Saturday, June 30, 2012

Night of the Living Links (Dieting is Boring, WB is Sexist, and More!)

Just so you know my epic lady crush on Kate Beaton is still intact.
So remember how I said that I was spending my week doing something super cool? Well, now the cat is out of the bag and the event is over, so I can share! For the past week (and really the past month), I have been putting together and staging a post-apocalyptic summer camp for a youth group full of awesome kids. And the absolute best part? It was set at an abandoned missile silo.

Like a real one.

With missile shafts.

And creepy tunnels. And huge underground domes. And holes in the ground that drop hundreds of feet (which the campers were not allowed near, because we're not stupid). And attacks from outside forces, fake creepy corporation stuff (courtesy of me), and overall sheer awesomeness. The kids got closer to God, and I got to watch them grow and develop a real community and become even cooler people than they already were.

So have some links. I'm going to be over here, basking in awesomeness.

Also sleeping.

1. In well-I'm-glad-someone-made-a-list-I-guess news, Cracked has come out with a wonderful article on the 14 Worst Boobs in the History of Videogames. And yes, it's stupid and juvenile, but it's also sort of handy to know, and it's always fun to laugh and tell game developers that anatomy doesn't work like that.

My hobbies are cooler than yours.
2. In thank-you-for-making-this-clear news, Mallamun on tumblr has finally written the comprehensive guide to typical problems with sex in fanfiction. Since a lot of fanfic smut is written by young women with little to no experience with sex, and usually involves characters and situations that they don't fully understand, this is something that needs to be said. Fortunately, Mallamun says it hilariously.

3. In please-be-my-friend-now news, Scarlett Johansson is apparently fed up with being asked stupid dieting questions while her male costars are asked in depth questions about their characters and motivation. And, even better, she's willing to talk about how pissed off she is, to the very people that are pissing her off. Read the exchange here, and cheer for our new favorite celebrity.

4. In old-but-still-unnerving news, check out this freaky article from 2007 on Deadline Hollywood Daily where the head of Warner Brothers actually said that WB would not be making any more female lead films. Like, for serious, he really said that. And maybe WB has backed off from that stance, what with the necessity for a Wonder Woman movie and all, but still. That got said. Read it here.

5. In so-glad-someone-is-checking-up-on-this news, Fangs for the Fantasy has a great article series on cover snark, or looking at the covers publishers slap onto fantasy and especially urban fantasy books with female leads. Specifically, snarking at the poses, clothes, shoes, and how ridiculous they all are. Read it here. It's very fun.

6. And finally, in no-that's-not-a-tear-shut-up news, Matt Hardy of Where the Hell is Matt? is a wonderful human being who travels around the world, and gets video footage of himself dancing with the people he meets wherever he goes. And it is just...awesome. In the fullest sense of the word. Here's the most recent video.

So that's it for the news this week. We'll be up with another episode of Crossover Appeal later today, and I'll talk to you all on Monday!

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Watch a Lot of Crappy Shows for You Guys, You Know That?

I'm just saying.
It may not surprise you to know this, but I watch a lot of television. I mean, a lot. Like, a seriously disturbing amount. Mostly I do it out of curiosity and a desire to be able to expand my knowledge of pop culture, then share it with all of you. 

You’re welcome.

What might surprise you, though, is how very much of what I watch does not actually get discussed here. It’s the stuff that I find dull, uninvolving, or just overall unremarkable. If it’s bad, I like to talk about why. If it’s good, then let’s praise it. If it’s just meh, though, what are you supposed to say? Good job, try better next time?

Well, that’s what I’m going to do here.

These are the shows I’ve watched that left me cold and didn’t give me enough to grab onto and write a full article. I’m not saying I won’t review them or discuss them later, but for now, this is where we are.

There are so many things I want to love here.
Primeval: Dinosaurs in modern London.

This is straight up a show that on premise alone I feel morally obligated to love. There are DINOSAURS running around LONDON. Factor in that it’s British television, and therefore I assume it should be better (which is mostly lies, but oh well), and that it features Andrew Lee Potts, who I adore from Alice, and I should totally be smitten by this.

But I’m not, and I haven’t the foggiest idea why.

