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“Bioshock Infinite” Gameplay Trailer Traffics in Extremism

“Bioshock Infinite” Gameplay Trailer Traffics in Extremism (photo)

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One month after the reveal of their eagerly anticipated title, Irrational Games is letting folks glimpse what the gameplay experience of “BioShock Infinite” will be like. To recap, players will be controlling Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent who’s contracted to go to the elusive, floating city of Columbia in search of a girl named Elizabeth.

BioShock Infinite Video DemoClick here for the most popular videos

People who’ve played any “BioShock” will recognize the overall play style-gun combat and superpowers-and a few of the attacks Booker uses resemble the electricity and telekinesis abilities in the previous games. Where “Infinite” diverges most from “BioShock” or “BioShock 2” is in the themes it’s attacking. The previous two games in the series revolved around psychological and philosophical ideas-Objectivism and Collectivism, respectively–and kept the ideas at play on the level of the individual. Not so with this new game.

This shift came up when I spoke with Irrational Games’ Tim Gerritsen but it’s far more apparent when we watch Booker prowl through Columbia’s streets. On close inspection of the gameplay trailer, “BioShock Infinite” seems even more politically themed than first guessed. When Booker comes upon the fiery orator Saltonsall, the older gentleman’s speech sounds like it could’ve been pulled from an ultra-conservative militia tract. While the environmental design of the flying city seems to exist as open and airy dollops of Americana–it might as well be the Liberty Bell falling in front of you–the people there are anything but welcoming. The plot details that have trickled out so far have Columbia disappearing into the sky after a scandalous international incident and, in their time away from the rest of the world, their communal subconscious seems to have curdled into a virulent chauvinism. You’re a stranger in these parts and that alone can get you killed. And honestly, the substance of Saltonsall’s speech would sound right at home coming from Glenn Beck or any crazy Tea Partier. The paranoiac signs in the gazebo–“They’ll Take Your Gun,” “They’ll Take Your Life,” “They’ll Take Your Business,” “They’ll Take Your Life!”–spring from the same place as the Birthers’ claims that there’s a Kenyan anti-colonialist in the White House.

It’s easy to focus on the gameplay in the trailer. Showing off the mechanics is its raison d’etre. Seeing Elizabeth and Booker use their powers together delivers a taste of the possibilities that will be on offer when the game comes out. And the world looks like a fascinating mix of steampunk and Gilded Age, with mustachioed cyborgs and roller-coaster conveyances. But, there’s some cutting commentary folded into all of that, too, and it’s the real reason that “BioShock Infinite” could stand out from the crowd when it comes out in 2012.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.