I just realise I may not hate Brutalism after all. But, there are still problems.

I used to hate this architectural style with a passion. Just like other people, I thought it created nothing but monstrosities which oppressively sucked the life out of their surroundings. In fact, filmmakers love to use them as settings for evil corporations and dystopian future.

But, after reading some comments by the style’s admirers, I have changed my mind.

They remind me that architectural styles are also art styles and art works are meant to evoke certain emotions. So yes, brutalist buildings are works of art.

After seeing them as such, I have started to sincerely appreciated their beauty, not despite of their bleakness but because of it! I am one of those people who believe beauty does not have to be remotely positive; when it comes to aesthetics, negativity can be beautiful. I will come back to this later.

I have actually found brutalist buildings that I like. They are the works of Studio Granda and Tadao Ando.

While theirs are not categorised as brutalist, their grey concrete exteriors give them the appearances of ones. In fact, not only they are not oppressively lifeless, they also blend in with their surroundings! That’s because they are designed using the critical regional approach, which calls for simplicity and consideration of the physical and/or cultural environments; it is basically the respectful version of international style.

This makes me realise the problem is not on brutalism, it is on the implementation!

Remember my comment about the aesthetic beauty of negativity? It seems some people – particularly brutalism lovers – forget that architecture is not just an art form, it is also an applied discipline; it is meant to bring immediate and tangible practical benefits!

Maybe it is just me. But, even if my house is not the most beautiful ever, the least it can do is to not suck the joy out of me. Surely, there is nothing beneficial about not feeling at home in your own house.

As works of art, most brutalist buildings are a success due to their adroitness in engendering emotions, galvanising us into conceding that something can be monumentally alluring not despite of its despotic despondency but because of it.

As practical tools, they suck ass.

I do acknowledge that every single architectural style – even the classical ones – can be incongruous when there are no consideration for the locality and utilisation. But, at least, those buildings still provide some kind of liveliness, albeit not the kind we need.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: there are no architectural styles reviled like the way brutalism is.

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As an introvert, the pandemic has finally affected me… in a bad way

No, I don’t miss large social situations.

I know some extroverts insist that, deep down, introverts prefer large social situations over solitude. Of course, they are stupid because that’s the exact opposite of what introversion is. They still believe “true introverts” are damaged, even though some extroverts’ willingness to risk public health for the sake of partying shows they are not immune from damage.

In fact, many introverts (who are free from financial problems) use the opportunity to be free from burdensome social “duties”. If it wasn’t for the adversities, I would have used a more celebratory tone.

I don’t miss the crowds. But, I do have to admit: I have developed a new anxiety.

Before the pandemic, I only had one reason to hate social gatherings: just like any introverts, I found them mentally grueling. Speaking for myself specifically, the less I was familiar with the people, the more exhausted I would end up.

And now, not only I still find them hectic, I also perceive them as potential disease incubator; considering a pandemic can last for years and there is always a potentiality for another one, I doubt my fear would dissipate soon.

Never mind encountering actual crowds. Even the sight of one in a goddamn video makes me anxious. They have become doubly stressful.

No, this does not prove extroverts’ inherent superiority. Let me remind you that some of them help spreading the disease. It shows extroversion’s liability in crises like this.

My point is I was a bit too assured about mentally surviving the pandemic, thinking introversion immunised me. Fortunately, like the one I have been having for years, this new anxiety is not crippling; I can live my daily life with ease.

But, it is a problem nonetheless.

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The Orange Girl

I am talking not only about the Jostein Gaarder’s novel, but also about the film adaptation. After immersing myself in both, I realised something: I actually don’t care for Jan Olav’s love life.

For me, it is not about how ‘beautiful’ his romance with the orange girl was (it is less beautiful and more sickly sweet). It is about how his son Georg utilises the tale as a tool for contemplation.

Even though I have read only three of his novels, it is obvious that Jostein Gaarder’s specialty is philosophical fiction; the contemplativeness is expected. Therefore, it is not far-fetched to say romance is not the novel’s main focus. As much as some of you may dislike it, the mind of Georg the pretentious is the main focus.

While the pretentiousness can be off-putting, I actually think it is understandable. If you receive something similar to a sentimental letter from your long-deceased loved one, existential musing is inevitable. If you are a teenager, the musing would be inevitably unrefined.

