Korsgaard's Commentary

Did any of you happen to watch David Letterman last night? If so, you may have borne witness to an event that years from now, we will look back on as a watershed moment in pop culture on par with the Beatles performing on Ed Sullivan.
Hatsune_Miku_on_David_LettermanI am of course, referring to Hatsune Miku, a Japanese vocaloid program and all digital program performing via hologram on David Letterman, and staying for a brief (and awkward) interview afterwards. This is the first step in an expo in New York which is to be her unofficial debut in the United States, though Hatsune Miku had done concerts before, and even opened for Lady Gaga earlier this summer.

You don’t even need to watch the video to realize the implications of this – a holographic projection of a computer program not only could be considered a pop star, but has been successful to the point of opening for Lady Gaga and appearing on David Letterman. Mark my words, this is more than just a big moment for Hatsune Miku – for pop culture and pop music, this could be a game changer.
hatsune_miku_vocaloid_programFor the uninitiated, Hatsune Miku is a vocaloid – that is to say a computer program that sings by processing and synthesizing audio and lyrics – one of several created by Cryton Future Media, and along with the other vocaloid programs have become bonafide pop stars and icons in Japan, as these same fans used the program to create an astonishingly diverse volume of music. Some of the bigger hits include “World is Mine”:

“Love is War”:

And even covers of songs like “Let it Go” from Frozen:

The combination of the ability to literally have her sing anything, the anime avatar persona, and a pervasive cultural presence everywhere from video games to car commercials and even the Nyan Cat has seen Hatsune Miku become a pop star in every sense of the word, complete with number one singles, sold out concerts and legions of devoted fans.

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Almost exactly one year ago, I described how I’d hired as a contributing writer to the news desk of the Commonwealth Times, my university’s prestigious newspaper. The more studious among you may have also noticed that, save a handful of proceeding columns, there hasn’t been much more from me on that front. This has been for a number of reasons – my ugly introduction to office politics being a major one, maybe you’ll hear more about that someday – but hopefully, that all changes now.

You see, I’ve transferred to the Opinion section of the Commonwealth Times, where I’ve already in my first month written more articles than I did in my entire tenure at the news desk, and have already earned a promotion from contributing writer to contributing columnist. Not a bad start if I say so myself.
PTSD_Commonwealth_Times_opinionMy first column came out a couple weeks ago, discussing the current phase of television, and whether or not it can be considered a golden age. This week however, I’m tackling a topic very close to my heart, post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. Please be sure to check them both out, and leave a comment and share them around if you can. Be sure to stay tuned though – my next column is tackling the lost cause of the Confederacy, and those who still advocate for it, which as my more faithful readers know, is a topic I am more than capable of sinking my teeth into.

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On paper at least, you’d think The Equalizer would be an awful idea for a movie – an adaptation of a cult classic TV show from three decades ago given a dark and gritty reboot for the silver screen. I mean, aside from a brief reference in The Wolf of Wall Street, who even remembers The Equalizer in the first place?
The_Equalizer_movie_posterThat may change given the names behind the film, which not only has director Antoine Fuqua at the helm, hot off the heels of Olympus Has Fallen, but reunites him with Denzel Washington, a duo that struck Oscar gold the last time they worked together on Training Day a dozen years ago. While The Equalizer may not be Oscar bait, there’s no denying it looks to be a solid old school action thriller in a year starved of them, to the point even The Expendables 3 went PG-13. In a September thus far starved of genuine crowd-pleasers, The Equalizer could be just what the doctor, and the audiences ordered – if it does indeed manage to be more than what it looks like on paper.

So do Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington stand and deliver, or does the movie fail add up to much beyond the Hollywood formula? Join me my dear readers, as I call on The Equalizer.

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I never thought I would be spending my Friday nights watching high school football games again. As much as I love football, my reasons for attending are strictly professional – you see my dear readers, I’m doing freelance coverage of several local football games for one of the local papers, The Mechanicsville Local.
The_Mechanicsville_Local_logoLaunched in 1984 by the Richmond Times Dispatch to cover Hanover country, the Mechanicsville Local is one of the primary papers near where I live, so I’m relatively proud of the fact that I’m doing some freelance work for them, covering local high school football games.
Mechanicsville_Local_King_William_vs_New_KentI was initially asked to cover a football game between New Kent High School and King William High School. Though I’ve written about football before, even a few times here on the site, this marks the first time I’ve done actual game coverage, and there really is something to be said for the experience, doing play-by-play coverage of the game, and interviewing the coaches and some of the players after the game. In case you’re curious, King William defeated New Kent 73-22.