It could be that the effects aren’t very good, but that’s never bothered me before. (I watched the early seasons of Supernatural, for crying out loud!) It could be that the premise is too hokey, but as I said above, it’s exactly the right kind of hokey for me.

When it comes down to it, I don’t really know why this show never captured me, but I have a guess: the characters. I don’t love them.

“What?” I hear you say. “It’s a show about dinosaurs! You don’t need to give a crap about characters to watch this! Just shut up and enjoy!” And I want to, but I can’t. There’s just not enough there as far as the writing of the character interactions goes, for me to commit to this show. The characters are all there, and bad traumatic stuff happens to them, but since I never invested in them in the first place, I don’t care, and I watch something else.

Sorry, show.

More of this, please. Less of the other stuff.
The Gates: Suburbia for werewolves, vampires, and witches.

Again, it totally seems like my jam. There’s some Stepford creepiness, mixed in with the casual almost-racism-but-not-quite, and the sheer idea of a housing community made up entirely of weird supernatural creatures.

I just couldn’t get into it, and in this case, I know exactly why. It was a soap. I hate soaps.

Revenge aside, I’m really not a fan of the rich world plagued by inner intrigue and scandal. Desperate Housewives bored the pants off me, and the idea of sitting around watching a bunch of werewolves and vampires play house, instead of eating each other, or roaming through the woods, or just being actual supernatural critters, it sucks.

If I watch a show with supernatural elements, there had better be some damn commitment to those elements. I do not need to see werewolves being jealous about their girlfriends. I watch Teen Wolf for that. I don’t need to see vampires worry about the adoption process. I think that’s obvious. What I want is a show that will go into the creepy with me, scare my pants off, and not freaking BORE me.

Outcasts: Post-Earth apocalypse, the survivors try to make a new society on another planet.

I love sci-fi, I love apocalypses, and I love planetary travel. I am all over watching a show that navigates the waters of the post-Earth human race, and the idea that to build a free society, you have to pay a hefty price. Dystopias, moral questions, and space ships, these are all my jam.

However. I do not truck with creepy kids, stories that hinge on spousal abuse, bland acting, and blander writing.

I’m sorry. I couldn’t do it.

Actually, I take that back. I’m not sorry. Also, this show is totally a Battlestar Galactica ripoff. Now that’s a good show.

These are just a taste, too, of the many shows that I watch, hoping to gleam something useful to talk about on here. I do it all for you, dear readers. And because I like it.

So while sometimes this relentless searching will bear wonderful fruit in the vein of Teen Wolf and Prime Suspect and Caprica, most of the time I get these duds. I’m not sorry I do it, and I don’t plan to stop, I just thought you should know. Sometimes, they’re really not worth talking about.

What I'm saying is, you're welcome. Cash gifts are acceptable as offerings of gratitude, as are Hulu+ and Netflix subscriptions.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

GLaDOS and Chell Pass the Bechdel Test (And Why You Should Care)

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when something finally meets my standards.

I’m not saying that my standards are higher than everyone else's (though, they usually are, at least when it comes to ladies in media), I’m just saying that they’re high, and it makes me crazy happy when something actually comes along and meets them. Says hi to them, and makes them happen. I do a Snoopy dance.

So, it may not shock you to know that I did a full on Snoopy jam fest over Portal.

Simply put, Portal’s pretty much the best game I’ve ever played, from every standpoint. More complicatedly put, I love it for a few reasons (only one of which is relevant here). One, it’s super duper fun. Two, it’s a unique world, mechanic, and type of gameplay. Three, the game is actually out and out funny, which is somewhat of a rarity in FPS games. And four, it actually passes the Bechdel Test.

Guess which one of these we’re gonna talk about?

The Bechdel Test, if you’ve forgotten or never knew, is a deceptively simple way to gauge how important female characters are to the story you’re watching. Since women make up roughly half the population of the planet (and if not half, then actually more, according to science), it seems like this wouldn’t be hard, right? Women are totally relevant to all kinds of things, so passing this test should be super easy.

Wrong. The test itself is very simple. The media in question must have two or more named female characters. “Nanny” or “Grandmother” or “Barista” do not count as names. These two female characters must then talk to each other for 60 seconds about something other than a man. That’s it.

