Ten Things You Missed This Week #3

1.The great Maurice Sendak passed away this week, and fans of Where The Wild Things Are roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth in tribute. See Sendak talk about one of his favourite pieces of fan mail. (via Martyn Pedler)

RT @peachesanscream Twitter is the only place where you get all excited when strangers repeat what you’re saying.

2. After encountering a lady with a lampshade on her head, another sitting on a chair in the desert for no discernible reason, and another rubbing money into a delicate area, Glen Coco finally admitted that he is sick of pretending he doesn’t ‘get’ art. (via Paul Anthony Nelson)

RT @Seth__Rogen Claiming that someone else’s marriage is against your religion is like being angry at someone for eating a donut because you’re on a diet.

3. Click on this link. Copy the text that looks like it’s nonsense. Go to Google Translator. Change the ‘from’ language to German. Click the ‘listen’ button. Then wonder what the point of it all was.

RT @mark_salisbury Bonne Maman Blackberry Jelly is my new jam.

4. Should we, as a human species, consider building a Death Star? According to students from Lehigh University, it would barely cost US$852 quadrillion, or 13 000 times the current GDP of Earth. Time to look at this from a practical standpoint. (via Luke Buckmaster)

RT @danilic I’m writing a Matrix Prequel called The Dot Matrix….so far it’s very long and very loud.

5. I don’t know what’s more impressive: this Super-Earth we’ve just found lurking forty-one light-years away, or the science used to detect it. (via Andy Howell)

RT @bronwen Ever noticed that it’s only secondhand bookshops that smell *like* books? As if the scent is only released from pages once they’ve been read

6. Following the annual budget report from the Australian Federal Government, the News Corp-owned The Australian ran a front page that seemed to declare they were no longer interested in even feigning balanced, objective reporting. Click here to see this front page and – more importantly – Luke Ryan’s spot-on analysis of it for The Vine.

RT @mrpaulnelson You know how couples in romantic comedies “meet cute”? Superheroes in Marvel comics and movies “meet fight”.

7. For some reason, I tend to think that special effects haven’t really changed in the last ten years. Ever since we basically handed everything over to the computers, it seemed like any improvements were minor adjustments in computing power, or the odd texture upgrade. This visual comparison of two Hulks, one from 2003’s Hulk and the other from 2012’s The Avengers, shows that we’ve made a bigger jump than I, for one, had realised. (via Brendan Swift)

RT @DamonLindelof Me: “I may not be able to eat this large popcorn by myself, but you can be damn sure I’ll avenge it.” Concession Dude: “$7.50 please.”

8. For someone like me who didn’t actually read a comic until a few years ago, I know I’ve been posting an awful lot about The Avengers on here. Part of that is due to how much I’ve enjoyed the cinematic Marvel Universe, but quite a lot is down to my effusive and earned adoration of its writer/director Joss Whedon. This thank-you note Joss wrote to his fans pretty much sums up why. (And he also dismisses the idea of people pitting The Avengers against The Dark Knight Rises. Click here to read my article entitled The Avengers vs The Dark Knight Rises.)

RT @dangranata As an avid Joss Whedon fan, I spent most of the Avengers waiting for it to be abruptly cancelled. #fb

9. The guy running against Barack Obama is a criminal. A total criminal. And before Mitt Romney’s lawyer army gets in contact, I’m not talking about Romney: I’m talking about Keith Judd, federal criminal and Democratic candidate for President. Judd managed to get himself on the ballot for the Democratic Presidential Primary in West Virginia. And won 41% of the vote. That’s 70 000 votes. That’s eight counties. Something tells me the White House is about to be decorated with a whole lot of Rita Hayworth posters. Don’t think too hard about that analogy. (via John Safran)

RT @LOLGOP REMINDER: Jesus never once mentioned gays or abortion. But he was sure pissed at the people who didn’t help the poor.

10. I haven’t really revisited them in a while, but I do hold an abiding love of Animaniacs, the Warner Bros. cartoon from the 1990s. As much as I vaguely remember enjoying the preceding Tiny Toons, it was Animaniacs that truly captured the anarchic spirit of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. Now read Rob Lammie’s brilliantly comprehensive piece about how the Animaniacs came into being. (via Martyn Pedler)

RT @VaguelyFunnyDan Allowing gays to declare bankruptcy has ruined the sanctity of my own bankruptcy.

