Sunday, April 24, 2011

top 5 for the week of 25 april 2011

1. ghostland observatory - stranger lover

2. the radio dept. - peace of mind

3. the radio dept. - every time

4. the weeknd - the morning

5. holy ghost! - say my name

Thursday, April 21, 2011

getting a late start but...

Let's see if I can take up the challenge and blog at least once a week until the end of the year. To help out, WordPress has a daily topic and some helpful tactics and tips. If you have a blog and want to participate, just be sure to include "postaweek2011" or, for the ambitious, "postaday2011" if you think you can keep up with a 24 hour deadline.,, and even all provide a free service to host and publish your blog if you want to get into the game.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a primer on anime female "types"

This is an article about the wussy JRPG girl but the historical background is also useful for understanding the female archetypes in anime. After finals I'll get around to writing up those anime reviews and exploring those archetypes. And then: Wonder Woman.

Here's a few archetypes to get you started. I won't list examples. Yet.
  • busty, sweet, but stupid
  • vixen-ish rogue
  • tough, loud, and obnoxious - usually short
  • geeky lesbo
  • the quiet warrior

Enjoy Chun Li Baby in the meantime. She's so adorable. And if you want to generate more, go here.

ladies cast on true blood must love innies and outies

Evan Rachel Wood just recently announced that she's bisexual to Esquire magazine. Evan plays vampire queen Sophie-Ann Leclerq on HBO's True Blood.

Friends of Charlaine Harris' by way of Alan Ball vampire series may remember that it was about this time last year that Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse) also came out as bisexual. What is it about that show that makes it's female stars feel compelled to confess their sexual desire for both men and women? Am I the only person who's wondering if bisexual Evan and bisexual Anna have gotten together? And did Stephen Moyer, Anna's vampire paramour Bill Compton on the show and now real life husband, join in?

But seriously, the reason I mention this story isn't because I have any fondness for Hollywood gossip. Rather, it's because Ms. Wood's announcement is very much a non-story. It's as if she announced she's a vegetarian. Or prefers panties to thongs. And the question is: why?

Immediately she was suspect as unpersuasive for any rom-com leads because no one would buy her on-screen chemistry with a man knowing her off screen sexual preferences. (Though this criticism applies more to Anne Heche, Ellen's former love interest, than to Ellen herself who never really courted rom-com leading lady status.) But Ellen kept at it with poise and dignity and now has one of the most popular daytime talk shows on television. Since then, Rosie O'Donnell, Wanda Sykes, Portia di Rossi (Ellen's current love interest), and others have come out as openly lesbian.

On the one hand, we might say this trail has already been blazed when Ellen DeGeneres became the first widely-recognized actress to come out as a lesbian. Yes, she initially endured a rather savage backlash. Ellen Degenerate, anyone? Besides homophobia, the other major question is how would it effect her career.

So perhaps Ellen's bravery in helping to start a national conversation that resulted in major shifts in America's sexual mores. After all, now Bravo, HGTV, TLC and other cable channels are dominated by obviously gay men giving style advice to both women and straight men. I mean, there's a show called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, for heaven's sake. And I did mention that Ms. Wood's True Blood co-star revealed her own bisexuality about a year ago.

But I think there's another force at work here. In loosest terms, bisexual females do not threaten to disrupt the logic of heteronormative phallocentrism. Accordingly, the female body might be the site at which sex happens but sex itself is defined as the penetrative act. The phallus must be present / present itself to institute the order of a sexual encounter. The lack of the phallus in girl-girl encounters relegates those acts as something other than sex since genital stimulation, pleasure, orgasm, while possible in the phallologic encounter, are merely ancillary to the sexual act.

Bisexual females, in other words, don't upset the norm of penis-with-vagina. Dildos, vibrators, fingers, fruits & vegetables, etc. merely imitate the phallus; they cannot displace it. Note here that the penis does not actually need to be inserted into the vagina for the encounter to constitute sex. Oral stimulation of the penis and anal sex between a woman and man suffice when the penis is present.

Not to go too far down a detour, but because the phallus itself is an abstraction, real penises cannot partake of the order of the ideal. They are deficient, not completely present. Men cannot live up to the ideality of the phallus. Such a view has implications for representations of the masculine and theories of porn.

The penis, then, is not merely a sign of the male; the phallus is virility, the masculine, maleness. Sex requires both this presence and the lack, the absence that is the order of the feminine. The presence presents itself into / among / amidst this absence.

