Sunday, 26 August 2012

Swords and Sworcery Part II

I haven't played much since the last entry about this game, but when I came back I realised I'd saved/quit at a boss fight and so I had to read my tome diary to see what was up. Yep, I had to 'tame' a gold Trigon, which was otherwise attacking me. In order to do that, of course, you have to not be killed. And eventually it tires out and it's willing to get into your amazing rucksack of stuff.

Kinda like Pokemon really :P

Still think he looks a bit like the Horned King
But no, this one involved swinging at energy balls to deflect, dodging energy laser beams at just the right moment and swinging a lot at some weird triangles. More fun than it sounds - and the soundtrack was epic, naturally.

Once you've done that, mysterious tea-drinking guy tells you that your fortitude, intuitiveness and other such qualities were tested and proven, and that they will be later challenged and evaluated. Yay! But first! We shall take a break before part III of our fable.

Part III begins with strange tea-drinking - perhaps even cigar smoking? - guy telling us that it typically takes a lunar month to complete. We shall see.

The deathless spectre is of course still lurking beneath the world we're in, but also that we should observe the moods of the moon and the geometrical qualities of the trigon. Also that the narrator will be relatively silent in this part of the game, because social networks have been proven helpful in this section of the experiment. Well, if they mean twitter, then I shan't hold out too much hope!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James

Oh my. Well. According to a fan (boyfriend's mother) of this author's normal work, this book is well below her scope of writing intelligence. And indeed if I were to judge all her mystery novels on this one, I'd judge them all very simple and easy reads. As it is, I know this is an homage, and not to be taken seriously.

I will begin by saying that for all the criticisms I have, it was a 'lark' of a read, as Lydia would have put it. It's just a bit of fun, quite honestly. As all prequels, sequels and "diary" entries written using Jane Austen's world are.

I shall start with the Prologue: It annoyed me, actually. Whilst it neatly summarised which daughters had married and to whom, and where they were all living, she also took the liberty of recapping what had happened in Pride and Prejudice through the thoughts and perceptions of the habitants of Meriton - that is, Lizzies 'plan' to ensnare Darcy from the start and Jane's good fortune etc etc.
In fact, she does this a lot with unexplained events - she has Lizzy recall her relationship with Charlotte Lucas, and how it has deteriorated, and perhaps the "revenge" she and Mr Collins had upon Lizzy by somehow letting Lady Catherine know about Darcy's supposed plans to propose. P.D. James does have a point with this one, actually, but at the same time, it's just mystery-writer getting all psychoanalytical on us.

And then on into the main story. It is the day before Pemberley's annual Lady Anne Ball. It is a ball that began as a birthday party for Darcy's mother and has become a great tradition. As the key guests we care about arrive for dinner the night before - Jane and Bingley, Colonal Fitzwilliam (now also a Viscount!), Georgiana, a lawyer friend - we are told warmly about the happiness of the Bingley and Darcy marriages. Yay.

But this familial happiness is about to be threatened! There is a chaise coming at high speed to the doors of Pemberley and a distraught Lydia Wickham has fallen out of it screaming that her beloved George Wickham had been murdered!

And from there, the mystery begins. There isn't too much mystery. It is clear that P.D James is attempting to make the murder case as much based on circumstantial evidence as possible - an easy feat in a world where there is no real forensic evidence and local land owners are magistrates (Yes, Darcy is a magistrate - though he calls on another magistrate to take control of things, as he is a key witness.)

We have the typical suspicious behaviour of certain guests - one is more addressed than the other. And of course there is a twist at the end of the murder trial which explains everything to the key players (but not entirely to the courts cause obviously we don't want scandal to be brought upon the house of Pemberley).

The ending, for me, was unsatisfactory. Perhaps if it were longer and less of a hobby-style fanfiction, P.D. James would have done the genre (and herself, according to boyfriend's mother) justice. Aside from that, she broke a rule I think writers should always adhere to: she made a cross-over reference with another Austen book.

I am fine with the necessity to invent character pasts a bit, and their futures, to flesh out characters Jane Austen never felt the need to. That's normal. I am not ok when authors cross-over the books of the author they're writing for, when the original author never did.  Barbara Wood, one of my favourite authors, has a very subtle "cross over" with Virgins of Paradise and Green City In The Sun - but only because they are set in the same time, for part of it, AND it was a tie to a medical publication made by a main character in GCITS.

Jane Austen never merged the worlds she created, and I highly doubt that Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper of Pemberley somehow knows the housekeeper or head maid or whatever of Mr and Mrs Knightly at Donwell Abbey. It was a very clunky and obvious cross reference, in my opinion, and spoiled the already weak ending for me. It was purely to tie up loose ends, and it was unnecessary to name names the way she does. (Harriet Smith and Robert Martin also get a look-in in this speech)

And then there is the Epilogue. I'll be honest, I felt exasperated. It honestly felt like a reprise of Pride and Prejudice, where Darcy and Elizabeth explain their past behaviours and apologise and self-agonise over and over once she's actually accepted him.

Which brings me neatly to another point I noticed about the book: P.D. James liked to throw in the odd phrase here or there that a character was known for having said, however I honestly think that they were largely taken from the BBC t.v. series of Pride and Prejudice - and why not? It was an excellent series and far truer to the book than any of the crap Hollywood came up with in the Keira Knightly version (seriously: when a film quotes just *one* line from such a well known book, you know it's a bit of a loose take).
It just amused me that the fan service was to the television-watching fans and not to the book readers. I've read the book many times, starting when I was 11. I have had the t.v. series in the background of my childhood since 1995, and then when I watched it myself over and over since I was about 10. I know it pretty damn well, I have to say.

And that is why I enjoyed reading this book - for all the silliness it is - the references made to past behaviour and what it could be like now.
I had a great titter over a letter from Lady Catherine to Darcy and Elizabeth. In it, she mentions that she would send her lawyer, but he is currently employed in the "long-standing boarder dispute with her neighbour" - I preferred to interpret this is an attempt of a restraining order on Mr Collins.
And also Elizabeth's reminiscence of the way Charlotte Lucas/Collins managed Mr Collins in order to make him a more bearable husband - obviously, in neither book nor t.v. series do we see the scene described, but as well as being a joke at Mr Collins's expense, it was actually highly plausible!

I did begin to criticise out-loud the fact that Catherine made any reference to Elizabeth in the letter at all - yes, it was to do with Darcy's in-laws through Elizabeth, but given how Jane Austen left the relationship between Elizabeth and Catherine, it was incredibly out of character. I know it's been 6 years, but even so. This however does get explained and I guess it was a good enough reason.

Another criticism was the very occasional language anachronism that occurred. The key one being that Mr Darcy says that something was/is "totally inappropriate". I do not think, in 1803, that the word "totally" was used in that way, if at all. IF he were to adverb the word "inappropriate", then he would have said "wholly", in my opinion, but whatever, P.D. James is not from the same time as Austen was.

