Why I Love Horror

words fae jake cordiner 

Hello you beautiful bunch, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written any solo content for the site.

This is due to a number of reasons, chief among them being my brain was, for the best part of the last 4 months, comparable to a lukewarm bowl of oat so simple. I just didn’t have the motivation or mental capacity to write anything worthwhile for the past while, so sorry? Not that I imagine anyone has missed my bollocks, but on the minuscule chance that you have, I’m back! Hopefully for good, but I’m not sure.

It’s October (for those among you who hate calendars like me), which means it’s peak time for spooks aplenty. So I thought this would be a perfect time to get back on the saddle and do Jake’s Month* (*see: fortnight) of Horror 2: Electric Boogaloo. I’m going to try and mix things up this time, I’ve got a rather ambitious idea for the end of month entry this year but we’ll see how it goes (spoiler: I might be enlisting some help). With this first part of my series of writings on horror, I decided to go all personal and try and pinpoint exactly where and when I started loving horror as a genre, so expect some anecdotes and potentially a small paragraph at the end to try and tie things together in a nice wee bow. Let’s go!

It must have been about 2003, I was at my pal Steven’s house. His big brother had Resident Evil 2 on PS1, and Steven and I went on a covert operation the likes of which the minds of the masses couldn’t come close to comprehending… We waited until his brother left then went into his room and got the game. Genius, I know, and yes Theresa May is planning on enlisting me as a military advisor, how the devil did you know? We put the game in, and before the classic PS1 splash screen even came up we were positively fucking shitting ourselves. I mean besides ourselves with fear, I think it as because we had seen the cover and it looked a bit creepy?


Regardless, the “RESIDENT. EVIL. TWOOOO” bit occurred and the two of us ran out of the room screaming, it’s not even particularly scary in retrospect but as an 8-year-old it was a different level of frightening. So we made Steven’s mum go in and turn the game off and went back to playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, the only frightening thing about that game is how bloody good it is! I think this specific incident was the catalyst that sparked my half-lifelong obsession with all things horror, however, there was another thing that happened only a few months later that may have played a large part as well…

It was 04/05, and my dad had rented the first Saw film on DVD from a video shop in my town called Global (it’s closed now, but I owe a lot to it, namely my love of gaming. Might be an idea for another article at some point, but I digress). Father Cordiner (not a priest) was under strict instructions by my mum not to let me watch Saw, under any circumstances, and fair play to old James, he did his best. I tried to come in and was swiftly told to get out, so I obliged.

BUT LITTLE DID HE KNOW, DEAR READER, THAT I SAT ON THE STAIRS AND WATCHED A GOOD TWENTY MINUTES OF THE FILM, COMPLETELY UNDETECTED! (*Insert Skyrim “Sneak 100” meme here*). It wasn’t even a particularly gory segment of the film (it was the flashback bit where Kramer gives his alibi and then a bit onwards), but I was infatuated. The way it was shot, the grimness and grossness that pulsated through every scene, it was cool as fucking fuck, basically. And for that reason, I hold the original Saw in very high regard. For the curious among you, I closed the living room door behind me but left it slightly ajar, and our living room door is mainly glass so I saw the action PERFECTLY!


The last example of my early love for horror would come in 2007, I had a computer in my room so that was basically how I spent all my time (WHO CAN RELATE LMAO?). I had recently gone to the cinema to see Michael Bay’s Transformers (a solid 6/10), but there was a trailer before it for a title-less film, “1-18-08”, soon to be known as Cloverfield. Now, anyone who knows me even in passing knows how much love I have in my tummy for the Cloverfield franchise, and the main reason is that of the viral marketing that surrounded it. 11 year old me was positively balls deep in that sweet, sweet ARG. I trawled numerous sites, forums and youtube videos in a near-manic attempt to devour any and all information about the film. As the release date drew near, and the pieces starting falling into place in regards to what the film actually was, my excitement reached fever pitch.

I didn’t see Cloverfield until it came out on DVD. I wasn’t old enough to see it at the cinema, so I had to wait. It was a painful 6 months, seeing the reaction to the film online, the excitement, the reviews… It was tough. On my 11th birthday, I must have watched the film maybe 6 times in a row, digesting every scene like a mother puma digesting her prey. Even though I’d kept up with the film after it’s release, I hadn’t had it spoiled for me (fucking somehow), so it still remained fresh to me, and it was, and probably still is, the single best experience I’ve ever had watching a film. It was bloody brilliant, and though I’ve seen films since that I perhaps admired or enjoyed more in some aspects, Cloverfield will always remain my favourite film.