Girl-girl is simply the "encounter" between two absences. Quite literally nothing comes from their meeting. On the other hand, the encounter of the duplicated phallus, presence against presence, explains the revulsion at male homosexuality. The presence of the phallus must be ignored, even partially and temporarily, in the encounter. I guess the point is that the problem with homosexual male sex isn't that it's "not sex" but that it's unnatural; it deforms the "natural order" with dual presences instead of presence presenting itself by erupting out of or thrusting into / through absence.

Getting back on track, bisexual women are not an "issue" for heteronormative phallocentrism because nothing, literally no thing, is at stake in girl-girl play. As she still desires the phallus, she does not attempt to displace the centrality of the phallus to the sexual encounter. There may be temporary substitutes but they are admitted to be only poor imitations and lack the present presence of the penis.

These are just theories, ideas that I've been tinkering with for years now. I struggle against the quasi-Freudian implications, essentialism, and ahistorical assumptions of that kind of description. But I've also been studying Foucault's notions of sexuality as a historical construct of discursive practice, a power-effect and not a thing upon which power acts. And just recently I've been working through Victoria Grace's _Baudrilliard's Challenge: A Feminist Reading_ about the overlooked value of Baudrilliard's social theories for feminist critique.

Lastly, some observations about the place of bisexual women in sexual society.

The MFF threesome has been elevated to the status of "every heterosexual man's fantasy." We could explore possible why's of this particular combination of bodies with the above analysis of the presence/absence dyad of the phallologocentric order. A girl who doesn't mind playing with other girls seems more amenable to the "desired" multi-partner play than a girl who doesn't have any physical interest in other girls.

Dan Savage speaks a lot in his podcast about the hostility some self-identified lesbians have towards self-identified bisexual women. The view is that these bisexual women are trawling lesbian bars in search of another woman to bring into the bedroom to entertain their male partners. The hostility seems to emanate from two places. First, that lesbians would not mind playing with a man if there is also a woman present. Second, that girl-girl play doesn't constitute a relationship. The so-called bisexual women treat lesbians as a means to attain their heterosexual sexual satisfaction rather than treating them as an end in themselves.

Final thought. I read somewhere a theory that vampires are a symbol of the vagina. The empty space of the mouths, parted lips, the bloody wound left on the neck. But I don't remember what said theory had to say about the fact that the most popular instantiation of the vampire mythology in the Western imagination is Count Dracula, Bram Stoker's mesmerizing blood-sucking lothario.

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3D Sex & Zen explodes in the Hong Kong box office

It's all over the news. 3D Sex & Zen: Extreme Ecstasy (pictured right) not only blew away Ang Lee's Lust, Caution as the highest grossing erotica film in Hong Kong theaters but also got on top of Avatar as the highest grossing 3D film in Hong Kong. Lines formed outside the theaters all weekend. There were even several women-only showings of the film, I guess to "protect" "delicate feminine sensibilities." It's produced by Stephen Siu, who was also executive producer to the 90s film Sex & Zen. The story is based on The Carnal Prayer Mat and this film features Japanese AV idols.

I saw the original 1991 Sex and Zen (pictured below) at the original Alamo Drafthouse in Austin during their Asian Sundays film series. That film was more silly than scintillating. It evoked a funny mixture of raunchy sex comedies like Porkys or American Pie with period piece erotica like Fanny Hill. SPOILER: But there's a hilarious scene with a horse penis. You really do have to see it to laugh. I also enjoyed the sexy martial arts pic Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, a Shaw Brothers film, during this run of Asian films.

One correction to the story that's been circulating. 3D Sex and Zen is not the first 3D porn. It's the first IMAX 3D porn. I saw the first 3D porn, an American porn called Disco Dolls in Hot Skin or just Hot Skin (1977), at the Dobie when the Dobie still focused on indie and foreign films. It "starred" John Holmes, Bill Margold, Serena, Lesllie Bovee, and Uschi Digard.

The projectionist had something, the filter I think my friend said, in backwards for about half the film, causing the 3D effects to be even less spectacular than the intended ho hum and giving me quite the headache. Being red-green colorblind, the old style paper 3D glasses with the blue and red lenses already give me problems. The story, like every porn story, was pretty lame. Something about an undercover detective. It was filled with stupid jokes and unfunny dirty puns. Like most 70s porn. (Wow. I never realized how many sex movies I've seen in the theater.)

