Thursday, November 18, 2010

I got a tumblr! I am full on interneting!

Hey! So this isn't really an update, I just wanted to alert anyone that cares to the fact that I now have a tumblr, even though something deep inside me rebels at the idea of leaving perfectly good vowels out of words. Sometimes, I come across cool things that aren't big enough to warrant their own post about them, so they'll go on the tumblr. You can follow me here, or else just click that handy dandy link up at the top to check it out. Cheers!

Sunny out!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The End Of The World As We Thought We Knew It... And I Feel Fine

So Fallout New Vegas came out last month. I'm sure that's something you know, if you're at all involved in gaming; it's only one of the most anticipated titles of the year. I know that I had been anticipating the hell out of it, personally, and I'm sure that everyone I know is sick to death of me talking about it. I've been playing it religiously since my copy arrived, but as far as the storyline goes, I'm not all that far in. I like to play these sorts of games slowly. Do every side-quest, explore every nook and cranny, never, ever quick travel. I like to savor the game, like a fine wine.

Also I'm kinda broke right now, so I'm trying to make this one game last me till Christmas.

On a related note, anyone giving out spoilers in the comments will one day wake to find my hands at their throat, squeezing the life from them. I swear, spoil me, and I will murder you. Some time, some where. Could be tomorrow. Could be three months from now, when you've forgotten all about it. Could be on your 50th wedding anniversary, at a party, surrounded by your loved ones. If you spoil Fallout New Vegas for me, you will die by my hand. Someday.

So instead of talking about New Vegas in particular, I'm gonna talk about the Fallout series as a whole, in particular the world that Fallout inhabits. For me, the world of Fallout was always the most interesting thing about the games, and it is certainly one of the most fascinating settings in any video game. Fallout asks the question; what if our future had turned out just the way that the optimistic science fiction and wide eyed concept makers and inventors of the 50s had told us it would? And then, what if that future had been destroyed, by a combination of our own hubris and nuclear fire? The answer it shows us is a world that is familiar yet fantastical, eerie in how it puts on display the rotting corpses of Americana, a decaying testament to humanity's great folly and failed dreams.

I'm not old enough to remember the 50s (for those who can't do math, I was born in the late 80s), but neither are most of the people who play, or even the ones who made, these games. But the 50s, or some version of it at least, lives on in the collective, rose-colored memory of America. We all know what the 50s were, right? They were sock hops and malt shops, leather jackets and poodle skirts, I Love Lucy and Leave It To Beaver. They were cruising in your T-Bird to make-out point with your best gal. They were the nuclear family, Mom, Dad, two kids and a dog, living in friendly picket-fenced neighborhoods where no-one locked their doors at night. There was Mom, vacuuming in her pearls, Dad, lounging with his pipe and a copy of the evening news, and the whole family sitting down for dinner together. In the economic boom following World War 2, all of America was content and optimistic. We'd beaten Hitler, America was obviously the best country in the world, and we looked forward to the future, fully expecting it to hold great things. How could it not?

This is your vision of the 50s. Don't lie.

By now my savvy readers are probably going "Hold up, Sunny! For a lot of people, the 50s really sucked!" and that's true. I did say that these are our rose-colored memories of the 50s, filtered through nostalgia and Happy Days re-runs. As we all know (Or at least, I hope we all do. Public schooling these days...), the 50s were a pretty repressive time, especially for racial minorities, women, and homosexuals.  Women, only given the vote some 30 odd years before, had been encouraged to leave the traditionally male jobs they'd filled during the war and return to being housewives, or else serving in "womanly" professions, as secretaries, teachers, or nurses. Segregation was still in effect, and it was still acceptable to openly mock and deride minorities, deny them jobs, keep them from moving into your nice, white-fenced neighborhoods, and even, in some places, kill them. Homosexuals, when their existence was acknowledged at all, were seen as sexual deviants on par with pedophiles, and for most of them, coming out was an impossibility. Sexuality was repressed, difference was frowned upon, and morality was black and white. But hold that thought. I'm gonna come back to it.

One thing America was especially enthusiastic about in the 50s was science. Our superior technology had helped us win the war and would soon put us on the moon. There was nothing good ol' American know-how couldn't accomplish. Auto companies released futuristic looking concept cars, some even experimenting with jet fuel and atomic energy. Appliance companies promised us "homes of the future" with push button technology to make cooking and cleaning a breeze, all supposedly a decade or so away from reality. Sure, it all seemed a little silly, but you can't deny the appeal of all that sleek, shiny technology making your life so much easier.

One glorious day, we will all have helipads on our roofs.

This video is a really good example of the sort of thing I'm talking about. A 1956 short by General Motors, Design for Dreaming features a futuristic kitchen, a car supposedly designed for "the electronic highway of tomorrow," silly looking future fashions, and some really crazy dancing. I've taken the liberty of providing the version with Mike and the Bots riffing from when it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 300, to make it easier to watch. You're welcome.

The science fiction of the time looked at these scientific accomplishments we'd already achieved, as well as the future marvels we were being promised, and ran with them. The Space Race was just starting to pick up steam, surely we'd be zipping through space in no time, discovering new planets and alien races. World War 2 had brought military technology not before dreamed of; gargantuan battleships, jet planes, and bombs that could wipe out entire cities. Of course things like lasers or atomic powered weaponry couldn't be far away. And if we were so close to jet powered cars and automated kitchens, were we really very far from flying cars and robot servants? In the movies, comics, and serials of the 50s, we saw visions of the future which, most of the time, looked pretty bright. It wasn't hard to imagine that, in no time at all, we'd all be living in gleaming futuristic metropolises and taking weekend trips to Disneyland on the Moon.

"Look, honey! It's like my penis!"

 With all the changes our projected futures would supposedly bring, most mainstream sci-fi left some things conspicuously the same. The comics, serials, and movies rarely showed women as anything other than love interests for male protagonists. If they were lucky, they were scientists, or some sort of space princess, but they were still regulated to the sidelines most of the time, and still usually had all their other desires trumped by the desire to bone the hunky protagonist. Minorities were lucky if they even showed up. We all remember what a big deal it was when Star Trek premiered with such a diverse cast, and that didn't happen till 1966. Before that, minorities in science fiction were more often than not cast as villains, if they were cast at all. Look at Ming the Merciless from the Flash Gordon comics. I know he's the emperor of the planet Mongo and all, but the fucker has yellow skin and a Fu-Manchu mustache, in an era when we were especially afraid of Asian people. You do the math. As for homosexuals... well, if they feature at all in any 50s science fiction, I've never heard of it. If you know of any, please send it my way, because I'm really curious. At any rate, it seems pretty obvious that the existence of homosexual people was ignored entirely in mainstream sci-fi, much as in real life.

Ever hear of the "Yellow Peril?"

So the 50s vision of the future was of one in which technology advanced at amazing and fantastical rates, but societal norms remained largely stagnant. Which brings us back, finally, to the Fallout games. Because this is the world that Fallout inhabited before the bombs fell; a world with all the technological marvels promised to us by the science fiction of the 50s, but also possessing the same flaws of the era. To quote the Fallout wiki...
In the Fallout universe, twenty-first century America descended into an era of political paranoia and mania similar to the 1950s. The United States government became more and more militant and aggressive against its real and imagined enemies. As the world's fossil fuel supplies started to dry up and conversions of the existing fossil-fuel infrastructure to the recently-invented nuclear fusion power lagged, people in the United States and across the globe became desperate.  
 And check out this trailer for Fallout 3. It's like a futuristic Leave it to Beaver. Mom's making the breakfast (with help from the robot), Dad reads the paper (which happens to be about China invading Alaska). Notice the creepy way they imply that the daughter's true worth lies in her ability to repopulate the world after the end. Also notice that all of the little cartoon people entering the safety of the vault are white. Yep, looks like good old fashioned 50s values are alive and well in 2077.