Of course, it may seems I am excusing it, considering Gaarder’s other novels Sophie’s World and The Solitaire Mystery are not (as) pretentious; it shows he has the capability to write (relatively) well-rounded philosophical fictions.

But, here’s the thing: they have leverages.

Sophie’s World revolves around an interaction between a student and a teacher of philosophy; the presence of an authority figure may help the titular character to be more grounded. The Solitaire Mystery is not even explicitly philosophical; it prefers to express ideas through allegorical means.

The Orange Girl, on the other hand, is explicitly philosophical and none of the living adult characters serve as the main character’s “philosophical mentor”, leaving him “unsupervised” with his musings. So, not only the pretentiousness is hard to evade, it also makes perfect sense.

It is a reason why I can still re-read the book to this day despite everything.

Now about the film adaptation…

Just like many people, I am also disappointed when the adaptations of my favourite books liberally change the stories, especially when the changes do not improve them, if not worsen.

But, in this case, there are two changes which may seem trivial for some, but personally infuriating for me: the setting and Georg’s love interest.

Why does Georg have to go on a skiing trip? Why can’t he simply contemplate inside his bedroom?

Okay, this is not one of those ‘finding-yourself-while-travelling’ stories. The skiing trip only lasts for a few days and it ends before the climax.

But still, I despise the belief that you can only “find yourself” by leaving home. It ignores one crucial element of such experience: the genuine desire to learn. It does not matter if you have visited every country on earth; if you don’t have the desire, you would always be the same pathetic loser of a person.

And why the love interest? The point of the letter is to appreciate life as a whole! But, it seems the filmmakers believed otherwise. Maybe they idiotically mistook the novel as a romance one.

Either that or they thought protagonists must always had love interests.

In both changes, it is shallowness resulting in dumb changes.

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Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus: unexpectedly nostalgic

Yes, I will spoil it. But first, I want to talk about its genre.

I was searching for magical realist novels recommendations on Google… and an article suggested this book. I bought it, I started reading it…. and it is disappointingly not magical realist. It is fantasy.

Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy fantasy. I am disappointed because I want to read more magical realist novels as I find the genre interesting and the article’s writer clearly did not understand it enough.

If one reads novel and does not pay much attention, it does seem every character associated with the circus sees magic without any sense of wonder. Every time we enter their perspectives, the depiction of magic does feel matter-of-fact.

And that’s the thing: their perspectives.

The public -the rêveurs AKA the circus’s admirers especially- see the circus as an otherworldly entity instead of something one expects in the everyday life. That breaks the illusion of mundanity. If they don’t have that sense of wonder, the novel would definitely be a magical realist one.

And now, for the nostalgia….

I am surprised the novel compels me to feel nostalgic. Yes, it is a story about a magical world and my young self loved magical stories. But, its ending is rather gloomy.

Yes, Marco and Celia do not have to kill each other and Bailey stays with the circus which he has loved since he was young. But, Marco and Celia also end up living as ghost-like entities who cannot leave the circus… and Bailey -despite being young and still has his life ahead of him- chooses to be magically bound to the circus for eternity.

It is less sad and more bittersweet. But, my young self would still hate the ending; he would want an entirely sweet one.

My childhood fantasies also involve lots of actions, good vs evil physically embodied. Contrast that with this novel which is more dependent on the dialogues and the atmosphere.

To make it more confusing, I have read Harry Potter books; despite being more aligned to my childhood fantasies with their happy endings and actions, they do not feel nostalgic for me.

Maybe it has something to do with my maturity.

The older I get, the more I am not into happy endings and action-driven narratives. The former can deceive us by hiding the bitterness underneath. When excessively made, the latter can be sensory overloads and -unlike the more immersive ‘quiet’ scenes- they can distract us from the actual story-telling in the name of ‘not being boring’.

But, even if Harry Potter is less sentimental and more dialogue-driven, I doubt it would evoke the same nostalgia.

The most common criticism regarding Rowling’s worldbuilding is its clumsiness. While I do agree with the assessment, I also feel hers is a bit too unconcealed, too transparent. I mean, if you intend to explain almost everything, losing the enigmatic atmosphere is inevitable.

