THE WALKING DEAD (TV) and my zombie problem

The other night A went off the see TDKR with a friend and his dad. Anne-Marie went off to bed early, but I wasn’t feeling particularly sleepy. So, I decided to stay up and wait for the kid to get back (responsible thing to do in any event, no?). To pass the time, I decided to try a couple of shows that we had been putting off or avoiding, or, really, that Anne-Marie and I could not agree to watch together. One of the episodes I watched was the opener for The Walking Dead, “Days Gone Bye”.

On one level this is a show I should already be watching, or would be mainlining right now instead of writing this blog post. I have a long history of attraction to stories about the apocalypse/post-apocalypse, and “Days Gone Bye” is a well-crafted introduction to a world in collapse. Writer-director Frank Darabont and Andrew Lincoln effectively show Rick as disoriented, but still capable of recognizing, and accepting, that the world is no longer the place he knows. The episode also uses the characters of Morgan and Duane to show the emotional toll of what’s happening – the scene that cuts between Rick and the bicycle girl and Morgan trying to shoot his wife is authentically affecting. The image of Rick riding into Atlanta on the horse is a great visual, the kind that you would love to see on the big screen.

That I am not already watching this series and anticipating the coming season is down to one reason: zombies.

When I was six, and my sister four, our dad took us to a double feature of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1956) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) at The Guild Theater in Portland, which, at the time, was a revival house. His defense, now and then, was that he thought Living Dead was a different movie, Invaders from Mars (1953), or something like it.

I have no reason to doubt his explanation, which accounts for why we went to the theater in the first place, but not so much why we stayed. As I recall, Bodysnatchers was second on the bill, but that’s pretty weak reasoning in this case.

The trauma mostly worked itself out that night, and has now become a good family story, the subject of jokes and sardonic wit. I have no memory of ever having zombies invade my dreams. When I get startled and anxious about weird noises in the middle of the night or walking alone in strange places, zombies don’t even register in my fears. Nor am I an especially fearful person, and I have a high degree of tolerance for other kinds of monsters, demons, devils, and aliens. As a kid I watched plenty of classic horror and monster movies (c. 1950s-1960s) even after the Living Dead mistake. Later I began watching TV like The X-Files, Buffy and Angel, all of which feature episodes with zombies or zombie-like creatures (“Habeas Corpses” is one of my favorite Angel episodes). Similarly, Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are among my favorite comics. These experiences led me to opportunistically sample zombie films like 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead, even a scene or two of Night of the Living Dead on one occasion.

What I’ve learned as an adult is that zombies are fine when they are part of a larger storyworld, and are not the only monsters or antagonists. As a genre, though, I am mostly bored and grossed out by zombies. So, one episode of Buffy fine, one aspect of the narrative to Game of Thrones, also fine, but episode after episode, or hour after hour, of nothing but zombies is a line I am not convinced I can cross or stomach.

Some of this feeling no doubt relates to my childhood experience at The Guild and years of avoiding zombies, but there is also the fact that zombies are kind of intrinsically lacking in intelligence and that makes them boring to me. To the extent that they are embodiments of fears about loss of one’s humanity or will, they do not particularly work for me (the Reavers from Firefly and the victims of Rossum’s mind-wiping in Dollhouse have come the closest to zombie-ish ideas that are intellectually engaging in some way). The worst parts of “Days Gone Bye” for me were easily the ones directly involving walkers, particularly the repeated shots of bullets to brains, which left me numb and queasy.

One indication of how little I am engaged by the genre is the horse. I knew that the horse was going to get eaten the second that Rick decided to ride her or him to Atlanta. I imagine that most people who have watched the premiere also knew that. I also imagine that, for zombie fans, the moment when the horse gets consumed by a pack of walkers is satisfying in terms of the narrative. Not so much for me; just more grossness and, in this case, cruelty.

What I’m wondering is what, if anything, am I missing about zombies in general and The Walking Dead in particular. For reasons that should be clear, I have not been reading The Walking Dead, although I did download the first issue while watching “Days Gone Bye”. So, I don’t have much of an idea of what the trajectory of the series looks like (or if it is being mirrored in the television show).

