Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 17: 2x01)

(Written for the video version)

The Dollhouse second season has a different feel to it. It was pure chance that it got renewed at all. Joss and the others knew that they weren’t going to get another season, so they crammed the rest of the story into one season, leading to a rushed pace and a darker tone as we’re now slouching toward Bethlehem.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 16: Pilot)

(Written for the video version)

The original pilot of Dollhouse, called “Echo”, was Joss’ original concept for the first episode, but it was discarded after concerns from FOX and is now very non-canon, though many of its scenes were scavenged for other episodes. Though it is non-canon, I think it’s interesting to look at the original pitch for Dollhouse.

"In the Company of Wolves" - Buffy Fanfic Review

I decided to review a bunch of fanfics I favorited a long time ago and haven't read in quite a while. Following up a review of a short little Animorphs poem, here's a good-sized Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic: "In the Company of Wolves" by Jonquil, posted November 3rd, 2000--February 2nd, 2001, with a twisted Willow/Spike romantic pairing. Following a shorter fanfic about season four Willow deactivating Spike's chip out of pity, "In the Company of Wolves" shows us the inevitable consequences of that action. Because of a threat Willow set up where if she turns up dead, an embarrassing video of Spike will be released, Spike instead imprisons her and takes her on a road trip to Canada. The fanfic focuses on the tense interaction between the two and the attraction Willow develops while trying (and mostly failing) to not become Spike's toy.

"Where Is My Son" - Animorphs Fanfic Review

I'm currently on vacation and nervous about accessing anything my parents would consider of a controversial nature with this Internet connection, so my choices of things to write about are fairly limited. I decided to go to my FanFiction.Net account and go through my favorited fanfiction pieces, most of which I haven't looked at in years. Fanfiction has narratives worth critiquing and analyzing, so why not blog about it? Hell, I've analyzed Troll 2. Basically anything is worthier than that. I'll start with the oldest work on my list: Animorphs poem "Where Is My Son" by NovaAni-Bookworm1, posted November 15th, 1999.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 15: 1x13)

(Written for the video version)

The thirteenth Dollhouse episode “Epitaph One”, the season finale, is a dramatic break from the rest of the show, taking place ten years later in 2019 with a new group of characters. The Dollhouse technology has gotten out. The superpowers used it to fight World War III, and now it’s the end of civilization where most people have been imprinted to be mindless killers akin to zombies called Butchers. That’s right; the Rossom Corporation caused the apocalypse.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 14: 1x12)

(Written for the video version)

The twelfth Dollhouse episode “Omega” starts where the last one left off. After Alpha leaves with Echo, Claire Saunders screams for help. Adelle and Boyd show up with a security force, way too late as usual. Topher reports that Alpha used crude surgery to remove Echo’s GPS locator implant, so there’s no way to track him. Adelle suggests that finding out which imprint he used on Echo would help, and she leaves him to that.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 13: 1x11)

(Written for the video version)

The eleventh Dollhouse episode “Briar Rose” starts with Echo as a social services volunteer named Susan reading the story of Briar Rose (aka Sleeping Beauty) to a bunch of orphaned children. A girl—also named Susan—gets triggered by the story and explodes with anger about how the princess should have saved herself. An orphanage staff member apologizes to Echo, but she’s fine with it. She expected it would happen. She’s actually there specifically for young Susan. Echo thought that reading the story would trigger young Susan because it always triggered Echo. I just want to point out here how cruel it is to purposefully trigger someone in your care, especially a young girl you’ve never met. What the hell?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 12: 1x10)

(Written for the video version)

Before talking about the tenth Dollhouse episode, I’d like to talk for a moment about fanvids. Fanvids are a selection of clips taken out of their narrative and put to music and arranged in a way that brings new context to them. Though most people use them to celebrate their favorite media, some use them to make political statements. There are some political fanvids I find very nice. Then there’s the fanvid “Dollhouse’s Secret War on Women” by henryevilx. I recently responded to this with my own fanvid “Dollhouse’s Overt Warrior Women”.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 11: 1x09)

(Written for the video version)

The ninth Dollhouse episode “A Spy in the House of Love” is a partially nonlinear story following the four main Actives in separate storylines that intersect with each other. The first part is a set up that doesn’t follow anyone specifically.

