Saturday, October 14, 2017

Don’t be a Dick

I was at the mall yesterday afternoon getting some bubble tea. I went up to the register, gave the young lady behind the counter my middle name, (mainly because I didn’t want to put her through the dance of trying to say and spell my name correctly) and then proceeded to wait a good long while because as it turns out, Fridays are high tea time days. In the queue ahead of me was a young man and his friend. Let’s say his name was Richard. Richard and his buddy were also waiting for what was probably some strange concoction of sugars and jellies that teens would order because with their metabolisms they could get away with it. From the outside, they seemed like typical teenage boys.

A group of girls walked by all of us, Richard, turns to one of the girls specifically and say “hello” to her. She gives home a look, and says to him,

“Leave me alone, Richard (again, not his name), I hate you.” she continued on, didn’t miss a beat. Richard turns to his friend smiling, talking and chopping it up like any other Friday. I thought she was a little hard on Richard, but assumed it was just the typical high school tomfoolery.

A few minutes went by, and another group of girls came along, this group had a girl in a shopping cart. Richard, says something inaudible to the young lady in the cart, to which she responded,

“Fuck you, Richard. Leave me alone, I hate you.”

Okay, so here is where my curiosity is piqued. The group of girls have come and gone, yet the young lady’s words are still hanging around my head. But to my surprise, they haven’t seemed to phase Richard one bit. He has yet again, turned to his friend and continued on his jabbering without a care in the world.

This is where my story should end. But life decided to throw another group of girls in our direction. To which again, Richard says hello to one of all of them. I wasn’t paying too much attention, because there was no way that...

...”Leave me alone, Richard. I hate you.”

Like after Peter denouncing Christ three times, I swore I heard a rooster crow.

I looked over at the blonde haired, blue eyed boy with the grin on his face. Yet again, no emotional response from either him or his friend. But this time, I didn’t see a good kid. This time, I saw a kid who was going to grow up harassing women and getting his rocks off doing it.

In my head, I went over every possible scenario I could think of; was Richard being picked on? Maybe he’s trying to be nice, maybe this is just the shenanigans that friends get into with their friends?

Nope. He went out of his way to look for the encounters and he showed no shock or discouragement after each encounter. Also, none of those girls were in the same group of friends. They obviously knew him from school but they rocked different social groups. And none of them acknowledged Richard’s friend, so Richard didn’t hang out with any of those girls.

I even played a little devil’s advocate, tried to see if the girls were the ones at fault. And as soon as I tried to suss out that scenario, I realized what I was doing. I was victim blaming.

Those girls were being completely and totally straightforward with Richard. For whatever reason, they hated Richard, and they wanted him to leave them alone.

And as I looked at Richard’s face, as tried to make sense out of this kid, he stopped being Richard. Richard was a Dick.

Dick went beyond pulling pigtails on girls in the playground. Dick got off on getting any reaction from women. He took negative responses not as deterrents, but as welcomed invitations to harass them further.

I looked into Dick’s future and I saw every asshole comment I’ve seen online to women from guys who pretend to be “good guys”. I saw the women that would actually give this guy a chance and the terrible way he would treat them because Dick didn’t ever learn to respect them. I saw a scary future that, without someone setting this kid straight, would send him and someone else down a terrible path.

I wanted to tell Dick not to be a dick, but it would have fallen on deaf ears. After all, three young ladies straight up told this kid to leave them alone, and all he did was smile and shrug it off.

Don’t be a Dick.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Prelude to Civil War

There is a reality that people need to accept. We are at the beginning of a war. A tyrant has come into power over America, and within one week of his reign, he has attacked the American people. The freedoms that we hold dear, the ideals that we believe to be the greatest aspects of America have been stripped away from her citizens. He has attacked the lands of the Native Americans, he has blocked the entry of people based on their religion. He has taken away the liberties of women. And for what? To further his business relations overseas, to make it hard for women and minorities to take care of themselves and their loved ones. He's a puppet, and his strings are being pulled by the people he's appointed to the highest offices of the land. I know that part of this sounds like the endless prattling of the far right. But there's a difference; everything I've said is a reality, not an "alternate fact".

Trump is going after those who can't defend themselves. He's going after refugees, children, families, women, minorities, and everyone else that doesn't fit into a white American standard. They are taking the Bill of Rights and tossing them out, the same document they claim to uphold, they're using it to wipe the blood from their hands and saying it's for the betterment of America.

But the people, the real American people know better. Our political leaders have been great in yelling at the regime, at stating how saddened and disgusted they are. Sadly, that doesn't free the poor folks stuck in limbo at airport terminals. That doesn't stop him cutting funding from people who will die without the help they need. Trump and his new nazi regime are the ones who fired the first shot, the time for talking has passed, the dictator has come to power. Now is the time we fight back, and not in a metaphorical sense and not in a passive marching sense. Now is the time to fight back with a show of force.

