Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions: A Silly Yet Heartbreaking Story About the Power of Geekdom

Love Chunibyo and Other Delusions

Screencapped from AnimeLab

It’s a universal fact that everyone is at least a little bit embarrassed by what they did when they were thirteen. Was it a misguided and poetic emo phase? An overzealous leap into fandom, including indulgent fanfic or fanart? An all-consuming desire to be seen as mature in your tastes that ended up just making you look pretentious? Whatever it is, despite how much this passion consumed you at the time, you’d be happy if no one ever brought it up ever again—that’s how much it makes you cringe.

There’s a Japanese word for this: chunibyo, loosely translating to “eighth-grader syndrome”, the stage of life where a sense of self-importance and newfound independence combines with passion, imagination, and a desire to be seen as special, whether that manifests as a pretentious geek phase or believing you have magic powers. It’s this phenomenon that is the core of Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions—a show that begins as a wacky comedy about high school embarrassment and ends up punching you (or at least, this reviewer) in the gut with a poignant story about grief and growing up.

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Dear Nerd Culture: My Blackness Isn’t a Joke

2015 so far has been an interesting year in nerdy media. We’ve had amazing entries that were expected such as Avengers 2 and Metal Gear Solid V, as well as surprises such as Splatoon and Mad Max: Fury Road. These second two proved that diversity can push a franchise. Inclusion and proper treatment of women and girls can really boost a work into the public eye and enrich its quality. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that nerd culture has a ways to go in terms of racial diversity. There have been controversies about the lack of color in Mad Max, Splatoon, and the Witcher 3, among other titles. Lack of inclusion, while getting better, is nothing new; it’s a relatively simple concept that needs to be fixed, but it isn’t the one I want to discuss today. No, I want to highlight a more nebulous problem. I want to discuss the cavalier treatment of Black identity and culture.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Games Writing at Offworld

Writing about art can be a tricky subject. There are many paths to consider, such as composition, context, and creator intent. Complicating this matter is the debate between objectivism and subjectivism. Furthermore, the multitude of perspectives from which critique can be built is unfortunately underrepresented. Even if there are many varied opinions on topics, a diverse group of writers can improve the range of opinions expressed. This week’s Web Crush Wednesday, Offworld, works to add more marginalized voices to the mix in various geek and tech cultures.

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The Chilling Familiarity of Gamergate

(Trigger warnings for the Holocaust and sexual violence)

I don’t usually get recruited to join hate groups.

Being a Jewish guy, I’m out of consideration for the most of them. And on the other side, my secularism and interfaith marriage means that the extremist elements within Judaism don’t want anything to do with me.

So I’ve got a special kind of agita from Gamergate today. Because these guys don’t care about my bar mitzvah, but they could have looked at the geeky thirteen-year-old boy reading from the Torah and seen a potential recruit.

On some broad, unsettling level, these are guys like me. They’re men. They’re straight. They’re white. They’re about my age. They’re middle-class, educated, Americans. They like fantasy novels, comics, sci-fi, and Game of Thrones. They claim to speak for me. The hatred, rage, and violence espoused by Gamergate emerged out of my same world. Why is it them and not me?

This is going to sound like hyperbole, but to really answer that question, you have to walk back through the history of the Third Reich. I’ve heard of Godwin’s law—Internet arguments may all turn to Nazis eventually, but it doesn’t mean that it’s never warranted.

I don’t intend the comparison to be literal. You don’t have to tell me that Gamergate has yet to commit any genocides. But there’s a lot more to Nazi Germany than just our shorthand characterization of “the worst people ever”. They were, yes. But they had to get that way—a sophisticated, modern nation collapsed into Hell in just a decade. It happened for thoroughly human reasons, and there has never been a guarantee that it would never happen again. Much of the same psychology that turned Germans into Nazis turned geeks to Gamergate.

Gamergate is now a part of geek culture, and of our cultural legacy. We need to know that it is not unique, that it is working through a playbook that’s been handed down many times before. When we can follow those plays, we can keep ourselves—and our friends—from being sucked in.

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Beyond Female Harassment: How Gaming Can Stop Eating Itself

Anita-Sarkeesian-Screenshot

Anita Sarkeesian

I’ll begin in the thick of it: a week ago, feminist video blogger Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq), notable for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series, left her home in fear for her safety in the wake of violent threats against her and her family. You probably already know this. You probably already know that Sarkeesian has long been the target of threats and harassment, including a 2012 game entitled Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. I will not link to it, but suffice it to say that it is self-explanatory. She has documented some of it here. You may even know that this most recent bout of threats of violence, sexual and non, came from an individual who made it clear to Sarkeesian that they had acquired her address, and that of her parents. This individual declared their intent to murder them.

carolyn petit gamespotIf there was any of that you did not know, please take a moment to sit, mouth agape, in rage and horror. However, if you’re barely surprised, no one could blame you. Not after thousands demanded that Carolyn Petit be fired for so much as suggesting that GTA V’s treatment of women is problematic, to say nothing of transphobic threats and harassment. Or after Miranda Pakozdi was harassed into quitting a video game tournament by her own team’s coach. You could probably name a million other incidents where someone in the gaming community has been abused, threatened, demeaned, or had their privacy invaded. All those events, recent and more distant, are tied together by the fact that the targeted persons dared to criticize or declare real the once-troubling-now-terrifying misogyny of “gamer culture”. Or they simply dared to be women in that culture.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Consumerism and Geek Culture

Happy Easter to all my Christian sisters and brothers! Today’s post is not going to be about anything involving Easter. Other than the Christ figures, there isn’t much Easter-oriented material in geek culture. There are probably a couple reasons as to why that is, but we aren’t going to get into that today.

Instead, we are going to discuss Christian ethics in geek culture. Particularly, we will be discussing issues of simplicity and voluntary poverty.

Shut-up-and-take-my-moneyRecently, I have been thinking about taking on the challenge of living a life of voluntary poverty. Voluntary poverty is an old idea going back to the monastics and hermits in the early Catholic traditions. The idea of lay (non-clergy) Catholics embracing the idea of voluntary poverty was made popular through the Catholic Worker movement, started by Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day. Living a life of voluntary poverty means to live as simply as possible, rarely buying possessions, and worrying less about making and obtaining money in order to dedicate one’s life to service and prayer. It’s a tough sell for many people, but it can also be very freeing. For most people, living a life of voluntary poverty does not seem to be an option. However, all Catholics are called to live a life of simplicity, not to be consumed with possessions or material wealth. I realized as I tried to realign my life in order to live more simply that I had a major problem. I’m a geek. And being an avid fan of all things geeky actually seems to be an exact opposite lifestyle to a simplistic Christian one.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Why Are There No Female Religious Leaders in Geek Culture?

xcheia-de-graca-vogue-brasil.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.BQu0flMx8lDid you ever notice that when a fantasy or sci-fi story includes female priests or female religious leaders, the religion is almost always a pagan or pagan-like one? Why is that? Perhaps it’s because in a lot of a fiction, especially within the fantasy genre, the mythology of a fictional world incorporates or is based on some type of religious belief. Because writers so often use religion to build their fictional universes, it’s possible that when creating their own fictional religions, they feel they need to remain true at least to the spirit or structure of the religion on which they are basing their fictional religion.

I don’t know about structure, but I certainly hope writers don’t feel as if the spirit of my faith, Catholicism, is all just patriarchy and female oppression. Despite this, I have never read, watched, or heard of a fictional religion based on Catholicism which features women as priests, bishops, or even, dare I say, the Pope.

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