In The Night Circus, the magic is unexplained. Characters associated with the circus perceive it as a mundane entity while the outsiders perceive the magically-enlivened circus as something to be simply impressed, baffled and haunted by. The magic is mysterious.

Young me also loved mysteries… and I still do. They compel me to be curious about the world I live in and they encourage me to explore it. When it comes to fiction, I want the revelations to be subtle and polished instead of dry and excessively expositional. I want them to be aesthetically pleasing instead of feeling like I am reading a textbook.

I am hesitant to say if I have definitely found the cause of the nostalgia. The combination of my personal growth and my love of mysteries feels inadequate as a hypothesis.

But, for now, I am satisfied. This is an abstract topic in which I am trying to decipher my own personal feeling. As long as it makes sense to me and I am not projecting myself onto others, the explanation is valid enough.

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What’s dignity?

According to my dictionary, it means self-respect and the quality of worthy of respect. Any other dictionaries I looked into said similar things. Basically, it is how much we are respected by others and by our own selves.

The problem is we are too focused on how others see ourselves.

Some of us think we should listen to others’ so-called criticism NOT for the sake of self-improvement, but for the sake of caving in to peer pressures, for the sake of mindless conformity.

Let me give you an example (and yes, it will be dragging):

Let’s just say there is a young man in front of you who is unemployed, physically unfit and afraid to do any thrill-seeking activities. You constantly criticise him for not having a job and for not being physically active. You also love mocking him for being a scaredy cat.

The question is, why do you do that?

Ideally, you pester him to take a job and exercise because you care about him. You don’t want him to end up having little or no saving, having a snow as white resume and having extremely poor health. You pester him for good reasons.

You mock his fearfulness because you are annoyed by his macho guy-wannabe attitude and you use this opportunity to put that giant pussy in his place.

But, with some of you, that’s not the case, isn’t it?

You pester him to take a job NOT because you care about his future, but because you are offended.

You are one of those retards who believe the meaning of life is to work and/or to uphold neoliberal capitalism and that young man offends you because he unknowingly gives your retarded belief(s) the finger.

You fat-shame him because you don’t like seeing fat people. Who cares about his health? You think you are entitled to see so-called ‘beautiful’ people all the time, to have more people to masturbate to.

And regardless if he is a macho guy-wannabe or not, you would still mock him for being a scaredy cat. Maybe you are offended that he does not fulfil an arbitrary gender role. Maybe you are a retarded bully who takes pleasure in humiliating others. Maybe you are both.

My point is (if you can endure my ramblings) we should be careful in how we let others defining our ‘dignities’.

If they keep bothering you because they genuinely care about you or they are concerned your behaviours may negatively affect others, then you (unfortunately) have to listen to them. If they keep bothering you simply because you are different, then you should give them dildos so they can fuck themselves.

Obviously, differentiating the two is easier said than done. So, the only way to deal with such situation is to ask yourselves these questions:

If I follow their words, who would get the benefits: me or other people? When it benefits them, do I contribute something to my society’s welfare… or do I only pander to the sentiments of self-centred and obnoxious cunts? Would I have an easier time achieving my goals.. or  would I have an even harder time because of it?

How about my emotional health? Would I be just fine… or would I end up miserable because I care too much about other people’s feelings and care too little about mine?

Just be careful when others try to change you for the sake of giving you ‘dignities’.

Moving Onward with Onward

*Spoiler alert for Onward……AND Finding Dory (Yes, really).*

Sadly, I am disappointed with it.

The premise itself is interesting: a teenager dealing with his own insecurity (I have a soft spot for such story) longing for a deceased loved one he has no memories of. It is obvious the problem lies on its execution.

It may has something to do with Manticore, a character that is crucial to the plot and yet treated as a comic relief. There is also something about the film that prevents me from emotionally immersing myself in it; I cannot blame its action-oriented and fast-paced narrative because many films, including other Pixar ones, can still be emotional despite being action-oriented and fast-paced. It feels like I am not given enough time to fully relate to the character.

The film is so forgettable, I forgot that I just watched a new Pixar film literally minutes after leaving the theatre.

But, Onward is still way better than Finding Dory.

