CULTURE

"Death Stranding" Is a Parable to Teach Antisocial Gamers About Responsibility

Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding places gamers into the role of a working single father.

Kojima Productions

With Death Stranding's PS4 release drawing closer, details on the game's plot are still surprisingly scarce–until now.

After piecing together gameplay clips, marketing efforts, and game director Hideo Kojima's own words, Death Stranding's narrative thrust seems all too obvious: The game will be a parable that aims to teach the most antisocial gamers some real-world social responsibility.

Death Stranding's protagonist is Sam Porter Bridges (played via motion capture by Norman Reedus), a man tasked with delivering packages in a dystopian American hellscape while protecting a baby in a tube. So basically, Death Stranding places gamers into the role of a working single father.

Norman Reedus Comic-Con International 2018 - "The Walking Dead" Photo Call Getty Images

This is likely a far-cry from the real lives of the most terrible, self-proclaimed gamers, who spend their days screaming about racy underage anime on the Internet and have nothing more important to protect than a plate of microwave chicken nuggets their mom just handed them. Hideo Kojima recognizes this gamer archetype and clearly hopes to find a solution.

In this light, Norman Reedus seems like a perfect casting choice, embodying the sort of rugged, grimy everyman that many awful gamers kind of imagine themselves emulating. By allowing these delusional gamers to pretend they're Norman Reedus, Kojima hopes to ease them into the idea of being functional members of society who care about anyone or anything other than themselves. Don't believe it? Watch the trailer for yourself:

Death Stranding - Official Release Date Trailer www.youtube.com


"Humans aren't made for living alone. They're supposed to come together, to help one another," says a voice during the trailer, probably forgetting that a lot of these men do live with their parents.

"It's so hard to form connections when you can't shake hands," says another.

These lines might as well be speaking directly to the miserable man-babies screeching about how much they hate women and minorities, or as they call it, "ethics in video game journalism."

The best part is that these exact gamers actively don't get the point. They're just excited to play the newest game from the creator of Metal Gear Solid and have no idea what kind of reality check Death Stranding has in store for them. This is a little surprising, considering they all think they're very smart, and Kojima hasn't exactly made his intent a secret.

For instance, when describing the themes, Kojima invoked a short story by Japanese writer Kobo Abe about humanity's tools for separation and connection: "Most of your tools in action games are sticks. You punch or you shoot or you kick. The communication is always through these 'sticks.' In [Death Stranding], I want people to be connected not through sticks, but through what would be the equivalent of ropes."

In essence, Kojima is saying, "Hey gamers, maybe try actually connecting with other humans for once instead of being awful all the time."

And yet, when Kojima announced that he intended to make the game accessible for everyone through lower difficulty options, the worst gamers j*zzed all over themselves in the comments trying to appear superior. For whatever reason, the idea that some people will enjoy playing a game in an easier difficulty mode makes them feel better about their own wretched lives. Perhaps spending 50+ hours with a virtual baby will change their perspectives.


Kojima even hopes to introduce these gamers to the potential of fatherhood (which optimistically assumes they'll one day become capable of maintaining a relationship with a woman who isn't their mother). Not only can gamers experience the baby's voice coming out of their controller while they play, but they can also purchase a special edition Playstation 4 with a urine-colored controller and smudged handprints on the system. It's just like what a real baby would do!

The answer to "what is Death Stranding about?" has been right there in Kojima's pinned Tweet since all the way back in May: "People have built 'Walls' and become accustomed to living in isolation...Through your experience playing the game, I hope you'll come to understand the true importance of forging connections with others."

It's about growing the f*ck up, gamers.

*Holy crap, I thought I was joking about this theory the whole time, but I'm starting to think I'm actually right.*

BTS

The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.

Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.

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B.S.

Are These Artists Actually Clones Created by Greedy Music Industry Executives?

Is Ariana Grande just a renovated Mariah Carey? Are Brendan Urie and Patrick Stump dating—or are they the same person? The truth is out there.

Though all music borrows in some way from other music, sometimes bands or artists just sound and/or look uncannily similar to each other.

These similarities raise pressing questions: how and why do these bands sound so alike? Could there be some dark secret behind their successes, some cloning initiative launched once music industry executives realized they could just repackage the same artist under a different name and double their profits?