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Never doubt the power of a devoted fanbase and 90’s nostalgia my dear readers. It brought back Toonami, has seen franchises from The Muppets to Power Rangers given second wind, and now, it has brought back the soda that defined a decade, Surge.

You read that correctly my dear readers: after more than a decade, many mournful retrospectives, and the largest fan movement in the Internet, Surge is being reintroduced.
New_Surge_Soda_canFor those who don’t remember Surge, or who haven’t read my retrospective of everyone’s favorite fully-loaded Citrus soda, Surge was a soda produced by Coca-Cola from 1997 to 2003, in a brief, unsuccessful attempt to compete with Pepsi’s Mountain Dew. Where Surge did succeed however, is earning a place in the hearts (and likely bloodstreams) of the generation that grew up guzzling gallons of the stuff.
Bring-back-SurgeThen came the age of social media, and Surge fans gathered, petitioned, and yes, surged to show their support of the soda, and their desire for Coca-Cola to bring back the brand. At long last, Coca-Cola has listened.

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For a city of its size, much less one with the active subcultures that it has, Richmond actually doesn’t have much of a convention scene. Aside from Ravencon – which for those who have never been, is well worth attending – we have a handful of small, hardscrabble small ones usually put together by local fans. That changes with this past weekend, as Wizard World Richmond made waves, and left an impression, as likely the biggest convention Richmond has ever held. Of course, I was there to witness it in its full glory, with a few friends in tow.
Wizard_World_Richmond_entranceHosted at the Greater Richmond Convention Center – something which alone should indicate the size and scale of the event, given most of the local conventions are hosted at local hotels, if that – Wizard World Richmond is unlike any convention ever hosted here, and with the exception of maybe MAGfest, the biggest I’ve ever attended. Though technically a comic convention, like most Comic Cons, it umbrella also covers movies, TV, gaming, anime and other fandoms large and small.
Wizard_World_Richmond_convention_floorCosplayers and convention-goers crowded the main convention hall, packed to the gills with vendors and artists selling everything from sketches, vintage comics, memorabilia, clothing and anything else one could think of. Hours flew by as my group and I prowled the tables and racks looking, and more often than not, buying many of the goods on display.
Wizard_World_Richmond_Neal_AdamsThere were plenty of ongoing events too – I had a friend who participated in a PokeMon TCG Tournament, and another friend of mine convinced me to tag along to a Sci-Fi speed dating session, which was as interesting as it was awkward. I even managed to have an extended conversation with artist Neal Adams ranging from his Conan the Barbarian and Bruce Lee illustrations to his work on Batman Odyssey, which he managed to sell me on simply by his impassioned descriptions alone

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Toonami’s been on a bit of a hot streak lately – the last few months has seen it become the host of the massively popular Attack on Titan, and before that, Space Dandy (more on that show in a few weeks) and the very popular Sword Art Online among others, and they start airing Hellsing Ultimate next week. Today though, I want to talk about a show that having just finished its run on Toonami, has proven to be one of the hidden gems on the block recently, Black Lagoon.
black-lagoon_wallpaperBlack Lagoon is based on a series of manga that’s been running on-and-off since 2002, following a band of mercenary pirates operating out of Southeast Asia, it’s something of a cult hit among anime fans for its grindhouse style and black humor. Having watched its entire run on Toonami, read on to see why I think Black Lagoon may well deserve your attention.

Rock Okajima was a low-level employee for a Japanese company, until a fateful counter on a business trip in Southeast Asia left with him getting taken hostage by pirates, and after his employers deem him expendable, choosing to throw his lot in with his former kidnappers. The group, known as the Lagoon Company, work as mercenaries and smugglers out of a den of thieves known as Roanapur, doing dirty jobs for even dirtier clientele. Though initially well out of his depth, Rock soon integrates himself as a dedicated new member of the Lagoon Company, finding himself in the thick of crime and violence, and much to his own horror, finding that he’s beginning to enjoy it.