One reason why I like Falling Skies is the way that series is focused on the human characters and on exploring different responses to the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it. Even in the second season, where the aliens are becoming more prominent, the key questions still revolve around what’s left of humanity, what it means to be human, what the “right” choices are in trying to survive. If the zombies recede into the background on The Walking Dead, and the series focuses more on the remaining human survivors, that might change my disposition about continuing to watch, or how many episodes I think are worth watching before deciding what to do about continuing.

I want to like this show, but I’m not sure I want to like so much that I can overlook hordes of zombies, at least that is my impression after streaming the premiere on Netflix.

Follow-up on music: local radio & digital music

Today at PopMatters, Ben Rubenstein has a “Mixtape Confessions” column up about the loss of two local radio stations in Boston. In particular, there are two passages I took note of and that prompted me to further thought on themes from yesterday’s music post.

First, Rubenstein notes the role that one of the stations played in introducing him to certain “classic” artists and songs:

When I was growing up, the Rubenstein car radio was controlled largely by my parents, which meant a steady diet of Oldies 103 during any car trips. The station introduced me to The Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann”, Ernie K. Doe’s “Mother in Law”, the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” and all the rest. Sure, I still gravitated toward Kiss 108 when left to my own devices, but those songs are as much a part of my childhood as anything Rick Dees introduced me to.

But he goes on to ask what role local radio might play in a context where people who want to hear music have tools like Pandora or Spotify at their disposal:

It all leads to a larger question, one that station managers have likely been trying to answer for a few years: What does a traditional radio station really offer now that we can create our own, customized stations with a few clicks? What drives that relationship beyond convenience?

In the first excerpt, I think that Rubenstein notes a couple of key elements to local radio that are harder to reproduce in a digital context, or in a world where radio is largely de-localized and no longer programmed by people who are members of the community for which they play music.

While different local radio stations certainly carved out niches for themselves, even where you found a favorite, you were likely to hear artists and songs that would not be your choice. You were always dealing with someone else’s tastes, but ideally someone with refined tastes whose selections could direct you to artists that you may not have found on your own. I think that ‘discovery’ works very differently in a context where you are giving yourself over to someone else versus picking and choosing on your own.

The other point I want to note from the first passage is the shared aspect of radio. The means of listening to music used to be more scarce, and as with Rubenstein’s family, in mine, other people tended to control the radio (and the stereo), or, at least, what station to tune to (or what album to play) became a subject of negotiation between family and friends; which is another way in which analog technology fostered a context where discovery often came from the need to deal with others, and their preferences, rather than being driven by self-selection.

It is easy to romanticize one’s own formative experiences, and I don’t want to do that here. Local radio was no less of a commercial enterprise than the stations now owned by Clear Channel, and that means ads and certain songs being put into heavy, heavy rotation. Furthermore, as Rubenstein implies, while relying on others for music selection can be enlightening and educative, by definition, those choices will never be exactly what you would choose on your own. I spent many an afternoon listlessly switching between stations until I found something I wanted to hear. The main reason I made mixtapes for myself is to have, essentially, personal radio.

Which is what Rubenstein is pointing to in the second excerpt: the appeal of digital services like MOG and Pandora is user control, of listening to what you want to listen to, or, at the least, to set parameters for listening and, in many cases, to pick and choose individual songs as you listen. For a fee, you can usually lose the ads, too.

On balance, as an adult, is is hard to to argue with that model. As I admitted in yesterday’s piece, I don’t have the same kind of time to devote to music that I once did. Why sit through ads and repeated plays of songs to which I am indifferent or that I may actually hate just to get to something that appeals?

And yet it is primarily the search for new music that I missed, or that decayed, after college.

Digital music services do offer tools and opportunities for discovery, but these are largely based on inputs that the user provides. As noted above, in one sense this is a feature, but in other senses it is a problem. This kind of ‘narrowcasting’ ensures a steady diet of listening that is likely to be appealing, but it is less likely to provide an interesting juxtaposition or to cross genres. If I had this kind of technology when I was a teen, I’m not sure how I would have ended up listening to Lone Justice, or becoming a devotee of the Indigo Girls in college. The one exception to my lack of musical engagement after college is that Anne-Marie and I started going to Grateful Dead concerts, something my teenage self would have found unthinkable. In practice, I’m sure that there probably are a host of ways in which I could have ended up listening to any number of things if I’d had Spotify and instead of local radio and MTV, but user-driven radio/listening seems to work against wider ranging discovery.

