Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Big O - THE ビッグオー

In my early teens I went through a stage when I thought to totally distance myself from childish things as a way to feel and appear more mature among my peers. One of these things was cartoons. Nothing seemed more puerile and, quite honestly, silly to me than a boy growing into a man and still watching cartoons; comic books and offbeat manga (Japanese comics), another love of mine, were also cast by the way side, but cartoons had always been a love of mine.

At first things progressed fairly well; I stopped watching cartoons and replaced them with shows like Boy Meets World, Sunday Night Football, Football on Telemundo, and other more teen oriented or "grown up" programing. However, one day, bored to tears with another inane plot on Boy Meets World, I happened to turn on Cartoon Network out of sheer desperation, and that's when it happened. Perhaps it was fate or destiny, though I don't really believe in either, but whatever it may have been I now know that I had stumbled upon a diamond in the rough. The Big O is, without a doubt, the greatest animated series ever created.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit (Batman: The Animated Series is the greatest, but the Big O is definitely a close second), but the show was seriously something awesome. Not only was I riveted by it to the point where I renounced my abstinence from cartoons, but I was also compelled to force my younger brother to watch it as well (though he got hooked just as easily as I did, so no harm no foul). Of course I was instantly reduced back to my previous juvenile status, but by that point I could have cared less how jejune I appeared before anyone; I was in love.

I don't know if it was the plot itself, the Batman-esque/Film Noir style, the music, or the characters, but I absolutely fell in love with this cartoon; and this is significant because I absolutely abhor giant mecha animes/cartoons. However, before I get ahead of myself, allow me to introduce the plot so that you may have something to go by.

Extracted From Wikipedia Because I'm Lazy:

The Big O
deals with the nature of memories. A memory is a record stored in the brain of an organism, but in Paradigm City memories can mean much more.[1] "Memories" (メモリー Memorī?) embody the lost knowledge of its residents, and can take the form of records from before the Event, forgotten artifacts from the previous era or manifest themselves as recollection, hallucinations and recurring dreams.

The first half of the series is episodic. Each Act revolves around different citizens of Paradigm dealing with the resurgence of lost Memories and how they manage to go on living without knowledge of what did or did not happen. The final episodes introduce elements that come into play during season two like the existence of people outside of Paradigm City, the nature of the Cataclysm that destroyed the world and the "Power of God wielded by the hand of man."

The second season takes an arc-based approach. Instead of self-contained stories like in season one, season two features a continuous storyline. The second season makes Alex Rosewater, CEO of the Paradigm Corporation, a direct antagonist to The Negotiator and introduces The Union, agents of a foreign power working within Paradigm.

Now I know this show isn't going to be everyone's metaphorical cup of tea, but I've long come to accept that; I'm a weirdo who's into weird things. However, I dare one person to tell me that they don't at least like the characters of Rodger Smith and R.Dorothy Wayneright (Possible Batman Reference?). Rodger Smith, your typical film noir private investigator (or Negotiator as the case may be) always trying to play it cool, sometimes succeeding and sometimes hilariously failing; and R.Dorothy Wayneright-a walking enigma, the deadpan snarker, and the ultimate straight (wo)man. The two of them are the most dynamic and lovable characters, out of a small number, I've seen to date.

As you can probably guess by now, I'm a fanboi to the max as it concerns this show (I've signed every petition that has ever circulated in an effort to get this show a third season). However, despite this I must admit that the show did have a few flaws. One of the flaws I noted was that, while enjoyable overall, the second season tried to do too much too quickly; though this was understandable given the fact that the show was rather abruptly being canceled after the second season. Also, some of the minor characters could be a bit on the annoying side, and at times the plot would hit you with a curve that might leave you wondering why that element was even included. These are only fairly minor complaints, in my opinion, so I wouldn't allow them to sway you away from checking out this series.

So, if you're still interested after everything I've written I invite you to check the show out. I can't guarantee that you won't be disappointed, but I can say that I was certainly not.

We Have Come to Terms...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

If the American Government Had More Elected Officals and Pundits like this...

Ran across this on Transgriot's blog:

There are no words to express how awesome this man is. None.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Der Steppenwolf - About Me

There are many words that could be used to describe me, dozens of metaphors, and thousands of praises and curses. However, one word-a proper noun, a metaphor, an adjective, a curse, and, in some circles, a deceptive note of praise-that I believe best describes me stems from one of the world's greatest literary classics: Steppenwolf.

