Sometimes, girls like video games.

I have been occasionally haunting the Skyrim subreddit since I started playing it on PS3 about a month ago, and this exchange made me smile.

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How Not To Write a Finale Episode

(Minor spoilers ahead for HIMYM)

I learned something today. Had a point driven home, hard.

As a creator, you have a huge responsibility to your readers/viewers. You owe them the courage to be truthful to your story and your characters. The dedication to create the best story you can, and not sell it short due to lack of time or ideas or money. This makes me want to go back and finish every story I ever left half-written on the internet, even if there was only one person out there who read it and enjoyed it. Because how could I do that to them?

How could they do that to us? How could they do that, after nine years?

How I Met Your Mother has ended after nine seasons and I only realised from this cutting sense of betrayal how much I had invested, and how much I was owed. Should have been owed.

I’m not talking about catering to your audience, writing to please a crowd, selling out. I’m talking about the fact that stories have their own integrity, and your audience will know and what’s more they will feel dirty and cheated if you tear that integrity up into little pieces. And then set it on fire. And then poop on the ashes.

I know it’s ‘just a story’, but stories are the things of life, and this one went for nine years, and I’m a little heartbroken. Because the story was broken. They broke it. And I had this whole celebratory blog post planned and everything! Which I may still write, if I can ever get over this disappointment.

Rage-texting in commiseration with my brother, I came to this realisation: It was supposed to be 500 Days of Summer. Instead, we got Friends.

This wasn’t what it was supposed to be.

The Avengers – I am not a ‘fanboy’

Yes, I’ve seen and loved The Avengers (particularly loved Australia’s easy release date, but not the fact that we missed out on the second cut-scene in the credits). If I get around to it I might even write a blog entry about it, something like a review crossed with musings on superhero stories in general.  I have a line scribbled in my notebook that says: “Superheroes are the promise that the ordinary can become extraordinary”, and that might go somewhere, one day.

In the meantime, with other blogging priorities, I was cruising Rotten Tomatoes to see what the rest of the world has made of The Avengers, and a few of the reviews made me roll my eyes at their use of terminology.

“Filled with fanboy-wank.” – Dennis Schwartz, Ozus’ World Movie Reviews.

“… the perfect popcorn movie that respects its audience, fan boy or not, though the former will be more excited to see the Stan Lee cameo.” – Andrew Chase, Killer Movie Reviews.

 
I’d just like the world to note that you don’t have to be a fanboy to appreciate superhero/comic book movies. Obsessive geekiness is certainly not dependent on gender. My DVD collection is proof of that all by itself.

 

Video games and typical idiocy from the ACL

The Australian Christian Lobby has decided that a lone mad gunman in Norway is a good excuse to impose their religious opinions on gaming laws and classifications in Australia.

If you’re reading that sentence and failing to see the logical connection, then don’t worry; it’s not just you. I’m pretty sure there isn’t one. But that won’t stop the illustrious Jim Wallace, and neither will lack of evidence or any sense of blatant self-contradiction or hypocrisy.

Yes, the gunman’s manifesto mentions using a video game as a “training-simulation”. Do you know what else it mentions, at much greater length? Christianity and right-wing extremism. (FYI, everyone: climate change is totes a myth, the thing that will bring down society is leftism-feminism-environmentalism-multi-culturalism! Burn aaaall the finite resources that you want, because we’ll all end up partying in Hell anyway.)

If the ACL is in favour of banning works of fiction because of excessive violence, why not ban the Bible? Surely it’s bannable on the basis of Leviticus and Deuteronomy alone. (Has Mr. Wallace not read the Bible…?)

From the SMH article (linked above):

[The gunman] wrote that “target practise” is difficult for “urban Europeans like us” and recommends taking a shooting vacation to a country club or playing video games as alternatives.

So where is Jim Wallace’s call for a ban on guns, or on country clubs, or on mentally disturbed trigger-happy lunatics?

I think what’s really disturbing about the ACL’s position in this case is their chilling opportunism. While blithely ignoring the religious influences of the gunman, they are using the tragedy in Norway to push their own agenda. It’s ignorant and completely disrespectful.

Disney’s ‘Tangled’: Feminism and The Big Dorky Review

It finally happened: a quirky, interesting, active, BLONDE Disney Princess.

By the time I watched Tangled, I felt like I’d been waiting my whole life to see it. I mean, come on – Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are so excessively passive that they were practically catatonic (and you can take that literally for Sleeping Beauty).

And then Rapunzel came along, and I did that thing that I always do with Disney movies: I over-identified. Massively. (Apparently other people grow out of that after their childhood? Huh.)

It’s not just the blondeness, although it helps.

Rapunzel is smart, despite her naivety. She’s a scientist (an astronomer, at least) and an artist – the first Disney princess to be an artist, I believe (correct me in the comments if I’ve forgotten one though.) She has about a bazillion hobbies. She has a lot in common with Ariel from The Little Mermaid – my first Disney favourite, and that can’t be a coincidence. Both fairytales are about a girl coming of age (and, yes, sexual maturity), and in both cases the heroine has agency: the plot is driven by the choices she makes. Ariel chooses to become human; Rapunzel chooses to leave her tower.

Hijinks ensue.

(For an excellent article on feminine agency in Disney films and Tangled in particular, please refer to this piece at the Analytical Couch Potato.)

Bare feet touching the ground for the first time - you can't deny the mermaidy-ness of it all!

I have a whole ‘nother essay (perhaps several) to write about The Little Mermaid, so I’ll focus on the little nuggets of feminism within Tangled for now:

1. Tangled passes the Bechdel Test.

For extra marks: discuss other classic Disney films with reference to the Bechdel Test in the comments. Do any others pass?

*/teacher moment*

2. It’s totally about a girl losing her virginity.

Well, kind of. A surprising number of Grimm’s fairytales can be seen to revolve around this issue.

When Mother Gothel gives Rapunzel the crown, she sings [sarcastically]:

“Rapunzel knows best, Rapunzel’s so mature now
Such a clever grown-up miss!
Rapunzel knows best – fine, if you’re so sure now
Go ahead, then give him this!
This is why he’s here! Don’t let him deceive you!
Give it to him, watch, you’ll see!
Trust me, my dear, that’s how fast he’ll leave you
I won’t say I told you so…”

[emphasis mine].

Read that (or better yet, watch the clip) and tell me she’s NOT totally singing about Rapunzel’s virginity. Yeah. That’s what I thought.

This isn’t a pro-feminist thing, necessarily, but anything that even touches upon issues of female sexuality – even in a completely subtle and allegorical sense – gets to count as ‘feminist’ just by virtue of existing in the medium of children’s entertainment.

3. The King cries.

When we see the King and Queen mourning the loss of their daughter, it is the King who is emotionally distraught and the Queen who is stoic. How many kid’s films show a grown man crying – not as the object of laughter and ridicule, but with dignity and real feeling?

(Big hat tip to ‘The Ferret’ who also wrote about the King crying and made me yell “Yes! That! Exactly!” at my computer screen.)

4. The Frying Pan.

Refer to DVD cover above.

The frying-pan-as-weapon gag is a recurring one in the movie. Now, Flynn Rider is obviously the ‘Cool Guy’ in this film. He is dashing and handsome and witty, and at one point he stands there holding the fying pan, staring at it in amazement and exclaiming, “I have got to get me one of these!”

You got that? The Cool Guy. Wants a frying pan.

Subliminal messaging? Check. Encouraging young boys to see a stereotypically ‘feminine’ object as something other than what it traditionally symbolises?

Yes, please!