On Sexism in Gaming

Many articles have been written by feminists and feminist sympathizers on how video games are sexist, and perpetuate tropes that modern culture would find abhorrent if they were espoused in real life: things like rape culture, the damsel in distress, and so on (ad infinitum). What all of these articles fail to mention is that they aren’t the only group of people being left out. Far from it.

Okay, granted, horribly objectified and sexualized. Also at least PRESENT. Also badass.
Okay, granted, horribly objectified and sexualized. Also at least PRESENT. Also badass.

There are almost no main characters in video games who are lesbian, gay, transgender, or anything besides the stereotyped cliche straight male or busty romantic interest – with a side helping of busty heroine (metroid comes to mind, but I can mention a handful or two).

When there's a top ten list, you know there's a few to choose from.
When there’s a top ten list, you know there’s a few to choose from.

Of course, there are a few rare games that allow one to choose to have (unrealistic, awfully acted and poorly thought out) homosexual relationships, but they barely deserve a mention for the parenthetical reasons listed here. There is no story arc involving homosexual, bisexual, or transgender characters that is poignant, well made, or even on par with the worse examples of heteronormative relationships.

wait, who said I was butch?
Not pictured: how alternative sexuality stuff works.

Women get realistic, well-portrayed, (yes, sexuallized and perhaps derogatory) heroines like Lara Croft. Alternative sexualities collectively get an option on the dialogue menu – and even that is limited to basically playing bizarro-world straight.

but... but... I wanted to be bi!
but… but… I wanted to be bi!
Not pictured: accurate.
Not pictured: accurate.

Perhaps before complaining that the characters you get are unrealistic and sexist, you might look at those who don’t have ANY characters representing them, and understand that you are not the center of the universe. You are, however, fifty to fifty-one percent of the population. Maybe stop hogging the spotlight and let some of the real minorities accomplish some change before you start moaning again about princess peach?

Assholes.

Police groups get knickers in twist over marijuana… because of course.

Eric Holder (AG, US DOJ) recently sent an open letter saying that the federal government would respect the decision of states like Colorado and Washington (my home state) to legalize marijuana for personal use.

This guy, in spite of appearances, is apparently pretty cool.
This guy, in spite of appearances, is apparently pretty cool.

This is a good thing, since (not to get sidetracked) the states have often been litmus tests for change on the federal level, especially when that change is deeply controversial. Now, the federal government DOES have the right to enforce federal law in states that don’t recognize it, via their own law enforcement agencies and via punitive measures directed at the out of line legislatures of the offending states. This is (partially) how the civil rights movement got equal rights for citizens of differing nationalities and such in all fifty states.

Including the right to vote and hold public office for guys like him. Huh. Who'da thunk it.
Including the right to vote and hold public office for guys like him. Huh. Who’d a thunk it? WOOT

However, when there is a populist movement to change or eradicate a law, the states often provide a good way to experiment with that change, and see if the results are more as predicted by the side requesting change, or the side asking for preservation of the status quo. In a nation as large as ours, a state can be the equivalent of an experimental group in a study. So I fully agree with and endorse Mr. Holder’s letter. I think that most people, if they approached the subject in that manner, would do the same. Even those against marijuana legalization might pause for thought when confronted with the fact that if legalization has more negative than positive outcomes in the states that have legalized it, that might very well lead to firmer strictures on drug possession and sales throughout the fifty states.

It's okay, Washington, we'd be freaked too if our gigantic balls were being cupped by a fed in green gloves.
It’s okay, Washington, we’d be freaked too if our gigantic balls were being cupped by a fed in green gloves.

After all, the war on drugs has engendered massive amounts of pain over the years, not to mention casualties – I’ll give one example.

That example is Isaac Singletary. Isaac, an eighty year old man who was acting as caretaker for his sister and mother, saw undercover police, who were posing as dealers, attempting to make drug deals on his front lawn. Isaac first came out and yelled at them to leave. Of course they didn’t. So he went back inside, and returned with a gun in his hand, telling them to leave again. Without identifying themselves as police or in any way attempting to de-escalate the situation peaceably, one of the police officers opened fire, wounding Isaac.

I’ll say that again: A cop shot an innocent civilian; an eighty year old man who believed he was acting to protect his neighborhood from drug dealers.

Isaac tried to get away into his backyard, but the cops chased him down and shot him – again – this time in the back, killing him.

