Halo TV Sociology Viewing Thread
anthony
I'm a big fan of Halo and a big fan of studying the decline of our culture in case studies. I've tweeted about this a bit and discussed it with a few people, and I'd like to run through this in a more open and longer form setting here.

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I'll post in substance about each episode we've had so far a bit later, and intend to keep going as we get new ones. I'll probably do episode 1 later today.
anthony
Sorry about the delay, lost the mood for a bit. Halo has been great viewing for me so far so I really am eager to get this thread going. 

I love Halo, the games made by Bungie Studios. It's so easy to because they're a product of the time when video games were a relatively pure popular media. The drive to create came from personal fascinations, and popularity and success came from making things people wanted. And gaming was more niche 20 years ago of course, so this was a more select people you were appealing to on the whole.

Bungie made Halo for themselves, and for nerds. And the tastes of nerds are really quite masculine. The fascination is with conflict, war, machines, the fates of peoples and civilisations, stuff we might now say is for 'autists' rather than the 'nerdy'. You look at pictures of old Bungie and you can see what's going on. The demographics are purely meritocratic. People were only working on this if they're interested in this stuff and can do something useful. Pretty much exclusively White and Asian men with high IQs who are into science fiction, anime, and of course video games.

Everything Bungie created was overloaded with this nerd masculinity. Games about wars, desperate struggles to avoid extinction, pretty well thought out genre concepts for video game standards, and on a playable game level all very technically fascinating. Extremely reactive engines and scenarios made to really be played around with rather than led through once. All games about how awesome war and violence are, all of which played in a fashion intended to be driven by your own fascination and ingenuity which these violent scenarios bring about. Moviebob, a sometimes very sharp guy, said there was something fundamentally Nazi-like about all of this. I think he was onto something. I think that the spirit that created Halo was an overwhelmingly white and masculine one. I played it as a kid and have had a fascination with war ever since. In a world built to suppress the Hitler-drive at all costs Halo was a foot in the door and a chance at an awakening for everyone who played it.

Halo was always shamelessly masculine and high-minded. If I'm repeating myself here it's because this can't be emphasised enough and it's the basis of my judgment of the show. I've taken a look at other criticisms and I think they miss the fundamental point. Yes the writing is stupid, the effects are poor, the show is generally ugly as hell, but this is missing the essence of what's going on. Everything that worked in Halo could be traced back to its foundation, the masculine spirits of its creators. And everything that doesn't work in this show I believe is also foundational, the effeminate souls now in charge. I know the showrunners are technically 'men' but the touch of women and eunuchs can be seen all over this thing.

I'll explain all of my further thoughts on this alongside talking about the episodes of the show now. I just wanted to get this laid out here so I wouldn't have to write too much in the middle of talking about episodes. Some stuff below to contemplate then I'll actually tell you about the show.

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https://www.ign.com/articles/bungie-repo...ent-crunch

https://www.pcgamer.com/au/following-rep...teps-down/

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anthony
Episode 1

Halo is here. As you can see by all the dirty and ethnically diverse Hunger Games extras.

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Halo CE opened with a big and practical looking spaceship and a discussion of immediate dangers. Our introduction was mystery, tension, a bit of awe, and the impression that serious people were doing serious things.




I don't mean to write a screenwriter's guide here, but this contrast in tone is captured perfect in this first minute. Halo CE gave us space and serious men dealing with danger. Halo TV gives us a jolly game of cards at the Mystery Meat Saloon in the middle of nowhere. Yes, most of these people are about to die, but this isn't a bold subversion of our expectations. It's actually exactly what you would expect to happen if you correctly figure in the opening moments what genre you're observing.

Halo TV is not a science fiction series. Men make science fiction. Halo is run by women and eunuchs now. And they like Young Adult Fiction. I'm not sketching out theories for the sake of jerking myself off here, it's just self-evidently what they've reduced Halo to. This opening is the same one you've seen in Eragon, Wheel of Time, Name of the Wind, and countless other unreadable stacks of light genre toilet paper. We get our wholesome setting where our plucky protagonist has their life in order, then some ominous force rolls through and tears it all apart, forcing our protagonist on a path towards heroism.

