My Headfirst Dive into the Latest Hipster Trend

My Headfirst Dive into the Latest Hipster Trend

Hipsters have a history of doing some pretty nutty stuff, like opening restaurants that only serve milk and cereal (google it). But when I told my girlfriend their latest trend was buying cassette tapes, she straight up told me: “I don’t believe you”. I don’t blame her either. No one seems to remember cassettes fondly. A clerk at Waterloo Records told me it was the new trend among hipsters and teenagers to save money. I didn’t think about it at the time. If you told me hipsters were skipping around all day as a fast way to get high, I’d probably believe it. Maybe I shouldn’t just write someone off as crazy. After all, I’ve made the non-obvious choice before: I drive a manual instead of an automatic, I drink craft beer instead of bud-whatever, I listen to Fall Out Boy instead of moving on from high school. Each time I did it for a reason. Maybe the hipsters had a point? There was only one way to find out. I busted out the last audio cassette I bought.

pokemon-the-first-movie-cassette-audio-music-tape-atlantic-nintendo-1999-tested-ac30e6741101cfd5ea10d2509bc93aec
Fun fact: this album peaked at no. 2 in France.

Ugh, it’s not even the good one. At least it has NSync and Baby Spice. I wonder if I can get better one…

2bamaster2
Free delivery, how generous.

Not happening! Still, I oughta give this a real shot with a tape that didn’t spend a full decade melting in my parents’ attic. I ran off to Half Price Books and looked for something I would know from my post-cassette days. I ended up finding George Strait’s Greatest Hits and “Southern Accents” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Two albums for two bucks isn’t a bad price. I won’t get into economics but I will say something inferior and outdated is usually pretty cheap. So far the clerk’s story was holding up. I went to check out.

Clerk: “George Strait! Nice choice.”

Me: “Thanks. Hey, do a lot of people buy cassettes here?”

Clerk: “No. I’ve been here two years and you’re the first.”

Hm. Still, the woman at Waterloo Records was right about the cost. I headed off to Waterloo to see what they had. The first thing I noticed is that Waterloo had NEW tapes, not just used ones. I checked the back of a Blink-182 case and it was marked 2015; it was a reprint. Also, unlike the tapes at Half Price, this one ran 15 dollars. Is that really the cheaper option? I checked the same album on CD: $7.50. It literally cost twice as much! That’s the opposite of cheaper!

Okay, this is a hipster thing, right? I should pick up a hipster album. Luckily, Waterloo Records is the filthy layer of rookie hipsters in Austin. Their competitors Breakaway Records and Piranha Records are fine places to find wide selections and knowledgeable staff but Waterloo is where you can go to find a table full of local Austin hipster band cassette tapes. And that table is where I found this gem:

barandgril
Half of the song titles are smiley faces and card symbols. I’m not kidding.

Don’t let the number of tacks fool you. The songs are so short, this tape actually has two albums on it. Don’t let the price fool you. The band is so bad, this tape is actually worthless. I went to check out.

Me: “Do y’all sell cassette players?”

Clerk: “Nah, they don’t really make them anymore.”

You don’t say.

Clerk: “You’ll have to go to a Goodwill or something. But if you’re interested, you can have this. It’s a new band from around here. Oh, and this one too. They’re pretty good. These cassettes are great for local bands just getting off the ground.”

He handed me two tapes, one of which was actually a promotional cassingle. For those of you who don’t know: a cassingle is a tape with only one song on each side.

My cassette deck was long dead and no one I knew had one, so I checked out three separate Goodwill stores before I finally found one. (Well, the second one had a Hello Kitty alarm clock but that wasn’t gonna happen.) I took it home and opened my mind to something new. And apparently, something broken. I took it back and found another one. The rewind didn’t work but I knew just what to do!

cassette-pencil-2
You would need a machine to rewind a CD.

I popped George Strait in first. The first most glaring problem with cassettes came out immediately: the quality is terrible. Later on I did some research into cassettes online and found a weirdly large number of people rallying for cassettes. A common argument supporting cassettes is that there actually are high quality tapes out there. This is technically true but very misleading. Anything you buy with music already put on it is low quality because the high quality ones run 15 to 30 dollars EACH. Even then, you need a high quality cassette player that will run you into the hundreds of dollars. Most cassettes you can buy are poor quality and chances are any cassette deck you find will be poor quality too. The Tom Petty album did sound a little better. The first one was probably damaged by the previous owner; a common problem with cassettes.