"Here, in the dread tribunal of last resort, valor contended against valor. Here brave men struggled and died for the right as God gave them to see the right."
-Adlai E. Stevenson I
We need proper leaders. Activists are fine, but our side needs a polarizing force to get behind. Politicians who are willing to bargain by giving up everything and receiving nothing are going to get us nowhere. We need a spearhead, a face to drive deep into the heart of the beast. We need a general.

I know it's easy to call for war and not have a means to back it up, the right have been doing it for years. But they finally got their leader, and they're happy as a pig in shit to watch America burn. We can't let them, and I know I can't be the only one that feels this way.

"I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind." - Thomas Jefferson

In 1942, Frank Capra was commissioned to do a documentary series called "Why We Fight: Prelude to War" in which he outlines the reasons why it was necessary for America to fight against Hitler. Social media pretty much covers why Trump and Co. need to be stopped before they get any further. I challenge you to watch Carpa's video and ask yourself how far are we from this becoming a reality again.

Then I ask you, and those that we see as leaders: Is it not time to prepare for war?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A letter to my daughter

To my dearest daughter, Clarke,

I started writing this letter the day you were born; little did I know that thirteen days would go by before I had a chance to finish it. Turns out that babies are hard, scary, amazing, time consuming poop machines. And you are a champion pooper. Depending on how old you are when you read this, that'll either be funny or embarrassing; possibly both. Sufficed to say, I'm sure it's not the first time you've had to decide between those choices, and I know I'll do far more in the future that'll constitute some holographic eye rolls (I assume by the time you read this, holograms will be all the rave, if not, your future sucks, and I'm sorry).

I figure you're wondering why bother writing something you can't read or understand for years to come? I think it's cause I wanted to share something with you that most kids don't really ever get the chance to see; an insight into their parent's mind. At age 40, I know I'll be a different person at 60. Twenty years of being a dad will more than likely make me go completely grey. Not with worry (okay, some worry), but with all the uncertainty of what's to come (scratch that, there'll probably be a lot of worry). I don't know what the future holds, but I'm sure as hell looking forward to it with you and your mom. For now though, here's some things I feel you should know.

I've always wanted a kid. I felt I've been ready to be a dad for a long time. After years of trying, when your mom woke me up one morning some time in February, 2016 to tell me she was pregnant, nothing could have prepared me for the actual moment you arrived. It sounds foreign to my ears when someone calls
me a "father", I've had one for 40 years, so when I hear that word being thrown in my direction, there's a bit of a process that occurs in my brain before it recognizes that I'm the one being referred to as "dad". But I have called you my daughter from the moment we found out your sex. Months before you were born, I thought about you; about what you'd look like, about what you'd sound like, about what you'd need. To say you shattered any expectations I had and gave me something greater than I could have ever known is actually putting it lightly.

Growing up as a kid, I always had a thing for super heroes. One in particular. At age 4, I thought I could fly just like him, and jumped off the arm of a chair, doing a face plant and knocking my two front teeth out. I learned I couldn't fly that day, but I never stopped dreaming about being a super hero.

I gotta tell ya kid, never in a million years did I ever think of naming you after my favorite super hero. Sure, I was gonna name you after some nerd name of a significance to your mom and I, but it didn't register in my head to name you after this particular one. You can thank your mom for that. We had names that we were going through and off the top of her head, she says, "What about Clarke?"

It's as if the stars aligned. It all made sense. I kicked myself for not thinking about it first. Partly because "duh doy", but also (and more importantly) the patriarchal remnants that society has instilled into my brain didn't even allow me to think that we could call you Clarke. And of course, we thought about the looks and responses we would get from people when we told them your name. We wondered if it was too masculine a name for a girl in this day and age. But we both realized that we've been watching a show that we really dug called
The 100 (if I've been any kind of a good parent, I would've snuck it in for you to watch it in your early teens), and in that show the protagonist is named Clarke, a kickass young lady who goes about saving the last remnants of humanity. And no one questions her name, everyone calls her Clarke and it's just accepted because that's her fucking name. Your mom and I decided that that's gonna be your name and the rest of the world that has an issue with it can be damned. Also, I got your name tattooed on my forearm in Kryptonian about a month before you were born so your mom pretty much had to.

And just like your namesake, we brought you to this world for a purpose. People say you shouldn't expect anything from your kids. That all you should want for them is happiness and well-being.

Fuck that.

Don't get me wrong, your happiness and well-being are my number one concerns. As long as you've got both going on, I'm super stoked. But I gotta tell ya kid, the world has stacked the decks against you from the get-go and you're going to need to come out swinging.

As a woman and a minority, we live in a society that says you deserve less in about every aspect of life. They will infer that they can decide what you can and can't do. And that's society today! I can only imagine what they will try to take away, or say you can't do, or keep you from achieving the rights you deserve in the future. And as a man and a father, I have to recognize too that I may say or do something
in the future that for all intents and purposes may seem like just me being a protective dad but in reality is my male ego lashing out in fear.