Five witnesses at the scene testified that the officers never identified themselves.

This is the inevitable result of the enforcement of laws making marijuana illegal. It’s horrific, unjust, and creates a well-deserved image of the policeman as a killer and a bully mad on power.

This is the person the police shot. This is Isaac SIngletary. Jesus. (Click for link to source article.)
This is the person the police shot and killed. This is Isaac Singletary. Jesus. (Click for link to source article.)

So the logical, informed people in the USA want to see if maybe legalization might result in less death and mayhem than the current state of affairs. Of course they would. And trial states like Washington and Colorado are perfect to find that out. Not everyone approaches things from a detached, impersonal, and clinical perspective, though. Not everyone is rational. And not everyone stops to think before they open their mouths and insert their collective feet.

And what a list of foot-breathers it is. Read more after the jump.

Continue reading “Police groups get knickers in twist over marijuana… because of course.”

On Tactics Re: Oppression

Okidokey. Look, I know I’m a cis-gendered white male, so I get that I have privilege issues, and I need to acknowledge that up front. If you don’t feel like listening to what I have to say, that’s your right.

So at least I'm not guily of this one (at the moment)
So at least I’m not guilty of this one (at the moment)

On the other hand, I’m gay and atheist, and unlike the new generation, I grew up when that meant being spit on, beat up, raped or killed for being who I am – far more so than it does today.

Thanks to people like these.  Hey, Is it wrong that I think the one second from the right is unimaginably cute? - Probably. But hey, at least I'm not participating in ageism, since that photo was taken before I was born.
Thanks to people like these.
Hey, Is it wrong that I think the one second from the right is unimaginably cute? – Probably. But at least I’m not participating in ageism, since that photo was taken before I was born.

I’ve lived in terror, learned to fight back, worked to change public opinion, been beaten, used, taken advantage of sexually; I’ve been told by people in uniform that since I was gay it probably wasn’t REALLY rape, was it, now. I’ve been shouted at by evangelicals and Phelps clones, been told I am dirty, disgusting, an offense against the creator, an abomination only worthy of death. I’ve protested against treating people Of ANY gender, genetic origin, political creed or gender preference, in a discriminatory fashion. And I agree that there are some serious issues with how women are treated – in public and in private – by cis-gendered hetero men of all origins. I also agree that as a man I am only capable of understanding a small portion of what it means to be a woman.

Oh, Oliver. Why must you feed into the patriarchy?
Oh, Oliver. Why must you feed into the patriarchy?

You can probably tell I’m leading up to a ‘but’ here, though. So here is my caveat:

The thing is that just like with the treatment of gays, lesbians, transgendered and otherwise queer individuals, the problems won’t stop unless we win hearts and minds. – ACT UP didn’t accomplish as much for gay rights as the nationwide movement to come out to parents, siblings, and friends, and put a personal, friendly, relatable face on the problem.

As opposed to this.
As opposed to this.

There are times when the hatred of an oppressor is justified – indeed, the only thing that is capable of sustaining one through a dark time. I’m not disputing that – I’ve been there in my own way.

But that hatred becomes self-defeating when it helps your oppressors create caricatures of you, and you of them; it stops dialogue and change dead.

It becomes a hindrance when it blinds you to potential allies – people who may be privileged in one way or another, but who abhor what is being done to you.

And it becomes delusional when it allows you to engage in the same hate speech against your oppressors that they would use against you in your place. I’m speaking to you, Michelle.

There are people both outside and inside the feminist movement who understand this: people like Theresa Warburton and Joshua Cerretti, who wrote an insightful article on white privilege, and also Dr. Nerdlove. – I don’t always agree with everything they say, but they aren’t vilifying me for existing, and seem interested in engaging all comers in a dialogue; that’s all I really ask of anyone.

discussing privilege - ur doin it right
Discussing privilege – Ur doin it right

I have lived on both sides of privilege – And I know that I can never be free of that taint, because many hardcore feminists will only see me for my gender and the color of my skin. They will name me oppressor. They will argue that I’m serving to uphold white male privilege – when I’ve spent my life (and blood – literally) working against it. It reminds me very much of how I was treated when I wore a dress or held hands with another man or marched for civil rights for alternative gender preferences. And it makes me sad that anyone part of a people oppressed would turn to oppression themselves.

