Oh, Yeah…

…in case I disappear again, it needs to be said: The Last of Us is the best goddamned video game of the year. One could argue the point, but one would be wrong. If you haven’t yet, buy it. Play it. Do it.

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Now For a Word From a Friend

My buddy Joe has a fantastic gaming blog, along with a brand new v-log venture, that I wanted to share with you fine folks. He also writes for Nintendo Life so he’s kind of a big deal.

I met Joe at a corporate meeting, where we were assigned to random pairs at small tables for the length of a droning 9 1/2 hour conference. Joe was fast asleep, held upright in his hoodie, and I just knew we were going to be pals. After he awoke from his great slumber, we quickly found out that we had a passion for the vidya games in common; that was about 5 years ago and I still count myself lucky to be friends with him and his amazingly talented artist wife. (Like absurdly talented; hopefully I will be able to share or link her art to you sometime soon.)

His blog (linked above to a post about the manliest male character Final Fantasy character of ever–who will it be?! I’d posit Wakka of FFX but I’ma let Joe do the talking) is PKBloggin’. Joe writes with an eye for the basics of games, consoles, and stories that in this age of Kotaku reviews has been woefully overlooked. He respects games for what they are. He and his wife both genuinely have fun playing them instead of over-analyzing at every step of a playthrough, and I really appreciate that kind of sentiment because that’s what games are all about.

So if you have a free moment, please go check out Joe’s stuff and let him know he’s on the right track. (If you go there and harass him, however, just remember: I didn’t name my blog The Anger Games for nothing.) Happy trails!

 

Doing My Small Part to Smugly Educate Folks Regarding the Amish

This is an example of how interactions used to play out when someone asked me “Where are you from?”:

“Oh, I’m from Holmes County, Ohio.”
*received blank stare with tentative nodding*
It’s, um, mid-Ohio, in the foothills? Really rural? Like, 30 minutes south of Wooster? Uh, almost exactly two hours drive between Cleveland and Columbus?”
*more nodding, but hope is fading*
“Okay, it has the largest population of Amish like, anywhere. In the whole world.”
“But isn’t that in Pennsylvania?” they ask. I shake my head and break a little inside.
Nope, Holmes County has more than anyone.” Gears turn and I know what’s next:
O-H-H-H…so are you Amish??”
“No. No, I am not.”

Some roads are indeed still dirt.

Some roads are indeed still dirt.

But now television, that wit of modern-day exploitation media, has forced a new act to this whence-I-came drama:

*I politely endure the previous script*
“O-H-H-H…so are you Amish??”
“Not now, nor never, my good chap.” I prepare to move on like usual, except:
BUT SURELY YOU AT LEAST KNOW SOMEONE IN THE AMISH MAFIA AMIRIGHT?!”
*My mouth drops open; my eyes widen; I reach out to the nearest passerby to borrow another hand because I don’t have enough for the facepalms this deserves.*

*********

Listen, there is no such thing as an Amish Mafia.  It surprises me to encounter people who know damn well how network reality shows work, (that they are mostly if not entirely scripted entertainment save for a select few) biting the hook on the new Amish shows like “Breaking Amish” and the Discovery Channel’s “Amish Mafia”.

I get it that an overwhelming majority of Americans don’t know much of anything about the Amish, and that they are a culture categorically misrepresented and lampooned. From [a movie I can’t live without] KingPin to “Law and Order” spinoffs to even the more accurate but still largely narrow-sighted 2002 documentary Devil’s Playground,  Amish are portrayed as a world further outside  American society than [I would argue] any other sub-culture living here today.

But, come on. An Amish mafia? Rumspringa gone wild? Entertaining, no doubt, but to believe it’s a real thing? COME ON.

Here’s the reality, then it’s back to games and scary movies and all that junk: The Amish are the best neighbors you can have. They are normal, reasonable, vastly hard-working, good humored, and intelligent. They may have a quietly removed lifestyle but they–at least in Holmes County, OH–inspire a unique sense of overall community “pitching in for your neighbor in need.” They always wave back if you pass them driving their buggies or on foot. They bake absurdly delicious pies. They come in many variations of relaxed to orthodox. They shop at WalMart. They are keen businessmen and women who know how to capitalize on their life’s phenomena to sell their woodworking and other crafts. They are as susceptible to alcoholism as anyone. They are deeply, staunchly religious but are to my experience the most graceful with their faith. They are expert huntsmen and better environmentalists than anyone else has a right to claim.