I could perhaps reflect for hours on end why I feel myself to be akin to one of Herman Hesse's most popular and profound works, but, for the sake of time and energy, I will keep my pontifications brief and concise. To begin I would highlight the similar traits I share with the work's primary character, the individual through whose gaze we take in the depth of Hesse's fictional world, Harry Haller. Like Haller I have often felt myself both a part of and antagonistic with society. I love people, even those who I feel have wronged me, to an extent that I, occasionally and fleetingly, believe in the concept of altruism, and I simultaneously hold a bitter, contentious, and rancorous hatred for them to the point where I am sure my devout cynicism is justified. I understand the need for society and its trappings, but also despise the current modes of living offered to the majority. I hate the bourgeoisie, but recognize that, to a limited extent, I am one of them, and I therefore hate myself. Erudition and savageness often war within me, content to bicker and bite at one another until my dying breath, and my silent contemplations on the nature of reality, life, death, my position in society, my position with those I care for and may come to care for, and the very nature of who I -that perpetually foreign concept- am are often sources of perpetual questioning for me.

I am the son of two stereotypically middle to lower middle class individuals. My father is a social worker and my mother a secretary. I have experienced, at different and varying points in my life, what it is to be working class and bourgeoisie. As a child I spent my youth at first loving my black/browness and then later developing a perverse fondness for my golden brown/yellow complexion and ambiguous features which I felt distanced me from my "darker" skinned peers. It wouldn't be until I became 16 years of age that I learned that I was afflicted with a most heinous and insidious type of self-hatred which often made me feel both inadequate and bitter when I reflected on the truth of my heritage and the fact that some of my features were not so "ambiguous" as to make me all that different. Further, it would not be until I turned 18 that I would realize that my reverse polarity at 16 was just as damaging as my mode of thought prior to it. At 20 I would come to understand the need for balance and indifference in order to survive in a society that I had come to understand was perverted beyond all rational reason.

My childhood is not a subject that I enjoy dwelling on, and, as such, my reminiscence on this topic shall be rather curt. I was a silent child for the most part, though I've been told I had an excellent command of speech bordering on that which is said to be the talent of young girls. I've been told I would often talk at length about subjects that were of great interest to me, but would be rather laconic otherwise. I did not much care for my peers-nor do I still-and I often enjoyed reading, writing, playing pretend, and drawing/painting over playing outside with other children (though I would occasionally play fight, if only because my single best friend at the time was a terrible extrovert who liked to watch the Power Rangers and emulate them-I preferred the Ninja Turtles to be honest).

I'm ridiculously shy and introverted, though around those I know I can be seemingly gregarious for an hour or so before having to sequester myself. I am also sarcastic, fairly apathetic unless the subject is one of importance to me, and have been told I can be rather witty. I know for a fact that I am very tender hearted, not a very desirable quality for a man I've been told, but also that I am more aggressive than I am complacent. Many have told me that I seem to be a very giving and understanding person, though I often jokingly suggest that it's only a cover for my plans to lull them into a false sense of security before subjugating them and taking over the world-after all, kindness kills.

All of these things coalesce into forming the person that I am and how I view the world. Race, Gender, Sex, Sexuality, Inequality, Class, Religion (or anti-religion as the case may be), and, most importantly, Art are all aspects of who I am, but only serve to paint a very shallow, emotionless portrait. I am more than these concepts, as are most, if not all, of the people who exist on this plane.

Lastly, I am an artist, a writer, a researcher, and philosopher who seeks to use these mediums to act against the injustices-racist, sexist, homophobic, genderist (i.e.-cisgender privilege), and classist-that plague our society. However, I also use them to explore myself and who I am and what matters to me. I use them to express love, hatred, bitterness, and amusement. I use them to find my truth.

This is what the Cross Journal is for; another medium of expression for my thoughts and my reality.

Thank you for reading, and please enjoy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Race and Contemporary Hollywood Part 03

When I last did a post on this I made it a point to add an aside concerning an aspect of race and contemporary Hollywood that is often ignored by a majority of critics. That aside concerned the prevalence of Eastern Europeans in roles often occupied by minorities (i.e.-the group that needs a Western saviour, the terrorists, the crazy foreigner, etc.). Now I'm sure at some point most of us have seen movies like Hostel or old action flicks with Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Dame, where the bad guys were thoroughly bad and irredeemable. Of course there were Black, Latino, Arab, etc. villains, but if there was a "white" villain to be found they were more than likely Russian or Eastern European (how many times has the bad guy been Czech or some similar nationality?). Well in this post I'm going to breakdown some of the most prevalent and offensive stereotypes found in most Hollywood films concerning Eastern Europeans.


