December 19, 2003 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Yes, that Lincoln Center. So we've briefly noted the clever hack by way of which game engines, in this case, Halo's, can be used to make movies. The best-known of these is the bleakly humorous Red vs. Blue - which, if it isn't exactly this generation's "M*A*S*H" or "Catch-22," rather manages to capture something of the futility of postmodern warfare. Still: is this an opus you'd have pegged to premiere at New York City's vaunted high-culture mecca?
posted by adamgreenfield (12 comments total)
Could you explain what distinguishes post-modern warfare from modern warfare, and why the former is futile, or at least any more futile than the latter? Would the Iraq war be post-modern? (Didn't seem too futile to me.) Is this just a pretentious way of saying "really modern"?

(Not meaning to derail the thread, just want an explanation.)
posted by Dasein at 10:13 PM on December 19, 2003

Still: is this an opus you'd have pegged to premiere at New York City's vaunted high-culture mecca?

Even though I'm full of myself, even I won't go as far as to call my work on the level of high-culture mecca, but next year I'm going to have my NYU Senior film aired at Lincoln Center as part of a screening.

In other words, Lincoln Center's "high culture" is pretty much relegated to whatever groups arrange with it to show stuff there.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:31 PM on December 19, 2003

Actually, it won't be the first time they've been shown there. The last New York Video Festival opened with a video game program. It was potluck: machinima, cut scenes, game music, and a PowerPoint presentation by Corey Arcangel (the Ashton Kutcher of computer art; you just got Punk'd, Super Mario). Red vs. Blue rocked the house that night. So I, for one, am not surprised they've been invited back.

And don't confuse the Film Society of Lincoln Center with the Met or the Philharmonic. I've never seen anyone wearing a bowtie there -- though I did see a bluehair walk out of a screening of They Live.
posted by eatitlive at 11:20 PM on December 19, 2003

Is [postmodern] just a pretentious way of saying "really modern"?

No. "Modern" refers to a period early in the twentieth century, usually from about World War I (sometimes earlier) through the 1930s. "Postmodern" is of course what came after that.
posted by kindall at 3:18 AM on December 20, 2003

Which means that all wars from WW2 onwards are postmodern wars? Hmm.

I'm not sure what the phrase 'postmodern warfare' is meant to refer to, either, to be honest, but I'm sure curious.

alt.postmodern faq :
"Post-modernism[:] The break away from 19th-century values is often classified as modernism and carries the connotations of transgression and rebellion. However, the last twenty years has seen a change in this attitude towards focussing upon a series of unresolvable philosophical and social debates, such as race, gender and class. Rather than challenging and destroying cultural definitions, as does modernism, post-modernism resists the very idea of boundaries. It regards distinctions as undesirable and even impossible, so that an almost Utopian world, free from all constraints, becomes possible. "It must be realized though, that post-modernism has many interpretations and that no single definition is adequate. Different disciplines have participated in the post-modernist movement in varying ways, for example, in architecture traditional limits have become indistinguishable, so that what is commonly on the outside of a building is placed within, and vice versa. In literature, writers adopt a self-conscious intertextuality sometimes verging on pastiche, which denies the formal propriety of authorship and genre. In commercial terms post-modernism may be seen as part of the growth of consumer capitalism into multinational and technological identity. "Its all-embracing nature thus makes post-modernism as relevant to street events as to the *avant garde*, and as such is one of the major focal points in the emergence of interdisciplinary and cultural studies." (THE PRENTICE HALL GUIDE TO ENGLISH LITERATURE, Ed. Marion Wynne-Davies. First Prentice Hall edition, copyright 1990 by Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd. 812-13)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:53 AM on December 20, 2003

Postmodern warfare is self-conscious, self-knowing warfare. (Think of the scene in Apocalypse Now where Marty's playing a TV crew filming an amphibious assault and shrieking, "Don't look at the cameras! Don't look at the cameras!")

When, exactly, the conduct of arms passed irretrievably into this condition is debatable, but for me the moment would have to be the landing at Mogadishu where the Marines coming ashore were met not by sniper fire but by the massed cameras of the BBC and CNN.

Combat ("...evolved") in Halo, as in most contemporary FPS games, is of this order: the intro and outro movies, the ability one has in some games to zoom out to birds-eye views that contain the protagonist, and especially the thick intertextuality.

Inter-what? Dialogue in Halo - just like everyday speech in my own unit in the US Army - is rife with specific references to Aliens, the ur-text of military SF visualizations, and the game contains visual nods to games like Marathon. The captain's uniform even has a little badge that reads "HELLO MY NAME IS."

Postmodern enough for ya?
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:49 AM on December 20, 2003

Its like if Beckett wrote a Fox sitcom using a video game. Brilliant.
posted by rschram at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2003

OK, Adam. Got ya now. I didn't figure you were just throwing out buzzwords.

My sole response, though, after having woken up (and knowing that you did time in the military) is that it may not be warfare itself that gets a postmodern makeover, but our visualization and attitude towards it, on the interface where war meets media and our side (as 'consumers') of that interface. For the actual guy with the gun on the ground, I don't think it pertains.

Still, interesting.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:00 PM on December 20, 2003

...and, of course, I meant "Francis," not "Marty."

Brainfart, with its own postmodern provenance: I thought (not "Marty" Scorcese, as you might assume, but) "Marty DiBergi," the Coppola-garbed and -bearded director of rockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap."
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2003

"You know that dog food commercial? The one where the dog chases the covered wagon into the hellish rice-paddies of Vietnam and slowly loses his mind? I made that."
posted by arto at 11:27 PM on December 21, 2003

i'm pretty sure this thread is done, but i wanted to thank adamgreenfield for pointing me to Red vs Blue. i enjoyed the hell out of that.

and the game contains visual nods to games like Marathon.

i'm certain that this was more than intentional, Bungie made both of them. In a way Halo is really just Marathon 4.

You play a cyborg-ish character, being led by AI (two of them no less) with suspect motives. And just because i'm a geek, the Marathon logo appears all over the place and the rocket launcher is called the SPNKR.
But of course you knew all this which is why you pointed it out.


[Holds breath and waits patiently for Halo 2]
posted by quin at 11:58 PM on December 21, 2003

LOL, arto
you're welcome, quin
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:06 PM on December 22, 2003

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