It has now been nearly 70 years since the end of World War II, and for a long time it has been claimed that if there is going to be a World War III, it will be the end of the world. We apparently have so many bombs and other means of complete annihilation of our enemies that all it takes to bring end to all life on earth is the push of a button.
Well, I call ‘bullshit’. I don’t doubt that the superpowers in the world have enough firepower to recreate Big Bang, but that seems to me like the very reason why there will never be a World War III. Why would any of them be stupid enough to bring destruction to themselves just for the chance to take down the other side of the argument? Granted, many people don’t give the leaders of the world a lot of credit, but I refuse to believe that someone who has been given control of a nation is that moronic. No, the superpowers of the world will not be causing any new World Wars any time soon.
World War III will instead be fought among celebrities, and their bloodthirsty legions of fans.
(For any offended/exposed celebrities or fangirls in my audience: Please note that I have securely fortified myself in an impenetrable fortress at an undisclosed location, and that any attempts at “silencing” me for relaying the information I am about to reveal will prove futile. I hope…)
Let’s not fool anybody; celebrities are the royalty of our day. They harbor the obedience of hundreds of thousands of people without actually having done a whole lot to deserve such loyalty. Just consider the sheer number of fans that some of these celebrities have. Lady Gaga has at the time of this writing more than 33 million followers on twitter. If only 2% of these are big enough fans to qualify as undying fangirls/boys, that is still more than 660 000 people.
The entire Norwegian army is 83 000 soldiers strong. Lady Gaga could conquer Norway with a force that outnumbers their entire army 8 to 1, and that is under the very underestimated assumption that only 2% of her Monsters will be willing to help her carry out that invasion.
But of course, why would she ever want to conquer the world? That would be ridiculous. Surely no celebrity would ever dream of voicing such ambitious prospects like gathering the entire world under their rule.
I guess someone claiming the name “Overlord” for himself and “Minions” for his fans was a tiny bit suspicious…
And don’t give me any of the crap that the fans would never go along with this. That this is all just in good fun.
Fangirling is serious business. Only a few weeks ago, Justin Bieber fans -popularly referred to as “Beliebers”, though I will be struck dead before I ever use such a word in an otherwise well-formed grammatical sentence- were willingly slicing their own wrists open because their idol had purportedly been smoking weed and they wanted him to stop. If they are willing to go to such lengths for their idol now, over something so trivial as smoking a joint, just imagine how far they will be willing to take it in the future. Yes, I am aware that most of the enforcers of #cutforbieber was joking. I am also very painfully aware that many of them were completely serious about it.
The nature of fangirling is such that it highly encourages extremity, and exceeding the limits set by the masses. In order to stand out against the crowd and gain their idol’s attention, the fan must surpass them in some way; they must be more extreme than the next. The stereotypical image of the diehard fan is one that has their bedroom walls coveredin pictures of the idol. They will consume everything the idol does, and in theory they will go to pretty much any length for a chance to meet the subject of their admiration.
These are the normal fans.
The extreme fans know that these puny acts will never get them noticed. These are the ones that actually will go to any length to meet their idol. And, as already mentioned, the nature of fangirling ensures that there will only be more of these fans as time goes on. As more parts of our lives become automated through new technology, we’ll have more free time to spend gawking at pictures of celebrities on Google and devising clever (insane) plots to stand out from the screaming masses.
I ask you this, isn’t it rather likely that as these fans will be the first in line the moment their idol announces their plans for world domination? Will they really let this chance to gain their idol’s acknowledgement pass them by? I think not. I think they’ll gladly cater to their idol’s every whim, whether that is to buy their produce, or to help them conquer nations.
We’ve already established that there are celebrities out there who have the audacity to claim, even if it is only in jest, that they will take over the world. It is only a matter of time before someone actually realizes the potential in their legions of loyal fans and work up the nerve to stage a real uprising. Once that happens, others will follow. Like football hooligans, fans will flock to the streets and violently hunt down members of other fandoms. It will escalate from small skirmishes into a battle of epic proportions, where the winner will be strong enough to lay entire nations to waste. They will gain control over weapons of mass destruction. And if there is one thing that separates the average celebrity from the average president, it’s that celebrities generally are moronic enough to push that button and blow us all back to the middle of the 1940s.
Let’s hope Lady Gaga has no plans to take over the world.
She really should let someone take a look at that megalomania…
How to describe in words art that is entirely wordless? To use clumsy adjectives about this music seems such a complete misrepresentation and an utterly inadequate way of conveying its core message. MONO is an instrumental band for a reason. Their music is not meant to have words; to evoke discussion; it is meant to awake emotions within the listener.