Related to that point is another sense in which digital narrowcasting poses a problem, which is that branching out and finding new music depends on the user making an effort to try something or new or to take up recommendations. And as useful and rewarding as that activity might be, it takes time and energy of a kind that listening to your local DJ doesn’t, and, again, is, I think, less likely to provide a surprise.

As a teen and young adult local radio often provided a soundtrack for hanging out. Waiting for the next song became part of our social activity, as did debating the merits of the selections. Music sharing seems much different for A and her friends. Most of her friends are very intolerant of anything new or unfamiliar (and for all I know, A is that way when she is at their houses). Clearly, ‘kids these days’ have some means of finding new songs to like, via YouTube mostly as far as I can tell, but they also seem used to just shutting off what doesn’t immediately catch their ears.

It could also be that I am underestimating the role that face-to-face relationships play in developing one’s musical tastes. Rubenstein mentions his parents and the car radio. We clearly have an influence over what A listens to, even if she isn’t always able to share what she likes with her friends (and they, in turn, must be getting musical influences from their parents). That kind of thing becomes increasingly rare among adults though, except where you have get togethers of people who play music. At least, this has been my experience.

Right now I am motivated and have time to devote to building my universe in MOG, and I am encouraged that the “Editor’s picks” seem to range across time periods and genres, which gives me an immediately accessible adjunct to more targeted recommendations on the service*. And yet when I have to get back to prepping and teaching classes I suspect that I might miss having a couple of go to radio stations, places staffed by people who love and know music and who program for a specific local audience. Or maybe the digital music bubble I am finally making will be all I need.

Read Ben Rubenstien’s full column at PM:

*Yes, I read reviews, but following up and hearing what is being recommended has been a barrier in the past. Read my prior entry for context (linked in the intro).

Music subscription and the failed fan (well, me, at any rate)

From about age twelve to twenty-two music was an important part of my life and how I identified myself. My teen and young adult years were marked by a host of cultural obsessions – roleplaying and strategy games, soccer, comics, science fiction, political fiction – but music was always the most public and probably the most constant pursuit for that decade. In middle school and high school, in particular, what I listened to and what I didn’t, and attendant signifiers in dress and hair, grounded friendships and associations, sparked heated debates, and defined how I spent much of whatever spending money I had. For the record, punk, new wave and ska were the primary genres that I trafficked in, with some early dips into what is now called alt country, and, in college, neo-folk. Examples of important artists for me, c. 1982-1994, include: The Clash, The Jam, The Style Council, Echo & the Bunnymen, Lone Justice, Simple Minds, ABC, The English Beat, The Special AKA, World Party, 54-40, the Indigo Girls, Talking Heads, U2, and Crowded House.

Once I moved from college to graduate school, though, music began to recede in importance, and while I have made attempts to change that, mostly I haven’t recovered my interest in music, even as I have rediscovered other passions like genre fiction and comics.

Why music has remained on the fringes of what I do as I’ve settled into ‘proper’ adulthood is something I’ve thought about, sometimes intensely, at different times, often ending with a dissatisfying visit to iTunes.

Anne-Marie and A recently started using Spotify and that initiated another round of introspection, and while I think that there are a lot of reasons why music receded and has remained in the background for me, I think that there are three which are of particular importance.

  • The standard I set as a teen was, and is, particularly hard to maintain going into graduate school and settling into post-student adulthood. When I first started acquiring music to listen to at home, I would buy records and then record those albums to tape so as to limit the amount of wear and tear on the vinyl. I would spend whole days making mix tapes, both for myself and for others. I was, and still am to a degree, an ‘album person’. My primary mode of listening was to put on a record and play it from start to finish. Not surprisingly, this led to me to be something of a completist, at least when it came to favorite bands and artists. When I’ve thought about getting back to music in a serious way, this is the level of engagement I have in my head as for what that would mean, and I think that has caused me to stop short. I am, of course, not the same person with the same interests that I was when I was fifteen, but this is still my frame of reference.
  • That relates to another problem, which is time, notably listening time. As a young adult, I turned into a public radio junkie. I’ve been listening to shows like Talk of the Nation and This American Life since their inception. For many years, that kind of programming has been my background of choice for reading and work. More recently, podcasting has fed the completist impulse that used to be fulfilled by albums. In addition, going to movies and watching TV have also taken up more of my time than they did when I was younger, and, for whatever reason, sharing those activities has been more of a foundation for Anne-Marie and I than has music.
  • I think that the decline of American radio and of MTV as a serious place for music programming has also played a role in putting distance between me and music. In retrospect, my teen years, mid-80s to early 90s, seem like the last era both of vibrant locally-owned and managed radio and MTV’s association with music. Both were reliable media for discovering new music and for making music part of my day in a way that was simple and convenient.