The games are full of little hints like this that 50s style oppression was still happening before the bombs fell. Besides that, we know that the American government of pre-apocalypse Fallout was extravagantly corrupt. They were completely willing to experiment on their own citizens without their knowledge or consent, all in the name of scientific advancement and a military edge over their enemies. In a way, the subsequent nuclear war almost seems like something this twisted version of American society brought upon themselves. Like the Abrahamic god calling the great flood to wash away the sins of the old world, this futuristic world was baptized in fire as penance for it's own sins, of greed, oppression, corruption, and hubris. Our yearning for knowledge and power outstripped our development of ethics, and it destroyed us.

But, again, like the story of the great flood, there were survivors of this horrible cataclysm, only they weren't dumb enough to think they could survive by building a boat somehow big enough to contain every animal on the planet and just riding it out. Again, quoting the Fallout wiki...
The Great War's outcome changed most of the planet into a radioactive wasteland. Those who did not die in the initial nuclear weapon exchanges (likely less than half the world's population) lived in darkness or radioactive misery for decades as much of the Earth's plant and animal life died off from lack of food, sunlight and the persistently high levels of radiation. Yet, living in subterranean vaults or frozen in cryogenic chambers, humanity (at least in the United States) persevered.
 By the time the Fallout games take place, some 200 odd years after the bombs fell, something interesting seems to have happened. For one thing, your character can be male or female, of  any race, gay or straight, and is, for the most part, treated no differently by the people you encounter based on this. The other humans you encounter wandering the wastes display the full range of American diversity, and racism, at least as far as can be told from the ways the NPCs interact with each other, seems to have been more or less universally discarded, possibly because everyone can now get together and join forces in hating on the ghouls (Hey, I said racism was gone, not prejudice. I don't think even a nuclear war could rid us of that completely). The women you encounter are just as likely as the men to be badass fighters, competent leaders, or even completely psychotic sociopaths who want to cut off your head and use it to play kickball.

I think she just wants a friend...

Not to say sexism is completely dead, however. One glaring example would be a new faction in Fallout New Vegas, Caesar's Legion; a slaver nation roughly styling itself on the most barbaric aspects of ancient Rome. Under Caesar's rule, women have no rights at all, and are nothing but slaves, forced to serve the men and bare the next generation of Legionaries. However, it is made pretty clear that the rest of the wasteland peoples consider this to be absolutely horrible, and the army of the New California Republic, the Legion's main rival, seems to be made up of nearly equal parts men and women, serving in all the same roles as men, giving women an active role in the liberation of their sisters. Not to mention how cool it can be to play as a chick and kick the Legion's ass. Take THAT, you toga wearing chauvinistic dickbags!

But one of the most refreshing examples of the way that the near extinction of the human race has leveled the playing field is in the characters of two companions that you can choose to have come with you as you wander the wastes. One is Arcade Gannon who, apart from having the single coolest name imaginable, is a snarky scientist affiliated with the Followers of the Apocalypse. The other is Veronica Santangelo, a Brotherhood of Steel scribe with an affinity for punching things really really hard who happens to be voiced by Felicia Day. Both of these characters are gay, but some people might play through the game without ever realizing that fact. Apparently, 200 years after the end of civilization, homosexuals finally get the privilege of letting their sexuality be merely an incidental part of who they are, something we straight people have enjoyed since... well, forever.

 The thing I love about Veronica is the way she mentions having been in love with another girl as if it ain't no thang... because it isn't. She's not a sexy lesbian there for men to drool over, nor is she a big bad butch stereotype, despite her ability to punch people until their arms fly off. She's a fully fleshed out character, and her sexuality is only a small part of it. Too many video games that do feature queer characters (coughDRAGONAGEcough) rely too heavily on making their sexuality the most important, or at least the most obvious, aspect of their personalities. As much as I liked Zevran, he did sort of have a "HEY! I HAVE SEX WITH MEN! AND LADIES TOO, BUT ALSO MEN! HAVE I MENTIONED ALL THE MEN I'VE HAD SEX WITH TODAY?!" quality to him.

Once again, I feel the need to point out that homophobia hasn't been completely eradicated in Fallout's post-war world. Veronica's girlfriend ran away from the Brotherhood because her parents were overly concerned with her settling down with a man and having babies. People will sometimes make jokes about how the Legion apparently follows the ancient Spartan idea that sex between two men is better than sex between a man and a woman. But these attitudes are few and far between, and most people you meet seem to be of the mind that who you choose to bone is your own damn business, and worrying about it is way less important than finding enough food, or defending yourselves from that screaming hoard of raiders outside the walls. And the fact remains that Fallout 2 was the first video game to allow for in game, same sex marriages, and I think that's pretty cool.

I'm not trying to argue that the world of Fallout is a perfect place, or somehow better than it was before the bombs fell. Living in the wasteland is absolutely brutal; many small communities struggle to eek out meager existences, those with power frequently seek to exploit those without it, and the people you encounter on your travels are just as likely to attempt to rape, murder, or enslave you as not. But the centuries long traditions of oppression based on race, gender, and sexual orientation have, for the most part, vanished. War may never change, but it's clear that people can, given enough time and perhaps some shared hardships. It give you hope that, once the broken world of Fallout is rebuilt (and despite the game's bleak setting, it's clear that this isn't just a naive pipe dream, but a real possibility), it will be built better than before, into a truly advanced society; not advanced by technology or science, but by equality. Which, in turn, gives me hope for our own, somewhat broken, world. Hey, it could happen. Truth, as they say, can be stranger than science fiction.

Sunny out!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm not sick but I'm not well... ok, I am actually sick.

Hey there, um, five people who read this blog!

So as you may have gathered if you read my twitter, I went on an epic journey to the Texas Rennaisance Festival this weekend, and had an awesome time. Unfortunately, either due to the weather or the close proximity to large crowds of disgusting people, I have been stricken with... the plague! Ok, it's not the plague. It's consumption! Ok, it's not consumption, it's a nasty cold. Sheesh, ya'll never let me have any fun.

ANYWAY, as a result my head is full of snot, and as we all know, heads full of snot do not help with the brains thinking good. See? That sentence was horrible. I am way too tired and congested to think of something witty and coherent enough to force upon you, my loyal readers, so instead, I offer this; an absolutely beautiful short film about a woman and her dragon. Break out the tissues for this one, guys. It's a real tear-jerker.

Hopefully my head will have cleard by later this week, and I'll have some real content for ya. In the meantime, enjoy!

Sunny out!

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Not To Talk To Ladies On The Internet

I know I'm late to the party talking about this (because as we all know, a week is practically an eternity on the internet), but I feel like I need to say something, because thinking about it is making my head want to explode. For my readers who were not previously aware of the awesomeness that is Kate Beaton, ya'll remember her, right? The awesome Canadian chick who draws hilarious history comics? Well, about a week ago, she posted this to Twitter.

Perfectly reasonable, right? I mean, I know I have told people I admire that I wanted to have their babies, but generally they were people I knew well. I wouldn't say it to a stranger, and if I was told I had made the other person uncomfortable, I would immediately apologize and not say it again. Because that's what people who have manners do, right? You know, listen to other people and attempt not to offend them?

Well apparently not on the internet (as if that was a surprise to absolutely anyone). Want to guess what happened next? That's right; Twitter exploded. Apparently there are a lot of guys out there who are offended by the fact that some women find their creepy comments offensive. There were cries of "I'm sure it wasn't MEANT that way!" and "I say it to everyone, men AND women!" and "Sheeh, get a sense of humor/learn to take a complement/stop being such a woman about it, why don't you?" And then... there was this guy.

