Saturday, February 11, 2023

I am SO FREAKING SICK of the narrative that white people are living life on easy mode...


So, at work, they passed out a survey that seems to be trying to find out how minorities are treated at the Post Office.  One of the questions was “If you’re non-white, please skip.  If you are white, please describe how white privilege has impacted your life and career with the USPS.”


This is my response.  I ran out of space and had to stable three extra pages to the survey before mailing it back in.


When I was 4 my dad lost his job.  We had to move halfway across the country so that he could take a pity job from my uncle.  My uncle offered to sell the company to my dad, which was a big mistake.  The business was not very successful, and the taxes on it were pretty crushing.  We moved 9 more times before I was 8, because we kept being evicted because the business just wasn’t paying our bills.  My youngest brother was then born two months premature, and we had no health insurance.  This put my parents tens of thousands of dollars into medical debt, which they did not pay off until they were well into their 50s.  We were so poor that we ate store brand macaroni and cheese for dinner 5 nights a week.  At school we were part of the free lunch program, because we were so poor that we could neither pay for school lunches, or even buy food for sack lunches.  


I had 3 shirts, and a coat without a zipper for years.  My feet constantly hurt because my parents couldn’t afford to buy me shoes when I grew out of them, so I had to keep wearing the too small ones.  When I was 14 I started working after school for another of my uncles at a landscaping business he owned., being paid under the table because I was underage.  All of my money went to help my parents buy food.  Finally, my mom went to our church in desperation for help with food, and we were able, though the charity of the church, to eat actual food that didn’t taste like cardboard, and had some actual variety to it.


When I turned 16, I got an actual job.  I was allowed to keep $25 out of each of my paychecks.  The rest went to helping to pay bills.  It was expected that I would buy my own clothes and school supplies with that.  I had to save up for months, sometimes, to get the things I needed.  My dad finally sold the business, and got a job as a mailman, which paid better, and more steadily, but they were so far into debt because of my brother that it didn’t even really matter.  He worked long, long, long hours in overtime, and I barely saw him for weeks and even months at a time.  He eventually worked his way up to supervisor and worked even more long hours.  When all of my siblings were old enough to be left home alone, my mom got a job, and things got much better.  We were no longer on church charity for food, and they started to pay down the debt.  I was allowed to start keeping my paychecks so that I could start saving for college.  There was no way they would be able to help me with that.


I avoided student loans, because I’d seen what massive debt did to my parents.  It took me ten years to finish college, because I took only as many classes at a time as I could afford to pay for myself.  When I graduated, I couldn’t find a job, because the market was over-saturated with people who had my exact degree.  Thanks High School Guidance Councilor!  I went through several dead end jobs just trying to make my way through life.  I worked so hard that I actually developed a stress induced seizure disorder, and then had to take very expensive medication for years to correct it.  I had no health insurance to help with that, so I was out $400 a month to pay for it.  Because of that, I had to remain living with my parents until I was almost 30.  I was only able to move out when I applied for a substitute carrier position at the Post Office.  I worked more than full time hours for ten years at that job, but I got no benefits or health insurance out of it, because my job was considered a part time job.  When I FINALLY managed to get a full time position, I had put myself quite a ways into medical debt due to that medication, and other health problems I developed due to overworking myself.  I’ve been working every scrap of overtime available for the 10 years I’ve been a full time mailman, and finally after a freaking decade, for the first time in my adult life, I can FINALLY say that I am debt free.  I’m 43 years old, and I’m unmarried, because I worked so hard just to claw my way out of poverty that I had no time for anything else.

Please, tell me, which part of that sounds privileged to you?  I find this question insulting, racist, and, frankly, out of touch with reality.  I intend to make a formal complaint about this to my union and I will escalate it as high as I need to in order to find the idiot who put this question on this survey and make them accountable for it.  Until such time as I do, each and every person who approved this question may treat themselves to eating an entire buffet of dicks.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Andor. *Sigh* Okay, let's do this...

