Orisa and Efi!

Hello everyone, here’s a video I made on the newest characters on Blizzard’s online multiplayer FPS game, Overwatch and just what makes them so good.

Here’s the original video of Overwatch Developer Jeff Kaplan talking about Orisa and how she came to be.

And you can find the Overwatch Victory Theme remix by IncredFX Music.

And hey, check out this cool article I came across while doing some googling from Paste Magazine on just why Orisa is accidentally an Afrofuturist Icon.

The Toxicity of Gamer Culture

Hey everyone, here’s a video I did on the toxicity of gamer culture and why I believe it came to become a thing.

TRIGGER WARNING: In the video, I highlight some material that may be triggering to those of us who may have experienced sexual abuse and harassment. Take care when watching this.

Now, for further clarification, I don’t want GAMES to die off, I want gamer culture to die. It’s one of the biggest cesspools of ignorance, hatred, and bigotry for straight white dudebros I’ve ever seen and the subjects I talk about are but one of many that have happened over the years that does nothing but reinforce that.

More often than not, it’s the exception rather than the rule that women and other people are accepted, encouraged, and welcomed in gaming groups be it online or tabletop, and for them I’m happy. Gaming can be a lot of fun, but like any medium of entertainment it can only grow from critical thought and evaluation, and that can’t happen if the gatekeepers, dudebros, and gamergaters do everything they can to push, threaten, and scare away critics.

Here are the links I drew images from in the creation of this video. Please check them out for a more comprehensive view of the facts surrounding the subjects I talked about.

Nintendo Firing A Female Gamer Only Makes The Trolls More Rabid 

Nintendo Employee Terminated After Smear Campaign Over Censorshi, Company Denies Harassment Was Factor

Gamers Flood Baldur’s Gate Expansion With Negative Reviews After It Introduces Transgender Character

Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Expansion Earns Ire Of Gamers Angry At “SJW” Issues and Trans Inclusion

Tabletop Gaming Has A White Male Terrorism Problem

Davis Auriri Admits He Never Actually Watched Any Of Anita Sarkeesian’s Videos

Back When People Thought Dungeons And Dragons Was Satanic

Mortal Kombat – Violent game that changed video game industry

Awesome Black Geeks!

Hey everyone! Seeing as how it’s Black History Month in the US, I figured I’d share some wonderful black geeks who celebrate and discuss geek culture.

They are podcasters, bloggers, and cosplayers, and they are passionate, thoughtful, and some of the most wonderful people whose content I’ve had the honour of reading, listening to, and consuming.

And in one or two cases, meeting.

First off, we have Black Girl Nerds, which features not only a myriad of awesome articles by its founders, and a number of guest posters, but a podcast and some cool merchandise!

You can find them on twitter as well at @BlackGirlNerds, which is where I found them and have been following them for some time.

The writing on the articles are wonderful, informative, and have changed my opinion on media I’d previously consumed. One example of this was the article by Mel Perez of Women Write About Comics called:

Mental Health & The Strong Black Women Trope

It was a poignant, personal look at the deconstruction of the strong, black woman trope as done through Sasha of The Walking Dead and how she deals with terrible losses in a very cruel world.

Remember the podcast I mentioned earlier? Well, they’ve got one, and for their latest episode, they had on a wonderful lineup of guests, starting with actress Rachel True, who I know best from The Craft, the originator of the twitter hashtag #Oscarssowhite, April Reign, and actor Stefan Kapicic, who stars as Colossus in the new movie from Fox, Deadpool!

So give it a listen here!

Next up, we have I Need Diverse Games, which started off as a twitter tag #INeedDiverseGames by @cypheroftyr because she was sick of not seeing herself in games, and instead saw lots of scruffy white guys.

@cypheroftyr also hosts a podcast called Fresh Out Of Tokens and has interviewed many a member of the game making community in her discussion of race, gender, and sexuality alongside her co-host, David L Reeves. He’s an editor, by the way, and a good one at that, so maybe hire him to look at your upcoming book!