Now while Cloverfield may not TECHNICALLY be a horror film (I’d argue it comes under the genre’s umbrella as both found footage and a monster film), it’s just as responsible for my love of horror as the other two anecdotes. And maybe that’s the main reason I love horror so much, the primality of it all. It’s ability to make you feel so frightened so quickly. Good horror holds your every sense and sensibility hostage and makes you lose sleep for maybe one night, but great horror, horror like Saw, Cloverfield, or more recently (and less anecdotey) Hereditary, The VVitch and films of that ilk, get under your skin like a master surgeon. It consumes your thoughts for days, weeks even, it makes you want to tell EVERYONE about how it made you feel, hell, it might even make you disobey your parents and watch it from the stairs.

Cheers for reading troops, I dunno what grand point I was really trying to make with this article. I just thought it might be a nice way to ease my way back into the swing of writing more long-form stuff. I hope you liked it, I hope I haven’t wasted your time, and I hope to see you again very, very soon. See ye!

The 10 Best Gorillaz Songs

Right – so we’ve had a breather from the Gorillaz for a hot minute now, we’ve had Humanz, and we’ve had a rather amazing tour, and now it feels high time to put into print the top 10 tracks Damon Albarn’s animated super group have put out, in there nearly 20 year history.

With every release of the Gorillaz, there is a decidedly different sound, from a range of noises, like old school blues to punk infused naughtiness in the self-titled debut, to the electro daydream of Plastic Beach, and most recently to the rocky dance hits of Humanz.

So here we have it, the top ten tracks from the Gorillaz.

10. Momentz

So at the start of the list we have this chronic-concerned track from Humanz, called Momentz, by the Gorillaz (I couldn’t help myself sue me). The track itself features the fantastic De La Soul, who appeared on Demon Days, and Plastic Beach, in the tracks Feel Good Inc. and Superfast Jellyfish respectively; and this Gorillaz veteran really hits it out of the park on this track, with verses that easily electrify the listener, and move perfectly in time with the fun, rock tunes going through behind the lyrics.

Coming very early in the album, it is part of the tour de force that, regardless of your views on the band’s latest release, is a perfect start to the album. It is beautifully geared towards a dance heavy sound to fantastic effect and including a frequent collaborator was a smart move; serving as a safe space for long term fans who may be hesitant of the old dogs trying some new tricks, Murdoc and the gang prove they’re more than up to the task and the results are proof the venture is worth it.

9. Tomorrow Comes Today

Jumping from the present, back to the band’s debut LP, we have Tomorrow Comes Today, which embodies a sense of cool, grim melancholy. This is communicated in the droning, off sounding guitars, and the slow, chilled out vocals.

8. Rockit

From the album D-Sides, we are gifted this funky, albeit dark, track, which comes across as a kinda satirical look at pop music, and the kinda lad culture that goes with it sometimes. It starts with a simple sounding drum-bass combo, and eventually spirals into a really dark horror sounding electro vibe, while constantly whittling on with nonsense lyrics (I’m walking to the something,Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, Collapse, I’m drinking too much bla bla, Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla“) – it’s just utterly mad.

The weird lyrics, and the very prog rock sounding sounds, leaves us with this very catchy, ultra groovy bop that is one of the Gorillaz weirdest hits. The band smack together nothingness and some groovy noises to give us a fucking fantastic track, from an album filled with B-sides and cut content from Demon Days

7. 5/4

Right, we’ve had three tracks which are very electronic sounding, it’s time for something a bit different: 5/4.

This track (again from their self titled debut), is a very guitar heavy track, until the very end. It has a slightly odd sound, like how Blur might sound if they were in a universe where everything was more or less the same but three seconds of industrial dub was required in all music; it plays like your normal rock song, with solid vocals and lyrics, and a great backing vocalist, as well as great rhythm guitars and drums.

The way the song takes all its relatively simple pieces and puts them together, enticing the listener more and more with each passing second, in addition to the brief industrial sounding moments of electronica near the end really summed up what Gorillaz would be as a project: doing varying genres of music, doing them really well, and more often than not turning them into completely different things in the process.

