Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Lost Marvel: Episode VI: Play Money.

Freckles Marvel was a part of Captain Marvel history, and not a once off oddity either: During the height of Captain Marvel's fame, at which point, need  I remind you, he was easily more recognizable than Superman,  she graced several covers. She had a town for her to inhabit,  supporting characters to her, and even a nifty apellation. And seemingly overnight, she banished off the face of the earth, never to be tarted up, or gritted up, or killed off. Just oblivion.

It's time to again laught AT the FM and not with her. See, when this story starts Mary Marvel is just finding out Freckles Marvel has  a new gig: delivery girl. She's riding around Marveltown, delivering packages, back in the red costume. she invites Mary along, and she delivers a misterious package.

"Come on! Why won't she eat it!?"

But naturally, some people alert her to the fact she's gone done fucked this up. She gave the hair tonic to the rich lady,  and the gun to the bald guy! And the bald guy badly misplaced the gun!
Do you feel ducky, punk?

This might seem all too serious to you, but Mary Marvel finds it hilarious. 
Hee Hee! You can''t trancscend your phiical limitations!

So Mfrecks only gets payed by the one guy,and goes out to buy  a dress. Nothng like good, hard earned...
Doesn't everyone in Marveltown know that Freckles know..."special?"

So Mary Marvel goes out and tries to clear Freckles Marvel's name by punching assholes.
And he never again walked the easy path. Or walked in a general way.

Eventually, she uses the wisdom of Athena to clear Freckles Marvel from all crimes. Will she leave the fast paced, dangerous life of a delivery girl behind?
I just want them off my court before they find about my corruption and punch me in the kidneys.

Haha! No.This one's unusual in that MFrecks did not only did not solve the problem, but that even Mary Marvel's view of her wasn't all that great. If we're being fair, Freckles Marvel could probably not solve all this types of crimes herself all the time. Still, a good story in my opinion.

Tropes vs Women in Videogame is kinda right, bros.

Wait, are you saying that feminists think games are sexist? Get me the president!!

I think discussions of diversity are worthy of discussion in videogames.  I know when they are brought up  it causes uneasy feelings. The videogamer, the one who's into the culture of videogames enough to sign on to a forum strictly dedicated to the genre, is a creature that has been bred to fear criticism from all sources, because historically that criticism is ill informed about the industry itself.  And when you don't talk about it you feel good. You look at the newest shitty pop singstress trying  singing about licking your lollipop and the newest shitty patronizing rom-com and you go "well, we doing all right over here." And hey, in some respects, we are. But we can always be better.
If only so that we don't get complacent.
And so has the reaction been to a new series, kick-started out of the money of people willing to see it. It's apparently gotten, flagged and otherwise illegitimately attempted to be brought down by...I don't know. Assholes? You know, there's thousands of terrible videos of shitty opinions out there. At least this one is well produced and researched.
I always knew I'd end up using this panel. But I NEVER thought it'd be on my own kind.
Some of the initial reactions to things like this are more akin to "The Man" trying to "Make it PC" down here, but the way I see it, and I think I might have said this before, the point isn't to take away your swear words and boobs. As long as there is a market for schlock, and the game's industry as it is is more a market for schlock rather than  a field of varied artistic depictions. Don't fight it, just look at the top sellers this week.

But the more diverse the market becomes, the more it will thrive. Do you think Hollywoold does  cg kids movies because it likes kids?  For refferences sake, this are the Mainstreem  movies I can see in my cinema right now vs the games being released this week in my console of choice. Please  assign each one a target demographic, and while you're at it, describe what the protagonist does in the  tale.

Caribean Cinemas:
(The Jackie Robinson Biopic)
(A comedy, possibly romantic)
Dos mas Dos
(Some kind of sex comedy)
(some kind of  post-WW2 thriller)
(Ferngully in CG and they put Pitbull in as a Frog)
Fast and the Furious 6
(I trust you to already know what this franchise is about)
I am the Director
(A mockumentary)
Iron Man 3
(About a B-Lister at Best Superheroe in a quest to continually humiliate DC comics)
Mi Primera Boda
(histo-drama about Pinochet years Chile)
(Sci-Fi action)
Pain and Gain
Star Trek into Darkness
(Sci Fi Comedy)
The Big Wedding
(Rom com)
The Place Beyond the Pines

Metal Gear Rising: Blood Wolf
(Action shack and slash)
(well, it's not about a kitten's birthday)
Ride to Hell: Retribution
A racing game, no doubt.
(about a killer psycho that is also a parody of the industry that borne him)
Borderland's 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep
(I don't know what this is. Sounds refreshingly peppy.)