It starts out with Echo as a dominatrix talking to Boyd about her job. I have issues with the portrayal of BDSM here, but I’ll leave that to the previous post “S&M Barbie”. I’ll just point out that Echo’s outfit is incredibly revealing and even though she’s supposed to be dominant, she comes off as just a sex object for the male gaze. Anyway, she talks to Boyd about the importance of trust and how it’s beautiful when a submissive trusts a dominant enough to submit to her. Boyd talks about how it’s dangerous to trust people, and it has the implication that the Dollhouse can’t be trusted and he feels bad for lying to her. Trust and specifically misguided trust is the theme of the episode.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 10: 1x08)

(Written for the video version)

The eighth Dollhouse episode “Needs” starts with the Dollhouse staff meeting to discuss their trouble maintaining control of their Actives. Since Echo, Sierra, Victor, and November were exposed to the drug in the last episode, they have been experiencing repeated glitches where they have flashbacks from memories that should have been wiped. Topher thinks he can upgrade the mind-wiping technology to reduce the glitching, but the others are doubtful. Adelle and Dominic tell the handlers to report any behavior that suggests the Actives are becoming more advanced so they can send them to the Attic before there’s another Alpha incident, which Boyd and Dr. Saunders think crosses the line. Dominic urges the staff to think of the Actives as pets. The Dollhouse is an evil institution overall, and this look into the staff meeting shows the complexity of this, where some staff members are more moral than others.

Criticism of Feminist Frequency

In general I like Feminist Frequency. It’s an intelligent video series, and I like having a geeky feminist presence on YouTube. Its video on homophobia in Caprica actually influenced me to create a YouTube channel through showing that that kind of video could work. So, understand that this criticism comes from a place of respect.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Americanized Gojira (Godzilla)

In 1954, the epic monster film Gojira was released in Japan. Representing the horror of the atomic bomb, this radioactive fire-breathing dinosaur struck a chord for Japanese audiences, and the film was a major success, spawning 27 sequels. 27! The Gojira franchise is incredibly popular worldwide, but American filmmakers like to hijack this Japanese story. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I understand that without American appeal the franchise probably wouldn’t have become so popular, that artists build off of each other, and that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. American filmmakers take the core essence of Gojira and then place it in a context to be appreciated by American audiences. However, sometimes the art is Americanized to the extent that it loses what made it what it was.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Legitimacy of Violence (LTROI)

Let the Right One In is about violence. I mean, yeah, there's a whole vampire romance thing going on, but the main theme is about violence. The main character Oskar suffers violence at the hands of sadistic bullies and dreams of taking revenge on them with a knife, while his love interest Eli is necessarily violent as a predator but hates it. Håkan performs violence for Eli's sustenance, and in the book he performs sexual violence for his own lust. Finally, Lacke tries to kill Eli out of a sense of justice, and Eli ends up slaughtering the bullies to save Oskar. Rather than simply presenting violence for gratuitousness, LTROI asks questions about its legitimacy. Is all violence bad? Is any of it justified? I present my thoughts on the subject.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Zero Suit Master Chief

Artist Kevin Bolk put out this humorous image of the Master Chief making a sexy pose based off of Samus, the female action hero of Metroid to which he's often compared. It does a good job of showing how we've come to accept ridiculous sexualizing of female action stars by how jarring it is to see it on a male character. The speech bubble lampshades this. Nice commentary.

Feminist Analysis of LTROI

(Crossposted from posts on this thread; somewhat adapted into this video. Note that this specifically refers to the film.)

Okay, first of all, Eli is not a girl. This kind of puts a damper on analysis of hir as a female main character. The only female characters besides Eli I can think of are the mom and the teacher, both minor (I was reminded of Victoria later and included her at the end). Neither are very effectual in the narrative… but then neither are the male adults. When it comes right down to it, the film is really about a boy and his vampire, so any analysis of gender portrayal would have to be about the two main characters: Oskar and Eli.

Thoughts on Ringer Mid-Season Finale (1x10)

Meh, I don't know if I want to keep watching this show. The latest episode (1x10 "That's What You Get for Trying to Kill Me") threw in some sexist content that just makes me not feel invested in it. Bridget sleeps with Andrew, Siobhan fakes domestic abuse, Charlie kills Gemma, and Juliet says her teacher raped her--played in a way that heavily implies she's lying. I don't know... One issue at a time:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feminist Analysis of i love bees (Part 2)

(Written for the video version here)

Durga is a high-class spy created to gather intelligence on the Covenant, so in the hands of a civilian boy and turned on normal civilians, she’s an incredibly powerful civil rights violation.

Jersey: “I have God’s own spyware.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Transphobic X-Files Episode (1x13)

I never really watched The X-Files during its time. I saw a few episodes, but they totally creeped me out, and I avoided them. Now, I get creeped out by Supernatural and am too jaded to react strongly to X-Files, and I've started watching the series via Netflix streaming. The stories are entertaining enough, but there are some annoying themes. One of them is a transphobic plotline in the thirteenth (fourteenth if you count the pilot) episode "Gender Bender", in which an androgynous shapeshifting humanoid alien goes on a sexual killing spree.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Thoughts on Supernatural 7x08 "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!"

Considering all the hits I've been getting from Supernatural fans looking at my post on the Wedding Crashers male rape scene to compare it to the latest Supernatural episode "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!" (thanks to whoever started sending that link around, by the way), I thought I'd write a post sharing my feelings on the episode. This is that post. "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!" is a problematic episode involving obsessed Supernatural fan Becky giving Sam a love potion, and they become a cutesy couple until the potion wears off in the third act... and it's still too cutesy.