6. Feel Good Inc.

Right, nae shouting, I am fully aware that this is probably the most popular Gorillaz track, and not undeservedly so: the track is fucking legit. It was indicative of what would become the Gorillaz sound. They have the powerful electronic sound as well as mighty swells from just guitars and unaltered vocals – as well as a wee feature from an absolutely fantastic featuring artist in the form of De La Soul.

The hot single, off the band’s second proper album Demon Days, has a very poppy feel to it, being very clearly structured, and a whole kinda sing songy vibe to it, which is not a sound heard often from the band: a somewhat welcomed change of pace.

5. Punk

BOOF WE’RE HERE! We’ve cracked the top five and this first spot in it happily goes to the joyous, clappy, energetic Punk which – as I’ve already said – creates a almost textbook expression for the kind of genre it wants to be, and this time it’s on the tin: punk.

Punk kind of stirs in lots of classic punk influences, from the Pistols, The Clash, and – to me anyway – mostly the Ramones. It starts with a shedding of the electronic sounds, having them in there but giving way for the perfect sounding drums and claps exchange. It is then followed by vocals from Albarn, which sound just perfectly punk, kind of moany at the start, getting angrier and angrier. This track is just fab and could start a party wherever ye liked.

4. Stylo

Up next is the automotive Stylo, off 2012’s Plastic Beach, a very electronic, featured artist heavy album. This track packs in Bobby Womack and Mos Def, both of whom have fantastic little bits in the track that would make perfect title and intro credits music to a weird 80’s B-Movie.

It has a constant RnB vibe to it, communicated in really lovely beats, and delightful vocals from Albarn/2D. It’s all of this and more than results in one of the band’s most amazing tracks.

3. Rhinestone Eyes

Oh, another track from Plastic Beach!!? Madness. No but for real, this songs haunting, prophetic, maddening vibe is really something to marvel over; the vocals are convincing, and emotional through voice alterations, and constant impossible-not-to-groove-to-tunes and then spiraling into rabid chanting choruses.

Popping early up in the album, it was imperative that Gorillaz impressed and they really fucking blew the roof off with Rhinestone Eyes. The track’s mish mash of different sounds and different tempo for the music is just, to put it simply, utterly pleasant.

2. Fire Coming Out of The Monkey’s Head

The Penultimate track. The Silver medal. Fire Coming Out of The Monkeys Head. This track (also off the fantastic Demon Days) has a kind of radio play/ radio news report vibe – this is owed greatly to top quality narration by actor Dennis Hopper.

The track, which consists mostly of this narration and smooth beats bounce in the background, has an unknowable Lovecraftian sorta feel to it and things narration wise get suitably dark to suit this eerie palette. Damon Albarn comes back with audibly sweet lyrics, though continuing the dreary tone with some apt negative lyrics, backed by accoustic guitars. It’s hard to describe this song: it’s a wee story, but also such a conventional song, probably the most odd track the band have put out.

1.Clint Eastwood

Spot number one, after much deliberation, goes to Clint Eastwood. The Gorillaz are no the kind of band that have one track which is definitively the best, they have a couple to be honest, and deciding on the el honcho was hard. However, Clint Eastwood blends fantastically vocals from Albarn and the rap feature from Del the Funky Homosapien , all backed by a cracking electronic tune, reminiscent of the theme from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

But what really sets this song apart is the kind of honesty of this track: it is a culmination of music with obvious rock and pop influences, as well as hip hop, and electro. For many it was the jumping off point for their enjoyment of the Gorillaz, and for an equally great number, the first few notes will let them know they’ll enjoy the next three or so minutes, as they will do the rest of their catalogue.


check out the above tracks in this handy playlist

Why We’re Not Reviewing Justin Timberlake’s New Album

Today, we were set to publish Jake Cordiner‘s review of the new Justin Timberlake record Man of the Woods, an album we were anticipating for justified reasons. Sadly, Timberlake’s extensive history of borderline abusive actions have came to our attention. While this will no doubt provoke a “separate the art from the artist”, we pride ourselves on having a strong code of morals when it comes to these sort of actions and Man of the Woods has already received some…interesting coverage so we’re sure our decision won’t have any rippling effects.

Click-bait Cop: Consequence of Sound’s Tyler The Creator “Review”

While this series may be titled clickbait cop, we’ll be using this title to explore pieces of music journalism or news that we feel needs criticised to some degree, even if the headline in question may not be ‘clickbait’.