Ninety percent of the movies that have come out in the past thirty years have failed. Seriously. There’s a list. And it doesn’t even use the 60-second rule.

And videogames are even worse. Forget the difficulty of having your female characters talk about something other than a man, try having two female characters even talk to each other! Most videogames have zero to one women in them, and these women are usually nameless prostitutes, peasants, or otherwise useless to the test. If they are full characters they are babysitting missions, enemies, creepy children, or “badass lady adventurers” who are just fantasy fuel and there to make out with the lead.

If it’s a rare female led franchise, then there’s already a woman, and clearly no need for her to talk to any other women, right? Quota filled.

Here’s where we get to Portal. In this game, which is fun and challenging and extremely well made, we have not just a female protagonist (Chell), who is neither sexualized nor infantilized by the story, but we also have a female (or female-ish, since she is a robot) antagonist: GLaDOS.

It’s hard for some people to understand exactly what constitutes “passing the Bechdel Test”, because they misunderstand the reasoning behind it. Does Portal actually pass? Because Chell is actually mute, so it’s not like they’re having a conversation you can hear. They don’t ever “talk”. GLaDOS monologues, and Chell shoots things. It’s a very unhealthy relationship.

But when people make arguments like this they miss the point of the test. Chell and GLaDOS are definitely in a conversation, one where GLaDOS is trying to kill Chell, and Chell is trying to kill GLaDOS first. And, sure, GLaDOS is a robot. So what?

The important thing is that they’re important. These are two women, or female-identified robots, who are integral to the story, and carry out the plot without any need to dither into nothingness. They are crucial. Even in Portal 2, when GLaDOS has been defeated and you carry her around as a potato (it’s super hard to explain, just go with it), you’re still in conversation with her. There are other characters now too, even a new antagonist. But it’s okay, because the primary female relationship has not only endured, it’s changed.

That’s pretty cool for a robot and mute experimental test subject.

Did I mention that these games are super cool? Because they totally are.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Michelle Rodriguez Dies a Lot

I’ve mentioned this before, but I find Michelle Rodriguez a little personally terrifying. She’s well known in the industry for being knife-fight crazy, and I just maintain that I would not want to meet her in a dark alley. Or on a well-lit road. Or at all, really.

But, I have to admit, I respect the hell out of her.

Michelle Rodriguez has one of the best levels of standard for the roles that she takes. She refuses to take girlfriend roles, wife roles, roles where she’s tangential to the action, roles where she’s a supportive friend. She doesn’t do romantic comedies, she doesn’t simper at home while the men folk sort it out, she straps on a gun and deals with it herself.

It’s pretty freaking awesome.

But the result of all of this awesomeness is that the characters she plays have a weird tendency to die on her. And that doesn’t seem quite right.

Here we have an actress who has made a career out of always playing strong women who aren’t afraid of a fight, and she’s now known on the internet as “that chick that movies love to kill.” I kind of hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure there’s a connection there.

Our culture is a male dominated one, that’s pretty easy to figure. Aside from the occasional token franchise, like Tomb Raider or One for the Money, most action franchises have male leads. Yes, I have heard of Alien. That’s not the point here.

Cannon fodder.
The point is that in a male dominated action film, where Rodriguez is inevitably cast as the alarmingly convincing gun ho warrior woman, there isn’t actually room for her to succeed. They already have a hero, they can’t let a woman push through ahead of him. So off she goes to the woodchipper.

It’s even worse in female headed franchises. Those films already have a female lead, one who’s just pretty and delicate enough not to threaten male sensibilities even while she kicks their butts, and usually one dressed in a titillating red dress or something (I’m talking about you here, Resident Evil). Meanwhile, MR trudges around in the back, carrying her massive gun and wearing what are actually reasonable clothes for the situation. She has to go.

Because if they let her live, then they confirm that a capable woman with large muscles and a sensible attitude is actually more competent than their male fantasy of a lead, whose legs go on for miles, but can’t shoot for crap and is too worried about posing to know if the zombies are coming. (Sorry, still ragging on Resident Evil. I really don’t like the first one.)

There’s a symbolic importance to Rodriguez’ deaths. Every time she dies, it’s like the world is saying, “It’s okay. I know she was scary, but here’s a much more suitable fantasy object. Shh, it’s going to be okay. The bad lady’s gone now.” And that’s crap.