I have been very displeased with Disney's Star Wars content.  Rogue One was pretty good.  Solo was okay, if completely unnecessary.  I really liked The Force Awakens at release, but as time goes by, I like it less and less.  The Last Jedi was garbage.  The Rise of Skywalker was slightly less garbage, but garbage nonetheless.  As for the TV shows, The Mandalorian is okay.  It's not great.  It's not terrible.  But it's watchable and generally inoffensive.  Clone Wars season 7 had 8 really great episodes, and 4 completely terrible episodes.  The Bad Batch was good enough for what it is.  Rebels had glimmers of greatness buried in a large pile of crap.  Boba Fett was complete trash.  And then Obi-Wan Kenobi came out.  That one REALLY pissed me off.  It was lore-breakingly terrible character assassination.  I used to collect Star Wars novels.  I have almost 100 of them on my bookshelf.  I don't collect them anymore.  They're all terrible written, lore-breaking dumpster fires these days, not worth the paper that they're printed on.

So, after all of that, far, FAR more bad than good, I watched Obi-Wan, and I said to myself.  "That's it.  I'm done.  No more."  I promptly cancelled my Disney+ subscription, and gave them a scathing tongue lashing in the "tell us why you're leaving" comment section.  I'd sworn off Disney Star Wars.  I wasn't going back.  I was definitely never going to be lured back by anything.  Ever.

And then Andor came out and no one would stop talking about how good it is.  So I borrowed my parents' Disney+ password to watch it, because hell if I'm paying for more of this garbage myself.

I liked Rogue One.  I thought it was the only Disney Star Wars movie that was actually good.  Solo was okay, but, again, it was a movie that really did not justify its own existence, so it never really reached higher than being merely okay.  I thought Cassian Andor was a pretty boring character, woodenly acted by a man with all the charisma of a bowl of oatmeal.  Of all the characters in that movie, I think I cared about him and his story the least.  So, a show entirely about him was not exactly something I was ever going to get excited over.

Anyway, I was not impressed with this show.  It was really, really long, and really, really boring.  Don't get me wrong, there were parts of it that were great.  The heist was pretty good.  So was the prison break.  But the good parts were just buried under so much irrelevant filler.  And Gabriel Luna is one of the least charismatic actors I have ever seen.  The guy has zero capacity for emoting.  And he's got one facial expression, mildly pissed off.  Casting him as the lead of a TV series was a SERIOUS misstep.  He doesn't have the screen presence and acting ability to carry his own show.

So, okay, I understand that a LOT of this season is setup for season 2.  But the problem with that is that Season 1 is a boring mess of a bunch of storylines that lead nowhere.  You can set up for season 2.  That's fine.  But everything in this season still has to be relevant to THIS SEASON.  It is possible for things to both be relevant in season 1 and set up for season 2.  It's not a one or the other sort of deal here.  But that's what happens when you hire untalented writers, I guess.  So, we've got the whole Mon Mothma storyline that leads nowhere.  We've got the young cop that we keep following for the entire season after he's fired for getting so many of his men killed, which leads nowhere.  We've got Stellan Skarsgard meeting with Forrest Whittaker for reasons, which leads nowhere.  We've got girl in charge of the heist hanging around for the rest of the season after the heist, because reasons, which also goes nowhere.  We've got her little lover girl being an absolute champ at taking up space, and leading nowhere.  There's just so much superfluous crap in this series that doesn't do anything for the story.  It just takes up space.  And it doesn't help that the show is so poorly paced that every single episode just draaaaaaaags oooooooooon foreeeeeeeever.  


The first three episodes are abysmally dull.  The last three episodes are also pretty dull.  The heist was pretty good.  The prison stuff was pretty good.  But, I mean, it was also pretty pointless to the overall story as well.  Andor just randomly goes to prison because the writers needed him out of the way for a few episodes to set up the climax.  He couldn't have gone in to get information from someone, or to break a rebel spy out?  Yes, I understand.  I am not stupid.  I get that the point was to show how corrupt and evil the Empire is, but if you're going to spend three freaking episodes on it, there needs to be more of a purpose within the story.  As much as I liked that storyline, it was just utterly pointless to the overall story.


And so, the climax everything comes together in an Imperial auditor trying to catch Andor when he attends his mother's funeral, and this sets off what is supposed to be the first battle of the rebellion.  I have a very hard time buying the idea that all of this tension springs up over whether or not Andor is going to show up.  Like, who cares?  He's a petty criminal.  And just the mere possibility of him showing up causes a rebellion?  That's bad writing.  I'm sorry, but it is.  You can see the hands of the writers heavily at work forcing the outcome that they want without building to it organically.  This whole season is rife with bad writing, terrible pacing, bad editing, awful acting, and sooooooo muuuuuuuuch fiiiiiiiller.


