Tuesday, 31 May 2016

X-Count 1

Are the X-Men films aimed at fans or a general audience? And what does it assume people know?

Well, clearly it is a general audience, with nods to fans, but it plays on what the audience knows. Or doesn't know. In this case, who the characters are? Specifically, do we know them as their human names or their X-Men names?

I watched the movies, and counted for the main cast, and here are the results of the first movie.

Logan is Logan, Rogue is Rogue, Scott can be either, but Storm is Storm. She has an actual name, you know! And Eric is more Magneto than Eric.


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Monday, 30 May 2016

Witch Hunt

It's the sort of sequel to the Lovecraftian Film Noir movie... and it definitely feels like the typical sequel.

It's the 1950s, and magic is used in Hollywood. Lovecraft, the detective, is brought in to find out what's going on when a movie mogul is killed, and ends up... caught up in a small time political machination that has a big moment of witch burning.

It just doesn't work very well. The story just doesn't feel climatic in the same way that the previous one did, and the big thing is 'we don't like magic'. Er... what? How is that that exciting? At least there are some names such as Dennis Hopper, Eric Bogosian, Julian Sands, Alan Rosenberg... and yet, we aren't talking that big a name (aside from the first one). Just... blah.

That's what I feel, and let's see what you think.


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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Cast A Deadly Spell

It's a Lovecraftian Film Noir movie... but of course it is!

It's 1948 and everyone is using magic. Except for the detective Lovecraft. He's called in to track down someone who stole some book called the Necronomicon, and along the way he gets caught up in an attempt to raise the Old Ones.

It's not what you would expect to see, but there you go. There's Lovecraft and magic and a large book, and dames and smoking and drinking and bent cops. It is quite a good mixture of genres, and there also quite a list of stars. Fred Ward, David Warner, Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown, Charles Hallahan... of course their star power may be different these days.

Quite a decent movie... and you can watch it too!


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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Starring 10th Trek

Here we hit peak Star Trek... and by peak, I mean the final movie before the reboot.

We've done the Klingons and the Borg, so let's go for the other classic race, the Romulans! Lead, obviously, by a white human, because of course. And he turns out to be a clone of Picard, despite that Tom Hardy looks nothing like Patrick Stewart to my eyes. Once the players are in place, it's then a large starship chase until the ramming (no-one says "Ramming Speed", boo!) and finally Data is replaced by who will be the same person.

In contrast to everything else I've said about this series, in this case I will say that the light hearted stuff is far better than the drama. So much of this story revolves around the surprise that Shinzon is Picard that if you don't care about that, a lot of this movie falls down. And it doesn't mean anything to me, and it doesn't feel like the movie really tries to build it up either, it just assumes that this will be meaningful. And thus, it is flat.

Brett Spiner nearly gets something decent to do, but Data is undermined by clearly having a replacement in B-4. And by the fact that Brett is 53 at this point.

With that, this isn't a terrible way to see out the series, but this has been an up-and-down tour of Star Trek movies.


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Friday, 27 May 2016

Cul de Sac, The 5

Oh, this nearly could have been something the whole series was about!

The parents are back. But it is immediately obvious to anyone who is watching that these adults are evil, clearly pod people. And so we spend half of the episode waiting for everyone else to catch up. And when they do, it is nearly scary, however the scare is undercut by having the heroes be able to revert back to themselves with no problems what so ever and never seeing the adults as a threat represented by their parents again.

Kids with replacement parents that are evil have plenty of potential, and this is wasted here. The wave could have converted adults to evil selves, and slowly more is revealed about that, but instead it's blown in one go. Sigh.

One episode left, and I'm not seeing anything good come out of this.


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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Hebrew Bible

This is the other series by Shaye Cohen I saw on iTunes, and it is about how Judaism and Christianity view the Bible.

And the first thing I feel to point out is that this Christianity isn't one we would largely recognise from modern day, but from a more theological viewpoint. To pick one example, consider circumcision. This is seen as a mark of the Jews, and Christians would say 'Jesus was circumcised so we don't need to be', and yet circumcision is largely mainstream these days. And don't tell me it's for medical reasons, it's from religion sources because the medical science ain't in on it, and yet it happens anyway.

Also there are a lot of fine points about why Christians view things differently, and how Jews react to that, but I highly doubt most people think from that perspective. Instead it's just what we are taught, and largely take on board by a kind of osmosis in church teachings. Some things Christians do have as a cultural idea, of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, of Jews being responsible for Jesus' death, and so on, but I doubt largely anyone would be able to cite the sources discussed here.

