Mark Hurrell.


Weeknote 17 – 18

01 February 2020

Aerial view of Eastchurch village, a caravan site, three prisons and the North Sea

Wikipedia caption for a photograph of the Isle of Sheppy

Gilroy’s film needed to be 60% better or 20% worse in order to transcend the forgettable silliness of its existence, but it could stand the test of time as a lasting monument to the idea that our own personal taste is the only real thing we ever had.

David Ehrlich for Indiewire

'I suppose our reputation as a company was that we’re profoundly antisocial, histrionic and looking to be controversial,' Dan Houser told the New York Times in a 2012 interview promoting Grand Theft Auto V. 'And we simply never saw it in that light. We saw ourselves as people who were obsessed by quality, obsessed by game design.' Of course, it is possible to be all of those things at once, and given how antisocial and willfully controversial GTA V wound up being, it was hard at the time to take Houser’s comments at face value. Taken alongside this vastly more earnest, heartfelt new game, those comments assume a slightly different cast.

Intentional or not, Red Dead Redemption 2 can be read as a meditation on failed leaders, and even as a potent critique of the internal and external cultures that Rockstar has helped perpetuate. Dutch Van der Linde is every inch the manipulative boss, frightening not only for his violent nature but for his ability to marshal people to work against their own self-interest. Time and again he reveals his shameless hypocrisy, and his promises of a new life are consistently shown to be empty maneuvering. 'This isn’t a prison camp,' he says at one point, uncannily echoing every supervisor who has ever coerced an underling into a technically optional task. 'I am not forcing anybody to stay. So either we’re in this together, working together to get out together, or we’re not. There simply isn’t a reality in which we do nothing and get everything.' I half-expected him to promise everyone bonuses if they hit their sales target.

The parallels between game development and gang leadership aren’t always so readily apparent, but Red Dead Redemption 2 repeatedly sets its sights on the systematic damage enabled by irresponsible leaders. It does not celebrate Dutch’s actions or his worldview; it repudiates them in no uncertain terms. Dutch is a failure and a disgrace, arguably the game’s truest villain. Thanks to the first Red Dead, we already know that he fails. We even know how he dies — not in a blaze of noble glory, but alone and cold, with no one left to stand by him. Rockstar Games, one of the most successful entertainment purveyors on the planet, will never meet the same fate, but the people who wrote their latest game sure seem aware of the risks of ambition.

Red Dead Redemption 2: The Kotaku Review, by Kirk Hamilton on Kotaku

  1. This exhibition wasn’t great so we took photos of each other instead 

  2. Nam June Paik at Tate Modern 

  3. Some beautiful swiss books on a brutalist shelf 

  4. I’m thinking about buying some Zara maternity clothing for myself 

  5. Read BLDGBLOG 

  6. Poster by Jiri Mocek 

  7. Good sign 

  8. Sheppy 

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