Thursday, January 7, 2010

New and Noteworthy (Worst Tech Movies, Modern Warfare 2, Rosenfelder's "If All Stories")

In today's edition:

* CNN's list of the "nine worst tech movies of all time." There's a bit of hyperbole in the title, of course, but there are plenty of "bad" movies here all right, and certainly bad in the ludicrousness of their depictions of the technologies concerned. (Incidentally, it's no surprise to me that most of the films are from the '90s, with the most recent given as coming from 2002-for reasons I discussed at length in my February 2009 article for the Internet Review of Science Fiction, "Racing Down the Information Superhighway: Computers in 1990s Film," in which I not only discussed the subject, but critiqued many of the same movies.)

* By way of the prolific video game blog Kotaku, one Karachi resident's observation that the street signs in Modern Warfare 2's recreation of the city are written in the wrong language-Arabic, instead of Urdu (Pakistan not being an Arabic-speaking country).

Naturally, this started a debate regarding the broader unrealism of the game (which is, of course, considerable at every point, even by techno-thriller standards), and even the real-life political situation it draws on for its inspiration.

My take on this particular error: a sad reminder of our collective geographic illiteracy (did no one at the company realize this very basic point?), and the tendency to simplistically view whole parts of the world as monolithic blocks-as when someone refers to "Africa," "Asia" or "Latin America" as though any one of these were all one thing. (In spite of U.S. foreign policy's preoccupation with the Middle East since the '70s, which went into overdrive in the last decade, the North Africa/Southwest Asia/South Asia/Central Asia region seems especially susceptible to such misconceptions, with especially unfortunate consequences, because of the political charge involved.)

* For those who haven't seen it before, Mark Rosenfelder's humorous piece "If all stories were written like science fiction stories," in which a perfectly ordinary trip to San Fransisco is given the genre treatment. (Of course, this particular prose style has long since ceased to be fashionable, with "lived-in" futures in which the characters take all the trappings in stride as part of daily life enjoying more favor, but the point is valid all the same.)

Happy New Year, New Review at Tangent, Year's Best at Strange Horizons

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