To all those people, including myself, Clarke. Fuck that noise.

I will make damn sure that you have every weapon in the proverbial arsenal available to you to combat ignorance, hypocrisy, and whatever else life wants to throw at you.

And because of that, I expect one thing of you; make the world better. Colonize Mars, save our species, heal the planet, hell, hack the planet, your choice. Sing a song that'll make the whole world sing, write a book that'll change someone's life, do anything your heart desires but do so to better the world.

We live in cynicism, we are constantly bombarded by the negative, we watch our heroes dwindle to memories. I ask that you stand when others won't. Show them that the world doesn't have to be this way.

Be my super hero that I dreamt of all those years ago, because you're already my hope for a better tomorrow, and you're only thirteen days old. Imagine what you could do years from now?

To slightly paraphrase a movie I'm sure I'll bore you with...

Live as one of them, Clarke, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Clarke; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only daughter.

Above all, whatever lies ahead in life. Know this. I will always have your back, I will do everything I can to give you the life that you want to have, and I will unequivocally love you with every fiber of my being.

Now go save the world, Clarke.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Trumpocalypse Now

Define, awkward
So... That happened.

A lot of us were wrong. A lot of us lied to ourselves. A lot of us held out hope for our fellow Americans. And that's why a lot of us feel so goddamn betrayed. We believed that we were better than the people who bought into racism, sexism, homophobia, and overall hatred of regular Americans that are just trying to live their lives and make a better future for themselves and their families. You know, like everyone else. Turns out, we were very, very fucking wrong.

So what now? Let's play the blame game? Sure, everyone else already has. Blame half the Americans that didn't vote? Yes, for whatever reason, they were apathetic about the election. Blame the people that voted for Trump? Of course, even those who did so then turned around and said moronic things like, "I voted for Trump, but I'm not a racist." Blame the Democrats? Yeah, why not. They backed a delegate very early that a lot of people didn't trust. Blame the Bernie Bros? You mean the guys who consistently made misogynistic and lying comments about the only person that had the opportunities to defeat Trump? Sounds good to me. Blame the media? Absolutely. From day one, when this farce of a human being tossed his hat in the ring, the media treated it like a joke, no one's laughing now. Blame the electoral college? Sure. I mean, we've head years to change that, and it bit us in the ass with Gore, but let's go ahead and pretend it's an issue now.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but the bottom line is: America is far more sexist and racist than most of us gave it credit for.

So what now? I see posts and tweets about how we can keep Trump out of office, and how we could impeach him, and how yadda, yadda.

But I gotta tell you. My favorite posts have been the ones asking for calm and civility. That we can work through this together, that now is the time for building relations and now is the time for peace.

With all due res... You know what? No. No respect. You're fucking idiots and I'm done being polite about it.

We have very big issues in America. There is an unabashed amount of racism. It has escalated to a boiling point this past year, and is overflowing now that Trump has been elected. People of color are still being killed by the people that are supposed to protect them. Misogyny, sexism, xenophobia running rampant at every turn. America ranks fourteenth in education, second in ignorance, twenty-fourth in literacy. This is not bringing up the fact that climate change is here and irreversible, and people will start suffering for it soon.

And we're supposed to act like we should maintain a peace with the people that have never respected us or treated us with peace? There are children chanting hate speeches in grade schools and we should just let this slide?

Now is the time to be upset. Now is the time for anger. Now is the time to show those people who would seek harm on anyone based on race, gender, or sex that we will not stand for it. And recognize that feeling angry and acting on hate are two different things.

We didn't turn this into an "us" against "them" fight. They did. And we will stand. Do not tolerate ignorance. Do not let that one crazy "friend" or family member continue to spew stupidity. Shut them down, let them know what they say and do is wrong. Wrong because it promotes hatred and fear. Wrong because it teaches children to fear and hate everyone, including themselves.

Be mad, America. Be angry.

And yeah, someone on the other side of this argument is saying the same thing to their side. This is why we cannot allow their hatred to pacify our anger. That's called control, and that's what allowed Donald Trump to become President.

That alone should keep you pissed off.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Trumpocalypse Soon

He's Trump, he's Trump, he's Trump. He's a dick.
November is just around the corner. The shitstorm has hit every fan in America. And if there's any sense of humanity left in the majority of the U.S., Hillary Clinton will be nominated the first female President of the United States. Something to applaud and a moment to take in and recognize one of the truly momentous occasions in America's history. But after the fanfare, after the inauguration, and of course, after the ridiculous and inevitable amounts of sexism and misogyny that will come from the moment she accepts the nomination to the day she leaves office and beyond; after November, we are still stuck with the caked on shit of sexism, racism, hatred, and overall evil that bubbled to the surface because of America's willingness to stick their collective heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't have a problem. The fans of America will turn, but it'll forever have that stink of the worst in us on it. And it culminated with this abortion of a human being known as Trump.