I will admit that it is probably on par with The Mandalorian.  They're both okay, but not great.  Andor has a lot more problems than The Mandalorian, which brings it down a bit in my opinion.  It's definitely better than Boba Fett or Obi-Wan, but that is not hard.  I think that if it had been edited down to 8 episodes rather than 12, Andor had an actual reason to go to prison, rather than just randomly being arrested and being sent there, and if all of the superfluous plotlines that set up for season 2, but lead exactly nowhere in season 1 had been rewritten to have ANY relevance to the plot of season 1, this show would have been amazing.  But the way it is now, it's too long, too slow, too boring, has too much irrelevant filler, and just goes nowhere.  There's a good series in here somewhere, but it's buried under a whole lot of pointless crap.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Star Ocean: The little series that could... ish...

I first came across the Star Ocean series with Star Ocean: The Second Story on the original Playstation.  Why start on the second game in the series, you ask?  Because the first one was never released in English.  And wouldn't be for some years yet to come.  I grabbed it because it was released by Enix (before they bought out Squaresoft) and I'd had good times with games by Enix in the past, namely the Dragon Warrior (Quest) series.  I was treated to a pretty ambitions story that was a direct sequel to the first game, but didn't require you to play it for it to make sense.  It combines fantasy and sci-fi in a pretty interesting way.  You have your choice of two protagonists.  You choose Rena and the story is told from a more fantasy point of view, you choose Claude and the story is told from a more sci-fi point of view.  It's the same basic story, but the point of view changes everything.  It made a very compelling argument for multiple playthroughs.  It's basically a story in a fantasy world with some very high concept sci-fi ideas.  I LOVED it.  That's exactly the sort of genre bending fun that I really, really enjoy.  And it had GREAT music  There were so many characters you could recruit, all of them with their own little stories, and this huge epic story that melded my two favorite genres together.

I looked for the first game on the fledgling internet, and to my annoyance, I couldn't find it.  I wanted more, but there was no more.  Fast forward a few years and Star Ocean: 'Til the End of Time, the third game in the series came out.  I jumped all over that as soon as it released.  It was even more epic than the previous game, with some even more mind-bending high concept sci-fi ideas and more interesting fantasy worlds.  I also used to joke that it was subtitled "'Til the End of Time" because that's how long you'll be playing it.  It is a very, very long game.

Fast Forward a few more years and Star Ocean: The Last Hope was released.  As an Xbox exclusive.  WTF?  I bought an Xbox 360 for the sole purpose of playing this game.  But I ended up playing it more than the PS3 that generation because, like, ALL of the RPGs seemed to be coming out for it, while the PS3 didn't have much of anything for quite some time into it's lifetime.  The Last Hope clearly had a very large budget.  The graphics were the bleeding edge for the time.  There were long elaborate cutscenes of amazing fights and really cool space battles.  The story leaned much harder into the sci-fi elements and much less into fantasy, but I really enjoyed it still.  It was a very good game.

And then they FINALLY released Star Ocean on the PSP with pretty much full on remake called Star Ocean: First Departure.  (They also released a similar remake of Second Story as Second Evolution).  It was... Okay.  I really hadn't been missing much.  It had the customary melding of sci-fi and fantasy, but the story was a bit sparse and the characters were pretty bare bones.  But, I mean, it was a game that originally released on SNES so I wasn't exactly expecting a lost Shakespearean sonnet or anything.  It was entertaining enough for what it was.

I'm not sure what happened with Star Ocean: The Last Hope.  It must have flopped HARD, because its obviously massive budget was nowhere to be seen in the fifth installment of the series, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness.  The graphics received a considerable downgrade.  The amazing cutscenes were COMPLETELY removed from the game.  All the story scenes consisted of the characters talking  while you run around doing things.  If you happened to accidentally switch areas or initiate a battle, the current conversation would cut off and never resume.  Where The Last Hope leaned more into sci-fi, Integrity and Faithlessness leaned more into fantasy.  And chose what is quite possibly the least interesting, most cliche fantasy story possible to tell.  I was not pleased with this game.  To come off of The Last Hope which was so good, and so epic, with such amazing graphics and cutscenes and go into Integrity and Faithlessness and have all of that gone was a real let down.