A lot of feminists think Supernatural is misogynistic, but I generally don't see it. The main complaint is that female characters are often killed in a way where the camera lingers over their pain and/or to hurt Sam and/or Dean in a women in refrigerators situation. Well, it's a horror story featuring gruesome deaths all around. The focus is on two male characters and everyone keeps dying around them, anyway. They even liquified Castiel (though possibly not for good). That said, there are a few things here and there that annoy me as a feminist, like practically the entire episode of "Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!".

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Dollhouse Rape Issue

A lot of feminists complain about Dollhouse being a big display of rape without anyone ever acknowledging it. I think it is acknowledged through the shorthand of "prostitution" and "human-trafficking", but I can understand people not recognizing it. I think rape does happen in the normal operation of the Dollhouse, but it's hard to say how this rape exactly occurs given the weird science-fiction element of the show. The problem is that we are just not used to conceptualizing of this kind of thing because it never happens in the real world, and we want to think about this kind of fantasy scenario in the way normal life operates where a person is both mind and body simultaneously and indistinguishably, but that's not accurate to these scenarios. I have some thoughts on how to conceptualize identity in these scenarios, breaking it down to three distinct parts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Feminist Analysis of i love bees (Part 1)

(Written for the video version)

I hate bees, and oddly enough, that’s one thing I have in common with the main character of ilovebees. Okay, so prior to the release of Halo 2, Microsoft hired 42 Entertainment to make an alternate reality game to promote the game. An alternate reality game is a kind of role playing game/scavenger hunt where the lines between reality and fiction are blurred, and if all goes well you forget you’re dealing with an advertisement because you become so immersed in the environment. 42 has pulled off some really high-quality ARGs, and ilovebees is one of them. Thus, I would consider ilovebees to be at roughly the same level as the main articles of Halo fiction if not quite canon. ilovebees is also incredibly complex and hard to explain, but I’ll do my best.

Feminist Analysis of Halo 3

(Written for the video version)
Halo 3 is the last game in the official trilogy made by Bungie Studios. The upcoming Halo 4 was not intended by Bungie and will be made by Microsoft’s 343 Industries. Though Cortana doesn’t show up until two thirds of the way through, she has a large presence in the story. The Gravemind is communicating with the Chief psychically and Cortana hijacks this sometimes. Miranda’s back too, and so is her lack of competence. There’s also a connection with the novels, and Cortana’s creator Catherine Halsey is referenced but not featured.

Feminist Analysis of Halo 2

(written for the video version)
Halo 2 is the sequel to Halo: Combat Evolved. Unlike the previous game, Halo 2’s story shares the Covenant’s side with a second protagonist, a Covenant figurehead called the Arbiter, who over the course of the game comes to realize that the humans are good and his leaders are evil. The Covenant society appears patriarchal, and there are no female characters among the aliens, but the human side makes up for that with the addition of Captain Keyes’ daughter Miranda and finally some female Marines.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You Do Realize That Disorder Exists?

Okay, I've got a problem with story writers who take mental illnesses or atypical conditions and then play with them like they're myths that have no relation to the real world and real people. I'm cool with the idea of taking some myth about something like vampires and building a story around the undead because the undead don't exist in real life. However, these stories that deal with fantastic elements on that level sometimes include variations on real atypical mental conditions as if they were just public domain stories anyone could mess around with.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Male Rape via Disguise (Ringer/Buffy)

I've been enjoying the new Sarah Michelle Gellar series Ringer, about an identical twin named Bridget taking the place of her rich, manipulative sister Siobhan (both Gellar) when it looks like Siobhan has committed suicide and Bridget needs to hide from a criminal who wants her dead. I like the intrigue about the lives of rich people and there's some kind of conspiracy going on, plus it's got Richard Alpert as a minor character. However, one thing that irked me in the latest episode, "A Whole New Kind of Bitch", is the way that the issue of rape isn't addressed with the idea of Bridget having sex with men who would think she's Siobhan. Oddly enough, Sarah Michelle Gellar played a similar role on Buffy as Faith, which is also problematic.

Monday, October 10, 2011

So You Think You're a Masochist

So, I've made posts here about my masochism. I'm into BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism, masochism) in a deep psychological way, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. As a result, I've received a lot of hits and some emails from people who feel they're also masochists and are looking for some guidance. To help these people out, I offer the following:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Feminist Analysis of Halo Wars

(Written for the video version)

Halo Wars is a real-time strategy game made by Ensemble Studios. This was the first venture outside of the first-person shooter genre and with a company other than Bungie Studios. The writing is cornier than ever, though the dialog never quite tops Halo 3’s “to war”, and despite involving epic things like a Dyson sphere contained in a planet, it’s actually a very simplistic story. It’s a prequel to the main trilogy, set twenty years prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved.

