Tag Archives: opinion piece

Why Literature Critics should attack Video Games

Games narratives are the next step in storytelling, and the emphasis, as with so much these days, is upon the consumer-product relationship and the different ways in which the consumer/player affects the product/game/story being told. It may come to our realisation too late that studying the way these narratives are being created and the affect that they can have may actually be beneficial to our society.

Perhaps our problem is that the genius behind them isn’t a single (white middle-class western) man, it’s a group working together, communicating, developing, creating. This collaboration behind the creation is the very reason I think a study of it would be beneficial – it is possible to collaborate and create in a meaningful way in the current technological and socio-economic quicksand we’ve gotten ourselves stuck in. Even fans contribute; with fanon, through kickstarters and advertisement, etc.

This productive social activity being exhibited in the video games industry (and indeed the content creator arena that naturally follows on) is an important thing to grasp, understand and replicate. It could be exactly what ecocritics are looking for, it could be exactly where we need to head, and I think that literature critics could help a lot by actually paying attention to the new narrative forms that we are seeing, instead of dismissing them into the realms of IT,  New Media, and consumerism.

 

Ad Hitlerum; ‘Prose-poetry’-only version

The people of said nations respond;

“But it’s your fault [the gov], we voted you in but its your fault these countries are like this you keep doing the wrong thing like you do to our doctors, you keep stealing what they need like you do with our students and firemen and police, and you keep taking for you and not helping these people to fix their country their countries are broken we employ you to fix them fix them fix us fix it.”

“You voted us in, we’re doing our best we don’t understand how to get them to stop we know it’s annoying but it’s like they can’t help it, we can help it here we don’t know why they can’t, please help us, we’re sinking we’re trying please help us.”

“You did this didn’t you on purpose didn’t you we knew it you bastards you always screw us screw them screw up, screw up for everyone but yourselves and we see you now and we’re going to hold cardboard made in factories in tAiwan shipped over by the Chinese in boats made in ‘africa’ running on oil from Iraq and Saudi Arabia which seems to be doing ok so it’s ok, and we’re going to write on this cardboard with pens made from hazardous material that will pollute the water earth air for generations to come that were made in China risking the lives of thousands so we can have pretty colours, and we’re going to hold these up above our heads these things we make to tell you you’re failing you’re doing it wrong.

But no.

We don’t know what else to do.

You do though right?

And that’s why we’ll tell you through petitions online made on computers that contain poisons and degrade over millions of years and we go through millions a year because that’s our life now because we can’t look at our own world because to look is depressing because death and destruction and we know we’re responsible but we don’t know how to fix it we don’t know where we went wrong please help us.

You can fix it right?”

Ironic marketing of the Full Piece

Why my family don’t like Amanda Palmer; Or, is all music poetry?

I have a draft piece written somewhere on a genre of writing I like to term prose-poetry. It’s not the same as ‘poetic prose’ or ‘prose poetry’ (as such); it’s, I think, new and different, a mode which specifically combines the two. Specifically.

In the writing of it, I realised that I had last managed to define poetry, in opposition to prose, and without relying on literary techniques.
Poetry acts upon the emotions; it appeals to the emotions and evokes a response, whatever that may be.
Prose, conversely, acts upon logic; it appeals to the reason of the reader/audience.
Prose using emotions occasionally but only as a means to acting upon logic: In poetry, acting upon the emotions is the end in itself.

 

So, we come to music (I will eventually post that draft on prose-poetry).
Music has lyrics, which my family don’t listen to, but I do. I adore lyrics: the meaning behind them; the way they can work against and with the music and musicality of a song.
I used to see songs as poetry put to music. This is not the case.
Music and word are formed together in songs. But this is not the reason that I was wrong.

I have come to the realisation that not all songs are poetry. Not all music is made to appeal to the emotions.

Songs are perhaps more subjective in response than even written texts purely because you can entirely ignore the lyrics (whether they appeal to emotion or reason) and thereby only ‘feel’ the music.

I was listening to Yesterday by The Beatles on my way back home today. I’ve always had issues with this song, I love it, I dislike it, I don’t understand it. The narrative is pretty clear lyrically, the music sounds like a dirge/elegy, but music and lyrics don’t entirely match up.

I’m a firm believer in the music of a song being able to tell a different story to the lyrics, I think it’s a very important part of songs. But putting it in terms of prose and poetry today, I realised something; the lyrics of Yesterday appeal to my intellect, my reason, asking for sympathy maybe but still. I’m still struggling on how to put how something appeals to reason rather than intellect into words, without going for the blindly obvious- it asks you to think, it asks you to reason out the situation and come to a conclusion.