So while this is interesting, I would like a course about modern day Christianity. Actually, speaking of courses I would like, one that goes into the differences between the different types of Christianities, for example Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, etc, etc… There's a decent lecture for you!


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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Xmans Apocylisp

It's a big movie featuring a lot of character we are supposed to care about! At least, the movie assumes we do, because it doesn't do any work to suggest that to us for itself.

The first mutant comes awake due to an amazingly convenient shaft of sunlight, and the big brain guy completely misses the arrival of someone with all this power. The hell? Anyway, Magneto's evil switch is flipped to on in the most obvious and stupid way ever, and he and others join forces with Apocy in order to... well, be evil, as near as I can tell. Fortunately, the good guys get a lot of new recruits that we should recognise, and eventually everyone gets into a big battle. A big CGI battle. With actors standing in poses against green screen no doubt, while everything around them, and bits of them, are replaced with graphics.

Basically, it's a movie, and it's going through its paces, with set pieces to bring people together and moments to introduce characters. Without any real sense of caring, as though the movie thinks that just having these people we know is enough to generate a sense of investment. Can't say it worked for me.

Not to say that this was a bad movie. Just that it wasn't anything impressive. There were a few nice sequences visually, but nothing really emotional to stick with you.\

And then the movie ended.


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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Go-Between

It's the third Losey/Pinter film, and we all know how much I like those. It's The Go-Between.

It's a summer time visit to a house out in the country, and a young lad is there and is quickly caught up in a love tryst between the attractive Marian and the rough neighbour farmer. Slowly he is coming into his own bodily awareness and needs, but can't stand against the older people. Until finally he is confronted with their indecency and is forever scarred.

This does remind me of The Servant, in that this is full of people that I didn't like at all and wasn't rooting for. And then there's the 'twist' reveal of the narrative frame which, for me, fell through and didn't have an impact on anything.

Well... done now.


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Monday, 23 May 2016

The Plan

Another free game, this one from Krillbite Studio, who created Among the Sleep.

You are a fly, and you fly... and that's really about it. You go up, and the view pulls back as you fly through nature and encounter winds and... there really isn't much else aside from one major obstacle. And then you reach the end.

It is short, and the controls are basic, and the gameplay is basicer. In that regards, one may bring back the idea of what makes a game, but there is a point in that this makes you consider the viewpoint and life of the fly. And what happens at the end. But I doubt many people will really consider it a lot. (Aside from the one person on steam who spent over 48 hours on it! And I'm sure just didn't leave it open while they did something else at all.) One big nitpick: the sound gets REALLY LOUD!!!

This games gets a one off smile, and then it's done.


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Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Old Tree

Hey, it's another free to play. You are an old tree? Or a new one?

In this game you are... a creepy baby apple thing? I'm not sure. But you do have tentacles and can crawl along the floor, walls and ceilings. You are travelling through a hotel? and need to get to... actually, I wasn't sure what my objective was, but just kept going. Along the way there are many small puzzles. Like 'click this and it's solved!' complicated. But, hey, it's cute and rather short. Like 12 minutes short.

I'm not going to be the only one, but I was reminded of Samorost style games with the simple no-word puzzles and an unfolding story. Given I really like that type of game, I wouldn't turn down a longer game by them.

Anyway, a nice wee game, give it a go!


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Saturday, 21 May 2016

Starring 9th Trek

Last movie was all action, so let's have all talking! Uh...

On a planet somewhere, there's a nice village with technological avoiding people, and the Enterprise crew turn up and talk to them. Then they talk to the evil people trying to take over the place. Then they talk to the planet people again. Then they run. There's more talking. And finally some action, but it feels really limp.

Usually I've been a fan of non-comedy moments. And of Patrick Stewart's and Brent Spiner's performances. But this... no, it just doesn't work. It's like they wanted to refresh the characters (and did so by magically making them younger in spirit), but did so in a cack-handed manner.

So, what did I like then? There's something good... but no, after watching this, nothing is coming to mind. Either flat or try-hard, I've got nothing.

Just skip it, really.


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Friday, 20 May 2016

Cul de Sac, The 4

What is going on with this? Was it only an hour that they padded out to two?

We get a little plot progression, with hints of the adults around, and some backstory to the school kid (I'm guessing he's just insane, but if not that's a hell of a thing to insert into this story). We also get a completely stupid scene where the three main kids are basically caught by the school kids, and set into a trap with a Creeper. Which is in a rather well lit area, which Creepers have previously avoided... and then the Creeper seems to decide 'sod this' and buggers off. So... huh?

