Monday, October 01, 2012

Remember Me

So, Capcom has a new game coming out, I guess? So their Facebook advertisement tells me.
It's called Remember Me. No, not that one, but this one. I don't see any punctuation in the title, so I guess it's a command.

It would be easier to remember her if something other than her butt was the focus of the ad, though. The funny (sad) thing is that there's actually a lot of other things happening there that would probably be of interest to me as a person who plays games. First of all, she's got some kind of wacky robot arm thing going on... I'm a sucker for cyborgs, so maybe, Capcom, you could have made that the focus?

There are a number of other pictures on their page that show a gritty dystopian landscape with a very Bladerunner-esque vibe, and heavily armored guards straight out of Batman Beyond. Why not go with some of that stuff?

But, no, instead you go with exactly the same pose that Emily Asher-Perrin was complaining about over at

I'm not actually surprised or anything. It's just... not only is the sexism of this kind of advertising stupid and pandering... it's boring. There's nothing interesting happening in that advert, despite the fact that the rest of the images they have suggest some kind of action oriented gameplay. You don't need to "sex it up" to sell it.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Detroit Institute of Arts millage passes

I love the Detroit Institute of Arts. In a city that has a bad reputation around the nation, the DIA stands out and shows the spirit and beauty that Detroit still has. It's no secret that Detroit has had a lot of problems in recent years, but seeing institutions like the DIA still welcoming anyone who wants to come makes me smile. And, frankly, the DIA is one hell of a museum. It's an absolutely beautiful building and it's full of some really amazing pieces, including the Detroit Industry murals around the Rivera Court--

In recent years, the bad economy has taken a toll on the DIA; they've lost a lot of corporate sponsorship and all of their state funding. Thankfully, the people of Detroit and the surrounding communities recognized the great boon that the DIA is to the city, and passed a millage that will provide money to keep the museum open.

Glad to see it get the support it needs.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Race and sexy times...

There was a long conversation happening over at feministe in the comments section of a post called "Sex, Lies and Fetishizing Race" by Anna Lekas Miller. The primary focus of the conversation is, as you may guess, about the fetishizing of race and ethnicity. It's a very interesting conversation, and it's started to explore where the line between "harmless fetish" and "racist fetish" is.

Also, it reminds me of several conversations I've had with people in my life about race and sexual attraction. At some point, I think, a lot of white Americans run into someone who has some kind of fetish for people of another race. With the sort of people I hang out with--people heavily steeped in geek culture (including video games, comic books, and animation)--it's not particularly surprising, I'm sure, to learn that I've known people who have a particular fetish for Asian women. It's very much a geek cliche that college age white geeky guys have a "thing" for Asian woman. It's the sort of thing that I always found vaguely weird, but it took me a long time to put words to why.

I've also known people on the opposite side of the spectrum (is it a spectrum?); I know people who will say things like "I'm not interested in (insert race here) people" or "I just don't find (insert race here) people attractive."

Which... bothers me. A lot.

I've had long conversations about it with people, because saying something like "I'm just not attracted to black people" sure seems racist to me.

Because so much of sexual attraction isn't intentional, though, I've sometimes found it really hard to put to words what, exactly, bothers me about it. You don't really choose to be attracted to people or not. At least, I've certainly never found it to work that way. So, if you think back and you find that you've only ever been attracted to people of a particular race, or you find that you've never been attracted to a particular race... what does that mean?

That thread is helping me roll the thoughts around in my head, though. Obviously, you can't help who you're attracted to, but that doesn't mean that there's not value in thinking about the whys.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Left 4 Dead... alone

I'm sitting at my partner's house  right now, and her roomie is playing Left 4 Dead (or L4D2, I'm not sure). I really enjoyed the L4D games when they first came out, and spent a lot of time playing them a few years ago (has it really been four years? I think it has... ugh.).

