Roger Ebert Home

Thumbnails 9/26/2013

May contain spoilers


"Why We're Shutting Off Our Comments." Popular Science Suzanne LaBarre articulates the periodical's new policy that has provoked such a Internet kerfuffle. Related: "Popular Science, Not Populist Science," a Metafilter thread. See also: "Popular Science Says Comments 'Bad for Science,' Shuts Them Off. That's Lazy and Wrong." By Slate's Will Oremus.

"A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science. There are plenty of other ways to talk back to us, and to each other: through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, livechats, email, and more. We also plan to open the comments section on select articles that lend themselves to vigorous and intelligent discussion. We hope you'll chime in with your brightest thoughts. Don't do it for us. Do it for science."


"Poison Tree." Grantland's Tom Bissell writes a letter to "Grand Theft Auto" protagonist, Niko Bellic, about the video game's latest installment. It's very earnest. Related: "I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V to Parents Who Didn't Give a Damn." By "A Video Game Veteran" for Kotaku.

"Niko, I've thought about this a lot, and internalized residual shame is the best explanation I have to account for the cesspool of negativity that sits stagnating at the center of video-game culture, which right now seems worse than it's ever been. I don't think playing video games makes people more violent. You of all people should know that. I do, however, believe playing video games turns people into bigger assholes than they would otherwise feel comfortable being. Games are founded upon competition and confrontation. It's probably no coincidence, then, that a large and extremely vocal part of the video-game audience responds to arguments with which it disagrees by lashing out. One reviewer of GTA V, Carolyn Petit of GameSpot, said the game was "politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic," which is very much a defensible position. Petit also made it clear she loved GTA V. Twenty thousand irate comments piled up beneath her review, many of them violent and hateful. Is this reasonable behavior? Sure, if you've come to regard anything that stands in perceived opposition to you as in dire need of eradication. What is that if not video-game logic in its purest, most distilled form?"


"Man of Steel Writer David S. Goyer Doesn't Believe Superman Shouldn't Kill His Enemies." By The Dissolve's Matt Singer. At a recent BAFTA event, the co-writer of the most recent "Superman" movie defends his stance. 

Goyer says he didn’t want to write around crutches and so he and co-writer Christopher Nolan put Superman in an “impossible situation” and forced him to “make an impossible choice.” He also claimed that he sees the movie as Superman Begins, an origin story akin to his own Batman Begins, and that his Superman isn’t really the Superman until the end of the film. That was an argument that many Man Of Steel supporters made back in June; this is a guy who’s way out of his depth and still learning how to act like a hero. He’s not perfect and occasionally makes mistakes. Together, though, Goyer’s two excuses feel a little contradictory. Does Superman kill whenever he deems it necessary or did he just kill this one time? Is this Superman deadly or just naive? Goyer wants to have it both ways. He wants to have his cake, and then fly around the world at super-speed, reversing the Earth’s rotation and time itself, so that he can then eat the cake a second time.


"Theater Hunts for Lost Musicals and Puts Them On." By Mark Kennedy for The AP. Ben West, artistic director of the nonprofit UnsungMusicalsCo. Inc., scours libraries, newspaper archives, and databases for overlooked and undervalued musicals. Then he breathes life back in them.

"West said, 'The criteria that I look for is obscure but artistically sound. Which is to say, not flops. For example, "Make My Manhattan," which was our first full production, was a huge hit in 1948. But its authors never became household names. But the show ran almost a year and went on tour with Bert Lahr.I think there are certain criteria that cause shows to be forgotten, mainly the style. The traditional revue, for example, is gone. And also if an author has not become a household name, I think they tend not to be investigated.'"


"The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers." By Maria Popova for Brain Pickings. Brooklyn-based writer Celia Blue Johnson's new book affords a peek at great writers’ more bizarre techniques.

"Mode and medium of writing seem to be a recurring theme of personal idiosyncrasy. Wallace Stevens composed his poetry on slips of paper while walking — an activity he, like Maira Kalman, saw as a creative stimulant — then handed them to his secretary to type up. Edgar Allan Poe, champion of marginalia, wrote his final drafts on separate pieces of paper attached into a running scroll with sealing wax. Jack Kerouac was especially partial to scrolling: In 1951, planning the book for years and amassing ample notes in his journals, he wrote On The Road in one feverish burst, letting it pour onto pages taped together into one enormously long strip of paper — a format he thought lent itself particularly well to his project, since it allowed him to maintain his rapid pace without pausing to reload the typewriter at the end of each page. When he was done, he marched into his editor Robert Giroux’s office and proudly spun out the scroll across the floor."


A group of Lakota grandmothers literally captured the flag of white supremacist Craig Cobb, who's been trying to occupy their small North Dakota town. Tip of the hat to Feministing for hipping us to these ladies.



From the good people at Press Play, "First Fassbinder."

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