It feels like there is some attempt at a story, but there's just so much else going on that the writer wants to have as important, but it just doesn't come off. I'm guessing that this will continue for the rest of the episodes.


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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Missing Translation

Another free to play. In this case you are in a world where there is only puzzles...

First, you can choose to be male or female, so bonus! Although it matters not. After waking up during the night, you pop out for a stroll and then are sucked into an alternative dimensions where parts of the machine that transported you are around the place. You need to find them and solve sets of puzzles to get them back. And there are other peoples around, and you can only communicate by speaking in a limited set of symbols.

There are 25 of each set of puzzle... which means that fatigue can set in rather quickly as it's just the same old same old time and again, only slightly harder. There are also some other puzzles around, although I'm not sure I got them all as some doors remained locked. Do they always? Although I did get all the achievements...

All up, it took me over an hour to play, with some backtracking and playing around, and again I'm not sure if this is a game I will go back to. Still, a nice wee go.


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Wednesday, 18 May 2016


A simple game, and it's free, so why not?

You are a machine trying to reconnect with... something. There's no story given other than the puzzles you do, so read the description on the page. This is a 'black object on a black background' style that's reminiscent of Limbo. There isn't any combat just a few puzzles, with only a few causing me confusion.

So it is a quick game. While doing other things, I still completed it in twenty minutes, then went back to get the final achievement taking only ten minutes. That all said, I'm happy with what I played, maybe when they bring out another game I'll go for that?


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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Tasty Planet

Computer game time, and this one I got because I saw someone else playing it, so screw people who say that LPers are robbing sales.

This is a Katamari Damacy game (which I've never played), in which you slowly gobble small things until you get bigger and can eat bigger things... and that's about it. In this case, you are a slime and end up going through time and eating things all throughout history. We aren't talking in depth story here, but you don't really need one.

Because this is a largely basic game, and a fun one. There are a couple of levels where there are things that come after you, but that makes it all the more fun when you get big enough to eat them in turn. Nom nom nom.

There are a fair few levels, with some variety, but most are simply move around to the level until you get big enough to satisfy the 'gotten big enough' requirement. This does lead to some repetition, but mostly this is fun.

Fun enough, but I can't see me going back to try to get the various speed medals.


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Monday, 16 May 2016

Comedy Lovecraft

It helps to know the stories these are taking off.

But if you aren't fans, at least they are short.


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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Really Big Spider, Really Big

Another movie with two titles, but they are similar, and both express an overly large arachnid.

In just 12 hours, a spider (definitely singular) infested body is brought to a hospital morgue, where the spider escapes into hospital and feasts. And gets bigger. Fortunately there's a pest exterminator handily around, and unfortunately there's a military presence. And there's also a comedy Mexican security guard who is not treated racistly at all... The spider gets even bigger, rampages downtown, and then sort of turns into King Kong, until they Evolution it...

A few names of note here, Greg Grunberg, Clare Kramer, Ray Wise... (and a cameo by Lloyd Kaufman) and surprisingly, the CGI isn't that bad. It obviously is CGI, but well rendered enough that I'm not complaining about it. The comedy also isn't terrible (aside from the Mexican riffs) which is a big change. While the plot is basic, it could be a lot worse.

A nice diversion, and a good example of a low budget yet watchable film.


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Saturday, 14 May 2016

Starring 8th Trek

After the talking of the last movie, this one is action, Action! ACTION!!!

The Borg are back and get a Queen because the movie needs someone to speak for them rather than the bodyless voice, and she's always been there... ALWAYS BEEN THERE! We also have some time travel, because we haven't had that for four movies, but this is far easier than back then, and makes you wonder why they aren't popping all over time all over the place. Never mind the anti-time squad of later, the Borg go after us, let's go after their origins! Anyway, there's also Zefram Cochran, who gets to be the comedy of the episode...

And, as I've continually said throughout this rewatch, the comedy are not the strong moments of the series. Indeed, the best parts of the comedy are when James Cromwell is being serious about how he isn't the Hero Zefram. We also get some great scenes with Patrick Stewart giving fine performances, although he does turn on a dime between Kill The Borg and Run Away, thanks to Lily, who is brilliantly played by Alfre Woodard. Brent Spiner does a nice line in fake orgasming.

That all said... I like the action set pieces, although let's not deny they are set-pieces. That bit with the deflector dish could have been cut without impact (aside from losing Damian Dark). And having Riker and LaForge on the flight shows that anyone could have done that bit.

It's a nice bit of action, but there's nothing really lasting here.


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Friday, 13 May 2016

Cul de Sac, The 3

Halfway through, and I'm wondering if there's a point to any of this?

