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Micheal Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People is a film that would probably hold a special place in the heart of anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s during the punk/post-punk/early rave scene in the UK. But more likely, it’ll be enjoyed by younger viewers who only wish that they could’ve been around for it. The film came out in 2002, so its release conveniently coincided with the rise of file-sharing and music blogging, during which countless listeners suddenly had access to music that had been gathering dust in the corners of mainstream culture throughout the 90s. No, no one had forgotten about New Order, but only the loyalest readers of, say, Spin or something, could’ve possibly known who The Durutti Column, A Certain Ratio, or Happy Mondays were.

That’s not to say that punk rock or dance music had gone completely underground during the late 90s. Rather, their origins and mythologies, along with countless numbers of artists who’d broken new ground and helped define the scenes that gave birth to the music, were in the midst of slowly fading from public consciousness. Maybe it was just too soon for any kind of revival anyway, but even if the time had been right, how could it have even happened without the Internet to help it spread?

As curious listeners scoured the Internet for music new and old, a new musical pantheon of sorts, of which the Boomer generation had paid little notice to, was beginning to establish itself. In the US, you’d have been hard pressed to find many fans of indie rock (Pavement, Modest Mouse, Sebadoh, etc.) who knew or cared about Joy Division. Today, they’re as big of a gateway to “indie” music as The Pixies or Sonic Youth ever were. Furthermore, their brief existence, along with their transition into the much more successful New Order — whom Americans tend to lump into nostalgic “retro 80s” music along with bands like Simple Minds or Siouxsie and the Banshees — broke down barriers between “rock” music and “dance” music that artists are still exploring.

I don’t mean to write a musical thesis here (and what a trite one it would be if I were), or to suggest that I enjoy this film simply because it features a lot of music that I like. To be honest, I’ve actually begun to wonder if the film’s narrative and reliance on its audience’s familiarity/fascination with the scenes it follows is really its undoing. I’ve watched the movie with friends on three separate occasions. The first time (2003?) was with a small group of people who were big fans of indie music. They didn’t seem to follow what was going on and were confused by the narrative structure. The second time was with another friend who hadn’t heard of any of the “Madchester” scene or any of the bands featured in the film. He seemed to enjoy it, but the more we talked about it, the less it seemed that he understood any of it whatsoever. The final time (just a few years ago) was with my girlfriend. Not counting the first three Naruto movies, it’s the only film to date that we’ve watched together that she’s expressed a palpable disdain for.

Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the movie and trying to pin down exactly what it was that I enjoyed about it. I find its manically-edited, 4th wall-breaking structure, which certainly fits the out-of-control nature of the Manchester music scene during the late 70s to the late 80s, to suit the film and capture the energy of its subject. But what I love most are the characters, especially the protagonist Tony Wilson, whose total devotion to the DIY nature of the movement he finds himself caught up in, to be both hilarious and endearing. This gets to the heart of what I love most about the film, which is a portrait of fandom at its most involved and enthusiastic. Wilson wasn’t a participant in the music scene at the time, but his work presenting the artists he loved on his television show, and later creating a space for them to grow and build a scene out of (The Hacienda) established him as a great appreciator, a fan like so many others but one whose vision of the things he loved actualized into something concrete, recontextualizing the work of so many individual artists and bands into a cohesive movement. Granted, it was a movement that rose out of nowhere seemingly overnight and fell back underground just as quickly, but its influence would change the course of British music for good.

My hope for anyone watching this film for the first time would be that it isn’t viewed in historical terms or even musical terms, but that they would simply try to identify with Wilson’s belief in the movement that he was both building up and barely clinging to at the same time. Not content to passively participate in the music scene as a listener or concertgoer, he had a vision of the scene as something greater than it was and used his influence to bring it to life (much to the detriment of his personal life and career). In many ways, his efforts were a super-sized mirror of what other fandoms have tried to accomplish. Establishing Factory Records as a means to distribute his favorite music could be comparable to how fansubbers brought anime to a greater audience for the last thirty or so years. Opening The Hacienda as a gathering place for both his favorite bands and fellow-minded fans wasn’t much different from how anime and comic conventions sprung up to feed the desires of fans to have an immersive and social experience with their favorite hobby.