When she died on Lost, people cheered (well, until Libby got shot too). They cheered because most people hated her character. Her character who was strong, and sassy, and everything that we say we want our female characters to be. She was a little unorthodox, sure, but she had all the hallmarks of a great character. Able to take care of herself, willing to make tough decisions, take no prisoners attitude. And people cheered when she died.

Look, I’m not trying to start a fight about Lost and whether or not Analucia was a bitch. I don’t care. The point is that, bitch or not, the characters that Rodriguez plays are important. They’re the ones who get stuff done so that the Kates and Alices of the world can continue on in peace. They’re the characters who have to die so that our male created narrative can remain.

And I find that sad, okay?

For serious though, they killed her twice in Resident Evil. Twice.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why Removing Ryan Reynolds from Green Lantern 2 Is a Terrible Idea

Dan Ingram of Fear the Cacti and Crossover Appeal is now a regular contributor! You can read his previous posts herehere, and here.

I’m big on Internet debates. Anyone that has me as a friend on Facebook will tell you that the last few months have been increasingly political on my news feed and I can tell you that it’s only going to get worse.

That said, I also think I’m good at arguing with people. I think it helps me become a better citizen in general, especially in politics, because it forces me to go out and research specific topics. Like “Obamacare” or the GOP’s War on Women. 

So by trash talking people I disagree with, I feel like I learn something. And that may be that I was wrong all along. And ask my girlfriend, I may not admit it immediately, but eventually I’ll come around and apologize.

Completely unrelated Google image result for “apologizing boyfriend”.
But recently one of my favorite geek haunts posted this article:

Before I dissect this article, forgive my inappropriate usage of capitals in the above title. Bloggers have been getting around that lately by capitalizing all their words and frankly I’ve never been that good with the subject.

That’s neither here nor there. The real issue is this guy:

Jar Jar Binks is in this movie somewhere and that’s why it sucked.
The article says that the reason “Green Lantern” failed was because Ryan Reynolds is “pure box office poison”. Which is a couple of things. One it’s not true at all. He’s been in successful movies, both as the lead or a secondary character. And when it comes to romantic comedies of recent history, I’d be hard pressed to find anything bigger than “The Proposal”. The article also demonstrates a VERY narrow viewpoint on how Hollywood works. 
The writer of the GammaSquad article is entitled to his opinions, I just think this is a very bad opinion to have. I took to the comments (I’m NasalCactus if you look at the article) and tried to protest his point. I was snarky, but hey, it’s how I roll. I pointed out Ry-Ry’s film successes, and was promptly met with “Counterpoint – Ryan Reynolds is a giant pile of garbage.” 

Oh the trolls, they hurt my soul. And that guy probably gets paid to blog. Debbi, we’re doing something desperately wrong.

“Green Lantern” is terrible. I want to establish that. I really did not enjoy this movie. Which is the general consensus. It’s earned a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 39% on MetaCritic.
It’s staggering how bad this movie is because it’s such a well-established character in one of the biggest comic universes ever. I saw it for free and I still wanted my money back (even though the 3D was some of the best I’ve ever seen).

All that said; whose fault is it?

Even though he still dresses way better than I do.
This is radically oversimplifying things. Because anyone with a sliver of knowledge on how the film industry works knows that there is not a singular person that can be blamed. But that same person will turn around and immediately tell you that someone got fired for this movie. They may not have been the person behind the monetary losses, but someone in a suit is now branded as “the-guy-who-greenlit-the-Green-Lantern”. Inadvertent pun aside, that guy now has no job with Warner Bros., so he’s out of the picture.

Generally the public turns to the most notable figure, and in this case it’s Ryan Reynolds.
People know him from various projects ranging from “Van Wilder” to “Blade:Trinity”, but he’ll probably always be known best for his role as Hal Jordan. Which is sad.

And now, because of this stigma, Ryan Reynolds may be fired from the next installment. Maybe fired is too harsh. They’ll “reboot” the character. Which I’m sure is the terminology they’re putting into a press release right now.