The first few times I played L4D, they were downright spooky. The people I was playing with were relatively new to the game, as well, so we were caught off-guard by a lot of the little tricks the game pulls on you. The first time I stumbled upon a witch was downright creepy. It was a really cool experience.

The problem is, of course, that the more you play, the more you learn to anticipate and prepare for the climax moments. Hearing a witch in the distance stops being creepy, because you know exactly what it is, and how to handle it. You know exactly who has the materials you need, and you know the best way to either move around it or attack it.

This is inevitable, since the more you play, the more comfortable you get with the mechanics. Another big part of this is because the players have unlimited communication available through the mic. No matter how far apart you get, you can always hear each other just fine.

So, as I was listening to B play the game, I started to think about how little of his L4D experience is about the spooky, creepy, horror elements, and it got me thinking about how the game could be changed to reinforce the horror elements. What I came up with is something like this:

First: either the players should start in different parts of the map, or there should be some mechanic that encourages them to split up sometimes. The tensest parts of L4D are the parts where you realize that there's nobody around to watch your back or pick you up if you fall. Having the players have to search for each other or have to split up and do things in multiple areas simultaneously creates moments of tension.

Of course, if you're going to have people splitting up or starting in different areas, I think that you need to make it a "sound matters" sort of game. I'm not even sure how possible this sort of thing is to do, but I'm imagining two things: first, you don't have world mic capabilities. When you speak into your mic, your voice can only be heard near where you are. The farther you get from the person speaking, the harder they would be to hear. If they're in a building, and you're not, you may not hear them. Second, the zombies are attracted to noises. If you shout for your friend, the zombies in the area are going to react to that. Maybe you've got a key you can tap to make your voice a shout, but it attracts zombies from farther away or something?

Would this sort of game be interesting to people? I'm not sure. Obviously a lot of people could just bypass the whole "sound matters" thing by going onto third party chat services like skype or whatever, but I would find this kind of gameplay extremely interesting.

What do you think? Any kind of gameplay you'd be interested in that you don't think is likely to come out?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Those damn kids...

There's an article on NPR right now about music downloading. Well, to be more precise, there's a response by David Lowery to an article written by a college student about music downloading. David raises a number of objections to file sharing and illegal downloading (some of which are really on point, and some of which, I think, seriously miss the mark). I think that David's main points--that musicians deserve to be compensated for their work and should have control over their work--are pretty solid. In particular, I agree that musicians--indeed, all artists--deserve fair compensation for their work. Of course, I don't think that fair compensation and the easy access of music sharing are necessarily mutually exclusive. There's every reason to believe that file sharing and downloadable music should make it easier to get money directly into the hands of the people creating the work. Of course, that's bad news for record labels who have a vested interest in making sure that there are barriers between the people actually making music and the people listening.

But that's actually not my beef with the article.

My main point of contention is with the contempt that David and many of the commentors treat young people. Can we not have a conversation about college aged or younger people without treating them like total shit? I know, I know, this is something of a generational thing--every generation looks down on the generations after them, right? But, seriously, this is David Lowery we're talking about... this is the guy responsible for Cracker. You know, the band with the song "I'll be with you girl, like being low. Hey, hey, hey, like being stoned." His bread and butter was slackers and stoners.

Admittedly, the worst part of the disdain comes from the commenters, who are quick to take his letter about the damage that free music downloading does to artists, and turn it into another "damn those kids these days!" pile on. After all, everyone knows that kids these days are part of "an entitled, 'gimme that now, 'i do it because i can' culture". Or this: "This is an extremely ENTITLED generation whose values include trying to have what they want on demand with no consequence to themselves–zero concern for any but the self, no ability to postpone gratification and so little empathy, appreciation, wonder and love for art–in a word: Narcissism."
This isn't "People who steal are being shitty." This is a blatant and thorough dismissal of an entire generation over song downloading.