As you can see, movies catter even to different language speakers. The videogames can barely move  beyond their core male 18-30 demo. You want to know what's really killing the industry? That it hasn't really diversified. This is why comics are dying. One day there where all kinds of comics, including some for  ladyfolk. Archie sold millions. Fucki'n' Archie! Now DC and Marvel barely make ends meet by banging pots every year around the  chance  a character someone liked may die in a convoluted crosover event. I don't want one day that people are just making videogames to just "keep the dream alive" and trying to get movie deals. Do you?

 So what do  I think of the series? Well, it's certainly not  just frothing at the mouth feminism. Even though I appreciate the hosts "barely not barfing" face after some of the clips.

She either just saw a kitten torn apart by alligators or a clip from the Mario Anime.
 I certainly don't agree with everything, so I guess It's easier to just put down the parts that I disagree with. Less because I "think she needs to be shut down" and more to challenge some of you to maybe argue with points and not just try to drown out all criticism with a pillow. The industry is no longer helped by excuses and  insularity, if it  ever was. I want to make this perfectly clear: YOU GUYS ARE MAKING US LOOK BAD, AND I REVIEW PORN FIGHTING GAMES UNASHAMEDLY!

So, in general, the first two episodes focused open the Damsel in Distress trope. The eventual thesis that it depowered women, in order to serve as objects in  a male characters story. Which is interesting when you string a series of  images of women screaming "help me!". But I feel it's not entirely fair to  the games, in the sense that the stories of most games are, as accurately pointed out in the videos themselves, fairly crude and simplistic.

I mean, I could string together a series of stories that don't feature damsels in distress as a core gameplay story, and make an argument that videogames are seriusly holding up the status quo with it's save the world plots or something. In truth, while this tropes are fairly lazy writing, it's no more creative to have a woman rescue a man, or a manrescue a lunch or a pet. This stories, this KIND of stories, were not going to do much else with  women. It's's like demanding reasonable female representations from porn. And... now I feel bad about myself.

My solution, as ever, is to craft these games instead of waiting (and basically asking) for them to be crafted. Becase there's a few games that have avoided the tropes I'm sure this series will outline as negative(I'm going to guess besides DiDs it will discuss sexploitation, and probably characters that are all about a man, and female villains, and games that leave the toilet seat up). Oh,  yes. Games like Beyond Good or Evil, and Urban Chaos. Games like  Mirror's Edge. Just in general games that don't sell enough. I'm not saying that those games deserved to sell just because they wern't aboug Groff Ankzt gunning down big boobed angels to avenge his mother's death at the hands of her ex- wife and rescue her daughter. In fact, Urban Chaos was a pretty shitty game.

What I'm saying is that this is not an industry that  prizes subtlety all that much. Square Enix is probably as we speak putting millions into a  game that ends with a girl keeling over dead while a guy yells no, because they don't think you'd buy it otherwise. If you don't buy it, they'll probably have to lay off hundreds of employees and be bought by a larger company. Again.

Objection! Nobody fucking bought it!

They won't believe it until it becomes "a thing" A thing where you can make a game of just Ms Arkeesian just shaving her armpits, and it won't bring bankrupcy and failure to the company. Someone has to make this games that women say they'd rather have (I mean...story games, not the puzzle games and such that they already play and that are not sexist merely by not having humans and stories in them) and  then women have to buy it. Begging Nintendo to change is going to do very little. Proving to Nintendo that there is money there is going to do a lot.

Another miss was that, as it tends to happen, games with multiple characters that include women. I'm not saying that the industry is not sexist because Chun Li. but to ignore many, many story driven games that feature multiple characters seems like a cop out. I'm sure those will come along mostly when they want to discuss the objectification of women, narrowing the dynamic of what the series considers desirable. What happens when your damsel in distress is saved by Blaze Fielding, Ada Wong or on co-op games that let you play as both genders on a quest to rescue a woman? If women in danger are inherently objectifying women as objects to men, is it less wrong when other women do it? When  Iron Patriot had to save The President of the USA  from being burnt alive, does that mean that the president belongs to him?   I know this is a short series, and that it's sticking mostly  to a specific dynamic.  My point is, that the concept of having to finally rescue SOMEONE is pretty common in videogames, and the general pervasiveness of "Rescue X" stories might be making it seem like more sexist than it is if you don't contrast it with what plots there mostly are.
The President's daughter can't wait until a team of feminists deems this acceptable.

