Why Your Westworld Fan Theory is Not a Fan Theory

Madness descended upon the internet earlier this week when the Westworld showrunners stormed into a the /r/westworld subreddit for what proved to be one of the larger online pranks in recent history.

The gist of the prank was simple: the Westworld team announced that they would be spoiling the entirety of the show for the Westworld superfans. Their logic was that the fans of Westworld seem to love guessing spoilers, so they might as well have them all revealed in advance.

In reality, they had crafted a beautiful new Rickroll. You can view it here:

This was a clever stunt, a well-executed, but most importantly: the Westworld team had created a genius act of public shaming that should bring into focus the absurdity of many aspects of internet fan culture.

The real message here is this: The very concept of fan theories needs major examination. Continue reading “Why Your Westworld Fan Theory is Not a Fan Theory”

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The True Theme of 2016: Never Meet Your Heroes

Hating 2016 and wishing for it to end has perhaps been the meme of 2016. It has been called a dumpster fire and was declared to “even sucked for Kim Kardashian.” Beginning in July and continuing non-stop, this year was deemed to “suck” and we saw a flood of hot takes either labeling it the worst year in living memory or at least asking the question of how bad it really was.

How bad was 2016?

I’ve only lived for thirty years, but am confident this wasn’t even the worst year I’ve seen of my lifetime. 2001 was awful. 2004 wasn’t great either. 2008 had the financial crisis, the rise of Sarah Palin, the death of Heath Ledger, and apparently Elon Musk’s personal rock bottom. Armed with the right confirmation bias and armory of evidence, one could make an argument that really any year is the worst.

It’s also worth noting that not every take on the outgoing year is as reductive and hyperbolic as “the worst!” Jia Tolentino called it “The Year We Played Ourselves” in The New Yorker. Stephen Pinker pointed out that, if you ignored headlines and value facts, 2016 is better than its previous years in almost every way. It was arguably the best year ever for black filmmakers and apparently the year that solar panels finally became commercially viable. The Economist, meanwhile, awarded “The Economist‘s country of the year award” to “plucky Estonia.” Congrats Estonia!

But there is one theme I see everywhere I look, from the Nobel Prize to the election of Donald Trump to the author of Harry Potter. One piece of wisdom, one particular theme, one pervasive lesson: the classic advice that you should “never meet your hero.”

heroes
Yes, this article is about heroes and 2016, and Bowie sang about “Heroes” and died in 2016, but it has little to do with Bowie.

To recap exactly how this theme presented itself throughout the last year, I’ve catalogued a list of disappointing heroes and their disappointed fans from the last twelve months.

Why shouldn’t we meet our heroes?

Before we jump in, it’s worth reminding ourselves of why exactly we should never meet our heroes. Ultimately, it always comes down to disappointment. They aren’t who you thought they would be. They’re not doing what you wanted them to do. The things they said that made you admire them? Either your hero never meant those things or they don’t mean them anymore or they never meant what you thought they did.

And now, let’s take a look at all the disappointment heroes unleashed on their admirers. Continue reading “The True Theme of 2016: Never Meet Your Heroes”

Mr. Potter

The fact that Spiderman is currently being rebooted proves that it is never too soon to start a franchise over from scratch. One might point out that Spiderman‘s reboot (the new trilogy’s first film with a release date that comes only five years after the end of the last trilogy) is nothing new for comic book films: the Batman franchise was re-invented with only eight years between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins, and Edward Norton as The Incredible Hulk came only fives years after Eric Bana as Hulk.

The main distinction is that the new Spiderman trilogy is following on the heels of a financially successful and critically well-received trilogy, rather than the complete disasters of Batman, Robin, and Hulk. Now, I could make the obvious point that Bale should be the one cast as Spiderman, but let’s be realistic: audiences probably wouldn’t be able to handle the concept that Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne look that much alike, even if Bale did a really good Brooklyn accent for Parker (which he obviously would).

Instead, we have to acknowledge the beauty of this situation. It has opened the floodgates for any franchise getting rebooted at any moment. And there is one franchise that no one has even imagined re-imagining yet: Harry Potter.

The first thing that has to go is the character of Harry.


The film will be entitled Mr. Potter, and Bale will portray the titular character, the father of minor character Harry Potter. Similar to the original Harry Potter books and films, the catalyst for all the action will be when mob hit man Val Mortenson (portrayed by Jon Hamm) arrives at the Potter home, with intentions to murder them. He quickly eliminates Mrs. Potter and Harry, their infant, but does not fare so well against Liam Potter. Potter and Mortenson fight to the death, which ends when Potter strangles Mortenson. Unfortunately, Potter’s house burns down around him–only through the swift arrival of the authorities does he survive the fire.

Upon emerging from a coma several weeks later, Potter learns several things. 1) He has been taken in by his father-in-law, Dursley. 2) Mortenson’s body was never found after the fire, and 3) Potter has gained some strange powers in his sleep.He soon learns, with the help of Dursley and a homeless, elephantiasis-stricken man named Hagrid, that Mortenson is just one pawn in a conspiracy of Satan-worshipers who call themselves The Ministry. The Ministry has already infiltrated the police, the media, and the all levels of the government. Potter soon realizes that he is the only chance there is against this vast network of evil–and that only by harnessing Satan’s powers for himself does he stand a chance against the Ministry.

It almost goes without saying that Michael Caine would portray the benevolent Dursley, and a heavily-costumed Oliver Platt would be Hagrid.