This last point is why Anne-Marie’s and A’s use of Spotify started me thinking again about why I don’t listen to music in even an approximation of the way I used to.

The unspoken issue above is money. I think one reason why movies and TV are more of the glue that holds Anne-Marie and I together than is music is that it was (and is) more efficient economically for us to pool our resources and share a cable or satellite subscription, and to go to movies together, than it is for us to buy music together. Obviously, I’m not meaning to reduce these choices to economics, there are other personal taste and cultural issues at work, too, but one thing that music subscription services do is to assign a stable, and for our family, reasonable, cost to the buying of music.

Nicholas Schiller has an excellent summary and discussion of the most recent round of debate over paying for music in the digital world, and I don’t want to rehearse that matter here, but I also can’t avoid it. So, here is my piece. I want to pay for music, but I’ve drifted away from buying and listening to a point where I can’t imagine going back to paying for it in the way I did as a teen and a young adult, which is to say, buying all of the albums by all of my favorite bands and whatever miscellaneous artists and albums caught my attention. So, for many years that primarily meant disconnecting from music or at least being very very casual about my listening. While I recognize that there are critical questions to be posed about the compensation artists get from my use of a service like Spotify (or MOG, the service I’ve chosen to use), my monthly payment will add up to more than I have been paying for music the past fifteen years or so, when, honestly, I could go the better part of twelve months without buying any music (I have never pirated music. To the extent that I have tried to reintegrate music into my daily life, I have done so through podcasts, like those from CBC Radio 3 and KEXP, occasional use of Pandora, and the even more occasional purchase from iTunes, or of a CD).

One reason why I haven’t wanted to buy albums (or songs, though I don’t see myself ever being someone who buys primarily by the song) is the lack of robust ways to discover new music. Looking at what you can do with Spotify alerted me to the possibilities of subscription services that combine access to big catalogs with tools for recommending new or related works and artists. It isn’t the same as old school radio or original flavor MTV, but it fills many of the same functions. As a result, I suspect that, in the long run, MOG will lead me to buy more music than I would have otherwise because I’ll know more and hear more, and with things I really like, I’ll want more secure ownership than a streaming service can provide.

My being clued into services like MOG also comes in a moment where my tendency to want (need?) to listen to every episode of every podcast I subscribe to seems to have been broken, albeit primarily by reasons unrelated to wanting more time for music.

The first thing I did when I installed the MOG player on my laptop is to make a playlist of “New Stuff”, that is, songs from albums and artists that I had been saving in places like GetGlue and Pinboard. The second thing I did was to start listening to that list. I also began favoriting artists, many of whom I already have in my iTunes library, but usually not their complete catalogs. There are a few people I’ve become aware of during my musical dark age, e.g., Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, The Weakerthans, but my collecting and listening of their work has been less than completist. MOG lets me fill gaps (for the most part; I’ve noticed in some cases, particularly with bands and performers who became prominent before the 90s, that there can be a more limited selection of discs. This is understandable, I think. How many musicians have really made full albums that bear repeated listening decade after decade? Still, I am disappointed that I could not find this in MOG).

The point is, my use of MOG suggests a lot of pent-up demand on my part for new (to me) music, whether songs and albums from people I already know and love or from performers from whom I’ve only heard bits and pieces or read reviews. Without a service like MOG, I’d still be saving up that demand.

I describe myself here as a “failed fan”. I’m sure I could have done better over the past decade and a half, but I also think that drifting away from music happened for reasons that can’t be reduced to money or to having the right tools or resources. I think, in particular, that the identity aspect of music became less significant as I began my professional education. To the extent that I am coming back to music now is both a result of changing economics and new options for listening and discovery and a built-up desire for music as music, more than music as a signifier of self (although I don’t think you can ever fully detach cultural activities like listening to music from identity. We are what we do, or to follow a new favorite, “You are what you love and not what loves you back”).