CW: Rape, racism.

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

As the title may have informed you with the use of quote marks, Kelly McClure’s review of Tyler The Creator’s latest album is not a review. From my previous thinkpiece/rant about the state of music criticism, I said that more had to be done to stop it dying a slow, painful death, one such thing being the actual state of music journalists’ writing and actually analysing the music rather than saying everything is just “good”.

The Consequence of Sound piece that McClure published didn’t feel anything like a review, rather it felt like an think-piece that seemed to contradict itself with every point. There are a handful of times where any real critique is shown without a fragile point being brought up to criticise Tyler The Creator as a person rather than his music.

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That’s not to say that criticism of Tyler’s actions aren’t valid: his lines on earlier records regarding rape and misogyny hold some weight and even with the angle of them being the actions of a character rather than things Tyler actually believes in/does, they felt like shallow shock humour that were only there to appease to edge-lords.

McClure is aware of this, as can be seen from her “review” which takes up a huge chunk of its overall word count to criticise his past actions and his character, making it feel almost like she hadn’t quite reached her quota the night before it was due and had to ramble on to meet it. The shock she shows isn’t exactly something new, considering she has reviewed some of his earlier work with some…questionable lines coming from it, such as the one below:

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Source: https://www.facebook.com/theneedledrop/posts/10156449561534778

As stated previously, I can totally understand the violent notion considering the lyrics around things such as rape would be enough to make anyone feel at least uncomfortable, even angry. However, the use of comparing a black man’s genitals to a dog feels somewhat…racist. Call it reaching but it’s something I’m not alone in thinking, making our writer’s thoughts feel somewhat hypocritical.

Unlike McClure though, I’m not gonna rag on about a point that has no relation to what we’re really talking about which is the review itself. Like we’ve discussed, this review fails to really review the work, something that even McClure herself seems to acknowledge: in the final paragraph, McClure says “now’s as good a time as any to reveal that this is a positive album review”, something that isn’t at all shown by anything preceding this statement. Much like commentators have pointed out, there’s been a decline in the quality of music reviews. To write a review like this with only a grade ranking and one line to show that you actually liked an album and not the hundreds of word before it just comes off as shoddy journalism.

There’s another point where McClure tries to critique the album for having A$AP Rocky featuring on a song – to quote her, she says:

For an artist like Tyler, who will be the first to point out that he’s not a misogynist, the company he keeps and the names he adds to his albums tends to consistently prove otherwise.

To affiliate with a misogynist can be seen as supporting the action, even if you don’t call them out on it. However, there’s two points that this paragraph brings up, firstly that there’s no critique of his performance or verse, something that a review should do.

Secondly though, Tyler The Creator isn’t the only artist to collaborate with A$AP Rocky: where was her outcry when Lana Del Rey announced she would have the rapper appear on her upcoming LP?  Or his appearance on a Selena Gomez track? McClure’s point does not come from a hateful place but when you think about it, it feels like she only brings up to further attack an artist when she’s already done plenty of that.

When bringing up context, McClure seems to ignore the fact that Tyler The Creator himself has matured as an artist. He may not be a pristine clean rapper, let’s be honest who is, but with Wolf and Cherry Bomb, he’s toned down, if not completely got rid of, the abusive and rapist lines that were apparent on Bastard and Goblin. The way she seems to discredit the rumour that Scum Fuck Flower Boy is a way for Tyler The Creator to announce he’s gay seems, to put it bluntly, kinda rude. To McClure, Tyler cannot be gay due to his previous comments, as if gay people themselves cannot be problematic which is rather naive considering that two of the most controversial figures in online politics happen to be Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson are both gay. While we can continue to keep them out of our community due to their hateful and downright stupid opinions, we can’t just pick and choose who is and who is not gay. 

Image result for tyler the creator

As McClure continues her point, she seems to think that this reveal is meant to be shocking, as if this is one big publicity stunt and shouldn’t be acknowledged. Considering Tyler himself is yet to say anything about it, after all this is purely speculation on the hip-hop community’s part, this again seems like careless journalism on McClure’s part – to rant about sexuality and then just end it with a “who cares” at the end harks back to that point of trying to reach the quota.

Am I in the camp of “female writers shouldn’t write about male artist’s work”? Of course not, music shouldn’t be propping up borders about who and who can’t listen or critique certain music. However, I feel like Consequence of Sound have made a bad move in publishing work like this without checking to see if it it meets the criteria of a music review, as well as giving it to someone with an inherent bias.