If Kim Kardashian gets to keep her ring, Ryan should get to keep his too.
Here’s my argument against this decision (and I’m sorry it’s taken this long to get to it).
First, Ryan Reynolds is NOT to blame for the film failing. It was a disaster in every way once four writers and the director became involved. I’m not saying that it’s any one of those people’s faults either, but it should come as no surprise that having 5 people trying to make something creatively with a $200 million budget, opinions will differ. 

A standard rule of filmmaking is that you write a movie three times: once when you write the script, another when you shoot the film and a third time when you edit the footage. 

So let’s add the editor of the film to the dog pile. This doesn’t include any influence from the producers, the studio or DC representatives by the way; these are just the people that are responsible for handling the actual film. Do you see what I’m getting at?

We live in a society where actors get really involved with their projects. And Ryan Reynolds is even an avid producer, having started his own production company and starring in a bunch of independent films. However, it’s tough for me to justify him as THE REASON “GL” failed because he probably had little to absolutely no influence on the subject. 

I’ve read the script for “Green Lantern”. Not the shooting script or some lame ass Barnes and Noble shelf-filler that makes people feel like they’re “in-the-know”. But a draft of the script on three hole punch paper. To put it mildly . . . it’s different.

Hal is much more brash and a bigger smart ass. We get hints of that in the trailer even. Hal is asleep with a woman who he doesn’t know, tells her there’s water in the tap, and after he dons the Lantern suit right in front of his best friend, he says plainly “let’s find some trouble”. Those were significantly less impactful in the film and robbed the character of what Ryan could have really sold.

Hal Jordan is arrogant. And if you want someone who can play a snarky son of a bitch with washboard abs that becomes a selfless fighter that never gives up despite hopeless odds (and washboard abs) then you need someone like Ryan Reynolds. 

My other big argument for keeping Ryan Reynolds: The Justice League.

By now we all know that Marvel has mastered the comic film franchise. Nolan-verse aside, no other set of films is as highly touted as the “Avengers” series. Even Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films fall desperately short of the high water mark when you add the atrocity that was “emo-Parker”.

George McFly shudders in horror at this greasy haired sight.
If Warner Bros. has any hope of replicating a shred of the success that “The Avengers” just witnessed, they need to build a franchise around a star. Marvel got Robert Downey, Jr. involved, then they roped in Edward Norton (for a moment) and they put the idea out to the world. “We are making ‘Avengers’, this is who we are going to have in it.”

Whether or not Downey or Norton’s involvement drew in Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner or Scarlet Johansson is a total mystery. But I would be really shocked if you could find an audience member who wasn’t influenced by Marvel snagging some of the best possible candidates for the job.

After “The Dark Knight Rises”, DC will fall back on the “Superman” franchise (again) and who knows what that movie will look like considering Zak Snyder has such a great catalogue of films to chose from. 

If you’re not covered in sarcasm from that last sentence then there really is no hope for me as a writer.

But I will bet money on the fact that if you keep Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern and establish the Justice League franchise from his participation; moviegoers are going to take JL way more seriously. 

Either way I think Ryan Reynolds will be involved with the Justice League franchise.  Warner Bros. has already expressed interest in having him play Batman after “The Dark Knight Rises” finally stomps its way out of the box office. And having Ryan Reynolds play Batman sounds like a genuinely terrible idea.

I love the guy, but no one wants to be the “after-Nolan-Batman” and I don’t think anyone could take him seriously in the role. Hal Jordan is a perfect fit for Ryan Reynolds as an actor, and to start off Justice League, he should be a key figure. Letting him go would be a huge mistake. 

Plus if he didn’t play Green Lantern again, he’d just trot off and play Deadpool, another Marvel franchise. And I don’t think DC wants to give them any extra steam considering the Deadpool movie is pretty highly anticipated.

Mostly to rectify this shit storm of a character mash up.
Dan Ingram works in television and has his Master's in Screenwriting from New York Film Academy. His mancrush on Ry-Ry is the stuff of legend.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Loki's Just One of the Girls

If you’ve paid any attention to pop culture in the past few months, you may know about The Avengers, which grossed roughly all of the money. It had a lovable cast of superhero misfits all fighting against the evil overlord trying to take over the planet. That evil overlord was Loki, Norse god of mischief and lies—also known as an alien and Thor’s adoptive brother from the imaginatively named Thor.