Both Sex and Zen movies are based on the same Chinese story but I don't know how closely the narratives overlap. The new film hasn't made it to American shores yet and I'm not sure how many US IMAX 3-D venues are going to want to show it. In America, IMAX has been mostly confined to family films or summer blockbusters so far.

I haven't seen an US release date yet so I guess American audiences will just have to wait. If the critical consensus holds true, that's the theme of 3D Sex and Zen; while a racy soft core porn, the story actually promotes abstinence. Based on the trailer, it looks more serious in tone than the original. And there's some serious fighting going on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

top 5 for the week of 18 april 2011

1. neon indian - 6669

2. cymbals eat guitars - and the hazy sea

3. deerhunter - agoraphobia

4. depreciation guild - dream about me

5. spoon - well alright

Friday, April 15, 2011

whitewashing the live action Akira remake

Apparently Hollywood's casting directors didn't learn anything after the uproar caused by the racialized casting of M. Night Shyamalan's live action remake of the beloved (by me) Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Count yourself lucky if you missed that abysmal fail. The series is set in a very pan-Asian themed world with 4 elemental nations and all of the characters have an Asian appearance. The controversy, in brief, revolved around casting exclusively white actors to play the heroes of the movie and Asians to play the villains. The only exception was Dev Patel as Prince Zuko; I guess at least M. Night had enough sense not to spoil the twist by casting Zuko white.

Why am I talking about a crappy movie from last year? Because Hollywood is at it again.

In case you haven't noticed, Hollywood has run out of original ideas lately. They are voraciously snapping up IPs to remake, even stealing from across the Pacific. Witness: Shall We Dance (loved the original), The Grudge, The Ring, Dark Water (Japanese version only slightly better), The Lake House, Bangkok Dangerous, and The Departed. There was even a rumor that Will Smith and Steven Spielberg were working on an import of Oldboy. Because that movie would work oh so well with American audiences...

Warner Bros. is remaking Akira. I assume the plot will be pulled from the collapsed story of the 1988 anime by Katshuhiro Otomo and not his lengthy manga series. The story will be relocated from Neo-Tokyo to Manhattan and plans to cast Kaneda and Tetsuo with white actors. George Takei posted a tweet on 31 March 2011 complaining about the whitewashing of the cast. The website Racebending jumped in and a petition was sent to Warner Bros. complaining about this re-cast of the same bad casting paradigm. You can read Racebending's article here.

Good news. George Takei tweeted this evening that Warner Bros. has replied to the complaint and is taking the concerns over its casting direction very seriously.

I <3<3<3 Akira. Love the anime. Love the manga. However, I will not watch this movie if they fill every role with white people. That's a promise, Warner Bros.

If you need help, Warner Bros., can I suggest Rinko Kikuchi as Kei? She's already proven she can be a cutie pie with short hair.

Monday, April 11, 2011

some mixed media to mediate your monday melancholy

Frank Ocean, the lead singer of L.A. based R&B group Odd Future has just put out a new mixtape called "Nostalgia, Ultra" for your digital consumption. It's available HERE.

And here's a video that True Blood's Kristin Bauer recorded for the Animal Legal Defense Fund to help free Tony the tiger. Keep your Frosted Flakes in the bowl. Tony is a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has been kept in a cage at a truck stop in Gross Tete, Louisiana for the past decade as a "tourist attraction."

The ALDF is currently litigating in the state to set Tony free. For more information and to sign a petition letting Louisiana know you think it's wrong to keep Tony locked up at a gas station, please visit

And finally, to leave you on an up beat, here's some comments Orson Scott Card recently made in praise of Cowboy Bebop and Firely, two of my favorite cowboys in space sci-fi properties and tv series in general. He was writing in the 6 April 2011 issue of the Greensboro Rhino Times.
What can I say, except that to my vast surprise, I found this series brilliant. It's often funny, sexy in a mostly chaste kind of way – these are drawings, after all – and the action is gripping.

But what held me was a combination of strong relationship-based storytelling, a moody visual style that never got old and really smart dialogue.

I'd compare this to the great TV series Firefly, except that since Firefly came out in 2002, and resembles Cowboy Bebop in many ways (including quality), I can't guess whether Firefly creator Joss Whedon was influenced by Cowboy Bebop, was deliberately doing an hommage, or created such a similar series by sheer coincidence.

You can read the full text here.