I just hate that line of argument so much, but I see it all the time. What is it about getting older that turns some people into such grumps about young people? I'm in my thirties, and while I'd love to think that I'm still young at heart, I know that I'm not really part of the group "young people"; I'm only a few years short of being twice as old as I was when I graduated high school (I'm not sure why, but that milestone--being out of school as many years as I was in school--is really important to me). Still, people who I knew when they were young people end up griping and complaining about "kids these days."

I hear complaints about how kids these days are so rude (from people who I know for a fact were total shits as kids). I have colleagues who complain that "kids don't read anymore" despite the fact that our children's and teen rooms are amongst the busiest areas in the library.

All of us were once young people. I'm guessing that most of us had to deal with adults and older folks looking down on us and dismissing us because of our ages. I know that I had people assume the worst because I was young, and I can't believe I was the only one. Why are we still perpetuating that? I don't expect to "get" youth culture, but I don't see any reason why I should be shitting on it, either. I came from the generation that gave us N*Synch and Pogs and Vanilla Ice. Who the hell are we to judge?

Friday, June 08, 2012

The cost of applying fines...

..a mother with her three young children explains that coffee accidentally spilled on the picture book while she was reading to her youngest daughter. Her daughter was excited and knocked the cup out of her hand. The clerk takes the picture book, opens it, examines the pages and points out the damaged areas to the mother. 'We have to charge you for this, you know, we can't repair it. We will to order another copy and when we reorder there is a processing charge as well.'

The mother again explains that this was an accident, and adds that she can't afford to pay for the book. The clerk takes the book to the librarian at the reference desk, where the book is again examined and the book's circulation statistics are checked. The librarian and clerk discuss publicly the best course of action: perhaps waive the processing fee, perhaps talk to the patron about a payment plan, or perhaps negotiate a one-time payment of half the price of the book.

And while this is happening, the mother waits at the checkout desk. Her embarrassment is visible to everyone in the area. Her face is flushed, and she has gathered her three children close to her. Her eyes don't lift from the counter top. She is quiet and still. When the clerk returns and discusses payment options the mother says again that she cannot afford to pay for the book.

And so, while this mother should be applauded for bringing her children to the library and encouraged to continue reading to her children, she is instead publicly humiliated and made to confess over and over that she cannot afford to pay for the picture book. Will this family be comfortable returning to the library?

If the library does not charge for the damaged book, it loses about $25.00. When the library fails to recognize situations where charging replacement costs means losing library patrons, it loses the opportunity to participate in the life of the patron and the patron's family. By choosing to make a $25.00 replacement cost more significant than the role the institution can play in the social, developmental, and community life of the family, the library forfeits its role as a community and literacy advocate and leader.

It will cost the library more than $25.00 to convince this mother to return to the library. It will cost the library more than $25.00 to persuade this mother that the library is a welcoming community place willing to meet her needs and support her family. It will cost the library more than $25.00 to mount literacy programs aimed at her children, who will not benefit from regular library visits and programs. And when these children are adults, it will cost the library more than $25.00 to convince them that the library is a welcoming and supportive place for their children.
Breaking Barriers: Libraries and Socially Excluded Communities by Annette DeFaveri
This sort of thing happens a lot more than it should in libraries, frankly. I'm not sure why it is, but I've seen it happen firsthand. Hell, I've probably done it, myself, without meaning to. I work in a library where I'm completely empowered to waive fines without fear of censure or reprimand. As far as I know, I can waive fines for just about any reason I want. When I worked at the circ desk more often, I probably waived or reduced fines more often than I enforced them. You can't waive all fines all the time, or you negate the benefit of having a fine based system (which is, you know, to encourage people to return the damn materials on time so that other patrons can access them), but there's no reason to enforce the fines 100% of the time, either.
We shouldn't need to think about it in terms of the cost to get a patron to return, but it's good to be able to do so, since there are some people who wouldn't get it otherwise.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nice guys...

It's interesting to me how widespread the use of Nice Guy to refer to a particular type of guy is. I have coworkers who use the phrase (with obligatory scare-quotes as they say it), and it's the sort of phrase that's come up on other websites I visit.