How to describe in words an experience that was entirely wordless then? I believe it is no coincidence that there is not a single vocal microphone on the stage when MONO is playing their music. Nor is it a coincidence that there is not a single spotlight pointing to the band members; highlighting them for the audience. That they do not make use of pompous and bombastic intro-music to pump blood into the feet of the masses. That they do not enter the stage with any grandiose theatrics; and then leave just as quietly and unceremoniously.
They make it perfectly clear that their music is not about the man behind the curtain; pulling the levers and turning the knobs. It is not about the painter and his brushes, nor the guitarist and his strings. It is about the music, the power inherent in the art itself, and the transfixing spell that it bounds the listener in.
That they never break this spell even once during the entire concert speaks volumes of MONO’s dedication to this philosophy. You will even be hard-pressed to find the names of the bandmembers on the band’s official website. Where a frontman like James Hetfield of Metallica will lift his glass and make the entire audience say “cheers” with him, Taka of MONO will discreetly sip his water bottle without calling any attention to himself so as not to break the spell.
Every song leads into the next, and any pause in the music is deliberate. The players do not frolic around on the stage for the audience’s amusement. The lights do not flicker or flash with an agitating intensity. The audience will not once be spurred to clap along with the rhythm of the song. There is a pronounced fourth wall between the band and the audience, and the only window is the music that they share together.
Even before the concert started, and the crowd was gathering in front of the stage, a sense of calm and unified anticipation manifested itself in every corner of the room. Never before have I been at a concert where there were no scuffles whatsoever about getting good spots in the front row. I think it is a testament to MONO’s positive influence on people that they can stuff hundreds and hundreds of people in the same room and have them all waiting patiently and quietly while staring at an empty stage.
This concert-experience is centered entirely on the music. They let the songs flow in an unbroken river of sound from the very first note of the opening song to the final note of the closer. Not a word has been spoken, but every soul in the room has partaken in an emotional adventure. A truly unforgettable evening.
There aren’t many movie franchises that are so locked into time-tested formulas as the James Bond series. Everyone knows exactly what to expect when sitting down to watch a Bond movie; there will be nifty gadgets, femme fatales, smooth talking, archetypal villains, chase scenes, shooting, explosions, and shaken (not stirred) vodka. It’s what this whole franchise is based on. How fitting then, that the latest movie, Skyfall, which is also the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No (1962), happens to be the perfect blend of those old archetypal formulas and contemporary modern storytelling, society, and technology.
I admit, I haven’t watched all the Bond movies prior to this -there are twenty three of them!- but I have watched a few, and on that basis, Skyfall is definitely among the strongest Bond films I’ve seen.
There’s really not a lot to be said for James Bond as a character. He’s the hero that saves the day. You might as well put a white hat on him and have him ride into the sunset with a sexy woman in his lap at the end of every movie. He’s never been the most interesting of characters. There’s no moral conundrum that he ever struggles with. He does the job required of him by his queen and country, and if he has to kill in order to get that job done, so be it. You couldn’t put James Bond in the same category as more flawed and psychologically challenged heroes like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. He was never flawed. You could make the argument that he’s a heartless killer, but that has never been an issue for him.
“What do you say about a man like that?”
That is, until Daniel Craig hit the scene. This version of Bond is seriously flawed, to such an extent that it actually becomes a huge obstacle in his ability to do his job properly. It even becomes a major theme of this movie; the overcoming of personal shortcomings, as several of the characters get their own arch. It’s a huge leap forward for the Bond-franchise in my opinion, as this series has never been strong in the character-department. The villains are mostly cartoonish mustache-twirling evildoers while the good guys are mostly caricatures. But this time, they’ve really dug deep and have found some pretty dang solid character development for once.
It’s jarring to think that after all this time –fifty years!- only now in the most recent movies do we actually get to know James Bond more as a person and less as a womanizing killing machine. It shows promise for future installments indeed.
Skyfall is by no means a reaction against those old Bond-movies however. In fact, it pays homages left and right, and even makes a huge deal about the conflicting nature of the old and the new. The car in particular stood out to me as an especially nifty symbol of the good old times coming back to save the day. Bond is of course an agent of the golden era of espionage, and when the car gets blown up, you know he’s not going to take that well. And he doesn’t. If there’s one person you don’t want to piss off, it’s the Hulk (!), but I’m sure James Bond is also up there on that list somewhere.