I thought that was the end of the series.  Integrity and Faithlessness seemed like a series killer to me.  So, I was extremely surprised when, ten years later,  I saw that there was a sixth Star Ocean game coming out for the 25th anniversary of the series, called Star Ocean: The Divine Force.  And I've just finished playing it.  While the story and characters are a considerable upgrade from Integrity and Faithlessness, it's clear that the game had a pretty low budget.  The graphics are pretty dated, and while cutscenes made a return, they're awkwardly animated, and character movement especially looks really clunky in them.  It's also clear that they didn't really have a lot of money to spend on big flashy cutscenes, so the ending battle of this game shows nothing of the actual battle, and has all of the characters on the bridge of their ship describing what's happening outside, which is pretty lazy.  If you don't have enough money to animate the battle, maybe don't have one and find something else climactic for the end of your story?  The annoying bit where the characters just randomly start talking as you're running through the world is back, but this time they keep talking if you get pulled into a battle, which is a VAST improvement over the previous game.  The battle system is really fun, the story is decent, the characters are okay, the fantasy mixed with high concept sci-fi is back.  It's just very clear that there just wasn't enough money to make a true AAA game out of it.  It looks more like a low budget indie game than a Tri-Ace developed, Square-Enix published blockbuster.  I did quite enjoy it, but it did have its shortcomings.

So, anyway, you might be asking where can I play these amazing sounding games?  

Well, Star Ocean First Departure can be found on PSP or on the Playstation store for PS4/5 and the Nintendo Eshop for Switch.  

Star Ocean: the Second Story is ONLY available on the original Playstation, and its remake Second Evolution is ONLY available on PSP.  Both versions are very expensive.  Your only viable way of playing this game is probably to *ahem* sail the high seas if you know what I mean.  I suggest the PSP remake, it has more voice acting from better actors.

Star Ocean: 'Til the End of Time is available on PS2, or on the Playstation Store for PS4/5.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope is available on Xbox 360, or on the Xbox store for Xbone/series.  An HD remastered version is available on the Playstation store for PS4/5, and on Steam.  I suggest this version, as it also has added content from the Japanese special edition that didn't make it into the original North American release.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is available on the Playstation store for PS4/5.

And finally Star Ocean: The Divine Force is available for Xbone/series PS4/5 and on Steam.

My rankings for the series from best to worst are:

1.) Second Story/Second Evolution

2.) 'Til the End of Time

3.) The Last Hope

4.) The Divine Force

5.) First Departure

6.) Integrity and Faithlessness (it really was a crap game)

Sunday, January 8, 2023

The problem with cliffhangers. (You eventually have to resolve them.)

 So, I recently replayed one of my favorite video games.  Trails of Cold Steel IV.  Why yes, I do have a good two dozen other games piled up in my backlog.  And yes, I have played this 120 hour long game already.  What's your point?

Anyway, it resolved the cliffhanger from Trails of Cold Steel III so well that got me thinking about how the resolution to cliffhangers are handled in all forms of media.  Off the top of my head, I came up with two extremely high profile examples of it being done very badly,  So let's compare them so I can point out why Trails of Cold Steel IV worked, while the others did not.

The Empire Strikes Back had a GREAT cliffhanger.  Han Solo is frozen in carbonite and taken by Boba Fett to Jabba the Hutt.  Luke has had his entire world shaken to the core by Darth Vader's revelation.  And earlier in the movie the Rebel Alliance suffered a stunning defeat that left their forces scattered.  Great cliffhanger that had people eagerly awaiting the next movie 3 years later.  But the problem with that great cliffhanger was that it had to then be resolved.  Han needed to be rescued, and Luke needed confirmation of the truth and to confront Obi-Wan for lying to him.  Return of the Jedi spends nearly 45 minutes of its runtime resolving this cliffhanger, almost 50 in the special edition because of that gawdawful Jedi Rocks musical number. *shudder*.  


On paper, this is fine.  This SHOULD be exciting.  But in actuality it is very boring.  Luke does the majority of his character development into the confident Jedi Knight between films, and so, goes through very little in this first part of the movie.  Everyone else pretty much stays the same.  The rescue goes on, and on, and on, and on, and we see no new sides of characters.  We see no growth from them, other than Harrison Ford's hair being considerable longer than it was when he got frozen in the previous movie.  Even the action scenes are kind of boring.  It's just like 45 mins of nothing just sitting there taking up space at the beginning of the movie.  