I'm ahead of myself here, back to the events of the show so we can see this playing out.

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Here's our hero, on the right. Back at the saloon after some talk about how the big oppressive government is bad and their spartan soldiers are unstoppable, then we get #Resistance leader asking where his daughter is. She's out with her friends looking for hallucinogenic mushrooms, and they're all talking about yearnings for freedom and to TRAVEL. I think 6 year old me would be crying by this point.

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Then she spots aliens, and before she can adequately warn her friends of the threat the aliens start blasting them. All of her friends die here. Blood flies and people have bits blown off by alien weaponry, but contrasted with the overwhelmingly lame and castrated tone of everything we've seen so far and what we'll see ahead it feels more like a self-aware concession than a coherent part of any kind of vision. "Okay we made halo gay and aren't going to express any kind of masculine feeling for this entire show, but look, heads blown off. Aren't we hardcore?" I feel like this happens in a fair bit of media now, 'GORE' being used to try to hide the fact everything has been castrated and sanitised. Which game is more hardcore? Nu-doom or Farcry2?

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She runs home to warn the Mystery Meat Militia, who get their extremely cheap low effort props ready to defend their extremely cheap and low effort set home from invaders.

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And here it is, Halo TV's action and effects in all of their glory. Here's a shot for you but I'll link the whole scene.






If you can't be bothered watching, the aliens are unstoppable super-orcs until the master chief and his friends arrive and kill them all with their superhero and power ranger moves. This being kind of retarded I don't see as a problem. Bungie were science fiction nerds, but also dealing with the constraints of what the game did, and what looked cool. It was never about making perfect hard sense. Then this doesn't have the constraint of having to harmonise with the game holding it back, but it comes out gay. "action" scenes in isolation often aren't that much fun to watch. I really believe that they can live or die on the spirit of the whole work they're contained within. Maybe this would feel at the very least acceptable if the whole feel of the show wasn't estrogen-infused vomit.

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Everyone is dead, Rose Tico's backstory is complete. Motivation: established. Or maybe not really, her story gets very stupid.

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Master Chief runs off to find what the aliens were after and finds some ancient technology macguffin. Touching it gives him a flashback to an idyllic childhood.

I'll skip ahead a bit here and cover something I consider important. A running theme in this show is how horrible it is that Master Chief was taken as a child to be made into a soldier. Taken advantage of him, life was so great, he needs magic space technology to suppress his memories and feelings, war is hell, power is unjust, it's a bunch of Hunger Games stuff about how power is bad and there are no great people, only bent out of shape inauthentic spirits. This is a master chief who needs to go to therapy, and from this point on we're going to be seeing very little in the way of aliens, and a lot of scenes that are pretty much therapy sessions to reform this poor boy-victim turned instrument of power.

Contrast that to Bungie's vision of The Master Chief. A boy who was chosen to be a soldier for his already manifesting violent and competitive tendencies, who more or less went along with the military willingly, is aware of his entire life history, and loves his forceful adopters for providing him with opportunities to push himself and test every limit he has in the open arena that only war can provide. He is aware that he's been instrumentalised, but this is also a kind of liberation. They took what he was, and turned him into a demigod wielding the greatest powers and shouldering the greatest responsibilities in the world. The Master Chief kills people, aliens, whatever. He's a finely tuned master of violence and he loves to do his thing. Their Master Chief is not a tragic figure, he's a heroic one. War has not robbed his life of colour and meaning, it's provided more than he could ever have dreamed of without it.

And people called Moviebob a kook when he said he detected a trace of Nazism in Bungie's work.