Otherwise, yes, this book was a fun read, as a big fat P+P fangirl. It shouldn't really take the average bookworm very long to get through this, even if you only read a chunk before bed each night. It's light, and the language, though trying to capture the essence of Austen, isn't alienating or stuffy.  As Mr Bennet says (in this book, not the original), it was "succinct]ly but no doubt accurately" written.

My overall rating? 3/5 - I liked it, and I'd probably read it again if I felt like it in the future, but it's not necessarily as 'brilliant' as the on-cover newspaper critics claim it to be. It IS however one of the better Pride and Prejudice fanfics I've read. Certainly MUCH better than Mr Darcy, Vampire.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


So I saw Brave the other day, Pixar's first 'Princess Film'.

As usual, Pixar has maintained its reputation for high animation standards, though in 3D, parts of it was perhaps a little poor. It did not manage fast-speed screen panning.

The Plot is of course well received by internet circles - young girl decides to take it upon herself to compete for her own hand in marriage. None of this marrying which ever heir to a clan can shoot an arrow straightest. Ok, well, that's part of the plot.

Really, what the film is about is the consequences individual pride and stubbornness and tradition can have on the surrounding country.

The mother-daughter rift of misunderstanding is the central theme. It is honestly not an unfamiliar one - the best comparison would be Freaky Friday. You know the one. Mother wants her daughter to be more like her, daughter wants to run wild and free and is kinda a punk by her mother's standards. Then when Mum pushes too far, the daughter pushes back with equal force and they're both intensely upset and something goes wrong for them in order for both to see past each's own desires and to empathise with the other. Except, instead of swapping bodies, as in Freaky Friday, Merida accidentally turns her mother into a bear.

And then the fantastic bear-trying-to-be-a-graceful-human-queen animation ensues! It's touching, hilarious and weirdly normal, all at once.

Naturally, the spell has a chance to be reversed, but they must practice the undo-ing words by the second sunrise. First of which has already passed, of course. So they have 24 hours, pretty much.

In those 24 hours, they discover the truth about the legend of the lost kingdom, the giant bear that ate her father's leg and just barely (hur) get mum back to her human form. They also learn to listen to each other, since bear-mother can't speak properly, and Merida has to interpret her mother's motions and noises. Her mother also has to put her faith and life in Merida's hands, in order to survive her bear shape. (Her husband has a penchant for hunting bears)

The side characters are all delightful - from Merida's huge, boisterous and indulgent father (Billy Connolly), her firm and controlled mother (Emma Thompson) to her three suitors and the witch. Her brothers are voiceless but have big personalities, providing fun capers through the castle and surrounding village/town that are amusing for adults and hilarious fun for smaller members of the audience.

They've even included the Medieval's answer to customer service call lines! (Even my boyfriend laughed at that)

For all the plot's familiarity and relative weakness, the film is well written, with a great script, fantastic score and it is very entertaining. I will be getting it - I do not consider it the same sort of flop as Cars or, some argue, The Incredibles were.

Despite what the critics have said, I still recommend a viewing - it is clearly one that you have to make your own mind up about.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

So the Spider-Man franchise has been given a reboot and now instead of Toby Maguire and what remains of his dignity (I'm sorry, but that dance in Spider-man 3 was just... it killed your career, Tobes) we have Andrew Garfield, who is possibly the most accurate Peter Parker/Spider-man to date.

He is perhaps a little *too* good looking , comments my know-every-comic-arc-inside-out Boyfriend (I think he's cute in a dorky way personally), but he has the mannerisms, the awkwardness and we both agree that once he dons that mask, he does the "fight talk" and Spidey quips brilliantly.
What can I say about the film? It's enjoyable. If you like Spider-Man, you'll enjoy the film. If you don't, then at least you'll get a laugh out of it... cause it's by no means perfect.

What's that? A Spider-Man film that isn't perfect? Yeah, ok, you got me. It's what we've heard before. But it's true. The plot is a bit thin, and there are scenes where clearly something's been cut and it's not quite gelled together. It starts off fairly nicely, but there's so much to fit in, I guess, with all the character development - which is done extremely well, in fact, best character development in a huge franchise film I've seen so far - that the focuses do change and have to be spread out a bit.

As far as Spidey's origins go, it's a bit of a mash up. He has many unanswered questions about his parents - a focus which isn't that heavy in most of the comic arcs - and they lead him to Dr. Curt Connors of Oscorpe.
There he is overly curious and gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider that was designed for its steel silk-like thread.

The way he develops and struggles with his powers initially is highly entertaining and far better done than when Toby Maguire just magically starts catching flying trays of food, running after buses, picking stuff up and climbing walls. It's genuinely a proper struggle - an extended metaphor for a young teen boy getting to grips with sudden puberty, I'd argue. He doesn't understand or know his own body and it's suddenly changing.

Another thing that they did better was Gwen Stacy/love interest. With Kirsten Dunst and Maguire there was very little chemistry. MJ and Peter felt forced and unnatural.  Maybe it's cause they're dating and are the cutest couple in Hollywood atm, but Emma Stone and Garfield really work well together as Gwen and Peter.  The way the attraction between them develop and is introduced is easy, natural and develops well. It's a proper high school romance.

The scene where Spidey asks out Gwen is adorable - and, so claims my Boyfriend, similar to how he did it. I just commented that somehow it's less awkward for Gwen. He shut up.
Obviously, the plot has to deal with Uncle Ben - it sticks to the arc wherein there is a fight before he dies. (Seriously, if you didn't know that he dies, then I'm sorry if that's a huge spoiler. :| )
But it's fairly well done. Then there's Spidey's journey towards what he feels is personal retribution, interrupted rudely by a gigantic lizard on Brooklyn Bridge. Obviously.

After that, it's the entire got to stop the giant lizard storyline.

Which would be fine, except for one or two things that are plot-holey or unnecessary. Such as his willingness to remove his mask all the god damn time. Seriously, he could be seen and he takes the mask off when he needn't - and then has to put it back on again in a split second.

There is plenty of set up for sequels, though - rumours of a venom film to be done in 2014 (after all, Flash Thompson is in this one) and it is quite clear that they are not quite finished with Dr Connor in the final scene.
There is also further allusion to the demise of Pete's parents, which as I said, they're putting more focus onto.

So the plot is a bit thin - anything else to moan about quickly?
Yes, I'm afraid. 

There's that awkward moment when the 3D Spider-Man is half see-through... though that wasn't the worst of it. The CGI is pretty poor. The mouse lizard thing reminded me of a scene in The Witches, and fluids aren't very fluid looking.
And whomever designed The Lizard didn't do a fantastic job. Maybe he'll evolve with the sequel. I hope so. I missed his snout.

And, as you'll discover particularly with the scene in the above photo - James Horner (composer for Titanic and Avatar) did not do a great job. Not his best work. Some of it wasn't appropriate, some was cliché (everyone needs that inspirational theme of goodwill and neighbourliness) and some was just odd! Kind of a flirt with dodgy classical scene setting piano, but not in a brilliant way.

