Political Writing

Political Writing: A Little Clarification

I want to clarify something. Maybe this is simply a way for me to think ‘out loud’, but …

As a patriotic American, I certainly recognize the legitimacy of the President-elect. Donald Trump will wind up being our next President. I will obviously show the proper respect to the office of the President so in that sense, he is ‘my President’.

But me, along with many others, can also rightfully claim that he is ‘not our President’, in the sense that, by his own words and statements in regard to his plans as President, Donald Trump does not even begin to represent our beliefs, our goals, or even seem to care about our basic rights to happiness, freedom, and human dignity.

It’s simple, perhaps, to look at my profile picture and assume that I’m simply a white cis guy who has no dog in the fight. But I may be white and I may be a guy, but I am not ‘cis’ or ‘straight’ or ‘heterosexual’ or whatever word you want to use.

So there, for those of you that might be wondering how people can say that Trump is ‘not their President’ and still be patriots who respect the republic of the United States, that’s how.

Monday Musings: A PSA a.k.a. If You’re American, Vote!

We’ll keep this short and sweet.

No matter your political beliefs, no matter who you support, if you’re a U.S. citizen and capable of voting, VOTE. Our system of government doesn’t work if you don’t participate.

And don’t just worry about voting for President. Take a few moments to look at your congressional choices, local elections, and especially any state amendments or measures up for voting. These are just as important as who is the President.

Get out there tomorrow and do it!

Political Writings: Boycott Indiana!

I’ll keep this shorter and sweeter than most of my (sparse) political ramblings.

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana and all of the close-minded, right-wing members of the Indiana legislative houses who made the Religious Freedom Restoration Act become law, you guys can go straight to Hell.  Oh, wait, I don’t need to say that, because your bigoted actions have already written you a one way ticket there.  Isn’t it great when my job gets done for me?

In an actual constructive aspect of this, let me say that, while not very impactful as I am one man, I will have nothing to do with any business that supports or enforces this law.  I would encourage everyone else, especially if they actually live in Indiana, to do the same.

The one positive take-away from the immediate aftermath of this horrible, despicable Act is that it is heartening to see such a full-spectrum backlash against it.  Hopefully, it will make the forces that enacted this law be wary not to try it anywhere else … though I understand similar legislation is being considered in a dozen other states.  Do your research, friends, see if this is being brought up in your state’s legislative bodies.  If it is, make your voice known.  Maybe the next one will be dead on arrival.

So, to sum up:

  1. Go to Hell, Mike Pence and friends.
  2. Boycott Indiana businesses and groups that support these small-minded wretches.
  3. Find out if they are trying this in your own neck of the woods.
  4. Spread the word and fight back.

Politics and Culture: How can intelligent men turn into Gamergate-addled bastards?

You don’t need to be any kind of genius to know that I am a fairly liberal-minded feminist.  My few political posts and my most recent reblogging of coverage of the recent Gamergate idiocy should tell you that.  I wasn’t intending to write much original thought on that pile of crazy, but as an avid video game player in my free time and reading so much hatred and misinformation coming out of the mouth of men that seemed otherwise to be intelligent individuals, I found myself wondering about it so much I had to put it into an article.

How can men who have to be intelligent, who are obviously in-tune to some degree to the flow of information on the internet and in the world, be so easily duped into believing proven lies and, on top of that, to back up a movement that was founded on hatred of women?  What has made them so devoid of common sense to throw themselves behind a movement that is on the wrong side of the march of progress and history?

Almost half of the world’s video game players are women and that number continues to rise.  Do these men think that their supposedly beloved past-time will survive if they alienate half of the income their game designers rely on?  It defies logic on so many levels, then it continues to stomp on logic until it’s a bleeding, broken mess.  After that, the movement then proceeds to ambush morality for a second round of beatdown.

My first thought is that we are seeing a classic reactionary conservative (not meaning that in a political party sense, though they could be related, looking at overall Republican Party platforms in regards to women) action.  Quite often, when an entrenched group of people who enjoy privilege find that their culture and society are progressing past them, threatening their place in that culture, that group rebels and throws up every possible roadblock, no matter the logic or morality involved.  Most often, this is to do nothing else other than to silence their opposition through fear and intimidation.  They know, deep down, they are wrong, but continue to thrash like babies forced to take a bath, trying to stall the inevitable.

My other idea is that, for the rank-and-file of Gamergate, they are simply too trusting of what their fellow ‘gamer buddies’ say and think themselves ‘too smart’ to get duped.   Instead of actually looking into the issue through the majority of the world’s viewpoint, they instead ensconce themselves into the echo chamber of their friends, having the false storylines of the Gamergate movement reinforced in their minds to the point they see all outside information to the contrary as obvious falsehoods.  Here, too, their conception of their own intelligence is part of their stubbornness … to admit that they bought into GG’s lies and upheld them would be to also admit they were both intellectually and morally too lazy to question what they were fed.

So, there it is.  Those are my thoughts on it.  All I can ask is for those people who have fallen onto the side of Gamergate to wake up, stop supporting a misogynist, hate-filled cause that has made multiple terrorist threats, and, if you REALLY care about ethics in journalism, direct your ire and scrutiny on the oft-lamented connection between major gaming review sites and AAA developers.  If you decide not to do that and, instead, want to continue to whine, thrash, cry, and commit FELONIES, go for it.  The day will come when you’ll find yourself sincerely regretting your pride and foolishness.