This time some of the kids were taken and end up in a pit with the creatures... from which they escape, with not a lot of trouble it has to be said. And the other kids barricade the house and set up lights. And that's about it.

Despite what I said about the series rushing, it is also hanging around a lot not doing much. In this episode, for example, all that happens is as I described. There wasn't character development, nor plot development. In fact, I would almost say there was negative plot development because I really don't understand how the batteries work at all.

Oh, and despite there being no lights, there seems to be plenty of light all over the place for us to see the characters when they are inside. But then there are also weird editing choices that just seem to trim scenes whether they need them or not, so I'm not thrilled with the production of this.

And at the end of this episode, we get a huge twist... that comes as no surprise at all. Yay?


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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Civil Unwar

Yes, of course I saw it, it just took me a while to get around to writing about it.

This movie is quite impressive in that it's an Avengers movie, and a Captain America movie. The story is well balanced between being about Cap and things in his life and bringing in the other heroes. For a while, I wondered if the big clash (that the trailer is all about) would be a rushed job, but even that was well done and there was even more afterwards. And yet, it didn't feel overly long.

But, of course, there is a but. There were some plot points that annoyed me, mainly around how various characters were just so conveniently in place to get the next bit of information to cause the next scene. And there's a big problem to be in that the big battle shouldn't have happened (and in many ways it's about as stupidly justified as the other blue-dressed superpowered being against the millionaire playboy in a mask).

Overall, I liked this movie more than my usual cynicism with Marvel movies. Unlike some, I'm not placing this at the top of any movie lists, but it gets the nod.

And btw:


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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Documentary Bus For Hope Teaser


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Tuesday, 10 May 2016


I decided I wanted to watch a documentary, and searched on YouTube... after seeing some silly things and trying for terms that fit my whim, I eventually found this one on Linotype machines.

This was the state of the art at the time, and even then there were advancements, see at the end about modernisation already in place.

And yet, now they seem positively quaint. Having to set up rows of letters and then moving on to the next stage... hopefully they could recycle the plates, otherwise there's a lot of lead still lying around.

While looking around I saw a few other documentaries I might indulge in. With so much on YouTube, there's no way to run out of things to watch.


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Monday, 9 May 2016

Video everywhere but here

I am wanting to get a hold of Dr NakaMats, a film I rather enjoyed. But can I find it anywhere?

I can find it on Amazon. There is a copy there, I can even rent it... except not here in New Zealand. There is a copy on DVD, for $15, and all it is is this company burning a disc... that's not worth that much! Plus shipping! There was supposed to be a Blu Ray with lots of extra stuff on it, but no sign of that either.

There is also a copy available on iTunes, for download and everything... except not in New Zealand again.

Oh, and Hulu has one. Or is it Vimeo? Either way, I can't get at it. There might be a copy via YouTube, but I can't even see that offer.

Yes, I get the rights thing, but there is a sense of this being ridiculous, especially for a documentary like this!


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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Overthinking Highlander Immortality

Highlanders are immortals in that they do not die from any wound... except if their head is cut off. Which raises two interesting questions.

How much can be cut off before the head is considered removed? Cut off an arm or a leg, fine, people have survived that, so Highlanders can too. But how about cut them in half at the waist? Their heads are still around and intact, so they survive? How about through the rib cage? Just above the heart? Cut a Vee mark from their shoulders down, so some chest is there, is that all right? One inch below the neck? Half an inch?

And from the other direction, how much of their head can you cut off before it counts? The eyes and ears, fine. Top of their head? A bit of the brain? Random brain surgery? Everything above the medulla? Just on the spinal cord?

Which brings up the other question: how much head cut off counts as being cut off? Just cut the spinal cord? Just a nick on the neck? How about slicing through half the neck but leaving the other half alone? Is the Highlander fine then?

Some of these might have been answered in comics and such, but it does get quite silly when you think about it.


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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Starring 7th Trek

It's the trade off movie where they hand over the movie series now that the second tv series has ended.

Some pointless astronomical plot is going on that leads to the destruction of a stellar system. To stop this, two captains of the Enterprise team up and... end up with a rather useless death scene, which is then taken over and dealt with far better in the books. In fact, go read the books, because they are the only good thing relating to the story in this movie.

There is fine acting here, especially from Patrick Stewart. Brett Spiner is also good, but LeVar Burton is hampered by his token minoritism (ie having the play the blind guy as well as being the black guy). Malcom McDowell... is in this movie.

