Thursday, December 29, 2016

a sort of informal review of the year that was 2016

You might have thought, longtime readers, that there was nothing new to say about a certain set of topics in 2016, what with that 2014 resignation.

But since Mark Driscoll has made a point of relaunching himself down in Arizona and in recycling old stuff from decades past there were things to take note of.

an agreement from February 28, 2011 between On Mission, LLC and Thomas Nelson regarding A NEW MARRIAGE WITH THE SAME SPOUSE, better known as REAL MARRIAGE

a 400k advance isn't chump change and the marketing strategy sent along to WtH articulated that ...

Driscoll marketing strategy doc from 2011 spelled out goal with respect to Real Marriage, "In short, the goal is to sell books around preaching campaigns ... ."

We did try to kick off 2016 with more than just a few updates on the crumbling empire that was once known as Mars Hill.  There were other ideas, such as proposing a unified theory of American sci-fi movie nostalgia ...

Nostalgia and the Anxieties of Empire: Toward a unified theory of American sci-fi movie nostalgia

I floated the idea that if film critics stopped venting their spleen about nostalgia in general and looked more carefully at the clustering patterns in WHEN these franchises were launched that Hollywood can't let go of that there "might" be a clustering pattern as follows--Hollywood certainly goes back to whatever was "it" twenty years earlier, but the Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, Planet of the Apes stuff?  That suggests clustering around the dystopian and utopian fantasies that were catching on during the New Frontier/Great Society era and the Reagan era, in other words the utopian and dystopian fantasies and sci-fi speculations of the mythological golden ages of the red and blue loyalists from the Cold War era.  

It seems necessary to consider in light of the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek having come along this year.  The possibility that fans of the franchise may not realize the cultural imperialism inherent in the brand has occurred to me a few times this year.  What if Roddenberry's vision, optimistic and compelling as an alternative to the outright dread of nuclear annihilation that animated popular thought and dystopian stories in the Cold War, could stink of a kind of chauvinistic and condescending cultural imperialism in a post-Cold War context? 

Star Trek as both propaganda and art, a proposal for the fiftieth anniversary of the original series premiere

more recently I was considering how in the most recent revamped iteration of the Star Trek franchise the central message is one, however much I agree with it, is parasitically dependent on the ethical teachings of Christ.  Krall and Kirk both fight for what they believe is the benefit of humanity in Star Trek Beyond and the conflict they have centers on the question of "and who is my neighbor?"  Krall is certain only humans are his neighbor while Kirk takes the path of saying that you have to discover who your neighbor is and be open to the possibility that your neighbor is someone you neither want nor expect.  That's the parable of the Good Samaritan there, and Krall is, in terms of another of Jesus' parables, the older brother who won't accept the acceptance by the father of the dissolute brother.  For a secular humanist franchise such as Trek to lean so heavily on an ethical norm so observably indebted to the ethical teachings of Christ seems a little surreal to note in 2016 but there you have it.

In an era in which the "Friend zone" is regarded as a dreadful symbolic place for some dudes, and in an era in which slash fic ensures that there's still pertinence to ... is it Rule 34 (?) it was worth revisiting the passing of Leonard Nimoy last year, by way of discussing that Kirk and Spock are friends.

In an era in which nearly all relationships revolve around eros or the filial bonds that eros tends to statistically be likely to bring out, depictions of friendship in popular culture can seem relatively rare by comparison.  The Kirk/Spock friendship may stand as one of the most memorable on-screen friendships we've been presented with in the last fifty years, whether on the small or big screen.

We didn't just write about Star Trek, though ...

from the manic pixie dream girl through waif fu to the murderous ingenue: Ex Machina, The Witch and film critics who will fall for the manic pixie dream girl as long as she stabs the patriarchy

I don't think the problems with Rey in the Star Wars franchise are necessarily to do with her character being too perfect.  I liked that Rey wasn't a trophy but the problem, as Film Crit Hulk expounded at length this year, is that the script and direction set up an expectation and then delivered on it IMMEDIATELY.  Back in The Empire Strikes Back, as FCH noted so succinctly, Han Solo's bravado was always misplaced.  We didn't get anything like that for Rey or Finn. 

We did get that a bit more with Jyn in Rogue One but I'm going to hold off on writing about that until 2017, perhaps.  Probably ditto for Westworld because although I would have thought that after literally decades critics would have caught on to the Nolan brother obsession with stories about men who tell themselves one story about their heroic selves while living actually villainous lives ... but not so much .... but that's more grist for 2017.

For better or worse the traffic was for the usual subjects.

HT Warren Throckmorton--Driscoll claims to have had a Malthusian past that he's repudiated, although it was ten years ago he bluntly articulated his "shoot your dogs" approach to practical ministry and eight years ago he said whole family lines could be demonically inspired

Having finally gotten around to reading Propaganda by Jacques Ellul this year, it was a book that was not only prescient about ... oh ... politics in the most official sense ... but also about what may be called megachurch cultural dynamics.  That subject, for longtime readers, was what we obviously explored at some length here.  Ellul's taxonomy of propagandas featuring agitation and integration made for a succinct and coherent lens through which to observe what was once William Wallace II's fusillade about a pussified nation.

While people have over the last fifteen odd years attempted to distill Driscoll's views on women and gays down to his Calvinism (not that any traditionally Reformed sort would consider the self-identifiably Amyraldian Mark Driscoll (for now) a what Internet Monk used to call "truly Reformed"), a far more plausible explanation, to go by Driscoll's own accounts ... would be his blue-collar nominally Irish-Catholic upbringing.  The necessarily less delicate way of putting it ...

Mark Driscoll and the Gospel of [escaping] white trash

featured a lengthy overview of Driscoll quotes about himself, his family lineage, and events from his childhood and teens to establish that by his own account he was urban white trash, a redneck of rednecks.  Driscoll's balancing act within Seattle was playing to stereotypes about and against rednecks.  For every joke about rednecks he made he was simultaneously distancing himself from his own social milieu and pandering to the prejudices of Seattle audiences.  For the time he was here in Seattle Driscoll was kind of a red state fundie mirror of Dan Savage.  Both Driscoll and Savage are guys who grew up in Catholic homes and have gone on to appoint themselves multi-media pundits interested in telling other people what to think and how to live and reveling in select amounts of controversy. 

and both have a penchant for talking about sex for the record.  In Driscoll's case, it's not clear that his desire to talk to guys about the deleterious influence of porn has not been steeped in more familiarity with it than he may have, in the past, let on.

a whole lot of celebrities died this year.  For we classical guitarists the most prominent passing in the last few months would have to have been Roland Dyens.

It's only been in the latter half of 2016 we've finally had the time and energy to get the blog back to some admittedly kinda technical and theoretical analysis of music.  In particular, we did a week-long survey recently on a survey of early 19th century guitar sonatas.

I was hoping to get around to writing about Ferdinand Rebay's guitar sonatas this year but stuff happens and stuff doesn't happen.  Maybe in 2017.

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