Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Couldn't Stand It.

I saw X-Men: The Last Stand on Friday and hated it. I wasn't going to blog about it, since I already feel that I've wasted enough time watching it. (There was no point--everything that happened gets overturned by the end of the movie.)

If you're interested in reading thought-out reviews or discussions check out the May 29th links from When Fangirls Attack.

Just a couple of observations from when I was watching the movie: (Spoilers apply)
--I was already prepared for the deaths, but not at the way they were handled. How come Professor X seemed so ridiculously weak?
--I burst out laughing when they explained Jean's Xavier-induced schizophrenia. Classic case of the hysterical woman.
--The depiction of Storms powers and fighting abilities were terrible. (And that's just the tip of the iceberg.)
--I didn't even realize "Callisto" was in the movie until I talked with some friends --if you can even call her Callisto.
--X-Men killing people?
--I agree with others out there that the movie should have just been "the cure" storyline. A Dark Phoenix storyline is too big and should have had it's own flick.

I could go on, but it was utterly disappointing to watch such a messy and misogynistic movie when the first two of the series were so close in portraying the essence of the comics that I grew up with.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My Soapbox on Ethnocentricity and Maiden Love Revolution

I was scrolling through Feministing this morning when I came to this post. It speaks briefly about a game coming out in Japan called Maiden Love Revolution that features
the role of 220-pound Hitomi Sakurakawa as she struggles to slim down - mostly by restricting her diet. To advance, Hitomi must count calories and increase her exercise. The game keeps stats on her progress and ultimately rewards her conformity with a boyfriend.
I was struck by a comment that followed which stated "the Japanese are very strange people." I see this type of comment often (there's a lot of posts out there on the latest ridiculous game or what have you from Japan) and it really gets to me. Yeah, I post all the time on misogynistic stuff that irks me, and I'm not defending this game--particularly because of the subject matter, and also because it sounds boring and dumb. However, I want to point out that it's important to consider ethnocentricity, when criticizing or analyzing something from another culture.

I'm no expert on Japanese culture, but I know that there's a lot of different genres and categories that feature games that wouldn't fly here in the US. It's important to note that subjects like sex aren't viewed in the same way in Japan as it is here--we have separate cultures--but in the same breath, it's important to recognize that Japan is a patriarchy, just like the US. We might not make sex games or weight loss games, or promote such titles in our mainstream culture, but we're not innocent.

People are quick to judge other culture's problems, which turn out to be similar to the problems that we have. (See: cultural relativism.)

UPDATE: Lake Desire over at New Game Plus makes some great points about the premise of the game, one being that it stigmatizes overweight people from dating.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Over at A Blog Found on a Garbage Heap, inspired by the post "And he's hot, too...," I commented on how at my job, I deal with over 100 different faculty members. It can get hairy, and I end up getting pissed off a lot, especially because we've had problems with harassment. In order to help deal with the frustration I've taped up this picture of the Hulk so that my rage can be experienced vicariously. (This isn't the first time I've done something like this. When I was in high school I started carrying around a Hulk Pez dispenser when my parents got divorced.):

We've temporarily relocated the office this summer, so I thought I'd print out a new picture. I thought this time a picture of She-Hulk would be better. I dumbly searched in Google images for it. I say dumb because this is what I came up. (What I'm comfortable with posting, that is.):

Lame. After much searching however, I did find this:

Much better.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Family Tragicomic

It took an afternoon locked out of my apartment to get me to walk the twenty minutes to Quimby's. I'm glad I did because I happened upon Alison Bechdel's new comic Fun Home.

Here's a little blurb about it from Publisher's Weekly: This autobiography by the author of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor. Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family's meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat.

It is amazing. The art, my god, the writing. I'm totally in love with it and am taking my time with it, pouring over every panel, gesture and word balloon.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Weekend Without Shame

Was I studying for my finals this weekend? Hell no, I attended Anime Central on Friday and Saturday.

Brief Observations:

--Genshiken is a beautiful and interesting anime--I don't see it as simply a look at the "otaku lifestyle" of Japan, it's a study of masculinity for young men that aren't traditionally masculine. Definitely brings up difficult issues (like hentai) and good questions, with a backdrop of superb animation and humor.

--There seemed to be even more cross-playing this year. Lots of young teenage boys dressed up in Sailor Moon and Kagome costumes, very cute.