In short, I appreciate this movie as a tale of a subculture’s journey from the fringes of society to a fully-blown cultural phenomenon via the naive devotion of one man bold enough (or dumb enough, take your pick) to take something as socially trivial as music made by groups of outcasts very, very seriously. If you have a subculture-dwelling hobby or interest, imagine it suddenly becoming massively popular and acceptable, all due to a massive gamble or two from a small group of people. Maybe then you’ll start to get why this film can be so thrilling for some people, whose passions probably follow a similar track, while being boring and incomprehensible to others (who may still have niche interests, but are content to keep them personal and don’t see the appeal of blowing them up into paradigm-shifting movements for the masses). Again, as the Internet makes connecting with others who have extremely similar interests exponentially easier than ever, it’s easy to forget how hard it used to be for outcasts and misfits to find each other, let alone turn their obsessions into something concrete and bigger than themselves. But once in a great while, it did happen, and it changed the world for good. It’s an illustration of how it’s not always the subject that’s the most interesting thing — be it music, anime, comics, or whatever other hobby you can think of — but the culture that gels around it.

The trailer does do a good job of showcasing the film and summarizing some of my points about it. Too bad it has some of the corniest voiceover work I’ve ever heard.


I first stumbled across the existence of Katawa Shoujo about a year ago when it was still in development (Lord knows how this happened, it’s not like I post or even lurk on 4chan). Sounded interesting enough, so I bookmarked its site and forgot about the whole thing until a few days after Christmas, when I found the link for it once again and discovered that it was actually finished and would be coming out in a manner of days. “Pretty cool,” I thought, knowing almost nothing about its origins or just how widespread the anticipation for it actually was. Needless to say, when lengthy reviews singing its praises started popping up on anime blogs left and right only a few days after it was first available for download, I realized that it was officially a BFD.

Truth be told, it’s been a few months since I last touched this game and I really don’t know if I’ll be coming back to it for much more or not. I guess after playing through two routes to completion, the novelty of it wore off for me. That probably sounds like a harsh dismissal of both the game and its entire genre as a whole, but I don’t mean it as such (and it says more about me than it does about Katawa Shoujo). I mean, I’d say the same thing about RPGs, but that doesn’t mean I think they suck or anything. I just don’t have the patience, time or curiosity to play through them anymore.

Katawa Shoujo was my first hands-on experience with a visual novel — to be honest, I don’t know what makes a “visual novel” different from a “dating sim” or if they’re just different terms for the same thing, the former being a more respectable descriptor, for sure — which I was already familiar with thanks to Genshiken, Welcome to the NHK and a few other titles in which they play a prominent role. So I knew what to expect for the most part, and true to form I wasn’t too surprised by the way the story unfolded and how the characters were introduced. But I was taken aback by how much thought was put into the entire project, with everything from the art and the music to the writing and characterization surpassing my expectations.

The very existence of the game is proof that there are Western otaku who live and breathe this stuff, honestly appreciate these kind of games and understand the language and reliable conventions of them, and wanted to contribute something worthwhile to their lineage. And the overwhelmingly positive reception it received within the Western otaku-sphere was a sure sign that they succeeded. With so many players banking on the promise that the game was going to deliver big, maybe that was a forgone conclusion? I really don’t know how to judge it, myself. It’s a hell of a lot more interesting and, for being the fantasy that it is, grounded in reality than any of the visual novels I’ve seen portrayed in anime or manga.

The creators have already been repeatedly raked over the coals for their choice of a title for this game, so I won’t pile on them anymore for what they’ve already admitted was a poor decision. And it’s unfortunate that they saddled themselves with that mistake, because the rest of the game is nothing but considerate and thoughtful in its treatment its characters and the debilitating conditions* that they deal with. This seemed to take a lot of bloggers by surprise, many of which seemed honestly shocked that the game turned out to be something more than mere amputee porn or disability paraphilia for ogling otaku. Most reviews were emphatically positive, but a lot seemed to either (A) praise the game for overcoming the low moral/thematic standards set by most other visual novels or (B) imply that the game would naturally attract ignorant and misguidedly devious-minded players, but was effective enough of a teaching tool to “correct” their outlook, if given a few hours’ time (a nice way to write a review while staking out the moral high ground for yourself). In short, a lot of reviews came out that read like this (click the picture below for legible text):

But outside of the creators of Katawa Shoujo, the reception it received seemed mired in confused attitudes and beliefs about both the medium and the subject matter. Yes, visual novels are a legitimate platform for telling meaningful, heartfelt stories. But, most are just fap material. But, not this one! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it was. Etc. Similarly, the stunning conclusion that some of the most vocal fans of the game reached after playing it — that these girls aren’t freaks — will hopefully plant a seed of empathy and respect in some players that will carry over into their real-life encounters with others (this sounds totally naive on my part but I honestly believe there’s potential for some good here). What makes me squeamish about these kind of circuitous conclusions is the necessary standpoint of prejudice or ignorance that someone would have to come from beforehand for such epiphanies to have any meaningful consequence. At least their hearts are sort of in the right place, or at least getting there.

