Montageman: A dude who writes

January 6, 2008

Health Insurance

Filed under: Film, random — Tags: , , — montageman @ 10:42 am

I’ve been looking for alternative health insurance options.  My plan at work, while it covers us well, is quite expensive.  I came across this example and found it very funny:

Johnny has a medical bill that is $25,000.

First he has to meet his entire deductible of $250.

Then he has to pay a coinsurance amount of 20% or the next $5,000 ($1,000).  The insurance company will pay 80% of the next $5,000 ($4,000), and then the carrier will pay 100% up to the plan maximum.

Johnny’s maximum exposure (out of pocket) of the $25,000 medical bill is $1,250 (deductible and coinsurance).

Good thing Johnny had health insurance!

 OK, fine, I can see that Johnny’s out of pocket expenses coming to $1250 is better than $25,000, but what if Johnny is out of work?  There is an implied arrogance in the final exclamatory remark that I find insulting.  “Good thing Johnny had health insurance!” Right, because $1250 is a lot easier to pay back when you’ve just lost your auto industry job in Michigan with no signs of being rehired anytime soon.  We recently watched SiCKO and while I don’t agree with Michael Moore’s style of documentary, the film makes clear how really messed up our health insurance system is in this country versus those countries with nationalized health services.   There seems to be a general annoyance with the poor in this country that somehow makes it OK for the rich to think they’re better than others.  As though the people born into poor situations chose to be there, when each of us knows that this could never be the case.  SiCKO, if it does nothing else, tells us that the playing field is not level and that Johnny might not be that lucky to have health insurance!

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January 28, 2007

Manhunt – Initial thoughts

Filed under: affect, Film, videogames — montageman @ 6:12 am

I started playing Manhunt tonight partially for my essay and partially because it has been a game that’s piqued my interest. Rockstar Games (well known for the Grand Theft Auto series) developed this game. In terms of gameplay (at least initially), play is very similar to GTA in that you are expected to roam around the city and complete objectives. The setting is the city streets – very dark & gritty, almost noirish. But before the game even begins, there is a suggestion and a choice to be made.

suggestionThe image on the left is a setup screen that tells the player how the game should be played. Not the game itself, but the atmospheric surroundings in the player’s room that will most emphasize the ambience. Notice the use of the word “experience” followed by the promise that the player will be killing soon. The instructions to turn off the lights and close the drapes could also be advice for watching a film at home. The darkness of the roon imitates that off a movie theater. Further, we usually want darkness for a horror and/or thriller film, which then lends a clue as to what type of game this may be.

Horror, according to Linda Williams, is a body genre meaning for the genres she focuses on the body is a spectacle and a point of (estatic) excess like sexual pleasure, fear and terror, or overpowering sadness (209). Williams is specifically talking about the female body in her essay, however, the formulation holds true for games as well. The viewer derives pleasure from body genres by seeing what is being done to female body – orgasming in a porn or being cut up in a slasher film – in these genres. For the player of a horror game, the pleasure is two-fold – not only does the player get to watch the avatar on screen kill his enemy, he also has helped in the act itself. The body in “body genre” is then multi-layered in the exmple of the horror game. fetish

Killing is immediately fetishized on the instruction screen as well – “Then get ready to kill!” – but this is taken further on the next screen (pictured right) where the player must choose the difficulty level between “fetish” and “hardcore”. Hardcore is more difficult, so the player begins with fetish and eventually graduates to hardcore. Interestingly, both fetish and hardcore are porn genres as well. So Manhunt is not only a horror/slasher game, but is also pornographic in nature. Not pornographic in the sexual sense, but rather in the gratuitously violent sense.

September 5, 2006

House of the Dead (2003)

Filed under: Film, schlock, Uweboll, videogames — montageman @ 4:00 am

When a gamer steps up to an arcade game and grabs the joystick or the light phazer, a feeling of empowerment, of agency, of control washes over him. Viewing a film, however, requires passivity – a surrendering of agnecy in lieu of narrative progression without participation. The gamer’s ability to work within a game world is essential to the experience of gaming – obviously, a game would not be a game without some semblence of playfulness. It is precisely this element of playfulness that Uwe Boll drains from House of the Dead (2003).

Part of what makes other videogame movies more effective is their insistence on not showing the gameplay in the context of the film. Boll’s insistence on using cut scenes from each of the three House of the Dead games works less as a homage and more as a mode of castration. What Boll fails to realize is that he is dealing with a new kind of viewer – a viewer whose agency shouldn’t be taken away and then used to taunt him, rather, the genre of game films should make no qualms about the removal of agency.

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