The Best Western of Our Lives: RDR2 Ending

If you haven’t played Red Dead 2 and you don’t plan on it you should at least learn about the ending and why it’s so good.

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About the game: RDR2 feels like the most expensive game I’ve ever played and it likely is. With the most ridiculous amount of 10/10’s the industry has ever given it combines graphics, an immersive open world and wonderful gameplay. This article is about the main story line characters which feel intensely complete.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is about a bad man named Aurther Morgan. Aurther isn’t exactly the cut and dry bad guy that we talk about in stories, in fact largely, he represents the qualities we find in the good “wild west characters” he in many ways in a father figure, he’s loyal and he protects the gang. He champions the gang any chance he gets by reminding newer or less disciplined members to give anything they steal back to the gang which is composed of men, women and children.

He also kills people. He steals, robs, lies and cheats and he’s done it for a lot of years in the service of the gang who sees themselves as entrepreneurs living off the land and the idiots of the world the same as any other capitalist system.

Led by Dutch, the gang starts to take more and more risks at a time when the lawlessness of the American Frontier became fairly lawful and the story of a happy gang on the run turns into a desperate one.

One of the ways the gang earns money is by loan sharking and our main character as the enforcer contracts TB (a death sentence of a disease at the time) from beating a sick man for his loan back. Arthur starts to realize that he’s dying around the same time that his gang starts to feel the toll of the risks; one of his best friends and another father figure die as a direct result of a risky bank job.

As Arthur gets sicker, he starts to look out for other gang members and recognizes that some,especially a young couple and their child, must eventually leave the situation if they are to survive another year. Our big and tough thug meets a nun and has a beautiful moment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAdZPnxINQw) where he tells her he’s scared of death. She admits to him that often she also lacks faith in God because she has seen horrors in her days as well. Seeing horrible things is a key part of this story, meaningless suffering and greed are constant themes in RDR. I think this is where the story turns important for our purposes because it’s not an argument that being a good person will result in repayment in the afterlife but it’s a perspective of an outlaw to society who still finds reason to believe in love.

The philosophy here of things matter if you make them matter has been wrung throughout history by those who reject the ideals of religion or meaning and embrace American Pragmatism. Rockstar games (RDR and the Grand theft Auto series) are parodies of reality. They make the case for rejecting the rules of society or governments in exchange for, at least in GTA money. But here for the first time Rockstar seems to come to a conclusion that reaches for meaning.

Arthur dies helping John escape, at least in the canon ending and for once a death in a Rockstar game means something. Arthur’s bad deeds are redeemed in the last few weeks of his life as he devotes himself to helping others. Not out of religion, not because of what is legal but because of what is right. We stand at a moment in human history where the government or masses may not always agree with us, religion is becoming less relevant and we need to find other motivations to spur good deeds.

Video games are a unique way to tell the story because it puts you in that character’s shoes. There’s no medium that creates this much empathy as well as one that can give you as much context with hundreds of hours going into explaining these complicated relationships. You thought you shook when a 2 hour movie kills the supporting character? Try watching your foster father die after spending 50 hours with him.

Arthur’s death is beautiful, meaningful and sad because he becomes a good person, in fact if you have poor “honor” ( a ranking mechanic in the game that is affected if you kill/rob civilians) you get a far less beautiful death. By the same merit we rejoice when Micah, the low down cheating lying snot that got everyone killed is hunted down and shot.

But what would a Rockstar game be without pessimism? In the epilogue, John does an act of vengeance and as a result sets in motion another tragic tale. So maybe despite those good acts we are doomed to repeat our history.

Ignoring the epilogue, I believe that Rockstar is saying something about how we should live our lives (there are even 2 more horrible non-cannon endings if you decide not to help John); if you live a good life and serve others it will mean something and be a more beautiful story. You won’t be rich, you won’t be perfect and the end will no doubt be mostly bitter anyways. Society as a whole finally identifies more with the bandit than with the heroic lawman. But context is a wild west and quite frankly, exploring this new frontier will be key in telling the stories of tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Windsor Spider is a Menace! 