Hmmmm... maybe I should do a review of Cowboy Bebop one day. It would be an excuse to watch the series all the way through. Again. I've literally seen it through at least a dozen times and the first 5 episodes probably 30 or 40 times. It's a property I always recommend to friends with good taste.

Here's a teaser, the actual pitch that was used to sell the show.
Once upon a time, in New York City in 1941... at this club open to all comers to play, night after night, at a club named "Minston's Play House" in Harlem, they play jazz sessions competing with each other. Young jazz men with a new sense are gathering. At last they created a new genre itself. They are sick and tired of the conventional fixed style jazz. They're eager to play jazz more freely as they wish then... in 2071 in the universe...

The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship "BEBOP," will play freely without fear of risky things, they must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called... "COWBOY BEBOP."

See you space cowboy...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

top 5 for the week of 11 april 2011

1. explosions in the sky - six days at the bottom of the ocean

2. st. vincent - marry me

3. wye oak - dog eyes

4. radiohead - gagging order

5. spoon - trouble comes running

Saturday, April 9, 2011

tiger & bunny wasn't what i expected

Some time ago I think I promised you I would revisit the topic of Wonder Woman and more generally the female figure in (American) comics. Well here's a bassackwards way to get there. I have a couple of incomplete anime series reviews lying around. So instead of tackling women in American comics, I'm going to take a detour through some of the female tropes in anime via those reviews to get the ball rolling.

The series to be reviewed in future installments are: Aquarion, Claymore, and Shigurui. Rest assured I will talk about quite a few more series in the course of this explication.

But before we go there, I'd like to return to a topic just recently addressed in this here very blog, namely gamification. I just watched the first episode of Tiger & Bunny and, well, here, see for yourself...

The basic premise, at least so far, is that super heroes in this world are employed by major corporations as billboards slash publicity stunts. This answers that age logistics question of who pays for damage caused by heroes in the course of saving the city - the corporate sponsor does.

In addition, the city's heroes compete on a TV show called Hero TV to be crowned the King of Heroes of the season. Here's where the gameification element comes in. Each hero is awarded points for various activities they perform while responding to the crime featured on that episode. First on the scene, second on the scene, made an arrest, and saved a civilian have showed up so far. For the TV audience at home, as the hero earn these points, a little message pops up on the screen naming the reward and the points earned for unlocking it. The season winner is determined, as one might reasonably suspect, by who has the most points at the end of the season.

Let me make a guess as to one of the main villains after just one episode. The series is produced by a woman who says at the awards ceremony wrap party that she expects next season to be much more intense. My suspicion is that she will somehow be involved with villains to help ramp up the danger for the heroes. But this bit of foreshadowing may just be a red herring.

The tiger and bunny of the title seems to refer to the first super hero team up. Wild Tiger, the veteran of the so called NEXT, or people with superpower mutations, isn't doing so well in the rankings. Similar to Hour Man, he can gain huge increases to his speed, strength, agility and such but for only 1/12th the time of the DC Comics hero. During the final episode of the season, he is rescued by a newcomer in new power armor who is later introduced as the newest hero of the city.

Wild Tiger is quite unpopular with the audience. He isn't the reigning champion like Sky High or scantily clad vixen Blue Rose, much to his chagrin. But he seems very much dedicated to doing the right thing for its own sake rather that to become King of Heroes or gain popularity. Still, he wouldn't mind a little recognition.

His corporate sponsor is bought out or goes out of business or something and so he is transferred to a new company. His new boss explains he and Barnaby Brooks, Jr., the man who rescued him before, have the same mutant power but that Barnaby will be more successful because of his youth. Then Wild Tiger is put into a suit of power armor and sent out to do the heroic thing.

Even though the episode closes with the arrival of a bull-themed hero Rock Bison we've seen before, the clear implication is that Wild Tiger and Brooks will team up to be the tiger and bunny of the series title. This veteran / reckless rookie buddy cop dynamic harkens back to popular American movies such as 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon. Like Murtaugh of Lethal Weapon, Wild Tiger has a family, his mother and young daughter, to care for, giving his pause from engaging in cavalier stunts such as revealing his secret identity on TV.