As disappointed as it is, I have to commend Onward  for having a main character who actually moves onward with his life. Both Ian and Barley are excited to meet their temporarily-revived deceased father. But, amid the (self-inflicted) commotion during the climax, only one of them can meet him for a short while. Ian decided that Barley is more deserving of the one last meeting.

Why? Because, unlike Ian, Barley has actual memories of their father and Barley felt guilty for not giving a proper goodbye to when he was on his deathbed. Ian felt the experience would be more meaningful to his older brother.

Ian also realises his obsession about meeting their deceased father drove him into snubbing the wonderful time he has had with his brother. The list scratching scene near the climax is my favourite in the film.

Moving onward, indeed. The complete opposite of Finding fucking Dory.

If this story is simply about reliving her memories of her parents, then I would be just find. But, somehow, the story has to be about finding them alive! It would be better if they are dead!

Okay, I know I sound heartless. But, hear me out first (or read me out, I guess).

Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong about wanting to find one’s parents. But, I hate how the film insists that Dory has to find them or else, the absence of family means she would never be emotionally fulfilled, forgetting that Marlin and Nemo are her fucking family; the film’s predecessor clearly shows how Marlin’s mere presence makes Dory feels at home!

Despite my disappointment, Onward‘s emotional maturity shows it is still a Pixar flick. Finding Dory feels more Disney-ish. Yes, I know Disney bought Pixar. But, you get the gist.

I actually don’t have a good reason to bring up Finding Dory. I just hate the film and I am using this opportunity to kick its groin.

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Parasite: what a treat

Yes, there will be spoilers. Click away if you haven’t watched it.

Seriously, click away!

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This essay is a two-parter. Part one is about my analyses of the film; they are brief and surface-level because many people online have done great jobs with the dissections and I don’t have anything significant to contribute. Part two is about why I personally love the film.

Part one

First thing first, I am annoyed by how some people interpret the significance of Jjapaguri; they think the two instant noodles represent the two poor families while the sirloin represents the rich one.

While it does make sense, people seem to miss one fact: the rich characters are so rich, they easily put expensive Korean beef to their late-night instant noodles meal without a second thought! Don’t let one’s obsession with symbolism makes one misses the obvious.

Another obvious thing people miss is Min-Hyuk. They feel bad for him because Da-hye, whom he has a crush for, ends up falling for Ki-woo.

Why should we feel sorry for him? Yes, Min-hyuk chooses Ki-woo as his replacement because he wants to protect her from perverted college boys. But then, he also says he will date her once she has reached the age of consent.

To paraphrase the situation, Min-hyuk wants to fuck Da-hye once she turns eighteen and he assigns Ki-woo to protect her virginity. Yes, it sounds worse if I put it that way. But still, he is obviously not a saint. Oh, and don’t forget that the scamming was his idea.

As an Indonesian, I am taken aback by the depiction of the wealthy couple. Even though they are Korean characters written by two Korean screenwriters, they affirm the clownish caricatures of wealthy people that have been lingering in my mind for a long time. It actually increases the universality of the already-thematically-universal film.

I don’t know if others experience the same thing. But, I find atmosphere turns sinister once we are first introduced to the Parks’ household. I attribute it to Lee Jung-eun’s performance as the housekeeper; she did a great job portraying a seemingly-innocent person who harbours a great secret underneath.

Seriously, the first time I saw her, I was instantly suspicious. She gives the film a really nice slow burn; the plot twist and unexpected ending feel natural.

Somehow, a part of me also want attribute this to the house, even though I cannot put my finger into it. Yes, the house is indeed what I expect from cartoonish rich characters: expensive, spacious and yet too soulless to live in. But, it is not necessarily sinister.

Maybe the soullessness adds to the slow burn. Just maybe.

Dammit, I almost forgot about Song Kang-ho’s performance.

The day after the flood, his character Ki-taek starts to get visibly upset after realising how rich people like the Parks are leeching off the misery of the poor. One can tell that he is going to snap, without knowing how and when; it makes the atmosphere even more sinister.

If Song was a shit actor, this would not work at all.

Part two

Admittedly, I was worried.

Before I watched the film, I was already hyped out by the online excitement of filmgoers. I was even more hyped out by its victory at the Oscars, triggering those emotionally-fragile, xenophobic Anglo-centrist Americans. I feared that I would be disappointed. But, I watched it anyway….