CLICKBAIT COP: The Guardian – Days Of Moshpit Numbered?

While this series may be titled clickbait cop, we’ll be using this title to explore pieces of music journalism or news that we feel needs criticised to some degree, even if the headline in question may not be ‘clickbait’.

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

While it may feel weird to start off a piece such as this praising the creator of today’s culprit, credit must be given where credit is due. In this Guardian piece, titled ‘are the days of the moshpit numbered?, writer Hannah Ewens begins by reminiscing on her days of getting bashed and sweaty in numerous moshpits during her youth, a stark contrast to ‘journalism’ we’ve covered before which came off as mindless moaning about staples of gigging.

In fact, the first few paragraphs actually start to weave something of a strong narrative, exploring the concept of safe spaces at gigs which aren’t inherently laughable as shown by the example of progressive, talented bands trying to implement such a thing. It’s a strange old world when a left-leaning newspaper is producing better music features than something like the NME, a former cornerstone of the market. 

It’s not until we get to the eighth paragraph, about two-thirds of the way through the piece in question, though, where your bobbing head will start to become a stern shake from left to right. The quote in question that will incite this isn’t the one you may expect the white man writing this reply to get angry at, “biggest defenders of moshpits are usually straight men“, rather it’s the following line which reads:

Most women I know who go to shows are either agnostic or hate them.

This is the point where I started to question what I was reading more than usual. To use the same thinking as Ewens, most women I know are on the complete other end of the spectrum when it comes to pits, notably twitter user @leerkat who said “it’s like people don’t understand there’s a whole world of moshing between toxic hypermasculine crowd killing and pits you can find at PUP or Menzingers”. She’s not alone in thinking this as many users seem to disagree with this piece, noting that people other than men can go just as hard in pits as them and feel like, in a sense, that it is their safe space. A particular comment that I’d like to point out comes from the Guardian’s very own comment section from user Hazelthecrow:


To build on leerkat’s aforementioned point, Ewens seems to be unaware, whether this is intentional or not I don’t know, of the progression made in terms of moshpits. No longer is there a laissez-faire attitude of trying to hit everyone around you and letting anyone who crosses you fend for themselves on the floor, covered in all sorts of liquids. Instead, a lot of it is far more polite while still maintaining that adrenaline of cathartically moshing around, forgetting all of your problems: one side doesn’t negate the other and it’s still possible to just let loose while still respecting those around you, especially women. In addition to this, moshpits are purely opt-in, opt-out: it’s as easy to get into one as it is to get out and it’s not hard to know how to spot one when a huge opening in the middle appears for a circle pit. There’s a total sense of camaraderie that is unprecedented in the live scene when it comes to modern moshing and to brush it off as nothing but a cesspool of toxic masculinity is both naive and foolish. 

One other thing worth mentioning is the example of Code Orange’s gig where a man wearing steel toe-capped left a woman with a broken jaw amongst multiple other injuries. This instance is absolutely deplorable and represents another type of moshing known as hardcore dancing, or HxC, another topic for another day, but one that doesn’t link into the type of scene the examples Ewens is using. From what’s been said, the whole aim of these types of pits is to intentionally hurt those around you but is only really seen in metalcore and deathcore shows which isn’t to excuse the instance, rather point out a narrative flaw since the piece seems to be talking about good old rock shows than these.

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Many replied to this piece already, stating that there are already safe spaces at gigs such as up near the back, beside the sound deck and near the barrier right by the security. While these people aren’t totally in the wrong, maybe venues should draw more attention to these areas so that those who want a safe space can have so without damaging the experience of others. On top of this, security should be given the relative training to deal with instances of assault which sadly still happen far too frequently. Sexual assault at gigs is a major problem and I respect the fact that it seems to be the reason behind Ewens thinking.

The honest truth though is that mosh pits aren’t the reason for it: it’s entitled, gross sacks of shit guys who are. Removing moshpits not only would do nothing at all to prevent assault but would instead punish the usual gig goer and many women and men who feel safest in there. Everyone wants others to enjoy going to a gig and the sooner we stamp out this epidemic of assault at gigs which organisations such as Girls Against are helping to do, the better. In the meantime though, let’s keep a staple of gigs alive, support our brothers and sisters in the pit, not look down our nose at an entire gender who love to mosh just as much as everyone else and stomp out any slimy, sexist pigs in our scene.