Holy Not Getting It, Batman! Not only is this guy setting loose a huge herd of teal deer, he's showing us a classic example of Mansplaining. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "Mansplaining" is when a guy tells a woman, in a condescending manner, that she is wrong, either about something she actually knows a lot about, something women experience that men don't, sexism, feminism, or even her own feelings. The Mansplainer is always right, and the poor hysterical women are always wrong and too emotional to make a rational argument. In this example, we see the Mansplainer telling Kate that she has no right to have the feelings she feels when someone implies that they want to, perhaps against her will, wed her, have sex with her, and force her to bare their children. Not only that, he tells her that she is ungrateful and even disrespectful for not graciously accepting any and all attention she gets from men.

I also love the scare quotes he puts around the word "feminism." Ooh, women wanting to be treated the same as men, how frightening! He then goes on to claim that he supports the right of a woman to do whatever she wants to do, but then oddly compares women with animals, mythological creatures, and trees. But for all his protesting, he's ignoring the central point of this, and why it is, indeed an issue of feminism. He may claim that he supports a woman's right to do what he wants, but he's here basically telling a woman that he does not support her right to speak up when she feels uncomfortable. And that's really the central point of this entire stupid argument. Kate said that something some of her fans do bothers her. Many of her fans agreed, some apologized, but a good number did what this guy did; basically claim that their right to be creepy supersedes her right to not want to be creeped out. They claim to be her fans, they claim to respect her, but if that was actually true, they'd fucking listen to what she has to say. They are not her fans.

All in all, I think this comic, by the lovely Gabby Schultz, sums it all up rather well. This is only part of the comic (it was too big to fit), so I encourage you to go to Gabby's excellent blog to read it in its entirity.

The best part about this? Gabby is a man. THIS DUDE GETS IT, WHY CAN'T THE REST OF YOU?!

Sunny out!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why Aren't You Reading This Comic? Templar, Arizona, by Spike

Don't lie. You really want to read this comic.

When I sat down to write about why I like Templar, Arizona, this is the only thing I was able to even write for like, an hour:

Omg. Omg. Ok. Templar, Arizona is the coolest. Thing. EVER. Oh man, you don't even know. I love it so much. SO MUCH. I would have Templar, Arizona's BABIES. I would stand outside its window with a boom-box. It. Is. The. Awesomeness.

Which is pretty pathetic, and makes Templar seem like Justin Bieber. And me seem like I'm 12.

Templar, Arizona is about as far from Justin Bieber as you can get. First of all, it isn't a person (or maybe some sort of gremlin, the jury is still out) like Justin, so that makes them pretty different right from the start. Templar also doesn't make shitty music. Also, unlike Justin, it is mature and deep and fascinating and a little dark and disturbing.

Gah! Ok, Justin, you're dark and disturbing too, just stop making that face oh god.

I'm getting the feeling I should start over.

Templar, Arizona, the webcomic, is an imaginative and vibrant tale of a city and its inhabitants, written and drawn by Spike, a lady so amazingly talented it's almost unfair. Templar, Arizona, the city, is an imaginary town in the middle of its own dust bowl that exists in an alternate reality to our own. Spike describes it as a reality in which bits of history happened differently, technology grew down a slightly different path, and things are just subtly... different. The result is a world in which the Sikh empire never ended, Nile Revisionists still worship ancient Egyptian gods and have their own Little Cairo, just about anyone can get their own tv show, and the city is dotted with clay bars, restaurants in which you can eat a puppy, completely inappropriate statues, and cafes where they'll kick you out if you speak anything less than the complete truth. Templar is full of cults, crazy subcultures, and political movements, and Spike does a great job of convincing you that they're all plausible. She has said that she's gotten e-mails from people who sincerely believed that Jakeskin (a scary cult that believes it's their duty to hasten the fall of civilization), Reclamation (a quasi-communist movement that takes over old buildings, refurbishes them, and opens them as free housing for the impoverished), or the Sincerists (a subculture in which participants vow never to tell any lies) seem likes good ideas, which she said scares her a little. I don't blame her; the Jakeskin in particular scare me to death.

Scary. As. Hell.
So what's the story, I hear you ask? Well, I'm not going to tell you, because I don't think anyone but Spike herself really knows where all this is going. I will tell you that Ben, a young man who fled his parents in Yakima under mysterious circumstances, is the closest thing get get to a main character. Ben is shy and rather reclusive, but he's forced out of his shell (more or less against his will) by his neighbor Regan, a huge woman, both literally and personality-wise. Regan has absolutly no filter between her brain and her mouth, she just does not give a fuck. She wouldn't give you a fuck if you were lieing fuckless in the desert. She just steals every scene she's in. That's her up at the top there.

Regan introduces Ben to the city and several of its inhabitants. This includes Gene, a cheerfully brain-damaged guitarist with connections (boy, are they connections) to the Jakeskin, his daughter Zora, who is already smarter than her father at six years old, and Scipio, who I just adore. He's a huge yet gentle man who practices Buddhism, wears kilts, and has a pet chicken named Flora. It's like he was made in a lab for me to fall in love with.

Yes please.
There are lots and lots of other characters. Tuesday, who dances naked on TV and her "frienemy" Curio, two privileged King Street girls constantly dueling with each other over petty bullshit (Tuesday always wins), Morgan, Ben's crush that works at a fashion magazine but doesn't care who knows how she feels about Saturn, the Elliots, two desperate guys living on the streets who happen to have the same name and recently got themselves into some deep shit, and Moze, a lovably laid back member of Gene's band who has a very high opinion of his own dick, I could seriously keep going for quite a while but I will spare you. There is just so much in Templar that it's hard not to just babble on about it forever. The thing to remember when reading Templar is to not spend too much time trying to understand it all the first time through. The comic is multi-layered and complex, and things that seem to make no sense or serve as background noise or filler take on new signifigance on a second, third, or fourth read-through. And I encourage you to read it more than once, you'll be glad you did. I love it so much that I bought the books (Spike drew me a custom picture of Regan in the front of my copy of volume 4, eee!), and I read through them over and over, at least once a month, I think. The books themselves are great because they have a section in the back where Spike explains some of the more cryptic things going on in the comic, as well as some extra drawings. If you read through the online comic and enjoy it, I highly recommend shelling out for the books. Once again, you'll be glad you did.

In conclusion, Templar, Arizona is one of the best comics on the web right now, hands down. You really need to read it. If you don't read it, we're not friends anymore. I'll just leave the link right here. Remember, our friendship depends on it.

Sunny out!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sunny's Top Thirteen Fictional Geek Chicks

Let's face it. You're far more likely to run into male geeks and nerds on tv shows, in movies, video games, just about any media. Where's the love for the geek girls, huh? Well I'm going to shine the spotlight on thirteen of my favorite fictional geek chicks, because for some odd reason, I have an affinity for quirky women with lots of brains and maybe a few weird obsessions. I have no idea why. *cough* Why thirteen? It's my favorite number. You wanna fight about it? No? Good.

Let's jump right in!

13. Gadget Hackwrench (Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers)

If you don't remember the glory days of Disney cartoons, well, I weep for you. You don't know what you missed out on. Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers was about a team of crime-fighting rodents, and Gadget here was hands down the coolest of the bunch. A skilled pilot, mechanic, and inventor, Gadget could think (and talk) circles around the other Rangers. She was basically like a two inch tall, female MacGyver; she could take any old pile of junk and make it into just exactly what they needed to get out of any jam they got into. It's no surprise that both Chip and Dale had the hots for her, but in true nerd fashion, she never even seemed to notice. Who has time for romance when you have so many things to invent, anyway?

12. Zoey (Left 4 Dead)

Zoey, the sole female survivor in Valve's excellent co-op zombie gore-fest Left 4 Dead, is completely capable of holding her own alongside three dudes in the face of legion upon legion of angry undead. Wanna know why? The power of B movies. Zoey was spending her freshman year of college like so many of us did; skipping class and hanging around in her dorm room watching horror movies. She was on the verge of failing when, lucky for her, the zombie apocalypse broke out. It turned out that having intimate knowledge of everything George A. Romero ever made was an advantage once everyone she knew was dead or infected, and she can now put that previously useless knowledge to good use kicking undead butt. And in the end, isn't that what every geek wants?