It's boring.  It goes on forever.  And when the movie FINALLY moves on to its main plot little of value has been achieved for all of the time spent.  Then the whole rest of the movie has to play catch up to cram the plot of an entire movie into a much shorter amount of time because it first had to spend so much time on resolving that cliffhanger before it could even begin its own story.  A lot of it feels rushed.  It feels like things are missing.  There is very little time left for characters to deal with new revelations, like the Luke Leia thing.  The whole movie feels kind of like a gigantic mess, because they spent so much time on that rescue that there wasn't enough time for anything else.

Okay, next let's move on to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  So, Halfblood Prince ended with what some people would call a good cliffhanger, but what I called, at the time, really stupid and pointless.  Harry and Dumbledore go for the locket horcrux, Dumbledore is weakened by the experience, and dies because of it.  And then the locket turns out to be fake with a taunting note to Voldemort from a guy named R.A.B.  Yeah, there was a lot of speculation and hype between book releases over who R.A.B. was, but, I mean.  Come on.  Anyone who was paying attention in book 5 already knew exactly who it was, and exactly where the locket was.  I don't consider this to be a very good cliffhanger, because I was paying attention, so there was no mystery for me.  But the hype train chugged along anyway.

So, book 7 comes out, and we spend over an entire third of the book resolving that cliffhanger.  This time is absolutely wasted in the story.  Very little of value happens in this time.  Our characters spend ages figuring out the mystery, ages tracking down the locket, ages planning how to get it back, and ages actually getting it back.  It goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and at the end we're left with very little of value.  Hell, the Deathly Hallows themselves are NOT EVEN MENTIONED UNTIL WELL PAST THE HALFWAY POINT IN THE BOOK.  Sure, there is the wedding, and a few other things of import in this beginning third of the book, but the majority of it is tracking down that damn locket  It's boring and it goes on forever, and the escape from the Ministry, which is clearly supposed to be exciting, falls completely flat because we're already bored out of our freaking minds by the absolutely nothing that has been happening so far to resolve that stupid cliffhanger.


Come with me, if you will, on a journey into an alternate world.  Say that Halfblood Prince didn't end with a fake locket, and instead, the cliffhanger was that Harry has the real locket, but he has no idea how to destroy it.  Now, the beginning of Deathly Hallows is more about the locket corrupting our heroes as they desperately try to find a way to kill it.  It's darker.  It's more entertaining.  It doesn't rely heavily on a mystery that isn't much of a mystery to anyone that was paying attention, and it is something they actually had to do later in the book anyway, which would give more time to more important things so the ending of the book doesn't feel so rushed, and the Deathly Hallows, can actually be a more integral part of the story from a much earlier point in the book.


Anyway, the cliffhanger sucked, and the resolution took way too long to meander its way through to its endpoint.


So, how did Trails of Cold Steel IV  succeed where the others failed?  Well, Cold Steel III is all about a new group of students following in the footsteps of the previous class, and learning about the world, and all of the political tensions in it, while also facing some pretty crazy combat situations.  It is made very clear in this game how naive and young these kids are, and how far they have to go before they're adults, and how hard they'll have to work to live up the the class that came before them.  The cliffhanger was very strong.  The villain defeats our heroes with overwhelming might and power.  An important character dies, sacrificed by the villain in an evil ritual.  Darkness is spreading all across the land, causing chaos and fighting everywhere.  Rean, our hero, after watching his friend be murdered, loses control of his power, goes berserk, and kills the holy beast he was meant to protect, thereby starting the apocalypse he was there to prevent himself.  The students can only flee before the might of the villain as Rean is taken prisoner.


So, how does Cold Steel IV resolve this?    Beautifully.  The entire world starts gearing up for war as an ancient curse spreads through the land, unleashed by the death of the holy beast.  The students who fled are outlawed, and in hiding.  They want to get Rean back, but it will take a lot of work to uncover where he's being held and then to actually get him out when they do.  The beginning of this game is all about these naive children from the previous game having to step up and use what they've learned.  It's about them transitioning from children to adults.  Taking responsibility.  Growing beyond who they were into who they need to be to get the job done and save their instructor.  It's crazy how much real, impactful character development is packed into the beginning of this game as our characters get closer and closer to finding Rean, and then, eventually launching an all out attack on where he's being held.  But he's been consumed by the curse, and is still running berserk and mindless.  They have to defeat him in battle, and then bring his mind back by forcing him to remember who he is, who they are, and what they all mean to each other.  It's a really touching scene. 