Seven Nation Army comes on next, I listen as always, my concentration fading in and out of the lyrics. I decided this song appeals to the emotion. Partly because the lyrics are easy to fade in and out of; the music and lyrics together are appealing to your emotion; it doesn’t matter which you are listening to or if you’re listening to them separately or together. There’s still a narrative thread guiding you through but some construction of lyrics play more to emotions than logic; “And I’m bleeding and i’m bleeding and I’m bleeding/right before the lord.”

Slight tangent, we went to a ghost tour on Saturday, a friend commented that the language our guide was using was very poetical. I replied that it was because he was a appealing to our emotion, not our logic; to apply reason to a ghost tour would destroy the whole purpose, the mood, the atmosphere, our want to be scared for an hour to release some tension.

American Pie is a song about emotion and events that appeals to logic and reason in all but the chorus, a heightened moment of emotion that appeals to your emotion to trick you into sharing his disappointment, sadness and need for a kind of renewal or redemption for music-kind. So much of the verses rely, however, on logical responses, inviting you to figure out the meaning of the obscure references in order to understand why you are being appealed to. Maybe it’s just me, but that song is heavily biased to reason-appeal and not emotion.

As are Amanda Palmer‘s songs, though emotional they appeal to logic for sympathy, not emotion. To understanding, not heart-felt pity.
And the music, repetitious and cyclical as it is, joins in with this appeal to reason.

For a family that doesn’t listen to lyrics, wants to ‘feel’ songs, I think it must be very jarring when suddenly an oeuvre is presenting that appeals largely to reason than emotion, and whilst I don’t doubt their capability to understand, it may take some time to learn how to listen to a reason-appeal song.

7116 Consent + Pop Music

Blurred Lines was an issue, I think we can all agree, especially considering how godsdamned catchy it was. I detested the implications of the lyrics (and video) obviously; some guy telling you that he knows you want him really, even the title suggesting the whole ‘no means yes’ weird logic, that kind of thing. It really has been talked about a lot.

Uptown Funk. I have a problem with Uptown Funk. I don’t disagree that it’s better than Blurred Lines, and social media etc basically did the marketing for that song; the song of the summer and it’s not like Blurred Lines. It’s better than it, fine. It still has questionable implications; not as obvious as BL, I don’t think anyone would dare go that explicit again with the same kind of message. But it is threatening, and it is objectifying, especially when the video is taken alongside it.

  1. Funk; I know it’s about the music itself, but it close to fuck – not that I have a problem with expletives, the problem comes when it’s combination with the rest of the lyrics.
  2. ‘Uptown Funk gonna give it to ya’; Maybe this is me over analysing but the change in rhythm with these lines, the repetition, the vids mcu’s of the group of males praising women as they walk down a street; I personally see this as threatening, there’s no request of consent or anything, hardly even pre-flirting or anything.

Yeah so, maybe you think consent is difficult thing to fit into music lyrics, maybe it isn’t necessary to be fitted in. I disagree, especially if a song is purely about a guy believing he is so hot that everyone wants to have sex with him so he’ll ‘give it to’ us. [[SEGWAY]] Madonna and Justin Timberlake, 4 Minutes. Just putting it out there, much better lyrically in terms of consent and sex presentation. Why?

It’s not just because both male and female voices are heard, that’s a stand alone bonus.

“Are you ready to go?” repeated
“If you want it, you’ve already got it […] Say the word and I’m gonna give you what you want” Still assumes the desired sexual partner wants them, i.e. there’s still room for narcissism in a song that asks for consent. “Say the word” literally there, a request for consent and patient waiting for a reply; lyrically consent done right.

It’s not perfect. Nothing ever is but, it’s not.
“Grab a boy./ Grab your girl” My problem with that should be pretty obvious.
“Don’t be a prima donna” Questionable. As the narrative appears to be about the end of the world may just mean hysterical drama queen. As the convo is about sex, implications of pushy asshole telling a woman to not be so dramatic and stop refusing to have sex with them.
“And I know I can tell that you like it and that it’s good, By the way that you move” Not exactly verbal consent, but conventionally accepted consent though of course the problem with physical consent is that it can be misinterpreted. Madonna’s reply “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” certainly doesn’t clear this up.
“But if I die tonight at least I can say I did what I wanted to do, Tell me how ’bout you?” Checking continued consent? Possibly? Which would be a good thing obv. No reply, straight into chorus; questionable.

Basically, in the war of lyric consent 4 minutes wins hands down (out of these 3 anyway).
Blurred Lines is abhorrent but just because that’s our new low, we shouldn’t let other things get off without any criticism.