Mario's one thing. Mario's basic plot is to rescue a Princess 99.9 percent of the time. But Sonic only rescued those 2 damsels. IN 20 FUCKING YEARS! I'm not trying to point out a counterexample to say it doesn't happen. I'm just saying if you take a franchise that's 2 decades old  and over 20 games strong and that  has plenty of female characters at this point, and some of them are not THAT stereotypical.... and point out the he twice had to rescue females... I don't know, It's practically cherry picking, and potentially a misrepresentation.
See, I don't need a crowdsourcing just to look at videogame cutscenes in Youtube.

But I think her assessment is mostly accurate. But that's just it. That's what I think. Maybe you think differently. You are free to  dissent from me and from her. However, I suggest listening to her before  you reach your conclusions on her. And if you can make a more valid point, by all means, do, please. Not because she deserves it. But because you  can't prove she's not right by shutting her down.  That only proves that you don't want to hear an opinion different than yours.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Xbox One to break heart, go down path I can't follow.

Xbox...go home.

I am saddened to say that, should the Xbox console line  continue down the announced path, I might have to break our 12 year strong bond.

I'm no stranger to buying the worst consoles of the generational race. Through no particular animosity I've managed to avoid all Sony Consoles but the PSP, which is like throwing a spear into the forest and somehow managing to impale your mother. So let me first discuss the things that are not that wrong about the Xbox 1.

I don't like that it's always on. I figure the genius who came up with that doesn't  know what a power bill is. "I know, needs to be on, so you can feel like Michael Knight ordering Kitt around. " I'm sorry, but the electric company doesn't accept "I'm living in the future" as down payment, Rosey The Robot. But, you know, I don't have a problem with having it disconnected most of the time.

I know some of you feel the industry's just about dying with all the piracy and used games, and that the only solution of for things like this, where publishers literally control the game, even after it's left for the consumer's hands. I feel this will not adress the problem. See, the consumer does not have infinite money. A person who was going to buy Killer Instinct 3 Gold Edition used and also a new Halo One is not going to magically have the money for both if you make him buy both wholesale. Most likely he'll let one in the store and get the other. I think if a  single game failing can bring down a whole company, maybe the company needs a better business model and to allocate it's resources better.Making a AAA game is super expensive.  But put so much money to ride in a single game? It's insanity on the part of the publishers. I think this kind of thing will only limit the amounts of games people buy.

I don't like that you have to have on Kinect all of the time. I see by now you've figured a good amount of people don't care about doing the humpty dance in their cramped room to the delight of no one, and the only way for you to ingratiate it with people is to basically make it a forced component of the game console. But I guess as long as it's part of the package and I can tuck it under my bed or something it's okay.

I don't like the small amounts of announced games. Sports don't count. Everybody knows  it's gonna have sports games. It's like announcing building will have rooms. But I guess E3 oughta solve all that.

I really don't like your "you can't play used games without paying" thing. It just strikes me as extreme greed. Are used games killing the industry? Because it seems fine to me. 

And yet I LIKE the idea of trading/selling your games to other people online. In a way, it would be like the days of yore, where you gave your cousin your shitty Justice League Task Force in exchange for a glitched-up Earth Worm Jim. Only, with infinite cousins,  holding literally every game under the sun. Theorically you'd be able to get any game you want, paying nothing, until you get stuck with Fusion Frenzy III, and nobody wants to trade.

So, with all that, I'd buy it. But there's a dealbreaker.

If it's true, that you literally can't play the console if there is no internet connection, I'm afraid we're never doing business. You see...I'm sure out there in Redmond you can get a fast, reliable internet connection  from tap water. All we get over here is chlorine and dirt. Simply put, I don't have the kind of money to pay the internet man every month. Internet choices over here are limited, and the are not reasonably priced.

I understand that games are essentially a luxury. I know I sold all of mine for one measly driving class hoping to have enough money from driving a wagon to maybe afford some newer ones, from after 2011.  But the way it plays out in my mind is, I buy your console, play with it for 3 months, and then, can't pay for no more internet. Then, oh, no, I can't play anything anymore.

And no hard feelings. I understand what you're doing here, with the all in one set up. Finally, we can watch TV from...our game consoles. It's a machine that does it all. Well, you know what, there's a machine that does it all, and it's called a PC. I can use it for games, watching internet videos, watch TV and write sardonic blog posts.  Game consoles are meant to play games, and anything that puts a "you can't play a game if" in there is bad for business. And there's like 3 of those in here. Sometimes a guys just likes to sit up and fire up a game. If Xbone's not gonna work that out for me, I might just move on.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

5 most common ways to missinterpret the Bible

Look, I insist on not getting all religious on you: each of you's got a choice to make, or not make or whatever. But I've been studying the Good Book a lot. A lot of people hold this book as an immediate solution to all of life's problems. In those people's homes, I would not be surprised to find a dusty, unread Bible in some basement somewhere.