1) "Loose"/"Party Girl": Eastern European women are often depicted as being "looser" and more into partying than their Western European or U.S.-American counterparts. Movies such as EuroTrip (which was a terrible attempt at comedy and possibly satire) and, to an extent, that deplorable tripe known as Hostel portrayed the women as readily grinding on, flirting with, and, in many instances, sleeping with a man. Transporter 3 is another example. It had a Eastern European female...well I wouldn't really call her a protagonist, but they had someone/something similar, and, in short and understating, she was not the most demure of women. Not that being demure is anything to aspire to, but...well watch the movie if you really want to know what I'm getting at. (Warning: You will role your eyes right out of your head at both her character and the story overall)

2)Conniving/Opportunistic: This is a stereotype all women have to deal with, but in film it is more often than not the minority women who are depicted in the worst possible light as it concerns this. There are countless examples in films directed by U.S.-Americans, the aforementioned film Hostel being a particularly malicious example, and in every instance the woman, or women as the case may be, is made into a completely irredeemable monster or must be taught the "error of her ways" by the "hero" or "heroine". Once again, this is stereotype is not exclusive to Eastern European women, but I have noticed that there is not much mention of them during discussions involving this topic.

3)The Sexy Spy or Secret Agent: Whether it be because their accent, or the magical appeal of all things "foreign" to Western audiences, there seems to be some kind of infatuation with Eastern European women taking up the role of the evil secret agent or spy. Often they will embody one or both of points 1 and 2, and will more than likely end up dead. Just watch a spy flick, a James Bond film for example, and see what I mean.'

4) Nagging, Bodybuilder, Manish, and/or Haggish: Though not quite as prevalent as other stereotypes, at least based on the number of films I've seen or heard of, whenever an "ugly" character is needed, and they're white, they are often Russian or Eastern European. I'm sure we all know the stereotype of Russian women, and, by some twisted logic, Eastern European being "manish" builds or being bodybuilders, especially when it comes to comic relief in film or cartoons. I'm sure we all remember seeing at least one nagging and/or haggish old woman portrayed as a similar nationality. While these stereotypes are not solely endemic to depictions of Eastern European women (Black women face these kinds of stereotypes more often than others, at least as it concerns Hollywood films), you would be hard pressed to find a Western European woman or American woman, outside of possibly Italians, presented in such a light.

05) Prostitutes/Sex Slaves: Playing into the very real problem of female sex trafficking, this stereotype is prevalent in a lot of t.v. shows and films. Shows like Law and Order and Without a Trace have used elements of this stereotype to construct narratives. Movies like the phenomenal Eastern Promises used this stereotype as well. However, with the way its presented, you'd think that sex trafficking would be limited to Eastern Europe and parts of Asia (more specifically China and Southeast Asia) because, based on another flawed stereotype, the police in those countries are more incompetent and impotent than their U.S.-American counterparts. Of course, for those of us who know that the U.S. is a crap-sack country, the same problem exist in the States with young girls, especially young Black and Latina girls, being trapped into lives of prostitution from ages as early as 9 or so.


1) The Gangster/Mobster:
More often than not, when there's a European mobster or gangster in a film he, or in some cases she, is going to be Eastern European. Sometimes you might get a nationality from them (Czech seems to be the most popular for some reason), but more often than not they're simply, "That Zany Eastern European Bad Guy". This also ties in with the number 2 point, Eastern European men being abusers and alcoholics, as many gangsters and mobster are shown to abuse the prostitutes/sex slaves under their employ to make them seem like really bad guys. They are also shown to have anger management issues, and are highly volatile and unstable in many instances.

Grand Theft Auto IV is a good example of this in video games.

-Note: Italians are the second favorite (used to be first before the 90s or so) for sophisticated European mobsters/gangsters, followed by Asians, and then African-Americans and Latinos. However, that order is reversed when the gangsters are incompetent and/or bumbling.-

2) Abuser/Alcoholics:
While definitely not limited to Eastern European men, this stereotype is quite prevalent as it concerns their film roles. Often under these circumstances the man, be it the father or boyfriend, is made out to be an irredeemable, lazy, abusive drunk who ruins the lives of those around him. Also, more often than not, their death, when they actually die in the film, is made out to be one of the high points of the movie.

3) Terrorist:
While people from the Middle East have started to pick up this mantel at a rate far outpacing their Eastern European counterparts (i.e.-September 11th, War on Bullsh-I mean "Terror", War in Iraq, etc. influence over popular film), whenever you need a communist, white terrorist bad guy they'll either be Russian or Eastern European. A good example of this is Bad Company starring Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins. Much like their mobster/gangster counterparts, the Eastern European terrorist is an extremist bad guy with anger management issues. If there's a party scene in the movie, you can almost guarantee one of the terrorist, be it the leader or one of his men, is going to be an abusive womanizer.

4) Evil Communist Soldier(s): See number 3).

Eastern Europe as a Whole

Eastern Europe as a whole is often presented as being underdeveloped (i.e.-in the industry stage of development) or less developed than Western Europe. Often many countries are presented as lacking many of the amenities that Westerners enjoy, and the currency of most countries is seen as being mind-bogglingly lower in value than that of American monies and currencies like the Euro (e.g.-Eastern European currencies are seen as being at the same level as countries like Zimbabwe, or only slightly better). The scenery is often presented in a very bleak and cold manner (perhaps in an effort to present a subliminal message about the people who live there) with most of the surrounding scenery appearing as though most, if not all countries, are stuck in a perpetual state of winter.

