OH COMIC NERDS ARE RAGING

The new Fantastic Four will feature “Doctor Doom” as the villain.  As in an angry blogger whose handle is Doom, rather than the actual metal-encased ruler of Latervia.

Congrats on making your reboot somehow worse than your previous FF venture, Fox.  I can’t even be outraged, really.  I honestly don’t remember whether or not I saw the first movie; if I did, it made less of an impact than any other film I’ve seen in the last decade.  I did go to see the second one because my friend bought the ticket, but sadly (well, I wasn’t really enthused to be honest), the projector/projectionist/poorly managed theater couldn’t make the film work two minutes past the previews, so I missed out on that as well.

I’m not too invested either way.  I like the FF, but mostly in the Kirby era comics.  In the eighties, before trades were a thing, Marvel made some collections (by year, IIRC) of their gold/silver/bronze age titles.  I have a great memory of being 8 and choosing to read library copies of the first few years of FF instead of watching cartoons one Saturday- for that age and time, that was a big fucking deal.  And of all the comics I’ve followed since, I’ve never really cared much for the more recent storylines of Richards et.al.; they seemed to fit well in the silver age universe.  Beyond that that didn’t age well by comparison.  In a universe with multitudes of superheroes and mutants and cosmic powers, being a space-accident dysfunctional family with a shiny flying car and a tower seems quaint by comparison.  And if your tiny European nation doesn’t register on google earth, is it really even there?  And why the fuck haven’t the Latervians ever revolted against their leader for spending all his time making evil plans instead of running his own damned country?

Mostly I’m just amused that Doom will be reimagined as last month’s news topic.  If we’re going contemporary the story might need a little upheaval, but it certainly deserves more thought.  What will Angry Blogger Von Doom do to cement his place in the hall of bad guys?  Force toddlers into beauty pageants? Will he spread Ebola?  Perhaps he’ll unite the anti-vaxxers and the MRAs into an army of stupid.  Maybe an armed assault on the Canadian Parliament.  Only time and really bad executive decisions will tell.

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Okay internet.

I’m not linking anything, just google “Lena Dunham sister” and you can find all the relevant stuff.  Long story short, Lena Dunham wrote some memoirs (which…okay. younger than me, whatever.), and wrote about some weird, self-described sexually abusive behavior involving her sister.  The internet-at-large got involved and shared opinions.

The results?  Lots of angry accusations and side-taking, and a whole lot of “we have opinions and they must be heard!” going on.  Look, kids do weird shit.  I read the passage.  She’s writing about events that happened when she was 7 from the perspective of an adult whose work is largely based around sexuality.

She was 7.  Seven.

She was 7, and now the internet is all torches and pitchforks over some typical child exploratory shit?  When I was 7 I didn’t have any idea what sex was.  But goddamn I knew I liked pictures of naked people in art books.  Maybe that’s not shit you need to put in your memoir.  But then, maybe anyone under 50 doesn’t need to write memoirs.

Frankly, I’m more disturbed about people who feel the need to respond to any of this beyond “well, that’s weird and I’m uncomfortable reading this book”.

edit:  Extra thought on this- a couple of twitter discussions about this wound up as “I don’t think we need to skewer this woman for pedophilia, but we totally should for her poor taste and using this to sensationalize her book”.  If you’re getting up in arms over this particular incident of ‘poor story choice in an autobiography’, you need to fucking read more autobiographies and then realize that this is the internet outrage of the day.

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Holy fuckballs. I thought I hated the people who like sunshine.

I was tired of the whole thing last month, but since the gamergate bullshit has become a raging, untreated bout of syphilis that won’t die, here we go again.

I’m not a joiner. I’m smart enough to form my own opinions. I find groupthink abhorrent. I don’t need my views echoed to feel validated. Above all, being outside of any group allows me to associate with factions and ideals as I choose while not being beholden to one or another; it allows for continuous objectivity. This is considered bad in politics, but that’s just fame for ugly people anyway.

So while I avidly play both tabletop and video games, I’ve never felt like a gamer. And while I share most of the principles of feminism, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist either. As it stands now, at least in the communities of the online world, this is a very “pick your side” kind of fight.

