Monday, March 30, 2009

unRealityTV

If you watch a sporting event, televised live, is it reality television? If you watch a game show, with results based upon decisions made by the player being shown, are you watching reality television? If you watch police officers chase down a thief, before cameras, however unhappy the result, are you watching reality television. If you watch people singing in a contest hoping to be considered by the judges and audience to be the next superstar, are you watching reality television? If you watch a show with a court judge deciding a case between two people in civil judgment, are you watching reality television? If you are watching two people report about their date together, and how they did various things and was it a “love” connection, was that reality television?

I would argue yes, but, not reality.

What is the factor that joins these as one genre? The lack of a creative voice making the event happen? Chance, and human behavior are captured upon film? The filter is the human invention of television but the aim is to present events and lives that are real. So then, how isn’t that pornography? Clearly there is something visceral and real about two people having sex in front of camera. Whether or not the morality accompanies the event is not the point. We are discussing what it is, not what it should or should not be. But in porn, a real event is captured, all the way to the end, And yet if you were to argue, as I just did, people would scream. But aside from the obvious sexual extremes involved, the act, the event is presented before cameras, reveals intimate details, and shows things that you wouldn’t learn outside of having watched the piece. How is porn not reality television, and, how is reality television not porn? Unearned intimacies are what porn is about. Porn allows a person to see private things without being someone involved in the private event. There are many similar products in culture, for women there are romance novels, for men there are violent action films, professional wrestling and some sports. You feel in love, you’ve been through a sports event. But porn is not reality. Romance novels are not reality, but are fantasy. Sports are not reality either, but we can certainly enjoy them. Even, I say, porn, without feeling a need to call it one thing or another.

So then what is reality television? Frankly few of what are called reality programs have more than a speck of reality within them. They are results of cameras being where no one expects them, and then being framed by presenters as being reality. They are the result of watching a spectacle, a family in disaster, a person being filmed for how different his response will be to something, or a contest. So here is another point forgotten often, reality television is a nature show, or a cooking show. It is a gardening show or a biography of a life well lived. I find the term Reality television ironic, for the creative arts reflect reality far better, clearer, in more detail, through fiction than the supposed truths revealed by Reality TV. The churning tidal pools of life offer far greater opportunities of reflection than anything packaged by television. Go read a book while sitting with a loved one, drinking coffee or other delightful beverage. Go for a walk listening to your iPod. Play with your child... You’ll feel better for it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

RAWBONE



RAWBONE
Jamie Delano
Max Fuimara
Full Color
Avatar Press
(In case you didn't figure it out, this is rated mature.)

Jamie Delano is a writer of importance, who writes, oddly enough, in the world of comic books. His work is challenging to people who desire only pabulum, for it creates whole cloth new paradigms and criticizes through fiction existing paradigms. His writing is an equal in quality, or better, to the name talents of the UK and Ireland. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Mark Millar, and Paul Jenkins are all talented, but none write the sort of stories that Jamie Delano does. In his most recent previous work Narcopolis, Delano questioned openly the future where drugs replace moral/ethical choices. He created in it a new language that was born from his perception of the world that would spring around that sort of culture. And some people did not understand it. The drug use was not condoned but it was also not, judgmentally critiqued. And some people did not understand that. Delano’s works do not allow the reader to make simple judgments because he does not.

RAWBONE starts from a premise of Pirates in the Caribbean, but there is so much more. For one thing, pirates were the scourge of the sea, at one time, but Disney, ala Johnny Depp prettied them up into heroes. Delano refuses to kiss the ass of current popular culture. In fact, he loses his foot up that same ass, by making his characters nasty, and, at this point irredeemable. This story is dark and lush, and it plays with our expectations, and makes the Church as evil as the pirates, but, as with most of Delano’s works, there are no simple answers, and the answers you are likely to come up with are at this point, lacking.

From the solicit “Jamie Delano cuts loose on a vicious pirate tale, delivering a bloody, terrifying vision of a world on the high-seas! But these are not the family-friendly kind, these are the roughneck, stealing, heartless bastards of the 17th century Caribbean. A rebellious young women named La Sirena has built a haven for pirates called Puerto de los Suenos (Port of Dreams). It is a good life for those that want to live outside of the crushing boot heel of the Church of England. But the church is a powerful enemy. It expends a lot of its pillaged wealth to bring about the downfall of the pirate scum who are praying on merchant vessels. Thus, the legend of La Sirena’s life will begin, one drip of blood at a time, while the British garrison waits for the pirate to slip into their ambush, tension building as seeming supernatural forces pick off the forces of law one by one, and imagination runs terror through the survivor’s veins.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MicroCon

I know compared to other comic book conventions this is small, but frankly, it is my favorite. I like it better because it is smaller, but, the venue is nice, the weather is just right, never too hot, never cold.

If you are in the area stop by and buy stuff, even some of my stuff!



MicroCon

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An interview with Tarringo T. Vaughan, wonderful poet and writer



TARRINGO T. VAUGHAN is a great writer of poetry, and a very thoughtful person. I offer this interview to hopefully expose you to his work, and to suggest that at PopLitiko we consider all aspects of popular culture. Even the aspects that aren’t AS popular.

Tell us about your background?:


I'm a 32 year old male with a bachelors in English. Graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2000. Was born and spent my younger years in Boston and since the age of 7 have been living in Springfield, MA. I am the oldest of 4 children raised primarily by a single mother. I have been working In the health care field for 8 years now.

People often assume that poetry is rhyme alone, and perhaps rhythm make a work a poem. What is a poem, and why does or doesn't rhyme matter to its being a poem?:

I learned pretty quickly that poetry didn't have to be rhyme, it can be many things. A poem is simply a poet's expression and if they are able to reach the reader in the form of inspiration then its poetry. Rhyme to me only matters if it comes naturally. Sometimes I rhyme because its within the flow, but I try not to force it.