Occasionally the countries will be presented as being staunchly Communist, ethnic groups being highly competitive with one another to a self-destructive extent (i.e.-often fighting wars against one another, new states declaring independence, etc.), and/or retaining a Cold War/Soviet Union mindset. Further, although some mention is occasionally made of Eastern Europe being composed of separate states with independent ideologies and systems, often one gets the image of Eastern Europe being a monolithic entity like Africa and Asia.

In short, exaggerations or fabrications mixed with occasional hints of the truth.

Well, I suppose that concludes this post. Feel free to comment or what have you. Also, I hope that, to any and all readers of Eastern European origins/heritage/etc., I did a decent job of pointing out some of the offensive stereotypes or exaggerations of Eastern Europe.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Movie Review/Recommendation: Whispering Corridors - Wishing Stairs.

Don't let other reviews scare you off, the Whispering Corridors 3-Wishing Stairs is a phenomenal movie. It is a tale involving two girls who are, at least on the surface, the best of friends, a dream, a wish, and finally retribution. While it fashions itself a horror film, I personally feel it would be better classified as a wonderful amalgamation of drama, suspense, and mystery. All three elements work on some level to form a cohesive story that is almost immediately compelling and with an artistic flair that cannot be ignored.

While I wouldn't necessarily recommend this movie to hardcore horror lovers (especially those who like liberal amounts of gore in their horror flicks), I would recommend it to those who like something a little more artful. The way the scenes are shot well, the pacing is occasionally a little to slow but not enough to ruin the experience, and the acting, while occasionally eyebrow cocking worthy, is one the whole very good. In short, I highly recommend this movie for a rental (its been out for awhile). Enjoy!

Rating: 3.5/5
-Pacing: 3.5/5
-Story: 4/5


Yun Jin-seong, played by the talented Sung Ji Hyo, and Kim So-hee, played by the lovely Park Han-byul, are two best friends who attend an all girls school for the arts. Both are talented ballet dancers, but it obvious to all, even from the outset, that Kim So-hee is far more talented than Yun Jin-seong. Regardless, despite Yun Jin-seong's occasional feelings of jealousy at the position Kim So-hee enjoys because of her skill, both girls truly seem to care for the other in a way that, at least to me, border on romantic.*

However, as the film progresses, we come to understand that Jin-seong's occasional flares of jealously aren't quite as innocent as they seem. Jin-seong's and So-hee's friendship turns overtly sour when they find themselves competing for a single spot in a Russian ballet school. though So-hee desperately tries to maintain their friendship, Jin-seong violently rejects her leading to a series of events in which she acts on the old legend of the "Wishing Stairs". Jin-seong selfishly wishes for a place in the prestigious arts school, and in a shocking turn of events, she gets it, at the cost of her best friend' life. However, there is one person who, unbeknown to Jin-seong, cannot let So-hee go. Using the "Wishing Stairs", the extremely odd character of Eom Hye-ju wishes for So-hee to be resurrected...and that's when things take a turn for the worse.


*The other films in the series have, according to Wikipedia, a focus on the taboo of lesbian affairs in an all-girls school.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tyler Perry - A Thoughtful Commentary on the One Man (Out of Many) Who (Further) Tarnished Black Cinema

Tyler Perry (born Emmitt Perry, Jr.; September 13, 1969) is an American actor, director, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and author.[1] Already a successful artist in Southern theater, Perry began to make national celebrity status in 2005 with the release of his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. In 2009, Perry was ranked by Forbes magazine as the sixth highest-paid man in Hollywood.[2] As of July 2009, Perry's films had grossed nearly $400 million worldwide. -

Extracted from Wikipedia

Writer, actor, producer, director. Born Emmitt Perry Jr. on September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tyler Perry has forged his own way in the entertainment industry, building an empire that consists of successful films, plays, and even a best-selling book. One of four children, he had a difficult childhood, suffering years of abuse at the hands of his carpenter father. He once described his father as a man "whose answer to everything was to beat it out of you." -

Extracted from (click the link to read more)

Now, to begin, I want to start off by saying that I am happy for the man, truly I am. If his biography is to be believed in its entirety then I wont begrudge him finding a little success. However, this is were my happiness, forgiveness, and understanding come to an end, because, regardless of the events that occurred during his childhood and early adulthood, the man is a blight on cinema.

