Trailer Tuesdays: Battleborn

Fresh off the Borderlands wagon, developers at Gearbox have put forth an entirely new IP which hopes to both retain their old audience and bring in new faces. This IP is Battleborn! The exclamation point seems necessary because it should be exciting. I should want to play this, but I’m just not… quite there yet. This could, of course, end up being similar to my reaction to the Borderlands pre-sequel; in which I start out unimpressed with the game, but slowly end up getting hyped for its release despite myself. Or this hype train could take a turn at “could have been better” station; only time can really tell.

For now, however, we have the facts. Most important of which is this: Battleborn is not a MOBA (“multiplayer online battle arena”—think League of Legends or DOTA).

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Teen Wolf: “Monstrous” Review

teen-wolf-season-4Last week, Teen Wolf left us all wondering what the hell was going on when it revealed that Meredith was both alive and the Benefactor. This week, we learn that maybe Meredith isn’t as evil as we may have initially thought, Peter is still an asshole, and more hunters and assassins attempt to murder everyone.

Spoilers after the jump.

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Magical Mondays: Magic is Illegal

In fantasy worlds where the whole population knows magic exists, but only some minority of people are magic users, things tend to go one of two ways. The first is that those with magic use their power to become something of a separate, usually higher, class, like the Aes Sedai in the Wheel of Time series. Even the Avatar universe implies that there’s at least social if not legal inequality between benders and non-benders. The other is that magic is criminalized, because how dare that threatening minority have the same freedoms as regular folk? As a story device, I don’t deny that this is believable; after all, the majority does tend to react with fear and suspicion toward those who are different. However, this concept is often used as an allegorical stand-in for other minorities who have historically been denied human rights, which doesn’t always work out narratively.

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Deep Breaths, Everyone: Doctor Who’s Series Eight Premiere

doctor who series 8Welcome back, Whovians. After eight months of waiting, we’re finally treated to series eight of Doctor Who. We’ve got a new Doctor, a dinosaur, clockwork-y cyborgs, and the Paternoster gang. With the massive amounts of media hype surrounding the series (including some major script and episode leaks), does the series opener live up to its promise? Sort of.

Loads of spoilers for this episode below the cut.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Old Gods and the New

Historically speaking, humans have had a real knack for identifying superficial differences in people and separating them into categories based on those differences. This system is a very effective means of discrimination, because once it is clear that two groups are different, it becomes easier to make arguments (ridiculous though they may be) about which group is superior. Differences in religious belief have caused some of the more dramatic incidents of division and discrimination throughout the course of civilization—I’m looking at you, Crusades—but separating religions themselves into categories can have more subtle and long-term effects on culture.

Gettin' real homogenous up in here.

Gettin’ real homogenous up in here.

With each new generation of believers, there is a slow evolution of “old” and “new” beliefs. Once-thriving religions, especially Pagan religions, are now either shunned into the realm of mythology or considered to be hokey counter-culture territory. This is a distinction we see mimicked in fantasy worlds. Even in alternate universes or histories where magic is plainly observable and actual deities occasionally turn up in unquestionable physical form, there is often a distinction between the “old” and “new” religion, and with that distinction comes a division of people: those who follow the old gods, and those who follow the new. This distinction typically comes with some indication of which religion is supposedly superior: in some narratives the old gods are benevolent and powerful, and the new gods are forcing them out of their rightful dominion, and in others the old gods are wicked and archaic, and the new religion eclipsing them changes the world for the better. Continue reading

Legend of Korra: “Enter the Void”/“Venom of the Red Lotus” Review

book-3-changeOh shit. Holy shit. I’ve been slowly losing faith in this season of Korra as the show has progressed, but the two-part finale blew my freakin’ mind. Let’s get down to it.

Spoilers after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Heteronormativity and High School Musical

high school musicalFor a franchise about breaking free of socialized norms and clichés, High School Musical is absurdly heteronormative. Heteronormativity, for those of you who aren’t sure, is the idea or belief that heterosexual relationships are the norm and thus everyone and everything must be straight (and often includes the belief that men and women must follow certain gender roles). Now, it seems unlikely that Disney will ever have a queer character in any of its media, but it has a long history of promoting and extolling the virtues of heterosexual romance. Think of any Disney princess movie, where “true love’s first kiss” will transform a beast into a man or a woman into a princess, and heterosexual marriages can save whole kingdoms. High School Musical is no different with its heterosexual romances.

Spoilers for all the High School Musical movies below.

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