Archive for July, 2010
I know. I kind of get stuck on that but it’s utterly bizarre to only see black people around me in my everyday life as hobos and almost nothing else while my news streams are these days full of OldSpice, Lebron James and of course the President of the United States. Again today on my morning ride, the only three black people I saw were three smelly, homeless men and woman, representing 100% of the homeless people of the day. And yet I still hear about the OldSpice guy.
Sometimes it feels so inexplicably awkward to be a black man out there. Sometimes I dream what it would have been if I was a woman: I guess a good-looking pretty smart and fast-learning touch of femininity (meaning, badass black booty) in a men tech world would have play better for me. I’m not saying that I’d have been happier, but the middle class status hunt would have been successful. It’s like women have a glass ceiling but a ladder while black men have no glass ceiling but no ladder either, not even a stool. Wonder why we are usually well sculpted? We need that shit to go up or not sink man.
I don’t feel jealousy or anything going this way, I just feel that on a scale of people you trust in relationship, the black dude is the one with the less input, the one who has to struggle more, would he be seen as a joke or as a predator, it’s never good. It feels a lot unfair. It’s either “you lose” or “you don’t really win wait, you thought you would?”.
Or you win quite nicely. Isaiah Mustafa, 10 million views and counting for an ad with a long take and a kick ass manliness monologue reaching Chuck Norris level of badassness notoriety in a few months. He already has signed a talent deal with NBC. Bill Cosby started with an appearance on NBC’s Tonight Show and was also into sports, 60 years ago. It’s like nothing has changed.
Ha! I pretty much look like that out of the shower so these ads are even funnier to me. I quote wikipedia:
The New York Daily News gave the ad a favorable mention, citing Mustafa’s "wildly smug, cool-cat smooth dude persona"
You mean like any successful black dude personality allowed in the white G20? Why are they so rare in real life then? Why am I so alone? Why don’t I see them more here and there in the tech web game world? Why there’s no leverage effect? Where are the mentors?
But the question I know the answer is: “if the world I’m living in was more of the color of my skin, would it feel better, wouldn’t it have been easier?” And my heart just screams “say YES hell yeah say it!!”
Considering my own story.. I swear all that stuff fucks me up. More than I could have ever thought it would.
Sometimes I watch the world around me and it’s pretty simple:
There’s the consumerism disease. People will soon blog about opening up the damn plastic around vegetables. It’s all their fucking life, buying stuff and being the first doing so. Here in California, it’s pretty hardcore to say the least.
There’s the racism/you’re-different-and-dark-skinned-you-shall-struggle-a-bit-more disease. And you can’t feel it more than a black man does. These days, between being an immigrant and reading hideous French news and French reactions absolutely full of bigotry about the French team, back from white E3 (except around Madden Football and Def Jam Karaoke) with inexistent black communities where I live –I see 10 times more black people in Paris than in LA- I have it all in my face even if I don’t want to.
There’s the status disease. STATUS, not what you are or who you want to be but who you are FOR people around. People would do crazy shit for that, even if at the end they’re unhappy.
When I contract one of these, I’m sick fast enough to fight the disease and get back to a healthy mental state where I contemplate things and create some or try to. I love to learn.
Nothing makes me happier or more fullfilled. Seriously.
This post was written a few weeks ago but is still totally valid on the feel side.
Following thoughts about what should really make a difference, just quickly:
-Stop being irrational
Maybe the average Joe in the US is not that smart about what is going on in the world but at least he’s not in denial like French people often do about basics of you know, how it works. For example, football players salaries. The French opinion can’t take the fact that players are making clubs (like any other sport), that people are paying to see them play and that it generates a shitload of money going for a part to these people sweating a few years on a field before retirement. What something like that has to do with racists comments, to what French society is about and other fake moral bullshit, I don’t know. French like to mix stuff up and tell stories except that there’s no story and nothing to say about salaries: players get insanely well paid because you people whining about it are paying insane amounts of subscriptions to watch them play, insane amounts of merchandising etc. Stop being crazy. Damn.
-Elites, stop being in denial
Because you still are. Listen to the most open minded people you have in your circles and listen to them good. Then give them your chair and full authority.
People from bad suburbs, even if you have a lot of problems, France might be the friendliest place on earth to start your life: so much knowledge and culture for free or almost free, just for decency amongst other people out there, you should take advantage of it and stop whining and doing shit. Now that I have a much better sense of what the education system is here in the US, seeing how it’s hard for minorities I’m even more angry about the waste in France on that matter. What a fucking waste.
Now get busy. Happy late 14th of July.
"Excellent article about French racial tensions, the World Cup fiasco etc Here’s something that resonates:
“That the French national team has become a symbol of society’s divisions is particularly unfortunate, given that in 1998, France’s World Cup winning side was eulogized as the fulfillment of the official French policy of racial and ethnic integration.”
When people think that a sport event is just a sport event, think again, especially with a world cup of the most popular game in the world. I was nineteen in 1998, in the streets of Paris celebrating this multicultural team, this multicultural society, this multicultural, positive, winning future that was going to happen. I’ve never been more positive for the future than these days. It was truly magic (and I’m not an avid follower of soccer but look at how we became Europe Champion 2 years later; JesusFUCK that was awesome).
It’s not about the effectiveness of something as trivial as football compared to politics and economics, it’s about believing that it can work if we work together and respect each other. Sometimes a placebo is the only thing that you need.