Next, I turned to the hipster bands. They were all terrible Austin Punk bands. Terrible. Punk is bad by itself but under-produced hipster punk is just garbage. The man at Waterloo said that local bands use tapes to record and distribute. A quick check online shows that you cassettes cost about 5 times the price of CDs so that idea is DOA, not to mention the longer write time per unit.

It’s downright asinine to use cassette tapes for recording. You can buy specialized equipment that lets you simultaneously write to the left and right stereo tracks of both the A and B sides but you limit yourself to four tracks for mono or two tracks for stereo and you get next to no mastering options. Digital recording software is far cheaper and much higher quality. Just look at Grimes. She does pretty much all of her writing, recording and production with just Apple Garageband.

The last thing I could think of is the timbre, the unique sound. Cassette music sounds muddled, like all the instruments are playing over each other. One reason I prefer high quality digital and vinyl records is that the high quality lets me clearly hear all of the instruments and even the tiny imperfections, like Dave Grohl’s fingers sliding against the strings when he shifts along the fretboard. Maybe hipsters don’t want that. Maybe they want a medium that hides minor things like their bands’ lack of talent.

No, this also didn’t make sense, either. If a band was going for that effect, they would alter the production. The Black Keys* couldn’t afford quality recording equipment so they steered into the skid by cranking up their fuzz pedal and creating a style out of lo-fi. They sound great on any medium and are the greatest band to premiere after 2000.

geniuses
Geniuses

That was it. I was stuck. Every reason seemed legit from a distance but failed after a moment of scrutiny. Cassettes seemed to lose every round to CDs, vinyl and most of all: digital. They only really beat out 8-Tracks. Except cassingles, which are worse than 8-Tracks.

I was ready to let go when a miracle happened. A friend of mine invited me to hang out with him and a friend of his in downtown Austin. This guy was from out of town and wanted to be a tourist for the evening, so we were going to meet at Waterloo Records, which I learned at that moment is a tourist spot. We browsed the store for a while and when it was time to go, the tourist actually bought a cassette tape. Some band I’d never heard of. This was my chance to learn first hand!

Me: “So, why by this on cassette instead of CD or vinyl?”

Tourist: “Oh, I’m not going to listen to this. I already have it on CD and vinyl.”

It wasn’t so much what he said as it was how he said it. Of course he wasn’t going to listen to it! At first, I was shocked but then the answer struck me. You see, I had made the assumption that music was for listening. This man bought the album more as a decoration, like a poster. It all came together. There was no inherent quality to cassettes that hipsters are after, it’s just that the cassettes are not the same. That’s why there is so little nostalgic music but so much niche music on new cassettes. Once you buy it, you’re in, you’re cool. But whether you buy cassettes to be part of the hipster club or buy them to just not be in the mainstream, you’re buying cassettes for other people.

People can debate the merits of CDs or vinyl or wav files but at least the reasons are all for the music. Cassettes only carry the justifications not relating to music. As an alternative to cassettes, I suggest this: Buy your music for yourself. You wouldn’t buy a steak to show off that you eat steak then not eat it. Get the cut you want, then eat your steak. ∎

-MTL

Oh, and to the hipsters: Next time you want to use an outdated technology to distinguish yourself, I recommend film cameras. They’re a huge pain and no one’s gonna follow you. Not even me.

*Special thank-you to Geek Gone Rogue contributor Amy for introducing me to this band.

So, Let’s Talk About All That Overwatch Porn

So, Let’s Talk About All That Overwatch Porn

        So Kotaku released this article yesterday about all of the Overwatch porn that has exploded online, especially since the release of the Beta. It’s an interesting read, and yes it does have all kinds of NSFW links to videos if that is the only reason you clicked on the post (I’m not gonna post em here but I’m also not going to judge you for heading over there for a quick look). It does bring to light some interesting questions though with regards to Blizzards intellectual property and the freedom of what other people can do with their characters. It also brings to light the blurred lines between what can be considered sexy, pornographic, or just playful with regards to how a character is made and dressed. It’s especially ironic that it is Blizzard who is wrapped up in this, since they were the ones that caused so much online backlash over one of their character’s infamous butt pose. If you aren’t familiar with the controversy, basically the victory pose of Tracer, one of the main protagonist characters in the game was criticized by a player due to the pose basically just being a showcase of her butt and not bringing much to her personality. What would typically be a one-off comment gained quite a bit of traction online, leading to a full blown controversy when Blizzard actually kind of sided with the fan and changed the pose. Click on the link for the full story but overall the whole thing was kind of silly and the new pose is still plenty butt-centric.