Thoughts On: Coachella 2016

There’s an ongoing joke about the cleanliness at Coachella: compared to the rugged, filthy conditions that music lovers at UK festivals thrive in, the California located event is the aftermath of a cillit bang advert. This, in addition to the near soulless crowds, results in people brushing off Coachella as nothing but an overhyped fashion show that also happens to have acts playing there.

That’s where this post comes in. Whilst I’d love to jump on the Coachella slagging bandwagon, it would be unfair to forget the fact that the festival has some of the best acts in the world performing at it, year in, year out. What follows is a list of some of my favourites from this first weekend that should, hopefully,display the diversity the festival has to offer.

Run The Jewels

My hands down favourite moment of the entire festival, Run The Jewels managed to steal the show despite performing early in the afternoon. Not only did hip hop heavyweight NAS come on stage to perform with Killer Mike and El-P but MOTHERFUCKING BERNIE SANDERS INTRODUCED THEM ON STAGE. Who says socialism and rap can’t be friends? (Well no one but I’m trying to pad this out as much as I can.)


Was I really gonna pass up the chance of talking about Foals? Even in the face of severe technical issues, a broken PA is gonna do all sorts of damage to your sets quality, the band still managed to get the crowd going. Just look at the image above: attendees helping someone crowdsurf? Who’d have imagined it! Any worries about Foals not deserving that headline slot at Reading and Leeds can be laid to rest.

Death Grips


fuck me up #deathgrips

A video posted by Jasmine Bahremand (@dogluver007) on Apr 18, 2016 at 2:05am PDT

It isn’t only an honour but a privilege to be able to see Death Grips perform live. Not many can claim to see the experimental hip hop act play their deafening discography in person and the audience at Coachella were aware of this, documenting the night which allowed for some clips of Hacker, I’ve Seen Footage and Hot Head to surface online. Don’t watch any unless you want to be left green with envy.

Courtney Barnett

Everyone’s favourite Australian gal entertained an enthusiastic Coachella crowd with some fantastic tracks off her fantastic 2015 LP Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

LCD Soundsystem

Out of all the headliners, one act stood out as a real attention grabber (before they got confirmed for pretty much every festival on earth): LCD Soundsystem. After reuniting this year, the James Murphy fronted act put on a great show that included a touching tribute to music icon and wonderful human being/alien David Bowie in the form of a cover of Heroes. Beautiful stuff.

So what do you make of Coachella? Got a favourite performance? Let me know what you think in the comments down below and follow this blog for more news and reviews.

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Thoughts On: R-Rated Movies

With Hollywood set to unleash a new wave of R-Rated films, I discuss why this could be detrimental for movies.

It’s seemingly impossible to look at any source of entertainment news without seeing something about Deadpool, a film that, carrying a $58 million budget and a handful of dick jokes, has become the ultimate underdog story. Grossing over $500 million since its release nearly three weeks ago, the film received praise from many (including myself which you can check here) and started a discussion about the superhero genre having new life breathed into it.

Suddenly fans were becoming less focussed on their interwoven universe and concentrating more on all these other characters who could be given the same appropriate adult treatment usually expected from a Tarantino film.

Just like any kind of success however, Hollywood have taken notice of Deadpool’s success and glazed other films with the same “no children allowed” brush. Now we’re getting a truly dark and violent Wolverine film to say goodbye to Hugh Jackman’s sharp handed mutant and an R-rated cut of Batman Vs Superman for its home release.

This immediately set off alarm bells for me as this isn’t the first time Hollywood have jumped on whatever is popular. Who could forget the countless amount of Star Wars imposters after the series came out of nowhere to become one of the best selling pieces of media ever or, and more relevant in this case, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of Batman which resulted in an onslaught of moody, dark takes on popular fictitious characters (honestly, who cares about a gritty take on Dracula again?) that still continues today.

Many others before me have pointed out a very important point about this “rise” of r-rated films and that is that branding a film with that age rating doesn’t mean that it’ll be successful: in some cases it can do the complete opposite.

Take for instance Watchmen, a great film in my eyes but one that I can’t deny underperformed when it hit the big screens. If the R-rating could not save the adaptation of one of the most critically acclaimed novels of all time, one that stands amongst other greats like 1984, then it seems pretty clear that branding a film as such will in turn not result in $$$.