It starts out with Captain Cutter of the ship Spirit of Fire narrating about how hard it’s been to reclaim the planet Harvest from the Covenant. Despite the UNSC feeling they own it now, they’re still fighting Covenant off the surface. He then talks to the ship’s AI, Serina, about preparing for dropping troops.
Serina is probably my favorite character in the game, an aloof and sarcastic AI who lampshades some of the cornier aspects of the plot. Her avatar design is much less sexual than Cortana’s. While Cortana’s a naked hologram, Serina wears a normal outfit. She comes off as just a woman, a digital member of the crew, in contrast to Cortana’s appearance setting her apart from the others, though they considered Serina’s clothes having a similar style at one point.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 9: 1x07)

(See the video version here)

The seventh Dollhouse episode “Echoes” starts to build up momentum toward the season finale with a look into Caroline’s backstory. The thing with Dollhouse is that who a person originally was sheds light on who they really are, which will come out even with mind-wiping and imprinting. We get a taste of what our protagonist used to be to find out what she’s heading towards.

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 8: 1x06)

(See the video version here)

The sixth Dollhouse episode “Man on the Street” is a break from the established formula of the previous episodes. This is when the show started to get good. It’s not about Echo going on an engagement, encountering a patriarchy, and overcoming it. Echo isn’t even in it that much. Instead, it’s a closer look at exactly what kind of place the Dollhouse is and the implications of the technology.

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 7: 1x05)

(See the video version here)

The fifth Dollhouse episode “True Believer” starts with the shiny happy people of a local cult, Children of the Temple, buying stuff from a hardware store. The sheriff expresses disdain for the cult while the store owner thinks they’re just happy and people should show tolerance. Then the sheriff finds a note with “save me” written on the back of a paper dropped by one of the cult members.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Feminist Analysis of Halo: Combat Evolved

(I wrote this specifically for a Going Rampant video)

The Xbox first-person-shooter Halo: Combat Evolved, made by Bungie Studios, became one of the most popular American games after its release in 2001 and spawned the long-running Halo franchise. A revamped version of the game will be released this November, what we all recognize as a desperate grab for cash but what Halo fans will get anyway because we’re just that geeky. While the success of the franchise encouraged Bungie to appeal to women in later games, the first one was centered on the generic male market with a lot of homages to their mostly male established fanbase. Even though this is the future where all the countries have combined, it looks pretty much like modern day America in space.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Frankenstein and Parable of the Sower

(This was written for an English class)

The books Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler are both science fiction novels warning of a dangerous potential future. Frankenstein looks at the perils of creating artificial intelligent beings, while Parable explores human savagery in the collapse of American civilization as the result of poor political decisions. Each addresses concerns of the time they were published. While both are pessimistic views of the future and both require the suspension of disbelief, Frankenstein is ultimately more plausible for addressing a timeless issue that modern science may soon make a reality, while Parable creates an alarmist depiction of conservative leadership.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 6: 1x04)

(See the video version here)

The fourth Dollhouse episode, “Grey Hour”, starts with Echo in the mountains as a midwife. Even though we never return to these mountains, they are memorable enough for Echo to remember them past several mind-wipes, but more on that later. Echo is imprinted with the identity of a woman called Taffy. It’s highly implied she’s a prostitute.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Bechdel Test is Flawed

The Bechdel test, used for determining female presence in movies, is flawed. It wasn't started to be a concept for serious feminist film analysis; it was just a joke in a one-shot comic where a lesbian character describes her rule for seeing movies. Because it wasn't defined in a sufficiently thorough way, it becomes difficult to use it for analysis.

The original Bechdel test (actually written by Liz Wallace, so it should be called the Wallace test) had three rules:
  1. The film has to have at least two women in it
  2. Who talk to each other about
  3. Something other than a man
The character then notes that Alien passes because Ripley and Lambert talk to each other about the monster.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sympathy for the Doctor: Reinterpreting Doctor Who

As an atheist, I don’t believe in Satan/Lucifer, but the character as a rebellious figure has some appeal. I think a lot of atheists agree. The Church of Satan is a just a group of atheists who admire the figure and want to piss off Christians. Now, Satan wouldn’t be a just leader, but on the other hand, neither would God. The only reason God is good is because God is first and gets to define what good is for his people. This is not good as humans, specifically modern Westerners, would typically define morality. I find a Doctor Who storyline to inadvertently illustrate God’s tyranny and why an Adversary would be attractive.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 5: 1x03 "Stage Fright")

(see the video here)

The third Dollhouse episode, “Stage Fright,” is about the friendship between Echo and Sierra and how that carries beyond the Tabula Rasa state and into quite different imprints. There’s this singer, Rayna, who is essentially Britney Spears, and Echo is assigned to be her bodyguard after a creepy stalker fanboy makes attempts on her life. In order to draw him out, Sierra is imprinted to be Rayna’s biggest fan, and things are arranged so that she spends the day with her as part of a contest prize.

