The Burnt Offering

Unpopular Opinions

The Burnt Offering is where Stu Horvath thinks too much in public so he can live a quieter life in private. 

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This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #92. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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This is a collection of some of my least popular opinions, gathered in one place so we can see how they stack up over the next few years. If you want, you can print this out and tape it to the wall next to that photo of me you taped to your dartboard.

Let us begin:

Virtual reality will never be the phenomenon makers of virtual reality insist it is. A Spartan child is more likely to return from the woods than for everyone to have VR in their homes in ten years, despite all the headlines about the VR revolution and the millions invested in it

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Nintendo’s stable of beloved characters like Link and Mario have more in common with Lucky the Leprechaun and the Trix Rabbit than Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck.

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Our current president is not Palpatine, Voldemort, President Snow, a Lannister, a Cylon, nor is he affiliated with whoever the bad guys are in Serenity. Filtering him, or any other political tragedy, through fiction is cowardice. Art reflects life so we can learn deeper lessons, not retreat from it.

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Stranger Things is an excellent piece of nostalgia, painstakingly created from our strip-mined collective memory of the 1980s. It is, however, only a mediocre sci-fi/horror drama.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End would be a better game if you could walk from any given Point A to Point B.

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is perhaps the best evidence to date that the popular critical consensus of videogames has no idea what competent, unclichéd storytelling is.

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Things don’t vanish because they are remade or rebooted. Raiders of the Lost Ark is still a good movie. Just because Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was not, we don’t have to consign all things Indiana Jones to the fire.

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There was a lot of bad Star Wars before the prequel movies. There was a lot of bad Star Wars by 1978.

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Digitally de-aging actors is fine. Recasting actors who have aged out of a part or no longer wish to do it is also fine.

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Cyberpunk, if it exists as a sub-genre at all, began in 1984 with the publication of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. No matter how much influence Blade Runner might have had on the (maybe non-existent sub-genre), Blade Runner itself cannot be and is not cyberpunk.

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Steampunk is an aesthetic, not a genre. It is also stupid.

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Hiring auteur directors like Rian Johnson and Denis Villeneuve to direct new installments of larger, older “intellectual properties” is precipitating an unprecedented dilution of our popular culture. By endlessly rehashing cultural staples of the 80s and 90s, we will ensure that we have nothing to love in the 2030s and 40s.

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Ready Player One is a horrific dystopian novel predicting our near future, not a lighthearted romp through 80s nostalgia. The scariest thing about Ready Player One, though, is that Ernest Cline doesn’t realize this.

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The use of the unstoppable villain in Terminator 2 is boring and tedious, not terrifying.

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Neil Gaiman wrote one good book. American Gods isn’t it.

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Folk metal is still metal.

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Orcs are racist.

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The only word Tolkien used to describe orcs was “swarthy” and subsequent treatments of them in fantasy literature and roleplaying games read like tracts on eugenics. In fact, the entire fantasy trope of race – that elves, dwarves, humans, etc. have different physical characteristics and talents that are innate – is racist all the way through.

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H. P. Lovecraft would likely be horrified by the pop culture phenomenon his works have spawned. Chances are, he’d also be horrified by you. Because he was a racist, a sexist and a homophobe.

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It is OK to let things go, to decide you no longer like something as much as you used to. Tastes change, people grow. Some books, music, movies and games grow richer with time, some don’t. If we didn’t let our tastes grow, we’d all be spending all our money on a PlaySkool shared cinematic universe. Love is not absolute.

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If you love a thing, you should be able to see why other people don’t.

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You can love a thing even if you have problems with some aspects of it or its creator held unpleasant views. Furthermore: an actor is not the character they are portraying, so you can like a character in a movie even if the actor says something you find offensive.

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If someone doesn’t love something you do, that does not diminish or otherwise invalidate that thing. Loving a thing doesn’t mean you have to go to war over it.

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Nothing is perfect. Love is accepting the flaws in a thing.

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Stu Horvath is the editor in chief of Unwinnable. He reads a lot, drinks whiskey and spends his free time calling up demons. Follow him on Twitter @StuHorvath.

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