Thursday, 20 September 2012

Game of Thrones: "Winter Is Coming" for Poor Will (I think it goes without saying that this is another one of those visual rhetoric posts.) As this is to be the first of many posts breaking down the visual rhetoric of Game of Thrones, I want to tell you either "You're welcome!" or "I'm sorry!" I need to write them for my class this quarter so they will written. Regular blogging will continue as usual. (See?) Now on to "Winter Is Coming." For those of you who haven't read George R.R. Martin's Games of Thrones, it's important to note that there are twenty-four characters through whose perspective the narrative is occasionally focalized, meaning that the writers and directors of the television series needed to go full-Rashomon or find another way to imbue each episode with the feel of perspectival diversity. Which makes the decision to open "Winter Is Coming" with the Prologue odd but instructive. On the one hand, beginning where the novel begins is a simple decision: Martin placed the Prologue where he did because he wanted to set the mood for the scenes to come and director Tim Van Patten followed suit. On the other hand, in an episode that can only be 52 minutes long and in which numerous perspectives must be introduced, devoting 11 minutes to the quick end of the short life of Will, the Prologue's narrator, seems excessive. I'm going to argue otherwise: what the material contained in the Prologue provides the audience is a means of sympathizing with the different perspectives on Will's life and death, and in so doing begins to recreate the structure of the novel. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. First we need to be introduced to Will: He's one of those little black dots on horseback in this extreme long or establishing shot, the purpose of which is establish the scale of the wall by providing us with an identifiable reference and the state of the environment by showing us an unimaginably large wall made of ice and a cover of snow that follows the wall to the vanishing point. Before we even meet Will, then, Van Patten informs us that he is a small man beholden to powers great enough to build and maintain that wall, and that he is likely in peril, because no one who isn't builds and lives behind a wall like that. Moreover, the contrast between the blue-white snow and the black riders suggests that not only is Will in peril, he's conspicuously so, which means he's all the more likely to meet a sad end. And Van Patten's communicated all of this in a single shot. He cuts to another establishing shot that works much like the first: in what we'll call a very long shot, the world is still white and empty of all but some men and trees. This is the classic Russian technique of turning a forest into the cinematic equivalent of a barren desert: the only life visible is either human or snow-coated evergreen. These riders...
Anyone wanna pay me $1,000,000 to produce a video of Obama choking on a matzo ball? All I had to do was dither around the site to which I'd already linked to find evidence that my prediction about the next two months is correct. Because as it turns out I somehow missed this: Breitbart News is doubling its reward—to $100,000—for one of the missing pieces of Barack Obama’s past, which may be the key to understanding his collapsing Middle East policy: the “Khalidi tape,” a video kept under wraps by the Los Angeles Times since April 2008. The Khalidi tape shows Obama at a 2003 farewell party for radical Palestinian academic and activist Rashid Khalidi, and reportedly features vitriolic anti-Israel rhetoric ... The ties between Obama and Khalidi are deep, going back to the days when Obama served on the board of the Woods Fund with former terrorist Bill Ayers, and provided funds for Khalidi’s Arab American Action Network ... Given Obama’s muted response to the attacks on U.S. embassies and troops throughout the Middle East today; his refusal to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week; his eagerness to sacrifice Americans’ free speech rights in fruitless gestures of appeasement; and his belated but effusive support for the now-radicalized Arab Spring, it is worth examining the roots of his misguided foreign policy. The Khalidi tape may provide the key. I'm pleased to introduce you to The New New Stupid, son of The New Stupid, inevitable father to the host of Newer Stupids due to arrive in the next two months. When FOX decided to blanket itself in that 1998 video of Obama discussing taxation as an anodyne form of redistributing wealth, all I could think was that someone in management thought tit-for-tat the most effective strategy to counter the release of the Romney video.* If they have videos, I imagined management saying, we will too. Put aside the fact that FOX claims to be an independent news organization and focus on the fact that executives at FOX believe that "video" is a unit, and that the only way to counter one unit of "video" is with another. Breitbart News, so named because it decided to call itself that, literally doubled-down today in an attempt to produce a unit of "video" that will damage Obama's candidacy more than Romney's did his. This video, if it exists, will do maximal damage because it'll introduce Breitbart News readers and FOX viewers to shocking new ideas like "Obama has Muslim sympathies," "Obama hates Israel" and "Obama pals around with terrorists." As I noted in my previous post, the problem with this approach is that anyone who's going to believe that already does, so finding a unit of "video" that can be edited to demonstrate Obama's long-standing loathing of America and gefilte fish will have absolutely no impact on the election. Yet it's incredibly important to conservative "news" outlets to find and disseminate as many of these units as they can between now and November. I would say that I don't know why, but I know that sucking at...

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