It was very well cast.  People may be annoyed that Sally Field plays Aunt May - after all she looks nothing like her. For starters, her hair is dark! But she is a great actress, that woman, so who's to say otherwise!? (And my, has she aged a lot :( )

Rhys Ifans was brilliant as Dr. Connors, and I didn't initially quite put my finger on who it was. He's aged and filled out a bit, but his little Welsh lilt was juuuuuuust detectable sometimes. But it was nice. Connors was supposed to be either English or German... certainly European. But he does irrational and calm brilliantly. Even if Connor's scheme feels sudden and a bit out of character - though he appears to suffer at least from schizophrenia or psychosis by the end of the film, so we can forgive him.

And he did what he could with that Lizard costume.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield are very well cast in their roles, with all the support actors perfectly placed. Flash, played by Chris Zylka, was lacking his big blond hair. BUT the film was somewhat more modern with Spidey's origins, so it's understandable that he doesn't have the dodgy late 80s Jock look.
Even the nerds look less 50s typical.

Ooo, almost forgot: THE CAMEO

It's the best Stan Lee cameo yet. Actually hilarious. Perfect. Seamless. Thought it was never coming, but it was huge.

But otherwise, yes, the film is quite good. 6/10. It was fun and there are plenty of laughs. It's light-hearted, at least.
It'll be fun to see where this reboot takes us - I think that it should give us good things, once they've sharpened it up a bit.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Gamasutra News - Opinion: Video games and Male Gaze - are we men or boys?

This article pretty much sums up games, the gaming industry and angry white male gamers, and the problems that women have when even approaching the subject of gaming.

I won't pretend to be above biology: I like boobs and butts as much as the next hot-blooded heterosexual male. They're just about the most aesthetically pleasing configurations of fat and muscle you can find on a person, and I am far from being immune to their charms. But women are a lot more than boobs and butts. That may seem obvious, but the game industry and its fans are demonstrating their ignorance of that fact time and time again.

Video games and Male Gaze

Recently I did an interview, an excerpt of which you can find here, with Hitman Absolution director Tore Blystad. If you haven't been keeping up with the franchise, a recent trailer for the game got the internet up in arms, as it depicted sexy dominatrix nuns being violently dispatched by the protagonist Agent 47. Blystad is a nice, well-meaning man that simply doesn't understand why anyone is mad about the trailer for his game. This is actually a very large part of the problem. 

Blystad isn't sure why this trailer in particular upset people, when he feels this is the way the series has always presented itself. When I asked him why these ladies were in dominatrix gear, and why they had to remove their nun costumes before coming to kill Agent 47, he said the ladies are "dressing as something less conspicuous, getting up to their mark, and revealing their true colors." 

He does not realize that giving these women dominatrix outfits as their "true colors" is the problem. Think about it logically for a moment -- if you were going to assassinate someone, would you wear the tightest thing possible? Would you expose your breasts to the world, essentially creating a target for a bullet? Probably not. Ryan Consell writes about this clothing phenomenon (and how to fix it) to excellent effect in his article Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits

But I'm not stupid -- I know why we put ladies in these ridiculous costumes, and I know why Blystad doesn't get what the problem is. It's because we, the people making the decisions on these games, are largely men, largely heterosexual, and as such we like looking at boobs and butts, and we are making this game for others who feel the same way, which is inherently limiting. This is the very definition of the Male Gaze theory, which is at the heart of much of the discussion we're having about women in and around games these days. 

I'll back up for a second -- Gaze, as an analytical term, refers to the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. The one who gazes, the viewer, is generally looking at the viewed object (or being) with some desire or fantasy projection -- why else would it be a gaze, not a glance? The theory goes that when one is gazed at, the person being viewed loses some sense of autonomy. You realize you are the subject of scrutiny, and it makes you self conscious, or at least more self-aware. This can even happen when we scrutinize ourselves in a mirror. 

Male Gaze, then, has to do with the relationship between a heterosexual male viewer, and a female that is being viewed. The theory poses that in media like film, photography, and I would here add games, when a heterosexual male is in charge of the viewing of a female, the resulting media necessarily reflects that male's gaze. In the case of games, this may be more of a collective gaze. 

In cinema, for example, if a camera follows the curve of a woman's body, or keeps her cleavage in primary screen real-estate, that is an example of Male Gaze. Or in games, consider the Golden Axe Beast Rider trailer in which the camera pans down from the protagonist's butt to reveal enemies in the distance. This was a conscious choice someone made when creating this trailer. Note also that the two top-rated comments are in reference to this scene, which altogether should give you a pretty good idea of what Male Gaze means, and the simplest forms it takes. [Note: the original version of the trailer linked is this one which has more views, and has the mentioned top-rated comments. It was not viewable in the U.S., so was replaced. -ed.]

Real ultimate power

Some folks argue that these women are strong, kill lots of men, and thus are positive characters. But take a look at these ladies from Tera Online. They may have crazy superpowers, sure. But they are nearly naked to the eye of the player, and the target player here is clearly male. All their power is stripped away; their primary function, the reason they were created, is to be sexy for a male gaze, to draw males to stare at them. When you look at that picture, do you see "powerful mage" or do you see "hot girl." Let's be honest here! I know what I see. 

The "but she's powerful! She's a strong character!" argument has been the line of defense for Lara Croft fans for decades. And it's true that recent games have made an effort to decrease her bust size, and her overall sexualization in certain ways. But with the new Tomb Raider, the idea of Male Gaze takes a more complex form. Her grunts and groans throughout the game's ordeals have been dubbed "torture porn," and that's certainly one aspect. But then there are the threats of sexual assault, which the team hopes will inspire you to "protect" her. As producer Ron Rosenberg told Kotaku, "When people play Lara, they don't really project themselves into the character, 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.'" 

Why don't people project themselves onto Lara? Because "people" means males. Nobody (well, almost nobody) wants to be Lara Croft, not even women, because Lara is very much the subject of Male Gaze in her games, and who wants to open themselves up to that sort of scrutiny? Getting a bit deeper, while many women do want to be attractive to males, which is part of why women's magazines often take a Male Gaze perspective as well, they don't want to be only that. They don't want to be stared at all the time, by everyone. Lara is at no point "just a person." 

At some point in the new game Lara will have to survive an attempted rape [Crystal Dynamics has since attempted to back away from this description -- ed.]. It is possible that the team will attempt to address issues of gender and sexuality in games in a way that will push the medium forward. But allow me some skepticism, when the game is coming from a decidedly male perspective. 

As an example, when the camera pans down and looks down her cleavage in a cutscene, what does that show? The developers and the game's viewers are being made to be complicit in Lara's sexualization. These shots are planned carefully -- there aren't a lot of accidents in a large-scale production like this. If the camera says "I want you to be able to see her cleavage" versus "I do not want you to be able to see her cleavage," this makes subtle, but undeniable statements to the player. And it is certain that this statement is being made by a male, generally for other males. 

