Pastor Mark Driscoll recently commented that “videogames aren’t sinful, they are just stupid.” Drew Dixon, my colleague at Christ and Pop Culture, has crafted a thoughtful response that calls Driscoll’s logic into question:
I’m not upset at Driscoll and I really don’t care that he doesn’t like video games. I appreciate many things about his ministry in Seattle, not the least of which is his emphasis on missions. I just want to lovingly say to him: being missional requires honest communication with those you want to reach and perhaps a little understanding as well.
Many people are currently researching the long-term effects of video games. I encourage you to read those studies and think about whether its healthy or not for you in your particular context to play games and how much you will let your children play them. Those are worthwhile questions to explore, but don’t spread the lies. We live in a world full of people who play games. Let’s reach out to them in love before we make tacit assumptions about them. Our commitment to honesty and consequently to Christ requires it.
For what it’s worth, I find Driscoll’s comments interesting given his fondness for ultimate fighting. If there’s anything that serves as a fantasy of heroic, epic combat — which is one of things that Driscoll condemns video games for being — it’s UFC.
If you’ve ever watched animé and wondered why a character’s eyes are so big, why they suddenly got a nosebleed, or why they shoot geysers from their eyes when they cry, then this guide to animé’s “emotional iconography” is recommended reading.
Twitch explains why we still love popcorn movies:
Yes, we (as a nation of bona fide film freaks) often give way too much money to “summertime tentpoles” that are barely worth the trip to the multiplex, and unfortunately we do fully “enable” the production companies to throw out a lot of cheap, lazy junk. but at least our motives are pure: we’re not just Pavlovian dogs who wander into the latest piece of allegedly adventurous bombast because we’re bored or ignorant or stupid: we’re just a bunch of little kids who desperately crave “one more story,” and we’ll suffer through a lot of mediocre tales if it means we can recapture just a taste of that beautiful giant ape, that horrifying killer shark, or that crazy round boulder that almost flattens our favorite archaeologist.
Mubi looks at the Napoleon Dynamite effect on movie posters, with several examples:
Call it the Napoleon Dynamite effect. It may have been used before that, but ever since that 2004 phenomenon, the photo-doodle montage has been pretty ubiquitous in movie posters. Also popularized in the title sequence for Juno in 2007, the cut-and-paste combination of photographs of actors surrounded by absent-minded doodles (and preferably on a backing of lined or graph paper) has become de rigeur for advertising high school comedies. It’s also become a staple of the quirky urban indie (and occasional doc) where the protagonists are set against whimsically sketched city skylines. And of course hand lettered title treatments are also mandatory, either in scrawled script (as in Napoleon), or in blocky 3D style (as in I Love You, Beth Cooper and Homework, below) or looking like hand-traced Helvetica (No Impact Man, Year of the Dog and Stages) or, better still, in three-dimensional hand-traced Helvetica (Away We Go).
Farhad Manjoo argues that websites need to do away with anonymous comments:
…as a writer, my answer is no — I don’t want anonymous commenters. Everyone who works online knows that there’s a direct correlation between the hurdles a site puts up in front of potential commenters and the number and quality of the comments it receives. The harder a site makes it for someone to post a comment, the fewer comments it gets, and those comments are generally better.
What’s my beef with anonymity? For one thing, several social science studies have shown that when people know their identities are secret (whether offline or online), they behave much worse than they otherwise would have. Formally, this has been called the “online disinhibition effect,” but in 2004, the Web comic Penny Arcade coined a much better name: The Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. If you give a normal person anonymity and an audience, this theory posits, you turn him into a total fuckwad. Proof can be found in the comments section on YouTube, in multiplayer Xbox games, and under nearly everypolitics story on the Web. With so many fuckwads everywhere, sometimes it’s hard to understand how anyone gets anything out of the Web.
Via more than 95 theses.
Andy Whitman ponders the procession of the Holy Ghost:
I know this much: I’m fairly certain that the Holy Spirit proceeds, and that in that procession human beings are led forth from sin and error. I’m watching that unfold in my own life. The process is slow, terrifying, mysterious, and deeply painful, costing not less than everything.
Nobody explained this to me when I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. I thought it was simply a matter of believing the right things, checking the right theological boxes. Nobody told me that even though the old man was dead, I would still drag his sorry carcass around with me wherever I went. Nobody told me that even though Jesus was on the throne, I would try to stage a coup d’etat pretty much every Saturday night.
In the meantime, I pray simple prayers: Help me, O God. Save me from myself, and for Your glory. Help me not to be an asshole.
Adrian Hon argues that the current focus of schooling and testing on memory skills is outdated and needs to be replaced:
What we really need to be worrying about is a generation of students who can’t answer maths questions even if they have access to the entire internet. The professor did have one suggestion though: “If we started them off earlier with these kinds of exams, they may do better on them when they see them at the university.”
Of course, I’m not suggesting we simply let students ask the internet for answers to all of their homework; I’m suggesting that we change the nature of homework and exams themselves. In the real world of work, the most important and difficult jobs involve answering questions that we can’t just look up or pass on to others; they require real creativity and intelligence, and they’re the type of questions we need to train our students to answer.
As more and more work becomes automated or assisted by computers, we’ll need to rely on our creativity to excel. Gelduld suggests that some of the jobs we think of as requiring less intelligence “because they require fewer years of fact-cramming”, like police work, are actually some of the most difficult and creative. Good policemen can’t simply follow a rulebook to know how to respond to all situation – every situation is unique.
Todd Brown has written an intriguing post about the PG-13 rating and how it served as a death knell for the very films it sought to save, i.e., movies for 10 – 13 year-olds:
…instead of saving the sort of films that Spielberg was interested in producing it has become clear that the PG-13 was the beginning of the end. As the parent of a child now entering the Amblin sweet spot in terms of age range and the host of an ongoing film series specializing in these films it has become increasingly clear to me that the PG-13 has led directly to the end of films specifically tailored to the 10 — 13 age range. It’s not that Hollywood doesn’t do them as well anymore, it’s that — with very few exceptions — Hollywood doesn’t do them at all.
Lots of people joke about reality TV being the end of civilization, and many of them are us, but we weren’t really worried. Until we found out what scientists were saying. Hard data and scientific papers spell out exactly how reality television is undoing civilized society, aka “the thing that keeps us from killing and eating each other for fun.”
Elsewhere: A collection of interesting links and articles that I’ve come across in the last week or so. Follow me on Twitter for more of the same.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.