And since we’re talking about games, lets talk about another game-centric podcast called Spawn On Me, hosted by those with the most, Cicero Holmes, Kahlief Adams, and Shareef Jackson! Broadcasting out of their homebase in Brookago, these three discuss issues of racism within a gaming industry that remains, to this to day, very white.

Not only have they interviewed a number of interesting guests, such as Tauriq Moosa and Livio De La Diamond, who wrote about how white The Witcher 3 is and how few people sided with Gamergate, but they’ve also hosted gaming events to raise money for people, such as the family of Eric Garner, killed by police for selling cigarettes.

It’s a funny, poignant, and thoughtful podcast, and one of my favourite episodes has to be Episode 38, The Great Debate, in which the intrepid trio discuss their favourite consoles and just why you should buy them.

I also mentioned cosplayers at the start of this post, and three of my favourites are easily Brichibi Cosplays, Maki Roll’s Chop Shop, and Jay Justice!

Not only are all three beautiful, awesome, and amazing cosplayers who make their own outfits, but they’re all wonderfully talented!

Maki is a burlesque dancer, Brichibi makes her own woodburnings that range from coasters to plaques, and Jay Justice is an LGBTQ and disability advocate as well as an actress.

Now, if you want to check out some more amazing black cosplayers, check out the twitter hashtag #29DaysOfBlackCosplay! The depth of skill and passon shown here is just breath taking and amazing, and shows that geekdom is not solely the domain of white people, despite what the gatekeepers and death eaters might tell you.

And while you’re on twitter, check out the group @WeAreWakanda which promotes and celebrates a number of amazing artists drawing black characters from all over geekdom. They also look at representation in comics, television, and movies.

Then, you should go to their website and buy some of their merchandise. After all, everyone’s got to eat and pay the bills.

Overall though, this is but a taste of the many, talented black geeks out there. Just about everyone I talked about is a gateway to many others who are content creators, who discuss how pop culture explores racism and sexism, or becomes lost in it, and who celebrate and uplift not only other black geeks, but other geeks of colour as well.

In short, for those who ask “How do I learn more?” you have only to google these people and others to start learning. Like, share, and support them with your money not only during Black History Month, the shortest month of the year, but throughout the year as well.

 

No, Not Every Story Is Owed Your Attention Or Time

I’ve had some thoughts, let me share them with you.

So, awhile back, Episode 5 of Life Is Strange, an indie-developed game, was released, and I finally finished episode 4. I learned from my time playing The Walking Dead that sometimes it’s good to have another episode to play queued up so that I’m not left on a cliffhanger, and a good thing too, because the ending of Episode 4 hit me like a punch in the gut.

So, I started playing, took a break, and of course, there were spoilers on some of the blogs I follow on tumblr. Spoilers don’t bother me because they’re just words, and they can’t take away from the enjoyment or full experience of watching a movie or playing a game.

So when I read the spoilers, to say I was not happy was an understatement. In fact, I quit the game and deleted it off my hard drive. I’m not here for the baiting of gay people, and the dead lesbian trope is one that needs to die itself, especially when used in the context that Life Is Strange used it.

Now, some people had some objections and incredulous statements to say to this, basically implying that I’m being selfish for not giving the story a chance because of spoilers I’d read.

It wasn’t just spoilers I’d read, but videos I’d seen as well. I knew that whatever I encountered after the first half hour of the game, let alone everything else that happened in the previous 4 episodes, would be dashed aside by either of those two endings.

But what made me think about those comments was the idea that stories are owed a reading before judgment is passed, and while that might seem fair on the surface, I couldn’t help but detect the hint of power and privilege behind it.

That is, straight white power and privilege.

See, despite the gains made in representation in various mediums of entertainment, be it comic books, video games, TV shows and movies, we still live in a world where straight, white, male, and cis is the default, sometimes to the detriment of small details like, ohh… history.

And there’s no current greater examples than the recent white washing of Egypt in not one, but TWO movies, the Gods of Egypt, and Exodus.

So to say that stories are owed a viewing or reading completely in order to judge it truly rings false to me, seeing as how so much of our media is based in straight whiteness.

