One of my favorite BoingBoing contributors, Cory Doctorow, provides this week’s most memorable rant: Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t either). I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but it’s well-argued. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make me want one any less. Doctorow’s case for why the new Marvel Comic App for the iPad is just. plain. wrong. is particularly compelling– see the excerpt below, then go read the whole lengthy piece.
“I mean, look at that Marvel app (just look at it). I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).
So what does Marvel do to “enhance” its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.”
This is actually more of a stealth-rant, deploying reverse-psychology tactics and appeals to the culprit’s sense of fair play. Some creep stole an artwork by Chicago artist Damien James right off the walls of the Flatiron building, and what’s worse, the piece had already been sold.
“My initial reaction, not surprisingly, was anger. Intense, red piping-hot anger. “What the fuck!?” were my words, to be exact, extra emphasis on the “f.” Who steals art at a small neighborhood show? From an “emerging” artist? (“Emerging” = “starving”) Even more, who steals a piece of art that’s already been sold? Now I know it was small, and as you passed by, maybe you thought it would fit perfectly in your bag or pocket or whatever, but did you not see the sticker above the drawing that said “sold?” Could you not have chosen a piece that hadn’t already been paid for? Because you see, some artists who do shows in the Flat Iron, especially in the halls of the Flat Iron, are struggling; they’re artists who are desperately trying to carve out some tiny, peaceful existence. We’re trying to do something good, to make and share something outside the ever-present web of invasive consumerist insanity. I get (but don’t condone) stealing an iPhone, an X-Box, cash; but a drawing? Not only did you steal something I made, but you took money out of my pocket. So: what the fuck!?
Really, what were you thinking? Was it, “this’ll look awesome on my bathroom wall?” Was it the thrill of stealing something? Are you some kind of Vincenzo Peruggia? What’s next, a Steven Soderbergh art-heist caper?”
Hats off to James for channeling his justifiable rage into a piece that actually transcends the circumstances behind this unfortunate incident to say something larger about the need to show some basic human decency, even if you’re drunk off your ass, and even (especially) when it comes to small art shows at neighborhood galleries.
God, I love cranks. I love a well-written rant even more. If I can find enough of them, I’ll make this into a weekly series.
Today’s rant (on internet chatter vs. newspaper reporting, among other topics) comes courtesy of comic book author Warren Ellis on Wired UK. (Via Bruce Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond). This is just an excerpt, make sure you read the whole thing.
“….it’s worth standing outside in the cold away from the internet and consider why print and newspaper/magazine structures still exist. Because reporting and editing are honest-to-God actual fucking jobs that don’t get taught at the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast, and because all those faceless blog-networks infesting the Bay Area like tongue herpes have no interest in their minimum-wage blogmonkeys thinking about anything bigger than their hitcount. These things are fun and great for finding out about paedo-paramedics and Ukrainian porn, but they shouldn’t be confused with informed reportage and actual thinking. My name’s Warren Ellis. I’m a writer of fiction struggling with a world that’s getting stranger faster than I can make strange shit up. I work for Wired UK. Nice to meet you.”
Oh, nice to meet you too sir.
Apparently it’s a new column, so Ellis is just getting started. Drink deep, if it’s your cup of tea.