Yeah, yeah, that’s all well and good, but we know all that. Why is he interesting enough to feature here?

Well, because sometimes Loki is a woman.

I am not speaking metaphorically here, either. (Though, we will get to that in a moment.) Loki in the Avengers comics is actually sometimes portrayed as a particularly voluptuous lady. And she’s pretty freaking cool.

She’s also super accurate as far as representations of Norse mythology go. The traditional Loki is not only a god of lies, but also a shapeshifter, and prone to appearing as a beautiful maiden in order to tempt the other gods, or giants, or whatever. He comes to them, does…business with them, and then leaves, having achieved some sort of victory.

He also sometimes gets pregnant, because I guess gods aren’t that smart about birth control.

Traditional Loki has three main children, but other ones are mentioned as scattered throughout the realms because Loki is kind of a ho. He has Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse that he had when he, um, lay with Odin’s stallion (no idea what the plan was there). He has Hel, the goddess-ish of death, who appears as a little girl rotting from the inside out. And he has Jormungandr, the world serpent, who was so hungry and terrifying, that Odin cast him out, and he landed in Midgard (Earth). He is so large that he can circle the world and bite his own tail. When Ragnarok comes, Jormungandr will rise and his motion will churn the ocean into milk and he will devour the worlds.

And Loki is his mommy.

I’m not trying to make a huge point about Norse mythology here, I just think it’s all really interesting. I think it’s even more interesting that Marvel didn’t just cover this over and go with a standard “history, what history?” answer. That they took Traditional Loki’s weird and ran with it. Loki’s a dude who’s sometimes a chick and has a ton of kids, some of whom he gave birth too.

In addition to all this, he’s also a Frost Giant, and they may or may not have gender, so it’s a little confusing to know exactly what’s going on, but either way, he’s an interesting dude.

Metaphorically, though, Loki’s actually basically a woman. Hear me out here.

In the Avengers movies, we see Loki grow up. Constantly in Thor’s shadow, practicing magic instead of learning to fight, always skulking around the edges of the battle, going for stealth instead of brute strength—these are traits that are more traditionally associated as feminine. Loki’s a flirt, a prima donna, a diva, and they say as much. His daddy issues are pretty much off the chart.

There’s also the small matter of the fact that he plays the evil sorcerer coming to destroy the world, a role more commonly found occupied by women. See also Morgana, Maleficent, Ursula, and countless Doctor Who villains. 

Loki is the sorceress who wants everyone to look at her while she completes her brilliant master plan and has the world begging at her feet. I’m just saying, it’s usually a chick who does that.

So, Loki is kind of a man, kind of a woman, and whole buckets of crazy. Why should we care?

Because Marvel cared. Because Marvel looked at this character with a muddle of messed up gender issues, who practiced “womanish arts” and was slight and small and bore children, and thought, “Hey, why get rid of this? This is the good stuff!”

Bra-freaking-vo, Marvel. That’s how you tell a good story. You keep the interesting stuff, and you let it work for you. Maybe that means that you’ve got a character that puts on genders like jackets, but that’s okay. It’ll make you about twenty times cooler than those stuffy one gender people.

And he looks faaaabulouuuuus!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Legend of Links (Maleficent, Cute Nerd Skirts, and More!)

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in recently leaked photos for Maleficent. Fabulous!
It's the end of another crazy week, and we have some pretty awesome links to show you guys. Some of them are the standard fun times, a few are serious, and others--well you can draw your own conclusions on those. Have fun!

1. In aww-that's-adorable news, Ally Orlando on Etsy makes skirts that come in your flavor of geek, custom made to fit. They're pretty awesome. Not cheap, but awesome. Check them out here.

2. In hey-I-know-her! news, Sam Vick, recently of USC's Interactive Media Department was featured at IndieCade for her spectacular X-Box Kinect game, Songlines. It's a game where you create the environment by waving your arms and it's based on Aboriginal Dreamtime should just read the article here, and tell her how much you love it!

Someone buy this for me, please?
3. In she-is-the-queen-of-everything news, Meryl Streep stated in an interview that she wants to make movies for the "largest audience possible, not half the largest audience possible". Because women have movies, and Hollywood should market to them too. Women will spend money if you let them, guys. Check it out here.