11. Ezri Dax (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)

There were a lot of women from the various Star Trek series that I could have chosen; the series did contain a lot of scientists and doctors, after all. But I think Ezri was the one that most embodied what it is to be geeky, even when you live in a geek fantasy. A young ensign on her first commission aboard the Destiny, Ezri never had any interest in joining with a symbiont, something her people the Trill see as a great honor and only reserved for the best and brightest. But when her ship is transporting the Dax symbiont, recently rescued from it's former dieing host Jadzia, it suddenly becomes ill, and Ezri, the only Trill aboard, must join with it to prevent its death. Ezri takes on a responsibility she is not ready for and doesn't believe she is worthy of, all in the midst of a devastating war. It's this insecurity, and her eventual ability to overcome it, that make her geeky... well that and her adorable crush on Dr. Bashir. Girl cannot just spit it out and tell him she digs him till almost the very end of the series. Haven't we all been there, ladies?
10. Codex, aka Cyd Sherman (The Guild)

First of all, I gotta say that I love Felicia Day. She's one of my favorite irl geek girls, so it's no surprise that her character on The Guild, the awesome web-series she writes and stars in, makes my list. Cyd, who goes by Codex in the unnamed MMO at the core of the show, is shy and insecure, and uses the game as a way to escape her dull and unsatisfying life. But when her game friends start invading her reality, Cyd has to figure out how to channel the confident Codex she plays in game and use that courage in her real life. I see a lot of myself in Cyd; I'm certainly a lot bolder and outgoing while playing online games than I am in my every day life. She also deals with a lot of the same things real women who play video games deal with, such as either being hit on or dismissed by other players because of your gender. It's really fun to watch her come into her own, to see her get pushed and pushed by the craziness of her guild-mates and the assholes of their rival guild until, finally, she breaks out of her shy shell and shows everyone, including herself, how strong she really is.

9. Lisa Simpson (The Simpsons)

Oh, Lisa Simpson. She's a bookworm, she's a band nerd, and she can be an obnoxious little know-it-all at times, but damnit, I love her anyway. I think anyone who got picked on in school for daring to think reading was fun can identify with her. Way smarter than just about everyone else around her, constantly tormented by her jerkass brother, outcast at school and misunderstood by her parents, Lisa embodies what it is to be young, opinionated, geeky and female. I know a lot of Simpsons fans find her annoying, but honestly she's sometimes the only one in that stupid family I can stand. Every time I catch a Lisa episode, I root for her. Don't worry Lisa, it get's better. You'll really blossom in college.

8. Kaylee Lee Frye (Firefly)

Kaylee is just about the cutest nerd you'll ever see. She just loves machines... I mean LOVES them. Ahem. Kaylee is the mechanic on board Serenity, but her unofficial jobs include being cheerful, having cute umbrellas and eating the HELL out of strawberries. Kaylee treats Serenity like a member of the crew, and the ship seems to love her as much as she loves it. Don't we all feel that way about our beloved machines from time to time? At least until our computer decides to be a dick and crash while we're writing an essay or our speakers refuse to work no matter what we do or the 360 red rings right in the middle of Fallout 3 and... never mind, I just remembered I actually hate machines. Kaylee, you are a better woman than I.

7. Penny (Inspector Gadget)

It is no secret that Penny was the real brains behind that bumbling idiot Inspector Gadget. I mean, come on. Gadget is constantly getting outdone by a 5th grader and a dog. Someone needs to see about getting him into some remedial classes or something. But oh man, I wish I had Penny's tech when I was ten. A computer that looks like a book? A utility wrist watch? Bad. Ass. Penny's not just tech savvy, she's resourceful and brave, which is good, considering she pretty much has to save herself whenever she gets into trouble. Honestly, the show should have actually been called "Penny and Brain! guest-starring Some Moron With a Helicopter in His Hat."

6. Harley Quinn (Batman)

Most people, when they look at Harley, don't think "geek chick" right away. "Dangerously unhinged psychopath," tends to pop up first. But think about it. In some ways, she's almost the ultimate geek. She was a doctor, so you know she's smart, despite that Jersey girl accent and, you know, the whole "crazy" thing. But what really drives it home is the fact that she takes fangirling to a whole new, utterly disturbing level. She's got such a crazy obsessive crush on the Joker that she puts on a harlequin outfit and follows him into a life of crime, becoming his most loyal henchmen, all just to get his attention. I mean, I thought those crazy ladies on that one message board who all thought they were married to Severus Snape were crazy fangirls. Nope, Harley is the Queen of All Fangirls, and if you disagree, she'll shoot you in the face with a pie bazooka. Piezooka? Whatever.
5. Tali'Zorah nar Rayya (Mass Effect)

Mass Effect is another series with a lot of characters that one could call "geek chicks." Hell, Shepard can be a geek chick if you choose to play her that way. I almost put Liara up here, but in the end I had to go with Tali. Tali is sort of a geek chick by necessity; when you're entire race lives on a giant flotilla of second hand ships roving around the galaxy, and your immune system is so bad you risk death if a tiny puncture in your environmental suit causes you to catch a cold, you better know your stuff. Tali spends most of her time in the engine room of the Normandy (the sound of the engine reminds her of home), and is the closest thing your crew has to an expert on the Geth, the sentient robot race that thanked her ancestors for creating them by kicking them off their home planet. A male Shepard can start a romantic relationship with her in the second game, and she admits to developing a crush on him after he saved her, invited her to join his crew, and whisked her off to help him save the galaxy. Hell, I can't blame her for that.

4. Velma Dinkley (Scooby-Doo)

Velma was one of the first geek girls I was ever exposed to. The only one with half a brain in Mystery Inc., Velma was usually the one who solved the mystery, and it was her job to explain how the villain of the week had set up the scam at the end of every show. Velma gets dumped on sometimes for being the "ugly one" compared to Daphne, but I think that's pretty unfair. Girl's got curves, and she owns them! Look at her rocking that miniskirt! She also has people swearing up and down that she's a lesbian at times, but speculation on a cartoon character's sexuality aside, what evidence is there for that? That she didn't hook up with Shaggy? All that tells me is that she's got standards, and doesn't need to jump on the first scraggly-bearded stoner she sees to boost her confidence. She's resourceful, she's smart, and she's 100% herself. Go Velma!

3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)

Hermione isn't just a geek, her geekery flies in the face of wizardly racism! Prejudiced wizard Purebloods believe they're inherently supirior to wizards with Muggle blood; they do everything from call them insulting names to outright persecuting them in the last book. Despite her Muggle parents, Hermione is repeatedly referred to as the best witch of her age. So suck it, Purebloods! This lowley little Moodblood (I'm taking it back, ya'll) is way smarter and better at magic than your posterboy Draco Malfoy, a stark warning about the dangers of inbreeding if I ever saw one. Not only that, she uses her supirior magic ability and awesome huge brain throughout the books to help Harry, fight the forces of evil, and generally be all around awesome. Hermione's geekery is practically a political statement. She is living proof that bigotry is stupid and you can do just about anything if you work hard and read the right books.