There's a lot going on here. Certainly, almost all heterosexual men like to look at sexy ladies. This is why advertisements ask us to associate access to boobs with Bud Light, or Nascar. May I submit that this is not a positive or progressive way to deal with women, and that this attitude is running rampant in the game industry as a whole, not just in middle America. Even the new Tomb Raider, which is trying its best to be different, seems to be taking a rather uncomplex look at female power. There are a lot of ways to make a strong woman without confronting her with sexual violence. Consider the power dynamics in the movie Labyrinth, for example. Back to the idea of loss of autonomy -- Lara can't choose whether people are looking at her cleavage, that choice is being made for her. Sure, she's digital, and maybe we shouldn't care so much about sexual fantasy. But we also do this with real-life women in our industry.

Booth babes and a fall of confidence

Walking around E3, I was rather embarrassed by the proliferation of booth babes that had been hired to shill product. The argument I made on Twitter was that if you need to rely on breasts to sell your game, you undervalue your product by essentially admitting it can't get attention on its own, and you make a statement that your game is directed primarily toward heterosexual men. 

I recognize that sex sells, but E3 is meant to be a trade show, in larger part. It's billed as a gathering of professionals, and that includes female developers and executives. It's insulting that my fellow professionals, who hired these booth babes, think so low of me and my peers that they think they should attract us with boobs in push up bras. Are we all 14 years old over here? It's patronizing, even as a male. Imagine being a female game developer walking through that environment. 

On Twitter, folks made the argument to me that these girls are getting paid, and thus there's nothing to complain about. Well, their choices aren't for me to judge. There's always someone willing to do something for money. That doesn't mean it's positive. (As an aside, I heard tell of one booth babe putting deodorant on top of her shoulder, given how many sweaty armpits people were putting around her.) 

I got a little flack for speaking ill of the booth babes, especially from folks saying "well, it's everywhere." But I'll tell you who got it much worse than I -- game industry veteran Brenda Brathwaite (Garno), who made essentially the same arguments on Twitter that I did. The big difference between us, aside from her having more followers to rile up: She's female, I'm male. 

This is where the concept of Male Gaze comes back in. The reactions boil down to, essentially, "I like this, and who are you to say otherwise?" People are offended at the idea that anything they're doing or enjoying could be wrong, and lash out as a result.

Then why do you wear makeup, slut?

The anger that is directed toward women who speak their mind about gender issues in the game industry is astounding. A few weeks ago I wrote an article about and subsequent interview with the creator of a card game called Tentacle Bento. This is a game where you play as a tentacle monster, and grab as many girls as possible for your own "nefarious purposes." I found the game extremely problematic, and that it trivialized the idea of rape from a cutesy male perspective. You can read those links for my full thoughts, but suffice it to say that others vehemently disagreed with me. 

The amount of ire I got, which was a lot, was nothing compared to the anger directed against female friends of mine who discussed the article. One friend turned off her Twitter for a few days after too many threats of "well maybe you should be raped." Keep in mind, I was the one who started the discussion, and these ladies who merely took up the banner bore the brunt of the assault. 

More recently, female blogger Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter for a web series investigating female tropes in video games. The response she received was nothing short of disgusting. There was support, to be sure, but there was also a lot of this. Puerile, juvenile responses from men getting upset about a perceived threat to their world. Comments such as "Why do you put on makeup, if everything is sexism? Why don't you shave your head bald, stop wearing makeup and stop wearing huge slut earrings. You are a fucking hypocrite slut." 

Now, I don't know what Sarkeesian plans for her web series, or whether she's even got the background to do it properly. I hope she does, because this subject deserves proper discussion. But I certainly know she doesn't deserve this sort of ignorant treatment. 

Where does this knee-jerk anger come from? There is no anger quite like that of the privileged. Here we see it in the raw. In this instance; "We heterosexual males like boobs in our games, and we'll be damned if you're going to take them away." Because they feel threatened, they lash out without thinking about it, like a dog that thinks you want to take its bone away. The behavior seems nonsensical, but it's predictable. 

I see it everywhere the gender status quo is challenged. Kotaku Australia's Katie Williams'experience at E3, in which a male PR person decided for himself that she probably couldn't play PC games, is another recent example. The assumptions people make about women in our industry are further examples of Male Gaze, in an industry that is only 10% female. Is it any wonder that the number is so low, with the way we depict women in games? With the way we treat women, professional and hired, at trade shows? With the fact we clearly pay them less than their male counterparts, as the Game Developer magazine salary survey shows? 

Worse than the initial presumption that she wasn't able to play games were the reactions to her complaint. A thread began in Neogaf, ever a bastion of progressive thought, in which people posted images of her they'd found online, discussing whether (and how) they would have sex with her. This is a rather obvious negative example of Male Gaze. Or take the situation of a female player in Capcom's reality show Cross Assault, in which her breasts and thighs were filmed, along with commentary from the competitor who was manning the camera. She was essentially forced to quit the show to stop being harrassed. 

Believe it or not, this sort of behavior happens constantly, albeit on a more subtle level, at industry events. I introduced Mariel Cartwright, lead animator of Skullgirls, to a male developer at a party at the last GDC, saying she worked on the game. He immediately responded, "oh cool, you mean like in PR?" instantly presuming she couldn't have possibly done any "real" work on the product. Indie game dev Mare Sheppard (N+) frequently has things she's said about code in games attributed to her male partner Raigan Burns instead, or is ignored in a technical conversation. Erin Robinson (Puzzle BotsGravity Ghost) told me when it comes time to meet people at parties, she's the only one who awkwardly doesn't get a handshake. Several other women noted that this had happened to them as well. 

Everyone looks at opposing genders differently, but above all, we need to imbue our professional interactions with feelings of respect, and not make value judgments just because someone is female and understands how to dress themselves. 

Nobody does this to men in the industry. Nobody says Cliff Bleszinski is wearing such a tight shirt today, and oooh I'd love to rub my hands all over him. At least not to the point where he's uncomfortable at tradeshows. Likewise nobody sexualizes male characters. Some may argue that Kratos represents an unrealistic image of a male, but there aren't massive forum threads dedicated to whether and how people would like to have sex with him. Kratos, Marcus Fenix, and their ilk, are the object of power fantasies, not sexual fantasies. There is a huge difference there. You want to be as cool and powerful as Kratos. Again, nobody wants to be Lara Croft all the time.

Defeating Male Gaze

If this is how we depict women in games, and this is how we represent them at tradeshows, and how we treat them in professional interview settings and on the internet at large, we not only make ourselves look like children, we keep women from wanting to enter the industry. If that doesn't strike you as a problem, then more fool you. A balanced industry has a balanced perspective. 