So what do we do? Business as usual? Do we pretend what people said and did in the name of obscured visions of Democracy never happened? Do we blame the easy scapegoat (which is what the GOP will do) for bringing out the worst in us and go on about our day?

Short answer? Is yes, that's what most people will do.

See, Trump did one good thing.


Trump stirred the pot, because let's face it, America is a damn easy pot to stir. And by doing so he released the crusty, stuck, gristly parts of that supposed melting pot and let it rise to the surface. It started with racism, that one's a given, America is a racist country. Add the misogyny, the homophobia, and ignorance; and you've got yourself a recipe for zealotry and hatred. But you need to give it time to boil, or rather fester. So it did. June 2015, Trump launches his bid for the Presidency. In that same speech, he calls Mexicans criminals and racists.

This was the moment that everyone should have said, "No!" This was the time where white people could have said, "Nope. Not cool, let's do everything we can to stop this." Because let's face it, most folks of color did not appreciate his obvious racism. But that's not what happened. No, he goes on The Colbert Report, he goes on Saturday Night Live. Celebrities and people of power say things like he's a "clown" or he's a "joke" or he's just a "side show" that is passing through. But like Blue Magic once sang,

"Can't afford to pass it by, guaranteed to make you cry."

And yeah, those aforementioned celebrities have for the most part denounced Trump, but it was too little too late. He was given an inch, and he took a mile. And behind him was a mile long trail of every disgusting human being and their morbid political views with him. That takes us to now. Most folks look around in astonishment wondering what happened, and hoping that the country doesn't tear itself a new one. Problem is, it has. It's already torn.

In a post-Trumpocalyptic world, America will be trying to recover. But it has a whole lot of damage to deal with. It has abhorred racism within itself and within the people that are paid to protect its citizens, it has an ever growing sexism problem, it has a huge corruption issue within the economic system, and to top it off, climate change is here to stay and it is dire.

The last thing America needs to do is pretend that things are going to be okay. Things are not okay, not even in the slightest. But that doesn't mean we can't try to make things better. Things don't get automatically better with Hillary in office, we just dodge a bullet, but those other chamber are loaded and we're playing Russian Roulette.

So go ahead, come November, take your sigh of relief. But once more into the breach dear friends.

And let me take this moment to thank Donald Trump. You showed us how ugly we can be. Now go fuck yourself while we try to be better.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

"Why I'm voting for Trump."

Five words that when strung together, are completely polarizing. For the most part, folks who read this aren't going to vote for Trump, and for the few who will read this that are voting for Trump, well you're not going to find a like minded individual here. Because, let's face it. If you're voting for Trump you are most likely an uneducated, racist, sexist, bigoted piece of shit that even though you may walk/talk/act like a decent human being, entrenched within you is a disgusting and vile hatred that has festered slowly over the years and has finally risen to the surface because you have been gestating in a culture that has allowed for your kind to breed and revel in its filth. And it's all our fault.
"Wait 'til they get a load of me."
Back in 2012, Trump wanted to see Obama's birth certificate so bad that he said he sent investigators to Hawaii. He was dismissed as a joke, a late night pun that everyone had a good chuckle with because it was obviously absurd, but yet, no one decided to say, "Hey. Not cool, asshole." and put this guy in his place. Trump was pretty much testing the waters, because people heard him, and it didn't matter who heard him, it was the dumb people who wouldn't let the "birther" thing go. Last year, this shady businessman with a crappy, yet popular TV show and an affinity with putting his name on everything, decided that he's going to run for President of the United States. And liberals laughed. Celebrities and political figures (you know, the people America listens to without question) alike all said, "Oh what a grand and opulent circus this will be, let us have fun and watch it happen."

His sexist remarks toward women get dismissed, because, well, we live in a society where if it doesn't effect men, it is not an issue. Then he said that Mexicans were rapists, called black people "thugs" in Baltimore, calls for the systemic murdering of Muslim families, claims that global warming is a lie; and still! Talk shows, TV shows, the media just adores him. White America finds it funny, celebrities find it funny, liberals find it funny, everyone but the minorities that he threatens find it funny. And let him continue his vile filled propaganda without standing up and saying, "This is a hateful man who should not be given this much leeway with what he says.

Then, something happened. Something that surprised everyone. He started leading in the polls. By like a lot. And the world finally stopped laughing and started getting worried.

Like every major populace who dismiss the mass numbers of uneducated and uninformed, we were suddenly, and what should have been obvious from the get-go, aware of the droning voice of hatred that started to echo Trump's sentiments. For close to eight years, a large percentage of racist Americans, fortified by a racist government, have focused their ire on one man, a man who they believe had ruined their country, even though they can't for the life of them show one legitimate example of how. Loud and showy politicians pointed their bleached and wrinkled fingers at the black man that dared to lead this country and the racist masses ate it up.