Best of all, they push a drive through the rolling hills of mid-Ohio from pretty to stunning: be it a snapshot of the male family members coaxing Clydesdales through a harvest, or a vista of golden fields and forest without one telephone or electrical line anywhere to be seen on the horizon.

So enjoy the shows, enjoy how society has given thumbs up for the entertainment industry’s growing perversion of geographic, economic, and cultural strata instead of helping to bring us together by celebrating reality. But for the love of the one ring, keep in mind that there is no such thing as an Amish Mafia.

 

Heave-Ho to the Happy Crappy

Alright folks: a new year. Another one. Will this be the year I stop mucking around and set off down a glorious career path? Say “bollocks!” to debt and get my MFA? Give up my hair coloring regiment and let my silver hair be publicly silver even though I’ve got a few more of these new years before I reach 30? Just like any innovative movie or game (see what I did there?) the plot twists remain to be seen! I do know this: the cosmos would have to be very cruel indeed to set a year in motion worst than the last, so with a bout of zealously rare optimism, here’s to throwing out all the moldy remnants of 2012!

For those of you who have been patiently waiting for me to round out that Tomb Raider series, just, uh…hang in there. It’s actually tied into another topic very dear to my heart that will show up soon, but for now I really want to hail the new year with a few topical fun-stuffs.

Titles To Anticipate

Sometimes I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than sit and watch a barrage of movie trailers. Just such a time came up a few days ago. I, by random search, came across this youtube channel devoted to Sci-Fi and Horror movie trailers (it’s all in the name!). Spent a happy hour browsing trailers–old and new–and researching the standouts. Below is a list of the titles I wrote down in my “Watch This Shit!” notebook. (Unless noted with a ” * “, the trailers can be found by following that link to the Sci-Fi & Horror Movie Trailers channel; a few of them were already on the list from other sources.) Without further ado and in no particular order!

2013 Upcoming Releases

  • The Babadook  and These Final Hours (*no trailers yet, but both include David Henshall from The Snowtown Murders and that hooked me. The first appears to be true horror and the second is more a character movie, but I’ll allow the genre slip for Henshall’s mesmerizing acting. And an apocalypse is involved, so, c’mon. That’s scary.)
  • The Host 2 -if you haven’t checked out the first one, mark it ‘high priority
  • Warm Bodies 
  • Dark Skies
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness *Listen, I’ve never been a Trekkie, but the most recent movie was highly entertaining with re-play value to boot and seriously you guys, just watch this trailer, it looks fanta-a-astic….guh!
  • Mama – oh sweet jesus, this looks terrifying. Hooray!

Out Now: Top Titles I’m Tracking Down. Reviews Imminent! 

  • Antiviral (2012) – this has been on my mind since I caught the trailer a long time ago, but I missed it in theatres. My latter portion of 2012 was kind of fucked up.
  • Kill List (2011) – it’s amazing how pivotal movies like this fly over my head. Constantly. Time to rectify.
  • Take Shelter (2011) *
  • Tideland (2005) *
  • Outcast (2010) *
  • Sound of My Voice (2011) *
  • Animal Kingdom (2011) *

The “Watch This Shit!” list is bigger than these highlights assert–it’s obese, honestly–but these are the titles actively tickling my cinema viscera. I welcome any and all suggestions, words of caution, and personal experiences with any of these or others, so please! Speak on up!

Um, and Games, Too?

Of course, games! I’d be pretty daft if I didn’t openly recognize that I represent only a portion of the gaming community solely based on the limited platforms I use. (And I don’t have an iPhone, where so many of the games are at. That’s fine by me.) Still, my PC and PS3 have a few things to look forward to and titles that I missed this year to catch up on:

  • If it’s not clear that I’m eagerly awaiting the Tomb Raider reboot/prequel/whatever then here: I’m so eagerly awaiting the new Tomb Raider game.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth 
  • Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs – eeeee!
  • Journey (PS)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online -this might be a huge turning point for my gaming life; I am not an MMO gamer. But the design, story, and map looked amazing at E3 and frankly, I just haven’t had enough Elder Scrolls in my life. Yet.
  • BioShock Infinite -it’s about freaking time.
  • The Last of Us -may end up not being my kind of game, but it looks too stunning to dismiss before I try!

