Gone Home: Complicity and Subconscious Agency

GoneHome

Spoilers ahead. Thou hath been warned.

There’s a lot to talk about in Gone Home, The Fullbright Company’s award-winning “story exploration video game.” The subversion of horror that it presents, the “is it really a game” argument, LGBT issues that it brings up, or any of the controversies surrounding it. But this is a transmedia blog, and so what I’m interested in is how the title makes use of multiple media platforms to make the player complicit in how the narrative unfolds.

Sorry for being long-winded on this one, but we’re talking about art, so I get to act all hi-falutin’.

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The Importance of Memetics

Memes are ideas, behaviors, styles, or usages that spreads from person to person within a culture. Some of you already know this. Some of you are thinking about Advice Animal macros. Others are new to the concept. Bear with me, all. It’s important, because memes are the core of every brand, and thus, at the core of every narrative.

What is a story but a shared idea about how the world works, after all? I have an experience that I share with a friend because it highlights an analogy I am trying to make. He retorts with a story of his own that is contrary or complementary. If one is better than the other, both change to reflect this. If not, or if the ideas are badly stated or too deeply entrenched to be affected, you have reached a sort of equilibrium state. Both co-exist, even if they are mutually exclusive. In both cases, the participants in the story have tried to express themselves in a way that crosses the gulf of humanity. It is hard enough being human without also having to be alone.

What happens when that isn’t enough, though? What if somebody is trying to change a culture?

Or sell a product?

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The Blue Ruin of an Old Paradigm

This is not about Blue Ruin as a film. It’s not about how it’s paced, or how the thriller works/does not work in an indie environment, or about the statements that it makes, or it’s cast n’ crew. This is about how it is distributed and why this will mean the end of the $14 movie ticket.

That noise you hear is the sound of hundreds of people closing this window.

That noise you hear is the sound of hundreds of people closing this window.

Stay with me, here. This is important.

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The Muppets Most Branded

I’m struggling with this one, and not because of my feelings on this one particular film in general. I honestly don’t care what the reviews say. I don’t care who knows it. The Muppets Most Wanted was a fantastic movie and my movie of the year so far.

I mean, I’m not the most impartial of judges. I own three versions of Muppets from Space (DVD, VHS, and download). I hit up Muppets 3D, regardless of lines, as my first (and last) ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’ve gotten into arguments about whether Charles Dickens would have approved of a muppet-led version of his Christmas story (in short, I don’t care what Mr. Dickens thinks). Some people are into Star Trek. Others worship at the blood-drenched altar of Joss Whedon. Give me Gonzo and a camera crew and I’ll conquer the world.

Bow, mortals.

Bow, mortals.

But is this because I have been so brainwashed by Kermit, Ms. Piggy, Fozzie, et al that I’m willing to allow myself to be sucked in? And does it even matter if I’m having a good time?

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Star Wars, as Told by Michael Corleone

Disney is getting rid of the entire Expanded Universe for Star Wars. If you haven’t heard, and are a fan, then I’ll wait right here while you cry yourself to sleep. I’ll wait.

To be fair, though, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Disney has already axed pretty much anything regarding Star Wars that began even a little outside of their control. LucasArts was the big one that most people gnashed their teeth about a la some biblical figure, but there are numerous other moments of grief playing themselves out across the House of Mouse. The Clone Wars, an Emmy-award winning smash-hit, only managed a graceful exit thanks to a receptive home. For everything else, it’s been a spring cleaning that is matched only by the ending scene of The Godfather.

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The FCC Sold You Out…

…and is that really a surprise?

As if we all didn’t see this coming. After throttling Netflix and other services in knowledge that the Supreme Court would rule in their favor, it was all but certain that internet service providers were going to institute a “fast lane” for certain distributors that would be willing to pay a fee. What was shocking (read: not shocking at all) was that the FCC would beat them to it and simply hand over the reins. This coming after a decade-long fight in which the FCC practically gutted itself in some Kurosawa-esque ritual of seppuku that mirrored Japan’s existential crisis on the economic world stage.

Or something like that.

Or something like that.

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Brooklyn and Basketball and Branding

ESPN has an interesting article about the branding of the Brooklyn Nets. Or rather, the BROOKLYN Nets. In this, their second year across the Hudson and East Rivers, New York City’s other NBA team continues to focus on its locale rather than its nickname as the source of its branding. Why? Well, it shouldn’t come as any surprise, but people like identifying with Brooklyn.

People used to live in Brooklyn because it was affordable. Now they pay for the privilege.

People used to live in Brooklyn because it was affordable. Now they pay for the privilege.

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A Talking Racoon and a Tree-Man Walk into a Bookstore…

...and he said, "Wrecked him? Damn near killed him!"

…and he said, “Wrecked him? Damn near killed him!”

Let’s put aside the fact that there is a movie coming out soon that showcases a talking tree and a rocket-spewing racoon as they and their three buddies try to save the galaxy (or steal it in the process). What’s interesting me is that Marvel’s going whole hog with this process with a tour around their galaxy via a tie-in book that highlights our favorite outlandish space rogues.

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One with the Stars

This story appeared in modified form in both Phalanx and Aphelion. 

A meteor passed by overhead, sending trails of hair cascading down Cowrie’s blouse. She looked up from her book to catch sight of the comet’s tail as it wound its purple course through the galaxy. Her watery and wide blue eyes reflected the thousands of stars that twinkled in the sky. The night had come without her even noticing.

The shooting star had triggered a memory in a way that wasn’t quite comfortable. Cowrie tugged at a long-forgotten face, dredging up the features of someone she hadn’t seen since she was young. But then Cowrie saw something else in the sky, and the vision drifted away.

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Why You Should Care

It’s January 13th. The Supreme Court rules that the FCC cannot regulate wireless broadband services as common carriers. Why? Because back in 2002, FCC head Michael Powell reclassified broadbands as information services rather than telecommunication services. That Michael Powell is now a lobbyist for said broadband industry is both prologue and beside the point (though if you want to drop him a line, here’s how). The upshot is that ISP’s could now treat different websites with different services, charging both consumers to access better quality and providers of content to not be throttled. So what do you think happened?

It's like looking at a timeline of Shia Labeouf's credibility.

It’s like looking at a timeline of Shia Labeouf’s credibility.

That’s right. Verizon and Comcast began throttling websites, using extortion legal tactics to get bribes market rates.
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