--I attended a shonen-ai panel: I really can't get into shonen-ai, but I learned a lot, specifically the differences between the perspective of western audiences versus eastern audiences. The best part was when a young gay man stood up and spoke out against top/bottom relationships--saying that they're insulting to homosexual relationships because such pairings are reduced to sex, and that they evoke traditional unhealthy heterosexual relationships where all power is placed on the masculine. (He received lots of applause from everyone at the panel.)

--I saw lots of Lunar cosplayers!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Focus on Women Please--An Update on the Activision Focus Group

So on Sunday I had the privilege of attending a focus group on X-men Legends. I didn't want to go without 100littledolls, but she said I should go in her place. So I tried my best to represent.

My dream for years has been to tell the video game industry how I feel on a number of subjects, and here was my chance. The group consisted of about 7 guys in their 20s and 30s--all but one white. Good start huh? I was all fired up and angry at the fact that I had to go alone, and was ready to throw down some feminism right at their faces. When the questions started though, I calmed down a bit, but made sure to let them know that I really cared about the social messages of their product. They started out asking general questions: what's your favorite game, why do you like the X-men, ect. I tried to relay the point of how cool it is that the X-men are on the fringe of society, and that the basis of the comic is them fighting for their place in the world. They asked about characters within the game, and I pointed out how the X-men already have a diverse cast, and many strong, well established women characters. Raven doesn't need to do anything but put them in the game. I feel the first game had much better character choices, (why would I want to play as Toad?) and a larger amount of female mutants. Personally I would love to see Kitty Pride in a game, Raven studios is such a jerk for not putting her in.

After giving them a well thought out pitch for my own game, they started to pass out descriptions of possible game ideas that were actually being considered for production. They wanted our feelings on them, and let me tell you, most of them were terrible. The funniest and saddest was an X-men World War II game, where in an alternate universe, get this, Hitler won, so therefore communism?! Ruled the World, and Magneto somehow reigned as the supreme overlord. As Cable you would go back in time and kill Nazis with bullet time moves like in a Max Payne type shooter. What? So much of that doesn't make sense. The highlight of the afternoon, however, was the description of X-Men Femme Force. In this concept, Mystique releases a virus that affects all the male X-men leaving only the women left to stop her. Kind of a corny story, but having an all female mutant cast would be pretty cool. I read on though, and discovered a main part of the game would be to "dress up" your characters in different outfits, then it made a reference to DOA and claimed that the game would be just as sexy. Ouch. Costume changes are great, but the X-women aren't dolls, they're freedom fighters. To my surprise, I wasn't the first person to speak up. Two other people in the group informed everyone that their girlfriends were gamers and played the first two Legends along with them. They said that they were extremely disappointed that they couldn't come to the focus group. I also spoke up and related 100littledolls' plight. We agreed that we would play a game with an all woman cast. I then pleaded with them to not objectify these characters--I told them that it would be unnecessary and offensive.

As we were leaving, I heard the two guys in charge of the focus group talking to each other. They were surprised with the responses they were getting concerning women and games: "Wow, we really need to do a women's focus group..." F-ing Duh! But it's a start I guess. Overall, I tried to use this opportunity to also log my complaint of lack of originality in video games. Many of the game ideas presented to us were just rehashes of other popular games: Mercenaries with Wolverine, or Dynasty Warriors with X-men. Personally, if I wanted to play a game like Mercenaries, why wouldn't I just play Mercenaries, or Mercenaries II, whenever that comes out? The main issue with superhero games is that they have never established their own genre, or niche. They have always just hopped on board to a preexisting series of games. The focus should not be to make a copy of a existing game, but to define what superhero games are and create a place for them in the industry. Take a risk! More often than not, it will pay off. Just look at Nintendo.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day Links

We'll see how often I can update as I'm in my last two weeks of the semester. Here's some links I've been reading that I think are worth checking out.

Current links:

Today is Blogging Against Disabilism Day over at Diary of a Goldfish.

May also marks Asian American Heritage Month. Jen will be hosting posts about Asian American Heritage Month on May 31st. Let her know if you want to participate!

Jen also has a post "dumb defenses that don't fly" that deals with the racist and lame reactions to her post on asiaphila.

Guilded Lily discusses the offensive and repulsive Hitman ads and "how they're an obvious attempt to create controversy."

Gaming While Female [Gaming Communities, Part 3] is up at Official Shrub.com.

And this is a small love letter from me to Kat from The Geeky Feminist (which some may have noticed is no longer up):

I'm sad to see your blog go, but I'm grateful for all the words that you wrote. I hope to see you around the internet.