The pilot presented an interesting premise of a world in which people with superpowers have been wedded to corporations and entertainment, participating in a game of stopping crime. I'll definitely keep an eye out for subsequent episodes.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the pains of being pure at heart & twin shadow @ the earl 5 april 2011

I love the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Let's get that out of the way up front. I drove 3 hours to see them on a Thursday night because I couldn't see them on a Friday because my LSAT was scheduled for the following day. And they always bring an opener that I'm almost as equally excited to see. Last time it was Cymbals Eat Guitars. But I was equally impressed with the Depreciation Guild, an 8bit shoe gaze-y band. And the Pains brought it again with Twin Shadow. I don't know how they consistently secure such a great touring lineup.

The first opener was a local 4 piece called gold-bears. They were a serviceable "twee punk" or "crash pop" band from Atlanta. There wasn't anything terribly distinctive about the band. They have a LP coming out on Slumberland Records (same as the Pains) next month; maybe another listen will register them more positively.

Twin Shadow played next. In case you missed it, last year's LP Forget was absolutely amazing. A definite must have. George Lewis et al exude 80s new wave. Listening to them is an instant shot of nostalgia, exciting and familiar and hitting you in your primal core but tinged with an ineffable loss, like the perfume scent of a long forgotten lover lingering on the t shirt you just found under the bed. Twin Shadow simultaneously conjures the spectre of synth-heavy 80s nostalgia acts and something much more modern.

While stumping for their merch, George mentioned that with Twin Shadow, everything was for sale. They're the biggest sellouts you know, he insisted.

The great thing about little venues like the EARL is that they attract bands who are also music fans. I caught George hanging out in the crowd to check out gold-bears. Peggy and Kip of the Pains were manning the merch table pre-show. Apparently they lost their van keys for awhile.

The came the Pains, out to support their new LP Belong. Kip was as awkwardly personable a frontman as ever but frenetic and animated as he played the guitar. Kurt is a great drummer but he first came to my attention as the plaintiff, mesmeric lead of the Depreciation Guild. Then there was Chris Hocchheim, guitarist and also formerly of the Depreciation Guild, and Alex Naidus on bass; they were your shoegaze stereotype, just standing off to one side playing. And Peggy. Oh Peggy. She's always so adorable.

Theory. The keyboardist in a band is always the most attractive member. Peggy, absolutely adorable. Nancy of LCD Soundsystem, scrumptiously curvy. Yuki of Asobi Seksu, amazing legs & great behind. The only exception that comes to mind is Cibo Matto. Yuka is definitely good looking but Miho is inhumanly cute, kawaii even.

ADDED 11 April 2011: I totally forgot to mention Yvonne Lambert of the Octopus Project.

The Pains were fantastic onstage. Their set was energetic and fun with a good mix of their self-titled 2009 LP and recent LP Belong. Loved hearing Come Saturday, Young Adult Friction, and my favorite Pains song, A Teenager in Love again. Picked up the new LP at the show. Now it's time to digest the songs after reading the reviews. Already in love with Heart In Your Heartbreak.

Peggy announced she wanted to find a mechanical bull to ride in Atlanta since the city had failed to introduce her to one last time they came through so she didn't have to go to a strip club. After a bit of bull banter, Kip cleverly slipped riding a mechanical bull into the next song's lyrics.

Oh and they found their keys. Apparently they had been hidden by Peggy's behind.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

top 5 for the week of 4 april 2011

Sorry this went up later than usual. Combination of storms knocking out my power and unable to find some of the tracks I originally intended to include (Flaming Lips - Waitin' for A Superman, Guided by Voices - Eureka Signs). Enjoy.

1. the magnetic fields - i don't want to get over you

2. cut copy - where i'm going

Cut Copy - Where I'm Going by Addict Music

3. spoon - trouble comes running

4. lil b - base for your face (ft. jean grae & phonte)

5. the weeknd - what you need

Sunday, April 3, 2011

lcd soundsystem's final show 2 april 2011

No, I wasn't one of the lucky few who managed to get tickets to the show. But thank you to Pitchfork for offering a live stream from Madison Square Garden so all the fans could witness the end of LCD Soundsystem. If you missed the stream, I feel sorry for you since it's a 1 off deal. Maybe there will be a concert DVD eventually.

The band played for about 4 hours total with a handful of short breaks in between to catch their breath. They opened with Dance Yrself Clean, played Drunk Girls, I Can Change, All My Friends, Someone Great, and just about everything else in the catalog. Included were some live rarities like North American Scum and tracks they've never played before on tour ever. They closed with New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down. Projected behind the band were stills of NYC. At the very end of the show, white balloons fell from the ceiling as the band walked off for the last time.

