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The Justin Timberlake Differential

by Frank Caron on July 2, 2014, no comments

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Channing Tatum, in his latest movie, exhibits an appeal that can only be characterized as universal; regardless of one’s gender or sexual orientation, one cannot help but love his performance, and by extension him, in both his latest film and its predecessor.

This is because I believe Tatum has passed into what I call “The Justin Timberlake Differential”.

In Theory

You’re probably wondering where all of this is coming from.

I happened to see the alluded to 22 Jump Street with my better half during the long weekend past, and we both walked out feeling as though our enjoyment of the movie could only be rivalled by my love for that pitch perfect Jonah Hill Call of Duty commercial.

So what does that have to do with Justin Timberlake?

Well, let’s take a moment to appreciate a seminal moment in Timberlake’s career: “Dick In A Box“.

The famous SNL Digital Short likely needs no introduction. Prior to its initial Christmas time airing, I believe Timberlake was a celebrity whom only women had a fondness for. To men, he had yet to divorce himself from his N’sync roots and, as such, was seen threatening and thus unappealing.

However, following his self-deprecating appearance in the SNL short, men everywhere began to like him. His whole image changed, and suddenly, he had broad cross-gender appeal.

Thus, I postulate that once a male celebrity can laugh at himself and have fun whilst also subverting his existing, carefully crafted, lady-slaying perfect male image, he can sit between small threshold of being funny and secure but simultaneously attractive.

However, this requires a delicate balance which Timberlake has mastered. Go too far into comedy and beef-cakeness and you end up like The Rock, who is now too much of a caricature for women to enjoy beyond the superficial but still garners male favour. Or, fail to really embrace the self-deprecation without shedding the perfect male image and end up like Zak Efron, for whom straight male appeal is still eluded.

In Practicum

Thus, as hypothesized, I believe Tatum has crossed into some infinitesimally small zone of appeal which few male stars can aspire to inhabit wherein he is universally liked by everyone — the Justin Timberblake Differential.

He has broad appeal now, maintaining his physique and “cool” factor which makes him attractive to those in the market, be they women or men, and the self-deprecation and easy-going nature which makes him attractive to those on the other side of the fence, like straight men.

Or so my latest theory goes, anyway. They can’t all be the stratum of attractiveness.

No Man’s Land: The Sorry State Of A Medium Post-E3

by Frank Caron on June 10, 2014, no comments

Having just taken in two of the big three’s E3 conferences, I have seen what the next year of my beloved pastime had to offer, and I’m left non-plussed. Worse yet, for both of us as reader and writer, I feel somewhat isolated in my opinion — which, as always, has led me to feel the need to ruminate publicly.

Each company spent time showing roughly the same things: games big on pomp and circumstance and spectacle but short on fun, excitement, imagination. Hollywood redux.

Destiny and Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4 and Batman: Arkham Knight typify this. They are big, impressive, and stunning. But they’re also hollow. They’re Bay’s Transformers.

Uncharted 4 and The Order and The Witcher 3 and Infamous: First Light are brooding and bombastic and boring. They fall into a sea of familiar games like Bloodborne and Tomb Raider and Quantum Break and Phantom Dust. They’re Only God Forgives.

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The indie games are now unique and ubiquitous and uninteresting. Pixels abound in Broforce and Titan Souls and Below. They appeal to a gaming geek who somehow hasn’t been satiated by the novelty of retro graphics and chip tunes and long for increasingly-obscure geekery. They’re Guardians of the Galaxy.

And even the more “fun” games feel like also-rans. LittleBigPlanet 3 and Project Spark are Frozen — they were better, and better executed, in the ’90s when they were Aladdin and Super Mario RPG and Mario Paint and Crash Bandicoot.

Everything feels old again and new again and boring again. AAA and Indie alike are treading old ground in novelly-uninteresting ways. Everything is like something else and everything that isn’t is quirky for quirky’s sake and not for any worthwhile purpose.

All except for one: No Man’s Sky. more →

Quick Byte: Judge Nails “Scrum” in Silicon Valley

by Frank Caron on May 20, 2014, no comments

Everyone who isn’t or hasn’t previously worked in software always asks me what my job entails and what my day-to-day looks like. Finally, I can stop explaining it. Mike Judge has captured it perfectly in his new show Silicon Valley, which I will now have to start watching. Check it out on YouTube via the image.

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My favourite part? When asked for an estimate, the lead dev chimes in automatically: “I don’t know. Who cares? 4 hours a piece?”

Stagenfreude: “Mortified” Stars Your Teen Diary

by Frank Caron on May 15, 2014, no comments

Stage productions and waxing nostalgic are two of my secret, and perhaps to some not so secret, passions. I’ve always had a love affair with live performance, from musicals and plays to sketch comedy and stand-up, and as those who’ve known me for years will attest, that love is only rivalled by my slavehood to the past.

That’s why “Mortified” is such an interesting concept to me.

Having only just learned about it through a documentary I found while sitting at home in my underwear trolling through Netflix, I feel the need to sing the praises of an idea I’d never heard about before which is apparently quite the quiet counter-cultural phenomenon in certain parts of the US.

The Premise

In simplest terms, “Mortified” is a spoken word act, performed on stage, wherein normal people read pages from their old teenage diaries. Without any added flair or embellishment, these normal people are left on stage, in many cases, mortified by what they’d previously written and are now sharing with a live audience.

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The idea behind the show is to help people face their old selves and feel a sense of relief in knowing they’ve overcome whatever hang up they had that was world-ending all those years ago, whilst giving the audience something to laugh about.

It’s a brilliant, brilliant idea, and one that I’m sad to have found isn’t around in Toronto. I may just have to change that — especially if I can dig up my assuredly-glorious high school unrequited love blogs (which would surely cause Melissa, Kendra, and Jenn to die by way of cringing).

That is, if they aren’t now already.