What Hollywood need to realise is that the reason for Deadpool’s success is the team behind it: you had the original creators backing it, the actor who had pushed for the film to be made (so much so that he is 70% sure that he leaked the test footage online) as well as writers who knew the character and were driven to make the film they wanted without interaction from heads at FOX. Whilst people went crazy for Deadpool getting that age rating, they didn’t flock out to see it because of that. They went to see it because the trailers made them laugh, the promotional material was exactly what it should have been and it wore its fourth wall breaking humour on its sleeve.

James Gunn knows a thing or two about unconventional superhero films since, after all, he made 2014’s biggest sleeper hit Guardians Of The Galaxy and recently posted on Facebook about the comparisons between his film and Deadpool.

“The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label…

Posted by James Gunn on Monday, 15 February 2016

Unlike Hollywood executives, Gunn knows that the reason for a film like GOTG and Deadpool’s success isn’t because it’s different but because it done what the original creators set out to do. Whilst the former paved way for the latter, both films are still recognised for not being afraid to be unconventional or themselves and in the same way, Hollywood shouldn’t be aimlessly marking films due to the success of one movie.

Personally, I can’t wait to see an R-Rated (I’ve wrote out this word so many times my brain is going numb) cut of Batman vs Superman as I know from seeing The Dark Knight Returns that both characters suit that treatment. Fans are already speculating that we’ll get to see the death of people close to Bruce Wayne and this is what I want to see Hollywood, films getting what they deserve because it benefits the viewer and improves their experience.

Not so you can fill your pockets yet again.

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Violence and Video-games: A Link To The Present?

20th April 1999. The state of Colorado is shaken to its core as two tormented teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, equipped with shotguns and explosives, killed 13 people and injured 24 others before killing themselves at their local high school in Columbine. Almost immediately after the fatal attacks, the media put the blame on violent video-games.

Games such as the gory shooter Doom which Eric Harris had used to recreate his school and virtually foreshadow the shootings. This eventually lead to the parents of the 13 victims filing a lawsuit against 25 companies, all of which were game developers and publishers, suing them for $5 billion worth of damages. This incident has added to an argument that has spanned for as long as arcade machines have existed: is there a link between video-games and violence?


A question that might have popped into your head is how could these victims sue the video game industry for such a huge sum of money? Aren’t videogames just played by kids and adults still living in their parent’s basement (a stereotype that has created a stigma towards gamers)?

Truth of the matter is, over the past couple of decades, videogames have gone from an underdog of sorts to a colossus. Activision are the 20th Century Fox of the video game industry, their most prominent and well known video games series Call Of Duty grossing $10 billion over the series’ 12 year existence, a feat that some film studios can only dream about. Even one of the most famous movie sagas of all time Star Wars hasn’t even made half of what Activision’s FPS series has, only bringing in $4.4 billion since 1977. With inflation adjusted, even the highest grossing film of all time Gone with The Wind ($3.4 billion) would only scrape a measly 13th place on the highest grossing games of all time. In fact, the only way films would be able to accumulate more money than the highest grossing game of all time Space Invaders ($13.9 billion), you would have to add the top 5 grossing films of all time (Gone With The Wind, Avatar, Star Wars, Titanic, The Sound of Music).


Not only are they profitable but videogames are more accessible than ever, some so simple that regardless of age you’ll be able to pick it up and play with ease. Go on Facebook and you’ll see the evidence first hand, Farmville and Candy Crush requests flooding your notifications on a daily basis. We’ve now reached the stage where games are played just as much by teens as they are by their parents.

Unfortunately, this popularity for video games hasn’t worked in its favour. Although only 10% of people asked if video games made people violent said yes (1), no one said they believed videogames should be held responsible for events like Columbine. The media whistle another tune though, as shown by the tragedy that occurred in Norway back in 2011. Anders Breivik, equipped with van bombs, a carbine and a pistol, killed 77 people and injured a further 319. As soon as his trial began, Breivik said that he used Call of Duty as a firearms training program which the media paraded around for 24 hours a day.


Charlie Ward is a psychologist at Anglia Ruskin, the largest university in the East of England which is generating world leading research in 12 areas. Not only is she a psychologist but has had hands on experience with video-games and the effects they have. Talking to me over the phone from her home in Cambridge, she highlighted her opposition to the theory that video games could cause someone to go on a killing spree. “I think to do something like that you must have a mental health issue that should have been sorted. It shouldn’t just be related to the fact that people just think it’s video games, I think there’s something underlying that.”

