Surprise Witness: Crass Cartoons and Reprehensible Rappers

GORDON: Friends, Romans, Countrypersons! Lend us your ears! We come to try out a new twist on our weekly discussions!

EVAN: Given Kat’s absence that I mentioned prior, I took a page from what’s been going on over at Marvel to really shake things up hereabouts [while still keeping the spirit of the blog you all love so much].

So Gordon and I got to brainstorming a feature to replace Culture War Correspondence for now [?], and what we settled on was a riff on a little something called “Defending Your Sh*tty Taste”, a podcast on Cracked.com.

GORDON: As the name would suggest, “Defending Your Sh*tty Taste” simply entails each of us bring up one or more cultural elements- shows, music, trends, etc.- which are generally despised, devaluated, or looked down upon by the general public, and proceeding to talk about what value we see in ‘em and why we personally enjoy ‘em.

EVAN: Before we get started in earnest, I think it would be good to lay down some ground rules, and sort of explain the general format.

Like you said we’ll each be bringing up our own topics [which we're well aware have their problems] and extolling their virtues. It will be up to the other person to point out the flaws. What I’m going to insist on is that we solely target the cultural element itself, not bringing up or comparing anything else [ex: "But as a communist doesn't this conflict with your belief that _____?"]

GORDON: I’d also point out that this isn’t really a debate. We’re not here to bash each other’s pleasures, no matter how sick and indecent they might be… Evan.

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Shame Day: The Post-Grad’s Job Search

This is pretty short as posts can get, but its length has directly to do with the topic at hand. See, I’ve been unemployed since last year, and that’s not for lack of trying to change that status. Given certain things going well there’s a chance that, instead of sitting here on the couch that doubles as my bed, I’d actually be in sunny Las Vegas with your favourite communist Culture War Reporter Gordon. Some things just aren’t meant to be, however.

I’m well aware that this isn’t going to be anything new for many of my peers out there, but just allow me this platform to vent a little. I am a college graduate. I am the child of a generation who believed that attaining a post-secondary degree more or less equated to a good job. Honestly, I wish that the piece of paper I have in a storage bin somewhere had some significant effect on my job search. See, and again, you probably already know this, what employers are really looking for is experience.

Most places are asking for three to five years with a particular task, and here I am having graduated in 2012, worked in 2013, and presently job-hunting full-time in 2014. This poorly-designed diagram really says it all:

Really, I don’t know what more to add to that. Surely Gordon, who has a job directly related to employment and has more of a finger on the pulse of current events regarding the economy, would have more to say, but I really don’t; I’m not even quite sure who to blame. It’s tough out there, and today’s just one of those days where I’m letting it get me down.

Normally I try not to let things on this blog get too personal, but honestly I think it’s a facet of post-grad culture, holding a diploma and wondering how on earth we’re going to use it. It’s frustrating to say the very least, and I just have to throw my two cents into what’s ostensibly a very large and very heavy bucket of copper-plated steel.

The Strain: It’s Nosferatu on Steroids

My last quasi-review on this blog was of Helix, a sci-fi horror show about a strange and deadly contagion which had overpowered a research lab in the arctic circle. My issue wasn’t with the set or the story, but rather that Helix wasn’t really about anything. Science fiction is a medium for us to explore big ideas, like the line between humanity and technology, free will, and responsibility. The horror genre functions the same way, with its stories serving as ways for us to examine the duality of our nature…

…our place in the cosmos…

…and questions of faith.

Going into The Strain, my biggest question was “what’s this all about?”, and readers, I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that it’s a blast.

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BC Girl in a Québécois World Pt. II: What to Expect in Quebec

As you may remember from last week, I’m currently attending a full immersion language school in Quebec. A little over a week ago I gathered in a sweltering auditorium with approximately 250 other students while a professor spoke to us in English, for the last time.

“The people of this village have a name for you anglophones;” he explained, “they call you the ones with the blank stares.”

I’ve been here for about two weeks now, and more often than not that’s how it goes. I limp out something French. The Francophone responds so fast that to my untrained ears a sentence sounds instead like one very long word. It feels a little bit like being two years old again, only with memories of a time when you were actually a competent human being.

Just imagine that first image is someone trying to explain something in French.

Growing up in British Columbia I heard complaints against French language laws, which work to protect French culture. English speakers argued that it was an unfair double standard, and that the French were just being snobby. That has not been my experience here in Quebec.  Continue reading

My Problems with Genderbent Cosplay

My friends know what I like, and this is especially true when it comes to the sort of content they post to my Facebook profile. Just two days ago one of them left a link to an article Facebook shortened to “Meet the gender bending men who cosplay”, apparently for the sole reason that it featured a “picture of the two dudes dressed as Max and Caroline from [sic] Two Broke Girls.”

Here’s that picture, so we can get that out of the way and move on to the actual topic at hand. Also, as someone who considers himself the internet’s foremost 2 Broke Girls-ologist, I need to express my disappointment that the guy playing Caroline is missing her iconic pearls.

Anyway, the focus of the article was the burgeoning presence of genderbent cosplay. I’m not sure I should have to explain what that is, but I’m going to anyway: it’s when a person dresses up as a character, fictional or otherwise, who is of a different gender than they are, which we’re going to view for the sake of this post as being an either/or distinction.

This follows the 63rd Rule of the Internet, which stipulates that “for every given male character, there is a female version of that character” and vice versa. This may or may not surprise you, but I kind of love that rule. I mean, it’s the reason that the pretty amazing Adventure Time with Fiona and Cake exists, and that’s a gosh darn national treasure.

There’s also all of the unofficial [can I say again how great the above existing is?] fanart out there, like this drawing of Tinkerbell from a Petra Pan universe the artist created [click on the image itself to link to a masterpost of all the other characters]. It’s a way for artists to stretch their creative muscles in designing costumes that are decidedly masculine or feminine while still preserving all that is inherent in their character. All that being said, I’ve gotta say that I’m not such a huge fan of genderbent cosplay. Continue reading

Fame Day: Liberation Theology (Can the Church be a Force for Social Justice?)

I grew up as an Evangelical Christian. There are many wonderful people I love who strongly associate with that title, but at this point in my life I no longer consider myself one. As I’ve struggled with certain tenants of the Evangelical movement over the last few years I’ve also struggled with the urge to write off Christianity entirely.

As I’ve gotten older and moved away from my previous home and (wonderful) community, I’ve started to realize that the “brand” of Christianity I was raised with is certainly not the only one out there. I also discovered that the emphasized conversion message that I was brought up in is actually a relatively new aspect of Christianity. While this method had a real heyday in the 80-90′s (think altar calls), here in North America things seem to be evolving yet again.

While I’d love to share more about what I’ve been learning regarding the evolution of Christianity sometime soon, for this post I want to focus on a branch of theology that I didn’t even realize existed until pretty recently: Liberation Theology. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #6: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel6Not only is this the first full issue of no holds barred genuine superhero-ing as we all expect it, it’s also the first team-up the all-new Ms. Marvel has ever had and the first installment sans series regular artist Adrian Alphona. And man, is it good.

That’s not to deride the man’s work, and really I promise to stop bringing this up, but Jake Wyatt can draw himself some superhero goings-on. He’s on board for #6 and #7 before heading back to work on his creator-owned Necropolis. I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

In short, this issue is all about Kamala Khan embracing her crimefighting
identity in full as well as rubbing shoulders with the world’s most famous fictional Canadian [sorry, Dudley Do-Right]. On closer inspection, though, there are so many facets of her character that allows hers to be a unique story unlike anyone else’s. Continue reading