Just peruse some of the films in his filmography. I'll admit, Diary of a Mad Black Woman was not a horrible film, but a work of cinematic brilliance? Not so much. However, subsequent films like Meet the Browns, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, etc. have incorporated some imagery and stereotypes that almost make his attempts at movies (I won't comment on his plays as I've never seen one) seem almost though he's trying to incorporate a religious mini-minstrel show into the mix. From the hyper religious aspects to the character of Meda, Tyler Perry seems to believe incorporating and overemphasizing features of the black community (most notably the urban or rural lower class segment of the black population) in order to craft his tales. However, due to the fact that his screen play writing abilities seem lacking at best-in the opinion of this blogger that is-his characters often come of as false and patronizing. They are mere caricatures with little depth outside of what is immediately obvious, which is often the same across most of his works. The women, having lost God in some way or another, have lost their way in life and are struggling to understand why their life is so difficult; the men, arbiters of the forgotten God, work in one capacity or another to force the woman to return to religion and mindless faith; and, of course, there is Madea, who explains his/herself . And that, in short, is the sum total of Perry's characterization of his characters.

However, Perry's movies also work on another detrimental level. That level being the demonetization of black males who could not pass the brown paper bag test, and also of black males who make over five figures annually. I doubt many could explain why, other than typical Hollywood racism, why the "evil" characters, or those characters outside of "God's Will", typically tend to be darker skinned. However, as the situation stands, they are, and Perry has quite a bit of influence over the casting direction the film takes, so why then would he not be an equal opportunity demonizer? Lighter skinned black males are just as capable of being selfish, oppressive, dictatorial, and crude as darker skinned males, yet you'd never know it from a Perry film. Indeed, darker skinned black males not only possess the aforementioned character traits, but they are also the buffoons, sleazebags, and worse. Additionally, Perry's films seem to degrade men who are monetarily successful, either through skill, intelligence, or savvy, while those who are blue collar workers are placed on a pedestal as the zenith of success and humility. Sorry Perry, I'm not buying it; people with negative character traits span the spectrum of race and class, and anyone with any lived experience knows this.

But I don't blame Perry entirely for this; I don't care how much you want to break into show business, black men should never degrade themselves by taking up these roles. That's not to say I believe that black men shouldn't play the villain, or what have you, but after awhile someone should have started a strike against Perry until he reversed the overly simplistic roles and dichotomy (e.g.-dark good/light bad).

Further, there is the problem of Madea. If Perry confessed to being a cross dresser, gender queer, androgynous, or latent transsexual woman I might not be quite a disgusted as I am with him. However, dressing up as a domineering black woman who epitomizes every stereotype in the book just for ****s and giggles is not okay. It wasn't okay when Eddie Murphy did it (i.e.-Nutty Professor, Norbit, etc.) and it is not okay now. The cooning and ridiculous antics are not funny to those of us who have the ability to critically think, or, at the very least, rub two synapses together. In fact, many of the characters in Perry's films can be down right insulting to one's intelligence, especially Madea.

In concluding, while I do not begrudge Perry for "making something of himself", so to speak, I am terribly disappointed in not only his latest efforts, but his work overall. One would hope in the 21st Century POC would have a more socially conscious outlook, or, at the very least, would not cater to white America's stereotyping of POC. For this grievous offense, Mr. Perry, I would have to humbly request that you desist in writing, producing, and publishing films until you have a more enlightened outlook on life and creativity.


-Side Note/Mini-Rant- By the way, how does one make Angela Bassett come of as a terrible actress!? That's not supposed to be possible! How poor could your directing and writing be that I would be forced to cringe every time Bassett's character opened her mouth? Even more than for the last offense, Mr. Perry deserves to be stripped of his ability to make films, at least until he can write and direct in such a way that he can actually utilize the talent he hires. -End Side Note/Mini-Rant-



-They're waiting for your decision, Mr. Perry, and they won't take no for an answer...-

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Problem with Video Games: 5 Games out of Many Which Insult My Sensabilities - A Rant

I've been meaning to do a post like this for awhile, as video games are something very near and dear to me (Yes, I know exactly how sad that sounds). However, recently my beloved hobby has taken a turn for the worse, or perhaps I'm just now starting realize it. No, that's not entirely true either. I've known for years that POC portrayals in video games are lacking at best. Maybe I simply tried to ignore it so I could enjoy my escapism.

Regardless, I've finally reached my breaking point. I can no longer support the gaming industry as it currently stands, replete with homophobia, sexism, and racism as it is. There are several reasons for this, but I thought I'd first start with a list with the most heinous offender to my sensibilities.


Resident Evil:

More specifically Resident Evil 5. From "Tribal" Sheva to the Ndipaya, this game couldn't be anymore offensive. As stated by Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead, "it plays so blatantly into the old clichés of the dangerous 'dark continent' and the primitive lust of its inhabitants that you'd swear the game was written in the 1920s" and "there are even more outrageous and outdated images to be found later in the game, stuff that I was honestly surprised to see in 2009." The article adds that the addition of the light-skinned Sheva "compounds the problem rather than easing it." And I know some durpa durp is going to bring up that one anthropologist from that one university. Well guess what o' ye of little scholarly learning, that's just one anthropologist's opinion. As an anthropology major I could just as easily assert that the game is racist as all get out, because, guess what, just like other sciences (social or otherwise), one individual does not represent the whole field of study! So to those who thought to make that argument I would like to offer you a nice, big DURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!