4. In nice-try news, the company behind the Lara Croft reboot has denied that there is sexual assault in the game, and in so doing, totally missed the point. The point is that the game creates a weaker, more vulnerable character, and have a scene in which villains attempt to rape her, but they apparently don't consider that sexual assault. Seriously. Check it out here.

5. In I-hate-how-valid-your-point-is news, Lara Pulver (Irene Adler in Sherlock) has stated that she would love to be the next Doctor on Doctor Who (as has Helen Mirren, actually), but that she's not sure how the fans would take it. She's pretty sure they'd take it badly, which is sad, but probably true. Check it out here, and seriously think about how you'd feel.

6. In well-she's-honest news, Natalia Tena has been very open in discussing her feelings on female versus male nudity in Game of Thrones. She feels like the women are asked much more than the men, and while she doesn't mind stripping down for the right role, she'd like some reciprocity here. Check out the article here, and try not to wince when you realize she played Tonks in Harry Potter.

7. And finally, in yes-awesome-hilarious news, someone made fake Game of Thrones political ads. And they're amazing. You can see all three here, but this is my favorite.

Take care until next week, when I might have some news about the awesome stuff I've been doing. Awesome, top secret stuff. Mull on that for a while.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Importance of Being Lily Erickson (and Marital Sex)

Let's talk about sex.

Specifically, let's talk about sex and How I Met Your Mother. Good? Good.

Sex on sitcoms has always been a tricky proposition. In the olden days of television, they would show married couples sleeping in different beds. Later, they would imply, but not say. Now, the trend seems to have reversed: everyone says everything, and subtlety is dead.

But with a more liberated sexual presence comes a few common hangups. I think you can guess what they are. A man who has a lot of sex is a stud, a woman who has a lot of sex is a whore. Even so, it goes a little deeper than that. It's unseemly to show a female character who is "into" sex. It's a little bit awkward when the woman wants sex more than the man, and it's show to be perverse or just creepy if that's the case.

Except, it isn't creepy, sometimes that's how it is.

How I Met Your Mother is a CBS sitcom, and it's been running for seven years, so I feel like I shouldn't have to explain it to you. But for the .2% of you who don't know what it's about, it's the story of Ted looking for and eventually meeting the love of his life. As narrated to his children.

His four best friends weave in and out of the story, but remain pretty constant. There's Robin, the girl Ted thought was the one but isn't, who's actually a badass Canadian reporter. Marshall is Ted's best friend since college, an environmental lawyer who loves food and his wife, Lily. Lily's a kindergarten teacher and now a mom, and is totally happy with her husband. And last, there's Barney, a high-functioning crazy person who uses women like tissues and has enough emotional problems to fill a small country. But he's pretty fun.

It's a nice show about attractive white people living in "New York", and trying to get by in love and life, basically. Why are we talking about it here, then? Because it's got some pretty awesome views on sex.

It all comes back to sex here.

There are two characters who best represent the attitudes toward sex on this show: Lily and Barney.

Lily is in a loving marriage and has been with her husband since the first week of their freshman year of college. She and Marshall are a textbook example of the couple that is both highly functional and incredibly loving, but also realistic and just crazy enough to make sense. Lily is at times flighty and irrational, but she is clearly invested in her marriage. They've been through a lot with each other, and it shows.

Lily is also the sexually aggressive one in their relationship. She is the one who crawls all over Marshall and complains that they haven't had time to themselves in far too long. There are even several episodes where the driving point of her storyline is her attempts to get Marshall into bed.

Now, by itself, this is just a fun character who really likes sex. But within the context of current television and the moral restraints within which we expect our characters to function, Lily Erickson is a shining beacon of sexual liberty.

She loves her husband, is in a monogamous, loving relationship, and she's totally into sex. That's freaking awesome.

And then there's Barney. Barney is a lady's man, it's pretty much his defining character trait. He's always trying to sleep with a woman, get her number, or making sexual innuendo about his many conquests. At one point they calculate his success rate, and it's a little alarming.