Games I’ll probably end up playing anyway? GOW: Ascension, Resident Evil 6, and of course, Minecraft in its various iterations, mods, and deliciously hypnotic repetition. I love you, Minecraft. Please be kinder to my PC.

2013: Predictions? 

In general, I’m trying not to have any major life “predictions” about this year. That tends to go sour, so I’m going with the flow as far as being a person in society is concerned. But for entertainment? Let me scry.

  • Horror Cinema: New French Extremism will continue to innovate, disturb, and delight, but I think this year is going to see Australian cinema making a well-deserved and lasting statement. Particularly in psychological horror and stark character stories. We will have to groan past the umpteenth “reboot” of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and probably a few others as the gears of our beloved genre find a renewed pitch. Meanwhile, American and Canadian indie crews are going to keep us on edge and talking plenty afterward. Overall, this may not be the year of a booming horror renaissance, but it will do a lot to get us there.
  • Video games:  After 2012, a year with the lowest amount of “great games” according to the powers that be, surely we can look forward to a variety of ass-kicking entertainment to choose from. (Although I don’t foresee anything until 2014 stepping up to equal Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead series from ’12. Just not going to happen this year.) No doubt there will be some wide-spread disappointment surrounding one or two of the bigger anticipated titles, but who’s to say which ones? Honestly? I’m not kidding about spending more lavish quality time with Minecraft, so let that say what it will about my predictions.

Well folks, here’s to you, to me, to the shadows of horror, to the adventure of games; to a new calendar year! Best of luck to us all. Stay tuned!

 

Tomb Raider Pt. 3 Foreword & Introduction: Some Notes Before the Breach (Please Read First!)

When I look through all my notes about the controversy and follow the spawning tangents…let it stand that I have more to say than can be said in a venue that isn’t a research paper. So, the post imminently following will be the last unprompted one about Tomb Raider until I get to spend some time with the game (which I am looking forward to!)

To Link or Stream-write?

I posted earlier that I’ve been too drained to have any opinions. Seems they’ve returned in a pretty well-ordered rush, which is fabulous because getting a bookend on what I started (silly me) has been an insistent nag (really, so silly). This post will be–100%–personal editorial. Tried to diligently include citations/links in my earlier posts on the subject, and many of the points I want to make in the final installment are reactions stemming from a plethora of cite-able sources. But this isn’t a research paper.

For reasons ranging from continuity to selfishly making sure that what I truly want to say gets a voice I’m not planning to link any further material unless I get a specific request. If you read the posts so far and are interested enough to join me in the finale, I like to think that you’re doing so with your own exposure to previous, external material. Very likely experience of conversations or articles that I haven’t read.

If any point I argue or summarize for sake of context strikes you in some way that makes you want to see the source, please feel welcome to ask. I will do my best to provide. Conversely, feel positively cheered on to link to any material you feel relevant. My stats meter shows a flattering amount of regular visitors but precious few comments. I’d quite like to hear from you on any point you have, even if it’s just to tune me in to a better way of fostering a communicative environment!

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the final post won’t have any links. Maybe a quote or two but probably not, once I get rolling. External material sparked the content but–since opinion shapes said content–isn’t the focus for structure. I plan to generalize external arguments ONLY if they’re iterated in more than three major sources (because that’s pretty fair, right?) Holla if you want specifics.

Content Warning; Subject Reassurance

There may be medium to high trigger warnings regarding domestic/sexual abuse (but for my own sake, I’m going to try to corral them to a concentrated portion and then move on quick.) I’ll only include it if it is relevant to my point; nothing gratuitous, self-pitying, or off-topic. 

At the core of this vibrant topic is a void. People on all sides of debate try to cover it with blanket terms like rape, sexual violence, feminism, misogyny,  and so on but the void exists unexplored yet vital to the real-world impact of such an arena discussion. That void is human experience and, since I only have just the one life, I can only light one modest candle in the breach. At the end of it all, this is just a faceless blog in a vast data stream droning on about a video game snit and I have no control over any resulting impact (if any!), but the reality of the issue is so close to home that–for those same reasons, really–I feel compelled to use this space for a hot second to do my droning.

Finally, (yes, finally! Even I am sick of hearing me over-anxiously giving every goddamn thing preface!) I want to assure you that the post will fo’ REALLY relate directly to Tomb Raider and video game’s societal responsibility. I realize that after I’ve dragged you all over the map with this foreward there is room for concern that it’ll end up being a diary piece. No good sirs, madams, and all: look past my dubious over-set up and trust that if you trundle onward, we’ll be talking about Lara, games, and life straight on once more. Okay, before I can stuff in any more words, let’s go!