But the problem with the movie is that... well... the script sucks. Despite being about emotion and humanity and time creeping up on you, there is no emotion in this movie. This feels like a small movie, with basically the TNG cast wandering around, and a couple of cameos from other actors. Yes, stars are exploding, and a planet gets blown up... but we don't have any connection to the people who suffered. and... it's nothing.

And many things still bug me. The model shot of the saucer landing feels like a model shot. The amount of time that Kirk and Picard spend dealing with Soran is about ten times the amount of time Picard and Soren spent when Soren didn't even need to do anything. And the damn orange light in the earlier shots just look terrible, however evocative of hell / sunsets ending time it was supposed to be (although wasn't).

This was a movie was more about passing the baton rather than telling a story worth in an of itself. Let's just move on to proper TNG stories.


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Friday, 6 May 2016

Cul de Sac, The 2

The great New Zealand science fiction continues! This is created by Stephen J Campbell, who has written for a fair few shows, although no science fiction. I can't say this is a shocking revelation.

There's exposition given in this episode as a plane turns up that happens to be the one plane containing the one person who could explain everything, and happens to be related to the main character. Because why bother with hinting at coincidences, when you can just go ahead and have the universe contain about five people. Anyway, there seem to be adults, but the kids are still alone, so we watch them go from the school to the home to the army base... and that's about it.

Oh, and there are strange creatures that are badly imaged large humanoid beings. The CGI just isn't impressive in this series. However, I will give props to the empty city. There are a few shots of the character walking through town with no sign of any other people or lights... or cars, or trash? That's a bit odd, unless the wave is very cleaning. Oh, and despite electricity not working, batteries do, so stored chemical energy is fine... does that mean electricity can be generated, and the water plants should be able to get back up and running easily? Ah, but I'm picky.

This series is just feeling small and compact, in a way of 'let's just get the main story told without taking time to relax and decently craft the story'. We are only two episodes of six down, and it feels like things are racing to try to tell everything.


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Thursday, 5 May 2016

Hebrew Bibble

Another iTunes course, this one on the Hebrew Bible as presented by Shaye Cohen. I have to admit that I like him. He's a rather liberal modern scholar, willing to accept that the bible is a constructed work and there are some things we don't know about it.

But going through it, this is making the bible feel like Post Hoc Rationalisation. The bible is often used for that, but in this case, it's more that the Israeli people did things, needed to explain and justify why they did things, why there were the way they were, and this is the story they came up with.

Cohen did a follow up course looking more at the Hebrew bible and Christianity... on to that next!


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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

One more thing to say...

Okay, I guess I do have something else to add in about the YouTube speed thing. I've mentioned before that I tend to watch at speed, in particular around Let's Plays. While this could say something about my personal habits, I like to think this says more about informational content.

When watching LPs, or any computer game, there's a lot of just fighting or walking around. So basically there isn't much going on that you need to pay attention to. So double speed is an easy to have it go by without needing to wait through every damn minute.

I also felt this lack of informational content when I watched anime (although mainly towards the end of my time watching, which might be related). The scenes were either fighting, in which nothing much story wise is happening, so I don't need to pay attention; or it's mainly characters just standing around espousing tons of plot without it actually mattering because it's all exposition without emotional relating to the characters. Either way, it doesn't mean much to me, so double speed it is. (Otherwise, when I am paying attention, I can read fast enough that I can go with subtitles watching at double speed and keep up with the story.)

And now I can do this with YouTube without needing to download them and interrupt other things I'm watching with VLC... not that I would of course...


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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

One thing to say...

I'm glad I found out that YouTube has speed controls! Woo!

[No, it's not much of a post, but that's all I'm capable of at the moment...]


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Monday, 2 May 2016

Nga Manu

A week or so ago I went to Nga Manu! This is a wildlife reserve just north of Waikanae.

They have several bird species, including nocturnal birds. And tuataras. And eels, with feeding time. And there's a long walk through the bush where we see many various New Zealand trees and other flora.

It's a nice walk, and I have photographs here. Check it out!


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Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Love What?

So I saw this yesterday, and took a moment to go... wtf?

Um... so this video makes the woman in the store go around kissing people, and they all see the video and start mass kissing.

What we have here is a case of sexual harassment. To be clear, I'm only talking about the video, not the song itself, so I'm looking at Youth Hymns here as the directors. Oh, and the video is basically drugs, with the tape put there by Ladyhawke herself, so she's to blame for drugging them. There is no sign of consent anywhere in this.

People will just say "it's just a harmless video, stop complaining", but then those people aren't helping matters. And I'm sure other people will say "what are you seeing in this video?" but it wasn't like I was trying to. I just saw the woman grabbing people and kissing them... I can't say I'm reading into it here.

Just... really?


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