But hey, why should I care about this and who am I to say what the right way to enjoy a game is? It’s like I’m back in high school and banging my head against the wall because too many kids are listening to Live or STP and don’t even know what real alternative rock is, man. I should just be thankful for this game’s existence because it’s pretty much the only piece of media in 2012 I can even think of that focuses on characters with disabilities. Is there a single character on television now that’s blind? Hearing impaired? Would a character with missing limbs or third-degree burns ever make it past the test audiences that shows are surely wrung through before airing? In our age of competitive reality TV and fashion/makeover shows, should we be surprised that nothing short of total physical perfection is demanded and portrayed throughout the rest of our media? Games and television aren’t “real life” but they’re certainly a reflection of the dog show that we all live in. It’s probably worth taking notice and paying a little respect whenever one bothers to break from the herd and show a less glamorous side of life that people won’t necessarily want to see. Not that Katawa Shoujo isn’t glamorous. It wouldn’t be a visual novel if it weren’t.

*I don’t claim to be an authority on what qualifies as a “disability” and what doesn’t, so I don’t want to offend anyone who would disagree with my use of the term. So here’s a better piece written by a few Yamaku-elligible authors who know a thing or two more about this stuff than I do.

When you think of autumn traditions, what comes to mind? Maybe costume parties, raking leaves, or (American) football? Maybe you enjoy a glass of strong apple cider? Why not try a few pumpkin beers, too? I’m not even a big beer drinker, but I’ve really enjoyed most of the pumpkin ales that I’ve tried over the past few weeks. These have been around for years and years, I’m sure, and as usual I’m probably one of the last to come around to “discovering” them, but I’ve got to say that they’ve done more to expand my palate than any other new food or drink that I’ve had an opportunity to sample in 2010.

Unfortunately, by the time you read this, most of these limited-time, seasonal brews will probably be very difficult to find. Heck, by the middle of September, it was already impossible to obtain some of the most desirable pumpkin beers, a lesson we’ll just have to heed for next year. Just a few impressions from our trips to Binny’s and beyond:

Hoppin Frog Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale
My personal favorite, a spicy and rich brew full of flavor and aroma. Pours on the darker side, probably tastes more like pumpkin pie than any other beer I’ve tried, but not sickly sweet or overwhelming. Comes in a large bottle and on its own will probably satisfy anyone who’s drinking for pleasure and not just to “get drunk.” I really couldn’t drink anything else after I finished this (its 8.4% abv easily tops any other pumpkin brew we were able to find), not can I imagine wanting to down any other beers beforehand either. But to each their own. This one’s a real treat that’s meant to be savored on its own.

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale
Pours a light amber color, mild pumpkin taste, a smooth and light pumpkin brew. This one never really stood out for me but is still a pleasant experience to drink. Into late October, this was the only pumpkin beer still available in our area, but rest assured that its relative non-scarcity doesn’t mean that it’s a sub-par beer. We bought the last case we could find and hope it lasts us until Christmas. Definitely worth trying out.

Wild Onion Pumpkin Ale
Ever since I’ve been old enough to drink, I’ve held a misguided disdain for canned beers and done my best to avoid them altogether (Guinness being the sole exception). So when I first saw Wild Onion’s Pumpkin Ale at the store, I quickly turned up my nose at the display of six packs and rolled my eyes at its whimsical can design. Didn’t they know I was now a sophisticated beer drinker? Alas, my snobbish ways nearly made me miss out on a great beer. If you love pumpkin flavor, you won’t be disappointed by Wild Onion, which pours a deep, dark brown and brings a spicy and rich pumpkin pie taste. Quite a find.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
We bought a pack of this back in mid-September and drank through it rather quickly, though I held onto the last bottle and kept it in my fridge for about a month. Going back to it after trying all the other brands listed here, I was surprised at how bold and spicy it tasted. Next to Hoppin Frog, no other beer brought the flavors of brown sugar and spices like Dogfish Head. A surprisingly thick pour with a creamy texture and strong taste, Punkin Ale goes down smooth and will leave you looking forward to your next bottle.

Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale
Harvest Moon is surely the most widely brewed and distributed pumpkin beer that we tried, but that’s no reason to write it off. It’s a little on the bland side, with a light pumpkin taste that’ll probably disappoint hardcore seasonal beer fans, but like the original Blue Moon, I found it to be an above-average, enjoyable beer. As much as I hate using the word, it’s very drinkable. And as it only appears to be sold in packs of 12, that’s more important than it sounds.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale
Pours a pleasant dark amber. With a mild vegetable taste and a hard-to-detect aroma (at least in the batch we had), Post Road is a reliable, although somewhat unexciting, pumpkin beer. There’s nothing wrong with it, but when the narrow window for pumpkin beers opens once again next September, we’ll probably seek out and revisit at least a half dozen brands before coming back to this one. Seems to have its fans online, so I definitely do want to give it another shot in the future.

Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela No. 1 Pumpkin Ale
The most expensive pumpkin ale that I tried this year. Also, my least favorite, by far. Very mild pumpkin flavor that’s strongly overcome by a sparkly Champagne taste/feel that leaves everything feeling watered down and sour. Comes in a large bottle that I couldn’t finish. What I’m trying to say is, this probably isn’t your father’s beer, even if he was a hip dude into microbrews. Not recommended, but there are probably plenty of beer aficionados out there who genuinely like this sort of thing and could tell me why I’m wrong about it.

Every four years, I find myself predictably caught up in the World Cup, only to lose interest in the game after it’s all through. How can an American without a satellite dish really keep up with an international sport like soccer, with multiple leagues to watch spread across several continents? With the Internet, of course, but it doesn’t quite feel the same as being able to watch regular games (er, matches) on television, which is the only secondhand way of experiencing sports that I’m used to. I think I understand much more than the average American does about the European leagues, but it still seems like more work than I’m ready to put in. As it is, I’m a pretty casual fan of baseball and basketball, an extremely casual (and extremely recent) hockey follower by circumstance — I probably would have grown up as a Blackhawks kid if only they’d had an owner who didn’t outright despise the fans — and have more or less sworn off any future interest in American football. In the case of that latter case of self-denial, has that ever spared me from a lot of stress that I’ve found myself more than content to do without.

Despite my halfhearted commitment to keeping up with them, I really do love sports, although for completely different reasons than I did when I was young. I’m too old to idolize professional athletes, and seriously doubt that I’ll buy another personalized jersey or overpriced pack of cards ever again. I can’t stand the celebrity culture of sports and how the media continually tarnish what should be one of the last innocent and pure activities in our society with it. No, growing up has pretty much purged every interest I once had in the cult of sport out of my body, even as it’s steadily grown into a viable armchair lifestyle for millions thanks to behemothian media giants like ESPN. I have no use for the babble that makes up this world or the personalities that have made their millions contributing to it.

But as I’ve struggled on my own to make my way in the world, I’ve grown to really appreciate the value of an individual’s hard work, especially when it’s in the service of a truly difficult and specific goal. When I see a truly great play in any sport, I’m more appreciative than ever of the incredible physical efforts, complex split-second calculations. and total mental focus it required, all under the sort of pressure that I’ve rarely had to experience in my easygoing life. In short, it’s an everyday chance to witness people living up to their full potential. Or (perhaps even more admirably) repeatedly failing to do so, only to get up and try time and time again until they finally succeed. This is why I love the World Cup, which gives me a chance to watch a sport that I reasonably understand (but haven’t watched enough of to grow truly jaded of) and which offers no shortage of chances for me to witness such displays of courage and extra effort.

I watched all of the United States’ match against Algeria (in Spanish on Univision!), both teams’ final match of the group and a must-win for the US to advance. I was glued to the screen from the first half on, and as the second half wound to a close with both teams still scoreless, I couldn’t bring myself to give up despite the extremely unlikely chances that the US would have the time to mount a strong, last-minute attack. At the end of 90 minutes, with only three (four?) minutes of stoppage time left, their fate seemed sealed, even moreso as Algeria began the extra time with a strong scoring chance of their own. What happened in the next minute was only possible because every member on the American squad remained totally focused on their goal and unwilling to let the odds against them deter them from punching through and pulling off one of most memorable victories in our country’s history to date. Sports may be a time-wasting diversion 99% of the time, but when they let us witness such a rare display of perseverance in the face of adversity and the value of a spirited second-effort, they’re as indispensable to our culture as music, art, or any of the forms of expression that we usually turn to for inspiration.