J. Jonah Perciballi
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There’s a menace roaming the streets of Rose City and his name is the Windsor Spider! Copying New York’s popular vandal “Spider-Man” the “Windsor Spider” has been walking around our city as a masked vigilante stirring up trouble on the popular dating site “Instagram”.
Masked hero’s should not be idolized!, We don’t know what this person does when they are not in costume! The Windsor Spider is most likely a guilt ridden criminal trying to boost his ego preying on the endless scrolling nation. Perhaps he has a hidden political agenda! Or worse! Maybe he vapes!
Whatever the case fellow Windsorites we cannot allow our youth to be inspired by a fake hero, They need real heroes! You don’t see firemen running around taking photos with civilians like they are a Kardashian sister!
The worst possibility is that this leaves room for an entire cast of fake personas to rise up under a romanticized mask! Isn’t it already enough that we have the masked villain “Tequila Bob”? now we have a vigilante, I’m telling you Windsor this cannot end well!
Rest Assured citizens, J Jonah Perciballi will be here questioning the Spiderman and any other fake idols that rise in our fair city! The only good thing that can come from any of this is my wife possibly getting her credit card stolen by this circus freak!
And if you see the villain Spider-Man tweet photos @AndyofWindsor, let’s catch him in the act! #Windsorspider
This is a work of fiction by Andrew Perciballi

Feels Good: How Wax Argues for Art Despite The Horrors In “Continue”

In my last article, I discussed how the rapper Wax sees the costs both emotionally and physically of pursuing passion through the song “we can’t all be heroes”. The full album “Continue” has a few themes that present a counter argument including a song called “Feels Good” that presents the counter to this initial pessimistic view the album takes in the first half.

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Before getting into the meat of “Feels Good”, we have to acknowledge the other themes in this album. During this period, Wax is clearly struggling with substance abuse and he discusses these in all sorts of positive and negative lights. The tracks I’ve marked here with Red are almost exclusively about substance abuse ranging from the depressive mood of Straight to paradise to a euphoric Outta My Mind, which in many ways, feels like the climax of the album despite the truly destructive nature of lyrics.

Ignore the blue: those are just about boobs mostly. (including Wax’s charting single Rosana (some great comedy and takes on relationships with the opposite sex here for sure though…))

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The Yellow marked songs are also thematically notable, starting the depressive album on an upbeat tempo and subject matter typical of the braggadocios rapping style. The first song “Dreaming” ending in an alarm to bring in “Continue” a clear allusion to Wax breaking ways with his label Def Jam and a more realistically optimistic view on life.

Continue, the title track, being the most comprehensive mentioning how failures and messing up are parts of life that should be positively as learning opportunities. There almost seems to be a solution before the problem here: “A wise man will devise plans that are option filled”.

This track is about seeing the horrible things in your life and moving on. In many ways we can see the contrasts already: maybe Wax doesn’t have to overthink his art, maybe the guy who had a failed sport career can pick himself up and maybe the addicted people on the corner aren’t doomed to spend eternity in that state.

Feels Good: (allow me to paraphrase here) Though there are depressive aspects to Wax’s career, when he goes on tour it becomes apparent that his art impacts others.

“Met a young fan who told me that my songs moved him
Said that when he listens to them that they talk to him
Cause the same problems that he’s going though I’ve
Gone through them
I guess we’re all human, and not that different
And compared to myself my music is more significant” 

Wax goes on to discuss how his life really isn’t that bad, (accentuated again with a closing track about physical labour and how his problems aren’t significant) and when he looks at the small details in his life they are pretty great. Overall, he is happy he pursued his art because although the intended consequence hasn’t happened, some good things have and day to day things are hard, but it also feels good to live his life honestly.