2. Agatha Heterodyne (Girl Genius)

The world of Girl Genius is one made by geeks, for geeks, and populated almost entirely with geeks, but Agatha is in a class all her own. She's a Spark, a sort of mad scientist with an uncontrolable urge to do crazy, often irrisponsible things with science. Why? For SCIENCE, of course! There are many Sparks in this world, but Agatha, the daughter of two of the greatest Sparks of all time, is miles above the rest of them. It takes a lot of chutzpah to be the the maddest mad scientist in all the land when the world is basically run by them, but she manages it. She builds robots in her sleep. She comes up with crazy impossible plans at a moments notice and pushes the bounds of known possibility just for fun. She straps herself into devices meant to kill her and then bring her back to life in order to save her friends. She has a sentient castle full of monsters, traps, and rooms that move. Death rays get her all hot and bothered. Girl is fierce, is what I'm saying. She takes being a geek and turns it into a crazy, deadly artform.

1. Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

I know I cannot be alone in this one. Belle was by far my favorite Disney heroine, the first one I remember seeing that had wants and desires beyond getting married. Her dad went and let her read books, and she went off and got ideas. And the whole town was just so weirded out by her. A woman reading books?! The very idea! Belle taught me one of the most important lessons of my young life; Books are way more important than boys. Immune to the questionable "charms" of the meatheaded Gaston, Belle wanted to see the world outside her village and find someone who could understand her. She was intelligent and outspoken and didn't let anyone tell her what a woman should or shouldn't do. She stood her ground, and eventually got to marry a guy who could give her a whole library as an engagement present. That's way better than any stupid ring.

So that's my list. If I left out your favorite geek chick, go ahead and tell me about it in the comments. Coming up soon is a review of the webcomic Templar, Arizona and my musings on the world of Fallout.

Sunny out!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Craziest Motherfucker I Ever Did Meet

This is exactly what I looked like. If I was three blond women.
I am going to tell you the saga of the most baffling person I've ever met in an online game. Which is a pretty impressive feat, let me tell you. I've run in PuGs with people who were obviously masturbating. I've been in online matches with 13 year-olds who did nothing but yell racial slurs, try to team-kill everyone, and leave. But this guy took the gold medal in the Oh My God What Is Wrong With You Olympics. Dealing with him was so surreal that I half expected Salvidor Dali to show up and knit me a fish hat.

Like this, but with more fish hats.

The game in which I met this most baffling of persons was Lord of the Rings Online which, strangely for a MMO, was not an online space in which I was used to meeting completely crazy assholes. I'd been playing on the same server for over two years at this point, leveling up my Hobbit Burglar and meeting lots of people, and most of them did not fit the "horny teenager on speed" stereotype of MMO players. They were generally polite and down to earth, if a bit obsessed with canon (which I can totally understand, Rune-keepers TOTALLY go against the lore, dude). Maybe the fan-base of Mr. Tolkien's works is just more mature in general than that which graces the servers of better known internet cesspools like WoW, I don't know. All I know is that I was completely unprepared for this dude's level of batshittery.

So like I said, I'd been playing LotRO for a while, and had just talked my best and oldest friend, a wonderful gal named Lesli, into playing with me. I've known Lesli since I was in 6th grade. We were in Girl Scouts together, she baked me brownies when I lost my virginity, we were each-others dates to the prom. She was off at college in a different city at the time, and it was a fun way for us to catch up while also kicking some Orc butt, which we were both fans of, because Orcs are notorious jerks.

Probably never calls his mom to say "I love you."
Lesli had been playing about a month at the time of this incident. This particular night, the two of us were in different locations, doing our own things, while cheerfully updating each other on our current irl lives (I just realized that translates to "in real life lives," which seems wrong, but I don't really care) over chat. Lesli was about level 25, and working on her first big group quest, a tricky little instance called the Great Barrows. I told her I could log on to one of my lower level alts to help her if she needed, but she assured me she'd found a group and was doing fine.

About half an hour later, she informed me that she was no longer doing fine. The group that had seemed so friendly and competent mere moments before was falling apart, mostly due to its idiot leader. He had apparently shown himself to be an incompetent control freak who was unable to effectively lead a group or even play his own class correctly, but was loathe to let anyone else take the lead. The group had wiped over and over, and several members were already making excuses to leave. What's worse, though, was what he was doing to Lesli.

Oh god where is his other hand...

 This fucker was skeeving all over her like... like the skeeviest thing you can imagine. He'd started out not-so-subtly trying to ascertain if she was single or not, then had moved on to asking her to be his cyber-girlfriend, then simply asking her to have cyber-sex with him, and then to that old standby of creepy dudes on the internet, describing in disgusting detail all the depraved and unwanted things he'd do to her body given half the chance. If this guy had had the ability to grope over the internet, I have no doubt he would have done it. He was a full gross of gross (see what I did there?) and Lesli, poor innocent online virgin that she was (har-de-har-har) didn't know how to deal with it. She'd only been playing a short while, she didn't know the etiquette in these situations, so she told me the dudes name and asked me to step in.

So what follows is bits of the chat-log between myself and the creeper that had been sexually harassing my best friend. I am posting his responses verbatim, without correcting his awful spelling or confusing grammar. There are a few things you need to know in order to understand this:

1. I'm a chick. Not a dude.
2. Lesli asked me to step in.
3.This dude had been talking to Lesli for all of 30 minuets, during which time she had not responded favorably to his creepy attentions in any way.
4. He is crazy go nuts.

[02:30] Sunny: What's this I hear about you trying to get my girl Les to cyber with you?
[02:30] Crazy: yah shes ok...does it work for u?

So basically this guy was asking me if I had ever been able to talk Lesli into cyber-sex. Fucking. Classy.

[02:31] Sunny: Cybering is for people who can't get sex in real life. It's pathetic and sad and if you keep harassing my friends I'll report you.
[02:32] Crazy: or fo ppl who cant controll their ppl, trie and Ill bury u deep!
[02:33] Sunny: Ooh, threatening people on the internet, I'm so scared.
[02:33] Crazy: u ever talk to me or my les and I will
[02:34] Crazy: report u
[02:34] Crazy: u dont believe me, try me. Ill have u basmmed so fast!

Needless to say, I was now becoming a little confused.

[02:35] Sunny: Why would they ban me when you're the one harassing people for cyber sex?
[02:36] Crazy: im protecteing her from ur cyber bubshit
[02:36] Sunny: Dude, she's my best friend. I've known her in real life since we were 12.
[02:36] Crazy: well ur a little late in that
[02:37] Sunny: I have no idea what you're talking about.
[02:37] Crazy: lemme make it clear, u talk to her Nd I will turn u in, are we clear?
[02:38] Sunny: We're in the same guild, genius. She is my friend. I talk to her all the time. I'm talking to her right now.
[02:38] Crazy: well suggest u dont while she recovers from ur stupidity
[02:39] Sunny: Uh... she told me you were harassing her. She put you on ignore, by the way. We're laughing about it in guild chat right now.
[02:39] Crazy: Iff I hear otherwise its 911...know what I mean?
[02:39] Sunny: You were harassing her.
[02:40] Crazy: ARE WE CLEAR?
[02:40] Crazy: u bastard
[02:40] Sunny: No, we're not, because she's my friend and you're some dude who thinks he has some sort of clame over her when you don't.

By now, a few things were becoming apparent. This guy thought he was protecting Lesli from... something. I guess me? I also started to get the feeling that he thought I was male. I'm not sure why I felt the need to correct him, but I did.

[02:40] Sunny: I'm a chick, btw. :p
[02:41] Crazy: then u should appreciate what im doing


[02:41] Sunny: What? Harassing my friend?
[02:42] Crazy: yur really lame
[02:43] Sunny: Good comeback. I'm really hurt.
[02:43] Crazy: yah, u so much as talk to her and ur on report
[02:44] Sunny: I'm talking to her right now. What part of "She's my friend that I've known for years and we're in the same guild and she told me she didn't like you harassing her" do you not understand?
[02:45] Crazy: ok, your choice idiiot
[02:47] Crazy: I dont think ur icracys will save u pervert
[02:47] Sunny: Why the hell am I the pervert? You're the one who wanted to cyber. I'm just telling you to cut it out.
[02:47] Crazy: they are lookiing up ur criminal record now
[02:48] Sunny: Right. What are you, 15?
[02:48] Crazy: ur the only one acting 12 sice we started
[02:49] Crazy: but the will tell when reposrt comes back on u
[02:49] Crazy: dewd , u blatant lies wont save u
[02:50] Sunny: From what? Nerd wrath?
[02:50] Crazy: from truth, something ur unfamilliar with
[02:51] Crazy: let me accuant u

Exhibit A: Nerd Wrath

I began to become incredulous. This was just too fucking silly.This ridiculous internet warrior for "truth" actually thought that I would believe he'd called the cops on me and had them look up my criminal record, all without my real name or any idea of where I lived.