This – again

Last Friday I got referred to Helen Lewis’ blog post at the NewStateman regarding the ongoing attacks on Anita Sarkeesian resulting from her Kickstarter project for “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games”, and felt compelled to write something in response, or, really, as an adjunct. However, in my initial efforts, I got caught up in a tangle of rhetorical analysis, and started to feel as if I was getting away from what I wanted to say or from what compelled me to start my own post in the first place. I kept on writing as a way to work through my thoughts, but after doing that, and talking to Anne-Marie at a number of points, I erased the initial draft and restarted with this.

The attacks cataloged by Lewis at the NewStatesman are notable for being directed at Sarkeesian’s person, and for being violent and/or sexual in nature. These include a game wherein players can ‘beat up’ Sarkeesian’s face and drawings of her in sexual positions designed to be demeaning, if not dehumanizing, and that are difficult to read as consensual.

In the comments to the blog post, one line of excuse or justification for these responses is that the internet is a big place, full of all kinds of people with all kinds of sensibilities, and if you get attacked for something that you write or display, that’s just the way things are. Whatever Sarkeesian is being confronted with, it’s just what everyone has to deal with. The implicit message here is that if you are going to circulate your ideas or work online, you need to be prepared for negative responses, some constructive, but others vicious and mean. If you can’t handle it, leave.

Except what Sarkeesian is dealing with is not what everyone has to deal with.

While the internet may test, and even enable resistance and subversion of, many of the norms and boundaries constituted in people’s offline lives, that doesn’t make it entirely separate from those lives either. The internet is embedded in larger social contexts, and, in the main, the social inequities and discriminatory practices that define those larger social worlds are reproduced online.

While it maybe true that “people get attacked for their ideas and work on the internet”, the responses to Sarkeesian’s project are not directed at people, but are specifically gendered, both in the intended effect on her, and other women, and on the intended audience, which, it seems reasonable to assume, is other men who are angered or threatened by women speaking out on questions of gender equity in games and gaming.

The images and imagery Lewis draws attention to are notable for seeking to reduce Sarkeesian to an object who can be ‘put in her place’. And based on the images, that place is manifestly not one of being her own agent and speaking out about gender, but is one where she is: subservient to men, constrained from speaking freely, and without control over her own body; rather, her body is imagined to be available to men for purposes of both sex (willing or unwilling) and violence.

As noted in more than one comment at the NewStatesman, men, too, are attacked for their ideas and work. However, with the notable exception of men who can be effectively  ‘feminized’, it is ludicrous to imagine a person who presents as male being attacked on the basis of their sex or gender in the way that Sarkeesian has been. And, no, being called out for one’s sexism is not the same as being subject to discrimination on the basis of one’s sex or gender. There is no intrinsic connection between being biologically male and being sexist.

The significance of this is that these kinds of attacks are not, contrary to the defenses mounted in the comments to Helen Lewis’ blog post, simply part of some universal cultural ritual. Given the underlying male power fantasy of putting Sarkeesian in her place, these attacks seem clearly designed to discourage her from being online, not to invite her participation or to further some kind of dialogue. Furthermore, these kinds of attacks are not, in fact, directed at or available to everyone equally. Deployed against men, they would not have the same power; it seems doubtful that they would be taken as sensible or seriously at all.

The fact that the internet is a big, bad place, and that putting one’s ideas, one’s art, one’s writing online risks criticism or offense, should be challenge enough without also having to deal with unequal terms of engagement, particularly when that inequality has no bearing on one’s ability to be active online in the first place. Having boy parts does not make you uniquely suited to being online anymore than having girl parts makes you unsuited. And in conditions where some seem to think that one’s secondary sexual characteristics should mean getting to set the rules of discourse and determine who belongs online and who doesn’t, and how they should act, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when other people challenge or object to that way of doing things.

At the same time, this is undoubtedly why projects and voices like Sarkeesian’s are met with such intense and visceral reactions from some.