…. AND HOLY FUCKING SHIT, WHAT A FUCKING MASTERPIECE!

Obviously, I did not act like one of those demented preachers giving Friday sermons when the credit rolled. I spilled my overwhelming excitement solely to my online friends.

You can tell how much I love the film.

Despite the massive hype, I am still deeply impressed by the film. I already knew that bad fate was awaiting the characters and yet, the finale still hits me hard. The film is so technically masterful, it is extremely dense with visual and verbal figures of speech, resulting in seemingly never-ending interpretations. Don’t forget the performances of the actors, whom I believe should had been nominated for the Oscars.

As a result, I get extremely excited. For me, when dealing with the cinema, ‘excitement’ is an unpredictable feeling and hard to run into; I cannot foresee which films that would enliven my soul.

If I show you an exhaustive list of my personal favourites, you would see a significant chunk of them being critically-acclaimed arthouse works with metaphysical themes. Surely, if I want to constantly feel the excitement, I need to simply watch films that fulfil those categories, right?

Well, no.

Being critically-acclaimed and arthouse does not guarantee that I will love them; I have watched award winning arthouse works that I either despise or don’t care for. Metaphysics is also such a broad field and not every metaphysical theme will intrigue me. In fact, a handful of my favourite are not critically-acclaimed, arthouse and laced with metaphysical elements.

Statistically, Parasite has a small chance of becoming a personal favourite of mine. Yet, here I am.

It shows how special this film is for me.

 

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I don’t know exactly why they exist. But, they intrigue me

 

I am talking about the opening ceremonies of multi-sports events. Considering I am too lazy to do some research, I will make my own obviously-invalid conjecture about how they came into being.

It seems the elaborateness started on the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. I assume the USSR tried to compensate for its human rights violations and impoverished populace by bringing out the ‘positivity’ that was the opening ceremony.

I have that assumption because it is no secret countries all over the world, even ones more well-off than the USSR, actively bearing deceptively friendly and warm facades on the international stage. No matter how free and peaceful their countries are, they all need propaganda… and opening ceremonies of multi-sports events make a really good one.

They are the only propaganda I willingly fall for. They are the only reason why I care for some sporting events and they also successfully instil suspension of disbelief into my mind; every time I watch the ceremonies, I am willing to pretend that the host countries are all-perfect, albeit temporarily.

I have made reviews for the opening ceremonies of Asian Games and Para Games 2018 (simply because I am an Indonesian, obviously). Don’t know why it took me a long to review the summer olympics ones.

I will focus on the ones held in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, in that order. They are the summer olympics openings I have watched in their entirety.

I know I could have waited for the Tokyo one. But, I want to write this down now.

2000 Sydney

There are three things that I love about this edition: Deep Sea Dreaming segment, Nature segment and James Morrison’s Jazzy fanfare.

I love the two segments because the combination of playful and colourful visuals with soothing orchestral soundtracks result in an ethereal spectatorship. I love the fanfare because of how its energetic sounds compliment the atmosphere of a sporting event.

But, the rest of the ceremony is tacky and problematic.

In contrast to those two specific segments, the others seem to be designed solely to hype up the audience. The segment titled Arrivals even goes so far to exhibit extremely sparse visual and prefers to give spotlight to the kitsch upbeat techno music!

One of my media studies lecturers also pointed out the whitewashing in the Tin Symphony segment. Instead of showcasing the hardship of the British convicts sent to Australia, it only depicts happy early European settlers.

I also pointed to her that throughout the ceremony, one can see the Aboriginal performers observing the performances from afar. It can be interpreted either as a commentary of how Australian Aboriginals are excluded from their country’s festivities OR as a subtle middle finger to them.

It might not be ill-intentioned. But, combined with the historical whitewashing, it can send a wrong message.

2004 Athens

The conclusion unfortunately feels cold and I think the use of trance music during the parade of nations emits an off-putting vibe of self-indulgence. But, at the same time, it is the most artistic and thought-provoking opening ceremony ever… and I said that without any sense of exaggeration.