What poets are the poets you love to read?:

I read Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Bukowski, Joseph Brodsky, Alicia Keys, Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda

You are gay, black, and a poet, are there any other ways you are outside the norm of society? Does that inform your poetry? How does it, if it does, hurt your poetry?:

I think I'm outside the norm simply for writing so many different styles. But being gay and black gives me much more inspiration as far as writing goes. I don't think I ever have writers block. It hurts me because I think many male poets/writers assume and have assumed they know what my writing will be about. For the most part though, it hasn't hurt much.

Who inspires your poetry today? What inspired you to become a poet?:

I would have to go back to the writers of the Harlem renaissance because for them it was all about expression and the appreciation of self. I've always inspired to be more of a novel writer and script writer until one day a reader of mine told me I should try poetry.

FlexWritersOnline, FlexCafe and other places are havens for writers. What is your ultimate goal with them, and how has running them gone? Are there issues with doing so?:

My ultimate goal is exposing and connecting writers. Leading a group on myspace has been stressful although it is rewarding at the same time. I get a lot of shit just being a moderator. I've heard so much negative about me which is not true and it all comes down to competition which it should not be about.

Why be a poet? wouldn't writing music lyrics be more rewarding both financially speaking and societally acceptance-wise?

I think music is poetry so writing lyrics is what we are doing. A goal of mine is to make is socially acceptable.

What is a poet's greatest asset?

Their surroundings.

In 5 years, as a poet, and then, as a person, what do you hope to be doing, and having accomplished?

I honestly hope to see many books published of those I have grown to known and perhaps my own name on a book cover.

Where have you been published?

I haven't been published, many are shocked by that but I also haven't tried because I don't feel like I have anything complete to do so.

Lastly, what does poetry offer society?

A poet offers society a connection to the emotions people feel in that one may relate and feel they are not alone. It offers voices that may not be heard otherwise.

Find Tarringo’s work at:
FlexWritersOnline
FlexCafe
Diary of a Gay Black Man
Tarringo Vaughan

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Culture: In Guns We Trust?



I am not always able to see why people disagree, Republicans and Democrats in the American political system should both have the best interest of the country at heart, right? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists all believe in some form of system where good behavior and moral beliefs are vital. They should have a great deal of common ground. Women and men both desire love, and pursue it, however poorly or misdirected. But in all these examples, they don’t get along, however much they should be able to do so. I cannot understand it, but I recognize that it happens.

“There are no "good guns". There are no "bad guns". Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody — except bad people.” - Charlton Heston

On the other hand, I fully understand why people who own guns in the United States do not intellectually find common ground with those who do not own guns. Gun owners trace the independence of the United States and American people to a well armed civilianry. They consider how free Americans are societally, and they attribute that freedom to being able defend their freedoms from governmental intrusions. Beliefs such as these are difficult to argue for or against without passion. For while Gun culture has beliefs regarding the ownership of guns or the right of ownership, those who disagree, and do not own such weapons also have beliefs. They believe that if guns are available that people who aren’t interested in self defense or sport shooting or hunting will be able to acquire a gun and use it in the committing of a crime. They suggest that the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights provides for a well armed and trained Militia, not everyone wanting a gun. They also point to accidents that happen and take lives due to guns being a dangerous tool in the hands of the inexperienced or careless user, or worse, child.

“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” - William S. Burroughs

I am explaining all this because Gun culture in the United States does influence the popular culture, the knowledge of the past, the beliefs about the society and nation. Guns are part of the American scene, and guns are symbolize things to both sides of the argument. Guns are dangerous. But to the gun owner they are a good danger, one that threatens criminals, defends property, and keeps the government from taking more than just the gun away, but all rights. Guns are dangerous in a bad manner to those people against gun ownership. The danger is not misunderstood, bullets kill, but motives, scenarios and circumstances help to make the argument one with few winners, just angry expressions and disagreement.

“It's just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” - Bill Hicks

So, if you are an American who believes in the legends of the American West, with cowboys, the great frontier, the role of violence in taking the land, I am willing to bet that you are a gun owner, or at least support gun ownership rights. If you are an American who believes that there are a great many victimized people groups in America due to the violent process of nation building, I am willing to bet that you do not agree with or feel a need to greatly limit gun ownership and gun ownership rights.

“Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout "Bang!"” - George F. Will

I am not suggesting here, for any reason, that either side is correct. I simply pointing out that within what we call popular culture are views that are often part of the whole view, but disagreed upon. Gun culture is part of American culture, but not everyone agrees that it is a good thing.

“And the National Rifle Association says that, "Guns don't kill people, people do,” but I think the gun helps, you know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, "Bang!" That's not going to kill too many people, is it? You'd have to be really dodgy on the heart to have that…” - Eddie Izzard

((I will certainly be asked by reader emails if not via comments, if I own a gun. I come from a family that did not hunt, but my brother does now. My best friend is a gun toting Libertarian, and in high school I was one of the very few males who attended school during Deer Hunting. In Wisconsin if you didn’t hunt deer, you were not normal. I do not own a gun, but I grew up in a part of the country where hunting was the norm. I do not find myself desiring to own a gun, but I am not against the ownership of guns. I think most of the problems come down to the fact that nobody wants criminals to be able to acquire guns, but we know they will. So how do you prevent it, at the same time as allow gun ownership? I don’t have an answer, but I am not saying all gun ownership should end because criminals violate other people’s rights. In fact you could argue that gun ownership protects you in those cases. So I am a tweener.))