The Annals of Online Dating is focused on Nice Guys today, and a particular quote jumped out at me. On one guy's profile he's talking about what he wants in a woman:

She has to understand that men do the things they do and say the things they say becasue they are men and not becasue they are douchbags, meaning I believe in a monogamous relationship and I practice it, but I am a man.

I'm... not sure what that means.
Men do the things they do because they're men?
Well, alrighty then.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Monsters...

There's a piece up on Feministe about abuse; there are a lot of really moving comments from people who faced abuse and the sorts of emotional and mental consequences of that abuse.

One of the things that I sometimes struggle with--and I'm sure that I'm not alone--is the way that we tend to dehumanize the perpetrators of violence. It's something that I've noticed in the past, and I work not to do it anymore, but it still happens. There's a tendancy in conversations about abuse to start thinking of the perpetrators as monsters. In the thread on Feministe, the second comment is "Progressive political views mean nothing when one is a monster underneath."

It's a very well intentioned sentiment, I'm sure, and I agree with the message--just because someone has progressive politics doesn't mean that they're not tremendously regressive in other ways--there are plenty of very racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted progressives.

The fact is, even the best of us are only human.

Equally important: even the worst of us are human.

There are some really horrible people out there--people who will take delight in harming other people. People who find some satisfaction in emotionally or physically abusing others. There are also people who are, as another commenter points out, "deeply disturbed individuals." Either way, the behaviors can certainly be monsterous, but I try very hard not to call the indviduals involved "monsters" themselves. Labeling someone a monster can be very comforting, in a way. It's a way for us to marginalize what they've done and put it into a box, but it erases how very human most so-called monsters really are. 

To some degree, labeling someone a monster implies that the burden of avoiding the abuse is on the abused. After all, if the person was a monster, why didn't the abused see that fact? Why did they get involved with a monster in the first place? This puts abuse survivors into a strange and difficult position. It can be very difficult to get out of an abuse situation, but it can be even harder when this notion exists that abusers are monsters and you don't think that the person hurting you is actually a monster. Even abusers have moments where they're charming or kind or gentle. Often it's part of the abuse cycle. Either way, calling the abusers monsters sends a message akin to "it should have been obvious. You shouldn't have stuck around."

Traditionally, monsters can't help being monsters--a vampire can't help the compulsion to drink blood, a werewolf can't help but change under the full moon, etc. By lumping abusers into the same category, I think that we risk the implication that the abuser was someone incapable of preventing the abuse. It removes the agency involved, in a way. Ultimately, if you abuse someone, you are responsible for that, and it's up to you to change that behavior, even if that means getting help.

In a way, this seems like arguing semantics, but I think that the results can be very real for people who are in abusive situations. It's already very hard for a lot of people to leave situations. Beyond the fear of the abuser, there are a lot of complicated feelings and fears that people have about how they will be viewed by their friends, families, and loved ones. There are people who won't believe that the abuser could have done the things that were done (which, I think, relates back to our idea that certain people are "monsters"; "how could anyone think that Pete would hit his partner? Pete isn't a monster!" Etc.), or who will look for things that the abused might have done "to cause the abuse." There's fear that people will look down on or pity the survivor for "letting the abuse happen." There are fears and feelings of betrayal at having lied to loved ones about the abuse.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I'm very out of practice writing, I've realized. I keep starting to write posts, and nothing comes out. There are numerous reasons for this, I'm sure. I don't read as many blogs as I used to, I don't have any interest in getting into shouting matches against particular people, I'm less interested in just tearing things apart and being snarky, and, you know... I don't write that much. It's hard to write when you've fallen out of the habit. So, this is just a bunch of short thoughts for the moment.