The Allegory segment really does live up to its name. It is a dream sequence (and I am a sucker for dream-like atmospheres) which features a giant, floating Cycladic head sculpture breathtakingly arising from the body of water with geometric imagery projected onto it. Then, the sculpture breaks into pieces, revealing a more sophisticated sculpture of a human torso inside… which breaks again, revealing another human torso sculpture. A white cube also arises from the water with a man tries to balance himself on it, all while images of human beings and humanity’s achievements projected onto the sculpture’s broken pieces. The segment ends with the pieces land on the water, representing the Greek islands.

Basically, it is an allegory about the evolution of human civilisations and present-day Greece is one of the starting points. I adore this segment for its skilful storytelling with no expositions needed. Anyone with basic knowledge in history will easily get it.

The Clepsydra segment is also a unique segment. It depicts Greek history and mythology. But, how they are depicted struck me. It took me some time to realise the moving things on those carts were not animatronics, they were actual people with painted bodies who deliberately moved like animated sculptures!

It is refreshing from the usual routine of performers wandering all over the venue. It feels less like watching an entertainment show and more like visiting a museum; for someone who loves visiting museums, it is certainly a strength.

I always wonder about the performers: were they dancers, actors or models? I thought about those three professions because they clearly require mastery of our body languages.

The presence of Björk, a musician known for her intense musical exploration, surely bolsters the event’s overall artistry as well.

2008 Beijing

I know people will rip me for this (as if my essay will ever blow up): this edition is too overrated.

The more mature I get, the more I see how tacky it is. In fact, it is as tacky as the Sydney one. No regard for aesthetic, only for the audience’s desire for eye candy.

Okay, it is a bit unfair. The Beijing edition is certainly more grandiose and therefore, requires more discipline from the performers. Disciplined enough to work as a large collective, but still manage to look like humans instead of robots.

2012 London

Aesthetic wise, I am not that impressed. Many of the choreographies (excluding the one in the 7/7 tribute) are either awkward or basic. The one in the children’s literature segment looks like it was created by an amateur.

The event is also another pander express. It chooses to showcase the United Kingdom’s most famous aspect of life: pop culture. Of course, I do understand why the focus is not on British heritage or history; the former may be boring to non-Brits and the latter is associated with colonialism and must be executed with great tact. Pop culture is a safe choice. But, it makes the entire ceremony feels like a commercially-produced British TV show.

Strangely, I also think it has emotional profundity lacking in the other editions. The joy, the grief, the sense of wonder, they don’t feel artificial. They feel sincere.

I wonder if it has something to do with the nature of British entertainment.

From what I observe, American and Indonesian ones (especially when one talks about ‘reality’ TV shows) can be forceful with the emotions; they love to dictate the audience on what to feel. British entertainment, on the other hand, prefers to let them speak for themselves and it is always transparent about their absence.

Obviously, my statement is too simplistic as exceptions does and will always exist. But, from my personal experiences, Indonesian and American entertainment constantly annoy me with their overt-sentimentality which always comes across as insincere; British one barely annoys me like that.

2016 Rio de Janeiro

I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with this edition.

It has eye-catching visuals, it has upbeat music… and yet, it feels anaemic. It reminds me of a person who tries to put a lively and energetic facade when deep down, he/she in favour of calmness and quietness. I have such observation because the calmer segments work rather well.

My God, the environmentalist message. Why does it have to be so on-the-nose? When will people realise that blatant messages in the arts and entertainment are fucking off-putting? How will this make people accept that humans are a a part of nature and not above it?

The only thing I like about the ceremony is the acknowledgement of Brazil’s history of slavery. I love it because such acknowledge is refreshing to any countries… and because it is actually goddamn subtle and not dependent on any fucking bullshit expositions!

Which editions are my favourites?

The Athens and London ones, if you can’t tell.

Instead of completely pandering to the masses as the creative director of the Athens edition, Dimitris Papaioannou maintained his identity as an artist. Creators must be commended for that because, whether we want to admit it or not, the members of the audience were benefited by non-escapist and artistic presentations and having their horizon widened even further. Considering the global significance of the olympics, Papaioannou did millions of people a favour by compelling them to stay ‘switched on’, albeit only for a while.

And yes, I am making a big deal out of the London edition’s emotional sincerity. It is just that I am deeply revolted by the synthetic emotionality which many creatures prefer over the organic one; they prefer the former because they think being obvious equals being sincere. Running into the latter is such a nice, rare treat.