The sheer volume of bullshit being shoveled around by the #gamergate tag (and right off the bat, that word is so devoid of any connection to serious scandal, but goddamn are they trying) should offend most people.  A fairly small group of fringe assholes latched onto a letter full of (later disproven) claims that the writer’s ex, a developer, had had an affair with a game reviewer.  And as inconsequential as that letter should have been, those assholes used it to build a virtual army- first blowing it up, and then using the confusion about why it was anything to further widen their umbrella.  Here’s a quick breakdown of the major players:

-MRAs: the modern version of the he-man-women-haters-club, but with sad adults.  Lump the pick-up artist bunch in with these.

-4chan/8chan/twitter trolls: just in it for the lulz, but willing to go the extra mile to share people’s private information.  Also a lot of these are unsupervised 14 year olds.

-“gamers”: not a fiction, but this is what I’m calling all of the people who sincerely bought into the “this is about ethics in journalism“.  Guys.  Even real journalism is 90% paid b.s., and we’re talking about motherfucking video games. 

- Everyone else who either has no idea what any of this is actually about and maybe think Jack Thompson has resurfaced, or that ISIS is somehow targeting people who play video games, or that this has something to do with ebola.  The ones thinking that gamers are in danger, or games themselves are in danger.  Slow to the party and often uninformed/misinformed.

The thing that really binds these groups together, like the rings of Sauron, are insecurity and fear that something fundamental about their identity is threatened.  Most are willing to deny any accusation that they aren’t comfortable with.

 

 

The end result is that amidst the flags being waved, the most aggressive and vehement pushers of #gamergate are attacking women in the game industry through harassment, doxxing, and libel and spouting a lot of gender hate in general.  And everyone using that tag is either culpable or ignorant.  At this juncture, ignorance is less an excuse than willfully disbelieving the truth.  This all seems completely silly to most people, especially since the mainstream media (3 months late and in-between ebola updates), has now convinced your grandmother that evil is coming for the children.  On some level, this is fucking absurd.  In the broad context of current events, this is farcical.  And then people start getting death threats, and people in the industry are growing legitimately afraid, and those are real problems.

1.  Death threats, etc. aren’t an appropriate response.  And yes, this shit happens often because this is the internet and most of it is stupid people being stupid.  But now that the scope has widened beyond the gaming community, the chance of some nutjob with an agenda harming any of these people has ramped the fuck up.  See Elliot Rodger.

2.  When women who aren’t even gamers feel threatened by #gamergate, it’s past time to retire the pretense of “it’s about journalistic ethics”.  Because who the fuck cares.  This is no longer about games, this is about a culture of assholes and misogynists in waking life.  Now we are aware that these people exist, and we should know who they are because it sucks to give merit to someone who turns out to be a waste of space.

3.  If you think there’s a problem with journalism in games, go research the history of game journalism (TL;DR- it’s always been advertising).  Don’t lash out at the people who are analyzing and responding to games, particularly for having a POV because..

4.  Games are art, and art is broad.  There’s Art, revered and copied and put on pedastals for being original and amazing.  There’s commercial art, to make your living room decor match.  There’s art in advertising, all fluff and no substance but with the sole intention of parting you from your money.  There’s porn, which is even officially loosely defined as art by SCOTUS.  There are comics and performances and graffiti that all fall under the umbrella of art.  And just like art, we need games that inspire and make us think and unearth a deeper connection with ourselves and the world.  And we also sometimes need to throw grenades at cops and run over hookers and laugh about the fan service of whatever Square gives us next.  But most importantly, we need to understand how and why this is, so that games can become better and more than they are.  So that we can learn to appreciate the simple elegance of a game like Gone Home without writing “fag” on a message board somewhere.

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Oh, but here’s one I don’t care about.

After Ben posted something about it last week, the rest of facebook caught up and shared (and shared, and shared) the slew of articles bemoaning the end of Saturday morning cartoons.