Female sexuality isn't inherently negative in media, and I do want to stress that. Sexual dynamics can bring up a lot of interesting mature themes across the board, when treated with intelligence and purpose. But most of the time in games it's treated without any sort of thought, as was theHitman: Absolution trailer. Most of the time the thought is simply, "well... we have to make the female character sexy, so let's show off her boobs and hips." It is an absolute given that female characters must be somehow sexy. We don't have this same rule for male characters.

Isn't that a little overly simplistic for an industry that can show the horrors of war, the sorrow of losing a child, and other complex scenarios? We can clearly do better. But our views of women are almost always coming from a single perspective; the Male Gaze. When you diminish the female perspective in sexy scenes, and guide the viewer's gaze, they wind up reinforcing stereotypes and tropes that appeal exclusive to heterosexual male sexuality. 

There are deeper societal issues at root here, and we can't change all of society. But the fact is we are not all of society. We are an elite group of people that make games that show what we think and feel about the world. We can't change everyone, but we can change our industry, and we can change the depiction of women in our medium. If we do that, we may even influence public opinion.

By representing women in this mono-dimensional manner, both in games and at industry events, we show, subtly or overtly, that we think women are nothing more than boobs and butts. Simultaneously, we males represent ourselves as nothing more than a cock and balls. As males, through our depiction of women in media, and how we treat them in the industry and community, the message we're pushing hardest is the one Katie Williams unfortunately stumbled into; "I would or would not have sex with you." 

Right now, any women who are standing up and talking about these issues are being attacked by game communities and the internet at large. Sarkeesian's kickstarter is up to almost $160,000 now, which is amazing. But it also shows that her supporters are largely silent, because how much have you really heard on her behalf? Her detractors on the other hand, are decidedly vocal. I encourage those who see issues like this not to back down in the face of overwhelming adversity. And I encourage game developers to think about this issue of Male Gaze, and how we can minimize it with the addition of female voices in positions of power. At the very least, we can be aware of our own gaze, and take it to task. 

And that's just it. Above all: think. Think about the statements you make with your art, your stories, your characters. Publishers at E3 think we're all still 14 year old boys. But we're not ... are we? 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen *Book spoilers alert*

Ok, I saw Salmon Fishing in the Yemen quite a while ago with my friend, but I thought I'd wait until I'd read the book before I posted anything cause I thought it'd be good to make a comparison. And boy are they different in the end!

I'll start with how I felt about the film, as a film, not knowing anything about the book:

Story - A middle-aged fisheries scientist is roped into a crazy scheme entirely funded by a Yemini Sheikh to export salmon fishing to Wadi Aleyn in Yemen. Involved is the Sheikh's representative, Harriet, and a publicity-hunting MP.

The cast: 
Ewen McGregor was the right sort of age for a grouchy middle-aged man, and there's something quite comical about a thick scottish accent saying how much salmon need fresh water.
The way he plays a character whose emotions and beliefs shift so gradually in the film and book from those of a bored, lost soul, to one who has found love and belief in the impossible project is warm and subtle and human.

Emily Blunt, though marginally typecast as a business associate (she is almost wearing the same things as Emily in The Devil Wears Prada) plays a good romantically inclined but clear-headed business woman and organiser.

Amr Waked plays an almost mystical Sheikh, with a great deal of wisdom and almost ethereal understanding of the world.

Kristin Scott Thomas is fantastic as a civil servant who's main goal in life is simply to provide good media coverage for the government and the relationship of the UK with the Middle East. She's sharp, witty and even looks the part in her skirt suit and strange moussed back hair.

The film was funny, emotional and carried the theme of faith and belief very well. Its settings were perfectly chosen, from the rurals of Yemen to the great Scottish country house at Glen Tulloch.

It is a romantic comedy, mapping the emotional journeys of middle-aged Fred, whose marriage is loveless, and of Harriet, who is waiting for the return of her newly deployed soldier boyfriend. As they are separated from their loved ones, with spanners thrown into each's relationships, they grow close, finding solace in their shared project and shared emotions.

It's a good film and romcom, and I'd recommend seeing. I'd give it 3-4 stars.


Now, the book on the other hand, well. I'm wondering whether to go with a step-by-step comparison of the themes and events or whether to just outline what is different and then give my overall impression.

Fred's character: Naturally, the film could not provide much background. From reading we learn that Fred has just started writing a diary, because he is upset and emotionally unfulfilled in his marriage, as well as being pestered into taking part in a ridiculous project that he believes is utterly undo-able.  As the book goes on we learn about how he met and married his wife - she's pro-active, career-driven, emotionally-distant and even suggested he propose in the first place! He is quite passive and unsure of what he wants to do with his life, though he does despair a little at his wife's inability to even discuss children or think past what she deems to be most important in life: how much they earn and how financially stable they are.

In the film, Fred's wife is barely touched, though we do see that their marriage is on the rocks and pretty lacking passion or romance. She's also obviously pretty independent from him. In the book however, I'm afraid that the more I read emails from her or Fred's memories of her, the more I thought, "what a complete bitch!". They were just not well suited at all.

As the story progresses and his wife goes to Geneva for six months to work, we see the style of Fred's writing change. It's less formal, perhaps even less analytical. It's simply his thoughts and feelings. He is more emotionally involved in his writing, and it's quite clear that he cares about the people involved in the project, and has been touched by the Sheikh's philosophy in life.

Harriet: In the film, she has just met Robert, and is quite clearly swept head over heels by him. She promises to wait for him when he is deployed. In the book, she is engaged to him and planning a romantic holiday with him when he suddenly calls from Holland or somewhere, saying that he'd received a call and been packed off to Iraq! Quite the difference. In the film I think the fact that she has just met him when he is called away makes it easier to explain her gradual emotional un-attachment (Rom Com storyline) - something that is also more relate-able to people who start seeing soldiers, wait for them, and then realise how little they knew of them when/if they get back.
She writes to him and tells him what we can guess but don't otherwise *know* about her feelings towards Fred in the beginning - he's a bit of a boor, but he grows on her. However, in the book, NOT to the extent that he does in the film. In the book, she remains true to Robert, but unfortunately grief and uncertainty result in an emotional breakdown, and she loses all faith in life and perhaps even the project, shutting herself off from people involved.

The Sheikh: It is hard not to like the Sheikh, though we are seeing him entirely through Fred and Harriet's eyes. He's calm and polite and very wise. He is a holy figure, of sorts, as he talks about faith and belief and how one must have belief in order to have hope in order to have love. He does not necessarily talk of theist belief, but simply belief in something. He manages to call Fred a man of faith because he fishes even though he can not be sure that he will catch a fish. He believes that he could, hopes he will and loves the sport.
The Sheikh's belief rewards him with God, Fred's with a fish. I thought this was incredibly interesting and not a very down-your-throat interpretation. As an atheist, I have nothing against faith or belief, and think it is nice to have it. It's just religious dogma and institutionalisation that I hate.
His fate in the film does not match his fate in the book, I am afraid.