This has gotten long now so I might call it here for the minute and run through some more tomorrow. We'll be able to pick up the pace as things get a bit uneventful from here and I don't have too many particular points to make. Hoping it's starting to make some sense what I mean about Halo TV being spiritually different.
FruitVendor
This has really been a lost decade. Just an endless sea of material being adapted by talentless drones that hate the material, and hate the audience.

This was so easy to adapt and they managed to drop the ball this hard.
Svevlad
Inability to come up with new things, or draw from history. It's all about some hidden "message" or "point" which then also discredits a lot of the earlier good stuff - the foundation was simply the existing culture, and those things were good only because the culture was good.
annatar
I don't know if necrobumping is bad form here, but I like this thread and had to add something regarding the mention of Wheel of Time alongside Name of the Wind and Eragorn

 Putting adaptations to the side. The WoT books and its author are prime examples of the same Nerd Masculinity that birthed Halo. Robert Jordan was a two-tour helicopter gunner in the army who went on to earn a BS in physics and work as a nuclear engineer for the navy before he started working as a writer.


 I know you hold starship troopers in high regard. Jordan cited Heinlein as an influence. WoT is technically sci-fi adjacent and takes place in the future. Jordan also called himself a libertarian monarchist long before moldbug coined patchwork. 

The WoT setting is a matriarchal world, due to men being barred from using magic as a consequence of a crazed dictator during a world war(yes) 400 years before the start of the series. If men try to use magic, the Aes Sedai(think of them as Bene Gesserit) have to find and "cut them off" from The One(source of magic). The hero, Rand Al Thor is the archetypal chosen one tasked with restoring balance to the world.

The series is very anime-esque. It's shonen and harem simultaneously. Rand has 3 wives by the end. Because he Rand is the Dragon Reborn(chosen one), they allow him to channel saidin(male-magic which is usually prohibited). The aforementioned dictator, Lews Therin also lives in Rands head

 Just to show you how far this goes. One villain is a woman who is later revealed to be a man who incarnated into a female body and channels saidin. Because that's the only way he'd be able succeed in such a world 

Jordan died too soon to finish the books, but his wife had Brandon Sanderson complete them. Sanderson does podcasts with Rothfuss, author of Name of the Wind. He did a good job of concluding the series but he's a different type of man than Jordan was, and that the Halo devs were. He actually liked the Halo series fittingly
Aizen
@annatar I'm glad you necrobumped because it allowed me to read this gem:

anthony Wrote:Contrast that to Bungie's vision of The Master Chief. A boy who was chosen to be a soldier for his already manifesting violent and competitive tendencies, who more or less went along with the military willingly, is aware of his entire life history, and loves his forceful adopters for providing him with opportunities to push himself and test every limit he has in the open arena that only war can provide. He is aware that he's been instrumentalised, but this is also a kind of liberation. They took what he was, and turned him into a demigod wielding the greatest powers and shouldering the greatest responsibilities in the world. The Master Chief kills people, aliens, whatever. He's a finely tuned master of violence and he loves to do his thing. Their Master Chief is not a tragic figure, he's a heroic one. War has not robbed his life of colour and meaning, it's provided more than he could ever have dreamed of without it.

In but a short paragraph, this describes the Chief better than any video essay I've ever watched, and it actually resonates with my experience playing Halo as a child; that is, because Bungie crafted the game such that YOU are The Master Chief. When mowing down a horde of aliens, this is who I was. I was not someone with a Nico Robin-esque crybaby backstory reluctantly killing because da gubmint made me do it. When playing as the Chief (or Noble 6 in Reach), you become the gleeful wall between Humanity and Annihilation. This idea of the Chief anthony eloquently describes is so much more accurate to the player's experience, and thus to the Chief, because the Player IS the Chief.

Heil Bungie for their Masterwork, the last great piece of Americana.
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anthony
I'm also glad the thread is bumped. I've been considering reviving this premise as a video on youtube. Would be easier to demonstrate my points that way. It's a subject that interests me, no real mental work. Just having to assemble it is the thing. I am at least more prompted now. May soon. I don't actually think it'd be that hard.
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