Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An alternative view on "Avatar": Is Jake Sully the villain?

There's a disturbing undercurrent in Avatar that's largely gone unremarked. Jake Sully, the soldier who "goes native", is at first glance the hero. In this sense, Avatar is part of a long movie tradition of white men who come to appreciate, side with, and ultimately cross over to the "other": compare, most obviously, Dances With Wolves and Lawrence of Arabia.

But there's a darker subtext to this theme. It's an enduring and unpleasant truth that rich, powerful white men always take what the "natives" have, whether its oil or land, and that is certainly the obvious message in Avatar. But Sully takes something even more precious from the Na'vi: their identity. Becoming them might be the most rapacious form of taking of all. Either Cameron missed this point, or he is being even more subtly subversive than most people have noticed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What the Internet really needs...

ICANN keeps talking about the benefits of adding new top-level domains, as if .biz really adds anything to .com except confusion. At the same time, they refuse to deal with the real problems online, for example refusing to sanction a .xxx domain for porn. Other than prudishness, what's wrong with this idea? It's not like porn is hard to find already for those that want it, so anything that makes it easier to find for those that want it and easier to avoid for those that don't has to be a good idea... unless, of course, you're one of those people for whom the very mention of "sex" makes you uncomfortable.

Anyway, it's clear to most of us that there are three big problems online: sex, scams, and spam. So I'd like to propose three new top-level domains where these things are actually appropriate. Those that want them will know where to get them (hey, somebody has to be replying to those Nigerian Prince emails or they wouldn't keep sending them...) and the rest of us can avoid them.

Scams: Obviously, should be at .con

Spam: Belongs in .can

Sex sites: If we can't have .xxx, how about .come?

The only remaining problem is what to do with all those "improve your sexual performance" emails, which are spam for a scam about sex...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Block That Metaphor

Joe Theismann, talking about the Redskins' latest debacle:

"It feels like we're swimming an uphill battle."