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I’ve talked about Cannibal Holocaust before, how it may be one of the scariest movies ever made, and is certainly one of the most controversial. It’s the progenitor of the found footage movie, a gem of grindhouse cinema, and one of the most overlooked and influential movies of the last thirty years, for better or worse.

The reason I bring this up is that today, I was supposed to be reviewing a film inspired by it, The Green Inferno, director Eli Roth’s first film in six years, seeking to bring back the cannibal film in all of its gruesome glory, and finally put some bite back into the for the most part toothless found footage subgenre. I say supposed to because though it was planned for wide-release to nationwide theaters today, instead, I am only just now hearing that the movie has only recently been pulled from release.
The-Green-Inferno-delayedDistributor Open Road Films has removed The Green Inferno from its release schedule, with no future release date announced at this time. The delay is, at least officially, the result of disagreements between Open Road and distributor Worldview Entertainment, the latter of which is now balking at commitments to promotion and advertising for the film made by their former CEO, Christopher Woodrow, who was recently fired from the company. Since then, Worldview entertainment has been in a state of flux, and evidently The Green Inferno is among the casualties of the studio infighting.

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While there has been a notable British presence in global culture for centuries, and in modern pop culture since the British Invasion of the 60s, but one must admit, there has been an upswing as of late. Monty Python made waves with its farewell tour, and James Bond is better than ever. BBC shows like The Musketeers, Sherlock and Doctor Who are ratings gold. Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit books and movies have defined fantasy for a generation. None of this is surprising – what is surprising though, is that thanks to social networking, we are witnessing an embryonic British subculture akin to what is more common from Japan or China.
british-weeaboo-teabooSadly, with any new subculture, there comes the ugly underbelly – and in the case of various Anglophile subcultures from Harry Potter to Doctor Who, we’re watching the rise of a brand of British Weeabos – Teaboos.
weeaboo-satireFor those who don’t know, a weeaboo is a typically Western Japanophile taken to utterly extreme levels to the point even other members of the subculture typically treat them with scorn. I’m sure many of you know the type, even if you didn’t know the term – a shrill otaku-type who loudly proclaims their love of all things Japanese, despite their knowledge of Japanese culture being superficial and almost entirely limited largely to anime/manga and video games, snack on Pocky, insert badly mangled Japanese honorifics into everyday conversation, and derides Western culture while claiming an obscure harem anime ten other people have seen outside Japan as the high-water mark of human culture. To say nothing of the plans to move to an otaku-friendly Japan that doesn’t even exist.

With that explained, with the rising British-influenced subculture, so has risen said cultures equivalent of the Weeaboo – the delightfully named Teaboo. Swap out the anime, manga and Pocky for BBC America, Harry Potter and crumpets, while retaining the obnoxiousness and annoyingly superficial knowledge of their adopted culture, and you have a Teaboo.

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Hot on the heels of the premiere of the new season of Doctor Who, BBC America was quick to use the occasion to promote some of their other new shows, Intruders being the chief one, debuting right after the Doctor Who opener. While I’ve talked plenty about Doctor Who before – and would like to add know that I am very excited about the direction Peter Capaldi is taking the character, especially since the Twelfth Doctor seems to be taking some cues from the Third – I’d like to draw some attention to another show, that tonight, just had its season finale, and has surprisingly become one of my favorite new shows. The show, if you haven’t guessed already, is The Musketeers.
the-musketeers-bbc-one-season-1-2014-posterBased off the famous adventure stories by Alexander Dumas – and thankfully far more faithful then the last adaptation of the Three Musketeers I discussed on the site – the show follows the titular triage of rogues, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, along with aspiring apprentice D’Artagnan, as they solve courtly capers, face down threats to France, and navigate the shark infested waters of palace politics between the young King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu. Though the tale has been told at least two dozen times before in the movies, The Musketeers marks the first true attempt to flesh it out over the course of a TV series, which once you’ve seen the show in action, you’ll only wonder why nobody tried it sooner.

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