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Most Interesting Developments in Pop Culture 2005 (per Duke Ray)

January 6, 2006
  • Anne Rice Goes From Vampires to Jesus. Is it hyperbole to call this the literary of equivalent of Saul turning to Paul? In 2005 Anne Rice, the godmother of Goth due to her bestselling Vampire Chronicles series of novels, writes Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. Heads spin. Lit culture guardian Kirkus Reviews proclaims her Jesus “fully believable” and reviews in general are good. When asked about the change, which is compared to Bob Dylan’s “born again” proclamation with Slow Train Coming, she states eloquently that even Lestat, the vampire anti-hero of her series, was a person in darkness who was always searching for the light. “I finally found what my characters were looking for,” says Rice.



  • Mrs. Clinton Follows Mrs. Gore’s Footsteps. Just as in the ‘80s Tipper Gore became a crusader against violence and sex being sold to young people on music CDs, in 2005 Hillary Clinton becomes a vocal opponent of the same bad stuff delivered on Playstation 2 discs. The flashpoint is the bestselling video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which is discovered months after release to have “unlockable” code for a mode called “Hot Coffee” which allows the player to control animated anti-hero C.J. in some apparently graphic sex scenes. Senator Clinton joins lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to go after the videogame industry as a result. San Andreas publisher Rockstar Games spends million$ to pull copies off the shelves, claiming it was all a mistake. The “Adults Only” rating is eventually removed, as the “Hot Coffee” mode is stripped from new copies of the game. Yes, sans the pornographic content, players can return to the apparently not-as-troubling gameplay of running drugs, doing drive-bys, beating prostitutes and killing cops that form the core of the “Mature” rated Grand Theft Auto experience…


  • George Lucas Finally Reaches the Promise of the Digital Filmmaking Revolution (and almost nobody seems to notice). Perhaps because of the collective sigh that the final Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, does not suck as had the previous “prequel” episodes, few people seem to note that Episode III finally delivers on the promise of a digital video image to compete with 35mm film. For more than a decade, Lucas has made prognostications that hi-def digital video would eventually equal traditional film aesthetically and that digital tools would allow filmmakers a new level of control. Filmed on the newest Sony Hi-Def cameras and – seen in a theater with digital projection – Episode III has an almost impossibly vivid beauty to its imagery, with stunning detail and striking colors that deliver on the promise. Not a replication of film, Revenge of the Sith presents a valid, yet different aesthetic, akin to Technicolor vs. Kodachrome. Whatever one thinks of the merits of the story Lucas chose to tell (I mostly dug the heck out of it, being a confirmed Star Wars geek), one must marvel at the precision and focus of his visual storytelling in the movie. The new digital filmmaking tools that the many brilliant people at Lucasfilm, Sony, Pixar, etc. have developed allow any filmmaker with the money and will to put whatever they can imagine on screen in a very precise, unprecedentedly seemless manner. It will be fascinating to see who runs with this new artistic power, and what the results are. In a way, we’re already seeing it with our next item…


  • KING KONG the videogame is more fun than KING KONG the movie. Not as resonant emotionally as the film, nonetheless the Xbox game of Peter Jackson’s King Kong nevertheless is a more consistently entertaining experience than Jackson’s film. The Lord of the Rings filmmaker supervised the game’s development heavily, and it seems that in this newer medium he felt free from the constraints of “significance” that made his movie feel so self-important and bloated. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time watching Kong on the big screen, and there were many pleasures of storytelling and performance to be found there that a videogame cannot replicate… But, the simple fact remains that the game gave me more “bang for my buck.” Conversely, though, I would gladly see the movie once more… while replaying the game offers little appeal. Ah, the paradox…!




  • I Didn’t Buy a Single Pop Album Does radio suck that badly, or is it the jazz I’m starting to get into, or getting new CDs as a side bene of new marriage (thank, hon’)…? Or did I become an Old Man in 2005…???


I could go on about the amount of Harry Potter books vs. Harry Potter movie tickets sold (you might be surprised), how videogames continued to outgross movies in 2005, Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’” becoming a commercial jingle, etc. Feel free to chime in with the developments that struck you…

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2006 10:22 pm

    I think the Anne Rice story struck me as the most interesting turn of events in a long time. I never actually READ any of her books…

    Count (and Duke Ray), love the blog. Looking forward to reading it.


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