Trouble At the Port: Andromeda and Sloane Kelly

Like many fanbases, the Bioware fanbase/playerbase is a trash fire at any given time. Said fanbase didn’t even let Mass Effect: Andromeda get off the ground before lambasting it for various graphical inadequacies and stilted line delivery. However, while there do exist some graphical glitches, weird bugs, and a disappointing character creator, ME: A is not that bad. Since I’m not even halfway through the game yet (no spoilers!) this isn’t going to be a full review, but rather a look at a troubling reaction by Mass Effect’s audience. After already being labeled as “SJW propaganda” by people who loathe anything that looks like a diverse cast, it’s absolutely no surprise that there’s such negativity surrounding a woman in charge; even less surprising when that woman is Black. While there’s absolutely fault on the fanbase for the unfair treatment surrounding her, in what I’ve seen and experienced I can only come up with one conclusion: Bioware set up Sloane Kelly to fail.

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Of Course Games Are Political

It’s been a wild year in politics these past few months, and there are no signs that this will change anytime soon. As with most cultural events, this tends to bleed into the media we consume. As such, there are both people who celebrate the addition of politics into media, and those who abhor it. This commonly manifests in the meme-level response “Keep politics out of x.” With the controversies and subsequent blowback over whitewashing (and lack of starring Asian roles) in Doctor Strange, Ghost in The Shell, Marvel’s Iron Fist, and Death Note, a large portion of people seem to want to consume media in a vacuum and ignore these issues. My personal experience tends to be more rooted in the video game space, considering the rise of progressive themes in games. Especially after the storm that was Gamergate, some people hate the idea of political themes in video games. I’d like to delve into why that claim is disingenuous, and why it’s never been possible.

When talking about politics in video games, a good place to start might be the Grand Theft Auto series. A lightning rod for controversy, GTA has never been shy about including political topics in their settings. GTA, with all its warts, does have a basis in satire, even if it is mostly present in the side content. In the worlds of Liberty City and San Andreas, for example, there are television programs parodying both “liberal social justice warriors” and “right-wing conservative firebrands” as uninformed, misguided, and wrong. It’s the classic South Park approach where “caring in one way or another is the ultimate sin.” Regardless, politics are incredibly present in these games. So, how could anyone ever claim that they don’t want politics in games?

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“You’re the Worst Iron Fist Ever”: Five Reasons Not to Watch Marvel’s Iron Fist

The final Defender in Marvel’s Netflix series, Danny Rand, premiered in his own series, Iron Fist, in March of this year. Danny is a martial artist who has the Iron Fist, or the ability to turn his fist glowy yellow and use it to punch through walls. Together with his new friend/love interest Colleen Wing and series fan favorites like Claire Temple, he takes on Madame Gao and the Hand. The Hand were the villains of Daredevil, the sole Marvel Netflix property that I did not finish because the grimdark racism of it was not my cup of tea. But Iron Fist promised to be at least tangentially about Asian culture and was sure to feature at least one Asian character in Colleen, so I decided to watch it anyway.

That was a mistake.

Don’t watch this. (via imdb)

Iron Fist was an incredibly slow slog in which I wasted thirteen hours of my life on cultural appropriation, Asian erasure, manpain, and drugs, and I would not recommend it. But if you want a longer opinion, below are the five main reasons Iron Fist was not great. Spoilers for the entire series follow.

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Alice Isn’t Dead: “The Last Free Place” Season Premiere Review

(image via nightvalepresents)

The first episode of Alice Isn’t Dead Season 2 is here, and it’s just as interesting as I hoped it would be. It seems like some of my assumptions about who was playing Alice was wrong, but that just gives us more questions than answers. The episode also does an excellent job at exploring the psychological effect of police brutality on people of color.

Spoilers for Alice Isn’t Dead’s “The Last Free Place” below.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Netflix’s Death Note

Good. God. I don’t know where to start with this. As soon as I heard about this I rushed to trade posts with Lady Geek Girl so that I could write about it. However, upon sitting down to do so, I realized that to write about it, I’d have to—ugh—actually watch the trailer.

If you know anything about me or this website, you can stand assured that I did not enjoy a second of it. This movie looks like it will be a disaster on every possible level, and on top of that, releasing it in the week after Iron Fist crashed and burned in no small part due to whitewashing complaints feels almost comically idiotic.

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Looking for a Revisionist Fairy Tale? Try Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella

A book so good I’m annoyed it took me this long to hear about it. (via Megan Morrison’s website)

After a long couple months of YA books that I couldn’t wholly get behind, I went back to the library to return them and then just wandered the aisles for a while. I didn’t have any other recommendations from friends or websites, so I ended up in the children’s section, picking out, somewhat at random, what looked like a fairy tale adventure with a Black protagonist. The back cover told me it was the second in a series, so I grabbed the first book, as well, and went home to see if they were any good. As it turns out, they were incredible. Not only are they some of the best revisionist fairy tales I’ve read, the book I picked up, Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella, was also centered on social justice and the ills of child labor. Did I mention I found this in the children’s section?

Minor spoilers to follow!

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Oh, My Pop Culture Occultism: Esoteric Traditions in Foucault’s Pendulum

umbertoeco

Umberto Eco (via WAMC)

Earlier this week, I talked about the political implications of Umberto Eco’s 1988 novel, Foucault’s Pendulum, particularly with respect to the conspiracy-minded thinking that it dissects. But there’s also a significant spiritual dimension to the novel, as its focus on esoterica and the occult represent a real history of discontent with mainstream religion that stretches back nearly a thousand years.

The book generally side-eyes occultists, both past and present, and doubts their claims to supernatural powers. But it is very clear that such figures and groups really existed, and many of them authentically aspired to the powers they claim to have obtained, and their claims were very widely believed. New Age philosophies and other countercultures linked to the esotericism generally have a reputation for being peaceful and loving, but it’s one which has not been earned.

Eco by no means condemns the occult in general terms, but he does call attention to the potential for such beliefs to generate abuse and hatred. The large-scale rejection of Christianity by the alt-right in the United States, and the ongoing links between various neo-pagan subcultures and neo-Nazism, show the need for continued study.

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