12 May 2006

I'm Finally Breaking My "Fisking" Cherry

(are you disturbed by that post title? you should be)

My 500th post (which this is), should be something a little different. E3's in town, and I've already provided a few links to coverage regarding that spectacle (and long ago, I even pleaded (to no avail) to get press credentials).

The LA Times has been covering the story, too. Their coverage has, for the most part, sucked. This is one of the most prominent conventions every year that comes to LA, a cornerstone for many important industries, and they can't bring themselves to assigning folks with even the slightest interest or knowledge to cover the events.

I'm not saying they need to assign 'l33t' fanboy3142 to write up their articles, but when the biggest feature article, given a prominent front page place on the Friday Calendar section (presumably one of the more read editions, given that's where the weekly film reviews appear), is written by a woman who from the very first sentence expresses herself in a way to make sure we all feel her disdain for the entire industry and everyone who consumes that product, that fact rankles my hide.

So rather than rankling in silence, I thought I'd "Fisk" Gina Piccalo, instead. I'll take a sentence from every paragraph from this hacky article and deconstruct the meaning behind the words, so that you can fully appreciate the surface meaning, and the subtext of all that she wrote. So what she writes, italicized, and maroonized, what she really meant (parenthetically expressed).

Here's the opening sentence, "AMID the marketing decadence and general cacophony of the video game bacchanal known as E3, there was also hushed reverence, the sort of wonder historically reserved for the Holy Grail." (please someone, get me out of here, look at all the geeks)

Not much later, "
The object of their adoration was the mysterious Wii (pronounced "we"). On an elevated stage nearby, uniformed Wii masters performed for the awed visitors, gesturing wildly, their every move registering on flat-screen TVs." (look at those nerds, they act like a bunch of pagans worshipping some idol, how pathetic)

In the same paragraph, "All this while three lovely young women in blue miniskirts used their microphones to discuss the merits of their white go-go boots." (bunch of misogynist losers, don't these women know they are perpetuating the violent male dominance rampant in our culture through the male deploying the gaze, and the female acceptance of being objectified. Laura Mulvey would be rolling over in her grave, if she were dead. Come to think of it, one sure way to kill the great and good Mulvey would be to bring her to this place and watch all these pale pudgy men, play their violent videogames while women paid to be objectified wiggle their surgically enhanced assets in skimpy clothes)

You think I'm exaggerating? Here's what she writes next, "It was all strangely unsettling. But then perhaps that was the point. It's the rush of the new, the unfamiliar, that the faithful desire."

Followed by this nugget, "Starting on Wednesday, die-hard gamers swarmed the Convention Center for three days this week, lining up hours early, armed with their hand-held devices and overstuffed backpacks, pale as the undead, hungry for the next level of play, the next retina-blasting battle, the next high-def, high-concept digital dreamscape." (a parenthetical statement of what she really meant to say compared to what she said is redundant for these past two phrases, she has achieved that perfect state of contemptuousness that transcends all attempts at comic exaggeration or parody, brava maestra, brava)

She's really making this tough on me, the next paragraph is equally contemptuous and unparodable, "A triumphant cry lifted from a crowd of hundreds when the doors opened for non-VIPs at 10:55 a.m. Wednesday (because who could wait until 11?). Cheek-to-jowl, they moved into the hall with surprising speed. One young man darted out ahead, jogging. A woman on the periphery looked on, agog. "Frightening," she said. Within 10 minutes, the wait to enter the Nintendo exhibit was three hours." (though I will say, notice the deployment of 'a woman' to signify the difference in consumption of this spectacle between the male dweebs and the exasperated females, like Ms. Piccalo and this unnamed 'a woman' who is as equally frightened by the event as she is)