[02:51] Sunny: You cannot be serious.
[02:51] Sunny: You're some sort of troll, right?
[02:51] Crazy: u are the sorriest sort if sorry Ive ev3er met
[02:52] Sunny: Please, tell me why. This is getting more and more hilarious.
[02:52] Crazy: y ever talk to her again and I WILL have ur head
[02:52] Sunny: I told you, I'm talking to her right now.
[02:52] Sunny: I'm telling her everything you say.
[02:53] Crazy: ok lemme pursue that then if ur that stupid
[02:55] Sunny: Are you done now?
[02:55] Crazy: yah she also told me ho u abused her,,, u want that to come out in court bastard?/r
[02:56] Sunny: lol forever.
[02:56] Sunny: You're really freaking clueless.
[02:57] Crazy: /r if caring id cluless I wouldnt wanna be u !
[02:58] Crazy: did u hear somthing at the door?

At this point in time it had become apparent to me that this guy was nuttier than squirrel poop. Despite my correction, that he had acknowledged, he was back to thinking that I was Lesli's abusive boyfriend. I guess he just really, really wanted to White Knight for her, so he just made up an antagonist in his head. What's more, he was seriously trying to get me to fear him. I think that's the most hilarious part of this. He actually thought he could bullshit me into thinking I heard something at the door. I think this is the point at which I called Lesli and just began reading his responses to her out loud because keeping her updated in chat was becoming too much of a hassle. Everything he said was gold.

[02:58] Sunny: Well thank you for providing both of us with an extremely amusing evening. These chat logs are going to make us laugh for years to come.
[03:01] Crazy: u do anything to hurt her in th least and Ill personally fly down there and tear ur gonads out of ur corpse
[03:01] Crazy: are we clear????
[03:01] Sunny: Sure thing sweet cheeks. Now, can you tell me where we live?
[03:01] Sunny: Oh, and I also do not have gonads because I am FEMALE.
[03:01] Crazy: ya wasilla AK, U?

And then he told me where he lives.

[03:02] Sunny: No, me, stupid. How can you fly down here if you don't know where here is?
[03:02] Crazy: u cowardly freak
[03:03] Crazy: u heard me, and if u dont believe me, I will make it way to real in ur death
[03:03] Sunny: You go right on ahead, hun.
[03:03] Crazy: u get off her now!
[03:03] Sunny: lol forever.
[03:04] Sunny: You have some pretty hilarious delusions, kid.
[03:04] Crazy: cya soon!
[03:05] Sunny: You seriously think I'm some sort of abusive boyfriend?
[03:05] Crazy: but u dont eant me to record u crimes
[03:05] Sunny: Crimes. lollol
[03:05] Crazy: well thats what ur facing hun
[03:06] Sunny: Ok, number one. I'm a girl. Get that? I have boobs and a vagina.
[03:06] Crazy: piss me off again
[03:06] Crazy: hun wasnt clear enuf for u criminal?
[03:06] Sunny: Number two, I am not in a relationship with Les. She is my very good friend. We were in girl scouts together.
[03:07] Sunny: Number three, she told me she was annoyed with you harassing her, so I said I'd tell you to stop.
[03:07] Crazy: ur bout the worst most abusive frind sh3e could ever hope ffor SHAME ON U
[03:07] Sunny: That is all. You are some weirdo freak who did some sort of quest with her and now you think you're her white knight or something.
[03:08] Sunny: How is telling you to stop annoying her abusive?
[03:08] Crazy: nope just a descent human being
[03:08] Sunny: Who tried to get her to cyber with you.
[03:09] Crazy: U wouldnt understand
[03:09] Sunny: HA.

Well, you're right about one thing, Crazy Dude. I sure do not understand how sexually harrassing a woman, pressuring her for cyber-sex, and then freaking out on her friend and assuming she's actually that woman's abusive boyfriend that you are somehow both going to sic the cops on and murder makes you a decent human being.

Oh wait, he said descent human being. That's something completely different.

[03:11] Crazy: let me make this more than clear to ur small mind If I EVER see u on this server again< I will tell all how u tried to abuse a woman
[03:12] Sunny: ......right, you go on ahead.
[03:12] Sunny: I've been playing on this server for almost two years. I AM a woman. No one will believe you.
[03:12] Crazy: u get out now or I will make it my task to ruin u u perfert
[03:12] Sunny: Have fun with that.
[03:12] Crazy: uve been warnefd
[03:13] Sunny: I sure have been warnefd, whatever that means.
[03:13] Sunny: And I am just quaking in my boots I tell you what.
[03:14] Crazy: ya guess time will tell what pull I have, but nionetheless u are an absolute idiot
[03:14] Crazy: never met someone lamer than u
[03:22] Sunny: Well anyway I'm going to bed. Have fun in your little fantasy world.

I did end up seeing how much "pull" this guy had. The answer is "none," because when we showed the chat logs to the GMs, they kicked him from the game for a week. We also showed the logs to the leader of this guy's guild and circulated them around the server. When he came back a week later, he found he'd been booted from his guild. with a reputation that left all the other guilds unwilling to take him. I don't know if he got kicked off for good or if he just left, but not long after that he vanished, never to be seen again. And funny, I still haven't been arrested for abusing my girlfriend yet. Hmm.

So, in conclusion:

Don't hit on women you meet in video games, dudes. Just... just don't. Believe me, they don't want you to.

Sunny out.

P.S. I noticed I have two followers! Hiii two followers! I declare you two the most awesome people on the internet! So sayeth I!

P.P.S. Yes, I know I said I was gonna write about Halo. Then I remembered that Red vs. Blue already covered everything that is funny about Halo. QQ. Maybe someday.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lost Odyssey, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the JRPG.

 Hey doods! So I'm pretty busy with work and school at the moment, and I'm having trouble with the Halo article I am attempting to write, so in order to buy myself some time, I'm posting this thing I wrote in my personal journal forever and a day ago about Lost Odyssey. Yes, a game that came out in 2007. I am relevant! It's rambly and pointless, but maybe slightly amusing, and that's all I ever hoped for in this blog anyway. So here goes.

I don't usually like Japanese style RPGs. I tried playing Final Fantasy (it was number six, I believe) and found it rather unimpressive. The story was mildly interesting, but I found the turn based combat and the random encounters so mind numbingly frustrating that I couldn't get very far in it. But Nova just bought Lost Odyssey, a game made by a large portion of the team that worked on the Final Fantasy games who have left Squeenix, and when I saw the trailer, I was intrigued. I mean, the damn thing is so freaking pretty. Check it.

Not to mention that the fact that they used White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane makes the whole thing seem like some sort of extended acid induced trip, which I am totally down with.

So yesterday, I started playing at about three in the afternoon.

I did not stop till four in the morning.

I think it's safe to say I love this game. Love it.

Kaim Argonar, the main character, is a mercenary, about 1000 years old, has probably fathered enough offspring over the millennium to qualify as his own race, a total badass, and smoking hot.

Hubba hubba.

