Of Dragons & Ruined Cities

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Of Dragons & Ruined Cities

All human culture is phlegm, and just like phlegm, sometimes analyzing it can give you a pretty good idea of the health of the entity it came from.

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Evonisia

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Jun 24, 2013
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This article has left me thinking as to why we are all on The Escapist, now.

"Massacres and disasters that clock up significant body counts are happening all the time, somewhere in the world, but despite mass media allowing us to be more aware of them than before, we also can't help having no sense of the weight, because these events lead to absolutely no consequences for us, here on a safer part of the world. Just as the death and destruction in films and games seem to have no consequences for the main characters that we can perceive."

I do find it hard to care about how Mrs Bloabenheim and her school students were shot to death by terrorists in good 'ol Fictionesia when it has little impact on me. The death of Mrs Bloabenheim and her school students were likely very gruesome and had it occurred at the school down the road I'd have likely cared.
 

Mersadeon

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I don't always agree with Yahtzee, but he is right about media reflecting culture. Just look at the supervillains from comicbooks after WWII - they used to be mad scientists, shadow archetypes of Einstein and Oppenheimer, using their potential to further the bad side of science - weapons.
But when we finally regained trust in science, the economy collapsed and all those that had lead it to collapse were used as villains - people with a lot of money EMPLOYING the evil scientists of yore.
 

JenSeven

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Oct 19, 2010
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Good stuff.
However, you missed a small tick.
Overpopulation.
Like a horde of rats stuffed into a very small cage.
The rats will begin to eat each other for space and nourishment.
Man might not be that different to rats.

And now that the world is more connected and you can interact more with people, become aware of more people and get annoyed by more people, I think we're slowly turning into those rats.
And with the problem of being killed or incarcerated for acting on our rat-like instincts of obliterating the nearest human being, virtual media takes it's logical position. With no real life consequences for annihilating virtual human beings this is the perfect place for the rats to party.
 

Steve2911

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Hey, cut Batman some slack. He didn't really have a choice in the matter. Superman on the other hand? What a ****.

Fascinating article though. The dragon revelation alone is pretty incredible. I noticed that dragons had 'come back in fashion' a few years ago, but I never begun to wonder why.
 

hermes

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You are right about popular culture influencing media and visceversa. After all, media comes from popular culture, and those that stand the pass of time are those that, in some way or another, speak to our culture or caught the interest of their culture better. But I believe your examples are way out of mark.

The example of the dragon is not about greed being more prevalent or evil in depression era or the 60s, it was simply because Smaug is based on Scandinavian dragons, and those are always vile and greedy. Compare them with the dragons in Beowulf or Sigurd. Puff is simply a kids show dragon, and as such, is no different than Falkor and other children's book dragons. I am pretty sure the pile of gold was never a part of Puff's backstory, so to claim his was a representation of a more accepted greed is pointless. They are both dragons, but based on very, very different references and made to fit different roles, so to compare them is like comparing Barney and the T-Rex because "they are both dinosaurs".
 

Moloch Sacrifice

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Speaking of dragons as the cultural barometer, I wonder if Mr Crosshaw's theory fits the Eastern/Western depictions of dragons. Certainly, Eastern civilisation (especially China) has been historically more stable than that in Europe, but I can't help consider if the depiction of murderous tyrant in the West and benevolent nobility in the East reflect the perception of the ruling class by the peasant masses at the time.
 

roski

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I always thought that art and culture are somewhat analogue to bodily excretions, I found that shit had all the qualities, in the sense that it takes the author time, food and digestion to build it and release it into the world for everyone to appreciate it. But I guess phlegm is more appropriate to start an article.
 

roski

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I always thought that art and culture are somewhat analogue to bodily excretions, I found that fecal matter has all the qualities, in the sense that it takes the author time, food and digestion to build it and release it into the world for everyone to appreciate it. But I guess phlegm is more appropriate to start an article.
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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Jun 5, 2013
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So this is what happens when you don't have a good video game review to reference back to? I mean I want to call this something OTHER than a ramble...but...

An analysis of metaphoric calamities and their metaphorical impact on non-existent populaces? Did you get like SUPER drunk and really got way too much in to SimCity? Not trying to be mean, but I'd love to know what spurred this thought process one...?

Dragons and monsters have been around for a lot longer than the last few centuries. We have modern interpretations of them, but just using the phrase 'modern' implies an obsolete origin. Dragon like creatures exist almost universally, from the Incas to the Greeks. And sometimes these are just stories. I honestly never understood the whole dragon thing in games either. I remember in Dragon Age wondering since when were dragons the ultimate expression of evil? In most games dragons are high level enemies, but natural ones. They exist in nature, and thus are neutral. Evil was supposed to be daemons and the supernatural. Things that ate souls and laid siege to heaven, not just horded gold and set fire to farms. Maybe I'm spoiled on Warhammer, but when I think 'great evil' I think of a Chaos God or Greater Daemon, not one half of the cast of How to Train Your Dragon.
 

Karadalis

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*gasp* People not giving a shit about other people they dont know! Stop the presses!

Even thought we are made aware about these terrible things happening everyday it doesnt change anything for the one watching. These reports just have as little effect on us then the war crimes commited by the nazis and soviets back in the day had on US citizens, who where firmly against entering the war despite their allies overseas getting dominated by nazi germany, only when they themselves where attacked by japan did opinion change. So all this isnt exactly a recent phenomenom

Heck roland koch based his whole movie career on destroying entire cities in his movies.

