Friday, June 29, 2007

Why do you hate me Sony?

A quick run down of some of Sony's advertising includes:

-an American ad campaign for the PSP which featured dust balls that can be easily interpreted as racist caricatures of Mexican people.
-the UK's various sex-based ads on buses with slogans such as “Your girlfriend’s white bits here.”
-the objectifying and race-based Black vs. White PSP ad in the Netherlands
-not to mention the topless waitresses featured at the God of War II release party

And now there's this running in India, complete with a tagline that reads"Because your girlfriend bores you shitless."

What. The. Hell. Sony.

There's lots of great discussion over at the Iris boards about the ad, along with some plans to get a letter campaign going. I'll post more info about it here when it happens.
hat tip: the f-word

Monday, June 18, 2007

Changing of the Green Guard

One of my pet peeves in comic books is to fall in love with a character, book, and creative team, only to have it ripped from my overzealous heart. A few examples throughout my life: Rucka and Brubaker on the Batman comics, McDaniel on Nightwing, Lobdell and Bachelo on Generation X, and Vaughn on Ultimate X-Men. I understand that the changing of the guard on titles is the nature of comics and the price you pay for having superhero books that will never end. But what really gets me is when a stellar writer or team of writer and artist leave a book and are replaced by the crappiest comic book makers this side of Image. The worst case has to be Hama replacing Lobdell on Generation X. That was a shame.

I can smell this happening again and soon to one of my favorite books out there. I was stunned about how good She-Hulk actually was and took it upon myself to pick up all of the back issues and danced when I found the trade paper backs. It wasn't a perfect run, but the comic was unique, refreshing and fun. It revitalised my love for comics after reading countless clones of over-the-top dramatic comics. But now Slott is leaving to write Spider-man, a character I like, yet I find She-Hulk to be much more interesting and in greater need of good writers.

Slott's replacement is Peter David. I know that some might think having the guy who wrote He-Hulk for longer than I've been alive to be a good thing, but I just can't help but worry. I have my doubts that he can maintain the greatness of the book, and I know for a fact that the tone will be different. For instance, the postmodern jabs at comics and Marvel will be MIA. Marvel is lacking in great female super heroes--they need everyone they can get--and I feel that we're going to lose one more. (RIP Jean.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paprika: Not just for Deviled Eggs

If you ever watched the A-Team, you might remember the episode where Murdock becomes a chef and keeps asking for paprika. Because of this, it became the funniest and best spice in my mind. Now I have a new reason to love it that blows the A-Team reference out of the water, a feat that I would not have thought possible. The new Sotoshi Kon film, Paprika, was oh so yummy. I was able to see it in the theater this weekend and it was a dream come true. Paprika takes a wonderful, surrealist look into humanity's desires and the collective unconcious, but lacked any of Breton's misogyny.

Almost all of Kon's work, like surrealism, adds the fantastical into a realistic setting. The concept of Paprika allowed him to fully realize this idea. Kon understands the freedom animation allows and creates something truly unique. I found it bizarre how the morphing images and situations of the dreams made as much sense to me as the "real world" scenes of the movie. That dichotomy was questioned, and subsequently became very unstable. This continued with the characters. They straddled the line between being both archetype and fully humans. There were a definite struggle between the characters in achieving the ideal role for their gender or place in the world.

*Spoilers Below*

In Paprika, Kon gives us another strong female protagonist, and in this case, a superhero as well. The character known as Paprika exists to help people deal with their desires and guides them to think outside of archetypal roles. In this way she comes to represent the concept of the "woman of your dreams,"and in the sense of a super hero, she seems to be perfect. However, Paprika and her real life counterpart, Dr. Chiba, struggle with a Clark Kent/Superman relationship throughout the film. Paprika is everything Chiba isn't, which includes being in full control of her life. By the end, Chiba faces this, and the chief issues of film--which also includes many archetypes, such as technology vs. nature--are resolved by the creation of a new order, where the male archetype of aggression and dominance is defeated by the female archetype of growth and peace. Or to speak in other elements, light conquered shadow by consuming it.