Blizzard replaces Tracer’s butt pose in Overwatch with a better butt pose

Still some good booty action there 

        So if something as tame as the above shown “butt pose” was causing all of that backlash, what is blizzard supposed to do with the sudden influx of full on porn out there? It seems like they took some steps to try to remove some of their character models but obviously they aren’t going to be able to stem the flow at this point, and it would be ludicrous to think that they could. Rule 34 lives forever for a reason. But the real question is why would they really want to? I mean it’s not like they should be partnering with Pornhub and sponsoring FMV videos, but as long as it isn’t actively hurting their brand I say let people run with it. I mean just look at the marketing implications right here.

If people are thinking about your product during their alone time, you probably have a pretty good product

        We live in an increasingly politically correct world, where the idea of women as sex objects is stands completely opposed to the idea of women as being empowered and that is never something that I have completely understood. Why can’t she be both? Why can’t she be a total badass individual while at the same time flaunting that fact that she is sexy and she knows it. The two are so quickly considered mutually exclusive, and they don’t have to be. Go ahead and follow some of the links up there IF YOU AREN’T AT WORK and tell me how many of those women, even in those pictures/videos aren’t just as badass as they were before. It’s the thing that has actually surprised me the most about the whole Overwatch Rule 34 scene, when compared to your typical mainstream porn, the difference is almost night and day. There is very little violence, there are almost no men involved at all, and at no point have I been given the impression that any of these women are less deadly, exciting, or admired because someone has made a video showing them enjoying sex.

Badass+sexy

I think that’s probably the key point there. Granted I haven’t seen ALL the Overwatch porn out there, and there will be exceptions to everything, but by and large I think that the fact that it has become so popular so quickly speaks more to how interesting and exciting the characters are than anything else. Obviously it’s going to be a polarizing topic and I am sure there are going to be those that vehemently disagree with me, and that’s fine. Perception is reality right? However from my point of view, this is actually the first time that I have seen a pornographic character treatment that I can say doesn’t seem like just a cheap cash in on the character names. So there you have it, my take on the whole Overwatch porn scene. Judge as you will!

-CDL

Racism Spoils Dreamhack Hearthstone Tournament, Blizzard NOT Happy

        First off, let’s start things off with how last weekends Dreamhack event should have ended, with a huge fucking congratulations to Terrance Miller for going toe to toe with Keaton “Chakki” Gill and finishing a respectable 2nd place in the tournament. Why are we here congratulating the runner up instead of writing about the tournament champion? Because of the torrential storm of bullshit that was being played out on the screens during the live Twitch stream. It was a fucking disgrace. If you follow gaming or the Twitch streaming community in general, you probably can already assume what was taking place. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these things, or with the dregs of the internet in general, the stream was filled with racist comments, rhetoric, and pictures that were so distracting it was hard to watch the tournament in itself. Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know (I didn’t mention it because it shouldn’t matter) but Terrance is black. He is also a good Hearthstone player. He is also a classy dude, attempting to focus on the positive and brush off as best he can what happened during his match. Luckily enough, he couldn’t see the comments while he was playing, instead noticing them after when he watched his performance. Instead of being able to soak in the moment and watch what would have been the performance of his career, instead he was distracted watching the vitriol that was being spewed forth by anonymous douchebags watching from home.

         

Sorry bud

        He and his family weren’t the only ones who noticed, Blizzard was also reading all of the comments that were showing up during the live feed and they were NOT happy about it. Obviously Twitch did have moderators in place to attempt to stem the flow, but not only were there too few, but there were actually some who were adding to the chaos by counteracting preventative measures that were being taken by some of the top Twitch Mods. The fact is it was way too little and way too late. When asked about it afterwards, Twitch has mostly avoided commenting, simply citing their anti-discrimination terms of use statement. Blizzard on the other hand, has taken a much more vocal approach. When contacted by Polygon for comment, President Mike Morhaime said, “We’re extremely disappointed by the hateful, offensive language used by some of the online viewers during the DreamHack Austin event the weekend before last, one of our company values is ‘Play Nice; Play Fair;’ we feel there’s no place for racism, sexism, harassment, or other discriminatory behavior, in or outside of the gaming community.” They have since spearheaded an effort to work with Twitch, Dreamhack, other event planners, and even players to prevent something like this from happening at events going forward. It’s nice to see that they are going to be taking steps going forward, but it does beg the question what the shit took this long? Like this isn’t a new phenomenon, this is a problem that Twitch has been having pretty much since it’s creation, so why haven’t we already been doing this? Still, better late than never I guess. Until then hopefully players like Terrance can just keep taking the high road and keep kicking ass, and I will keep respecting them for it.

