Category: lgbt

Oh, That Was the Surprise

Enders-Game-Poster-YahooI saw the film adaptation of Ender’s Game last weekend.  I found the movie as faithful to its source material as one could expect; as always changes must be made, mostly for the sake of time.  I think this was one of the movie’s bigger faults, as the whole thing generally felt rushed.  I would even say that it should have strayed more from the book.  For example, the character of Mazer Rackham in the film seemed superfluous since he wasn’t able to be given the kind of build up as in the book.  That character’s actions should have been given to Hyram Graff for the sake of simplicity.

My major disappointment was that it dropped the “twist.”  No, not the twist telegraphed by the film’s tagline of “this is not a game.”  Granted, that’s probably what everybody would think was the big holy shit moment of the book.  I remember talking to a friend of mine about the upcoming film and he mentioned that he’d read the book and so the big surprised was spoiled for him.  Without even thinking, I asked: “that they felt bad about it?”

I was referring to this part of the book, towards the very end:

“What the hive-queen felt was sadness, a sense of resignation. She had not thought these words as she saw the humans coming to kill, but it was in words that Ender understood her: They did not forgive us, she thought. We will surely die.”

To me, that was the part that stuck out about the story.  I’ve grown so accustomed to aliens being portrayed as monstrously different (think Xenomorph) or annoyingly human (Na’vi.)  It was surprising to me to present these insect-like aliens as being remorseful of their actions and actually fearing human retribution.  It was a characterization of a monstrous species I was not used to, and enjoyed quite a bit that’s always stuck with me.

But I don’t think audiences would take too well to something like that.

My Father Has Died At Least Two Times

02764856-photo-deadly-premonitions

I just read Jim Harold’s–the host of Paranormal Podcast and other podcasts I listen to and enjoy (despite disagreeing with a lot of it)–recent book True Ghost Stores: Jim Harold’s Campfire 2.  There was one particularly spooky tale involving a woman in possession of a cursed (?) painting that manifests its distraught subject in her home.  There were also a couple of stories involving people receiving messages from beyond the grave to let them know of loved ones’ passings. This subject was even explored in a recent episode with guest Rosemary Ellen Guiley about “Dream Messages from the Afterlife.”  The guest talks about the supernatural aspect of dreaming about a person as a premonition of their death, at the time of their death or even after their death to impart a message to their families.

You know, I had a dream about my father dying.  It was surreal (kind of redundant for a dream) with me walking in my old home in Connecticut, down the hall from the master bedroom through to the dining room.  It was nighttime and dark, like there was no electricity in the house, but there were these periodic flashes of lightning that cast disorienting blue light through the halls.  As I approached the dining room, I realized there was a man standing there as if in a daze.  When I finally got close to him I realized he was my father, with his mouth wide open as though frozen mid-yawn (or scream,) his skin had a pallid, very aged look and his eyes were glazed over.  I remember, even in my dream, thinking “Oh, god, dad’s dead,” as though realizing this was one of those dreams I’d read about.

I can even tell you when it happened: the night of July 8, 2005.  I know this because the next day was a Saturday and I went to Anthrocon in Philadelphia.  No, I am not a furry. It just so happened that the guest of honor that year was Peter Laird, one of the co-creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought it would be cool to get his signature and hear him talk, but as it turned out something prevented him showing up at the convention (I heard it was that he was kind of ashamed of the attendees; I can’t fault him for that.)  I remember having that dream nagging me throughout most of the morning, but I figured my father must have been okay because otherwise my mother would have contacted me.  I later called them to allay my fears.

Late last year, while living with my parents again, I had a similar dream.  I don’t remember the details all that well besides seeing my father collapse at one point.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night and tip-toeing across the house to check in on them–but not needing to go very far because the roar of my father’s snoring while he slept was enough to prove he was fine.

I dimly recall another such incident occurring sometime between those two.  The result was the same: my father wasn’t dead.  In fact I was talking to both him and my mother today about the upcoming holidays (on a regular cellphone, not some Edison ghost machine thing.) May we get to share many more to come.

So mark my words, even if I have a dream about my father’s (or mother’s) passing and awake to the horrid news, I will not give in to confirmation bias and credit the occurrence to evidence of some kind of paranormal connection when its success rate is slumming it at a failing 25% (or lower, if I have any more dreams-that-fail-to-predict.)

And I have nothing but respect for the Jim Harold for living the dream and making his collection of podcasts his full-time job.  Once I get a full time job, I intend to subscribe to his Paranormal Plus club.  I may not believe a lot of what he says … but at least it’s entertaining.

No One Ever Sees Themself as the Villain

The Ender’s Game movie releases to theaters in a few months and with it begins a new round of an old controversy.  Those who play video games might remember when Shadow Complex was boycotted because Orson Scott Card, noted anti-homosexual, wrote the storyline for it. Less publicized was people boycotting the comic book tie in for Dragon Age, which was also written by Card. A surprising number of people on my Facebook friends list–who I would have thought were more knowledgeable about science fiction and media–are just now discovering that Orson Scott Card holds some unpopular political beliefs.  Raging about this revelation, they jump on the boycott bandwagon (much as they did last year with Chick-Fil-A.)

The beauty of all this righteous indignation is the complete absence of self awareness.  That’s one of the benefits of mob mentality, by giving away your individuality to be a fashionable member of the cause you needn’t worry about thinking about your actions.  In this case, as they rally to quash all opposition before them (and sometimes succeed) none of them have to take the time to appreciate the cold, hard truth: that the bullied have successfully become the bullies.

