My Mom Doesn’t Know “Mr. Blue Sky” and Other Things I Had Feelings About During Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Well, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 sure was a thing I watched.

I should start with a positive, right? It had a great soundtrack. (Although I was shocked to discover that I recognized some of the songs and my music aficionado mom did not.)

Also, I’d definitely argue that it was better than its predecessor. If you’ll recall my review, I left Vol. 1 deeply disappointed, and I felt like this movie offered a lot of the character beats and emotional high notes that I wished the first film had hit. It also improved the representation on the team by giving us the first MCU team-up with some semblance of gender parity.

That said, I’m not sure what this story adds to the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe worldbuilding, and being a band-aid for the previous film’s issues isn’t necessarily a good look for a sequel.

Spoilers after the jump!

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Throwback Thursdays: Cat-person Lesbians, Homicidal Robots, and Captain Janeway; Representation in KOTOR

I’ve played quite a few video games in my day, often coming back to the really good ones repeatedly over the years. But only a select few have crossed over into “I set my Steam profile to private so my friends don’t know how much I play this game” territory. Of all those titles, perhaps the most enduring are the Bioware Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games from 2003/2004.

There’s something about KOTOR  that gives it a staying power very few story-driven games, even the truly great ones, have ever achieved. The two games combine a massive narrative depth with a mature treatment of the Star Wars universe that sets a gold standard for the franchise, at least in the realm of gaming. They have proved so enduring in their popularity, in fact, that KOTOR was re-released for mobile and KOTOR II was recently patched (after over a decade) to support modern PCs, add Steam Workshop support, fix bugs, and officially support the Restored Content Mod. For those who are not familiar, KOTOR II was rushed to make a physical release date, and as a result, a great deal of content was cut. Rather than removing it, however, the devs left it there for modders to find. Over the years, that resulted in a near complete restoration of that content. The game has remained popular enough to justify a complex, years-long project involving dozens of coders and artists, and it has continued to sell well enough to justify an updated Steam release with official support for that mod.

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Back where it all began… Malachor. (Screenshot from KOTOR II)

Falling thousands of years before the events of the Star Wars prequels, KOTOR showed us a universe where the galaxy is plunged into massive and bloody conflict with the Mandalorian Wars and then almost immediately into the universally disastrous Jedi Civil War, in which Jedi are not trusted, are hated by many, and are ultimately hunted to near extinction. It’s dark and chock full of moral ambiguity and some of the best Star Wars content out there. While these games are technically no longer canon, the general framework and many of the characters from this period, KOTOR games included, did “make the cut.”

The KOTOR franchise also serves as a clear spiritual predecessor to the best of both the Mass Effect franchise and Fallout: New Vegas. Many of the same people worked on many of those titles, and there are themes that almost seemed to carry over directly. While far from perfect, these games dealt with complex racial, ethical, and sexuality/gender identity issues in ways that were often groundbreaking, if occasionally facepalm worthy.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

So I have this problem.

This is the problem: a younger, more naïve Saika was so, so excited for the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The trailers were so good; it was a different and new premise from the typical Marvel formula… and then she was massively disappointed by the movie itself.

An older, wiser Saika then sat down to watch this trailer. And found, to her great surprise, that she was once again interested in the shenanigans of these space-faring assholes. Is it too much to ask for that this movie will be the GotG we deserve and not the fratsplosion we got last time?

My fingers are Pollyanna-optimistically crossed.

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Into The Woods Vol. 1

I need very little motivation to give a recommended new book a try. Sometimes it’s the plot concept that grabs me; more often than not, someone just says “it has queer people in it” and that’s enough for me. (I’ve ended up trying some terrible books this way; LGBTQ+ representation and quality are not mutually guaranteed.) Combining an author I already know I love with the promise of queer representation, though, is a no-brainer for my ever-growing to-read list. So when I saw that James Tynion IV had written a comic series I’d somehow never heard of, and that it came highly recommended by Bisexual Books, I obviously had to check it out.

Vague spoilers for Vol. 1 of The Woods below the jump.

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Black Features Shouldn’t Mean “Other”

Happy Black History Month, dear readers! This month has always meant a lot to me on a personal level. Being a Black person, I’ve witnessed erasure of our achievements, dismissal of our problems, and omissions of us from opportunities. These types of slights often expand into nerd media, where representation is already scant. In that spirit, I want to discuss an issue that makes the existing representation troubling. We need to stop giving non-human characters Black traits to code them as “other”, as alien from the protagonist and audience. These characters, rather than just being another character in a group, are specifically different or strange.

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The Second Season of Voltron: Legendary Defender is Way Better Than Expected

The second season of Voltron: Legendary Defender came out on Jan 20th, the same day as Inauguration Day here in the States, and like many others, I wanted to watch it in lieu of watching the inauguration. But I ended up watching the ceremony with my family, and then I made the decision to go get drunk instead of binge-watching Netflix. (Note: We at LGG&F do not formally advocate getting drunk as a coping mechanism, even if one’s country is crumbling into a pile of orange Cheeto dust.) However, I’ve now finished the series, and I’m happy to report that I liked it a great deal more than I thought I would, given my lukewarm review of the first season.

Massive spoilers below!

From left to right: Hunk, Allura's aide Coran, Allura,

From left to right: Hunk, Allura’s aide Coran, Allura, Lance, Keith, Shiro, and Pidge. (via technobuffalo)

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Peace Through Bureaucracy: Star Trek’s Federation as Utopian Fascism

Without getting into depressing (and obvious) specifics, I’ve been thinking about fascism lately—specifically the concept of “utopian fascism”. As is often the case when grappling with such issues, I turned to science fiction for a guide. Fortunately, there is a fictional government perfectly suited to explore the question “can democracy and universal prosperity ever be successfully combined with fascism?”: Star Trek’s Federation.

The Federation’s exact political structure is sometimes difficult to pin down, but it seems to be a combination of a democratic interplanetary parliament, a massive military alliance, and a totalitarian bureaucracy.

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This isn’t what it looks like.

Now don’t panic! This isn’t going to be super depressing nor is it going to be about space Nazis (unless you count the above-pictured episode TOS episode “Patterns of Force). When I talk about fascism, I’m talking about the philosophical concept as it dates back to Rome, not the actual horrific reality of modern-day fascism. I am not about to ruin all of our moods by writing some anti-Starfleet propaganda… at least, not too much of it. What I will do is take a look at how the Federation is utopian, how it’s fascist, how (and if) the two can be combined, and what that all says about our vision of a perfect government.

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