Basically this book, or rather collection of books, is in a foreign language, from a foreign culture, from more than 1500 years ago. So  it's not like you can start reading at the start of a train commute and get it before it stops. Because frankly, there's a lot to get. In the spirit of this, here's the 5 most common ways the Word of God can fly right over your head.

5)Ignoring all the jewey parts

This might be the single most common mistake. I've seen people who up and up declare that the only parts of the Bible that concern them start in the New Testament with the birth of the prophesized Messiah, and his sacrificial death. They say all the other parts, the ones about not eating bats and keeping the Shabath holy are for the Hebrews.

First of all, wise-guy: What did you think Jesus taught? He was a Rabbi. Without the teachings of the Law, he'd have had nothing to teach. He explicitely explains that he did not come to undo the law. What is the law? Well, the Torah, and all it's commandments.

Basically adopting this mindset is like only watching the last episode of a series. How can you even know why stuff is important if you you don't even know what they're talking about?

4)Reading everything literally

This one is a big problem in America, where there's a big fuzz about evolution vs what's on the Bible. I mean, the Bible says that the Earth is only 6000 years old, right? Well, no, but for a lot of people it's inferred (it's not.)

But you know what I mean: How can God be wrong about where humans came from? The Bible says humans came from the earth, not from monkeys!

Well, basically my answer to that is that I wasn't there, so I obviously can't vouch for millions of years of monkey-fucking or thousands of years of miracles. What I do know is that, often time things stated in the Bible are not strictly meant to  reflect A UNIVERSAL TRUTH ABOUT THE NATURAL WORLD.

The Bible is not a  dry history book. Parts of it is poems. Part of it is songs. A lot of it is fables and allusions. You can see this in the way Jesus taught. He would talk about a man who gave his son his inheritance, and he squandered. He wasn't trying to establish that once an actual dude actually really for real did this. And you should not assume all parts of it actually went down, lest you get caught up in tales of Tree Monarchy.

The Bible uses a lot of phrasing. Many versions use the term "Uncover the nakedness" of a person. Uncovering the nakedness in this case is a phrase that means "cheat the person out  a partner", in the same way today we might say "pulling some bullshit" when there is no actual  bull feces being pulled. If you take it literally it says you can't look at Grandmas ass. It might seem funny, but what if she's dying and needs ass-to-mouth?

3)Ignoring the context

A lot of people say that the Bible justifies and glorifies genocide and war, because genocide and war happen in it. However clever people who say this  think they are, they clearly are ignoring one little fact: There wasn't no Geneva convention in the year 3000 BC.

Essentially we made the law that you can't kill a bunch of people and take their land relatively late. But in Biblical times, to call it something, this is how it was done, not JUST by the Hebrews, but by everyone. Or did you think guys like Alexander the Great and King Agamemnon got there by kissing babies?

The Historical parts of the Bible are not always meant to reflect what we'd call a "right action" or a "wrong action". Sometimes, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened.

One time a lady got raped. The guy who did it then turned to her brothers in an attempt to marry her. They convinced him to circumcise himself and all his crew for her hand in marriage. During that night and capitalizing on their dick-pains, the brothers of the raped lady killed all the guys. A biblical patriarch bemoaned the fact that his own people got him in trouble.  Who was right in this story? Yeah, didn't think so.

2) Taking opinions as cannon
I'm learning a lot at my church, and often you can learn just as much by what the other people don't know.We where discussing the part where it says that a Congregation with no gifts is dead and could not stand. He was discussing that, and came to the conclusion that perhaps that part was not true, for he knew many congregations of sucky ass-suckers that have subsisted for a long time, for example the Mita congregation.

More than 70 years ago there was a lady who claimed the Spirit of God resided in her more so than in other people. She was called Mita, and soon worship  truned from God to her. She claimed that she would die and then come back to life. But she only did half of that. Desperate to keep the faithful, they devised a new story: that the spirit of the lady, which inside it had the spirit of God, had resurrected indeed...inside all living member Aaron. Recently it's been found  Aaron had a baby and sort of hid it for forty years. The congregation remains.

So is the Bible wrong about that? Well, no, silly-bones. That part of the Bible happens to be A LETTER sent from one church to another. The author is clearly lecturing the people, and that part was not some all encompassing canon, but a mere opinion, meant to enforce particular values.

And if you say to me all the scripture is inspired by God, I'll tell you that Pain and Gain is "inspired by true events". Inspired isn't meant to mean it's all 100 percent true. Just that each part has a message to convey, in some way, at some point, to someone.