At the beginning of the game, he doesn't know anything about his past, other than the fact that's he's a mercenary and he can't die. He doesn't want his memories back, because he knows they're all painful. Boy howdy, are they painful. Over the course of the game, Kaim's memories begin returning (in the form of artfully presented little stories), and it's a safe bet that each and every one of them is bittersweet, if not downright heart wrenching. This guy has watched a thousand years worth of loved ones and friends die. He's had dozens of wives and hundreds of children, all of whom he loved, all of whom are gone. He's seen civilizations rise and fall, fought with one country only to fight against them 100 years later, survived wars and famines and natural disasters while everyone around him died... He's like Tolkien's Elves on steroids.

So Kaim is currently fighting in a war with country A (who's name I forget) against country B (forgot their name too, though they're apparently dog people) when... oh here, I'll just show it to you.

This scene is the first one in the game, and it rules for several reasons.

1. Kaim flipping out like a ninja and killing shit. Who doesn't love that?
2. Giant spider legged magic robots who's entire purpose is to knock people over. Because they're wearing plate armor, see, and once they fall over, they ain't getting back up.
3. Speaking of armor, I like to imagine that this war (which we never learn the cause of) is really over which country has the right to claim the "most ridiculous helmet" award. I think the ones with the big rings win. Those things are just asking for the opposite side to build a giant magic "pick ring shaped things up and fling them" robot.
4. The sky just FUCKING OPENS UP AND RAINS LAVA AND ROCKS ON EVERYONE. It's the literal embodiment of "Rocks fall, everyone dies."

Kaim, thanks to that handy dandy immortality thing, survives this thing which no one has any right to survive. Throughout it all, he has this expression on his face of mild annoyance, like he missed the bus. It's great.

He's summoned before the counsel of dickwads that run the country who basically go "You can't die, huh? Cool, we're sending you on a mission that no one could survive." There's more to it, but this thing is already too long and I doubt anyone is still reading it. They pair him up with another immortal, Seth Balmore, an ex-pirate.

Can I just take the opportunity to say that I love anime armor? This makes so much sense. Knee high boots, huge hulking plate armor on the arms... and a pretty floral sun dress. With a feather! I guess she doesn't really need much armor since she can't die, but it's still kinda funny.

Also on the team is Jansen Friedh, who is the only mortal I have on the team so far, and probably the most genuinely hilarious character in a Japanese game I've ever seen. You know how, like, you're watching a anime or playing a game, and there's a character who you know is supposed to be the funny one, but all his jokes seem like they've lost something in translation? Most good animes get around that by having really good translators and voice actors and such, but a lot of video games, especially older ones, aren't really translated all that well, and the voice acting is often a bit ridiculous, and the humor takes a bit of a beating. Not so with Jansen. I want to find his voice actor and shake that man's hand.

This right here will tell you everything you need to know about Jansen.

There are so many situations with this guy where the fact that he's the only one in the team who can actually die make what they're doing really freaking funny. And his interactions with perpetual sad panda Kaim are classic. I love it.

Seriously, this game is just an interactive Anime with amazing visuals, a great story, and a big cast of characters that I just adore. Last night was the only time a video game has ever made me cry. Like, end of Deathly Hallows, gut wrenching sobs crying. And I'm not even done with the first disc, there are four in all. FOUR. DISCS. I can only imagine what the end'll do to me.

And for some reason, the turn based combat and random encounters don't really bother me in this one. There aren't nearly as many encounters, so you don't run out of healing potion simply trying to cross a room, and the battles are always entertaining. Truth be told I could just stare at this game for hours doing bugger all. It's just that pretty.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... I recommend this game. Yeah.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Marvel, I Am Disappoint

Look, you made Magneto sad. :(

Maybe the title should be 20th Century Fox, I Am Disappoint, but I honestly don't know who is more to blame for the unstoppable rage I now fly into at the mere mention of the trilogy (plus one, blerg) of X-Men movies. It's true, I can no longer stand even being reminded of the existence of these movies without feeling the immediate need to cause someone bodily harm. Someone once told me that he thought the battle at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand was kinda cool, and I punched him in the throat. Where should we lay the blame for that poor man's tragically bruised trachea (not to mention the blame for his tragically stupid brain)? Because it certainly wasn't my fault, no matter what the subsequent restraining order would lead you to believe. It's the fault of whoever it was who decided to give us X-Men movies that somehow managed to come so close to being awesome, and instead have them veer off and take a graceful swan dive into the flaming shit pool.

I am dictating this post to my boyfriend while confined in a straight jacket to keep myself from killing him. Trufax.

I was all about the X-Men when I was a kid. I didn't get into reading comics till I was in high school, but I watched the cartoon religiously. The X-Men cartoon that ran on Fox in the 90s was a thing of beauty. It was funny and exciting, which, at that age, were the top two things I looked for in any media I consumed. But beneath that was an incredibly smart and thought provoking story about humanity; it's amazing strength and resilience, its capacity for hope and love, as well as its capacity for absolutely horrible, hateful bullshit. When I watch the episodes now, I'm sometimes surprised at how mature the cartoon was. This cartoon didn't pull punches or assume its fan-base was stupid. There was death (real death!), there was (implied) sex, there was bigotry and hate as well as acceptance and love. When I was 9, I'd never met anyone that much different from me, but I credit the X-Men (ok, ok, and my hippie-dippie parents) for the fact that I didn't act like a close-minded little snot when I did finally encounter someone who fit in outside my limited scope of what was "normal."

Fuck yeah, diversity!

Another thing that I think made X-Men great was the huge cast of characters. No matter what sort of hero you liked, there was a hero for you on this team, and unlike many other teams portrayed in kids shows (or, should I say, boy shows, because in the minds of the people who make and market cartoons, if it isn't full of pink unicorns or girls squealing over boys and shoes, it's really a boy's show), women got equal billing with the men. Most other shows, if they had a girl in the cast at all, had one, maybe two if you were lucky, and these chicks were often regulated to a supporting role or otherwise shown to be less capable and less of a focus than the male characters. The X-Men cartoon had four women in leading roles, Storm, Rogue, Jean Grey, and Jubilee, and all of them were well fleshed out characters that the writers treated with the same respect as the male X-Men. They got their own storylines, they were portrayed as leaders and valuable members of the group, they participated in all the battles. In any given episode, you were just as likely to see a woman saving a man from danger as the more traditional opposite. It was pretty cool. It worked to shut up those jerks at school who tried to tell me girls couldn't be superheroes, anyway.

But little tiny me didn't realize at the time that my mind was being expanded by mature ideas and examples of tolerance and gender equality. All I knew was that Rogue was the shit. She was a sassy Southern Belle with a tragic back-story, an affinity for folksy sayings, a fierce leather jacket, the power to steal other people's powers and put them into comas just by touching them, and the ability to throw down, fist to fist, with the likes of Wolverine and the Juggernaut (...bitch). She was a girl who was just as strong, if not stronger, than the boys! As a shy, bookish little girl constantly getting picked on by boys, that really appealed to me. I'd have loved to throw that asshole Robbie Jackson into a wall. Yeah, call me a dweeb now, you little twit.

What did you just say? Oh no you did not. Ooh girl, hold my earrings, Rogue's gonna have to punt a bitch.
By that point, I'd begun to notice how few of the female hero types shown to me in cartoons and movies were actually, you know, physically strong. They were more likely to have powers that necessitated them standing back from the action, like spell-casting or being psychic. I mean, look at pretty much every Japanese RPG ever. When is the first female character you recruit ever NOT a magic wielding waif? And the female heroes who do fight with their bodies are much more likely to be more of an "acrobat," type, elegant and graceful, agile strikers who preform feats of gymnastics to confuse their enemies and avoid getting hit. They were strong in their own way, but never stronger than the men, and often easily overwhelmed by the really big guys. Don't get me wrong, I play primarily stealthy agile types in most RPGs, and magic powers are cool too, but there's just something so... satisfying about the idea of being able to punch someone into the sky. Why do boys get to have all the fun there?

