Tag Archives: Sandy Hook

The Sons Return for More Anarchy, “Better Call Saul” Gets a Greenlight

*Sons of Anarchy SPOILER ALERT*

RECAP!

For Season 6, the show starts off shortly after where Season 5 left off. Clay (Ron Perlman) and Tara (Maggie Siff) are in prison, Lee Toric (Donal Logue) is still torturing Otto (Kurt Sutter) for the murder of his sister, Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) is taking a break from the MC to clear his head after finding out Jax framed Clay, and Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is continuing his ongoing fight to keep his club and family alive and together.

Lee Toric (Donal Logue)

Lee Toric (Donal Logue)

As always, the show opens with Jax narrating what he’s writing in the journal he’ll one day leave for his sons about his life within the club. Soon after, the show makes its way to the prison where Otto is being held, and apparently raped on regular basis thanks to some connections of Mr. Toric. All part of his torture. You have to wonder why Sutter would write this scene in for his character. All for the sake of the show and storyline, I guess. It takes some guts on his part and on the part of FX for showing the scene. From there Toric makes his way to the other two inmates, Clay and Tara, in order to convince them to rat out Jax and the club. This is gonna lead to more trouble for the club, especially since Clay will do whatever he can to keep from getting killed in prison. I don’t believe Tara will rat, even though she has a chance to get herself and her boys out of Charming for good. At the end of the episode, you also find out that Mr. Toric is a very odd man. Very odd.

Opie’s ex, Lyla (Winter Ave Zoli), gets the crap beat out of her by some Iranian torture porn crew which leads the club to mess up said Iranian torture porn producers even worse, make a new connection with a crooked cop (Peter Weller), and set a new business with a new partner, Colette (Kim Dickens). At the same, one of the Iranian sleazebags makes the wrong comment about Tig’s (Kim Coates) daughter, who was murdered last season, which leads Tig to kill him in quite a unique and disgusting way. It’s easy to see he still isn’t quite right in the head after everything that happened last season.

Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) moves up to VP of the club.

Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) moves up to VP of the club.

Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) is still worried about Juice (Theo Rossi) after he almost sold out the club, killed a member, and then tried to kill himself. Jax wants to give him a chance to redeem himself, which Chibs isn’t okay with but he goes along with it. However, he does give Juice a heavy beatdown and he takes it like a man. There’s also the remaining problem of the repercussions from the death of Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau). They’re working with the club to kill Clay because they believe he killed Pope, but they still want Tig turned over to them for the death of Pope’s daughter. Another stressful decision Jax is going to have to make. Will he hand Tig over or find another way to keep him alive? Or will Tig, not being in a stable state of mind, do something that will lead Jax to hand him over easily?

Throughout the episode, you may have noticed a well-dressed, nameless, blonde boy making his way to school in different scenes. He remains in the background of a lot of shots, just passing through, until the end of the episode. When he arrives, he takes off his jacket, folds it, and lays it on a bench. He rolls up his sleeve to reveal multiple cuts on one of his arms, more than likely from self-harm caused by an unhappy childhood. From his backpack, he takes out a journal and continues to write something in it, as he was shown doing in the beginning of the episode. From there, things become somewhat shocking and unsettling.

After the events at Sandy Hook Elementary in the recent past, it might seem a bit in bad taste to have a school shooting on television, but Kurt Sutter has never been one to shy away from pushing limits and taking his show to places where most wouldn’t go. The boy lays his notebook on the bench, revealing many disturbing writing and drawings. He then takes out a gun, walks into the school, and proceeds to shoot up a classroom. For those weak of heart viewers, worry not, the scene is shown from the outside of the classroom and all that viewers are witness to is the flash from the gun and blood spatter on the windows. Screams and gunfire can be heard as well. I’m not sure how this event pertains to the story, but my guess is that the gun he uses will somehow be traced back to the club or Nero (Jimmy Smits), leading again to more trouble for the MC.

I’ve been looking forward to this season for a while now, and so far, I don’t believe it’s going to disappoint me.

Saul has some of the best advertisements.

Saul has some of the best advertisements.

In television news for next year, AMC has green-lit a prequel, spin-off series of Breaking Bad called Better Call Saul starring Bob Odenkirk as the beloved shyster lawyer, Saul Goodman. The show will focus on the time before Saul was Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) lawyer and everything that led him to become the Saul we all know and love. I’m wondering if he’s always been the smooth-talking, do-anything-to-stay-out-of-court, ambulance chaser type or if he was an honest, hard-working, by-the-books type and something changed his perspective. It’ll be interesting to find out and see if a show about Goodman can stand on it’s own legs with the help of Walt and Jesse (Aaron Paul). It would be nice, since it will be a prequel, to see the return of Mike (Jonathan Banks) and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito).