Now, our President, who has had more successes than faults in spite of a government unwilling to work with him just because he was black (if you believe otherwise, you're an idiot, #SorryNotSorry) is being shown the door. And like the minstrel shows of old, white folks are a hooping and a hollering it up. And since there's no other real candidate of a diverse persuasion, you'd think white folks would be fine with whatever white man that goes up next to make America white again. Right?


An intelligent woman! Burn her!
Yeah. Turns out, there's still a part of America that wants to continue this silly ideology of change. Whatever your feelings about Clinton, she does bring something to the Office of the President that it has never had.

And it, in turn, brings out a whole other group of jackasses out of the woodwork. Now you can be sexist and not racist, everyday sexism is a real thing and most men suffer from it and don't even realize it. And you can actually be racist and not sexist (though if you're racist, you're pretty much gonna take the idea of being better than someone as a given). So with a woman running for President, you can imagine the sacks of shit that have been lying in wait for their moment to arise. And arise they have, on both sides.

Some liberals have some real strong feelings against Hillary Clinton, some founded, others just uninformed, but most of it out of a deep-seated desire not to see her in the office. To the point where I have seen Sanders supporters actually say, "If Hillary wins the nomination, I'm voting for Trump."

That's so not Batman
This is where the rest of the world chimes in. America deserves Donald Trump as President of the United States. We have been long decaying in a society where it takes its people, its resources, its neighbors, and its planet for granted. We have contributed to a society where killing black people has become a shooting game for police.

(Real quick, for the record. I am saying "black people", but I am really talking about all minorities. The reason I just use "black people" is because on the spectrum, they do get the hatred the worst. So can we put aside this politically correct bullshit and not try to take away the focus of what the issue is? I digress...)

We have incubated a society of hatred, whether intentionally, unintentionally, or obtusely. And the egg, she's a hatchin'. And the rest of the world looks on and laughs, and they say, "Good! You deserve the shit-nest you've built, America! Enjoy!"

And they're right about that. But here's where they're wrong.

No one deserves this, no matter how badly we believe it to be the case. We didn't learn our lesson with George W. Bush (the first time), we voted him in the second time! You honestly think Americans will learn their lesson with Trump in office?

The answer is, no. America will only learn their lesson through the way it was founded. With a bloody, and costly upheaval of the system.

Thomas Jefferson once said,
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."

And that won't happen for a while, because we've become complacent. What will happen if Trump is elected is the blood of the innocent will be spilled. Racists will become more belligerent. Gun violence even more common. The economy that has slowly recovered will come crashing down again. All because of the mindset that if a woman wins the primary, they'll go vote for the loud, white man that doesn't give a shit about you.

"Why I'm voting for Trump?" I've seen it all, I've seen the far right give their reasons, I've seen the undecided give their reasons, and yes, I've seen the far left give their reasons as well.

And they all seem to culminate into one answer,

"Because fuck you, that's why!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Even heroes have the right to dream"

I was about four years old when I stood on the arm of a chair. I took a breath and for a moment, thought I could fly. Gravity reminded me that I wasn't superhuman and my feet caught the other chair's arm and I landed face first on the ground, swallowing my two front teeth. I recall the numbness of the sudden impact to my face. I remember looking into the eyes of a young girl (who I was probably trying to impress, to be honest) as she stared at my mouth, I touched it. It wasn't until I saw the blood that I started to cry. It was a hard lesson in reality. But you know what? Thirty-five years later, I still haven't stopped wanting to be Superman. Of course, I haven't tried jumping off of an armchair since, but those other qualities I loved about him, his fight for Truth, Justice, and the idea of the American way; the idealist in me has never let that go, no matter how jaded I become as I get older.

Superman has changed through the years. In the comics he has died, come back to life, split into two characters, lost his powers, got his powers back, you name it. But the idea of Superman has stayed the same (not including the alternate realities of Supes, of course); the orphan son of a dead planet whose parents lovingly sacrificed themselves so that their only child could bring to Earth the best qualities of Krypton and who in turn was raised by loving parents who instilled in him the best qualities of humanity, thus making him the best son of both worlds. He's not Batman who instills fear into his enemies to save the city he has vowed to protect. He is not Spider-Man who lost his uncle when he chose not to act and is now driven by the mantra that with great power comes great responsibility. Superman imbues the best of all of humanity. He goes to the greatest lengths, to the detriment of himself, to save people, even his enemies.

Kneel before Kal!
So it's needless to say, that when in Man of Steel, Supes kills Zod, that's when I was severely disappointed. It was the culmination of an uneasiness that I had throughout that film of Clark letting his father die to protect his identity, his mother in the previews of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, that he owes humans nothing. This iteration of Superman was one who became a hero in spite of humanity. The Kal I knew would never allow all those people to die in Metropolis. He would've taken the fight somewhere else.
And yes, the argument can be made, he was just becoming Superman, that he had no choice (whatever) to kill Zod, that he became "super" after all that tragedy and it shaped him into a better hero. That this is a darker version of Superman, that it's more realistic, and in reality, people die.