So, we've got our characters basically being forced to grow up into adults with no one to guide them anymore.  They grow quite a bit as characters.  And then they prove their worth through succeeding in finding Rean, and by overpowering him and forcing him to remember.  It's a story about students who were pretty clueless before meeting him, surpassing him, and taking their places beside him as equals for the coming darkness and world wide war rather than beneath him as children and students.  Great character development, great actiony climax, with a very emotional reunion.  This is a GREAT resolution to the cliffhanger.  Yes, it takes up a huge chunk of the beginning of the game, about 25 hours of gameplay.  That's 25 hours of gameplay not devoted to fighting the villain and his overwhelming superiority.  But it's 25 hours of characters becoming who they need to be to stand up to him, challenge him, and eventually defeat him.  Which is priceless.  


This is what Return of the Jedi, and Harry Potter lacked.  Cold Steel IV filled this cliffhanger resolution with deep emotional weight, and solid character development.  It used this time very well to push characters into bettering themselves for the coming battles.  The other two treated their cliffhanger resolutions like this annoying thing that needed to be dealt with, and couldn't be bothered to make it interesting in any way.

Anyway, those were just my thoughts about cliffhangers and the crappy way most writers resolve them in the next installment.  It's pretty rare that you get writers who can actually pull off a great resolution, and Trails of Cold Steel IV did really well at it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

What a gawd-awful year in Streaming "entertainment"

I'll bet nothing this year could possibly be worse than Wheel of Time.
Boba Fett said, "I'll take that bet."
Halo said, "I'll raise you Master Chief's constantly bare booty, free swinging dong, and inability to wear his signature helmet."
Cowboy Bebop said, "I've got a live action version of Radical Edward, and don't understand what made our source material any good."
Foundation said, "Source material?  What's that?  I literally do not understand the term." 
Hawkeye said, "I'm not even about Hawkeye."
Master's of the Universe: Revelation said, "You call that sucking? Let me show you how to REALLY suck."
Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "Hold my beer."
Then She Hulk said, "hold my box wine."
Then Rings of power said, "hold MY mead."
Then Willow said, "y'all are amateurs, all y'all can step back and hold MY mysterious potion that sent the evil queen Bavmorda to the realm of eternal darkness."
And then Witcher: Blood Origin came out and is legitimately worse than every one of them.
And that's not even counting the ones I didn't bother to watch because I had no interest in them like Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel.
If this is the quality of streaming shows these days, I see no reason to pay for ANY of the streaming services out there. I'll keep my money. I'm done spending it on this trash.
This has been one of the absolute worst years in entertainment of all forms in my entire 43 years of life. It may actually be THE worst year. There has been nothing but garbage. Even the stuff that was kind of okay, was only kind of okay by comparison to the rest, rather than actually being good in itself. I think the only legitimately good pieces of media that came out of Hollywood this year were Top Gun, and maybe Bullet Train and Violent Night. The entertainment industry as a whole needs a severe wake up call. 
Japanese and Korean stuff was great though. And a few Indie video games.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Jennifer Lawrence being absolutely stupid made me think...

 So, recently, Jennifer Lawrence claimed that she was the first woman ever to lead an action movie.  Uhuh.  Right.  Let's see.  Just off the top of my head you've got Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Mila Jovovich, Gina Davis, Uma Thurman, Michelle Rodriguez, Pamela Anderson, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Hallie Berry, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Cynthia Rothrock, What's her name from Red Sonja.  Like, dozens of women who led dozens of action movies, and many of them before Jennifer Lawrence was even born, much less acted in Hunger Games.

But this isn't the stupidity I wanted to talk about.  In the video, she said something that really, really rubbed me the wrong way.  Something so utterly and completely stupid and wrong that I just had to scream out into the void on the internet about it.  She said something like "girls can identify with both male and female heroes, but boys can only identify with male heroes."  This one line right here is even more stupid than her claim to be the first female action star ever.

Allow me to give you an example from my own life to illustrate the utter stupidity of that statement.