In the United States at least, pursuits like video games, and other forms of ‘geek culture’, have served as safe spaces for many boys and men who, in other contexts, may not feel, or are not made to feel, confident in their own masculinity. In that context, it isn’t difficult to understand how the active presence of girls and women, especially those who seem to want to change games and gaming, could be seen as threatening, or how projects such as Sarkeesian’s could be seen as wanting to take something away. Video games have made it possible for some men to ‘be men’, or boys to ‘be boys’, in ways that are denied to these same individuals in other places, such as at school, at home, at work.

The problem is that the definition of what it means to be a man or be a boy isn’t native to gaming, but is reflective of larger cultural practices, practices that privilege male bodies and identities over female bodies and identities. Unfortunately, part of what makes video games ‘safe’ for some men is that they provide a space where they are able to enjoy the privileges of being a ‘man’ in a patriarchal society in ways that are perhaps harder to realize in other aspects of their life. In part, this is because games have historically been made by men for men, men who largely have seen no reason to question the norms of the societies in which they live. But also because actual women and girls are far more problematic, less ‘ideal’, than are carefully designed and programed game characters. Gaming also allows boys and men to remake themselves into perfected images of masculinity without, in most cases, offering girls and women the same quality of choices.

From this perspective, Anita Sarkeesian’s biggest offense is being an actual woman, a woman with her own ideas and desires to make the fields of pop culture ‘safe’ for girls and women in the same way that they have been for some men, and not staying ‘in her place’ or being content for gaming to be populated merely by images of women designed for the convenience and pleasure of men and boys.

But here’s the thing: neither cultures, nor the places in which they are made, are ever actually owned by anyone. There will always be individuals who are different from you, and who do different things in different ways from what you do and how you do them. Finding ways to address difference is an escapable part of being human. You can choose to expend time and energy attempting to deny those who are different from you access to what you do and the places where you do it, or you can think of more positive responses. In either case, there will always be others.

My interest in these questions, and the concerns that I have when I see the attacks on Anita Sarkeesian, and the excuses and defenses of those attacks, are not just abstract. I am also thinking about my daughter, who not only games, but reads comics, prefers genres like horror, science fiction, and fantasy, shows an aptitude for certain kinds of science; in other words, she crosses over onto ‘boy territory’ a lot.

She doesn’t talk much about being a girl and gaming online, but she talks some and we can overhear her sessions. What I know is that she:

  • Has had to deal with guys who approach her in a ‘creepy’ or ‘stalker-y’ way.
  • Has been challenged to ‘prove’ that she is a girl.’
  • Performs gender in a more masculine way while gaming online, deepening her voice and using colloquialisms like “bro” and “dude” in ways that she does not in other contexts.

This last point is complicated and interesting, but here I am mentioning it primarily to show the extent to which gaming is constructed as masculine. However, the first two points are clearly in the category of “crap my daughter has to deal with that boys don’t”. Whatever the other intents or motivations, being approached in a sexual way, however mildly, or being challenged on one’s identity, taken in the context of a game, are competitive tactics. However, these are not tactics intrinsic to the game, but draw on the asymmetries between men and women in society at large. What makes these actions sexist is not who poses the challenges, male or female, but the cultural practices and social structures from which they draw their power.

My daughter is already showing maturity in dealing with these kinds of attacks, but, as before, I don’t see why she should have to. She should just be able to play the game, which is challenging enough without being made into yet another space where she has to negotiate patriarchal social relations. This seems particularly the case in a context like online gaming where the nature of her body, especially her secondary sexual characteristics, has no bearing at all on her capacity to play alongside boys and men (and I’m not suggesting that it necessarily does or should in sports or games offline either, but in offline contexts, physical differences, whether based in sex or not, matter more to the form of competition than they do online, in a digital space. I defer in advance to those who have thought this question through more than I have).

What I wrote about dealing with difference has implications in many directions, and that includes the reality that there will likely always be spaces for “boys to be boys”. Nor do I think that there are many who would want to close off all of those spaces either, though I certainly would hope that they would not be extended to the point of justifying rape or violence against individuals solely on the basis of sex or gender. What I do think that individuals like Anita Sarkeesian are fighting for is to transform the mainstream of gaming into a space where my daughter is accepted as an equal and not as an intruder or an ornament. Sadly, it seems as if at least a hardcore minority finds that thought too much to bear, but perhaps what we are seeing in the intensity of the response to “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” is the violent death rattle of a culture in decline.