Monday, November 13, 2006

Twilight Fantasy

The full trailer to Twilight Princess which I alluded to in my previous post is now posted The only reason I did not include the trailer in my previous post was I could not find a decent enough feed from YouTube to link to. So I’ve decided to upload my own copy of the trailer (courtesy of GameTrailers) and put it up on YouTube. The Zelda franchise has certainly come a long way since Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess appears to be the most expressive and cinematic of all the games.*

*Disclaimer. Wind Waker featured a version of Link that for its time was the most expressive ever put into a Zelda game and still holds the record today. However, the cartoon like art style put many people off. This Link not only retains the same level of expressiveness (facial expressions, eye movements, and fluidity of motion) the graphical style is what people wanted for a 3-D next-gen follow up to Ocarina..

Moving off the gaming track, I went to see Borat today. It’s a great movie as a pure situational comedy. But on a more cerebral level, the movie also plays on and pokes fun of cultural norms in the United States and the western/modern world in general. (Borat having trouble going to restroom is one such situation.). I think more importantly, it also sheds light that ‘the other’ (as in the rest of the world) can be as racist and ignorant the rest of the mainstream in the rich industrialized world who are constantly hammered by the notions of their guilt as members of an elite ruling class (the winners). The economic and social ‘losers’ are always painted in the same brush strokes as good people in needed help, which is, as Borat portrays, a bit simplistic. It’s a very black and white way to look at the world and to tackle the complexities of ethnic hatreds and racial politics. But it persists as the de-facto standard in while race relations is dealt with in many rich countries

It is therefore instructive to say that liberalism in the west is mostly pre-occupied with self blame and correcting historical wrongs. But as the movie shows us, the quest to be politically correctness maybe an unwinnable war. That is, the sworn enemy is among us, is amorphous, and it is us. The movie’s sympathetic hero, Borat, is a racist, sexist anti-Semite, but we’re made to feel sympathy for him because he's genuinely human. Most bigots are human too and are not one dimensional. Which begs the question of which side Borat is on. These kinds of prejudices run rampant in the old world and in almost all countries. In one of the movie’s deeper scenes, he talks to a group of college frat boys who (probably not acting) remarks that the ‘minorities in this country [the USA] have more power than the mainstream.’

It’s arguable of course whether this is true. After all, the young man was saying this as he is being driven in a RV as a University student, a privilege not many enjoy. But the perception is there among the general public, and it is powering or has powered a tide of conservative backlash that has placed ideologues in the White House, ruined the good name of America and at one point until last week, controlled the United States Congress.

A Canadian who wrote a book about the United States once argued that the US as a country prides its individuality and freedom above all other virtues, and as such it is a land of extremes. Much of what goes on there is the formation and reaction of extremes. There are the avant-garde social movements like gay pride, environmental activism, civil rights, and affirmative action in the cities. In reaction to these movements, those people outside to the city grow closer to their church and become more conservative. I think Borat as a movie shows us that extreme. He travels from Liberal ‘godless’ New York City where people run away from his warmth to the deep south where he is welcomed with open arms. These two scenes represent the extremes of a country. In many ways, the country Borat travels is the real star of the movie, not the comedian.

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