Regardless of how much of the truth you're willing to see, this list exposes pairs of bands or artists that not only sound the same but also seem to occupy the same cultural purpose, performing the same symbolic and emotional roles for fans everywhere.

1. Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys

Cage the Elephant and the Black Keys are different bands. It's a proven fact. And yet are they? They both feature singers with mid-range voices and vaguely Southern drawls. They both use grungy guitars that sound like they've been filtered through a litany of overdrive pedals. They both make songs that have lyrics—but are the songs really about anything, or are they both just kind of sad attempts to fill the hole created by rock and roll's death?

Objective facts tell us that these bands are indeed different—Cage the Elephant opened for the Black Keys on several tours, and Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach produced Cage the Elephant's 2015 album and their new 2019 single. But is it so hard to believe that some rip in the fabric of the time-space continuum created a world in which two slightly different iterations of the exact same band can walk around at the same time? Even some of their biggest hits like "Gold on the Ceiling" and "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" are eerily similar, both relying on ominous bass lines and sparse, punchy guitar hits.

The Black Keys - Gold On The Ceiling [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

Cage The Elephant - Ain't No Rest For The Wicked (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

2. Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande

They both have stratospheric ranges, prima donna pop culture royalty and/or meme status, and impressive whistle tones. Sure, Ariana's music is tailored to the ultramodern era, whereas Mariah's occupied a similar space in the late 90's and early 2000's pop canon, but they both embody the image of the magnetic, radiant, super-talented starlet with an only slightly infuriating trail of number one hits.

Mariah Carey Vs. Ariana Grande SAME AGE Vocal Battle! (UPDATED) www.youtube.com


3. America and Neil Young

If you've heard the band America's number one hit, A Horse With No Name, chances are you might have wondered if you were listening to one of Neil Young's early collaborative efforts. But Young and Dan Peek, the late lead singer of America, share little else than a slightly nasal tenor voice, a penchant for dreamy folk rock, and dozens of harmony-laden albums from the 1970s.

America - A Horse With No Name+Lyrics www.youtube.com


Neil Young - Harvest Moon www.youtube.com

4. Radiohead and Muse

They're both obsessed with technology, paranoia, apocalypses, and thematically complex concept albums. Ultimately Radiohead's breadth and range of sonic textures far outdoes Muse's, but on some of their better-known songs, Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy's desperate and wailing voices could easily be mistaken for one another, especially when they're both crying on about fear and loneliness in the digital era over dizzying layers of synthesizer. Plus, it would fit well with both of these bands' brands if they were replicants of each other.

How Much Does Muse Sound Like Radiohead: Analysing Composition, Style, and the Radiohead Zeitgeist www.youtube.com

5. Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes both have a propensity for multi-layered trippy, ambient folk. Their lead singers have high, delicate voices that sound like they're emanating from a distant cabin, wafting towards you on waves of campfire smoke. There's a whole battalion of folk bands that sound like these two, but as pillars of the genre, the similarities between indie's leading foxes and bears are difficult to ignore.

I'm Losing Myself (Feat. Ed Droste) by Robin Pecknold www.youtube.com

6. Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco

Patrick Stump and Brendon Urie both have irrationally massive vocal ranges, which they use to create passionate, angsty, climactic jams that have been giving voice to tween girls' pain for decades. They actually have collaborated several times—even on a Coke ad, which you can listen to in its full glory as each of these singers attempts to out-belt the other. Both bands formed within three years of each other (Fall Out Boy in 2001, Panic! in 2004) and occupied similar cultural spaces in their respective golden years. Fans have even shipped the two lead singers together. Plus their specific vocal styles spawned dozens of shaggy-haired copycat frontmen.

Drunk History: Fall Out Boy featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco www.youtube.com

Fall Out Boy Ft Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco - Don't Stop Believing cover www.youtube.com

7. Avril Lavigne Pre and Melissa Vandella

Everybody knows that Avril Lavigne died and was replaced by a clone of herself, created by deft industry people who couldn't resist the potential profits of more Sk8r Bois. Still, the clone does sound and look remarkably similar to her predecessor, despite the obvious differences (Melissa prefers dresses and skirts, while Avril favored pants; and Avril would never have married Chad from Nickelback). Very impressive, music industry executives, but we're onto you.

Conspiracies: Did Avril Lavigne Die in 2003? | Pigeons & Planes Update www.youtube.com


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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