Magical Mondays: The Failed Feminism of The Shattered Court‘s Magic System

(via goodreads)

I’ve had a beaten-up copy of The Shattered Court lying around my apartment for some time now, and I finally decided it was time to give it a read. The book is the opener to a series, and introduces a Britain-based country with its own unique magical system. However, my interest in the book quickly turned to frustration and disappointment as I learned more about how the magic worked. While the series attempted to say some challenging things about gender and magic, it fell down harder and harder every time it tried.

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Floating in Space: Identity and Humanity in Tacoma

I almost don’t know where to start talking about Tacoma. There’s a lot going on at once in the game and, yet, very little of it actually happens to the player character. Like The Fullbright Company’s first title, Gone Home, Tacoma combines a powerful and intimate story about human relationships with a genre setting that creates an immersive atmosphere for the player to piece that story together. In GH, that was the story of a family going through rough times and the setting was a “haunted house” they’d recently moved into, and in Tacoma, the story is that of the crew of a recently abandoned space station and the setting is the station they left behind. Also like its predecessor, Tacoma’s story is extremely inclusive. After playing Gone Home I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to see what they can do with a bigger budget now that this game is a huge success.” The answer is Tacoma, and it’s an answer that was worth waiting for.

Tacoma - Main hallway

The main hallway of Tacoma station; while there’s a cool zero gravity basketball mini game to play here and some fantastic views, the stories behind these doors are what makes the game memorable. (Screenshot from Tacoma.)

Major spoilers after the break.

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Sexualized Saturdays: How GLaDOS Got Her Feminist Groove Back

At one point about a year ago, I was thinking of writing a Sexualized Saturdays post on Portal, but when I discovered that our own BrothaDom had already written that article, I cursed the whole “great minds think alike” thing and moved on. But something about Portal kept refusing to let me drop the idea of doing an article on it and I think I finally figured out what it is: GLaDOS is, arguably, an unsung feminist icon.

GLaDOS via TPW

Admit it, even after all the attempted murder… you still kinda want to give her a hug right? (Image via The Portal Wiki.)

Much of the media discussion of Portal centers around the awesomeness of Chell as a groundbreaking example of “female as generic default” for a game protagonist… because she is! But, mostly in Portal 2, there’s a whole lot more narrative devoted to GLaDOS’s backstory and the way it changes the emotional tone of her relationship with Chell. Along the way, we get a narrative about who and what GLaDOS really is, which takes her from being little more than a gameplay mechanic to a truly deep and memorable character. The main story arc in which that transpires is one in which Chell and GLaDOS confront a patriarchal system that has turned them both into pawns in an infinite game and where the cycle of violence brought by abuse is a central theme.

(TW: Discussion of abusive relationships and violence against women.)

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Sexualized Saturdays: Something Something Lord of the Flies: When An All-Female Reboot Just Doesn’t Work

After several decades of hemming and hawing in the face of the evidence that movies about female heroes and/or starring more than one woman can be financially successful, I suspect that Wonder Woman finally was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Before Wondy, we had the moderately successful Ghostbusters: Answer the Call; coming next year, we will be #blessed by Ocean’s Eight. However, the thing about the latter two films, both reboots of previously all-male franchises, is that they are movies where the gender of the protagonists is incidental. That’s why it’s possible to reboot them with women; there’s no reason a lady can’t bust a ghost or rob a casino as effectively as a dude.

Or suffer on the MTA (via People)

But of course Hollywood can never get it quite right, and now The Powers That Be have predictably got ahead of themselves by confusing incidental and intentional gendering in lady-led reboots.

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Kotoura-san Offers Friendship and Healing, But At What Cost

You’d think that by now I’d realize that Facebook is dangerous. No, I wasn’t drawn into a debate with relatives who don’t seem to understand that being an awful, ignorant person on all facets should not be a viable political platform. I was drawn, instead, to watching an anime. Usually those ripped video clips stuck between two white bars that say something to the effect of “When you break up with a girl in anime😂😂” don’t grab me, but this video did. Here, let me show you. (Content warning for child abuse and bullying.)

These are the first nine minutes of the 2013 anime Kotoura-san, and immediately after watching this I knew I had to look up the summary to see if it was worth investing any more time in. I had no interest in watching a series devoted to the further torturing of its protagonist; however, the summary wasted no time in saying that this series was a romantic comedy (what?) that focused on the titular Kotoura-san making friends and healing from her childhood trauma. What followed was, yes, that in generous helpings. But Kotoura-san was also filled with, in equal parts, a bunch of uncomfortable sexual harassment and an unsatisfying narrative resolution to parental negligence which only served to undermine the actual good things going on.

Spoilers below the cut. All the previous warnings still apply, with an additional one for incest. Continue reading

The It Movie Floats to the Top but the Representation Sinks

Until recently, I wouldn’t have considered myself a horror movie person by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been improving my horror education. I decided to watch the original 1990 It movie which came out this weekend in preparation for the the new one, which I greatly enjoyed—well, for the most part. Let’s face it: Stephen King isn’t exactly known for his stellar endings and the original It was no exception. The movie might even be the most infamous of Stephen King’s bad endings. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the movie and Tim Curry’s performance of the menacing clown Pennywise. With that in mind, I was excited and anxious about the new film. It is pretty much considered a horror movie classic at this point and remakes don’t always live up to the original, but the trailers looked good and so I entered the theater with high hopes. While the movie was excellent, scary, and extremely well made, I was a little disappointed, but not surprised, by the lack of representation. Just a fair warning, I have not read the book so I am entering into this critique not knowing the original source material, only the movies.

(pic via elizabethaimee)

Spoilers for the new It movie ahead, and some for the original as well. Also warnings for mentions of sexual assault and child abuse.

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Trailer Tuesdays: The Breadwinner

Who loves Cartoon Saloon? This lady does! Though some parts of Song of the Sea left me a bit underwhelmed, Cartoon Saloon’s aesthetic stylings and my lingering, overflowing love for The Secret of Kells have ensured my continued excitement over their works. Despite The Breadwinner taking a far less fantastical approach to exploring the world, its trailer has me intrigued as to how this adaptation will fare given its more serious nature.

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