But, do you what is nicer? Fusing both strengths into one.

Can you imagine watching an opening ceremony that makes you think and feel? Right now, I can only yearn for such gratification.

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Groundbreaking… yet unfeeling

I am sure many of you, my non-existing readers, have heard of the legendary band Queen and its magnum opus, Bohemian Rhapsody.

If one has a relatively sophisticated taste in music (shamelessly patting myself on the back), one would understand why it is such a great song. It refuses to have the typical song structure, it has a very dynamic music arrangement and it has such bizarre lyrics which demand the full attention of the listeners (who can speak English, of course)…

… And still manages to become a popular hit, despite or probably because of its eccentricity. Not to mention it makes an extremely fun sing-along.

It is both a critical and a commercial acclaim. It is indeed special.

But, it is not my favourite Queen’s song.

The combination of cyptic lyrics and unpredictable musical arrangement gives us a clear message: the song is open to infinite amount of interpretations and has the potential to be inherently meaningless.

I cannot speak for others. But, while I can intellectually attach myself to the song, its enigmatic nature prevents me from doing so emotionally. It feels like just another art work for me to be flatulently explicative about.

Personally, I prefer Somebody To Love.

While it is often described as a technically-challenging song to perform (I am not a musician so I cannot say), I can see why it is not that legendary outside the band’s fandom.

Compared to BR, STL sounds pathetically ‘normal’. The musical arrangement is not innovative, the song structure is very much pop and, of course, the lyrics are fathomable.

But, because of the fathomability, the song allows me to be emotionally-attached to it and because of the personal nature of the lyrics, the attachment forms almost effortlessly.

The song is about one’s spiritual frustration about the absence of a romantic partner. As a listener, I definitely don’t feel the narrator’s anguish myself; it is dishonest for me to say I do. But, I acknowledge how the experience can be overwhelming for him. My ability to empathise with him means the narrative being told is belieavably human. Well, for me, at least.

However, even though the explanation makes sense, it still feels insuffiencient for me.

BR was not the only baffling works I have ever encountered. I am also emotionally-attached to the short animated film Hedgehog in the Fog and the surrealist dramedy film Arizona Dream despite their mystifying nature.

Of course, I also have my own personal interpretations for those two motion pictures; therefore, watching them is an intimate experience for me. Compare that to BR for which I still don’t have any at my disposal.

After I thought about it, there is a more convincing and solid reason for my aloofness towards the song: the live performances.

Both it and STL use the vocal multi-tracking technique to induce the choral atmosphere. But, because BR employs the technique more ostentatiously, it couldn’t be performed entirely live. Every time the band performed the song on stage, the musicians had to go backstage when the pre-recorded opera segment was played. Watching the live performance and witnessing its artificiality would definitely leave a bad taste in my mouth.

STL, on other hand, could be performed entirely live. Despite omitting the gospel-like background vocals emulated by the technique, the live version does not feel incomplete. If anything, the lack of the ‘robotic’ adornment makes the song sounds more emotionally raw, more believably human. Watching its live performance and witnessing would be an ecstatic experience for me.

Of course, one may argue my reasoning is questionable. Why do I have to use STL as a comparison? Why don’t I use other songs? Love Of My Life is arguably also emotionally-charged.

Well, three reasons.

Reason one: It is my personal bias. As much as I admit its artistry, LOML simply does not do it for me. One can catch me listening to STL on repeat. But, one’s chance of catching me listening to LOML is almost zero percent.

Reason two: As I mentioned before, both BR and STL employ the same recording technique. Discussing about how it affects each song’s artistry seems reasonable for me. Comparing two things that still share things in common is an excellent way to perceptively grasp both.

Reason three: I fucking hate fake fans.

Seriously, since that deceitful biopic was released, I noticed an increase of people who claimed to be fans of Queen. I was suspicious the only song they knew and/or loved was BR. One person confirmed my suspicion.

On the music player, I played the band’s Greatest Hits II album which contains Radio Gaga, I Want To Break Free and Under Pressure, which are also well-known among non-fans. That so-called fan said he/she could not recognise any of them and still preferred BR in the end.

If he/she is really a fan, not only he/she would have heard of the band’s other hits, he/she would also have heard of their less well-known works and fucking love them as well!