Unfortunately, our good fortunes weren’t to last, being knocked out by Ghana last week. With England out as well I’m left with Japan as the last team I could find any personal stake in rooting for. That is, until I saw the picture above. Is Asuka in a kit blowing a vuvuzela reason enough to root for Germany?

Um, why not?

prince caspian’s stone table

Originally uploaded by jkenning

I was never able to visit Disneyworld as a child, but I’ve enjoyed my two trips there as an adult immensely. It’s been almost three months since my most recent trip there, in which I was able to visit almost all of the parks, including Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center, and the Hollywood Studios. I had a great time at every one, even the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, which I’d already had a chance to visit before and hadn’t expected to be very surprised by on another visit.

At the Magic Kingdom, we took advantage of the surprisingly short lines at Pirates of the Caribbean to ride it four or five times and made sure to take the plunge on Splash Mountain once again. But most of the attractions we visited were new to me: the Hall of Presidents (thankfully, no tea partiers or dittoheads in attendence to shout at robo-Obama/Robama), the jungle cruise (pretty lame, although our “tour guide” was a riot), and the Mickey’s PhilharMagic “4-D movie” (pretty good for what could have been a headache-inducing nightmare) among them. At the Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) we passed up most of the attractions that we’d seen the year before, including the “Extreme Stunt Show,” the Muppets 3-D movie, and the Tower of Terror. We relaxed in the “Animation Courtyard,” browsing Disney memorabilia, taking drawing lessons (my sketch of Stitch from the year before was drenched with Coca-Cola hours after I finished it, but my drawing of Eeyore from this trip made it home safely to my refrigerator door), and learning all about the history of Disney, which was much more interesting and inspiring than I’d ever imagined it could be. We rode the Aerosmith “Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster” (yikes) and the Great Movie Ride (yawn), and stumbled upon another attraction that we’d passed up on our last visit: “Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian” looked promising enough. I like the Narnia movies. With the help of a little Disney magic, how could this not be another winner?

I’ll abstain from writing an extraneous or overly dramatic retelling of our experience at Journey Into Narnia. If you want to experience it yourself, read the comments here or just watch this video while standing in a dark room. To get to the point (and omit about 1,200 words from my original post), this was an embarrassingly underwhelming waste of time and a stain on our otherwise wonderful vacation memories. It’s also likely on its way out, with the latest Narnia movie (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, set for release this December) being the first of the series that Disney won’t be distributing. So with this space being due for a new tenant, what’s Disney’s next move?

In a quiet corner of the park (across from a giant Coca Cola bottle that periodically sprayed water all over the sidewalk) I spotted a billboard advertising the upcoming DVD release for Ponyo. In a weekend where we took in movie-themed rides and shows and were exposed to hundreds of cross-promoted properties and products, this seemed to be the only sign of Disney’s hand in distributing the works of Hayao Miyazaki in America (and possibly the rest of the English-speaking market worldwide). From the success of Spirited Away to the more recent release of Ponyo, Disney’s partnership with Studio Ghibli has been mutually beneficial, but probably hasn’t reached its full potential. What could help expand the reach of these films in America beyond the relative commercial ghettos of the anime and “art house” crowd?

Just an idea: why not transform this soon-to-be vacant unit into a Miyazaki installation/exhibit/attraction? Spotlight Disney’s hand in helping bring his works to a bigger audience, as well as the company’s influence on worldwide animation. Borrow some ideas from the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. Sell merchandise. Basically, help make Miyazaki’s films part of the larger Disney experience, and not just a strange sideline that has no place next to Mickey and Minnie (or such classics as, um… Eddie Murphy’s The Haunted Mansion). Of course, no family would go out of their way to visit Disneyworld just to see such an attraction, but that’s missing the point. There are lots of attractions at Disney (the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, “Stitch’s Great Escape!,” “Journey Into Imagination,” Power Rangers street performances) that families either happen upon or visit on a whim, experience together, and go on to remember as part of their shared Disney experience, not as a some kind of lower-tier, lesser-promoted waste of time.

Besides, if there’s room for Disney to take up park space to promote trashy ABC sitcoms (now owned by Disney) and even “American Idol” (not in any way affiliated with Disney, as far as I can tell), why not find a tiny way to promote their partnership with Miyazaki in the same way? No, this will not cannibalize Disney’s audience for their own features, just help them sell more DVDs and maybe even turn their overseas partnership from John Lasseter’s critically-successful pet project into something a little more lucrative. Over 17.2 million people visited Disneyworld last year. That’s a lot of missed opportunities for Disney to show off (and ultimately help mainstream) one of their most exciting but still misunderstood properties.

