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January 22, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 7A

Finding little
satire in 'Django'

Animated magic in'Kuni'

Have you ever told a joke
boy, you are funny!
- only to realize that
your audience doesn't quite get
it? Sure, they're laughing. He's
knees, she's
head back
with glee
and shaking
a finger in
your direction
(you are so BRIANNE
hi-larious!). JOHNSON
But the back
row - heck,
the whole theater - has missed
the punchline, swinging fists
into space, wild and blind and
This was my experience
watching Quentin Tarantino's
"Django Unchained."
But I'm no comedian, just
an eager viewer camped out in
the last aisle of my hometown
theater on Christmas night.
"Dude, this movie's going to
be fucking awesome. Tarantino
is the man."
Five friends surround me: all
male, all old high-school chums,
all slurping the salt and butter
off their thumbs. Oh, and we're
all white. Not that it matters,
right? Love is blind to color, and
so is the audience of this dim
But let's fast forward to
over two hours later. Over two
hours of aesthetic, comedic,
dramatic, gory and DiCaprio-
tastic brilliance later, I am in the
backseat of a '91 Honda Civic,
wiping out brain cells with each
thud of my forehead against the
window. Shockingly detailed
penises are scrawled across the
foggy glass like cave paintings.
I sigh.
I am frustrated.
"Is it weird that all I want to
do is say ni**a' now?" the driver
asks with a laugh.
"Leo is so getting an Oscar for
that. That shit was insane."
"Brianne, what's your
problem? It's a movie - it has no
point! It's just for entertainment,
Now, weeks later, I address the
above statements for (at least)
two reasons: First, His Highness
Leonardo DiCaprio has not
received a nomination from the
Academy. Can we please have a
moment of silence?
Second, this heaping mess of
my friends' words parading as a
post-film discussion is very, very
But who am I, perhaps no
more justified than Calvin
Candie's clueless, white southern
belle of a sister, to speak of
racism? Who am I to spout my
sympathies for a whole race of
people representedby a couple
of characters in a glamourized
western flick? I don't know. I
was one of 50 people in that
theater on Christmas night. One
of many who heard members of
the audience stifle their giggles
like guilty children every time
Samuel L. Jackson opened his
mouth. Isn't that enough?
Hey, I can appreciate
comedy. I'm satire's biggest fan,
with a sign-my-infant-son's-
forehead love for irony and self-
deprecation. Needless to say,

I believe - in all my potential
delusion - that I am familiar
enough with satiric comedy
to enjoy or, at least, recognize
it. Jokes are not the problem.
(C'mon, I promise!).
From Page 6A
Many bands and artists have
certainly embraced an electronic
sound and flourished in it. But in
a synth-pop world where groups
like Passion Pit are producing
catchier songs and artists like
Toro Y Moi are crafting groovier
albums, it's hard for this elec-
tronic Ra Ra Riot album to feel
up to snuff.
With a more artful approach
to auto-tune and production (and
maybe some more strings), Ra Ra
Riot could certainly thrive in this
genre in the future, but for now,
we are left with Beta Love and its
dud-ly mediocrity.

The issue is that my friends
weren't laughing atfthe tongue-
in-cheek racism. They weren't
guffawing at the laughable
ignorance and transparent
hospitality of "Django"'s racists.
My neighbors weren't
laughing at the racists. They
were laughing with them.
What's the difference, you
ask. Maybe there isn't one, I
answer. After all, as my friend
said, maybe a movie is mere
entertainment, and we're all
wasting our time studying film
for deeper meaning. Wouldn't
that be funny?
Is it amatter of selective
perception? Do we, as viewers,
let our critical guards down as
we raise palms full of popcorn to
our mouths?
Maybe you chuckledbecause
you can't resist agood ol'
stereotype. Maybe you laughed
because Jonah Hill and his
band of buffoons, hooded like
the KKK in cowboy boots, was,
y'know, funny. But why did you
nudge your neighbor and smile
when slaves were called crude
names? Whipped? When the
head house slave referred to a
fellow black man as "boy" and
refused to acknowledge his
Racism is
exploited rather
than explored.
Listen, I admit that, whether
a person catches the implicit
humor of some satirical joke
is, in the big scheme of movie-
related things, not a tragic issue.
However, for those who haven't
been subject to racism (of all
colors and ethnicities), it's just
another form of entertainment.
It's an anecdote ina comedian's
lineup, a lyric, a theme of next
week's episode and an internet
I've heard that acknowledging
racism, even in an ironic way,
can take the power out of it.
After all, slavery and segregation
are behind us - the wound has
healed! Hasn't it?
So, what's the big deal?
"Tarantino isn't trying to make
a point," myfriend said that night
at the theater, "It's just a movie.
You're supposed to laugh."
Maybe I've missed
something. Have I subscribed to
the wrongbrand of humor?
Wait, aren't I watching "This
is 40"? Oh. Well, that explains
a lot,
Johnson lost her sense of
humor. To help her, e-mail