Unfortunately, just like Doctor Who, I’ll have to wait until next year to see what happens.

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Gun Control, Violent Games & The Digital Violence Paradigm

The sims

Death in a box.

When I started this column, I had this idea. I wanted to write about that space where fantasy escapism (i.e. popular entertainment) and social forms meet.  I wanted to talk about why we make the entertainment we do and what that entertainment does to us.

Because I do believe that the process of doing something changes us. And since I’ve taken the Area Of Effect title I’ve done pretty much everything but actually talk about that.

Until this week. This week a president decided to lay down some new rules about how guns are purchased in this country while petitioning Congress to make even more.

In the aftermath of Sandy Hook there’s a resurgent question in the air. What causes gun violence and how do we stop it? An associated question: do violent video games kill people?

My first instinct is to say no. I love violent video games. They are the only games I play, and I have yet to kill anyone. But I’m an individual, not a statistic. And individuals are pretty bad at working out patterns in huge numbers of people by eyeballing it.

The Stats

1. The U.S. has the highest rate of fire-arm related murders of any developed country in the world.

2. Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than someone in another developed country.

3. An average of 82 people (8 of them children) die in the United States every day from gun violence.

The Sandy Hook tragedy is a single example of something that’s happening in this country every day. After more than a week of media blackout, the NRA came back with a condemnation of the cultural glorification of gun violence in video games. Guns don’t kill people; video games kill people.

Personally, I thought it was laughable at the time. This is an old argument from the ’90s. And, to me, an obvious opportunity for the NRA to guide the conversation away from gun control. Apparently that’s not the case, as a real conversation about video game violence seems to be in the works.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe video games do anything to us. I think the mass consumption of violence is probably doing a lot of things to us, but I don’t believe it makes us kill each other. And science doesn’t believe it either. Academic studies continue to show that there just isn’t any substantial evidence that video games are a causal mechanism for violence.

Here’s the thing. I actually do think video games and violent media in general do something to us. Just this week I commented on how messed up it is that movies universally recognize domestic violence is bad while at the same time romanticizing boyfriends that kill.  And I think it does a lot to reinforce stereotypes about race, gender, and a on and on until we drown in an ocean of political correctness. But there are some important caveats.

First, cultural artifacts like movies and video games are the product of a culture as well as a means for reinforcement. The stuff we see on the screen doesn’t appear from a vacuum. It is somewhere in the society and somewhere in us. That’s the reason someone makes it and the reason other people pay money to consume it.

Guns are a part of our national persona because violence is a part of our national persona. Ask yourself a question. When’s the last time you watched a movie where the protagonist overcame his challenges without using violence? I can’t speak for you, but of the top 20 grossing films of all time I see only two that didn’t need violent protagonists: Titanic & Toy Story 3. And I’m reluctant to give Toy Story a pass.

My point is violence is the most popular way our heroes solve problems. There is a corollary between the the games we play and gun violence, but it’s more apt to say that the idea of gun violence causes violent video games rather than the reverse. Robert Brockway at Cracked may has one of the best takes on it:

We’ve spent the vast majority of our national history involved in active, bloody wars. We won our independence with gun violence; we stayed a nation with gun violence; we helped stave off worldwide genocide with gun violence. Gun violence has, generally speaking, been working out pretty spiffy for us. The vast bulk of our movies, television shows, and, yes, video games revolve around praising gun violence. And we’re all writing, approving, designing, and buying these things, then turning around and looking at the finished product like we’ve just discovered a rabid animal in our bathroom. Everybody is standing there aghast, wondering which of our media caused all of this violent thinking; nobody’s asking why we made them all in the first place.

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Second, everything I’ve read and come to understand about popular media consumption tells a story of perspective rather than impetus. Pop culture may cause us to feel certain things, and it most certainly impacts our thinking, but it does not build within us a drive to murder children.

Consider Spec Ops: The Line for a moment. We did a whole write-up of it at the end of last year because of how profoundly and completely it highlighted the problems with military shooters. The short version is that combat shooters use something that isn’t real, a fun war experience, to make war seem sexy. While I doubt these games cause players to up and join the military, I do think they shape the way we think about warfare and help us ignore some of it’s nastier consequences. Just the same way I think images about race or gender repeated over and over by popular entertainment shape the way we think about those topics too.

What they don’t do is cause stable, mentally healthy people to kill. Video games aren’t the problem, though they are symptomatic of a problem. People are the problem. In a sense it’s true that guns don’t kill people. People kill people with guns.

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