At the very least, phase in such an attraction at the Japan pavilion at Epcot Center. It’s almost surprising that Disney hasn’t tried such a thing. I’m not alone in this.

I started this blog to give myself the freedom to write about whatever I wish, but despite the precedent I’ve set so far, that’s not always going to be about anime or music. Of course, I’d like to stay somewhat focused on those topics, because that’s what most people who find their way here are probably going to be into. Once in a while, however, I’ll probably feel compelled to opine on some unrelated matter, as I’m about to do in this post.

I only caught a few minutes of the Super Bowl this week, mostly during the fourth quarter, so I missed most of what were probably the highest profile commercials that people continue to sincerely mention as “the only reason to watch the game” and apparently await with great anticipation. What I did catch during the game (and later during the news… yes, local broadcasts replayed several of these in their entirety, devoting feature-length stories to them) was a pitiful collection that speaks volumes about American culture in 2010: obnoxious, shrill, more “in-your-face” than ever, and proud of its reality-denying slogans.

The worst of the bunch I saw was the spot for Audi, which seems to be getting good word of mouth online, despite being a terribly confused effort, memorable for all the wrong reasons and, at least in terms of moving cars off the lots or enhancing the brand image, can’t possibly be considered a success.

One stupid joke, milked for a very expensive minute’s time, in which the product and the brand name do not appear in until the very end, by which time no one who’s still watching could be the least bit concerned. I’d seen the ad three times and still couldn’t remember what it was actually for without a Google search to help me out (unlike the ad for Google itself, which penetrates your very mind and soul in every single frame). Instead, I was left only thinking of the the original “Dream Police” song by Cheap Trick, remembering the episode of The Simpsons where Apu is singing the song while washing his Thunderbird (er, Firebird?) in his driveway, and wondering if the band themselves were actually performing this horrible new mutation of it (sources say they indeed are). So much for getting your message across. And yes, I realize that simply discussing the ad at all is only furthering its saturation of/penetration into the Internet, and that going viral is considered the top honor that producers for these things are always shooting for, so I realize I’m contributing to the problem as much as anyone who Tweeted a genuine LOL in this commercial’s direction.

But something else bothers me about it and I think it’s worth bringing up. The ad attempts to highlight the Audi A3’s fuel efficiency, and as such would seem to be aimed at the environmentally-conscious consumer in the market for a pricey but still economic sedan. Yet, the ad obnoxiously belittles the entire notion of environmentalism, casting the eco-minded “Green Police” as fascist thugs that play up to every right-wing fantasy of violent tree-huggers. Could anyone outside of the SUV-driving, “drill here, drill now” crowd (who aren’t buying Audis anyway) find this the least bit funny? What is this ad trying to say? Some of us really care about these issues, you know. Maybe they’re ideas worth taking seriously, effecting the world in real time, no longer in any abstract, distant “future” that we won’t have to deal with. Or maybe they’re just meaningless fodder to distort and take down in ambiguous, sarcasm-drenched ad campaigns. Who knows! Maybe I just missed the memo saying that it’s okay for companies to belittle the deep convictions of their target market.

Defenders of the commercial would likely tell me to lighten up, it’s only a joke, after all. Or so it is to some, while to others it may be a telling and subversive, OMG it’s so true! commentary on the dangerous “socialist” direction our country is headed in. Being more energy independent, transitioning to more fuel-efficient vehicles, and just being better stewards of the environment are goals and values that everyone in this country should agree on regardless of ideology. But we live in a polarized, reactionary, bitter nation that somehow finds a way to disagree over the most banal issues imaginable, even when they’re as unpolitical as going “green,” which has fast become a trite notion that average consumers are growing sick and tired of hearing about. Like many great opportunities we’ve had as a country in recent years, we squandered the momentum behind the green movement and turned it into a meaningless catchphrase used for energy we rarely access, jobs we’ll likely never see, and products that are anything but. A lot of us realize how important it is to preserve and protect the environment, to make responsible everyday choices for the greater good and to continue working towards the kind of change that will bring society as a whole into a better balance with the planet. I just have a hard time making light of this, let alone a snarky mockery of it like this commercial does.

What I’m trying to say is, what a colossally misguided parody this ad is. I’m sure that Family Guy fans will enjoy how Audi really stuck it to those hybrid-driving crazies, though. Insert your own global warming joke here. Caring about things is so 20th century.

Now back to more of the usual entries. Probably about cartoons and shit.