This is just Dean-lightening

So for those of you who don’t know, PBS funds a show on youtube called ideachannel. It features some fantastically out there ideas, usually backed by pretty solid evidence. It’s pretty entertaining to watch, and they just did an episode on Community… so… you know I’m all over that. Anyway, take a look. video after the jump. Continue reading “This is just Dean-lightening”

Ze Frank has words of wise

I’ve always worked backwards in finding new things or people to admire and explore; I guess I’m weird that way. I heard Nirvana’s cover of  ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ before I heard it in the original Bowie (for the record, Bowie’s version is superior, and I’m saying that in spite of the fact that I heard Nirvana’s first – suck it).

Then, when I was thirteen, I discovered Denis Leary. I became obsessed with his comedy; dry, bitter, raunchy and unforgiving, it seemed a perfect fit for the person I was in the process of gloaming my way into (i.e. angsty teen stereotype #984,643). I continued to admire his wit and sarcasm until I discovered his source, Bill Hicks.  Bill Hicks was everything Leary was, but more, and better, and smarter – and possessed of a wry affection for his fellow human beings, which was never in evidence with Leary’s work. Unfortunately, I fell out of love with Leary’s comedy when I discovered Bill Hicks’, because Leary had ripped off almost an entire album of material almost word for word, something I considered an unforgivable theft.

Ze Frank is a video blogger on YouTube who has inspired some of the most recognized names on YouTube  Both John and Hank Green of *deep breath* vlogbrothers, crash course education, Sci-show  and Nerdighteria (etc.) fame, claim Ze Frank’s YouTube channel as a constant source of inspiration. Fortunately for me, however, Ze Frank wasn’t ripped off by the vlogbrothers – they don’t roll that way. They did what any good fan does – expand, alter, express themselves; they used what they knew from their own lives and made something truly great, and I honor THEM for that, and I honor Ze for being even partly the inspiration for that.

And he is truly an inspiration. watch this video of him, and then Fyeah, Ze Frank will happen. I love his videos. So I want to share.

Just saw the preview teaser for Skins U.S. – I wish I could say I was thrilled.

I just saw the preview teaser for Skins U.S., and I actually, physically, literally cringed. I didn’t stop cringing until I got through to the end. Let me tell you why.

For those of you who don’t know, Skins is an insanely popular British T.V. show televised on the U.K.’s channel E4. It follows the lives of a group of high-school aged teens as they love, hate, party, and all the rest – think Degrassi done by Larry Clark. It’s dark, twisted, fun, and brutally honest in a lot of ways.

I think  one of the problems I have with the American version is that it lacks that brutal, honest feel. It  isn’t that the source material is being almost word for word copied (which is bad enough, in my opinion), or even that they’re dumbing it down all the same for American audiences (the bedspread below is from the U.K. – the new version has some stupid abstract design. BOOOORING) – It’s that the combination of dumbing down, ripping off, and miscasting have dulled the dark, brilliant edge that made this show like nothing else. The cinematography (from what I can tell, which isn’t much,  in all fairness) ain’t much to write home about either.

Original Tony's bedspread - accept no substitutes
Original Tony's bedspread - accept no substitutes

 

The Original Skins Cast - Cute, But Real.
The Original Skins Cast - Cute, But Real.
Skins U.S. - So hot they're ugly
Skins U.S. - So hot they're ugly

And I have it from an online source that the American analog for the gay boy in the series is going to be *sigh* you guessed it, a lesbian. Who -get this- is a cheerleader. *speechlessness ensues*

I think what got me really were the casting choices, though.  I mean, casting a lesbian role instead of a male gay role… well, that pisses me off and it’s exclusionary, but I don’t know that I’d expect any different from a U.S. television company. The problem goes beyond that, though – the guys are hunks, the girls are impossibly thin and pretty, and that alone makes the show uninteresting, both visually and aesthetically. It’s pandering MTV crap.

As a comparison, an American show I really love is Glee (broadcast by Fox, no less. *shudders*) One of the reasons I like Glee is for the specific reason that although the kids are all actually adults, and are very attractive in their own way, the cast as a whole is pretty, i dunno, average looking. They don’t look like they stepped off of a GQ cover. They look real, fer gossake. They look like high-school students.

As far as the American version of Skins, as much as I like(d) the original, I’d rather watch The Office – I’d actually cringe less.

 

Television High School - UR doin it rite.
Television High School - UR doin it rite.