And it’s not only the car that gets blown to smithereens. Bond’s childhood home is also blasted back to kingdom come, effectively eradicating his past and allowing him to let go of all those psychologically scarring memories that haunts him so deeply.
“I’ve always hated this place!”
At the same time though, the extermination of the old is not just about destroying the history, but it proves how crucial it is for optimalizing the future. When Silva, the villain, disregards all old-fashion technology, he exposes his weakness that lets Bond take advantage of it and use the old ways to take him down.
This disregard of everything old is a motif that recurs again and again. The prime minister’s argument against M’s agency is solely based on its outdated world-view and obsoleteness. M can’t do anything but make the rather weak-sounding counter-argument that while her ways may be old-fashioned, they are still important for the safety of the nation. She makes her point as if she wants to be proven wrong, but in the end, when Silva comes crashing through the doors and Bond –the #1 agent of the old ways- has to save the day once again.
It seems the golden age of espionage isn’t quite over after all, and Skyfall dances on the line of whether that’s a good or a bad thing throughout the movie. The impression that sticks with me after all is said and done is that the old and the new need to find a balance, a harmony to live by. Bond has to let go of the past in order to embrace the future, but he cannot let himself forget it entirely. The difference between him and Silva is that he actually could let the past slide, while Silva could not. And thus it led to his downfall.
There’s something extremely cathartic about the ending to Skyfall, despite the tragedies that occur. Or perhaps it’s even because of the tragedies. True to the old Greeks philosophy on tragedies, it makes us have a powerful emotional reaction. I wouldn’t say I didn’t see it coming, but it affected me nonetheless. Even if I haven’t seen all that many Bond-movies prior to this, I’ve definitely never been this affected by one before. Skyfall is the first that has pulled that off, and I hope there’s more of it to come.
No matter how old you get, Pokémon will always be awesome. That’s just a fact of life. The games are simply classics, the Anime is still going strong in its 15th(!) season, and there have been more movies and merchandize than one can every begin to wrap one’s head around.
As cool as Pokémon are though, not all of them are equal in their awesomeness. Some are, frankly, ridiculous. But we’ll get to those in a second. First, let’s count down the top 6 coolest Pokémon of all time!
You gotta love Snorlax. His philosophy of life is to eat, and to sleep, and he enforces that philosophy with great enthusiasm! This guy’s attitude is just so chill and relaxed that whenever you encounter him, you just want to let him sleep. Except when he’s blocking the road of course, in which case you have to wake him up and make him angry. Trust me, you won’t like him when he’s angry.
In terms of design, Snorlax one of the most simplistic of all the Pokémon, and I like that. Especially in the later generations, they felt the need to stuff all the poor beasts with all kinds of weird little traits and features, some of which are cool, but most of which are unnecessary overkill. Snorlax is just straightforward and awesome, and I love him.
Speaking of relaxed attitude, Quagsire has got to be the most Zen out of all the Pokémon, with possible exception of Slowpoke. Unlike Snorlax, this one doesn’t even bother moving a muscle to get some food. Instead it just floats in the water with its mouth open, waiting for unaware prey to swim right in. It’s the most passive aggressive hunt for nourishment that I’ve ever heard of!
And I respect that.
Not to mention that Quagsire has got to have the friendliest face of any creature ever. I mean, how can you look at him and not want to just give him that high-five that he’s waiting for? Look at him!
Want to know what’s badass? Having a freaking laser cannon permanently equipped onto your back is what’s badass. Blastoise should just have a cookie and go to bed, because this is the real deal! Though to be fair, Genesect used to be but a humble bug, bugging around doing what bugs do, until Team Plasma resurrected it and with their not-at-all-messed-up sense of ingenuity, turned this humble bug into a goddamn DEATH RAY OF DOOM!!!
I’m not sure what they were thinking with this one, but I must assume that they had originally planned to include a twirly mustache, a monocle, and a top hat to go with this Pokémon’s design, only they somehow found that to be a bit too over-the-top, and instead went with the royal crown and the gold-adorned cape. Maybe because it’s more subtle? I don’t…
Anyway, I love this snobbish little thing! You can just see the god-complex in its eyes; he is superior to everyone else, and he knows it perfectly well. He doesn’t even bother to fight anyone but the most powerful of foes. I can just picture him refusing to fight by throwing a fit-
“Enough! You are, all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature!”
-and then get smashed to pieces like a rag doll for being such an arrogant snob.
What’s better than one brain?