Tangential Politics: A strange little tale of gender, superheroes, and video games

Before I put up a post about the existential panic of being so close to a funded Kickstarter but running out of time, I want to take a moment to tell a weird little tale that might show, in a quirky way, some of the deep-seated issues of misogyny ingrained into both parts of the comic book culture and the video game culture.  In fact, the arena for this little tale is none other than one of those nexus points of the two cultures, one of my favorite video games, Marvel Heroes.

Marvel Heroes is a fun, free-to-play action game using the Marvel IP.  They make their money primarily by selling cosmetic costumes for the characters in the game … a pretty smart way to go, as visuals can mean everything to people and comic book characters often have quite a wardrobe that can be sold.  Early in the game’s history, they also introduced the notion of Enhanced Costumes:  Costumes that had more than a basic visual change.  Altered special effects, new voice overs, new animation sets, that kind of thing.

One use of Enhanced costumes was for cross-gendered counterparts of characters.  As you may know, many comic book characters had Distaff Counterparts created, female versions of male heroes, both as cheap fixes for the female demographic or, more recently, trying to bring some equality in the male-imbalanced comic book world by putting a woman in a legacy hero role.  Rarely, you can see the reverse, the Spear Counterpart, but considering the massive imbalance already between male and female representation in comic books, this has been exceedingly rare.

Here’s where things start to get creepy.  From the start, there have been sections of the game’s player base to keep shouting about the ‘unfairness’ that there were multiple male-to-female swaps (Lady Loki, Kate Bishop (a modern female Hawkeye), Lady Deadpool, etc.) and no female-to-male swaps.  Any argument about gender imbalance in the existing cast (which these costumes helped to even out) or the tremendous lack of Spear Counterparts in comics period were met with deaf ears.  The developers opened a feedback thread for suggestions for such female-to-male costumes and 99% of the suggestions were extreme stretches, often trying to stick totally different characters into totally incompatible character slots.

Eventually, two female-to-male costumes were announced.  A lot of people were unhappy about them, because they were, by the eyes of any fan of comic books, stretches.  The developers original policy was that Enhanced Costumes had to have near identical powers as the base character and be strongly linked.  Both of these new ideas were on-point with the second idea, but stretched the first one considerably.  Still, they continued on.

Cut to the now, as the first of these is to be released.  There are now creepy and strange little nitpicks about it.  Why isn’t the character name changed, it looks weird to see a feminine name (despite the fact that no other Enhanced costume has had a name change)?  Why do the power icons still show the original character, it looks weird to see a woman’s face on them (despite the fact that, you guessed it, power icons have never changed on other Enhanced costumes)?  Why did this costume take so long to come out, all the other female enhanced costumes came out so much faster (even though they took just as long, one even being released incomplete after a long delay)?  To contrast, none of these questions were brought up by the female gamers who were getting male-to-female costumes; they just expressed relief and thanks for getting more female playable options.

This may seem a little thing, but it’s very eye-opening about the casual misogyny that men (and some women) can show.  There’s an expectation that there are different rules and that what applied to women doesn’t apply to them.  Their needs are more important and things that weren’t previously an issue are now big issues that need to be addressed for their comfort.  The one positive I can take away from this is that the Marvel Heroes dev team have not indulged in any of this chicanery.  Still, the whole deal colors portions of the game’s community in a pretty negative light … thankfully it’s no one I hang around with!

Getting Political: What the hell, ‘gamebros’?

Reading the news is always something of a roller-coaster.  There are high points and low points.  Maybe I should say, though, that the news is more like riding a rickety roller-coaster, because at the end, I usually wind up feeling off-balance, confused, and a tad sick to the stomach, with little of the rush riding a good coaster gives me.  Today is sadly no different in that regard.

Maybe, if you’re a past reader, you will notice that I am something of a feminist.  I feel strongly about women’s issues and am not afraid to have my voice counted among others who share my beliefs.  Naturally, for whatever reason, I am a life-long fan of some things that do not normally fit into the feminist toolbox: comic books, video games, and pro wrestling.  All of those things have had more than a few problems in the realm of women’s issues, especially in the realm of sexist depictions and attitudes towards women in the industry.

So suffice it to say I’m pretty damn appalled at the actions of those who think that ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (which as a name is really quite awesome … please call me a Social Justice Warrior!) are ‘ruining’ video games and that they have to ‘fight back’ against their ‘oppressors’, which amounts of petty death threats, ruining reputations with false information, theft and distribution of personal information, and a host of other disgusting acts, quite a few of which are actual, you know, CRIMES.  ‘Gamebros’, grow up.  Seriously.

Whether you realize it or not, you are doing a fine job not at saving video games, but ruining them.  Gaming has the potential to be an incredible new media, at least as highly regarded as film and theatre, and the interactive elements present an unparallelled chance to bridge cultures and give people a glimpse into the life of others.  It should be PROMOTING equality and unity, not causing greater division.  If you knuckle-dragging fools would wake up and realize that, you wouldn’t be doing these horrible acts.  Instead, you’d be doing everything in your power to welcome the people that make up over 50% of the audience of the media you purport to love.

Instead … well … we get what we currently have going on.

So, in essence, what the hell, ‘gamebros’?  What will make you wake up and join the 21st century?