Unfortunately it hasn’t been enough for ethnic integration because well, France has some problems still unsolved:
France can’t find a Republic model that fits the last big immigration wave, starting mid-70s, that is, the non-white one. Governments all nicely played around it: Mitterrand and Chirac for a total of 26 motherfucking years. I mean basically all my life, the government wasn’t answering the suburbs and immigration questions of black and arab people. I could see that there was a problem. Music, movies were telling that it’s going to explode. And when the government did something about it –I fucking had unexpected tears watching the 2007’s government including black and arab women, BOUT TIME-, it was way too late. The blingbling and ignorance model straight out the Afro-American bad society had took over two or three generations of young French, and then it was 9/11 and the youngsters turned to their traditional roots.
Other deep problem, France doesn’t want to change and accept differences and therefore, made immigrants doing the same. Yes, the business of pot comes from North Africa immigration and became huge since the 70s while wine consumption is down, that’s why France has the more repressive laws about it in all Europe. How can you explain that, except that France is just in denial? France basically fueled the gangster influence by not accepting that its society is evolving and moving on (Europe is too, but other countries are more prone to change), allowing some people to live with drug money, state money and no taxes all together. France encouraged racism toward minorities with this behavior. France doesn’t understand that selling instant chocolate and rice with black and asian people on packaging is wrong. Integrate so few people from minorities into the high levels of society, except for sports of course, was and always has been a mistake and proves that if you come from nowhere, you’re not welcome in the clubs of the Powerful Ones. Sad.
Lastly, France is clumsy. Instead of using laws against the hijab, putting arab women even more on the side of society, stigmatizing them, it would be much better to actually apply laws about women abuses and segregation, wearing a burqa or a g-string or both. You know, the Republican French thing, everybody is the same and all. Of course you can’t rule a country with 65 million people by saying that an outfit is forbidden so the French government ended up on a weird notice that says that “that’s not cool to wear these things”. Which is utterly useless and sort of sends a “I know better than you do, I’m the State and you’re kind of stupid” signal, which is not a good thing to say to empower people and make them feel like a part of the country. A smart part of it, not like a parasite that make people behave like they are parasites.
Because French people from older immigration didn’t find an updated model of the Republic, they failed to integrate the new waves, being unable to explain the rules of something that is still pretty much inexistent on earth: the ultimate diversity of humans, diversified and united at the same time.
We need to try out more. It’s here. It’s almost here.
It’s just a little taste because I see something French all the time. If there’s a conspiration, please tell me because I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. I started an album and already missed 18 300 pictures I could have taken of the phenomenon.
Also I can’t figure out how to write back in French, every time I try it feels awkward.
Picture by Sean Bonner.
It’s not that I feel homesick otherwise I would try to talk or write in French everytime I could. I almost stopped thinking in my mother tongue too now. But I feel that I had an identity crisis already and that I just added another one.
Scrolling game news, I went to some conclusion about some games and their relative success.
I’m talking about story-driven games like Heavy Rain or Red Dead Redemption or Alan Wake.
These games are made –I mean directed- by people around 35-40. What was huge when they were young? Movies. Blade Runner, Alien, Star Wars you name it. There’s a shitload of groundbreaking movies made mid 70s mid 80s when you think about it (post classical cinema Wikipedia says).
1982, a crazy year: Thriller, E.T., Conan the Barbarian… And Blade Runner
These games are appealing to people of the same age, 35+ people who are searching for this “I want to be the hero of the movie” experience they dreamed about when they had pimples all over their face going to the theater to watch Indiana Jones. Game reviewers are often part of this generation and that’s why they always love these games to death.
What was the state of computer games during the eighties? It was still rough. Computer games were just starting to have a comprehensive graphic representation and movies were the obvious inspiration: Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981. Pitfall!, 1982. So future game developers in their teenage years growing up with that ended up making something like Uncharted? Makes sense to me.
Now, where do I fit? I grew up in the eighties too but I was a bit too young to go crazy for the early 8bits games. Stiff controls, lack of depth.
But then it was the 90s, my teenage years. We saw groundbreaking games all the fucking time. Here, Populous. Here, Doom. Here, The Incredible Machine. Here, Magic Carpet. Here, Sonic and Street Fighter II. And Mario 64. Here, flight simulations. You get it.
I feel I’m part of the very first generation who really has grown up with computer games as main entertainment food. Therefore, I developed a sense of loving movies (unfolding stories/editing combo) only way after becoming an adult and studying cinema in 2000. I just craved for the experience of playing, watching people play, understand the system, learn. Hacking it or trying to.That’s what the game culture was, is for me.
So my teenage years were not about being passively watching a movie over and over again, it was about being actively trying new things in a computer game over and over again (LucasArts!) or trying new things on a computer over and over again.
I’m not surprised that all the big names in the game industry making these story-driven games wanted to be movie directors when they were young. They still want to, and try with computer games. It doesn’t work well and costs millions of dollars but whatever. It’s so much easier to sell to a publisher compared to a game with a new gameplay (“so uh, the goal is uh you can.. You have to play it it’s really fun”).
So IMO that’s why despite having in the industry some strong voices toward the importance of gameplay crafting and search of new experiences, themes, despite knowing how we need to focus on that because it’s the power of computer games, we still have these weird hybrids, attempts of creators who don’t really have the computer game culture in them, making a game about Western movies in 2010. It was just a new support for them, not their main thing like I feel I, and an entire generation had. Now we’re all in the same industry, my game generation is under-represented and it’s a mess.
That also explains why there’s in the industry this hate of social gaming. It’s not just because it uses psychological tricks to make you play more. It’s also because it relies on pure gameplay rather than technical progress, makes millions and makes publishers wonder about the AAA business viability (answer: there’s almost none).
Also, I celebrate ten years working for the game industry this month. July 2000-July 2010. I’d like to write a long post about it but I don’t want to get you depressed, neither do I.