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 4: 1x01 "Ghost")

(see the video here)

So, the first Dollhouse episode “Ghost” is the intro to the series and as such serves primarily to introduce the basic elements that make up the show. The Dollhouse is particularly gross with its sexualizing the Actives, but I feel that is a way to show what it is in the most overt way. Even though this sexualizing takes place, there are many cues that show that the Dollhouse is villainous. This includes Boyd implying that it isn’t good and later arguing with Topher about how they’re not humanitarians. Then there’s the work done on Sierra, which is depicted in a horrific manner. Our protagonist Echo sees that “she hurts” even in her tabula rasa state, so already she’s picking up that things aren’t as they should be. Then there’s our faux white knight Ballard, who gives us the low-down on why the Dollhouse is no good, that it’s exploiting girls in trafficking and such, that it deals in sexual slavery. Echo is trapped in the Dollhouse and she continues to be trapped, giving us the basis for the whole series, excepting the Epitaph episodes.

Buffy vs. Nosferatu

(see the video here)

After making the “Buffy vs. Dracula” post/video, I felt compelled to talk about the Master. The Master is the main villain of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 1, and somewhat similar to Dracula in the way he evokes the traditional vampire image. The Master is actually based off of Count Orlock from Nosferatu, a 1922 silent film that was an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula and some would say better than the official one. While Bela Lugosi made Dracula a sexy bad boy, Max Schreck made Orlock a grotesque and nightmarish embodiment of the Black Death.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Buffy vs. Dracula

(See the video version here)

Count Dracula: classic movie monster. He ruled with tyranny over the Romanian people for centuries before making his move on England. With dark sex appeal, his power over characters Lucy and Mina fueled women’s rape fantasies for over a century.

Buffy Summers: symbol of girl power. Her superhuman strength and excellent fashion sense enables her to effectively protect the denizens of Sunnydale from the vampire menace with style. With wit and attitude, her subversion of classic damsel-in-distress imagery provides a feminist twist to the horror genre.

What would happen were these two characters to meet and interact?

Dracula: “I am Dracula.”
Buffy: (starstruck) “Get out!”

The first episode of the fifth season “Buffy vs. Dracula” allows for a contrast between the classic vampire fiction of Dracula and the modern ‘90s’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While generally looked down upon for having absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the season, I think it’s an entertaining standalone episode offering a contemplative look at the implications of the series and how it relates to vampire fiction overall. The title is simply a reference to the goofy crossovers common to horror movies, but it can also be thought of as Buffy, the series vs. Dracula, the general story.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do Masochists Like Pain?

(Also check out the video version)
Can pain be pleasurable? I say this as a masochist who finds self-injury enjoyable. No, for me, stimulating nerves through causing tissue damage intentionally or even sometimes unintentionally can cause feelings of pleasure. But is that pain?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Links Out

I wanted to pass along some links:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Terminator: The Modern Frankenstein

(This was written for an English class)

Frankenstein is a story about the creation of intelligent life. Victor Frankenstein creates life from dead tissue and brings several human body parts together to create a new living being out of the fundamentals of human anatomy. The being is not quite human, being stronger, smarter, and grotesque in appearance, and it is dubbed the monster. Victor Frankenstein abandons the monster out of horror, and the monster reacts as an abused child might and ultimately swears revenge upon his creator. The scientist is ultimately criticized both for playing God in the creation of life and for being an abusive parent. This basic theme is present in modern works where the creation of intelligent is an all-to-real possibility with computer science. In many ways, the Terminator series can be seen as a modern Frankenstein.

I Like Pain; Masochistic Memoirs

(I thought I crossposted this from Fanpop's Sex and Sexuality spot a long time ago, but I guess I didn't. Ah, well, here it is.)

I like pain.

Just that. That simple sentence. It sums up a simple but significant aspect of my life. We all have likes. We are often asked our favorite colors or animals, simple likes that define us. I like hot pink. I like hyenas. I like pain.

It is sexual, but it can be as chaste as a childhood crush. As kids, we are sexual even without sexual maturity. We can be attracted to the opposite (or same!) sex even without finding them hot, and we have the platonic crushes of puppy love. In childhood we are thought to be innocent, so childhood sexuality is often glossed over and romanticized as an age without the supposed sinfulness brought by mature sexuality.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Response to "Dollhouse's Secret War on Women"