Peter Maxwell: Well, in the book he is just one odious character, whose job is to make sure that the Prime Minister is kept looking good. Somehow, in the film, his character is split into two - which is very unusual! Book characters get merged into one film character all the time, but I can't think of any others that are split. In the film, he is Kristin Scott Thomas's character, and another smaller character who's the useless twerp, perhaps (though I can't remember) even referred to as P. Maxwell.
He is quite clearly a satirical parody of an idiotic, short-sighted civil servant who's constantly trying to second guess the public. He also seems to think that the sun shines out of the Prime Minister (Jay Vent)'s backside. As the government's political alignment is never specified, the reader can picture them as any politician stereotype they like, though personally I think they're a mishmash of Tony Blair's New Labour and Cameron's Conservatives. Blair's good publicists with Cameron's cabinet incompetence.
But enough of politics...

Faith and religion are handled beautifully by Paul Torday, prompting questions and thoughts from the reader. For example, the contrast between the unquestioned and undeniable faith of those living in the Middle East and the way the majority of England seem to have "moved beyond Church", not even going once a week to worship.

The plot is narrated through letters, emails, diary entries and interviews, all provided as evidence for an inquiry into the disaster that occurred at the launch of the Wadi Aleyn Salmon run.

The emails between the Al Qu'ida members, as sinister and dangerous as they were intended to be, made me laugh. I couldn't help it. Perhaps it's because I don't believe in the twaddle they do, or perhaps it was intended that way, but I found the religious justification for assassinating the Sheikh and the angry, barbaric discussion of what to do with a failed assassin attempter funny.

As far as the ending goes, I am not sure that I am completely satisfied with the way the deaths were handled. Perhaps the film is better in that as a comedy book, the ending in the film fits better with its genre, whilst the book ending of Salmon Fishing does not, in my mind.

The book also gets 4/5.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Swords & Sworcery - Part 1

I got hold of Swords & Sworcery in the Humble Bundle V, cause a) sounded like a click and cast and b) my best friend was playing and said I should too. And also cause I like giving money to indie game designers and stuff.

It's not quite a click and cast; it's a 'click click click'. And there's no casting - yet. I have, I admit, only played through the first chapter, which takes 15-30 minutes, according to the narrator at the start of the game. Whom I suspect to be some sort of scientist.

Anyway! It's fun. If you don't mind just double clicking a lot. There are fight sequences, but yes, that involves clicking either on the sword or the shield and killing the other thing before it kills you - though there does have to be some thought behind it. You know, like knowing when to block and when to jab. Each opponent type seems different - I had more trouble with the wolf than I did an undead statue, cause it was harder to predict move wise.

Logfella is in the stone shelter whilst 'I' stand in the rainbow.
The graphics are incredibly basic - it's a visual-audio based game. The soundtrack is really good - it's atmospheric and fun, creating mood music to match the thoughts of the character.

Dialogue is mostly in thoughts, though if you have your volume up enough, you will hear other people in the vicinity talking at you - Logfella asked if I knew anything about red something. (Unfortunately I had not turned it up enough). It was just conversational whilst he sat on his ass and I - the Scythian - worked out how to bridge the chasm.

As you can see, the artwork is simple, but it's nice. And going a bit on from what Bart Kelsey said in the guest column, as a more or less silent protagonist that refers him/herself and the player as "we", it's entirely possible to consider the Scythian as either sex - the pixels are androgynous! That's either a dude with long hair and skinny legs or a girl with long hair and skinny legs. Which I guess I quite like!

The scripting is both contemporary and half-assed fantasy. And thanks to the inbuilt twitter function, it's possible to tweet all the stuff that "you" are thinking - that is, any piece of diaologue you feel like tweeting. If at all. I confess I ended up tweeting.  And the sequence looks like this.

See what I mean? And whenever it says "we", it pretty much refers to the Scythian and the player. Inclusive language, no? Specially since Logfella did naff all! 

Anyway, plot so far? It would seem that for some reason, the Scythian/you are to go and get a burdensome megatome of dark sworcery from a deep dark cavern. It's more than a cavern, really. Whilst you'd think that it's all inside creepy head -> there are the occasional tunnels and temple-like doorways.

Eventually you find the tome and you get the tome and you attempt to leave the caverns alive - just as you'd pledged to Logfella!

Naturally, it's not as simple as just taking the tome. You appear to have awoken a dark lord-like wraith - who is somewhat reminiscent of the Horned King in the Black Cauldron. But smokier. Kinda... Horned King mixed with No Face. Yeah. That's it.


Yes? No? I think so. Anyway although I have escaped from this dark shadow man, it is indicated that my journey with the megatome is not done. Something about increased exposure being bad and the fact there's a mysterious wolf following me... Anyway I don't think this guy is going to let off. 

I shall have to keep adventuring with my Scythian friend through this troubled land with interesting landscape and see what happens!

I'll keep you posted - but I think it's worth paying a quid or two for.  If only for the soundtrack. Which I shall be listening to!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Guest Column: A critique of Anita Sarkeesian's kickstarter on Sexist Tropes in Video Games

First off, I wanted to say thank you to the Chief Mauskateer for taking interest in what I have to say, and for including my thoughts on her blog. This whole thing originated from a Reddit discussion on Anita Sarkeesian's kickstarter campaign, but by the time I had a chance to really collect my thoughts and write an intelligent criticism, the community had moved on, so I don't think very many people got to see it. What you see below is a slightly revised version, based on some criticism I received.

Secondly, I caution you to have a grain of salt handy as you read this. As Ms. Sarkeesian hasn't actually made her videos yet, I'm making some inferences based on the press language from her kickstarter campaign (including the list of tropes she's planning to cover) and the views she expressed in a set of similar videos about female tropes in Hollywood.

I have two main issues with Sarkeesian's argument. These are:
I'll cover both of these in depth, but first I'd like to present my own thoughts on the representation of women in gaming:

It's blatantly obvious that a large majority of video games and video game characters are geared toward a specific set of preferences, namely those that the video game industry believe to be their primary audience. As a straight white male, I share that set of preferences, so I enjoy some of those games (aside: some games are just plain terrible, and I don't require a game to appeal to me sexually in order to like it). On the other hand, it seems pretty obvious to me that if video games were heavily balanced toward serving a different set of preferences, I would feel really unwelcome in the gaming world. This is a very serious problem, but the mere existence of these games (or the tropes used therein) isn't the issue; in fact, it's not even an issue that these games are common. It's the fact that, by and large, the only two options you have as a gamer are games that are meant to appeal to a heterosexual male audience and games that aren't geared toward any particular demographic. It's an entirely reasonable thing for someone to ask where the games are that are meant to appeal to them.