Maybe people really are just caught up in the nostagia machine, but I bet reading one of those gives you about two seconds of emotion before you remember that we live in a world with 24-hour cable channels with cartoons, and even more importantly, this is the fucking internet.  We have the means to access even the most obscure popular media.  Trust me, I have.

I’m not even going to bother to address the whole “FCC is to blame” thing, because that shit’s been in effect since the ’70s in one form or another.  Frankly, if anyone really wants to ruin their own childhood, go back and actually watch some of those old cartoons.  Go check out the incredibly awful (and oddly homoerotic) animation on He-Man.  Try watching the Smurfs without sympathizing with Gargamel.  Try a few episodes of the original TMNT and try to tell me Michael Bay has ruined it for you.

Look, there were plenty, plenty of good cartoons.  But there was also a lot of schlock.  And it really didn’t matter for a long time, because like every kid from 1974 through the early ’90s, I was up at 6 or 7 watching Gummi Bears or Muppets or some really odd dubbed anime, and the TV would be on until 11 or 12 whether I was still in the room or not.  Eventually, kids around my age started to grow out of it.  Some of us decided cartoons were for kids, and we were certainly not kids.  Some of us found better quality shows elsewhere.  We got interested in video games.  And then the internet.  In the mid ’90s, Nickelodeon had some unstoppable shows: Doug, Ren and Stimpy, the unfortunately popular Rugrats, Pete and Pete.  Cartoon Network was becoming more than a classic Bugs Bunny channel.  Prior to that, TBS, TNN, USA, and TNT all had block of various old cartoons at one time or another.  There were options if you wanted to watch animated shows.  And frankly, the best stuff was shown in the afternoons anyway: Batman TAS, the old Disney blocks (Ducktales, etc.), Tiny Toons and Animaniacs… cartoons that were ambitous, that were given budgets.  Not just “make 30 episodes for kids based on this R-rated movie”, or “hey, let’s rip off this other cartoon about pirates/mutants/personified animals”.

My point is, the Saturday morning cartoon ritual is a thing that’s been more or less dead for a long time.  But that’s fine.  We got better.  I’d like to think this is a sign that as a culture we’ve gotten more discerning, more able to appreciate good animation and writing and ideas and went looking for it elsewhere.  Or realized that there are other things to do on Saturday mornings.  Either way, I think that’s progress.

As an aside, I pointed out that The Legend of Korra ran it’s first two seasons on Nickelodeon, and despite it’s popularity and critical acclaim, the third season was only streamed on their website (they’ll do the same with the fourth season).  Which means I get to watch it.  Thanks, future.

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I’m getting old and don’t want changes.

I’ve got to decide whether to stay in Cinci or not.  My lease is up and I’m renting month-to-month now, so I can bail.  But the thought of moving.. I’m not enthused at all.

I’m still looking for work, and obviously if I can find any it’s a moot point.  But the cost is going up either way: the rent is the same, but they’re charging 25 for water and 5 for trash per month (the city won’t pick up trash from apartments with more than four tenants anymore, because WTF?), the internet will be 75 instead of 50, and I got a letter today that the AC would be replaced by a unit that control both AC and heat.  Now that’s shitty, because instead of the gas radiator, the heat will go on my electric.  Oh, and the electric “distribution charges” mean that the totally reeasonable 30 bucks a month is now consistently almost 70.

I expect that’ll be about 100 more a month.  Fantastic, right?  Thanks, price gouging corporations and general inflation.

So there’s that.  The little things count too, though.  The weird coffee shop I like has mostly lost me.  Instead of ordering at the counter, there’s table service now.  But you seat yourself, and most business still happens at the counter.  Which means half the time, you seat yourself and no one notices and you never get served.  Plus, it’s more a fucking hassle for both customers and the staff than just ordering at the counter and taking a table marker.  Their bottomless coffee that used to be 3 bucks is now almost 5- and their credit card minimum is 5.  I just want to go in, pay a couple bucks for a cup or two and then draw for an hour, but it’s not really a place for that now.

My favorite bartender also quit Arlin’s, so that’s a bummer too.

On the other hand, I really don’t want to be in Georgetown.  Lexington, maybe, but even then..  eh.

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Will it post?