It’s a presumption that because much of what is made for straight, white, cis males is for everyone, and it’s something I’ve seen in various fandoms that this extends to straight, white cis women as well.

I once had a friend who had three clear rules he followed for what stories he watched or read, and they were:

  1. It, in some way, supports our goddess on Earth Gina Torres, by either starring her or someone close to her.

  1. It has someone who is gay or black, or a combination there of, that was not treated poorly in the story.

  2. It came highly recommended from one of his close friends.

If it didn’t meet those first three rules, he wasn’t interested, and frankly, I couldn’t blame him.

Someone I follow on tumblr has as her first questions for anything she reads or watches or plays is does it have transgender, bisexual, or lesbian women in it. If not, she’s going to give it a pass.

Now, while the first instinct is to say it’s going to narrow what they read or watch, it’s true, but also very understandable. After all, why is it presumed that anyone who isn’t straight, white, cisgender and male going to like a story in which they do not see themselves?

Heck, why is it even asked of them to like it in the first place?

That’s not to say they won’t, but the presumption is often a derailment for people who aren’t interested in stories where they can’t see someone they can personally relate to having a grand adventure, solving a mystery case, or finding the love of their life.

One very recent and notable example of this was the horribly whitewashed dramatic retelling of the Stonewall Riots in Roland Emerich’s Stonewall. It featured a white, gay, cis male lead while relegating several people of colour to the background, even going so far as to mishmash two of them into one central, fictitious character.

Basically, it all but erased Marshal P Johnson, a black transgender radical woman, and Sylveria Rivera from the actual Stonewall riot, replacing the shotglass thrown that was heart around the world with a brick thrown by a fictional gay white guy from a midwest Farm.

People rightly called it out for its whitewashing, pointing out how most LGBTQ movements have done much to erase gay people pf colour and transgender people, but the director and actors said not to judge the film based on the trailer, and to wait until the film was seen.

Well, no one took his advice, and Roland Emerich, white, gay and cisgender himself, lost out, with Stonewall garnering barely 130K in its release.

And nor should people who are minorities, be it through the colour of their skin, gender, or sexual orientation be under any obligation to see a movie where they’re played with like a fan writing fanfiction.

Heck, one can look at the recent release of the Zoolander 2 trailer, and spot several transphobic jokes.

Trigger warnings for the garbage jokes.

It’s mainly based around Binklefink Twiddlebottom’s performance as the newest, hottest model named All in All, who refuses to give their gender, and the film’s two main leads expressing confusion and frustration and not knowing what’s in All in All’s pants.

Can you blame anyone then who is actually transgender to not see this movie? Or just anyone who doesn’t like transphobia?

It probably doesn’t help that, even though Zoolander lampoons the world of fashion, they made Beneditch Pumpernickel look like a god damned alien.

And that’s just movies. What about games? I started off in video games when it the common plot was beat the bad guy, and save the princess, as exemplified by Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda. Metroid’s ending of Samus being a woman was a surprise, and not exactly quickly spread common knowledge in the days before the Internet.

So what about today? Unfortunately, it’s still a lot of the same. Even games as diverse as Bioware’s latest big hits, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, still were marketed with straight white men on the cover for most of them. We only got a female Shepard after after a rather deplorable beauty contest held on Facebook and elsewhere, and it wasn’t until the third installment that we finally got Shepard some male love interests.

fem_shep_01

And these two articles give a good overview of the Beauty Paegent Bioware held for the default female Shepard.

Why The Mass Effect 3 FemShep Vote Was The Wrong Move

Fans Picked the Blonde in a Controversial Video Game Beauty Contest, But That’s Not a Bad Thing

Then there are all the first person shooters out there marketed towards straight, white cisgender dudes.

Yeah, nice package indeed.

So is it any wonder that some people might feel that some games aren’t for them? Or that there’s nothing in said games for them to be interested in or see themselves in?

Again, it’s not to say that there aren’t a diverse group of men and women from different backgrounds who enjoy these games, but that the marketing of these games, and movies and TV shows, are still fixed up in a straight, white, cisgender able bodied package as the default setting to sell to customers.

And that not all customers fit that package.