Although holding a rifle is much different to holding a controller, Breivik’s claim might actually hold some merit after recent scientific studies. In 2012, students at Ohio State University asked volunteers to play video games and after an hour asked them to shoot human shaped targets. The study showed their was a 33% higher hit rate and 99% head-shot rate by FPS players than non FPS players which has lead those who think video games are violent to believe the popularity of shooters like COD is having a toxic effect.

However 1.2 billion people spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games and they don’t go around killing people. Miss Ward agreed, saying “ think that people with decent morals, are quite healthy and don’t have any mental health issues wouldn’t do something like that. I think you have to have something psychologically wrong with you. It could be anything related to hormones or anything like that which can cause these violent events, not Call of Duty or any Tarantino film.”


Critics of video games and their violence still insist that they cause players to become killers, partly by desensitising them to the horrors of their actions. After the horrific events of the Sandy Hill shooting in 2013, President Obama called for research into the effects of violent games though this isn’t the first time a politician has called for action on violence and video games. Since the 90s, Democrat party members have repeatedly tried to highlight the extreme content in video games, Mortal Kombat being a true showcase of this. Herb Kohl argued that regulation was needed for video games while Professor Provenso said that games like Mortal Kombat had almost TV quality like graphics. In hindsight, these claims over graphics are ridiculous but at the time it was of great concern.

Although it may sound like some sort of conspiracy theory, the military has been made well aware of the advantages of video games as both a recruitment tool and a simulation for training. In 2011, the US military spent $50 million on a training program known as America’s Army which has been in use since 2002 which researchers at MIT found to be the most effective method of recruitment than all other advertisement combined. Shockingly enough, the executive producer of the game says that their demographic is 13 year olds who after playing the game will want to enlist by the time their 17. The developers behind the game though justify their actions by saying desensitizing the gamer to violence reduces the chances of PTSD occurring. Defenders of video games also say that there’s an M rating for a reason and that it’s ultimately down to parents to take responsibility for what children play.

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Even army personnel have voiced their stance on the controversial debate over violence in video games. Most stand by the view that trained soldiers follow orders and protect civilians by killing enemy hostile but a gamer in his bedroom does not have the same constraints for outlet. Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman, a retired west point psychology professor, supported this by saying “Violent video games contain military condition but without the safeguard of discipline found in military and law enforcement conditioning”.

In some video games this strikes some truth as there are certain video games that encourage the slaughtering of innocent civilians in virtual reality. One of the most notorious instances of this is the No Russian mission in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In the mission, the character controls an undercover CIA agent posing as a terrorist in a group while riding an elevator and as the doors open, the group proceeds to massacre an entire airport full of innocent civilians. As well as this the Grand Theft Auto series has succumb to a large amount of controversy during its lifespan. 18 year old Devin Moore, who killed 3 policemen in a shooting spree in Alabama, was supposedly motivated by the video games which give the player a large array of weapons in an open world.

People who have this train of thought though fail to mention some very key things, most important of all being that violent acts within video games are totally within the player’s control. Even the aforementioned No Russian mission is totally optional and even those who decide to play it can go through the whole thing without shooting anyone and still complete it without any repercussions. In addition to this, the mission is justified in the context of the narrative and is extremely emotive. A 2011 report by academics from the University of Texas is one of the few conclusive scientific researches that has played a notable part in this debate, showing that video games have a positive effect on aggression by reducing stress. Another piece of evidence that’s up for interpretation is the decline in youth violence in correlation with the rise in popularity of violent video games.


In a post Charlie Hebdo world, censorship is a touchy subject. The lawsuit brought forward by relatives of the Columbine shooting was dismissed by the court of appeals, leading to the same decision being made every time that any lawsuit comes forward claiming video games are an influence on an individual’s behaviour. Dr Ward pointed out that if people are so worried about violence then it should be censored rather than outright banned though this censorship has a negative effect on the creativeness of the video game industry which has made it so viable. Although studies may show that gamers are desensitised to violence and would make better killers than ordinary civilians, there is simply no conclusive evidence to link violent video games and real life murder. With video games being the most profitable type of entertainment, one question will be rampant amongst media and researchers: do violent video games create killers or do killers play violent video games?