In “Effective, but Defective,” music critic Robert Christgau wrote about a perceived critical leniency that was afforded to Tom Waits, whose fractured folk-singing has carved out a memorable — and distinctly anti-pop — niche. Christgau confesses that “yes, [Waits’s] gifts are major and unconventional,” but he also questions how meaningfully Waits wields those gifts, observing that “what exactly [Waits] has to say, or even how well he says it, is subsumed in his legendary integrity and idiosyncrasy.”
Christgau never made me think twice about buying Swordfishtrombones, but his outlook on Tom Waits does remind me a bit of Splatoon and Nintendo, a delightfully anti-shooter video game made by a company that is delightfully distant from contemporary video game tastes. I adore Splatoon and its willingness to bend the rules of the shooter genre by emphasizing traversal and verticality through Super Mario Sunshine-inspired environments, but I wonder if the game is getting “a bit of a free ride” as Christgau once felt about Waits.
Is Splatoon being celebrated only for being so firmly entrenched outside of typical shooter tone and aesthetic? Or does it have a more meaningful message about the genre and the conventions that surround it?
We’ll meet to discuss these questions and more on Thursday, October 1st at 9:30pm EDT / 6:30pm PDT; voice chat over Skype.