Street Fighter:

A childhood favorite of mine that was largely enjoyable during my naive years of pre-pubescent semi-bliss. However, this is number 2 on my list of racist video games, primarily due to it's international popularity. Yes, SF Fanboys, you heard me right. This game is so offensive in terms of its characterizations that I couldn't even bring myself to look at Street Fighter IV, much less work up the fortitude required to shell out 60+ dollars for it.

Now I know someone, or quite a few someones, is going to say, "WTF? Dumb fuk is dumb! Street Fighterz PWNS!" or something to that effect. Just so you know, I'm officially ignoring you

As I was saying, all one needs to do is take a look at the character roster and you'll understand my sentiments. Take, for instance, your heroes in the form of Ryu, Ken, Chun-li, and Guile. Ryu is obviously one of the more fleshed out characters as he's the title's mascot, but Ken, Chun-li, and Guile are not without their depth either. While Guile is definitely a stereotype concerning white, western military men from the States, he at least looks somewhat badass despite his ridiculous hair cut. Similarly, other fairer skinned characters are at least neutral on the characterization scale. However, their browner counterparts? Meh, not so much.

From Balrog/M.Bison to DeeJay (Yes, that's his actual name) to Elena to T-Hawk (Once again, yes, that is his actual name) to El Fuerte, all of these characters are ridiculously offensive stereotypes, and in a game practically comprised of ridiculous stereotypes that's saying quite a bit. Well start with DeeJay if for no other reason then the fact that these are his "Likes"-Shouting, singing, dancing, watching TV, and cooking shows. Yes, that's right, he likes shouting. What. The. $%#@!?

Oh, and in case you wanted to know his "Hates"-Silence, harsh people, and people who lack rhythm. Yes, that's right my rhythmically challenged readers, DeeJay is going to whoop your ass up and down the block because you can't clap on beat, because that's exactly what happy dancing blackies from Jamaica do.*

Next up is Elena. I'm not going to comment too much on this one, but I just want to highlight two things that seem to be really salient points about her character. 1) She looks like this-Those Body Proportions! and 2) That Family Photo! My GOD!**

As it concerns Balrog, T. Hawk, and El Fuerte...well the less said the better. Actually, a point of clarification on T.Hawk. Apparently the Street Fighter development staff and Capcom do not realize that those indigenous groups within Mesoamerica have vastly different cultures than those found in the Southwestern United States (which is to say nothing of the diversity to be found among those groups as well). I say this because T.Hawk has stereotypical elements of "Mexican" cultural heritage attributed to his character on top of the grossly offensive and stereotypical "Native American/American Indian" character attributes. Also, just in case you were wondering what, exactly, was so offensive about the T.Hawk link (other than the obvious) it's because the poorly enunciated thing he says at the end is, "How". Someone shank everyone on the SF IV development team with the dulled end of a "peace pipe" please...

Anyway, this could go on forever, but I'm going to move on to el numero tre.


Mass Effect:

I'll make this simple. While Mass Effect is indeed a great game with a decent, if not entirely predictable, narrative, it suffers from the same ills of most science fiction. Those ills, if you do not already know, are the relative lack of POC and the lack of truly dynamic character attributes for those that do exist. Sure you could bring up good ol' boyscout Cap'n Anderson, or, in the second installment, Jacob Taylor or Kasumi, but that's what? Three out of God knows how many? Seriously, there are more POC in the world than there are white people, but somehow, in almost every sci-fi space narrative, white people manage to remain the visible majority. Go ahead and take a look around the game world and tell me I'm wrong; if you can count the number of POC on two hands, let alone, one then that's probably a hint that something's wrong...

Also, Kasumi and Jacob are, at best, nice ship and combat scenery. Jacob has all the character of a brick wall with a boyscout logo painted on it, and Kasumi...well I'm not even going to talk about her, but I will raucously laugh in the face of anyone who was dumb enough to actually buy that DLC.

Now I know someone's going to bring up the aliens, but you know what? **** you! I mean, really! Aliens! You're going to use aliens to explain why POC are largely underrepresented in the game world? Don't make me laugh.

Also, if you were going to suggest something about the gaming demographic or what have you, you can have a **** you too. There are enough POC gamers that Bioware could have done a little bit better with diversity. Heck, Fallout 3, while problematic in its own right, at least had a diverse cast of characters! So forgive me if Yvonne Strahovski doesn't do it for me as far as a RO (romance option), and if I prefer someone who looks a little more like this. Granted I usually play the renegade, lone wolf jackass whose only interest is pissing off his comrades and everyone else around him-What can I say? It's the misanthrope in me-, but the option would be nice.

