Warning: tons of photos! Click here for the photos from the comic con earlier in the year.
A video of the functional R2-D2:
Ignore this post, since this is a “note to self” type of thing. These are based entirely on my (mis)perceptions, or on very one-sided conjectures of what other people may think.
Hillary Clinton – The queen bee female candidate. “Men and women are equal, but here’s how a woman would be better as president.” Benghazi emails. The strongest candidate on the Democrat side, because It’s Time For A Female President Since It’s Next On The List. She’ll lose some votes because she’s a woman, too, but people are generally familiar with her, which beats that factor out in many people’s minds.
Bernie Sanders – Appeals heavily to anyone who looks like they were in an iPhone commercial, but his message peaked too early. The Santa Claus act gets old, and he’ll burn out completely when some of his supporters find out the nuggets he’s pooping out aren’t made of gold. Wouldn’t win anyways, because old, white, male, career politicians are ultimately unrelatable (hi, Ron Paul!).
The other Democrats – Couldn’t even name them. Good luck.
Donald Trump – Doesn’t matter what his policies are, or who he insults. That people feel very, very outraged about him is irrelevant, because they are feeling something about him in the first place. His status is mythical already, because media folks have an increased clickbait article minimum for every election cycle, and he’s the primary target of their exaggerations and misquotes. He’s portrayed as a very, very outrageous person saying very, very outrageous things—bigoted, racist, sexist, worse than Hitler, probably urinates on religious texts and eats children. Has near-complete control of any room or conversation he’s in. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has a lot of interesting analysis on him. I find Trump a fascinating character, which means what he’s doing is working.
Jeb Bush – Always looks like he just wandered into the cool kids’ party while looking for a port-a-john.
Rand Paul – The hairpiece candidate. Ousted by Trump as the weirdo guy in the party, so his edge has been filed away. Won’t win by a long shot; an ersatz version of his dad.
The other Republicans – Ben Carson. Cruz? Christie? Some ex-CEO? I think a black guy? No idea who else is running. They won’t win because they are forgettable, especially when everyone is focused on Trump.
Gary Johnson – Seems okay as a person. Policy ideas aren’t terrible. Doesn’t take things too seriously (I thought this was funny), and the #FeelTheJohnson mock hashtag works in his favor. Won’t win because normal voters are scared to death of breaking from the herd—unless that breaking is paradoxically, “safely” fashionable. Libertarianism is cool these days, but not cool enough. Some jaded Republicans and potheads might vote for him then lie about it on social media, but very few people will openly voice support for someone the media ignores most of the time. To be ignored in a presidential race is synonymous with losing (see my comments about Trump), and we want to be on the team perceived to be winning.
Jill Stein – A short, forgettable name…literally. The grade school gym teacher probably passed over her name constantly whenever he did the clipboard roll call. She’s a lot like Johnson, but she’s easier on the eyes. Anyone who is reasonably attractive at an old age probably has superpowers. She’s female, so she has the novelty factor in her column. Won’t win for the same reasons Johnson and Clinton wouldn’t win.
If you’re my friend on Facebook you’ve seen me briefly whine about Scarlett Johansson’s role in the Americanized, live-action version of Ghost in the Shell (GitS). As I’ve said on there, I don’t care much about race qua race in most contexts, but within the GitS fictional world it matters a lot. Since both movies, the two series’ season and related movie, the recent mini-movie reboot, and (presumably) the manga, take place in Japan and heavily involve high-level government workings in a near-future Japan, the artistic pressure to match the race of the protagonists is present*.
Rupert Sanders, the director, could work the non-Japaneseness of Motoko Kusanagi, the main protagonist and Johansson’s role, into the plot. Kusanagi’s body is completely synthetic. Though the ethnicity of her cybernetic body has a Japanese appearance, she could conceivably have a Caucasian body since it’s not difficult to “change” bodies out. This doesn’t seem likely since this new film is going to be marketed to a more general audience than a GitS fanbase. The former demographic is not going to be concerned or even be aware of the discrepancy. Since the nature of human consciousness is a major theme, especially in the original film, Sanders could even work in some meta-counter-criticism of race by leveraging the a-ethnicity of the soul (however one may consider the nature of the soul to be).
But my main point in all this is that many Facebook commenters are calling the casting a “whitewash” of the source material. I wonder, though, if the people making this criticism would call the newest Annie film or Idris Elba’s possible casting as the new James Bond a “blackening” of the original, or if they consider a black Santa Claus a betrayal of a European tradition? Why would Johansson’s casting not be considered a win for diversity in a franchise that is traditionally very Asian?
* As far as I remember, all of the main, recurring characters in GitS except for Batou are Japanese. Batou is actually French, and presumably Caucasian. Might be interesting to track the casting of his character as well.
Yes, it’s fine, in this modern day, if you want to emphasize the St. Nicholas version of Santa Claus. It’s also a fine thing if you want to play up the Sunblom version of Santa Claus as well. I don’t find rejecting either one as particularly bad, but what I object to is rejection of Santa Claus’ materialism of excess for the sake of the materialism of scientism: that he doesn’t exist because of certain universal physical laws that we know to be true.
Fairy-tales aren’t valued because of their truthfulness but in their value as a vehicle for truth-illustration. Denounce Santa as a symptom of Keynesian easy credit and the Industrial Revolution all you’d like, but don’t denounce him because he’s not real. Of course he isn’t real, yet it does children no good to reject him just because he’s impossible. It just so happens in this universe that Santa Claus is not particular to us—Santa Claus is, truthfully, not impossible because God is not impossible.
Below is a quote from G.K. Chesterton’s “The Other Stocking,” stolen from here.
What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good–far from it.
And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.
I have merely extended the idea.
Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.
Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.