The user henryevilx has a satire Dollhouse music video on YouTube, in which he tries to expose Dollhouse as misogynistic by showing a montage of clips in which female characters are the recipients of aggressive action. The implication is that Joss likes seeing women get beat up and/or wants others to enjoy it. This is incredibly misleading, however, as it ignores the full context of these moments much in the style of a Michael Moore film. If you took all of the Holocaust scenes from Schindler’s List and put it to music, you can make it look like it’s anti-Semitic, but I think it’s clear in context that Schindler’s List is about the horrors of anti-Semitism and in no way promotes it. Hell, you could make Chick Tracts look like they’re promoting all the things Jack Chick considers sinful by removing the morals at the ends. Dollhouse is very much a feminist show through depicting women getting hurt and then rising up against their oppressors. It also has characters like Echo and Sierra as active fighters, and active fighters are going to take some blows now and then.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Happened to the Machinima? (Halo)

(Crossposted from Halo Fanon)

A few years ago, RelentlessRecusant and I got together to make Halo Fanon’s very own machinima called Common Denominator. We wrote a bit, recruited some other guys, acted out scenes, filmed our scenes… and nothing really came of it. We basically got one scene ready, a trailer, some concept credits, and that was it. What happened to Halo Fanon’s machinima? Do we have any hope of making one now?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Attack of the 50-Ft. Woman

Something I've heard repeatedly is that Attack of the 50-Ft. Woman is a example of classic feminist science-fiction. It's available on Netflix instant streaming, so I decided to give it a look. It does not hold up. It might have been a refreshing change of pace back in the '50s, but it's not really feminist. The titular woman is never treated with respect even when she gets power at the end. It's more about having a horrible male antagonist than having an appreciated female protagonist. Also, the subtly sexy scene in the poster never occurs in the film.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Robinsons: Lost in Space

Even though it basically flopped, I was a big fan of the 1998 Lost in Space movie when it came out. Because of it, I started watching the old 1960s TV show reruns on the Sci-Fi Channel, which was something me and my grandmother sometimes did together. I was disappointed when the reruns stopped being aired. So, I became curious when I recently heard that in 2004 they put together a pilot for a Lost in Space remake television series that never got picked up, called The Robinsons: Lost in Space. As it turns out, this unaired pilot for an unproduced series is available on YouTube. Isn't the Internet wonderful?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ten Misunderstandings About Sadomasochism

While websurfing the other day, I ran across AntiPornography.org. Being open to the idea of anti-porn ideology myself, it seemed like a good resource. But then I ran across their "Ten Lies About Sadomasochism" section, which is paraphrased from a longer article by Melissa Farley found here. It's basically saying masochists are delusional losers victims who need to be liberated by smart, loving feminists. It's really condescending. Sadly, this is a popular attitude, so this makes this first Going Rampant screed attacking the words of someone I wouldn't describe as a straight-up nutter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Robert J. Sawyer's Reused Joke

I'm a bit of a fan of science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer. I often don't agree with him politically, but he's always got interesting ideas and seems like a really smart guy. I've read several of his books, and I recently noticed that he used a joke mentioned in one book in another book. I understand that he's a fan of this joke, but it really seems uncreative to use it twice, especially in different books.

The following quote comes from Hybrids, page 280:
Mary briefly thought of an old joke: the bad news is that the CIA reads all your e-mail; the good news is that the CIA reads all your e-mail.
And the next quote comes from WWW: Wake, page 49:
Besides, he'd heard the old joke: "The bad news is that the Communist Party reads all your email; the good news is that the Communist Party reads all your email"--meaning, or so the joke would have it, that they were many years behind.
You know, just changing "CIA" to "Communist Party" doesn't make it new material. If there are any writers reading this: please don't do this. It just looks sloppy and uncreative.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thanks, HBO!

Thank you, Halo.Bungie.Org for linking to my Examination of Female Characters in Halo article series on the main page! Do note, however, that it's not just three parts long. There are two other parts posted on the blog, and I will be writing more later when I have time to go through everything.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Loving Domestic Violence

In fiction, physically abusive relationships are generally regarded as irredeemably bad. When a person attacks their partner, they are depicted as a horrible villain. Should the abused partner say it’s okay, that they’re willing to ride it out, they’re depicted as in denial about their loved one’s villainy, possibly because they’ve been victimized to the point that they’re no longer capable of thinking rationally. I’ve noticed a problematic trend that subverts this, however, and depicts relationships that would be characterized as abusive instead as loving relationships that get a little thorny but if both partners work at it, their relationship can last. Not only last, but become stronger because only people who really love each other can look past such acts of violence. Examples of this are seen in the book New Moon by Stephenie Meyer and its film adaptation, the book Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer, and the television episode “What Happens Next” of Private Practice.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 2, 3: Feminist Frequency)

(The following is an adaptation of a video response made, spanning this video and this video)

I like the YouTube show Feminist Frequency, but I highly disagree with the first video’s assertion that Dollhouse is misogynistic. I’d like to take this moment to address some of its points.

