Something that people sharing photos of MLK walking in peaceful protests should keep in mind: By the end of his life, Martin Luther King realized the validity of violence:

One of the foundational notions of nonviolence is that in order to be respected, one must behave well and abide by the social contract: work hard, follow the rules, and prosper. The problem is that since the beginning of the Atlantic Slave Trade, black people had worked harder and followed more rules, more strictly than anyone in America. And still they found themselves in an impossible and impoverished situation. King might not have been as militant as the militants would have liked, and he may have become an even greater citizen of the world while cities were on fire, but by the time he spoke in the fall of 1967, he recognized that it would no longer be effective to tell black folks to only protest peacefully, kindly, and respectfully. They could not prosper in a game where they were the only ones expected to play by the rules. King closed that speech with a stark truth:

“Let us say boldly that if the violations of law by the white man in the slums over the years were calculated and compared with the law-breaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man. These are often difficult things to say but I have come to see more and more that it is necessary to utter the truth in order to deal with the great problems that we face in our society.”

Something else they should keep in mind: One of the most commonly shared such photos was taken minutes before police moved in and brutally attacked the protesters.

MLK protest and police abuse photos

Sometime between April 19th and April 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • John Scalzi: Thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War (and Yes, There are Spoilers): "As impressively well put together as it is, and as enjoyable and exciting as the film is in the moment, the film suffers and for me is ultimately unsatisfying. Not for anything the film itself does or doesn’t do; it suffers not because of what it does, but because of what I know."
  • Avengers: Infinity War ending: Incredibly bold — and a little cheap: SPOILERS: “…as I talked over the ending with friends, the less it sat well with me. I certainly admired the gutsiness of it, the big swing it took, but I also struggled to feel as emotionally invested in it as I was supposed to. For lack of a better word, none of it felt real.” I might not go quite so far as this analysis does, but I don’t argue with its core idea, and was having similar thoughts.
  • “When people say ‘spinster’, they are trying to conjure up an image of a little old lady who is lonely and bitter.”: “What I HEAR are the smiles and laughter of a million women as they earned their own money in their own homes and controlled their own fortunes and lived life on their own terms, and damn what society expected of them.”
  • When Toronto Suspect Said ‘Kill Me,’ an Officer Put Away His Gun: Look, I know that there are going to be situations where the use of deadly force is a necessary step. But it should be a last step, not a first step — something that seems all too mysterious to far too many people, not least many police here in the United States. De-escalation should be the default approach, rather than the "shoot first, ask questions later" approach seemingly favored by far too many people (both law enforcement officers and armchair analysts).
  • What Does Invoking The 25th Amendment Actually Look Like?: "Let’s take a deeper look at the 25th Amendment and think about what each section of it has meant in the past — and what it might mean for Trump-era politics." I'm rather fascinated (and disappointed) that we're in a situation where this is even being seriously discussed. But it is, admittedly, and interesting discussion.

Sometime between July 25th and September 21st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Yesterday, I posted this to my Google+ account:

Just watched the red band trailer for the new Evil Dead remake/reboot. That is so not for me. I like the original with and because of its crazy low-budget camp, and love that they just ran with that for the rest of the series and went completely goofy. This new, ultra-realistic, ultra-violent, ultra-bloody take, even if it’s more in line with what they originally wanted to do, doesn’t appeal to me in the least.

I like my horror creepy and/or with a good dose of humor mixed in. Today’s trend towards ultra-violent torture porn just makes me feel ill.

Then, earlier today, I tweeted this:

Watched The Cabin in the Woods today. Crazy, and really good. Glad I hadn’t read any spoilers beforehand. #IMDb

Then just a few minutes ago, Prairie and I finished watching the fourth season of Dexter, and while the ending cliffhanger was upsetting, it was upsetting in the way a good TV cliffhanger should be, and we’ll definitely continue watching the series.

There seems to be some possible irony in all of that.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure just where the boundary between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” violence lies for me. There were definite moments in The Cabin in the Woods that were more violent than I was really comfortable with, and Dexter occasionally pushes right up to the edge, but in both cases, I think there are three things that make the difference and keep me watching:

  1. The stories are good. Even in the moments where the violence pushes further than I might like it to, I’m already invested enough in the characters and the plot that I’m willing to deal with the occasional cringe and “was that really necessary?” thought in order to continue with the story.

  2. They don’t dwell on the violence. The acts, while necessary to the story, aren’t the point of the story, and as such, even when they’re shown on screen, it’s generally not a huge, long, drawn-out scene. It happens, there’s that moment of shock, and then they move on.

  3. The violence is a part, but isn’t the point. I’ve seen other films (the first Saw film, for instance, which was two hours of my life whose only useful purpose was to convince me that I have no need to ever waste time on any of the rest of the series) that are truly deserving of the “torture porn” designation. The violence is the point of the film, and any bare minimum of plot is there only to move from one violent act to the next. Even films that aren’t part of the modern “torture porn” style of horror can fall victim to this kind of approach: For instance, part of why I didn’t think much of Tim Burton’s take on Sweeny Todd (which I’ve enjoyed on stage) was his insistence on showing every slit throat in loving closeup. Once would have been quite forgivable in order to get the point across, but I found the repeated shots of gaping bloody throats to be quite unnecessary.

Of course, there’s a lot of grey area in all of this, and the boundary between what works for me and what doesn’t is definitely very, very blurry. Sometimes it just boils down to the old cliché about the difference between erotic art and pornography: I know it when I see it.

From “USA! USA!” is the wrong response – War Room –

For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death. When we’ve seen video footage of foreigners cheering terrorist attacks against America, we have ignored their insistence that they are celebrating merely because we have occupied their nations and killed their people. Instead, we have been rightly disgusted — not only because they are lauding the death of our innocents, but because, more fundamentally, they are celebrating death itself. That latter part had been anathema to a nation built on the presumption that life is an “unalienable right.”

But in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys. Indeed, an America that once carefully refrained from flaunting gruesome pictures of our victims for fear of engaging in ugly death euphoria now ogles pictures of Uday and Qusay’s corpses, rejoices over images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging and throws a party at news that bin Laden was shot in the head.

This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory — he has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.

(via Sika)

So…would this be an irony FAIL or irony WIN?

16 arrested in fight at nonviolence concert: Montgomery County police say 16 people were arrested after a fight broke out during a concert held to promote nonviolence and to remember a Silver Spring teen killed last year. […] Police say fighting broke out near the stage toward the end of the concert and at least one person resisted arrest. Police say 16 adults and juveniles were arrested for offenses such as assault and disorderly conduct.

Pushing Daisies is one of my favorite shows on TV right now — wonderfully quirky, and often feels to me like what might have happened if Edward Scissorhands-era Tim Burton had gone into television. The Disney Weblog has been doing weekly wrapups, and something about this week’s review got under my skin a little bit.

(Since what follows hinges upon the final shot of the show, I’ll pop it under the cut to avoid spoilers…)

Continue reading