1)Assuming the message of a story is what you think it is

A lot of people have access to a pulpit and access to biblical teachings, and only  use one of those. Understanding what the Bible actually says takes time, and you can't waste time when you've got to warn the people about gay marriage. And that's how a lot of wrongful interpretations of what's in the Bible are born: when people who know nothing of the Bible base their interpretation of the Bible on that of other people who know nothing of the bible.

Take the story of Onan. It's become so synonymous with masturbation that it's  practically  it's own verb. I was told this story as a kid as a warning never to jerk off. And you know what, the story isn't about  that.

Basically God had said to this guy that he was gonna have a son. But when he was about to shoot his sperm into the lady, he pulled out, and then he threw it to the groooound! And God was angry. Because, again, context: The guy was basically denying God in his face. It's not that God gets angry if your semen can't find a home.

But the nice lady from the Church was a fuckin' prude. She was settled into the idea and just the "popular wisdom" of that verse was all she needed.

Another one is "The story of the adulterer woman", which has become a shorthand for " "Don't judge anything ever". And really,  if Big J.o.N. says "Don't Judge" then what else is there to say?

A lot. First of all, yes, the story is about Jesus showing the hypocrisy  of some religious people who are just as sinful as those they persecute. But no, it's not a barring on  judging actions, attitudes, situations, and character, as in, to analyze them based on their actual merit and arrive on a conclusion. You ARE supposed to do that. What you are NOT supposed to do is to clamp down on  and persecute others if you yourself have no moral high ground, lest you end up hurting the cause with your hypocrisy. Like, say, being a big anti-gay proponent who also is very gay, and often with kids.  Also, Jesus totally tells that lady to not sin anymore. NOT that she's right and that it's all cool. NOT THAT WE'RE ALL SPECIAL AND BEAUTIFUL AND DON'T FEEL LIKE A PLASTIC BAG.

Got it? Good.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It's a metaphor!

Extraterrestrials have been used in media for over a hundred years now. But it turns out some of our favorite non-humans from space don't really com from that far away!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Lost Marvel Episode V: Go Home and be a Freckles Marvel!

Freckles Marvel was a part of Captain Marvel history, and not a once off oddity either: During the height of Captain Marvel's fame, at which point, need  I remind you, he was easily more recognizable than Superman,  she graced several covers. She had a town for her to inhabit,  supporting characters to her, and even a nifty apellation. And seemingly overnight, she banished off the face of the earth, never to be tarted up, or gritted up, or killed off. Just oblivion.

But she won't stay forgotten for long, because, I'm covering all her adventures in my series The Lost Marvel.

Sexism. Now that I have your attention, I think it's high time we talked about gender politics in this series. One of the character IS a...dumb ugly young woman, to be blunt. And yet, the character's positive aspects keep getting played up. For example, in this story, which starts with Mary Batson visiting her friend Freckles Dudley, just as she's winning the swimming medal the first of 3 sporting events during somekind of ecclectic thriatlon. She shows them the team. One of them is immediatly a sexist asshole.
And...and...and my penis is huge! You whore!

Down one Man going His Own Way, Freckles immediately drafts Mary Batson into the team, and everone abides because remember; we are in Marveltown. The second event is soapbox car races. But when the team is getting there, Curly is sabotaging the car. They scare him off and drive. What's the worst that could happen?
She's one step closer to the edge, yet not about to brake.

But you know, they have Mary Marvel in there, so they don't die. And no one wonders why Mary Marvel apeared there where Mary Batson was just now. They are saved, but the race is lost.  There is but one way to settle this: Like the ancient Roman gladiators...

In the wings, though, a deadly, male chauvinist predator lurks. Curly Tuff now shoots Freckles Marvel, clearly one of the best and most athletically cordinated dancers, ESPECIALLY more than the girl who can fly....with a slingshot. FRECKLES, LOOKOUT!
A Harlem Joke was appropriate in March, when I wrote this. 

And the judges eat it up! Marveltown wins! And  Curly gets spanked by his father!
He's name is Mr Tuff. All physical pain he causes while named that is justified.
Also, the judges are drunk.

You know, Freckles Marvel is probably what we would call a strong female character in this story. She's the captain of a sports team (Uh...CAPTAIN Freckles Marvel?) where she's also the best, and she's not even pretty. That's gotta count for something.  And we don't even need ay moralizing about Curly's sexism. It's like, dude, you're being a stubborn jackass. Stop. 

Bonus ROUND!

More or less this is the main picture of Freckles Marvel in Comic Vine as of the time of this writing. Why would they not choose one on her costume, but rather this one of her in the closest look at teh skimpiest clothes she wore? Hmm...