But that's why Rogue was so awesome. She was a straight up brawler, a match for any man, and she was always there on the front line, mixing it up, flying into people's faces and pummeling them till they forgot where they lived. It didn't hurt that her on again, off again, "I want to bump uglies with you SO bad but I can't because it'll kill you so I'll just sit here consumed with lust for the rest of the evening" romance with Gambit made my fledgling hormones do funny things to my insides. I mean, look at this man. Look at him.


...I'm sorry, what was I saying? Oh right. Gambit makes me happy in my pants. And I know that someone will say "But Sunny, I thought you were trying to talk about Rogue as an icon of feminism, why does she need a stinky old man?" and I totally get where you're coming from, imaginary person in my head. I've read a lot about how problematic it is that popular media always seems to want to make the strong willed females find TRU LUV and settle down with a man, and I totally agree, it's stupid. Strong women don't always need to find love with a dude, and it's refreshing to see the occasional story in which the female protagonist is still happily single at the end. We need more of that. But... well, honestly, I don't really have a reason for letting Gambit and Rogue pass on this one. It's my libido talking, I'll fully admit. They've just been my OTP since grade school, so I'll let it slide. He's got a fucking Cajun accent and calls everyone chérie, what do you want me to do.

But that brings us back to the X-Men movies. Now, I'm sure we all have our own reasons for being disappointed in the X-Men film franchise, and our own points at which the movies began to reveal that they would eventually crush our dreams and leech all goodness and purity from the world, preparing it for the coming of He Who Will Devour, the Great Old God who will feast upon our souls for all eternity.

...something like that.

Maybe for you it was how they failed to explain that Mystique was Nightcrawler's mother, or that Jubilee was deemed only important enough to put in the extra scenes on the DVD, or, as it was for so many of us, when they teased us endlessly by showing what seemed to be Wolverine and the rest of the gang kicking Sentinel ass in the trailers for the third movie only to have us realize that it's nothing but a GODDAMN DANGER ROOM SCENARIO THAT WE DON'T EVEN GET TO SEE. RAHH!

Ahem. Excuse me. Had to go punch a wall. My therapist says I need to learn to take out my X-Men related aggression on innanimate objects and not friends and family. Anyway, for me, I started to realize that the X-Men movies was not going to make me a happy camper the second I saw what they had done to Rogue.

Girl, you only wish you were as fierce as her.

I mean, seriously? Seriously? They take one of the most bad-ass characters in all of superherodom, strip her of half her back-story (taking Miss Marvel's powers, leaving her in a coma) and the more physical half of her powers (her super strength and flight), turn her into a whiny teenager, give her a schoolgirl crush on Wolverine of all people (Hugh Jackman is foine, not gonna lie, but the character is not exactly the stuff teen girls dreams are made of), then stick her in an awkward little romance with fucking Bobby "Iceman" Drake, who was portrayed in such a dull manner I can't even remember what exactly irritated me about him. Oh wait, I remember now; HE'S NOT REMI FUCKING LEBEAU.

Oh, and don't even get me started on what they did to Remi. I still haven't seen X-Men Origins because of what I've been told about what a piss poor job they did bringing him to the screen. It's my own sad little protest, but I stand by it because by god, someone has to. The actor playing him, while easy on the eyes, can't even keep up a decent Cajun accent. How many panties are you gonna drop with that kind of lazy acting, my friend? The answer is not many. YOU, sir, are no Remi LeBeau.

And not a single pantie was dropped that day.

Not to mention the fact that placing him in a prequel to this fucked up version of X-Men canon in which Rogue isn't even old enough to buy cigarettes in the modern day means that, even if the two were to be in a movie together somewhere down the line, he'd be way too old for her. It would be super fucking creepy. Forget about her worrying that she'll put him into a coma if they ever do the horizontal mambo, she's gonna have to worry about giving him a heart attack or breaking his hip, while he worries about being slapped with statutory rape charges.

But this rant is primarily about the injustice done to Rogue, and indeed, many of the great female characters from this franchise I love so much. Because it seems to me that, even it this wasn't their intention starting out, the makers of the X-Men movies became, at some point, determined to turn the movie franchise into The Wolverine Show. Don't get me wrong, I'm as fond of the big hairy jackoff as the rest of y'all, but to be quite honest he was never the most interesting character in my view. It seems like he spends a lot of his time sulking around, brooding over his past, growling at people who try to talk to him, and waiting around for a chance to be violent all over someone.

Wassa matter, Mr. Grumpypants?
As a result of this, by the third movie a lot of the other X-Men are given way less screen time and many of them are put on a bus or just plain killed off, often for no real reason. Professor X gets exploded or something, I don't know. Cyclops, who was already more like a walking chunk of scenery in the previous two movies than an actual character, doesn't even get the courtesy of an on-screen death. Nightcrawler is just gone, and never spoken of again.

But I hope you won't think me biased of I think that the women of the X-Men got off even worse. Mystique and Lady Deathstrike, two prominent female baddies, have slightly less characterization than a tuna sandwich. Jubilee, as previously stated, didn't even make it into the final cut. Jean gets to die pointlessly not once but twice, with the added insult of having neither of them resemble her actual death from the comic or cartoon. Which is really fucking tragic, because the real Phoenix Saga would have made an awesome movie. And then we have poor Rogue, who, upset because she thinks Bobby has eyes for Kitty Pride, takes an anti-mutant drug and gets rid of her powers.

Boys: More important than saving the world.

That's right, girls. Change yourself for a man. Get rid of something that makes you unique. Who cares if your special power has the potential to make you one of the most powerful superheroes out there and make you a protector of the innocent, get rid of it fast because if you don't start letting your boyfriend get to at least first base he's totally gonna run off with the chick from Juno.

Yes, yes, I know it must really suck not to be able to touch anyone ever. And I know she says that she did it for herself, not for Bobby. But come on. The entire movie, they show her making jealousface at her guy being kinda friendly with another girl, and they really expect us to believe that they didn't intend for us to assume that was the driving force behind her giving up her powers? And then there's the fact that it's something Rogue would never do, even though she hates never having human contact. She is presented with chances to give up her powers several times in the cartoon, and she always considers it, but in the end, she never goes through with it. Because she knows that her powers are a part of her, and she views the work they allow her to do as a member of the X-Men as an important responsibility. I mean, come on. If she wasn't able to justify giving up her powers in order to get it on with Gambit, there is no way she'd do it for fucking Iceman.

Though I always wondered why they didn't just save one of those power suppressing collars from that episode where they all got kidnapped and put on some island with a bunch of other mutants. Just, you know, keep it in the nightstand, pull it out for sexytimes... problem solved. Rogue gets to touch people and sex up her hot Cajun dude AND kick ass. Win win.

If the Blackbird's a-rockin' don't come a-knockin'.

So that's pretty much my rant. Only now, they're making another X-Men move, called X-Men: First Class. It is (sigh) a prequel. Wasn't X-Men Origins: Wolverine a prequel too? Is it just me, or does it seem like they're doing everything in their power to not have to continue where the left off? I mean, I guess I don't blame them. The plot of Last Stand was a giant clusterfuck of awful, I wouldn't want to think of what happens next either. But they're ignoring the one way they could pull this franchise out of the gutter, one way to bring the fans back and get a whole new generation hooked: RE-BOOT THE DAMN FRANCHISE ALREADY. 20th Century Fox, just cut your losses, give the rights back to Marvel, and let them do something with it on the same level as Iron Man. I mean, it worked for the second Hulk movie. And hey, you know a way to get a lot of female fans in the seats? Give us a strong female lead who can kick the ass of any man she meets to the moon and also wear the hell out of a leather jacket. Some card tossing, Cajun-accented eyecandy wouldn't hurt either. Just saying.

Sunny out.