My all time favorite video game is Final Fantasy 6.  It came out in 1994.  I was 15 in 1994.  I played the hell out of that game.  Over, and over, and over again.  And many times more over the almost 30 years since.  This is a game that is split into two parts.  Each part is led by a different protagonist.  Both of these protagonists are women.  These two characters are also my favorite characters in the game.  My two favorite video game characters from my all time favorite video game are women.  15 year old me didn't care.  15 year old me saw an outcast trying to find her place in the world and said, holy crap, it's like this character is me.  15 year old me saw a lone woman standing up to evil in order to save the world even though she thinks she's the only one left alive who can do it, and that all hope is lost, and said, holy crap, I want to be as strong and awesome as her.  I want to stand up to the darkness in my life and fight for what is right even if I know I will probably lose.  It's not about which jiggly bits a person has.  It's about what's in their character.  What's in their personality.  When they're pushed to the brink, what will they do?

Here's another example.  My all time second favorite videogame(s) are the Xenosaga Trilogy.  This trilogy is also led by a female protagonist in Shion.  Over the course of the story she is beaten down again, and again, and again by the horrors of her past, and the reality of the not too distant extinction of the human race being HER fault.  Yet, she still finds the strength to stand back up again.  To continue on.  To fight, even though she knows she will probably die.  To turn her back on the peace that she so desperately wants just so that she can do the right thing, and save what's left to save of humanity.  She falls countless times along the way.  She even joins the villains at one point in the story because she is so desperate for just one person to love and accept her for who she is.  But with the help of her friends she is able to realize why she should continue fighting, and why she should lay down her life if need be, because the needs of the many outweigh her own selfish desires.  That is a hugely complex and extremely relatable character that is probably my single favorite video game protagonist of all time.  Does it matter to me that she's a woman instead of a man?  Are you freaking kidding me?  What does that even have to do with anything.  She is an amazing character that if I could find even a shred of her strength of character in myself, I would count myself lucky.

So, yeah.  I just thought that was both extremely stupid, and, frankly, pretty insulting of her to say.  Again.  It is not which jiggly bits a person has that makes them an interesting, relatable character to aspire toward.  It's who they are inside.  What they do when the world pushes them down.  How they react when they are the only thing standing between evil, and everyone else.  If they will step toward death to save those they care about from it.

I am just sick to death of this narrative of sexism and misogyny that American media keeps beating me over the head with.  I'm sick of being told I'm the scum of the earth because man bad for not liking female character.  It's not that they're female that makes me dislike them.  It's that they're shit characters that make me dislike them.  Show me a character even half as strong and relatable as Shion in Xenosaga and we'll talk.  Until then, take your idiotic narrative and shove it up your ass, Jennifer.  

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Mass Effect 3 ending choice isn't really a choice when you think about it.

 Okay, so, for Mass Effect 3 you've got 4 choices for the ending.  Destroy.  Control.  Synthesis.  Reject.

The Rejection Ending is stupid, because all civilization will be wiped out, and all advanced sentient life destroyed.  What have you been fighting for through three games if not to stop that from happening.  One VERY IMPORTANT thing to note when choosing this ending, however, is that when you choose to reject all of the Star Child's options, HE SPEAKS WITH HARBINGER'S VOICE.

Which leads me to the Synthesis Ending.  This is the ending that the Star Child pushes the hardest.  This is the ending that HE wants you to choose.  HE, as in the kid WHO SPEAKS WITH HARBINGER'S VOICE.  This is the choice that HARBINGER wants you to choose.  Whatever Harbinger wants, I pretty much want the opposite.  This is a bad choice, because it is the choice that your bitterest enemy wants you to choose, which brings up questions over whether it will really be what he says it is, or if it will just be another way of indoctrinating and enslaving all life in the galaxy.

So we've got two choices left.  But Control isn't looking all that great either.  Rewind five minutes and see how that went for the Illusive Man.  You're going to control the Reapers by taking the place of the Star Child, are you?  And there's no way that you're not going to be indoctrinated and start the cycles all over again once you've been overwritten like you've seen so many others throughout the trilogy?  Yeah, no thanks.  Didn't work out too well for the Illusive Man, and there's no guarantee that you're not going to end up a Reaper puppet just the same.

Destroy is really the only choice here.  It's the only choice that removes the threat forever.  It's the only choice where you can be sure that you have actually won, and the Reapers will never return to enslave and destroy ever again.  Yes, the cost is high, but can you afford NOT to pay it?  Peace with the Reapers is not possible.  They are pure evil that cannot ever be reasoned with.  They must be removed from the equation completely, so Destroy is the only path that makes sense.  This is probably why the Happy Ending Mod defaults to this ending, because the guy who made it understood everything I just said.