There’s a small “last call” about how Wax was on a track years ago and said that if that album failed he was going to go to Hawaii and drink himself to death. This parallels with the actresses in my first article who failed and gave up. But Wax states that he views his failures as just some stuff that happened and because of this nothing he has ever done has been a failure.

So there you go. pursuing art will let you smell the roses as you work but be prepared to fall real far. and when the going gets tough; I guess just

Continue.

 

See Genius for images and lyrics

We Can’t All Be Heroes: Why Even Bother?

Wax, a popular rapper has this song called “We Can’t All Be Hero’s” and it’s awesome and I’m going to talk about it and what it means for a generation of creators.

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 This song is about how most people who become bloggers, athletes, musicians or other unique talents rarely make it. and its written by a mildly successful musician, at least to those who don’t actively follow Wax, he isn’t as visible as an artist like Drake or Logic that are household names, Wax can survive as an artist on his music but he doesn’t enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. The album “Continue” where the song appears comes off a turbulent time for Wax after a separation from Label Def Jam. (Note I am extrapolating this I don’t know Wax’s income)

The album as a whole seems to bounce between 2 repeating themes, Meaningfulness in art and meaningless in art. Basically, should you pursue art? I’ll wrap up with an overview of what this means but for now lets focus on the most comprehensive song on the album: “We Can’t All be Heroes”.

This song sets the stakes for pursuing passion. While the beginning of the album pitches the best case scenario, this song pitches the worst, focusing on the possible outcomes of pursuing passion in ways that can damage your body, your mental health and your life as seen through relationships.

This song pitches the vision for a larger life and talent as a curse that drags you down and becomes addicting in itself, passion in this case is irrational like love but without the societal acceptance of love. There isn’t another human on the end of this attention that benefits: it’s just lost effort if you fail.

The first verse discusses his own failures and how the monotony of art has dragged down his enjoyment of it. Anyone who has failed at learning the guitar or writes for a career can tell you how the realism of consistency taints the dreamer’s need for constant stimulation and growth. Rap is exciting, but perfecting rap is as tedious as any normal job.

“I should get an office gig, but I can’t because I’m over here dreaming”

The song goes on and we associate with 2 different characters. We hear the tale of some kid who grew up playing basketball and ends up having a failed career as a college level athlete. He gets injured and the dream dies. He comes home without the skills to pick up somewhere else and his relationships crumble as he becomes addicted to pain killers in his depression. Wax goes into the detail of this person’s life and it feels compelling.

in the interlude Wax discusses how life is hard enough without us complicating it, pleading us yet again to realize the dangers of pursuing our passions.

The third verse is even more extreme; we connect with many young women who moved to Hollywood trying to become actresses. As the situation becomes dire, for a single individual now, she becomes addicted to drugs and “on the corner”. It’s explained in a very rational way and by the end of the verse we associate with an old woman by a bus stop screaming to herself “Stop Fucking with me!” This is horrifying imagery because of how Wax starts with a simple thought that many of us have been pitched growing up: “Move to LA and pursue art”. and then he drags us down there to see the shocking reality of our greatest fantasies ending in something that we find appalling in day to day life. The song makes us feel hopelessness and that maybe our artistic “fears” of a stable job and nuclear family are, in actuality, the dramatically better options. As artists we feel attacked, especially those of us who are sensitive because of our sheltered upbringing where we don’t associate with homeless or addicted but then Wax shows us that this optimistic thinking can lead to failure and eventually madness.

I think any artist, or not even artist, just anyone who took a risk at an opportunity cost, has lived a scenario that was further damaged as a result of the risk. Humans take risks and as a result we create largely horrible experiences in our individual lives and largely beneficial creations in the macrocosm that is humanity. We play the lottery so one guy can win.

So what now according to Wax should we do when we get these impulses to live life in a fuller way? Go sit in a cubical and cook hot dogs on the weekend right?

I think this might have a part two where I will discuss the conclusion Wax draws in the album and the argument he proposes to this song.

AP