Anita Sarkeesian brings up the issue of how constructing a personality to have sex with someone would be rape because the imprint wouldn’t be able to give proper consent. This is actually explored a bit in the second season, but she’s right because it’s not in the first season when the video was made. I would say that Dollhouse would have explored it in detail if they had enough freedom from the Fox executives. They were kind of under a time crunch and had to develop characters and storylines while trying to explore various philosophical issues. I think it’s kind of amazing they got as much in as they did. It is a fault of the show that the issue was never explored in detail, but I think some allowances can be made considering how rushed the show was.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dollhouse Is Feminist (Part 1: Joss Whedon)

(See the 13-minute video version here)

It is mind-boggling to me that most of the feminist blogosphere is convinced that Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse is antifeminist and misogynistic. Not just extremely over the top feminists like _allecto_, but mainstream persons with whose opinions I would usually agree. As far as I’m concerned, Dollhouse is incredibly feminist, save only for some problematic sexualizing that was most likely executive meddling and not Joss’ intention. As many would have it, though, Dollhouse’s creation made Joss reveal his true colors as a misogynist. This is a mistake. The show depicts the female character Echo fighting against oppressive authorities, and we are on her side despite many of the corrupt authority figures being sympathetic characters.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Feminist Analysis of Troll 2

(see also the 13-minute video here)


Okay, okay… Troll 2. Possibly the worst movie ever made, this film is best known for a YouTube meme reproducing and playing with a clip. “They’re eating her! And then they’regoing to eat me! Oh, my God!” It is extremely hard to watch this movie without laughing out loud.

Despite its status as a walking joke, it is still an attempted serious narrative, and it can still be analyzed. Yes, it can. Once you look past all the crap, it’s basically your standard monster movie story with themes of good vs. evil and mysticism, and you can analyze the gender portrayals there.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Strain - Review

I finished winter quarter at my college recently, and I relaxed over the weekend, during which I read a vampire book I picked up: The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I fraking love Pan's Labyrinth, and I had high-expectations for this book. While I did enjoy it for the most part, I found it a bit of a let-down. This is primarily due to the vampires not really seeming like vampires, the characters not being very well developed, and the action taking place in discrete segments more than there just being a fluid novel. I got the distinct impression that the book was created for the intention of there being a movie made about it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Alive! (Frankenstein)

(I wrote this for an English class.)

“It’s alive! It’s alive!” This is a famous quote, spoken by Henry Frankenstein in the 1931 film Frankenstein as he witnesses his creation’s first voluntary movements. But is it truly alive or merely undead? This is an interesting question, as it is rather difficult to answer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eli's Gender (LTROI)

For the past few weeks, I've been surfing the "We, the Infected" forums for Let the Right One In, and no topic seems to be as persistent as Eli's gender or possible lack thereof. While only briefly touched on in the Swedish film and blatantly ignored in the American remake Let Me In, the novel Let the Right One In plainly reveals the apparent vampire girl as an androgynous boy. People don't know what to make of this. The following is a summary of the information and points raised by users. Because Eli's gender identity is hard to ascertain, I will be using gender-neutral pronouns ze and hir.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Magic Voyage - Review

When I was a kid, I loved this strange animated film called The Magic Voyage, about a woodworm named Pico going on some great adventure across the ocean with his friend Christopher Columbus to rescue a fairy princess from a Satanic hive mind insect swarm. I thought it was such an epic story with great characters and humor, and I couldn't understand why my parents didn't like it. Now, as a young adult, I finally got to see it again... It's awful. I mean, it is so bad! The historical errors alone are bad, but it just makes no sense, is racially insensitive, badly dubbed, and just makes me laugh uncontrollably because it's unintentionally hilarious.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pause... and Back on Course

There's this thing I've noticed for movies and shows, where they sometimes will end with a "Pause... and back on course" kind of end. It's a weird little break in the expected rhythm. You think that a show will end in a way continuing the pattern of the middle of it, but this stops for some reason. The pattern looks like it can't continue, and it looks like the show will end very differently... but this turns out to be only a setback and we're soon back on course. I've encountered this recently with Let the Right One In, but there's also Birdy and Doctor Who that have this kind of rhythm.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pokemon - A Plot to Do... Something Bad

I ran across Dogasu’s Backpack, an old Pokémon website I haven’t been to in years. It has a collection of anti-Pokémon material. “Anti-Pokémon” in this case referring to claims that Pokémon is immoral. Now, some of the stuff there has a good point, like the valid claim that Jynx is/was racist, but others are just silly and ignorant. There are, of course, religious nuts who think Pokémon is of the devil. The most absolutely ludicrous one, though, is a rant from a guy, David W. Hodges, who sees the Pokémon anime as an evil tool of Japan to subliminally corrupt American children with sexual imagery. Dogasu’s Backpack’s webmaster says that the article is so ridiculous they didn’t see the need to insert MST3K-style remarks, but I found myself doing that anyway as I read it, so I might as well make that another Going Rampant screed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I watched the artificial intelligence Watson compete at Jeopardy. It’s pretty fascinating how good it is, though it has a circuitry advantage in that its metal mind works faster than the human mind. It has an initial appearance of being close to passing the Turing test. If you watch it, though, it’s pretty clear that Watson doesn’t understand English.

