daily Show to promote the movie, he gave the impression that this was one of those films where he'd actually put in some effort; (3) It was filmed in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, which is about an hour away from me, so at least I'd recognize some of the locations. 

SPOILER ALERT: If you've seen the trailers, you can probably guess that this is the kind of movie that's better if you don't know how it ends. So, if you plan to see Gone Girl (or read the book it's based on), you should probably stop reading now. To protect you from possibly seeing spoilers, I'm going to separate this from the rest of the article with a picture of Ben Affleck (possibly pooping a little) from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie. 

Affleck was in the BTVS movie for about 30 seconds all together.
Don't feel bad if you don't remember him from it. 
Ok, are we down to only people who don't care about spoilers or have already seen the movie (or read the book)? Good. Who needs those other losers? 

So anyway, Gone Girl is a perfect example of the unreliable narrator stuff Fincher does well, so you spend the first half of the movie trying to figure out which of the things you're seeing are true and re-evaluating Nick Dunne's (Affleck) guilt. Of course, since you've already seen the movie you know that Dunne is only guilty of being kind of a douchebag, not murder. His wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), is actually alive and completely fucking evil. Rather than just divorcing Nick, she faked her own death and framed him for murder so the state would fry him. 

When the focus of the movie shifts to Amy, it's one of those deals where you're disgusted by what the character's doing, but at the same time can't wait to see what evil thing she's going to do next. You're a little sad when the answer turns out to be "brutally kill Neil Patrick Harris," but it's one of those cases where even though you're not really rooting for the villain, you're enjoying  the wrongness of it all. 

This would have been all well and good, if it weren't for the fact that I've been reading a lot of articles lately about GamerGate, a "movement" by video gamers to improve game journalism (even though they don't seem to know what the word "journalism" means) mainly by harassing and threatening women in the game industry. I found out about this nonsense mostly by accident, but have been keeping up with it for the same reason people rubberneck during traffic accidents. Also, as a tabletop gamer, there's probably a little smug superiority in knowing that most tabletop gamers are merely awful, not actively vile. 

Anyway, the whole GamerGate thing, if it wasn't obvious, is deeply intertwined with Men's Rights Activism and pick-up artistry and several other cancerous growths of men who think either feminists or all women are evil, manipulative bitches who spend their time playing mind games and luring men into false rape accusations. To these idiots, Amy Dunne, the evil, conniving superbitch villain of Gone Girl, is just a normal woman whose scheme was just a little more elaborate than the games most women cruelly play on men constantly. Remember when I mentioned how these people were vile? 

When I realized that Amy Dunne was basically the straw woman that misogynists rave against, I got a little distracted. Were GamerGaters going to applaud this movie for "showing what women are really like?" Was the portrayal of Amy misogynistic? Was it wrong to enjoy a movie where the female lead was a manipulative sociopath? I can't answer the first question, because thankfully I can't predict how GamerGaters think. The answer to the other two is "no," because Amy's sociopathic behavior isn't rooted in her gender, she's just evil. You could basically make the same movie with Nick faking his death and framing Amy with just a few changes to the details. Whew! 

Fortunately, the movie was attention-grabbing enough that after the initial realization I was able to push the thought that some men think Amy's actions are normal female behavior to the back of my mind and enjoy the rest of the film. It was quite enjoyable, and I recognized the bridge, the waterfront, and a couple of buildings. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lester "Proudfoot" Jackson

Here's a page from my book Obscure Early Bluesmen (Who Never Existed), which you can buy for money.

Lester "Proudfoot" Jackson

Lester "Proudfoot" Jackson
LOC, Lomax Collection, LC-DIG-ppmsc-00542
According to all accounts, Lester Jackson’s life before 1939 was one of crime, sloth, and drunkenness. When he discovered an unattended copy of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit in the drunk tank of the Pikimpsitonka County jail, the book completely changed his life. Taking on the name “Proudfoot,” Jackson returned to his small farm and began construction of his own underground 
“Hobbit Hole.” He traded in his gambling and boozing for gardening and collecting. When he found an old dulcimer at a swap meet, Proudfoot taught himself  to play and began composing Middle-Earth-themed music. Proudfoot had several minor hits through Chump Records including “My Hobbit Hole Ain’t Whole (Since My Baby Left Me),” “Magic Hat Blues,” “I Been There and Back Again,” and “Ramble On.” Posthumous examination of his prolific journals and diaries reveals that Jackson was likely delusional.