Introduction: The Identity Problem

Within a living progressive movement such as feminism (in the broadest sense of the term), there are two tiers to consider in defining the stance of critical/emotional evolution and thought, for active participants and neutral parties all. The first, personal identity, is by nature of social issue often swept to shadow by the second, communal identity. I think that’s a major sticking point in debates such as the Tomb Raider one.
When one’s communal affiliation is at work on issues/changes to basic social structure then it’s acceptable to give up the identity of the individual for the general culmination of the group, but when the focus stops on a thing–something inert elevated as a symbol–the generalities (statements of cause-and-effect, arguments, meaning) no longer reasonably acknowledge the individuals of the community and the movement can splinter. Maybe this is just a cosmic fallacy in all instances where the many speak for the solitary on issues whose core importance is inextricable from the near-infinite set of unique individual experience. Maybe I’m just over-thinking an aspect that is both immutable and unimportant.
At any rate, I feel that in this case I’ve become a splinter inside the feminist community. The statements of condemnation for both game developers and games consumers from powerful feminist vocalists, accusing sexism, misogyny, perpetuating rape culture, white knighting etcmade the divide between my identity and that of the tribe an open wound of (what I felt at first) betrayal, even dismissal.
To try and put it simply: this controversy put me at odds with the feminist community over core facets of my personal identity, specifically the ever-raw part of me that is both victim and survivor of domestic/sexual abuse. It stopped me stark, made me doubt then re-evaluate, and now reply even though (as an individual speaking to a community) I still fear being cast out altogether for failing to connect in this minor entreaty.
But most of all and true to my nature, it makes me angry.
That anger defiantly shouts to my own community: STOP SPEAKING FOR ME.
Okay, but why should they? Where does all this quasi-philosophical cork whittle down to “STFU” in conjunction with Tomb Raider? Uh, well, let me see if I can rein myself in and spit it out.                                                  [Cont’d Part 3]

Tomb Raider Controversy [Part 2 of 3]

Lara Croft & Rape Culture: Some Thoughts

Even limited to this scope, it’s hard to find a place to worm into this subject. It’s worth noting that there is a pervasive and widely (but not entirely) undisputed belief that game companies create and market to a perceived majority of males, all of whom are engaged with nothing but violence and carnality. It’s under that stereotype that debates over Tomb Raider‘s “rape scene” operated: staggering comments in the forums from male gamers openly anticipating the chance to watch Lara Croft be raped vs. wild criticism from feminist activists denouncing any inclusion of sexual assault or rape in story line as solely a vehicle of female degradation.

I am beyond disgusted with the former sentiments (in a perfect world, their shame would be vast,) but I don’t think I need to speak to them because the latter views are the ones that hit home to me as missing a huge point to be made by someone within their own ranks.

The Actual Gameplay?

Since the game is still in pre-order stages, most of us haven’t actually been able to play it. But let it be known that there is NOT an on-screen rape heading our way, regardless of whether or not we play through the quoted quick time event to turn the tables on the scuzzbag who abducts Lara after she is stranded. This IS important to mention, not because brief sexual assault is any less abhorrent than rape, but because the fact refutes anyone arguing that the instance isn’t about Lara’s growth at all and instead is a “fanservice” by the developers to enhance Lara’s sex-objectification. Beyond this, I can say no more on the game until I play it. I intend to revisit once I get the chance.

 

Sexual Violence & a Larger Scope I. Language

As I read through articles and comments then and re-read them now it becomes clear to me that there’s a serious (but curable!) issue underneath the controversy that no one is talking about. That issue is that our society has not yet developed common language about sexual violence. This is especially true for rape, and for continuity/length I am going to use “rape” going forth. 

If you find yourself in a conversation about rape, maybe with a friend or in a class, am I wrong to say that there are only two pockets of language for you to call on? There is the medical language of rape: anatomy, physiology, PTSD, therapy. Then there is a jar of power words, over-charged to the point of existentialism because they are used as a tool of argument: dehumanize, misogyny, control, gender, hate, civil liberty, etc. But no matter the words, rape is a subject that polarizes the majority of conversationalists and fills the room with giant emotions. It is a topic on par with racism; so personal and so multi-faceted that talking about it thoughtfully or with progress in mind is already a minefield of triggers. [Only as far as the facilitation of public talks] racism has become an easier topic to discuss; it has been a societal change in action for a long time, a struggle that reaches every part of our nation not to be ignored. But at some point, talking about racism had its own limited, lurching vocabulary.