Such behaviour annoys the shit out of me! I don’t know why some people cannot refrain from declaring themselves big fans of musicians they are clearly not big fans of. Even though I have my share of favourite Queen songs, I still refuse to declare myself a big fan due to my limited knowledge about their discography.

Is that so fucking hard to do?!

Well, it probably fucking is if you ‘like’ things simply because they are popular and you want to look cooler than you really are.

The Swede’s rhetoric

I have made a few articles about Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie and one contains my arguments about how he is actually a reckless edgelord instead of an actual far-right ideologue.

I mention how he never makes excuses for the bigotry of some of his fans, how he was (and still is) slandered by the media and how he only invited one right-wing pundit just to review memes instead of letting him spill verbal diarrhea.

But, for some reasons, I forgot to talk about his own rhetoric.

Below, I am going to list the common talking points of contemporary western conservatives:

1. Equal rights are the same as special rights for women and the minorities

2. Women are happier when they are treated as the “lesser sex”.

3. The Southern Strategy never happened and American Democratic party is still the racist party.

4. Taking down Confederate statues equals erasure of history.

5. The Bell Curve is scientifically legitimate.

6. Any violence committed by Christians of European descent, including the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, and the Crusades, were either justified, exaggerated or fictional.

7. All Muslims are sleeper cells.

8. The world is controlled by globalist Jewish elites.

9. Sexual violence is a trivial matter, unless they are committed by brown Muslims.

I am sure there are more recurring talking points than I mentioned above. But, those will do.

Disturbingly, I have seen how they often they are “discussed” by conservatives, especially by those who make Youtube videos,some of whom prefer to call themselves classical liberals.

But, from all online personalities who have been perceived as far-right, Pewdiepie is the only one who has never talked about those things.

Seriously, I have never heard him openly or discreetly espousing any of those lies. In fact, he barely touches politics and he never talks about history; his commentaries mostly revolve around the non-political aspects of Youtube culture.

The thing about our bigotry is it cannot be hidden completely, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we deny its existence. Even if we are not prone to Freudian slips, our bigotry will appear subtextually in our messages.

I have encountered so many people online who claim to not be bigoted… and yet, if you read their words between the lines, you will notice how hateful they are.

You cannot say you are not a racist when you believe the mere presence of non-whites is the evidence of white genocide. You cannot say you are not a homophobe or a transphobe when you believe LGBT rights discriminate against cisgender and heterosexual people.

But, with Felix, I haven’t seen any far-right subtexts from his online content.

His commentaries are indeed laced with subtexts… classical liberal subtexts; he is all about freeing humans from any excessive constraints, both in social and legal forms. He disapproved of the “policing” of any kind of activities, as long as they are not violent.

Basically, he is the complete opposite of those far-right individuals who are supposedly all about liberty while advocating for taking it away from those who are different from them.

He, the person who never calls himself a classical liberal, is way more classical liberal than the reactionaries who claim to be ones.

About the Christchurch mosque massacre…

Both his name and Candace Owens’s were implicated because they were mentioned by the shooter. The shooter said “subscribe to Pewdiepie”, a meme created by Felix himself, during the live streamed violence while she was cited as his number one ideological inspiration.

And both public figures reacted differently.

Felix was never cited as an inspiration; the shooter mentioned the name of the most popular Youtuber because he wanted more attention.

But, not only Felix immediately condemned the massacre, he pleaded to his fans to end the meme. After his many controversies, after years of being a reckless edgelord, he has realised he has a responsibility as a public figure for every single one of his public actions… and that includes his inherently harmless meme which he created as a tongue-in-cheek response to his rivalry with T-Series.

Owens, on other hand, responded immediately by laughing it off in her dismissive tweet, despite the fact that she is the shooter’s number one inspiration!

I don’t know about her now. But, at that time, it was obvious she did not have any sense of responsibility as a public figure, even though she was famous in the first place because of her politically charged and definitely-not-trivial messages.

She was not that different from Trump who took days to condemn the Charlottesville Neo-Nazi rally attended by his own supporters.

She was not that different from other right-wing public figures who constantly incite bigotry and yet refusing to acknowledge they might have inspired atrocities like the Christchurch massacre.

But, she and her peers are definitely different from Felix Kjellberg.

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