There is one disturbing scene that needs to be addressed. Not to spoil too much, but at one point Paprika is captured and is symbolically raped. A colleague tears off her Paprika form and reveals her true identity beneath. Personally, I'm weary of rape scenes, and feel that popular entertainment is too quick to feature it, often without giving thought to the consequences. This was far from my favorite scene in the movie, but I feel the key word is that it is symbolic. By having the act be represented by something else, it leaves the action in the realm of thought, and forces us to think about rape. I'm not saying that this is any less powerful, or less potentially offensive and dangerous. I just feel in this context that the scene was meant for us to look at rape as a tool of the male aggressive, violent, and controlling mind set. It was not glorified or glamorized, but rather focused on the thought behind the act. The character responsible for the act pins Paprika like a butterfly in a room full of pinned butterflies. This speaks of the "male" desire to control and tame, and how patriarchy places women on the same level as an inset, or an animal that is easily manipulated and controlled. He does not think of her as human but as an object that should be displayed. The archetypal male mind set is further explored when Paprika is rescued by another colleague that is in the process of dreaming about being a male action hero. To him, Paprika is a precious commodity that needs his protection. His view of her is still in the same vein as the rapist's--she is still an object, the two men just disagree on her use. His parody is complete when he take Paprika to the ending scene of his dream that is complete with him posing before the setting sun, as he, the quintessential hero, cradles her in one arm and a smoking gun in the other. He then proceeds to claim his prize by kissing her as she droops unconsciously. This was received by a "how dare you" slap on the face, and the scene ends. After this interlude, Paprika reclaims the movie. Overall, it was a scene that I would have been happier without, no one likes to see a superhero, specifically female superheros, debased in such a way. However, I also don't think the scene was there for shock value or as a form of punishment, which are some of the reasons why rape scenes are told in popular entertainment. Rather, I feel it's purpose was as a tool of discussion. The way that it was produced confirms that. It forces us to confront the mind set that causes rape, and that is one of the first steps in preventing rape.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Whaddya mean there’s no She-Hulk?

Thanks to a close friend, I managed to play through some of the Xbox 360 version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. We had fun—some of the best parts were smashing our way through and listening to the throaty calls of the Hulk: “Hulk always wins!”

I was petty happy with the variety of characters—the most comical team that we put together consisted of Venom, The Thing, Hulk, and Ms. Marvel. But I do have some nitpicks:

--First of all, why were the starter characters specifically chosen? I understand the need to keep the pool small in the beginning as there is a slight learning curve, but I still think they could have given some leeway. I really wasn’t feeling it with the Thor, Spidey, Captain America and Wolverine team up.

--I’ve said this before with X-Men Legends II and I’m saying it again. I think there could be more female characters. I don’t see why there can’t be some gender parity. Moon Knight is in there, but no She-Hulk? Raven, you break my heart. (We have history.) With characters such as the ones I mentioned above, it’s not like they’re hurting for some character recognition. And I say this because it’s often argued that women characters are not used because they’re not as well known by the general public.

--That said, I think it would be fun to have some more B-List and obscure characters. Perhaps as unlockables?

--The storyline, though specifically different from X-Men Legends II, felt exactly like X-Men Legends II. I enjoyed the first X-Men Legends because it focused on a specific character; it didn’t feel too large or generic.

--The character animations are still awkward, and this same problem has plagued this franchise since the beginning. Though small, and not integral to the overall enjoyment factor of the game, I thought it’d be addressed, seeing that I was playing this on a 360.

--Last but not least, for whatever reason, I had trouble distinguishing between friend and foe while fighting. I might need to sit closer to the TV screen.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

MiPOesias: The David Trinidad Issue #2

For those of you interested, MiPOesias, an online literary magazine, has published some of my poems. For you geeks out there, two of the three published poems consider super heroics, identity and feminism.