Sure, let's make a movie about a guy who can fly more realistic because THAT'S what the people want.

But fine, I'll give you all that. I'll let you have your Batman with a shotgun, I'll let you have your Superman shooting his heat vision at Batman that looked like it was a kill shot. It's all based off of the Dark Knight series that Frank Miller wrote. I'm going to see Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, not because I think it'll be good, but because it's got my favorite super hero in it, and it's the only version I've got. I went to go see that god awful Batman and Robin movie in the theater, because again, I enjoy the super hero films in general. Doesn't mean I think they were all great.

However, Warner Bros. announced that they're going to release an R rated version of Bats V Supes on the blu-ray.

*Audible sigh*

Some people have said that voicing your opinion about these crappy decisions based solely on monetary reasons does nothing but good for the studios that think this is what we want, rather than this is what we'll see cause you're not giving us what we want and in the absence of greatness, mediocrity reigns.

I disagree.

I'm not saying boycott the movie (cause really, who's gonna do that?), I'm not saying write your congressman, and I'm definitely not saying to go "dox", or "swat", or "dap," or "netflix and chill", or whatever stupid kids are using the internet for these days.

I'm saying, this is not Superman. This is not what Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had in mind when they created this icon. Wolverine can be R-rated, Deadpool IS R-rated, hell, Batman is dark enough to be R-rated. Those are dark and gritty characters.

I was 4 years old when I pretended to be Superman. Even younger when I was infatuated with him. It makes me sad to think that there will be a 4 year old right now who can't see the latest version of Superman because it would give him nightmares.

That's just not Superman.

Monday, November 16, 2015

I'm a broken record.

And again, and again, and again, and again...

Back in December of last year and January of this year, I wrote two posts about humanity; how we fail and how we can prevail. I far from claim to be any kinda of expert on the matter, other than being human myself, and I don't pretend like I know the right answer to any of our problems, just things that we could try to do to be better. But honestly, I'm just preaching to the choir. Folks who read this are going to be like minded individuals and are pretty much going to agree with me, and for those who don't, they'll quickly dismiss this as another asshole with a blog. This past year, I haven't blogged much. I've been doing things and I've been going through things that I felt I've had to deal with personally before I felt comfortable sharing with it to the few who read this. And really, what can I say that people who are way smarter than me haven't said way better? Truth be told, I haven't had the words to talk about the tragedies, the ignorances, the audacities, and the stupidities that sum up the majority of humans. At least, not words that haven't been said a thousand times a day. But I feel with the latest tragedies to befall us, there is something that I haven't covered in any one of my posts before. And because of that, I feel I need to deal with that topic, just once, so I can get it out there among the multitude of folks who have felt the same and have said the same. One more voice to the never-ending chorus of "Are you there, gods? It's me, Margaret; go fuck yourselves." Another brick in this wall of social media, another broken record.

There is evil in this world. And there are those out there that have filled themselves with nothing but that darkness for whatever reason they found fits them. There is no reason to try to logic it out: be it any sad, horrific, disgusting circumstance, or the pomp that most folks tend to attribute to the most vile of the lot; some folks are just plain evil, and a lot of them are never coming back from it. Spin your tale of woe for these people if you wish. Blame society, geography, education (or lack there of), these folks are the darkest aspects of humanity, and they revel in it. They're here to watch the world burn. They'll kill, butcher, and rape everyone and everything in their path in the name of all and nothing at all. Some folks might claim that this is too easy a definition, that there are varying degrees and that people are more complex. It's true, some people are quite complex. But I'm not speaking of those people. No, the definition is not easy, the definition is actually quite hard to come to. Saying someone is evil is stripping away all humanity from that person, minus the scariest part of us. That kind of definition has been lost in the haze of ill-definings and Godwin's law that has become standard affair for people. We've done this so that we don't have to think or see or imagine people like this.

But they exist. It's a reality. Stop, look, and listen. They're there, killing innocent lives without a second thought. Terrorizing whole countries, stomping the humanity out of us.

And they succeed, in small ways, but they get to us. We see a travesty from halfway across the world, and then another, and then another, and it becomes so much that the average person can barely keep up. And those in the know berate the people for not knowing enough. Someone changes their profile pic in solidarity with Paris and all of a sudden they are considered blind and racist for not putting up a Syrian flag, or a Kenyan flag. We attack each other for not caring the way they should or not enough. We become so pissed off that we lash out at each other, completely forgetting that we are not the problem, someone's profile pic is not the problem. The problem is those evil assholes.

I can pretty much bet that in the millions of years of human evolution, we've never not had some evil disgusting sack of shit in the gene pool. And I'll guarantee you, for as long as we tread on this planet, we will continue to have those sacks of shit, festering. We do what we can to not let them run rampant, though, there are times it feels like that's all they do. And they want us to feel desperate, they want us at each other's throats, they want us to see them try to burn the world. That's the world we live in.

