Weekend Reads: DC’s Injustice, Superhero Origins, Kill Bill, White Male Anger & more

Also: Films and God, Facebook’s apologies, Gmail redesigns, the John 3:16 guy, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Pixies, Tolkien, and a new favorite Twitter thread.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Evil Dictator Superman

Justin Carter argues that DC’s “Injustice” universe is everything the DCEU’s films should be. “What really separates Injustice from the films aside from the obvious interactive element is that it has something the DCEU very noticeably lacks: a sense of self awareness. With very few exceptions, there’s the pervasive attempt in the films to try and make these characters feel like grand, mythic figures without really earning the right to present them as such… Conversely, Injustice is positively brimming with self awareness.” I don’t disagree with this. I’ve been reading the Injustice comics over the last few months, and they’re a lot of fun.

What are the best and worst superhero origin stories? “If you don’t think a man being bitten by a cobra, then being cured by a transfusion of mongoose blood that inexplicably gives him super-speed powers and inspires him to run very fast while wearing a bright yellow costume with a big W’ on the front is the greatest thing ever, I honestly don’t know why you’re even reading comic books in the first place.”

Kill Bill - Quentin Tarantino
Uma Thurman is the Bride

Quentin Tarantino’s epic Kill Bill becomes even more interesting, and problematic, in light of the #MeToo movement. “[R]eality reinforces the poetic truth at the core of Kill Bill: men have the power, and the overwhelming majority of women have suffered as a result of this power being abused. Even as Thurman strikes fear in the heart of her abusers, the actress herself suffered at the hands of an abusive executive and an obsessive director who referred her as his muse’ even as he willingly put her in danger.”

Michael Frost discusses three films that (might) make you believe in God. “Any film that could evoke a sense of God’s presence would have to be extremely challenging one, the kind of visual experience that demands much of the viewer.” I can’t disagree with the three films that he picked.

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How much did Facebook learn about you today?

Here’s just one of the many nuggets in Zeynep Tufekci’s excellent breakdown of Facebook’s constant apologies over the years: “[E]ven the ideology — a vague philosophy that purports to prize openness and connectivity with little to say about privacy and other values — is one that does not seem to apply to people who run Facebook or work for it. Zuckerberg buys houses surrounding his and tapes over his computer’s camera to preserve his own privacy, and company employees went up in arms when a controversial internal memo that made an argument for growth at all costs was recently leaked to the press — a nonconsensual, surprising, and uncomfortable disclosure of the kind that Facebook has routinely imposed upon its billions of users over the years.”

Google’s Gmail is finally getting a redesign (sort of). “The existing Gmail for Web design is one of Google’s oldest, dating all the way back to 2011. While some Google services seem to get a redesign every year or two… the lack of a redesign for Gmail always felt more like it stemmed from a fear of screwing it up’ than anything else.”

John 3:16 Guy
Yes, that guy

Remember that guy who held up the “John 3:16” sign at sporting events? His pursuit for fame ended in three life sentences. “I’m not sure we’ve fully reckoned with the impact mass media (and now, online media) has had on our culture, but one side effect seems to be that we’re all obsessed with fame — and that finding Jesus doesn’t do much to cure that. We all expect to have important, dramatic lives — that every event in our lives will mean something and will lead to something bigger. We all think we’ll turn out to be heroes.”

Ijeoma Oluo challenges the anger of white men. “How much promise is there in a life where you are told that all you have to do is exist in order to inherit a kingdom. How much promise is there in a life where your mediocrity is constantly applauded and every hero looks like you and every love interest is a supermodel, but at the end of the day you will be working in a cubicle with everyone else and your only consolation is that you will be making $1.50 an hour more than the women and people of color in your office?”

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson (NASA/Bill IngallsPublic Domain)

Sean O’Neal is tired of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s pedantery. “Tyson wields his dislike for inaccurate colloquialisms and his hard-on for the Moon like a cudgel against the devolution of language, in the medium where such lessons are most appreciated — Twitter — even as he is hoisted with his own pedantic petard for abusing it himself. Even as the self-appointed guardians of that field gently, firmly suggest he knock it off.”

The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa is 30 years old but it doesn’t sound a day over 18. “Some albums, however, have lasting power not because they don’t age, but because they refuse to grow up. In these cases, immaturity is an indelible part of the record’s apparent immortality.”

The Fall of Gondolin
Behold Gondolin’s glory

A new J.R.R. Tolkien book, The Fall of Gondolin, is coming this August. “The book, said publisher HarperCollins, sets the uttermost evil’ of Morgoth against the sea-god Ulmo. Morgoth is trying to discover and destroy the hidden city of Gondolin, while Ulmo is supporting the Noldor, the kindred of the elves who live in the city.”

This is one of my favorite Twitter threads in a long time… Twitter user @gawanmac set out to discover “a place of worship symbol in the middle of bloody nowhere on the edge of a wood” and found something quite unexpected. The photos are amazing and I love the discovery of the numinous and otherworldly in the midst of the mundane. Or, as they put it, “I’m not a believer in heaven, but I appreciate the notion of places where other forms of reality become tangible, where past and present interlace.”