Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ATTN: Jack Thompson, Please Sue Me

Make My Day

Jack Thompson. These two words alone should be enough to make anyone within the video game industry cringe. Frankly, it should be enough to make anyone outside the video game industry, or even Thompson himself cringe. But I digress.

This little joker has been pretty busy lately, what with his threatening lawsuits and trying to have online comic arrested for “harassment” (more on this later), so it’s a little challenging to keep up with his escapades. However, here at the Nexus of Assholery, we rarely shy away from challenges, whether it’s a challenge to finish that entire case of shitty Pilsner beer, or a challenge to run through freeway traffic while dressed in a chicken suit, or even a challenge to round up an army of crackwhores with which to invade a small Baltic country – so here we go.

The latest chapter in the chronicles of J.T., as they were, began with a similar challenge. Jack Thompson issued a challenge to the video game community to produce an anti-video game video-game, and said that, if someone who do so, he would donate $10,000 to charity on their behalf. Of course, when someone actually did so, Jack declined to donate the money, saying that his offer was satirical (apparently Jackie boy has, not only a name that I can make fun of in infinite ways, but also a really fucked up sense of satire).

Enter those delightful scamps at Penny-Arcade. When Jacko didn’t pony up the dough as promised, they took it upon themselves to pony up the dough on his behalf, presenting a cheque for the aforementioned $10,000 to the Entertainment Software Association, which was marked as “For Jack Thompson because Jack Thompson won’t.”
The result was rather astounding and confusing. In a self-orchestrated series of events, Thompson has repeatedly threatened to sue Penny-Arcade, and even sent a letter to the Seattle, Washington Police Department, in which he wrote: “I look forward to working with your fine police department to shut down this little extortion factory and/or arrest some of its employees.”

Yes, because it is truly criminal to criticize Jack Thompson. In fact, I can hear his Jack-booted (no pun intended… or is it?) storm troopers approaching now, so I have to finish this little libel-fest (as Jackio would call it) up rather quickly. Which will be another challenge.

From here on out, things have gotten worse for Jacky. The National Institute on Media and the Family has distanced itself from Jack and his Gestapo-like attitude. Jack, for his part, has been using the NIMF (funny how that works out) as a sort of shield behind which he can hide, claiming he has their utmost support in everything that he has doing. NIMF, for its part, has kicked Jack to the curb faster than a toothless ‘ho, and that has made Jack mad.

Jack retaliated by claiming that companies like Target (who profit by selling the video games that this Jackass abhors) essentially bought off NIMF president David Walsh (which is, technically, a slanderous statement, but hey, who’s counting?).
But then again, maybe Jack’s trying to cover his tracks because he’s embarrassed. You see, the video game that he suggested be made (and offered a reward for) was to be based around the idea of murdering thinly-veiled caricatures of individuals who work in the video-game industry. Some would think this is ironic coming from an alleged anti-violence activist.

But Jack Thompson isn’t an anti-violence activist. He’s a law suit profiteer who is currently creaming in his own pants because he now has so many people he can now sue (and profit from) that he doesn’t know where to start.

But I know where you can start Jack. Sue me. Sue me, Jack, sue me. I dare you.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Waking Up Wal-Mart

Wal Mart indulges political hysteria

In this day and age of paranoia and “terror threats”, one would expect that the U.S. Secret Service would have better things to do than bully high school students.

Then again, not so much, when Wal-Mart gets their way.

Such is the tale of an unidentified student in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, who, last month, created an anti-Bush poster for a civics class assignment on civil rights. The student took a photo of Bush, thumb tacked it to the wall, and took a picture of himself beside it, giving the thumbs-down sign of disapproval.

The mistake this unidentified student made? Taking the film to the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart to be developed, where a “model Wal-Mart employee” (aka mindless cretin) subsequently called the Secret Service on them.

Now, one may not expect that it is Wal-Mart’s place to safeguard the welfare of America, but apparently those people are flat-out wrong. When Wal-Mart isn’t turning civics students in to the Secret Service for expressing anti-Bush views, they’re censoring books, CDs and movies for their anti-Bush views… or, at the very least, their anti-conservative views.

Take, for example, Wal-Mart’s banning of Tom Barlow’s (mostly) self-titled album. Barlow was removed from Wal-Mart shelves because of the song “Married by Elvis”, a tune about two lesbians who go to Las Vegas to elope. But it doesn’t stop there. Wal-Mart also banned John Stewart’s America: the Book, as well as the documentary Uncovered: the Whole Truth Behind the Iraq War… all allegedly in the name of “family values”… which apparently include discriminating against women in regards to pay and promotions. Yep, love them family values.

Yes, if there is anything we can say for certain about Wal-Mart, it is that they have traditionally been hostile to the very idea of free speech. While one can, in fact, argue a case in favor of not carrying CDs with the “Parental Advisory” sticker – given the sheer number of parents who are completely oblivious of these labels when shopping for their children – it is the obvious political leanings of Wal-Mart that are inexcusable.

Not to mention its own self-serving motives in many of these situations – for example, Wal-Mart complained about Sheryl Crow’s self-titled CD, which contained a song which criticized Wal-Mart for selling handguns. Wal-Mart pouted that it was “unfair and irresponsible”. And selling handguns in a mass merchandizing store isn’t?

While many criticize Wal-Mart for its program of cultural sanitization, what is even more disconcerting is its program of political sanitization. Is it the right of a corporate merchandiser to choose to sell only products that support political causes they support? Technically, yes. Is it their responsibility? No. Is it a responsible act? No.