Women’s rights have absolutely been at the forefront of public discussion but rape has NOT. The ongoing work of right’s groups to define rape culture is just an example: instead of debating semantics, we are still striving to study our environment. Any actual discourse I have experienced–text or in person–usually leaves me feeling like nothing is getting done because so many voices are missing; because a bulk of the conversation isn’t made up of words or ideas but is dominated by tension, anger, blame, frustration, cringes, and dismissal. Not only is discussion about rape stunted by the inability to emotionally connect, but (on BOTH sides) “valid” participants are still being redefined. Like those who say men have less right to weigh in because they “aren’t the victims” or those who think actual victims “skew the reality of the danger” with their big old emotions. Until everyone can accept that everyone else is invited to the table on a subject that–in so many ways–effects us all, then the language of rape is in its infancy.

2012 in America has been the year of outlandish, hurtful, and inciting public statements regarding sexual violence (noticeably regarding women, not men.) If you followed the infamous senators and governors who made pointed statements about rape alongside the campaign for presidency, then you either know your own reaction, public reaction, or even engaged in the aftermath. (Here comes the tie-in…!) 

After my initial outrage, I got to thinking: how is it that in this day and age, freaking political leaders and executive producers of mega-software entertainment companies can talk about rape so callously? Dismissively? Awkwardly? My hypothesis goes back to language: for every douchehat that really believes awful things about rape, there are ten normal folks who use the term “rape” and try to talk about it without the progressive boundaries of evolved language. Simply put…we want to have a conversation across the  trenches about rape, but we have neither the words or the safety of an arena to do so right now. So some people are going to say really stupid shit; it is up to us to re-evaluate how to react so that we can make some actual damn progress.

That is what we should be focusing on. Dividing our minds, expending emotional energy by recoiling in anger and retaliating with a salvo so fiercely overreaching that intent and perspective of the “inciting” statement is totally lost. What good does it do to take to our blogs ranting and adding Ron Rosenberg’s name to the lexicon of “rape culture”? It’s like putting up one more mugshot on the notice board: alright, we see him…shoot, there are more all the time! Arghhlebarglerage! That’s a dud trip to building up paranoid anger that has nowhere to go.

Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to allow him–like every other human being who brings up hot-button issues–the context of our current knee-jerk obstacles around this subject? It may not be easier, but wouldn’t it be healthier to the cause of actually eradicating rape to NOT make his words stand for the whole of the gaming industry (then visual entertainment industry then entire social culture?!) I am not excusing what are clearly his personal beliefs on rape and how that fits into his gender views, though I have to admit that “wanting to take care of her” is a better reaction than “she fucking deserved it”.

I am trying to offer this perspective (and so, a summary about rape language): Ron Rosenberg is ONE person; he spoke candidly about HIS perception of Lara Croft’s new “vulnerable” character and he gave a summary of the game’s character development motivation. The term “rape” was mentioned once and was almost immediately corrected by the company, but if it wasn’t clear that we need to focus on facilitating a social communication structure where people don’t go from 0-to-60 when they see the word “rape”, I hope I’ve helped use my opinion to make it at least something to consider. 

 [Coming Soon: Final Tomb Raider post, Part 3 of 3]

 

Late To The Party: What I Think About The Tomb Raider Controversy [Part 1 of 3]

*Obviously this post won’t be about any horror film. There’s a video game involved–something I want to write more about–but it’s really my two cents about the controversy clouding that game. I wouldn’t say that “horror” doesn’t fit the bill, though: the theme of the controversy and the rabid frenzy of anger and hatred that stem from it are frightening to me. So much so that I only feel safe posting my opinions on it within the semi-shelter of this backwater blog*

The Game : Tomb Raider (Square Enix) – The “gritty reboot” origin story slated for 2013

The Main Controversy

 When it was first being marketed, executive producer Ron Rosenberg got all stupid and stated that “you’ll want to protect” the rebooted Lara Croft, and that during the game she will have to deal with “rape”. This vulnerability was all allegedly to make Lara–a leading female icon in the gaming universe–“feel more human” and to give her a reason to become the bad-ass we all know and love.

Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, Flickr

A variation on Flickr Psycho Al’s screen grab.

The Backlash

 (If you missed it) was enormous and spanned not only the gaming sites but feminist blogs, pop-culture critics, and so on. It came on the heels of the hellstorm of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games and the rash of gamers screaming “feminazi”, “misogyny”, “misandry,” and more colorful epithets. (*I want to avoid touching on that scene if I can help it; just going to stick to TR. The important thing to note about the gaming community as a whole is that there is a pervasive theme of hyper-sexualizing female characters without giving them any meaningful personality or clothing.*)

The two rage arguments that fell down on the side of feminism (I’m not even going to bother with the more extreme opposition, it’s barbaric,) are such: Why do game creators think women are so weak that they need “protecting”? and Rape/Sexual Assault as a story telling vehicle is just as misogynistic as giving them no back story because it perpetuates Rape Culture!  (Okay, a third: I want to address the equally offensive backtracking from Crystal Dynamics PR, too.)

Little Ol’ Me

 Now, I don’t want to talk about my identity as a “feminist”–if this has taught me nothing else, it’s that I am out of touch with the term–but can safely say this: I am a woman, I believe in equality for all peoples, I actively fight against domestic/sexual abuse, and I play loads of video games. Lara Croft has been one of my virtual alter-egos since I got my grubby paws on a PS1. I have also had the unfortunate…luck? fate? I don’t know…to experience domestic and sexual abuse first-hand. So by my own understandings of op-ed writing, I figure this controversy is as close to home as it gets for me.

And frankly, I am pretty disheartened by what that the loudest voices in the arena had to say.

Projection vs. Protection: Getting Into the Game

Let’s tackle the less inflammatory of the two arguments (although, it will be a main theme when discussing the second.) Looks first: the “new” Lara is less voluptuous than her past iconic be-boobed incarnations. Folks brought this up as an “a-HA!” moment in debate as if it is a concession on Square Enix’s part that Lara’s physical form has been purely sex-objectifying all along; I think it’s probably more that this reboot Lara is actually supposed to be adolescent Lara. On this point I don’t really care.

Game progression next: check out this game trailer and you’ll see a lot of Lara’s action is her vs. the environment. Attempting to give her back story and motivation, the game uses moments in time to illustrate the origins of this critter-blasting, person-shooting lady: her emotional turmoil in having to shoot a deer to survive, extensive attention to her physical limitations due to injuries, and being driven to kill a person by way of sexual assault. (File away that last one, there.)

Rosenberg states that this will make the gamer more apt to feel like a protector. “They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.”  He goes on:”The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” he said. “She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.” [Kotaku]

Some critics are upset at the idea that they won’t be enjoying the action-packed adventure/puzzle/kill play that they are used to. I think the gameplay looks phenomenal but I am a putz about change and also worry that the elements of Tomb Raider that I most enjoy will be lost. But the loudest zealots in the shouting match are furious about the scripted need to “white knight” Lara; that instead of a bad-ass sex object, she will become a symbol for the misogynistic idea that women are “weaker, delicate” creatures who need “to be protected.”

To those folks, I would first say calm the shit down. Let’s not yell anymore. Look, there is absolutely no denying that female characters across mediums are written so sparsely and so derogatorily that they ooze weakness and the only cure is a strong man to fend for them. But those characters are so insulting because they never have any personal growth or develop inner strength to end up standing on equal footing with men. The whole alleged point of this game is to give gamers a look at that personal growth (and let’s be real–to keep us buying Tomb Raider games, right?)

want to say “MAKE UP YOUR MIND!” to everyone who spent so long denouncing objectification of females in games who are now shrieking that portraying a vulnerable woman is just as bad because men just think that women are weakling suck-bags. But I know the core point is well-intentioned: let’s not just go from one sexist trope to another. However…this one dude is the only one who used the word “protect”. Otherwise, we’d just have been met with a demo starring a girl down on her luck, surviving against the odds with a nod to realistic obstacles and setbacks. She doesn’t look weak to me outside of Rosenberg’s ill-worded preview. There is a point where the argument against well-defined sexist tropes/themes has become so ingrained that it overshadows our ability to dig into something and explore its quality.