Gameplay and score
take 'Ni no' to
new heights
Daily Arts Writer
It's rare that an exceed-
ingly - high-quality piece of
work reminds adults that it's
all right to be
a kid again.
"Wall-E" pro-
vided adorable, Ni no Kuni:
abstract char-
acters, while Wrathof the
"Toy Story 3" White Wtch
blended the
familiar cast of Playstation 3
action figures Studio Ghibli
and company
with a healthy
dose of nostalgia. "Ni no Kuni:
Wrath of the White Witch" cre-
ates a world that evokes wide-
eyed wonderment from players,
inviting them into a bubbly, liv-
ing and tangibly real world that
makes playing feel more like an
exploration of the favorite films
of years long past.
The game follows the story
of Oliver, your run-of-the-mill,
suspenders-wearing 13-year-
old boy from some generically
named city somewhere in some
place. Where he's from is less
important than where he goes:
Following a tragic accident, he
finds out that he is a wizard and
embarks on a quest to restore
things to their former, happier
Guided by Lord High Lord
of the Fairies, former doll Mr.
Drippy, and joined by a cast of
palpably real allies and ene-
mies, Oliver bounces between
his world and a parallel one to
restore damage done by Shadar,
a tentacle-faced Djinn with a
penchant for breaking hearts.
The player's goal is to mend the
hearts of cursed individuals in
this other world, giving them
Come to the
mass meeting,
Thurs., Jan. 24, at
7:30 p.m. in the
Daily Newsroom

There's a lantern on his nose.
booster shots of Love or Enthu-
siasm or whatever else they
may be missing. Each character
in this parallel world is tied to
their soulmate in Oliver's, shar-
ing various similarities - the
Cat King in the other world is a
fat tabby in Oliver's, while Oli-
ver's mom is a renowned Sage in
the other world and so on.
"Ni no Kuni" owes its bril-
liant, animated film aesthet-
ics to animation giant Studio
Ghibli ("Spirited Away") and
game developer Level-5 ("Pro-
fessor Layton" series), which
worked together to create an
atmosphere that is indiscernible
from the lush, vibrant settings
in Ghibli's films. The voice act-
ing, available both in English
and Japanese, is incredible.
Each character has a distinct
personality and everyone from
the shopkeepers to the titular
antagonist, the White Witch, is
privy to beautifully written dia-
Gameplay is where "Ni no
Kuni" really shines. Aside from

the 'fact that the game is gor-
geous, immersive and generally
exceptional, the game strikes
a balance between instanced
monster fights and Pokemon-
style monster capturing and
battling. Oliver and his pals can
fight on their own, but their
familiars - cute but fierce enti-
ties controlled by individual
wizards - tend to be handier in
Each party member can have
up to three familiars available
to them at a time, with one out
on the front lines and the other
two waiting for their share of
the fight.
Players can obtain and train
animals out in the wild to use
in the future, offering comple-
tionists a fun diversion from the
wealth of side quests and bounty
hunting while not making it
necessary for progression.
While the combat isn't neces-
sarily intuitive at first, the brief
stop-and-go of the action lets
players breathe in otherwise
stressful engagements. Boss

fights are a huge affair, with
some of the creatures greatly
outsizing the diminutive pro-
tagonist and his even smaller
Also incredible is the game's
soundtrack. Written by Joe
Hisaishi - responsible for the
incredible scores of many Studio
Ghibli movies - and performed
by the Tokyo Philharmonic
Orchestra, the game's heart-
string-pulling conflicts and the
childlike amazement shared by
both the protagonist and the
player are brought to life by the
expertly crafted musical cre-
scendos and climaxes.
"Ni no Kuni" is an unbeliev-
ably great game, providing a
solid role-playing experience in
a universe that doesn't rely on
cutting-edge, hyper-realistic
gore or shock tactics to provide
a memorable experience. With
no obvious flaws and a slew of
positives, "Ni no Kuni" hits all
the right notes for gainers of all

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