That being said, tropes are tropes. I don't believe that they're inherently sexist, and I don't buy into the implication that people are too dumb to realize that characters in a story are characters in a story. What I do believe is that the IT industry as a whole (and, by extension, the video game industry) has a huge problem with endemic, institutionalized sexism, and the fact that these tropes (which are often just a result of bad writing on the part of a male writer) are over-represented is a symptom of this larger issue. Here's a blog post I wrote on this issue as it applies to the open source world. Here's another article about a group of people called 'brogrammers', a term you may or may not already be familiar with.

It seems to me that sexism in the video game industry is particularly prevalent in board rooms where people decide on the plot and style of their games. People make the claim that 'sex sells' as justification for this imbalance, but there's a lot of really strong evidence that you don't have to portray women unrealistically or in an over-sexualized manner in order to sell games -- all you have to do is make games that don't suck. Again, though, I don't feel that there's anything wrong with the fact that these games exist, and I don't think there's anything wrong with liking them. The trouble is the lack of balance, and that's largely a symptom of a different problem.

Now, my thoughts on the issues I mentioned:


I think my snarky and poorly drawn image is probably self explanatory, but I'd like to go into a bit more detail than that. Sarkeesian holds up Portal as an example of positive female characters in video games. There are (ostensibly) two major female characters in Portal: Chell, and GlaDOS (Disclaimer: I love Portal).

Looking at both of these characters:
  • Chell is a silent protagonist, which means the writers didn't even have to give her a personality. Chell is simply a more awesome version of the player, so all they really needed to do was find the exact line for her appearance (attractive but not unrealistically so, athletic and in good shape but not unrealistically so) and then set her loose in the game world and allow the player to imagine what her personality must be like. There is very little characterization there -- she has no spoken dialog.
  • GlaDOS is a computer. She's a computer with a female personality, but there is no sexuality or body to speak of because her physical form is just a bunch of electronics. So there is another line that the writers didn't have to worry about straddling. She's not ugly. She's not sexy. She's a computer.
As I said, the goalposts are pretty narrow. What this might tell me if I were a video game writer is that the only way to win is not to play. Want to make a female main character? Silent protagonist. That way you don't have to worry about someone bashing her as being overly slutty or overly feminine or not feminine enough (omg, seriously, "man with boobs" is a misogynist trope? -- the only sin there is trying too hard not to over-sexualize a character, or -- crazy as it may sound -- writing a character who is just unfeminine because that's the sort of character they want to write). Chell isn't an example of writing a character at all; she's an example of not writing a character.

Imagine how people's opinions of Chell might differ if she had DD size breasts but were otherwise exactly the same (I'm not advocating this, by the way -- I love Portal as it is, and such a change would be pointless and arbitrary at this point). Do you suppose she would still be held in high regard as an exemplary female character? If not, what does that say about our opinion of women with larger-than-average breasts?

The take-home from Chell's body is this: If I were a video game company specifically trying to build a female character to weather any sort of body-related criticism, I would make her athletic but not overly curvy or thin, I'd make sure that her breasts were an in 'acceptable' B to C range, I would dress her in form-fitting but not overly revealing clothes, and I would give her a pleasant, feminine features that don't appear overly sultry.

Similarly, GlaDOS is a convenient evasion of the Ugly Is Evil versus Sexy Villainess tropes. Put her in any female body and suddenly the issues with her character get a lot more complicated. Forget that she's a computer for a second and consider her sultry voice. With a real woman's body, that would probably constitute a 'sexy villainess' right there, unless the character were deliberately designed to be non-sexy, in which case the other trope would apply.

Take another Valve character, Alyx Vance from Half Life 2. One has to wonder if someone just said "here's this idea for a character", or if there was a ton of thought put into delicate line-straddling between all sorts of different tropes. I don't think there are a lot of people out there who would deny that Alyx is a 'good' female character, but one really starts to suspect that an inordinate amount of care had to be taken to get to that point. Real women deviate from "flatteringly normal" a lot more than Alyx does.

I would not make the claim that Chell and Alyx are portrayed in a sexist way -- far from it, in fact. Rather they serve to illustrate the tiny box that female characters have to fit into in order to avoid being picked apart for falling into one or more ostensibly sexist tropes.

I'll illustrate this further. For reference, here are the tropes that Ms. Sarkeesian plans to cover:
  • Damsel in Distress - Video #1
  • The Fighting F#@k Toy - Video #2
  • The Sexy Sidekick - Video #3
  • The Sexy Villainess - Video #4
  • Background Decoration - Video #5
  • 1st Set of Stretch Goals Achieved! (emphasis mine)
  • Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress - Video #6
  • Women as Reward - Video #7
  • Mrs. Male Character - Video #8
  • Unattractive Equals Evil - Video #9
  • Man with Boobs - Video #10
I left the 'goals achieved' bit in there because it seems to me like the second set of tropes are on a more tenuous ground than the first set. They were added on later, and I'm left with a sneaking suspicion that they were to some extent put in there because she felt like otherwise she wouldn't be producing adequate work for the amount of funding she's received. On one hand, I get why she's doing it, but on the other hand it's frankly kind of irresponsible to start criticizing female characters for being too masculine. It's easy to argue that some of these tropes (Women as Reward tops the list, I think) are harmful and sexist. On the other hand, taking the list as a whole, her argument starts to overreach pretty badly.

Let's examine this from another direction for a moment. Valve's games are frequently held in high regard for their positive portrayals of female characters, but Valve has its problems with sexism too. Want a zillion stupid hats in Team Fortress 2? Awesome! They've got you covered! Want to play as a female version of any of the TF2 classes? Sorry, you're out of luck! Have a stupid hat!

This goes back to what I said earlier about seeing this from the perspective of a game designer who sincerely wants to avoid being sexist: the only way to win is not to play. If you're overly critical of female tropes in games (Sarkeesian has stated her intent to do extensive research into these characters), the end result could very well be that we'll just get more games with no women in them at all. The graphically impressive FPS Brink was widely criticized for allowing tons and tons of character customizations, but no option to play a female character. This may be better than the treatment of women in Duke Nukem Forever, but only slightly.

Unnecessary Polarization and Lack of Focus

In the original version of this criticism, this was my first point, but it occurred to me that it makes a lot more sense in the context of the point about goalposts.

From Sarkeesian's youtube video page about her kickstarter:
NOTE ON COMMENTS & TRIGGER WARNING: I've left the comments open on this video as a way of showing why this topic is so important. I apologize in advance for the hate speech and ignorance that will inevitably be left below. So don't feed the trolls - they are just proving to everyone that sexism in gaming is indeed a huge problem.
She opens by lumping everyone who might disagree with her into a group of people who are horrible and do not deserve to exist. These trolls are not indicative of the problem, they are indicative of a different problem -- namely that whenever anyone on the internet speaks out in defense of a minority group, racist scum-sucking sociopaths emerge from the depths of the internet to rain their hate and filth down on a convenient target. The internet is absolutely bursting at the seams with these people, and I know that because I've dealt with them myself.