I was looking over some of the background stats on my space here. People come here from some pretty strange searches. Once you get rid of all the really gross results, though, it looks like most of my visitors are coming here from two basic searches--they're looking up information about red spots (and getting hits from my post about my psoriasis outbreak), or they're looking up variations of "castration harsh punishment." I still get a few visitors coming over from, but it's mostly red splotch or castration searches. I'm pretty sure I only wrote one post on either of those topics, but that's how people are finding the site. Part of me feels a little bad about that--it must be disappointing if you're looking for a lot of information about either of those things, and you come across this pretty quiet blog.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering--the psoriasis is vastly improved. Not gone away, but significantly reduced. It's still worst on my legs and head (mostly behind my ears and on my scalp), but if I'm wearing pants, you probably wouldn't even notice it. Unless you were looking behind my ears for some reason, I suppose. It can still be embarassing--when I was flaking all over a black tux in a wedding, and the other groomsmen had to keep brushing me off, for example--and I still have moments where it's painful, but it's very much at a stage where I can live with it. Which is good, since I have to.

In other news, I, like a million other people, saw the Avengers over the weekend. I rather thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was a really fun origin story for the team. I know that Whedon's writing style isn't for everyone, but I thought it was quite fun. Lots of great humorous touches. I know a few people (friends of friends) who were very unhappy with it, though. In particular, they were upset with the depictions of Black Widow and the way that Loki threatened her. I was more disappointed not to see War Machine in it, since, with the exception of Fury, the Avengers are looking pretty white-washed. I would definitely like to see some more women on the team, too. Maybe next time we could get She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Black Panther, Warbird, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), etc. on board?

Anyway, that's what I've got for now. We'll see if I can't get back into writing, you know... substance.
Or at least something interesting

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Advertising posers...

Via Wandering Librarians, there's an article up on about a particular pose that crops up a lot in advertising involving women characters. I'd go further and say that the particular "looking-over-the-shoulder-butt-shot" is pretty common in animation and comics, too. Hell, it's become one of the "go-to" poses for women and girls in comics, even comics that are, in large part, marketed as "comics for girls"
The thing that I don't understand is the endless defenses of these sorts of ridiculous advertising and drawings. One commenter posts "Seriously though, I do see your point, and yes, those films are marketed towards men, and yes, it is effective."
But, really, is it?
The original article pointed out that this was the sort of advertising done for Elektra, but Elektra was hardly a success. Advertising is certainly important, and there's no doubt that it can sway people toward or away from a film, but it's really absurd to suggest that just slapping a sexually suggestive picture as your advertising is somehow an effective marketing campaign.
That kind of defense is actually tremendously anti-man, too. What does it say about men if you honestly believe that that is the best way to advertise to men? Am I really supposed to believe that the advertising for Avengers wouldn't be as effective if they had Black Widow, you know, doing something--anything almost--other than showing off her ass? It's an action movie about a bunch of comic book heroes having adventures and fights and explosions and such. There's just no way that you need to pretend the movie is about Black Widow's derriere in order for that movie to be a blockbuster.
I don't remember Iron Man having a bunch of posters of women's cleavage or posteriors to be successful. I'm just tired of seeing other men argue that we, as men, are so easily duped. That we're so shallow that all soemone needs to do is slap some T&A on a movie poster or a book cover or whatever, and we'll fall all over it. I just don't believe that's true. I think that men, like women, are actually interested in being entertained, and that having a bunch of sexually suggestive posters advertising a movie is secondary to whether the movie is actually good. If it's a fun, exciting movie, it's going to generally do well, even if the posters are covered in women's asses. If it's a shit movie, having a bunch of butts on the poster won't save it. So let's stop pretending that it's somehow a winning advertising strategy, right?
For your reading enjoyment, there are a number of blogs that discuss, debate, deconstruct, and otherwise [insert "d" word] the issue of really, really bad understanding of women's anatomy. Escher Girls "Striking a Pose" by Jim Chines (and the follow-up "Posing Like a Man" is really good, too). "This Needs to Stop and Let Me Tell You Why" by Ils.