**Non Sequitur alert**,**Non Sequitur alert**, you've been warned, "It's a world that is changing as video game sales increasingly move online, but one thing is constant: the armies of adrenaline junkies fueling this monster." (Video game sales moving online has nothing to do with anything. I can only presume she mentions this to show that she actually knows something about this subject, yet stating this in that fashion, without any context or reason shows a lack of understanding rather than knowledge. Yes sales are moving online, but that's just a method of distribution and has nothing to do with anything else. Had she mentioned that all three next-gen consoles intend to employ direct-to-gamer sales of not only whole games, but customized content, and that all three seem intent to allow gamers themselves to create customized content of their own and trade amongst themselves, then that sentence would have made some sense, but since she just throws that in there, and follows it with another insult to gamers about how they all are a bunch of knuckle-draggers, she sounds ignorant)

Now she's just taunting me with sentences designed to set me off, "Inside the exhibit halls, a space roughly the size of New Jersey, the noise was deafening, so loud that a plane could have landed in the lobby without prompting so much as an eye twitch from anyone. Of course, noise was the least of it, really. Entering this space meant surrendering a good portion of one's frontal lobe to the relentless, albeit spectacular, imagery. It was like watching a dozen action films — all at once." (First off, I hate, hate, hate, hate, the fact that the LATimes feels compelled to hire so many New Yorkers, and wannabe New Yorkers. Nobody outside of that area would use New Jersey as a way to express the size of the exhibit hall. As it happens to be, the LA Convention Center is one of the largest, most modern, and flexible convention spaces in the world. It's been used in dozens of pictures and films to stand in for futuristic settings, and it's a great facility. But to describe it as being 'roughly the size of New Jersey' just tells me that Ms. Piccalo is trying to give a wink and a nod to her friends back home that she's still an NYC girl at heart, and she really, really hates all these days of sunshine and low humidity she has to endure while working in LA. Also in that same paragraph she makes it clear that she would much rather have covered the LA Books Festival from 2 weekends ago, but darnit, she's their 'new media' columnist, so she's stuck with all the dweebs instead)

Well, she goes on and on from there, and rather than covering the event, she decides a little digression involving Gilbert Gottfried (which I won't make you suffer through, if you must follow the link, and read it yourself) is in order for this piece. Here's the last few paragraphs of the piece all in block quoted succession, cause she's worn me out, her contempt for all things video games has outlasted my contempt for her writing about videogames. She p0wnzered me, and I'm man enough to admit it.
Ah, but there were legions of high scorers. At the PlayStation 3 exhibit, half a dozen men with incredibly dexterous thumbs manned the consoles of a game called God of War. On-screen, a guy trapped in a dungeon — or was this the Seventh Circle of Hell? — severed one of a monster's three heads and then used it to beat the beast to death. An impressive spray of bloody mist followed his every move.

Off-screen, the players stood perfectly still, feet planted. Their quivering digits and darting eyes the only evidence of effort. It was joyless game playing.

But that's not to say there was a lack of enthusiasm here. True, a decency crackdown on scantily clad "booth babes" by event organizers meant notably less cleavage this year. And, yes, even before the expo opened, many game bloggers seemed profoundly underwhelmed by Sony's new graphics and Microsoft's new Xbox3, products that cost tens of millions of dollars to produce.

Still, there were girls in silver mini-dresses who writhed on platforms as an emcee cheered gamers through a (simulated) hostage situation. There were people dressed as large game animals. There was blistering irony via message T-shirt.

"Video games are my friends," read one worn by a guy well past the age he should be wearing such things.

"I'm one of those bad things that happen to good people," read another worn by a young man who was really too short to do much damage.

And for the record, although the crowd was mammoth, there was no line in the ladies room.

(one last parenthetical to wrap things up, notice the error that will need to be corrected at some point, it's an Xbox360 folks, not Xbox3, how many layers of editors did that one slip by? Also, if there were a big SoapNet sponsored lovefest for all things Daytime television held at the LAConvention Center, would the LATimes have sent a straight male, soap-hating reporter to cover the spectacle and remark constantly about how unattractive all the housefraus attending the event was, and would they have let him get away with mentioning how there were no lines for the mens room at the event?)

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