You know what pisses off evil bastards more than anything? Continuing to strive for a better one. We do not have to accept the world with their narrative. They want to watch the world burn. Let them watch us eternally trying to put it out.

This won't be the last travesty, and it probably won't be the last time I feel the need to share my opinion on one. But if I have to be a broken record, I'd prefer to be a song I like than an asshole.

Monday, February 09, 2015

What's a "Gamer"?

Global Thermonuclear Wa... I mean, Pong! Pong is cool.
A lot of us remember the scene (if you've never watched WarGames, please go watch it, it's dated, it's totally '80s, and also a great flick); Matthew Broderick's character (David) sits in front of his IMSAI 8080 microcomputer. That 2 MHz Intel 8080 processor was running all night and day making phone calls all over Sunnyvale, California to find a video game company that would be releasing some pretty sweet games. He thinks he finds it and begins to interact with a computer that asks him a very simple but (as we begin to learn) important question, "Shall We Play A Game"?

See, David is a gamer. When we first see David, he's standing in front of an arcade cabinet playing Galaga. He was so into video games that he tried to break into a game company just so he can have early access to a game. Hell, he saves the world from destruction (SPOILERS) by playing a video game. David was a gamer, through and through. The problem is, that Ally Sheedy's character (Jennifer) who plays Global Thermonuclear War with David and who helps David to finally save the world would not be considered a gamer at all. The term gamer, mainly referred to men.

The dictionary defines "gamer" as a person who plays games, especially computer or video games.

The dictionary has also changed the meaning of "literally" to mean the exact opposite of what the word originally entailed so the dictionary can go fornicate itself.

However, as society changes the meaning of certain words over time, the term "gamer" has never been able to fully come out of its negative connotation. The term is still restrictive depending on who is defining it.

So what is a gamer? Well, let's look at who's answering that question.

If you asked the average person who doesn't really play video games, "What's a gamer?" This is what usually comes to mind. A male who has no real life outside of the virtual world. He is constantly playing video games, cut off from the outside world. The older "hardcore gamers" will look down on you for thinking Call of Duty is hard when you have never played Mega Man 2. The younger hardcore gamer would mock you for not being able to hang in Grand Theft Auto V and have already beaten the game and traded it in a day later.

In truth, these players do exist. But it is a stereotype. If you asked these hardcore gamers what a gamer is, their response would be very different. To them, a gamer is a video game enthusiast, they have no loyalty to consoles, they love good games. They've been playing them all their lives. They've beaten Legend of Zelda on multiple occasions and have the maze section memorized. They could tell you the order of villains you should beat in MegaMan. They're the ones who made Street Fighter IV happen. They're the ones who stood together and shamed Xbox into changing their policies regarding game swapping. Yes, the hardcore gamer is a fervent player, passionate about what "he" loves. And therein lies the problem, because if you're not a hardcore gamer, or claim to be one, it becomes a pissing contest. And if you're a girl that claims to be a gamer. Well, the hardcore gamer only sees you in one way.

God forbid you're a woman into gaming. The first four tropes in the picture above are dead-on accurate. The hardcore gamer sees a woman as they see a gold ring, or a princess in a castle, or as the polygon-ed ass that they keep the camera on for far too long; women are objects.

Of course I speak in generalities, but the truth is women who love playing video games are treated as second class citizens. They're ridiculed or sexualized in an online match, if they choose to cosplay or play something other than an MMORPG (massive mutiplayer online role playing game) they get labeled with being a "faux gamer".

There's the story of Gary Gygax when he came out with Dungeons & Dragons back in the '70s. When asked about the lack of women in his game, his answer? He would add more women if women started buying his games.

So, ask a woman who's into gaming what she thinks a gamer is, well, you obviously get a different opinion. One more accurate, one that defines them as a gamer.

With so many varying definitions of "gamer" and the majority coming with some kind of stigma, we have to ask ourselves if it's time to either unify or just get rid of the word that is used to define anyone who plays a game. The casual gamer, the pro gamer, the retrogamer, the gaymer (it is what you think it is), I ask myself, what's a gamer to me?

To me, my grandmother shaking the joystick while playing PacMan on my Atari 2600 and who nows plays Angry Birds on her iPad, that's a gamer. My wife who will devour a Lego game in a day, but who can't stand first person shooters, that's a gamer. My nephews who would play Spider-Man on the Xbox 360 just to get him to the highest building and then jump off, that's a gamer.

I call myself a gamer, but I call anyone who enjoys just playing any game a gamer. If you want to faction that off that into different definitions, I think you've stopped having fun, and you are way more concerned about appearances than playing games.

I call that vanity.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The critic is dead. Long live the critic!