Step 1: ??? Step 2: Conquer Earth (V)

The current season of V is more religious than the show has been in the past. Now it’s all about souls. Only humans have souls, but Visitors get souls with their human skins, and this is the secret to conquering humanity or the reason why the invasion will fail. Now, I can handle religious themes, but it has to make some kind of internal sense. They keep talking about souls, but they don’t offer a decent definition of what a soul is.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Problematic Pet Depiction

(reposted due to code error :/ )

A lot of children’s movies, such as Lady and the Tramp, feature anthropomorphized pets that are given human intelligence. These characters tend to be cute representations of the animals we love and have characteristics of these animals as we understand them. A common theme is that dogs and cats are supposed to be our pets. This is an idea in American culture but certainly not true everywhere, and yet these American films consistently depict pethood as a natural and desirable way of life for these animals. Okay, given that the films are American, I can buy that to an extent. The problem comes when you consider that these animals have human intelligence.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recommendation: Let the Right One In

(Crossposted from "Critical Analysis of Twilight" at Fanpop)

For those who like the basic vampire romance dynamic in Twilight but don’t necessarily like its execution, I highly recommend the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In. I just rented this a few days ago and fell in love with it. I think it’s one of my top films of all time. It has many elements that are similar to Twilight in terms of vampire romance, but it treats the subject much more seriously and is a bit truer to the vampire characteristics traditional to the last fifty years of movie-making.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Iron Man 2 in a Sexist and Racist World

(This was written for a political science class. See also a fifteen-minute video version here.)

The 2010 American superhero film Iron Man 2, sequel to the 2008 Iron Man, is in its purest form a fantasy appealing to the white male demographic. While the film makes some attempts to be respectful to its black male and white female characters, ultimately it is the white male characters that are the ones given power and respect in the plot of the movie. White male protagonist Tony Stark is a womanizer and self-identified narcissist who forms the basis of the male fantasy by presenting an exaggerated figure with which the male viewers can identify to enjoy power, respect, and the ability to ogle attractive women while simultaneously having the traditionally feminine and stable love interest Pepper Potts. Tony Stark’s black friend James Rhodes appears as a similar powerful masculine figure, presumably with whom the black male audience is supposed to identify, but he takes a secondary sidekick role to Stark. Ultimately, the movie truly pays respect to white men, while leaving all others in a secondary position.

Response to "New Moon and domestic violence"

I ran into a post on Feministing, called "New Moon and domestic violence". It asserts that New Moon problematically depicts Quileutes as naturally abusive because of the werewolf thing, which is racist against Native Americans. The post describes how domestic violence is a serious problem in Native American communities, and New Moon makes it seem like Native Americans are naturally abusive. I find the post heavily flawed, and offer this as my response.

Invictus as a 2009 American Film

(This was written for a political science class. I think I went a little overboard with the Mandela/Obama parallel because I needed to write something to meet the minimum limit, but I wholeheartedly stand by the ‘terrorist threat’ part.)

The 2009 American movie Invictus depicts the beginning of the administration of President Nelson Mandela of the country of South Africa in the years 1994 and 1995 (Invictus). The movie is about how Mandela helped to overcome the lingering prejudices left over from the apartheid regime by unifying the black and white peoples of his nation over the national rugby team playing in and winning the World Cup. Invictus can be analyzed in the context of when it was produced and for whom. Specifically, Invictus functions as an idealistic American celebration of revolution for a just cause and of the ideal of ending racial prejudice, created for the contemporary American people with characters and situations directly relatable. Mandela holds some similarities to President Barack Obama of the United States, both being the first black presidents of their nations, and we as an audience are meant to identify with him as the enlightened hope for the future. Invictus presents an apparently successful struggle to reach a utopian ideal of racial equality in such a way that it arrives in a position to ease the existing racial tensions of the contemporary United States under Barack Obama.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goa'uld and Yeerk Sexuality (Stargate/Animorphs)

So, I’ve watched all of Stargate SG-1, and I’m confused about the sexuality of the Goa’uld (and Tok’ra, which I’m just going to call Goa’uld because it’s easier1). How do they reproduce? Do they have genders? If they do have genders, how are they distinguished? This confusion is worsened by exposition that seems to change the nature of the Goa’uld physiology over the course of the show, retroactive continuity change that isn’t clearly resolved, specifically in regard to the Goa’uld queens.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Male AI Images

I'm posting this here because I think it's awesome, and to explain my "gender non-conforming AI" image. There's this light sculpture in Japan called The Man With No Shadow, and it looks remarkably like a male version of Cortana from Halo 2 and Halo 3. This is Cortana here:

And this is The Man With No Shadow: