Garwulf's Corner

Garwulf's Corner
Emails from the Edge III: The Search for Forum Posts, and the Year in Review

Robert B. Marks | 23 Dec 2015 12:00
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It's Garwulf's Corner number 21, which means it is time for the third installment of Emails from the Edge. And yes, the title is a reference to an old Star Trek movie (I grew up watching the original cast [i]Star Trek movies, [i]M*A*S*H[i], and [i]Doctor Who[i]...which may explain a lot).

But, it's also the end of 2015, and the day before the night before Christmas, so before we begin with the forum posts, it's time for a quick "year in review."


Most amazing moment: Seeing the planet Pluto up-close for the very first time.

I'm one of those old-fashioned types who refuses to let go of Pluto being a planet (the planets of my solar system include Pluto!), and for years I've seen scientists wondering and speculating what it was actually like. And when we all finally saw it, the reality was better than the speculation by far.

Most interesting video game: Hatred

By all accounts the game is mediocre and joyless, but the discussion around one of video gaming's first proper murder spree simulators was fascinating and revealing, particularly as a number of game critics declared that for Hatred to be good, it would have needed the very elements that would have rendered it indefensible.

Worst thing in pop culture this year: The Hugo Awards and the "Puppy Wars."

It's not easy to watch a community you've been a part of and still care about tear itself to pieces and go scorched earth on one of speculative fiction's most prestigious awards. Unfortunately, that's what happened, with slander campaigns, a lot of bad blood, and some conspiracy theories about SJWs thrown in on the side before it was all said and done. The most tragic part was when it came together on awards night, with a number of authors thrown under the bus as the crowd cheered...and then people started getting ready for the rematch.

Best thing in pop culture this year: Desert Bus for Hope 9

As a pop culture issues commentator, I have to wade through a lot of fairly unpleasant and nasty stuff. But Desert Bus is a full week of using pop culture to be positive and help children, and doing it all without a single negative vibe. This is what our corner of pop culture can do and be, and I really wish that more people talking about it and in it were watching Desert Bus and taking notes.

And now, on to the forum posts.

Garwulf #15, "Indies Will Be Saviors of the Game Review," didn't generate too heated a discussion, but it did provoke some commentary. Thunderous Cacophony wondered if indie developers courting the video games media could have any real impact:

The big articles that drive views (and thus profit) are not about the thousands of indie titles being cranked out constantly, it's the AAA tentpoles. At the time of writing, the Binging Indie series, which has been running weekly since late August, has garnered exactly 19 comments. Meanwhile, a quick look at the Fallout 4 tag shows many articles with scores or hundreds of comments, all for a game that isn't even out yet. Assuming some correlation between comments and views, it's clear the profit still lies in telling people about the things they want to hear, what they want to hear is news, previews, reviews, and commentary on AAA games, and thus the big studios still have the upper hand in negotiations with the press.

Garwulf #16, "Robert E. Howard, Conan, and Subverting Racism," managed to raise an interesting discussion across the Escapist forums and Facebook. On the forums, Raesvelg wrote:

Howard tended to exalt barbarism (as typified by Conan and similar characters) over "savagery" or civilization, and he did so regardless of the skin color of the barbarian in question.

Of course, while rugged individualists make for interesting characters, they tend not to make for good societies. Which one could argue Howard acknowledged in some of his King Conan stories.

The December King added:

I actually found the racism quite entertaining, if harmless, in most of Robert's stories, as it lent a sort of base stereotyping to all of the characters- just a simple veneer to set the stage for the arguably more complex main characters. That is not to say that I don't see how some of the portrayals might have been meant to draw modern parallels, and could be seen as quite tasteless- the Conan/Mak Morn stories involving the 'little people' and their possibly oriental ancestry always smacked of it the worst, in my mind.

On Facebook, Marcus Orealias disagreed that the racism of the 1930s was being subverted at all:

Howard was a racist, but his Conan stories were not a subversion of this. He also very strongly believed that simple folk, country folk, were inherently morally superior to city or 'civilized' people. This is why Conan won the day with his simple set of values, why all of his characters that were heroic had simple sets of values and always triumphed over 'clever, tricksy, twisty' city types. Howard believed Strength and Simplicity and Confronting Problems Head on were the cornerstones of virtue.

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