I don’t mean literally; not everyone who supports gay rights has directly (or indirectly) suffered from homophobia. But as a group, and for what they represent, they were historically bullied.  But now they find they have the societal upper hand and, so empowered, they will coerce everyone into agreeing with them.  Because they feel that if you don’t agree with their cause then you don’t deserve to earn a living.

But the “you” part is where everything gets confused.  There’s a lot of people involved in making a movie.  Are all of them hateful homophobes who deserve to see their hard work crash and burn?  That’s unlikely.  As with last year’s Chick-Fil-A fiasco, the caring people don’t care about collateral damage when there’s a boogeyman bent on using all his money to spew nothing but hate speech.  You know, like Ender’s Game is.  Except it isn’t.  Not at all.  In fact, people generally find it … kind of gay.

Which brings this all back to an issue I’ve broached before: the (perceived) need to consume an artist’s personality in addition to their output. All of the “Orson Scott Card Hates Gays” stuff comes from essays, articles, forum exchanges, and things that are outside of his fictional work.  In fact, my facebook friends being so shocked to learn that he hates gays shows how little his personal views cross over to his work.  I wouldn’t be arguing with the boycott supporters if Ender’s Game was about an evil race of mincing extraterrestrials called the Homosexumonsters that sought to rape all of humanity to death.  At that point, sure, it would be something with a clear message to fight against and nobody could question their motivation for doing so.  As it is now, they just don’t like him for being him, and want to tear apart anything he touches because they can’t (or won’t) draw a line between an artist and his work.

So have at your boycott, you noble people who won’t tolerate intolerance.  But be sure never to distinguish between a person’s work and unrelated aspects of their personality! Don’t swing your hips to a song by Chris Brown, buy a vehicle from Ford, or use a Capital One credit card.  Also, go out of your way to snub the business efforts of any and all Mormons (the same religion as Card.)   They’re probably donating money to the Mormon Church, which still considers homosexual behavior a sin (and supported Proposition 8.)  Come on, now, do it for the cause! You may have been all-too-eager to be just as bad as your enemies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have any integrity!

The Doom of DOMA

Yesterday was a big deal for the LGBT(Q?) community because of Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA.)  The ruling effectively allows gay marriage in California and may be the tipping point in allowing it across the country. Or does it?
The internet (especially social networks) was quick to celebrate the ruling.  From the reserved to the ridiculous and outright nonsense. Take the two political cartoons highlighted by npr. The first one especially brought my piss to a boil because it’s a great example of combating ignorance with ignorance.  
Characterizing the opposition to Gay Marriage as literally a handful of people, the entirety of which sit in the Supreme Court, is laughably (well, it IS a cartoon) unrealistic.  The fact is that opposition to gay marriage is much more significant than its supporters want to delude themselves into believing.  In the 2008 presidential election–when California voted on Proposition 8–the amendment that banned gay marriage Proposition 8 got 52% of the vote.  That’s a majority of the voting population in that state, one that’s generally considered very blue.
 
Of course, 2008 is not 2013.  Polling suggests that Californians are now support gay marriage a little more (a whopping 56%.)  But then, according to polls, 51% supported gay marriage back in 2008, and they still couldn’t translate that into votes.  So just a few people?  No, it’s much more than that, and the more that the LGBT community wants to pretend those people simply don’t exist, the more trouble they’ll have getting the progress that they want.

Sexual Inequality in Videogames … Problem SOLVED

Much has been made over the past couple of years about the role of women in video games and, by extension, the video game industry.  The lack of female video game developers, or a intangible global conspiracy of the matriarchy to keep women down, are often blamed for female characters usually getting the short end of the stick.  I think the big problem with this problem is that there’s a lack of perspective.  In fact, if we look to another bubbling controversy; that of the recognition of transgendered people, we actually strike upon a solution to both of these issues!

As recently pointed out by Kotaku, games aren’t progressive enough if they discuss women’s issues related to traditionally female anatomy because not all women have vaginas. That’s such an axiomatic statement that you’re a horrible person should dare to disagree. With that in mind, doesn’t it call into question the progressiveness of someone who complains about the presence or role of “women” in video games?  How are they distinguishing between what is an is not a woman?

The notorious video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games goes at length to detail the imbalance in the portrayal of women in games (mostly as victims.)  However the host, Anita Sarkeesian, never bothers to lay down the groundwork of what constitutes a “woman” in her analysis.  Considering how, in the real world, the difference between a man and a woman is simply a matter of saying so then how can we simply look at these characters and know whether they’re a man or a woman?  One could argue The Last of Us, like The Walking Dead (and even Tomb Raider,) is simply the continuing subjugation of women (particularly when shown as girls) to men (particularly bearded, burly, manly men.) However, that interpretation is just loaded with stereotypes. Why are the girls considered girls? Because they have breasts?  If having a vagina isn’t proof of womanhood, then certainly the presence of breasts isn’t.  In none of these games does the player become familiar with any of the characters’ genitalia anyway, so how could we really know that Nathan Drake isn’t just a particularly masculine woman or Clementine an effeminate little boy? We can’t even take for granted the characters’ use of pronouns, as those are possibly just socially-imposed on a gender confused character afraid to use their preferred identifier.

Where does that leave us?  There is no gender gap in gaming because there are no longer any genders in gaming.  We don’t have enough information about any given character to say definitively who is a man or woman, let alone how that’s influencing their roles.  “Princess” Toadstool is just an unlucky cross dresser, Duke Nukem is the champion of the bull dyke, and the cast of most Final Fantasies remains somewhat ambiguous.  Transgendered people suddenly find themselves well represented in gaming while “women” no longer have to worry about being the victims of plot contrivance.