What happens in another country stays in another country most of the times.. we might be watching but we have no control over the events that unfold either way.

All this morale finger wagging about how society has turned for the worse is nonsense... it has allways been like that.

The rest of europe didnt really care for the atrocities of the 30 year war... didnt really care for the genocide committed on native americans. The history of humankind is full of example how people simply dont give a fuck about masses of other people they dont know getting murdered... because thats how humans work, they dont care for anything outside of their direct sphere of influence. (there are very little actual people trying to make a better world and alot of social justice warriors who like to point fingers but never do anything themselves and live a comfortable live)

Humans arent noble.. that isnt how we became the dominant species of this planet for better or for (much more likely) worse.

We are where we are now because humans are arrogant self centered bastards.
 

head desk tricycle

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It makes sense I guess, at first I wondered how the ticker tape parade would factor into the narcissism theory but actually that's the best-fitting part; if you think of yourself as the only rational one, then you probably also believe that people can only learn things the hard way. And hindsight is 20/20, hence the parade.
 

Bastard King

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Oct 15, 2013
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JenSeven said:
Good stuff.
However, you missed a small tick.
Overpopulation.
Like a horde of rats stuffed into a very small cage.
The rats will begin to eat each other for space and nourishment.
Man might not be that different to rats.
Overpopulation hasn't been a problem in most of the world for awhile. Europe, Asia, Canada, and Oceania have been suffering from low birth rates for longer than most of us have been alive. Even famous batshit insane theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Iran have below replacement birth rates like 2.21* and 1.86 respectively. Even Latin America's experiencing a decline in birth rates.

The only countries in the world that actually are experiencing high birth rates at the moment are Honduras, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Papua New Guinea, and African countries south of Algeria and North of Namibia.

The real crisis is definitely underpopulation. Just look at Japan and Russia's current crisis to see where our future lies.

* Replacement birth rate varies by country from around 2.1 in developed countries to 3.0 in developing ones.
 

Thanatos2k

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Aug 12, 2013
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Yahtzee gets close to the real answer and the real answer is that video games and movies have become nothing more than spectacle over substance.

Man of Steel is the perfect example, as they relentlessly try to keep you distracted by all the punching and exploding so you won't stop and think about what's actually happening. Many video games have pathetically become the same way, assuming that without a healthy and continuous dose of explosions the player will get bored.
 

Karadalis

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Bastard King said:
The only countries in the world that actually are experiencing high birth rates at the moment are Honduras, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Papua New Guinea, and African countries south of Algeria and North of Namibia.
All countries where birth control is verboten or not readily available... just a little observation on the side.

Proofs that if people have the choice they take sex without consequences then sex that leads to pregnancy..
 

roski

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Oct 19, 2013
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Karadalis said:
What happens in another country stays in another country most of the times.. we might be watching but we have no control over the events that unfold either way.

All this morale finger wagging about how society has turned for the worse is nonsense... it has allways been like that.
I didn't get any moral preaching from the article. I think it's just pointing out how popular culture had the need to raise the bar in terms of the scope of catastrophes. No one can deny that humans have a tendency to vicariously enjoy other people's suffering, even if they are fictional characters. It's just that today post-apocalyptic scenarios are mainstream when once they where the subject of underground culture.
There's more craving to those kind of scenarios maybe because society is hyper-connected and policing itself.
 

Muspelheim

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I believe another root cause to misanthropy is that it is a pleasantly easy way to turn your back on the world. To not let it close enough to actually bother you. Engagement in anything is taking the risk of maybe becoming disappointed. If you make up your mind that it is worthless from the start, it's playing it safe.

Not to mention, if you only look at the negatives, which there is more than plenty of, it also does make some logical sense. It feels less like giving up for the sake of security, and more like simply being realistic.
 

Arkhangelsk

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Evonisia said:
This article has left me thinking as to why we are all on The Escapist, now.

"Massacres and disasters that clock up significant body counts are happening all the time, somewhere in the world, but despite mass media allowing us to be more aware of them than before, we also can't help having no sense of the weight, because these events lead to absolutely no consequences for us, here on a safer part of the world. Just as the death and destruction in films and games seem to have no consequences for the main characters that we can perceive."

I do find it hard to care about how Mrs Bloabenheim and her school students were shot to death by terrorists in good 'ol Fictionesia when it has little impact on me. The death of Mrs Bloabenheim and her school students were likely very gruesome and had it occurred at the school down the road I'd have likely cared.
It's all about being able to relate to the people in question or being able to relate it to oneself. If something happened to someone on the other side of the world, it has nothing to do with you or anyone you really care about most likely. People from a different culture with a different social, political, economical and ecological situation? Not interesting, because there's no risk nobody in your social circles would be a victim of that. If it happened down the street however, it'd be the realization that "It could've been me" or "My friend works not far from there, it could have been her", etc.

We as humans only care about what is close to heart, and with good reason. If we were all to carry the burden of the entire world and shed tears for every single tragedy we read in the paper, we'd all probably hang ourselves before we could have our morning coffee.
 

NerfedFalcon

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Arkhangelsk said:
We as humans only care about what is close to heart, and with good reason. If we were all to carry the burden of the entire world and shed tears for every single tragedy we read in the paper, we'd all probably hang ourselves before we could have our morning coffee.
"No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other's tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes-forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There's not a chance you'd mistake one for another, after a minute's close inspection), but still unique."
-Neil Gaiman, American Gods