Tag Archives: Dan Harmon

At the bottom of a pixelated hole

From Community’s “Digital Estate Planning” episode.

If greenhouse gases are progressively making the world’s air a little denser, it’s probably most apparent in big, urban collectives at summertime–unless you’re in such a place and have some sense of community, which, yes, even makes breathing thick air a bit easier.  But a sense of community tends to be reserved more for isolated places, and what passes for community in the former is often its own version of isolation.

More often than not, the series “Community” lived up to its name:  Community with a capital ‘C’ — such that anyone who wasn’t a selfish bastard found a pretty good sense of it, and even the character at the bottom of that hole in the picture above (Pierce, who’s  very nearly a bastard) gets to climb out.   In “Digital Estate Planning,” Pierce’s father puts him and his friends through a gaming ringer to ensure his inheritance.  Along with the seemingly all-powerful executor of the Hawkthorne estate (left in image) they find themselves having to work against the master programming of the vastly unfair and unfeeling Hawkthorne legacy.  As mentioned before, Dan Harmon, whose sensibilities helped such a thing come together, was fired.

So, if you’ve had a hard week and the image with some of the first black and brown faces in 8-bit mode ever doesn’t make the world seem like there’s still something out there for you, maybe you can try an actual test game-version of “Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne,” as relayed courtesy of Dave Trumbore at Collider:

“While it’s great that Community recently received six Critics’ Choice nods and will be returning for 13 episodes next season, it sucks that showrunner Dan Harmon won’t be returning.  Somewhere in that bittersweet middle, we can find ourselves stomping on 8-bit hippies and dodging jive turkeys.”

‘Nuff said.   Find out more about the game at the Collider link  or maybe work on some more silver linings.   It’d probably be good if they weren’t all in pixels.

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Communities

Recently I was talking with some people when the subject of the David Simon TV series “The Wire'” came up.  I expressed that I’d never talked or been privy to a conversation with someone else who lived in the kind of disenfranchised urban environment in which the show — about the gray, self-replicating world of drug dealers and the just as gray system that deals with them  — is set.   An interesting reply I got was that (such was probably because) it was too close to home.  While this person was on to something, I think the relative lack of interest for ‘The Wire” by inner-city communities  has more to do  with the reason music that qualifies as ‘conscious rap’  is  always heralded outside of the places such songs chronicle.

Even in suburbs, the rap that’s most popular is the kind that  glamorizes vice and materialism  — things that all too frequently became a commodity in disenfranchised communities (without some of the various corporates avenues those thing take elsewhere).  The best of hip-hop was about coping with or overcoming such, rather than embracing it.   But that’s not easy; maybe what is, is to be swayed by mantras that cast what would otherwise be flaws in a glamorous light.  (I genuinely think that one of the appeals “Mad Men” holds for its viewers is that, even while it deconstructs the defaults of the sixties, it glamorizes them.)

Any hip-hop that speaks to life without gloss — sort of the bar for ‘conscious rap’ — is hip-hop that could be challenging its listeners.    Once something challenges a person to see his or her place in the world, it’s also asking them to break out of the easier, shallow patterns of our lives.   Most people find it easier to just shift locations, but that doesn’t necessarily change patterns.

One is supposed to want to live in a ‘good’ place among ‘  good’  people — on Nice Street.   But I wonder sometimes if the interest that people there have for something like “The Wire” is because it’s literally not close to home.  And maybe things are prettier on Nice Street (and the sign is done in some fancy calligraphy — and hand-painted!), but there’s also a lot less behind how things got nice.

I suppose one can live in a place, and only have one foot in it.    I think about all the people getting lost in fictional worlds, people living on Nice Street trying to align themselves with something ‘real and authentic’ like conscious rap or “The Wire,”  and that — one foot here, one foot there — oftens seems be the only way people live.  But I hope there’s a foothold into something nice, or good, that also isn’t just some bubble.

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Supplemental:

To end this post touching on something with the one thing that you just can’t get in a bubble: decent comedy.  Dan Harmon, creator of the TV series “Community” stepped down as showrunner was fired.   Since the show is based on Harmon’s experiences unexpectedly connecting with a motley crew, I thought I’d  quote a few lines from the show’s theme song,  The 88’s  “At Least It Was Here:”

“I can’t count the reasons I should stay.

One by one they all just fade away.”

Also, “Give me the hope / To run out of steam” is a good one.