So in case you haven’t noticed. I’m not saying anything more than what a myriad of other people have noticed and discussed before, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of superhero comics, or sci-fi and fantasy stories. But it’s something worth discussing and talking about to this day, and every day until we no longer see this kind of expectation.

And if there’s anything to take away from this video, it’s that no one is under any obligation to like a story in which they do not see themselves or aren’t represented in a positive, deep, and meaningful way.

I’m Triple J, and that’s all I’ve got left to say. Take care!

No, Stories Do NOT Exist In A Vacuum.

WARNING! Spoilers for the last episode of Life Is Strange.

OK, you may now read on…

I recently received a reply to one of my comments in the comments section of the Mary Sue, discussing the final chapter of Life Is Strange from DONTNOD Entertainment.

Screenshot_17

And it’s this kind of reply that I find incredibly draining and tiring to answer, because it’s a basic kind of question that seeks to derail the discussion at hand instead of dealing with some tropes that are rooted in homophobia.

For starters, the dead lesbian trope started wayyy back in the 1950s, wherein happiness for gay characters existed very little in fiction. While I can’t recall the name of the book that really cemented this, it centered around a woman who falls in love with another, but ends with her ‘realizing’ she’s straight and marrying a man while her lover dies a tragic death.

The other aspect of dealing with this kind of question is that it ignores the very basic reality that stories do not exist in a vacuum. Everything we read, watch, play, or create is influenced by the world we live in, for better or for worse, and that means that there is going to be homophobic, racist, and sexist elements in our stories.

To say that the ‘greater meaning’ gets ignored when we rate something on a pass/fail of tropes comes off to me as not wanting to think about how killing off someone who is a part of a marginalized group looks to people who are a part of that group, let alone the rest of us.

You don’t want to think about those issues, because then you might feel bad about liking something that’s got garbage, homophobic writing in it.

In this case, DontNod created a story in Life Is Strange that boiled down to two decisions in the end:

  1. Sacrifice your best friend, who comes out a lesbian by way of kissing the lead character, in order to save the town.
  2. Leave the town to be destroyed with your best friend, who is now just your gal pal, with no showing she’s anything but.

Those aren’t very good choices, especially considering the amount of time spent with and emotional investment made in Max and Chloe.

It also doesn’t help that in the Sacrifice Arcadia Bay ending, in a discussion held with one of the writers, the reason WHY no sign of something more than being Gal Pals was shown was anything more should be left up to the imagination, implied…

Screenshot_18

Oh, and that the budget ran out.

Screenshot_19

Source taken from this tumblr post.

Total weak sauce.

There’s another post in me about how this is total weak sauce, in making a game where nothing matters in the end in one way or another, but I want to keep it on this, to show the ignorance in saying that a story should be judged on its own merits.

Because you can’t, not when we live in the world we do. It’s why I’m critical of The Walking Dead for how often they kill off black men, or Marvel Comics for splitting up Spider-Man from MJ because him being married makes him old.

Those all reflect some ugly realities instead of challenging them, and when we’re upholding the status quo, we’re gatekeepers who think nothing’s wrong with it.

Brain Food – Episode 37

Hello everyone and welcome to a new episode of Brain Food! In this episode, I review a true classic, the novelization of the great NES title, Mega Man 2!

If you want more information on the Worlds of Power series, check out this wikipedia entry. I know I wish I did before saying some of the stuff in the video, although I think my assessment of the plot of the book is still accurate.

Dedicated to my good friends of the Retro Rangers. Have a great time at Con-Nooga!

I Got A Problem With…

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World!

Yes folks, it’s been a long time coming for me since I first saw this movie last year and read the book, my mind boggling at how something that’s as bad as Twilight could appeal to so many people, including critics of Twilight! Well, after  uch thought, I was hit by my patron muse, Washu-

My Patron muse for inspiring me to write.

-and wrote up my review and farewell to Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It was not easy, and there are plenty of things left about this movie that are horrible and stupid, and have been pointed out by people smarter than me, but this truly was something I wanted to get off my chest.

So watch, enjoy, and leave a critical comment if you like. Just play nice, okay boys and girls?