Got to say, I enjoyed the opportunity to see the band on camera even if I would have loved to have been at the show. I've seen the lovely Nancy Whang a few times from the audience. It was nice to see what she's working with behind the keyboard. What a stunner.

Thank you LCD Soundsystem for all the amazing years and all the amazing shows. You'll definitely be missed.

UPDATE 3 April 2011: Look's like someone has posted the LCD Soundsystem show to youtube. If you didn't make to catch it last night, watch it quick! I imagine it won't stay around for long.


Set 1:
"Dance Yrself Clean"
"Drunk Girls"
"I Can Change"
"Time to Get Away"
"Get Innocuous!"
"Daft Punk Is Playing At My House"
"Too Much Love"
"All My Friends"

Set 2:
45:33 Part One
45:33 Part Two (ft. Reggie Watts)
"Sound of Silver"
45:33 Part Four
45:33 Part Five (ft. Shit Robot)
45:33 Part Six
"Freak Out/Starry Eyes"

Set 3:
"Us V. Them"
"North American Scum" (w/ Régine Chassagne, Win Butler, Will Butler & Jeremy Gara of Arcade Fire)
"Bye Bye Bayou" (Alan Vega cover)
"You Wanted A Hit"

Encore 1:
"Someone Great"
"Losing My Edge"

Encore 2:
"All I Want"
"Jump Into The Fire" (Harry Nilsson cover)
"New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"house of balloons" mixtape

Normally the way I decide on my top 5 songs of the week is by the number of times I've played a track during the previous week. It's sort of a retrospective on what was pouring through my ear buds. If I followed that rule for 4 April, the top 5 would be 5 of the 9 songs on The Weeknd's mixtape House of Balloons. Instead, here's a step to keep some variety on the list while exposing you to the 3rd album to make my short list for album of the year so far.

It's the most sleazy, sexy, sensuous album I've heard since 2009's debut from The xx. Enjoy

You can currently download "House of Balloons" for free at Pretty Much Amazing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

achievement unlocked! notice media synchronicity, +4 literacy

I dunno if it's the growing influence of the interactive portion of SXSW, but gamification was in the news recently. An article entitled I Don't Want to Be a Superhero focuses on the dubious consequences of turning real life into games, including late-stage capitalist exploitation and disassociation from the real. This video from Extra Credits spins the transformation of life into play more positively though without being blind to the negative side.

There are lots of heady issues swirling about in this topic: hyperreality & simulation, late stage capitalist exploitation, depersonalization and anomie... A few brief thoughts. These don't have the benefit of a lot of reflection but this is certainly a very engaging topic.

On the positive side, if a gamified world could get kids to be more engaged in learning and people generally more engaged in their community, there's the potential for a lot of good with these cybernetic strategies. But their vulnerability to manipulation for nefarious purposes, such as spending real cash for digital ephemera or in lieu of just and fair compensation, makes me hesitant to send out the parades. Also, if we need the overlay of a game get necessary tasks like housecleaning done or make work bearable, doesn't they imply a more complex question about our relationship to work and life than how to incentivize people to motivate them to accomplish their tasks?

Why do we need a game to get us to call our friends and family? Why do we need the overlay of play to maintain social bonds? To motivate us to work? Is this simply extending behaviorist theories to all aspects of life in order to engineer society? Is there something wrong with that?

Today I was directed to take implicit associations tests. While doing so, I noticed two things. First, the "test" was more or less your basic quick time event that modern video games are quite fond of. The basic conceit of the study is using the errors you make sorting items into two columns to imply an unconscious / subconscious association. The columns are defined by two terms (black-white, good-bad) and the pairings switch as the test goes through (black and good, white and bad becomes black and bad, white and good). At least some criticism of the "results" of this test point to the conjunction of sorting and reflex tasks instead of racial basis as the cause of the "errors."

The second was the possibility of programming and "re-education" through the use of such tools. While it wouldn't have to be as extreme as A Clockwork Orange, I imagined getting a mild shock every time I failed to sort "correctly" instead of just the little red "X" letting me know I made an error. Inculcating social attitudes through "games"? I wouldn't want to get the "Recalcitrant" badge. Or would I?

Youtube won't let me embed the re-education clip from A Clockwork Orange here so you'll have to click over to enjoy it. RIP Stanley Kubrick.

Need to hook up my Kinect so I can earn some achievements on Your Shape and Active 2... oh, and maybe improve my health.