But I repeat, they are not an example of the problem she is attempting to illustrate. There is no evidence that the people making these threats and comments even like to play the sort of games she's criticizing. They just hate her because she's an outspoken feminist and a convenient target for their abuse.

To an outsider seeing her kickstarter project, in implying that the swarm of ignorant and hateful internet trolls are part of the problem she's addressing, she's essentially opening with "You people are all a bunch of misogynists." People seem to like throwing the term 'over-sensitive' around a lot. Depending on who they are, they might be using it to justify actual misogyny, or they might be using it to justify inflammatory, blanket criticisms.

There are video games which have characters that fall into those tropes that I'm quite fond of (and given how broad these tropes are, it would frankly be pretty difficult as a gamer not to happen to like at least one or two games that contain them). If you make the claim that a bunch of misogynists on the internet and the video games that I like are the same problem, then what does that tell me that you think about me for liking those games?

Let's follow this logic for a minute. In implying that these two issues are connected, she's making an implication that liking these games (and, by extension, liking images and characters with certain body types) makes you a misogynist. I realize that I'm risking my reputation by saying this in public, but I like what this character looks like. This does not make me a misogynist. It does not mean that I have unrealistic expectations about what a woman ought to look like. It does not mean that I judge a woman's value as a person based on my estimate of how attractive they are, and it does not mean that I don't also like realistically-proportioned, normal women.

She could easily separate people who happen to like characters like that from internet misogynists, but she has chosen not to do that, instead implying that a) these things are connected, and by extension b) heterosexual male sexuality makes you a bad person. The implication is there, and much like other implied sexism, it's fairly obvious to the people who are affected by it.

Several people have assured me that I'm taking this way too personally. Perhaps I am, although I should note that when I blogged about sexism several months ago, I was very careful not to be specific and not overly inclusive in my language describing who the people were who are causing the problem. But if these videos aren't about people like me, then who are what are they about? What's the ultimate goal?

Here's a brief outline of what I'm not understanding:
  • These tropes are inherently bad.
  • Is it necessarily a bad thing to enjoy these tropes?
  • If not, then what? Do we get rid of them? Keep the old ones but stop using them in new works? Or acknowledge that they're silly and a result of bad writing, but keep using them anyway because some people just like them?
If all Sarkeesian is doing is attacking the fact that these tropes are overused in comparison with other ones, or if she's just talking about how people could improve their bad writing, then she's using a chainsaw where she should be using a scalpel and it's entirely justified for people like myself to take legitimate issue with them.

Finally, for the record, it is, in fact, quite possible to discuss these issues without inflammatory, accusatory, and otherwise polarizing undertones. Extra Credits managed to pull it off just fine.

Thanks for reading!

Bart Kelsey

Saturday, 16 June 2012

My thought process when re-watching RED

  1. Oh Bruce you charmer
  2. Aw it’s cute that they bond over bad erotic literature
  3. You know, cause it’s Bruce Willis. (Guitar music as he takes out assassins in his house)
  4. Don’t try this at home.
  6. Oh right cause buying dinner = invitations for “coffee”
  7. Mary-Louise Parker has pretty big eyes when she does that. Contact lenses me thinks?
  8. God my gran would totally have vacuumed too. More than. Dust. Tidy. All of it.
  9. N’aw Bruce. 
  10. Bruce Willis’s head and neck ratio is interesting. 
  11. That’s it, let it out Sarah.
  12. Does William Cooper’s wife know he kills people for a living?
  13. Ouch. (Ducktape)
  14. No, she does NOT want to watch t.v without the ability to change channel.
  15. Oh, Morgan, you dirty, dirty old man.
  16. What IS that tracksuit you’re wearing btw Morgan?
  17. That bed was REALLY badly made.
  18. Hah she’s high.
  19. CHOREOGRAPHY <3333
  20. I think Bruce has done it so many times, they don’t need to slow down the scenes - he actually DOES get out of cars in slo-mo.
  21. Good old America. You put your weapon down and still get tackled.
  22. Aw, don’t be sad, Morgan :(
  23. OMG evil eyes from Mary-Louise Parker is too funny to take seriously.
  24. Bruce you know that is an old guy’s jacket, right?
  25. This whole China Town scene reminds me of that episode of Sherlock.
  26. ‘The Record’s Keeper’ sounds like such a fantasy character. 
  27. John Malkovich is so awesome.
  28. I love that he thinks tin foil will help him somehow. 
  29. Can’t believe that John Malkovich was Valmont in Dangerous Liasons.
  30. Duh, decoy!
  31. Yay! The pig!
  32. He has such funny teeth.
  33. Wonder where her camera went.
  34. I swear James Remar is just wearing his costume from Dexter.
  35. “shake the tree”?
  36. Wow, you’re going down for saying that.
  37. Can’t believe they show a man blow up into smithereens like that. 
  38. Who did the soundtrack?
  39. Oh Brian, you and your funny Russian accent. 
  40. Kinda remind me of Vlad in Anastasia
  41. I swear this sort of thing is the only time I’m ok with people going on about how they miss killing people - I mean, it’s psycho talk.
  42. Cool down Sarah, death or life imprisonment isn’t that awesome…
  43. What does “cute hair” even mean?
  44. Bruce, you’re too old to pick fights like this.
  45. MORGAN
  46. The tea set suggests she knew they were coming…
  47. Helen Mirren is so classy. Love her little accent.
  48. God I hate Richard Dreyfuss’s voice.
  49. What is that accent, Morgan?
  50. Oh, Morgan ._.
  51. Keep expecting him to say, “I said someone, not me! Dude!”
  52. Aw, Bunny.
  53. The three bullets in the chest thing is amazing - but how did MI6 not make sure he was dead, rather than just borderline?
  54. Tact is not your forte, Marvin.
  55. I want Helen Mirren and Brian Cox to get married. (As their characters obviously)
  56. Ding ding ding. (William’s realisation of Bruce’s whereabouts)
  57. Poor William - it was a bit mean of Bruce to use his family like that.
  58. Not sure ‘love’ is quite what the VP will be feeling, Marvin
  59. How do they know which bin will be used?
  60. God I hate women that talk all clueless the way she just had to before knocking out security.
  61. Combat boots <3
  62. Hah, panic.
  63. The Vice Pres has hardly any facial expression. He reminds me a bit of George Osbourne, but better looking. Still bland and weird though.
  64. Ok, there he did. And he whimpered.
  65. Poor kitchen staff.
  66. You could have argued with her more, Marvin.
  67. I bet they had to take loads of takes for this - John Malkovich is too funny
  68. Yeah no, always listen to the crazy man splattered against your car.
  69. Does the President know that the VP is currently a hostage?
  70. FUCK that’s some horrific move there
  71. HOW is that snogging doable in real life? without sloppiness and ick.
  72. HOW does he keep going when he knows that John Malkovich is sitting right there and pulling that face.
  73. OMG that wig.

Been a pleasure watching with you.