If you said “two brains!” then you’d be right, but you’d also probably be judged for your lack of knowledge about Metacross. This dude has four, that’s right, four brains. Whether or not intelligence scales up in parallel to the quantity of brains, I don’t know, but it has to count for something, right? They say he can outperform a supercomputer, which doesn’t really say much because Alakazam could do that with just one overdeveloped brain.
Metacross is a lot more badass than Alakazam though, if only because he looks cooler. He has that whole metal-thing going for him, which I am all about!
Who doesn’t love a great big dragon? Nobody. It’s scientifically impossible to not love a great big dragon. Charizard is not even just cool-looking, he also has the attitude! He takes no bullshit from anyone, and like Serperior he doesn’t bother to fight any puny monsters that are beneath him. But unlike Serperior, he has the stones to back it up.
The coolest Pokémon of them all!
But that’s not what we’re here for. Let’s look at the lamest and most ridiculous Pokémon of them all.
Now, I can dig what they were trying to do here. A Pokémon with an actual volcano in its belly? That’s awesome! There’s potential for such a badass Pokémon here. Just imagine something like a bigger Magmar maybe, but with twice the fire-power!
It would be so sweet!
So why does it look like a cowbus? Honestly, could they not design a better look for him? This is a creature with a volcano inside! Come on, people, for the love of god make a bit of an effort.
At first I was going to put Nosepass on here, but then I remembered Probopass. Oh, Probopass. What on earth am I supposed to do with you? Obviously they tried to Pokémonize the famous Moai statues from Easter Island, but they failed, and miserably so. There are many laughably designed Pokémon, but this is taking it to a whole other level. It’s a rock with four noses, a hat, and a bushy mustache.
It’s a rock with four noses, a hat, and a bushy mustache!
Some have complained that Probopass is even a Jewish stereotype, but honestly, it doesn’t need any such excuses to be considered laughable. It’s quite ridiculous enough already.
Oh. Dear. Lord…
They’ve given up, haven’t they? I mean, surely this is a joke, right? A Pokémon with a pearl on its head that has to keep bouncing or else its heart will stop? There’s no way we’re supposed to take this seriously!
What happens if one pushes it over? Does it die? That seems pretty cruel to me. Sure, Charmander has the flame on his tail, and if it were to burn out, he would die. But there are ways to counter that fate; just avoid falling into water. Spoink (I feel dirty just typing the name) has no such defense. If he stops bouncing for even a moment, his heart goes into cardiac arrest. Pokémon is all about the science of evolution, and there is simply no way I can accept that this poor creature has evolved into this sorry excuse for a life.
I pity him.
I’m putting both of these up here in the same spot, because honestly, they’re equally laughable. A church bell and a chandelier. I admit that they have a better chance of survival than Spoink, but only because no one would ever feel tempted to make them do anything other than hang from the ceiling. I know Pokemon are supposed to come in all shapes and sizes, but this is pushing it.
It’s understandable that they’re running out of ideas; 649 Pokemon and counting. Nobody can blame them for not trying their very best to come up with new and interesting variations on real-life creatures and things, but come on. A church bell and a chandelier? They really have given up.
My, my! Not only have they given up, but they know they have, and are now just seeing what they can get away with. I even believe I can recreate within very close proximity as to how this decision was made.
Pokemon designer #1: “Come on guys, I know you’re all starving, but we need at least one more idea before lunch!”
Pokemon designer #2: “Oh, it’s lunchtime already? Good! I could go for some ice cream right about now.”
Pokemon designer #3: “Very nice, Bob, where do you go to get that?”
PD #2: “I usually go to the ice cream parlor down at the corner, next to the starbucks.”
PD #3: “I know that place! They make delicious ice cream.”
PD #1: “That’s great, guys, but can we just finish already? We just need one more.”
PD #2: “…”
PD #3: “…I can only think about ice cream now.”
PD #2: “Yeah, me too. Mmm ice cream…”
PD #3: “I like vanilla. No added flavour. Just vanilla!”
PD #1: *sigh* “Fine, let’s go get some ice cream. I’ll just… Hang on! That’s brilliant! We’ll make a vanilla ice cream Pokemon!”
PD #2: “Nobody cares, let’s just go before I resurrect Elvis himself with my growling stomach.”
And thus were created this abysmal excuse for a Pocket Monster.
Someone needs to fire someone.
And the number one spot for the lamest Pokémon ever goes to…!
That’s right! They went there. They made Elvis into a Pokémon. The King himself has been immortalized as an epic fighting monster made of…Rock
…on second thought. Maybe this one should have been on the other list.