Kristen Chick via Christian Science Monitor
Jerseys stop bullets, right?
This is a photo of Chris Jeon, a math major at the University of California, in the midst of joining the Libyan revolution. But why on earth would a promising young college student risk life and limb to enlist with the underdogs in a bloody foreign war? Does he support the cause? Does he have personal ties to the conflict? Did Gadhafi grief him in Battlefield, and he's come over for some IRL payback? Nope. In his own words:
"This is one of the few real revolutions ... I just thought I'd come check it out. Just go and see what happens. At spring break I told my friends a 'sick' vacation would be to come here and fight with the rebels."
And in a sense, that is incredibly badass. Dude joined a motherfucking revolution like a pick-up game. When the other rebels shout "FOR LIBYA!" or "FREEDOM!" Jeon's in the back shouting "AIN'T NOTHING ON TV THIS WEEK."
"It's been a slow year. Anyone fancy casting off the shackles of British tyranny?"
But in another, equally real sense: That's a bunch of bullshit.
One of the things absolutely killing our culture right now is irony. Everything is done half-assed, wearing a wry smirk and an ugly cardigan. That way if it doesn't go over well, you can claim total immunity to criticism because "It was all ironic, bro." And now that excuse applies not only to finger mustaches and shitty theme bars, but warfare?! I'm not sure if I should be horrified that young people are now apparently willing to die for a quick joke or relieved that the line at the Artisan Grilled Cheese Truck is going to be shorter next year.
Skyrim. My choice was going to be Skyrim. This entry was going to be about Skyrim, and this entry was going to be the one point of optimism and hope in this otherwise cynical wasteland of bitterness and profanity. But you know what happened?
Michael Swaim is way better about checking his email, so he got to pick it first. Therefore, for game of 2011, I choose Diablo III, which isn't even coming out this year. Why? Let's run down some of its killer new features:
*Always-on DRM means you can play the game anywhere there's an Internet connection! And nowhere there isn't.
*Sick of the pressure that customizing, improving and personalizing PC games comes with? Diablo III's got your back: New security measures prevent all modding!
*Tired of real-world problems breaking the flow and action of game play? Not anymore: Diablo III does away with that horrible pause function. Now nothing's going to stop you from gaming -- even your own wants and needs!
*Tired of multiplayer games hogging all the server issues and connectivity problems? Don't worry! Diablo III requires a working Internet connection ... even for single-player games!
*Want added adventure, excitement and intrigue? If Blizzard servers crash during game play, you can lose all of your progress! Real action requires real consequences. You want to be real, don't you?
So real you put your fist through the monitor and throw your mouse at the kids.
If somebody wants to call shenanigans on me for griping about a game that hasn't even been released yet, that's fine. You can mentally change my pick to Driver: San Francisco, or literally any other Ubisoft game. They all have pretty much the same "features" this year. My general point doesn't change with the specific property chosen to represent it. I'm just saying that the publishers are pushing a new theme for 2011 PC games, and that theme is:
Hey, why don't you stop playing PC games?
When you say "Internet clip," most people think of funny, confusing or gross little throwaway videos they've shared with their friends. I'm sure my fellow editors have chosen some really cute, clever or innovative clips and have terribly amusing things to say about them. And why not? They're funny guys.
They're the life of the party, those guys.
"Ha ha ha! Remember when we had to pretend to know each other?"
Me? Right now, I'm the guy who hangs out in the kitchen and picks a fight about abortion rights with everybody who hits up the chip bowl. I didn't come to this thing to pound some brews and connect with friends; I just want to ruin your goddamn night because Shelly decided she wanted to have a gay phase and the office is doing layoffs and you just know that son of a bitch Chad is going to sell me down the river for that missing printer ink but have you seen that shit? It's like $43 a pop. That's more than the goddamn printer. What was I supposed to do, pay for it? Fuck that. Yeah, I took it. I did it, all right? And now I'm probably out of a job and my girlfriend is banging a fixie-riding half-Asian barista and I'm going to fucking talk to you about fetuses while you try to eat a Frito because it pisses me off that you're sitting there having a good time right in my face.
So here. Here's my choice for clip of the year. It's the Japanese tsunami.
Laugh it up, funny guys.
If you don't know this one off the top of your head, just think back to the last time a chain store tried to sell you skinny jeans: This was the song they played. I didn't pick this because it's terrible (though Foster the People are definitely the Monkees to Broken Social Scene's Beatles), I picked it because 2011 is the year we can officially put a nail in the coffin of indie rock, and we're going to hammer that shit in with "Pumped Up Kicks."
2011 is to indie rock what 1979 was to punk rock: It marks the official tipping point from subculture to marketable commodity. You'll find this album wedged firmly in the indie rock section of every record store (ha! Like those are a thing anymore), and yet it's a song written by a commercial jingle writer (seriously, that was his job when he wrote it) who came to prominence after first being featured on Entourage.
Marky Mark taints everything by association.
The worst part is, it's so utterly forgettable and innocuous that the song doesn't even stick out enough for you to hate. It's only once you look into it that you realize how cynical and exploitative a track it really is. For example, the lyrics make allusions to school shootings so as to cultivate that controversial buzz, yet Mark Foster denies that blatant connection vehemently at every turn, because actually acknowledging it might hurt the song's airtime on major stations. You really have to dig to find the source of this bullshit, because there's just so much shit that it's actually, physically concealing the bull.