-CDL

Smite Castor Brandon Nance Done After Suicide Rant

Smite Caster Resigns Following Insensitive Suicide Comments 

        Brandon Nance, a streamer resigned from his position at Hi-Rez gaming after a Smite steam that led to a angry outburst when a $5 donor said that watching Nance’s live streams had helped him cope with his suicidal thoughts. This led to Nance going off on a mini-tirade saying that suicide is a selfish, stupid thing to do. He also called the viewer an asshole before sharing his thoughts on anxiety and depression in general. It’s strange that this seemed like such a hot button thing for him, one comment sent him on a 5 minute tirade essentially about how much people who consider suicide and call themselves depressed or anxious. It was pretty brutal overall, if you want to watch the video yourself you can. I’m not really going to elaborate on the content of what he said that much, that can be for you to decide yourself, and I’m actually writing this article for a different reason. In short, I actually agreed with some of the things that he said, unfortunately the few good points he made were overshadowed by some colossal bad ones, as well as his overall dickish attitude which was pretty insufferable throughout the whole video. I do find the backlash interesting though, because it has been obviously pretty heated.

        It is pretty interesting to me though, the way that people can suddenly turn on a streamer, or an actor, or a writer, pretty much anyone involved in a medium where they are sharing their opinions to a unknown and vast audience of strangers. It’s usually a very one way relationship, Person A produces content, Horde B absorbs it. Obviously they are following this person for a reason. They must, for the most part, agree with the persons opinions, or like how they make their content, or be interested in the subject matter that they are producing. Basically they have to appreciate a good portion of what that person says or does, or they wouldn’t be following them in the first place. I mean I guess you could follow someone that you hate just because you hate them? That would definitely have to be a minority though, I think for about 90% of the viewers out there though, the reason they are keeping up with someone is positive. So what does that mean when the person says or does something you don’t like? Is it right for the Horde to suddenly flip the tables and attack you in order to make you pay for your opinion? Even if it’s a terribly shitty opinion, isn’t that your right as a person? That’s how you gained your popularity in the first place.

        To be clear, I am not talking about the viewers who, once they realize they don’t like or agree with what someone says just unsubscribe and don’t watch them again. I totally get that and have done the same on numerous occasions. I am referencing the people who, once they find something that they take offense to, will attempt to attack that person until they are no longer in the position they were before. Case in point Brandon Nance now having to leave Hi-Rez games due to the backlash that this has created. He even references it at one point when he states that “People were honestly attacking me for saying that Suicide is not the answer, people were getting massively upvoted, saying things like ‘Suicide should be a person’s choice.’ I can’t battle things like this, honestly. I don’t know how people’s hate for me in a video game got so great that they’d take the side of suicide just to continue arguing.” Now that he has angered the horde, people will go to great lengths to argue with him, just for the sake of arguing. Why? 4 hours ago you were watching him stream and enjoying what he does and now because he has shared an unpopular opinion that is his right to have you no longer want him to be able to maintain his position as a popular streamer? I just don’t understand people’s desire to tear down other people’s success.

        This is something I usually think about in reference to myself, because I would like to think that one day I will have a large following of people who want to see what I write and want to know what my opinions are. Sure, right now I could stop today and I seriously doubt that anyone would notice but what if I was as popular as Nance was? Would I try to censor the things that I say and think in order to make sure I never set off the angry masses? I hope not. I don’t even think a person really could get that popular without having opinions that are unique or interesting, and the only way you are going to get that is by being yourself. So am I going to have to just avoid sensitive subjects? Will I be willing to say something controversial if I ever am successful knowing that by doing so I would risk losing all of the followers I have spent so long developing? I don’t really have the answers to any of these questions other than to say that I hope when the time comes I am more sure about what to do, and if I don’t hopefully my readers will forgive my missteps.

CDL