Also, forgive my LGBTQ friends for wanting a little equal opportunity loving. To be quite honest I think it's absolutely ridiculous how much this game caters to white, heterosexual, cisgender males. If someone wants their FemShep to get it on with Miranda, Jack, or Tali, then who am I to tell them no way? Similarly, if someone likes a little strapping MShep on Jacob action (though given the fact that Jacob is just about as 3-D as a piece of cardboard I don't know why they would) or Thane, so be it. If you don't like it, don't romance them, duh? It's not complicated...

Now these complaints are leveled at the some of the fanboys and girls just as much as they are at the developers, because I can't even remember the number of homophobic bull**** I read concerning gay/lesbian romance options on various threads.***


Final Fantasy:

F***. Final. Fantasy. (F*** the first one because he's a cooning Mr. T ripoff. I believe the second and third ones are rather self explanatory, but if not I'd like to add that he too is a coon.)



Dead or Alive:

Zack. 'nuff said.

*Edit: Not enough said. I almost forgot the mind boggling sexism! Let us not forget the blatant male fan service that is so beyond creepy that those who actually bought the volley ball title(s) (I wouldn't dare to suggest that they were actual games) should be drawn and quartered without some much as a fair trial. Really, those "women" (using the term loosely, especially since I'm discussing nothing more than animated frames/pixels/etc.) are constructed in such an anatomically impossible way that one would have to wonder if the whole series was based on the creator's wet dreams...wait, never mind, that's exactly what the series is: one big wet dream after another. *Shudders*

Now don't get me wrong; I love the female figure (tall, full, skinny, athletic, etc.), but the objectification found in this series just makes me feel dirty, and not in a good way.


And I think I'm going to cut it off here. I'm starting to get a headache. However, there are countless other games I could list where POC are either 2-D characters, scenery, or nonexistent. I'm not even going to start on the homophobia, and transphobia doesn't even come up in discussion (except maybe in the case of characters like Flea from Chrono Trigger). Regardless, you can give me the excuse that gave developers are white or Japanese if you want, but that still doesn't make them any less guilty of the offenses listed and then some.

Anyway, feel free to comment with additions for the list, possible counter arguments, or what have you.


*It's a ****ing national past time next to having the IMF and the United States cripple their economy.

**Now I may not know much about the distinct Kenyan tribes, but Elena's family looks more like a Native American stereotype than anything remotely "Kenyan"-which is near impossible to define given the nation's diversity. Now, I admit I may be wrong, so if someone has any information on peoples from Kenya that contradicts my assertion feel free to share.

***I did notice that a lot more people were pro-lesbian ROs, however. But given the demographic (hetero, cis, white males) I guess that was something of a given...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Race and Contemporary Hollywood Part 02

Wow...I was actually supposed to post this a long time ago. I guess I could blame my old laptop, a lack of free time, or whatever, but those are poor excuses so I'll just apologize. Sorry for the long wait, those of you who were waiting that is. Now, without further ado, onto Race and Contemporary Hollywood Part 02!

Now, when I last left off I was discussing a myriad of things, but I'd like to address one issue in particular that I merely glossed over. That issue is the continued pigeon holing of POC in what are considered major films. Here's a quick test for you, how many "major motion pictures" can you think of, off the top of your head, that featured a POC who was not portrayed in a stereotypical manner that, I assume, most white people within the audience are meant to feel comfortable with? Do you have a number in your head? Good. Now, take those films and ask yourself how many times, if any, a POC was the lead or a major character and did not die; get reduced to a secondary character; or did not abruptly start playing into a "Hollywood Standard" stereotype? Do you have another number? Good. Now, if that number is less than 10 films, I want to know if that's a problem for you.

Personally, off the top of my head, I can't think of one "major motion picture" that didn't screw up in one of the ways listed above.

-Aside- Also, has anyone else noticed how Eastern Europeans tend to be depicted in major films? I don't think I can think of many, if any, positive depictions of Eastern Europeans off the top of my head, which is also disconcerting.-End Aside-

And thus I, at least, have a problem because, despite what many may claim, I've seen far too many movies, recently, depicting that good old favorite form of white American entertainment. That's right, that age old form of buffoonery exceeding the antics of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck; comedy so vulgar, offensive, and jarring that you'd have to be, quoting Green Day, an American Idiot to enjoy it; comedy that makes every intelligent POC want to boycott Hollywood until the end of time. That's right my friends I'm talking about: Cooning! (Here's a link for those of you who don't know, and perhaps blessedly so, what cooning is - *It's the fourth definition under the Verb header*)

Now I know what some of you might be thinking. "Well X I don't remember seeing much blatant cooning lately!" To those of you who are thinking this, or thoughts that closely mirror it, I would have to kindly ask for you to view these links: (not two of the best links admittedly, but what were you expecting for a movie that was just released?) (once again, not the best link (someone actually thought this scene was funny enough to add ridiculous music?), but I'm working with what I've got right now. Also, from what I've heard, this scene NEVER existed in the book, so that begs the question-Was it neccesary!?)

