Apr 19, 2015

Reading: Pillars of Eternity and Social Justice, Daredevil’s Catholicism, Sixpence None The Richer, Apple Watch & More

Also: Doxxing and shaming those you hate, a new approach to birth control, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ mewithoutYou’s new album, offensive celebrities, and loving/hating Medium.

Pillars of Eternity

My most recent Christ and Pop Culture piece looks at yet another online controversy, this one concerning transmisogyny and a videogame titled Pillars of Eternity… and a poem. “I must confess that it often feels like guilt is now automatically presumed before innocence. Not only do we assume that something we find offensive, triggering, bigoted, misogynistic (trans or otherwise), or in anyway hurtful was intended as such (and authorial intent be damned); we are also willing to go out of our way to find any offensive thing we can.”

The Pillars of Eternity kerfuffle was an interesting to watch in light of how social justice is often pursued these days, especially online. However, Aristotelis Orginos argues that many of those seeking social justice are little more than bullies. “[T]he resulting sociopolitical culture among millennials and their slightly older political forerunners is corrosive and destructive to progress in social justice. And herein lies the problem — in attempting to solve pressing and important social issues, millennial social justice advocates are violently sabotaging genuine opportunities for progress by infecting a liberal political narrative with, ironically, hate.”

Anonymous

Harassment, online shaming, and doxxing are not the best methods for confronting those you disagree with. “Freedom of speech also comes with accountability for that speech — but doxxing isn’t about accountability, it’s about silencing. Techniques designed to intimidate people out of the public sphere are wrong, no matter who is doing it. Deciding that we will not stoop to their level and that we will not risk innocent people does not fix racism, sexism, homophobia and the like, but it helps us protect the ideals that we are fighting for.”

Also at Christ and Pop Culture, Hannah Anderson considers a more thoughtful approach to birth control debates. “[T]his is why so many advocates for birth control speak in terms of personal agency. They see the abuse and want to protect women from it. For them, the solution is independence, cutting the abusive ties. But when Christians approach the question of birth control, especially in context of the poor, we must handle the rhetoric of independence carefully. Always, always, we are pursuing communion.”

Daredevil

Like many geeks, I’ve been consumed with Netflix’s acclaimed Daredevil series. (I’m not done yet, so no spoilers.) He has superhuman senses and can kick ass like nobody else, but Daredevil’s true power is his religious faith. “Daredevil is far from the perfect superhero. He makes mistakes. He doesn’t have ‘an iron suit or a magic hammer.’ And his relentless sacrifice night after night, his ability to gain strength from his weaknesses, and his guilt over the terrible things he does to bring justice to Hell’s Kitchen may not make him the perfect Catholic either, but they do make his faith an ever greater superpower than his heightened senses.”

Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has also garnered much acclaim, and for Alissa Wilkinson, Kimmy’s New York adventures are surprisingly personal. “‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ features a character named Gretchen, a willing cult member even after the bunker rescue, and I spent college expecting the cosmic comeuppance; I was never quite as rattled by the events of Sept. 11 of our freshman year, and the months following, as my classmates were. Of course this would happen. Like an actual apocalyptic cult leader, I just shifted the dates forward a bit. We got it wrong the first time around, but it was en route nonetheless.”

This Beautiful Mess

Sixpence None The Richer’s monumental This Beautiful Mess turns 20 this year, and Alan Parish has spent three months writing and researching an extensive history of the album, which includes interviews with numerous individuals involved in its production. “[W]hat has been fun about this process for me — as a writer and huge fan of this album and band — is that many of the thoughts and assumptions I have had for 20 years have been confirmed and elaborated upon; and in some cases, debunked.” Confession: I only heard This Beautiful Mess for the first time this year, and it is, indeed, a solid album. “Bleeding” is a particularly lovely song.

Sadly, I missed mewithoutYou when they recently played in Omaha with Native Lights. However, on the bright side, the band has announced a new album titled Pale Horses that’ll be released in June on Run For Cover Records. (According to the label, it’ll be “a carefully focused and personal album that spans the band’s impressive career.”) In addition, they’ll be doing an extensive summer tour in support of the album (but alas, no Nebraska dates). You can watch a trailer for the album below.

We all have public figures (e.g., actors, athletes, entertainers) that we admire, but what happens when they do something offensive and embarassing? “Our reluctance to have an honest and open conversation about the flaws of celebrities we love stems from a simple fact: we see ourselves in them. If your favorite smart, talented, successful celebrity can be classist, sexist or racist then what does that say about you? Well, it says that you can be classist, sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic.”

Apple Watch

The highly anticipated Apple Watch will be officially released this week, and once again, Apple’s insane level of attention to detail is getting some press. Consider the watch’s animations: “There’s no obvious reason to have a jellyfish watch face. Dye just loves the way they look. ‘We thought that there was something beautiful about jellyfish, in this sort of space-y, alien, abstract sort of way,’ he says. But they didn’t just visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium with an underwater camera. They built a tank in their studio, and shot a variety of species at 300 frames-per-second on incredibly high-end slow-motion Phantom cameras.” Via

I have something of a love/hate relationship with Medium (which I’ve written about before). On the one hand, like Matthew Butterick, I have concerns regarding Medium’s approach to design and writing. “I re­al­ized I dis­agree deeply with Medium about the ethics of design. And by ethics, I mean some­thing sim­ple: though Medium and I are both mak­ing tools for writ­ers, what I want for writ­ers and what Medium wants couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent. Medium may be avoid­ing what made the type­writer bad, but it’s also avoid­ing what made it good. Writ­ers who are tempted to use Medium — or sim­i­lar pub­lish­ing tools — should be con­scious of these tradeoffs.”

On the other hand, I respect that Ev Williams is trying to encourage more meaningful online content. “The goal… is not to get the maximum audience for a piece of writing, but the perfect audience. Whether you want to publish a post announcing a job change to several hundred business contacts, as I did last August, or you want to publish a feature on Snapchat’s security team to a mainstream audience of tech enthusiasts, as tech journalist Steven Levy did recently on BackChannel, Williams wants to guarantee you find exactly the people you’re looking for.”

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