Certainly, many of us would like to say that Wal-Mart is above this sort of thing, but frankly, it’s consistent with their track record.

In any conscionable company, with any respect for its customers, an employee such as the one who informed on this student’s poster would be fired, and would be fortunate to find a job doing something they are obviously far more suited to – such as, say, flipping burgers. Unfortunately, the company in question is Wal-Mart, where this employee gets to cower behind an immense and useless bureaucracy.It’s rather sad that the company that crusades the most in the name of “family values” is so wrapped up in this new McCarthyism. Respecting the civil rights of others is apparently not (in their minds, at least) a family value.

Spam This!

Oh, how I hate spyware...but also this

Newsflash. I hate spyware. OK. Maybe that isn’t news. But here IS some news: I hate spam.

Yes, spammers (you know who you are) I am talking to you. I hate you. Don’t cross my path. Because I will hurt you.

We are all familiar with spammers: in the minds of many, they are the new public enemy number one. These are the poor, wretched souls who spend their days (and possibly their obviously-dateless nights) hunched over their computer keyboards, most of them expecting that you will indeed buy their herbal viagra if only they can saturate your e-mail account with eight fucking e-mails a day.

Or, surely you will buy some of their shitty child-labor-made Chinese socks if only they can invade your website message board or weblog and post what is essentially an unsolicited advertisement.

And, of course, these people will all be sure that they do these things in ways that ensure you cannot contact them directly in order to tell them: A.)I’m not interested, B.)stop bothering me, or perhaps even my personal favourite, C.)fuck off.

And, just as with those who create the spyware and adware programs that have polluted cyberspace to the point where it is navigable only to those blessed with the computer skills necessary to stay a step ahead of them, I do not (wink, wink) advocate someone taking a baseball bat with a huge nail stuck through it to the craniums of e-mail spammers (nudge, nudge) it seems that someone should do something about this annoying phenomena before it grows completely beyond our control.

AND, it seems, we can. It starts with little things like not buying the products they are peddling (if you are buying these things, seriously, stop, or I will be forced to hurt you as well), and continues with things like reporting them and the companies they work for to your e-mail account holder’s spam filter.

And while none of these things may substitute for a good old-fashioned ass kicking (which once again – nudge nudge – I am not advocating), they are a start. But perhaps it is time (as with adware and spyware) that e-mail spam was regulated.
While I am far from being in favor of a massive wave of iron-fisted censorship coursing through the internet, it seems that there ought to be some sort of e-harassment law in place to prevent these douchebags from drowning us in e-mails offering to sell us programs to crack our friends and family’s passwords (how the fuck is this not criminal as it is?). While this certainly won’t eliminate this annoying epidemic (for instance, spam coming from overseas couldn’t be regulated by any one country), it can certainly help to cut back on it.

Perhaps it is time that we all e-mailed our members of Parliament (or, for those of you south of the border, Congress) nine or ten times a day until they crack and either pass a law against e-mail spamming, or at least buy our damn herbal viagra.
Especially that Strom Thurmond fella.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Stalking Celebrities for Fun and Profit

Over the years, some would argue that the city of Edmonton has garnered itself a reputation for being more than a little unexciting – perhaps even dreary.

So one could imagine the exhilaration inspired by the recent presence of two of the world’s top film stars – Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – would be a welcome change from the typical Edmonton doldrums.

The excitement reached a fever pitch this past Wednesday, as a day trip for the two (as well as Jolie’s adopted children) to West Edmonton Mall stirred up a fervor, in which a number of people took the liberty of snapping poor-quality photos of the two stars.

It seems to me the school girlish excitement these people are expressing is a little sad and/or pathetic. It’s not much unlike the people who brag that AC/DC once passed through their hometown on a bus – although, the idea of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie driving a bus through West Edmonton Mall is clearly awesome.

Look at it this way: you’re boasting that you saw Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in a /shopping mall/. Did you approach them? Talk to them? Sleep with either one of them (excellent!)? Sleep with both of them (hot!!)? With Angelina’s adopted Cambodian children in the room with you (awkward!!!)?

No? Then, clearly you suck. Years from now, when you’re bouncing your grandchildren on your knee, imagine how sad it will be that the best story you can tell them is that you once stalked two (likely long-deceased) movie stars that they probably will have never heard of.

If anything, the presence of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in our fair city has merely allowed the residents of said fair city to go nuts paparazzi-style. And while I’ll be the first to admit the $50,000 bounty placed upon Pitt and Jolie by local radio stations prompted me to take to the streets with a giant fish net and a roll of duct tape, I’ll have you know that was purely for sadistic reasons.

Because truly celebrities deserve to be hunted down like animals; if not with a chloroform-soaked rag, then surely with a cellphone camera. And certainly we don’t feel an ounce of empathy for Jolie as she attempts to rush her child out of the lascivious view of a camera lens. After all, I belive it was Homer Simpson who said: “celebrities must realize that we own them.” Certainly, their children are a bonus.

Then again, who could resist the thrill of capturing two of the world’s most enchanting celebrities in one of the world’s most sensational settings? Surely, the opportunity to photograph Brad Pitt at the fabulous Wok Box must not be missed. To do so would be a crime against glamour.

But why stop at merely photographing these two celebrities? You haven’t truly lived the paparazzi lifestyle until you’ve hounded them down the Whitemud in a perilous high-speed chase. Although, when you actually pass Georges Laraque, it should become clear you’ve taken it a little too far.