Now I must leave the joyous confines of the internet to go and play my new favourite sport, whatever this is.

The Avengers vs The Dark Knight Rises

Many have speculated on what it is that powers the internet. It’s such a mighty, largely-democratic (though simultaneously libertarian) beast, it does make you wonder what could possibly keep it going. It turns out that the answer is something of an abstract concept: the internet is powered by false equivalencies.

We’ve all been in or seen arguments that refute an opinion on one thing by drawing a direct comparison with something that really should not bear any relation to the first thing. For instance: ‘Oh, you enjoy Chinese food? I didn’t realise it was okay to enjoy religious suppression!’ or ‘You may think that politician did a good job in saving that baby from a fire, but he voted in favour of a law that would give tax breaks to companies that produce flammable newspapers’ or ‘Why would anyone bother to pay money to see John Carter given The Seventh Seal is readily available on DVD?’

I haven’t needed to exaggerate those. Well, not much. In the past few weeks I’ve seen people on Twitter complaining about others noting the box office success of The Avengers, comparing the exclamation at its record-breaking weekend to the celebration of mining magnates. I’ve seen some making fun of the Gertrude Stein scenes in Midnight In Paris by comparing it to Back To The Future, because despite the twenty-six year gap and differing genres/styles, the vague similarity in the use of a protagonist travelling through time means they’re the same thing.

Hell, I even saw people drawing comparisons to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, pitting them against one another to see which will be 2012’s superhero victor! Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed when others ruined their fun by pointing out that it was possible to enjoy both on their own merits without having to create false competition.

But is that really what they’re doing?

There is, of course, no reason you can’t enjoy two different things at once. Despite not being a big comic book reader until a few years ago, my top ten of 2008 contained both The Dark Knight and Iron Man, two tonally-dissimilar films despite their similar literary origins, aiming for completely different outcomes. The Avengers is one of my favourite films of 2012, and I’m greatly anticipating The Dark Knight Rises. So why is it useful to set them against one another?

Quite often, it’s difficult for people to articulate their preferences without having a good, solid example of their options in front of them. It’s what democratic elections are all about: ‘I prefer this person to that person, because they more closely reflect my own feelings about policy.’ Of course, elections are about pitting one thing against another, but you rarely hear a voter discuss a rundown of every single political issue and where they stand on it. They’re more likely to say ‘That person!’, in a general, catch-all summary.

To be more fundamental about it, have you ever tried expressing a feeling without having a word or term or analogy for it? How many ideas are opened up to us, complex ideas that reflect ideas you’ve always innately felt, by someone articulating it in a succinct and easily-referenced manner?

So when, in 2005, everyone pointed to the seriousness of Batman Begins being far better than the silliness of Fantastic Four, it was a way of articulating that maybe we were after something a bit more somber and gritty. Two different styles of superhero movie that were easy shorthands for what we preferred.

Of course, the success of Nolan’s Bat-flicks have meant that grim’n’gritty is the path of all things. Batman Begins was, in a sense, the backlash to the norm, and now The Dark Knight Rises reflects that norm. Even the first released image from 2013’s Man of Steel (above) portrayed the All-American Boy Scout Superman as shadowy and menacing! So, as the pendulum swings towards the dour and po-faced, we get banks of monochromatic posters that, I noticed upon a recent trip to the multiplex, look like this: 

When fans say they enjoy the bright colours of The Avengers, its humour, its fun – even making the often-sullen Bruce Banner into something more enjoyable, as articulated in this recent New Yorker piece by Film Critic Hulk (you’ll understand when you read it) – they’re not necessarily being down on The Dark Knight Rises, even if that forms the basis of their comparison. They’re just using two easily-juxtaposed films with different approaches to help articulate their current mood and tastes.

False equivalencies may be the frustratingly consistent bane (ha!) of the internet, but every now and then they help illuminate a deeper truth that goes beyond the mere need to put one thing up against another.

In other words, can we have a little colour back in our movie posters please?