But here's the thing: it's not okay, and the show doesn't say that it is. Barney has a lot of problems. He never knew his father, was traumatically dumped by the woman he loved when he discovered that she was only after sex and money, and forced himself into the role of the aggressive skirt chaser. He's shown to be very sad, deep down inside, and the show tracks his progress as he starts to care about women, is able to have relationships with them, and eventually, we know, he's getting married.

So what's the deal here? A woman is shown to be sexually aggressive and it's good, and the man is sexually aggressive and it's bad? This is clearly some sort of evil feminist brainwashing.

Except it's not. The characters share some basic moral lessons: sex outside of relationships, sex that tries to cover over emotional problems, or fix them, that's bad. Sex inside of a relationship, between two loving people whose bond is strong is reaffirmed by it? That's good.

It's as easy as that.

And seriously, how adorable are they?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gamers Are Awful. Basically.

Dan Ingram of Fear the Cacti and Crossover Appeal is now a regular contributor! You can read his previous posts here and here.

The Internet is generally a terrible place. If you’re new to the worldwide web, sorry to spoil it for you. But if you’re the kind of person that loves to look up the destroyed face of that dude in Florida in the “zombie” attack, then the Internet is the perfect place for you.

While I enjoy a Fail Compilation just as much as the next person, most websites are crawling with trolls more often than they are contributors that are actually bringing something meaningful to the table.

My personal belief is that Internet anonymity as a culture is trickling into every day life in the worst ways possible. See Glenn Beck for further details. 

Gamertag: “BushGivesMeBoners6969”, pwns with rocket launcher on Halo:Reach.
Even that was mean. Sorry Glenn Beck, I hope we can still be bros.

The Internet might be an especially disturbing place, but at least for the most part people can get on their copy of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and enjoy some of their spare time blowing shit up without causing a global incident. However, the gamer community is a pretty rancid place, and sometimes, it’s worse than the Internet in general.

That’s saying something because I haven’t found any listings for “2 Spartans One Cup” when I go into Matchmaking playlists. So the content variance is huge, and in that regard I’m not going to waste my time, because trying to say “Dead Space” is as bad as some of the stuff you can find online is a waste of breath and not true at all.

Where the biggest problem lies is with the content users. Every game that has an online component now comes with a standard ESRB rating system that has the disclaimer “If you get yelled at by some dick face with a microphone you can’t sue Ubisoft/Activision/Sam Worthington”.

Sam Worthington working out his demons for all his career choices thus far.
Every game has to do this now because invariably, you will run into someone that managed to purchase an Xbox screaming expletives I don’t even want to type.

Not everyone is terrible, and there can be some pretty generous teammates in whatever game you play, but online gaming communities are the best example of people hiding behind an avatar.

Video games are a showcase now, a place for suitors to go out and vie for the attention of their potential mate. Except in this case the mate isn’t a person, and instead it’s Major League Gaming.  And gamers will do ANYTHING to gain an edge, even if it means taking you down verbally.

Or at least trying to.

I have fallen victim to at least one problem of the gaming world and it can best be exemplified by this meme I’ve recently seen floating around the web:

I’ve uttered both sides of this statement AND had it said to me.
Gaming allows a unit of measurement. And that makes it terrible. If someone can provide “empirical” evidence that you aren’t good at something, they’ll rip you to shreds for being terrible at that thing. But if someone can “prove” that you’re way better than them at it only a few moments later, they’ll rip you apart for spending far too much time indoors in a dark room harboring violent tendencies via an electronic medium.

Online gaming has deep roots in trolling, or vice versa, I don’t know which. And from first hand experience, there is a certain adrenaline rush that occurs during a heated match, so maybe there’s some physiological desire to just flaunt your skills like a douche or hang your head in shame like a n00b.

Gamers catch a lot of flack from the outside world, and they’re not benefiting themselves by being egomaniacal douches on top of it. There’s a lot of work to be done outside of cracking down hardcore on online behavior policies. Especially where those policies pertain to sexism and the legions of fanboys asking to see some tits.

Unfortunately no game developers are going to throw the book at any of their generous customers. So until gamers themselves become responsible, the culture won’t change.

“Lag at thee!”
Dan Ingram works in television and has his Master's in Screenwriting from New York Film Academy. If he could live in a Ghostbusters costume while driving the Delorean, he'd basically never complain about anything ever again.