Either they don’t know… or don’t show or just don’t care…
about bein’ a menace to South Central
while they drink their juice in the hood.
It was 1996, two men are sitting down talking about the nature of comedy and how it is used to bring to light the issues of race and stereotypes. The movie in question? “Don’t Be A Menace In South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood”. The two men? Siskel and Ebert on their show, “At The Movies”. In four minutes, these two film critics had an intelligent discussion about a satirical film that could have easily been dismissed as just another “ghetto” film. And if that wasn’t enough, Ebert, in a very honest moment says that he’s unsure how he feels about the film. Imagine that? A critic who didn’t “criticize” the film, but rather took the highs and the lows and weighed them for what they were.

I love French films, 
pretentious boring French films!
 I love French Films, two tickets s’il vous plaĆ®t!
The role of the critic is a thankless one. These are folks who usually go to school to study the particular field that they are into. They take the history of such-and-such, they read, they partake, they pour themselves all over the medium, yet they don’t create anything but an opinion.
Who chooses to be a critic? No, really, I’m asking. Who purposely decides that they want to look at art and pull apart every aspect of it until nothing remains?
I used to think these people were all frustrated artists, the very epitome of “those who cannot, teach”. But the fact is, a true critic unabashedly loves every aspect of their genre, and will be damned to see it sullied by those who would coast on passable material. At least, that’s how it started.

So, I could go back into the history of the critic, specifically the film critic, but it’s pretty much only interesting to people who are critics. Let’s just say that at one point is was only done by a few people, and that it only got huge when two guys came on TV to share their opinions on films.

There was an explosion of film critics in the ‘80s. And what made them fascinating is the fact that they grew up in a time where “Hollywood Legends” were pretty much accessible. These were journalists who in the ‘60s and ‘70s talked to actors and filmmakers directly. There was a rapport that seems artificial when you watch critics today.
We watched what they had to say and for the most part listened. I know I had my opinions swayed by a critic here and there without giving the film a chance. And why wouldn’t I? These are professionals, right?

In the Summer of 2000, a critic came around by the name of David Manning. David had some great things to say about certain movies. According to David, “A Knight’s Tale”, starring Heath Ledger described him as “this year’s hottest new star!” Now, I personally agree with David, I loved the hell out of this movie and frankly, I think it was Heath’s best performance outside of The Joker.

Yup, David loved a lot of movies, curiously, only films made by Sony, but it would soon come to light why. David wasn’t real. David Manning was a pseudonym used by a marketing executive working for the Sony Corporation. They created a fake critic to give their films positive reviews.
Sony wasn’t the only studio at fault for fake criticism. One critic’s review of “Live Free or Die Hard” was shortened from “hysterically overproduced and surprisingly entertaining” to “hysterically… entertaining.”

And of course, there are the junkets, the free screenings, the food, the accomodations to wherever, the goodies. Studios would do just about everything to get a positive review from these people whom apparently held the keys to the opinions of the common man. But the common man’s (or rather, those who didn’t get kickbacks to watch a movie) voice became the death knell of the critic. Because the internet.

There is no secret that when social media hit, everyone with access became just that little bit louder. And by a little bit louder, I mean everyone felt that their opinion had to be typed in boldfaced fonts and youtubed from their bedrooms, shirtless, sometimes bottomless.
Sites like metacritic became the go-to go-to for what regular folks thought of films. The professional critic slowly became something to be scoffed at, ridiculed, and even mocked. People began to see them as archaic. Even filmmakers began to question why should critics have their opinions held in higher regard than anyone else?

Slowly, the hashtag started to creep onto film posters. The voice of the people was now visible in commercials, in the theaters, and of course online. The professional critic was relegated to blogs and the few websites that still catered to that kind of thing.
The critic was dead. Long live (for better or for worse) the new critic! The very loud, noisy, at times incomprehensible critic!

There is no arguing that the hashtag has become the means in which most people garner opinions. The live-tweet is just a torrent of short one-liners, not unlike the taglines from the movie posters. And although everyone has their opinion, and everyone is entitled to one. A part of me feels that not every opinion is created equal. There is something to be said about a person who studies a particular craft, and can tell you with a learned opinion about what a filmmaker tried to convey; versus someone who went to watch a movie and didn’t understand why the sex scene was filmed in the way it was, but tweeted, #DAT ASS.

I recently posted (in another blog) that I’ve yet to see “Godzilla”. However, I’ve had some friends tell me they loved it, and others tell me it was terrible. I tend to lean to those who I know have a bit of film knowledge. Is it snobbery? I don’t think wanting an opinion from someone who is “in the know” is such a bad thing. But for a lot of people, critics are shit. And at the end of the day, a person is going to enjoy what they enjoy despite of what other people say. Still, I have to say I do miss an educated opinion, not necessarily to sway me, but to start a conversation. And that above all, is what I feel is missing in today’s new critic. Everyone’s yelling, and no one’s listening.