And I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. And these are just the depictions of African Americans! I could do a whole series of posts on this kind of deprecating humor and how it affects Africans (because we all know that the peoples of Africa are just one big hegemonic group with no individual states, cultures, or identities. Or at least that's what Hollywood would have you believe) and other POC.

Anyway, I think that's it for right now. If I keep going I'm likely to start foaming at the mouth and spewing green fluid out of my eyes, and I've already had to clean up that mess once today. I'm not sure what my next post will be on (maybe something on the music industry, or Hollywood's troubled history with women *especially WOC*, but I'm not sure yet; however, I am open to suggestions), but it won't be on this, at least not for right now...I have to wait for the boiling blood and deeply embedded snarl to recede from my face otherwise it might get stuck like this.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Janne Da Arc

Okay, ignoring the fact that they, presumably, almost reworded Jeanne d'Arc's name (which is understandable considering that Asiatic languages have little to nothing in common with Indo-European languages, let alone the Romance ones), this band is totally awesome.

I did something of a school girl squeal when I heard this song which, I know, isn't very manly, but come on! Listen to these guys! I love the vibe and dark feel of both the video and the song. Now if only I knew what they were saying... >_<'

Anyway, check these guys out if you already haven't. They've got some really great sounds and I'm sure those of us who are into the alternative scene won't be disappointed by their style.

*I stand corrected by a friend. Apparently they're a little more "glam rock" (I forget the name of the Japanese equivalent) then they are alternative. My bad. :P

Race and Contemporary Hollywood Part 01

Okay, this post was prompted by this film:

First and foremost let's address this troubling film. As I'm sure you all have noticed, the film is titled the Prince of Persia, which is based on a video-game franchise of the same title. Now barring the fact that the game franchise was from its outset developed by white American developers, lets examine the real problem here. Jake Gyllenfuckinhaal, while a phenomenal actor in his own right, is a white fuckin' male! I don't care how one may try to spin it, there's no way around that.

So, while Persians may be part of the "caucasoid race", actual Persians (i.e.-Iranians/those people that Washington and the rest of the West seem to want to bomb to Hell) and I would be inclined to disagree with them being considered white enough to be portrayed in film by a Swedish/Jewish male. I'm sorry, it just doesn't fly Hollywood. Seriously, there are so many great Iranian actors and the best you could do was Gyllenhaal? Seriously? Please tell me you're kidding, because if your excuse is that the audience needs someone they can relate to, I can tell you that between 40 and 30% of Americans aren't going to be able to relate to Gyllenhaal (myself being part of that number).

Then there is the problem of the female lead and, boy oh boy, is it a problem. Gemma Arterton is English. That's right, she's straight up from the land of Fish 'n Chips. Now, I know what you're thinking, especially if you didn't click on the link, "Well what's wrong with that Vagrant?" I'll tell you in two words. Ethnic Face. Yes, Ethnic Face. While in the past we limited this title to depictions of African Americans (i.e.-black face) I'm sure we can all acknowledge that every race and ethnicity has been portrayed by a white man in cinema. One infamous example being Charlie Chan ( Gemma Arterton continues this "proud" tradition of Ethnic Face, though not quite as blatantly, by taking up the role of Tamina who is, quite obviously, some subset of the "ethnic princess/ethnic concubine/ethnic minx/ethnic whatever other stereotypical female role you can think of". Seriously, two for two already? I don't even want to know what the rest of this "diverse" cast looks like (but I can guess you've got at least one POC who will end up dying 20 minutes into the film. Sarcastic YAY!"

But then again, knowing that it is going to be produced by Walt Disney demystifies the whole situation. After all, these are the people who brought you that gem of a film titled The Princess and the Frog (Proceeds to vomit profusely into a bucket). And this brings me to my next point. Hollywood is seriously laying on the stereotypes mighty thick even in the 21st century and this is a major problem. All one needs to do is look at a Queen Latifah movie, an Ice Cube movie, etc. And that's to say nothing of the roles that men and women of colour are pigeon holed into, especially women of colour. I doubt you'll see Bai Ling ethnic facing a white russian bride in searching for her white husband, played by John Cho, who presumably died fighting the Nazis though she refuses to believe that.

Seriously, this reminds me of a Paul Mooney skit that appeared on Dave Chappelle:

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. Part 02 of this rant will be up a little later.