Theatre Thursdays: Musical Love Triangles

Love triangles are by no means something that’s unique to the stage—they’ve been part of popular storytelling tradition for centuries. And if you’re anything like me, you’re starting to get sick of being asked which “Team” you’re on every time you consume some new media about a group of three people of differing genders. There are some very famous musical love triangles, though, and I’d like to look at a few of them and discuss why they’re problematic and why they almost always end up being unfair to the women involved.

This production of Aida really got literal with the whole triangle thing.

This production of Aida really got literal with the whole triangle thing.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Dead

Final Fantasy X has so many religious themes going on. Of course, that’s not surprising when you establish a world heavily ingrained with religion and base that religion on three very popular faiths and ways of life: Buddhism, Shintoism, and Catholicism. Sometimes, FFX feels as though it’s all over the place, as if the writers couldn’t figure out which religion should dominate. But for the most part, and excusing any plot holes, Yevon seems like a solid faith that I could see existing given certain circumstances.

But like with all things religious, an afterlife must exist, so it’s only natural that Final Fantasy X makes mention of the dead. In fact, if there’s one aspect more dominating than religion in the game, it would be how the dead affect the living. And also like with everything else involving this game and my over-thinking things, yes, I found some more plot holes.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Oppressive Religious Plot Hole

So I’ve already gone over Seymour and Yuna, and now I’m talking about Yevon. Yevon is the main faith in Final Fantasy X. Just about everyone follows it, and it makes sense that they would. Yevon’s teachings are the only thing providing the people of Spira hope, and it’s been the only thing providing that for the past thousand years. Sin keeps killing people and Yevon is their only way out. Summoners pray at temples run by Yevonites, which probably only enforces the belief that it is through following Yevon’s teachings that Sin will ever truly be destroyed. And when you have a world living in such terror, with their only escape being the church, it also makes sense that Yevon is the leading political power in Spira.

Yevon is actually a very interesting faith, and it is unfortunately not explored to the extent that I wish it would have been. It has a lot in common with Buddhism, Shintoism, and Catholicism. It requires a lot of disciplines for its followers—not using machina, which is what the people call machines—and some of its iconography is indicative of Buddhism. The temples and all the ritualistic practices are very similar to Shintoism, and as for the Catholic Church, it has a very similar hierarchy. Yevon is led by a Grand Maester (basically the Pope), and beneath him are three other Maesters (Cardinals). And then there are the people under them, so on and so forth.

People who don’t follow Yevon, like the Al Bhed, are frowned upon and considered heretics. Though the game does show people being killed for not following Yevon, it honestly surprises me that it doesn’t happen more, and it can even be argued that the Al Bhed who are killed are murdered for other reasons. The amount of scorn non-Yevonites face makes me surprised that executions based on faith, or lack thereof, are not common, especially considering that there are orders to kill Yuna after she is excommunicated.

But when a faith is established as the leading political power, while it’s not a big surprise that the leaders may be corrupt and while we can also argue that Yevon may have brainwashed the people of Spira, that doesn’t mean it can get away with some of the things it does. It doesn’t matter how corrupt an organization is, if it purposefully flaunts its hypocrisy people are going to notice every time. And that’s what happens in Final Fantasy X.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Religion

Last time I talked about the plot of the game. More specifically, I talked about one of the game’s primary antagonists and how he has nothing to do with plot. The character is question is Seymour, who was a maester of Yevon, an oppressive religious organization and the leading political power in Spira. This leads me into the religion in Final Fantasy X.

First of all, before I get into Yevon, let’s talk about the obvious. A few weeks back I wrote an Oh, My Pop-Culture Jesus post about Aerith from VII as a female Christ figure. I should note that I could probably do the same for Yuna, but I don’t feel as though I would be able to write a decent OMPCJ about her that didn’t repeat most of what I said about Aerith. And to be honest, it would just be a cheap way for me to fill that monthly quota. I should note that the two of them are the same character type; they are both presented as selfless Virgin Mary figures, but have more in common with Jesus than Mary. In some ways, Yuna is a more obvious Christ figure than Aerith, especially because VII doesn’t really talk about religion, whereas X does. And Yevon is partly influenced by Catholicism, although I should mention that Yevon is also influenced by Buddhism and Shintoism.

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Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Plot

So just to be clear, I want to say that I have yet to play a Final Fantasy game that I don’t like, which may seem surprising, considering that I do nothing but complain all the time. Oftentimes, Final Fantasy X goes from something I genuinely think is good to a guilty pleasure, but other times, it’s completely infuriating. I’ve mentioned before when talking about XIII that I prefer games that start off weak and end strong, compared to games that start off strong and end poorly. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy X falls into the latter category. The first part of this game is pretty okay. We’ve got a great setup with some unique characters, we can see what’s at stake, and on top of the entire apocalyptic catastrophe that’s going on we’ve got religious oppression.

There’s a lot happening in this game. Also, much like IX, it tackles some pretty deep subjects, like death and sacrifice. On top of the aforementioned religious oppression. Unfortunately, X just couldn’t keep up its momentum.

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