It’s been almost a month, but I’ve been busy.

I found bedbugs, so I was Georgetown for about a week.  Two sprayings in and I think it’s sort of under control- i.e. I haven’t found any outside the bedroom, and only a few away from the bed.  But goddamn, the paranoia.  I’ve kept the bedroom regularly sprayed with bug spray on top of the pest control stuff and kept the door shut.  The clothes I’ve all but burned in the dryer are in a bag in the living room, and I’m sleeping on an air mattress.  Last night I dreamt they came from a cursed gold necklace.

Since painting is out again for the time being, I’ve been documenting and digitally cleaning the bar drawings.  I’d like to get them printed and see if I can get a show with them, but this process is mind-numbing.  Scanning a hundred-plus pages of drawings, erasing the noise you get from scanned printer paper that you folded and drew on a bar counter and then kept in your back pocket, and then sorting and organizing all the images…  I thought documenting paintings was stupid and tedious.  Hopefully by the time I’m done I’ll have figured out some way to print them up.

And I’ve run through Parks and Rec, again.

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But as long as I’m still here..

I may as well post a couple of fuck yous. A couple of these were (and may still be) longer posts, but I need to get them out before they digest.

Gamers. The kotaku article wasn’t aimed at everyone who likes games, it was aimed at the fucktard percentage of you who can’t comprehend not being assholes. Those of you who are butthurt, look at the behavior of yourself and the people you associate with. If you don’t see misogynistic behavior, archaic gender attitudes, or the idea that threatening someone- even on the internet- is okay, then you’re not who the article is talking about. And yes, you should still be mad. But not at the article.

Cop defenders. No one said being a cop was easy. There are many other jobs that aren’t easy, but most other jobs require honesty and accountability and supervision. I have personally known good police, and every single one has left the force because of corruption and bad practices. I’ve seen a cop beat a handcuffed and seated homeless man. I’ve had cops joke about kicking my door in just to ask me questions. “They’re just bad cops”? No. They put on a uniform and represent a single unit. Fuck them, and fuck you.

Everyone who is still on my FB feed and somehow still posting things about Obama being the antichrist/foreign/part of a conspiracy. Guys, it’s been six years. In Bush’s 8 years I managed to call him a shitty president constantly without having to resort to bullshit and hyperbole. At this point, you actually are just showing your ingnorance at least, and your racism at the worst. Also, calling him “Obammy”? That’s definitely racist. I’m from the south. I know what it is when I see it.

And last, to the folks who’ve actually threatened the lives of people over the internet? Yeah, fuck you. Hard. I hope you run afoul of cops.

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WordPress has shit the bed.

I’ve been trying to post about my job interview for the last week. I assume it’s the new UI, but not only is it refusing to actually post or manually save drafts, it’s not even autosaving.
I dont’ even know writing in ‘quick draft’ will work, so we’ll see.

*Edit*

Apparently it will.  I’m about to ask twitter for new blog site suggestions though, because this shit is not working for me.

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The elephant you can’t ignore today.

One of the stickiest things I heard in college was the social psych professor who, when going over depression, said, “maybe they just see things the way they are.”

I think he was right.  I think we see through the bullshit, and so much of the world is bullshit.

I’ve had depression my entire life.  Behaviors I was exhibiting at 4, at  7; choosing isoloation or even punishment over some activity that made me anxious.  Staying silent about being mistreated, because of doubt that speaking up would make any difference- eventually learning that, indeed, it usually did not.  The most discouraging thing is is being right about the worst things, especially when the world tells you, “that’s not really how it is, you’re just _____, just be optimistic.”

Yeah, fuck you.

I started this post a week ago, but since Robin Williams died yesterday it’s more than time to post.  There’s a lot of people asking, “can we have this discussion now?” and nobody really doing it.  And this is my goddamned space.

Any psych evaluation, any visit to a therapist, you’ll be asked, “have you had any suicidal thoughts?”  This is almost a joke to me.  It’s crossed my mind daily since I was 13.  I tried once, years ago; I’m sure it’s been a subconscious effort a few times since.  It’s absurd.  We all die sometime.  It’s not something you bring up, even when you really need to: the horrified jaw-drop, the handholding, etc. is not welcoming.  It’s not understanding.  And that’s generally the best response anyone gets from admitting they’ve thought about suicide.  Those thoughts are always there, for me.  They linger in the background, under all the noise and doubt.