Additionally–sexual assault ASIDE–developers had to choose turning-point scenarios to symbolize complex, life-altering, emotional experiences. It’s no different than any other visual media story-line. Things have to be condensed and heightened. When they are, the possibilities for negative personal interpretation skyrocket. The chance that we see a glaring archetype instead of bond with the character in a personal way is a risk that has to be taken in order to make the game exciting, cohesive, and fresh. Overall, before we get angry about what this one fool [Rosenberg] blurted out during one interview when he was mistakenly given the role as PR, let’s forget about this “to protect or not to protect!” b.s. and reconnoiter after we’ve had a play through.     [CONT’D in Part 2!]

*Interesting tidbits (that mean nothing, really): wordpress “feedback” tells me that the term “lady” is considered bias and that using “females” instead of “women” is too complex. …what?

Horror Genre Poll, Ahoy! What Are YOU Watching?

Choose up to 3 sub-genres that rock your face; add any I forgot! 

Critics, Critiques In Our Time

I’m currently watching a movie called Heckler that has me thinking (and totally engrossed. There’s a fascinating onslaught of celebrity interviews, from Jamie Kennedy to Deep Roy, Carrie Fisher, Uwe Boll, Dave Attell, George Lucas, Perez Hilton, Jewel…on and on!) It’s a documentary exploring the personae of the “heckler,” primarily in the stand-up comedy world, but has now begun a fabulous portion about professional media critics, followed by a foray into how the Internet has changed the flow of public opinion and how that has an effect on the subjects of those shared opinions.

Okay, wait. Nicole Mandich just showed her the audience her boobs. And that’s alright, because it made sense, and kudos to her. Sorry, I’m trying to write while I watch the rest of this because I easily lose my thoughts.

The Internet

One of the sub-texts being talked about is that “everyone has an opinion,” or the often-intoned “everyone’s a critic.” Absolutely true. It seems that the internet is currently in the stage of growth–early pubescence–where we have figured out how to use it’s hyper-speed to knit ourselves into communities of societal interests to share or amplify our opinions with/at one another, but that we are now too soon after this discovery to have evolved internet empathy, understand the possible weight of our words, or find pleasure in the measure of positive progression through constructive “feedback.”

It seems that the forums open to discussions of the loudest social issues are rife with trigger-warnings, immediate offense and defense, and swarms of the Many protecting the injured Few from the opposing masses. That sense of personal space, in regards to respect and insult, IS eerily absent from the majority of main-stream sites that post media-related reviews, critiques, or personal reactions. I don’t understand the value of a film or game review to the public that offers no analysis or breakdown–even through personal experience only–of the material if the message is entirely negative. Maybe it’s a catharsis for the scribe and in that it contains value. Just not to the community of media consumers, or to those that produce them.

Negative Criticism

If a vitriolic review is meant to “help [actors/directors/developers] get better at their craft”, it is a toil in hopelessness. A point the film makes through interviews is that if someone walks into your place of work, or upon you working on your craft of passion, and simply states “you suck at that. This is awful. YOU suck, and should be stopped,” well, how is that helpful? Criticism can be hurtful but still carry useful information, but it seems that it is the responsibility of anyone writing a piece that they label a “review” (anything beyond the scope of their personal “journaling”; something specifically meant to have some influence with other consumers) to try not to write out of anger. If that is unavoidable, and it is sometimes, then the responsibility becomes the imperative to communicate that anger through examples and reason.

The Tie-In

I bring this up for two reasons: obviously in a self-conscious nod to this fledgling blog of mine, and in appreciation of the horror film review community. The only reason I didn’t just give up on the blog idea altogether is because I found a way to test the waters by offering my opinions on two things I am google-eyed over (horror movies and video games!) Finding a tempered and impacting way to  write about the social issues that I am tied to has proven to be a tangled ball of slippery thread so I am taking the easy route by sharing my topical opinions of media artworks. After viewing Heckler, I am going to be even more conscientious about what I say. Not because I believe I am anybody in the world of weighty reviews, but because I have no place even accidentally influencing someone else’s experiences with my own disappointments.

On a bright side, I have to say how pleased I am every time I visit a site dedicated to horror-genre reviews. The reviews are always earnest , usually lengthy with balanced personal reaction and analysis, and containing at least one affable nod to the concerns of other horror fans. Tomorrow, when I’m not writing on sleep deprivation, I’ll do some due diligence and link those sites for your continued reading experience!

It’s not horrific in the least, but I recommend Heckler if you like comedy-based, celebrity driven documentaries with a lot to think about regarding the media overlapping with consumers.