Yet I’m still here.  For 30-plus years I’ve managed to keep sucking in air, like a masochist.  I don’t really know why, and God knows it’s not for fun.  All the pain, the anxiousness, all in my own head.  I don’t know why I keep going, especially when things are always going downhill, but there are respites.  Days when things look up, even if it’s a reminder that tomorrow or next week that trap is sitting there around the corner, waiting.  I guess those days are worth it.

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Dungeons & Damages

I got the new 5th ed. D&D starter box, which hopefully I can put to use sometime soon.  So far, it looks a lot like what I was hoping for: more streamlined but adaptable mechanics, flexible combat (grid and figurines not assumed!), more open toward the actual story part of the game.  I’m exited!

I’ve been reading more and more lately about exclusion and misogany in nerd culture -for lack of a better term.  One of my close friends at writers convention was in a group of women assaulted on an elevator.  There are growing discussions like this about the atmosphere of cons, and articles like this about gaming communities and online interaction.  And it’s necessary.  We’ve reached what should be a new peak in culture, where those things that were awesome but not broadly accepted in popular culture now are.  That’s awesome.  But it comes with all the downsides of ‘moar people’.

The first year I went to GenCon was 1998.  I’d been playing D&D for a year or two with a regular group, and I’d fallen down the rabbit hole that was Magic: the Gathering- all with kids I was already friends with.  My exposure to the stereotypical gamer had been limited to the local comic/hobby stores, so GenCon was a slight shock.  There were plenty of perfectly fine people there, but also plenty of strange.. well..

So there were a lot of incidents of dudes getting bent out of shape over a game, like a child would.  Lots of bad hygeine.  The ratio of women to men seemed maybe 1/4, and the ones that were around always seemed just a little edgy, for good reason.  It was also my first exposure to booth babes, the girls paid to wear chainmail bikinis and attract all manner of creepiness to the vendors.  It was uncomfortable for me in the first place, when they were clearly disinterested in the Con itself, but it was worse watching a lot of guys whose definition of “talking to girls” went no farther than “trying to coerce girls back to the hotel room”.  After a couple of years, it started to improve.  Costuming was becoming more of a thing, there were less booth babes, and more girls in general, and people on the whole seemed better adjusted around other people/genders/inclinations.  And frankly, it got too big not to.

At the time, I really chalked it up to the stereotypical basement-dwelling neckbeard types being, well, real.  To some extent it was.  But after I stopped going to GenCon, I wound up the last couple of years hitting DragonCon with the ex.  She was big into cosplay, and I got a lot of experience with super-creepiness.  She was on the timid side of sociability, and tended to attract a lot of creeps anyway.  So throw sexy costumes into the mix, and often alcohol, and an atmosphere that encourages voyeurism, and you get a LOT of boundary-ignorant people.  It stressed me out immensely; I had to warn off a number of guys who took my presence as “this girl is a prize and I’m your competition”.  Even away from that, walking around and taking pictures I saw a lot of people who seemed to be using their camera as an excuse to harass women.

It’s not just the predatory behavior either, it’s the simple things that stem from the outsider attitude.  When you let your subculture define you, and that subculture grows more open, you feel like your identity is being lost.  You get defensive.  Couple that with unhealthy social skills or attitudes, and you become unpleasant at best and abusive and antagonistic at worst.  Then we wind up with internet bullying and diatribes about fake gamer girls.

Not everyone is a plain bad seed either, a lot of people are just socially ignorant.  That doesn’t excuse any of the above shit though, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between someone just being uncomfortable and awkward and someone about to be an asshole.  It’s bad enough that the culture, which is about sharing shit that we like, is carrying these people with it.  What hits close to home is the gaming in particular, where you’re involved with other people directly.  I grew up with it, I gained many of my closest friends from it, and I don’t like to see it perverted by bullshit.

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