Videogames as Story-telling: Protagonist Love Interests & Race

Well, last time we saw how racist myths can be kept afloat in videogames, even through anthropomorphic means. This post will be different , but yet the same, in that the central issue uniting all these problematics in these virtual narratives is one that sets that which is white as “default” and admirable.

There are myriad videogames one could choose to illustrate any of this. However, I’m going to stick with my experience and what I know.  As with the last post, I mentioned playing a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog games, in this post, I’ll feature a game whose narrative had a great impact on me and that I greatly enjoyed – Custom Robo!

I’ve always been into the battling robots  concept for as long as I can remember. Whether it was Gundam, Power Ranger’s MegaZords ( they looked like robots) , Medabots (which more people need to know about!), I seemed to have always been enamored with the concept of commanding/controlling a mecha-robo to engage in futuristic combat. Perhaps I’ll save what I think the significance of the mecha-robo combat is for another post…

Continuing with my interest in robot-combat fiction/games, I first played Custom Robo around Middle-School and it didn’t disappoint. I loved the futuristic aesthetic in the graphics and the music and character designs, etc. The story ( which, again I may cover in another post because it has significance) was captivating and I still remember it all so vividly. But what I also remember vividly, was the main character , called ‘Hero’ by default, looking like this:

He’s supposed to be the archetype of the honest-eyed, bon-homme (good-natured boy) – and he also happens to be a jolly white boy. And so being the honest, impressionable, and oft-naive bonhomme your main character is made to be, you naturally will need aside-kick, who may need to be a bit more worldy to round him out. Enter, Harry:

Yup. This is Harry (*sigh*..) Now we can go and deliberate all day as to what his race/ethnicity actually is because of his blond hair, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we know the motif of blackness being a side-kick to whiteness- Custom Robo isn’t the only place we see it.

Now, in Custom Robo, he serves as more of a guide/mentor to the hero joining the local Custom Robo mercenary squad. He’s a charismatic, entertaining character to interact with,although he is portrayed as a wily, sloppy, lazy, womanizing guy. You know, like many black man side-kicks we see….

His character actually doesn’t bother me as much as another one… or rather what seems to be the game’s disposition towards her.. Harry’s sister, Mira

She’s the head commander of the Police Squad in this game and she’s a black female. And much like her bro, Harry, she’s got a sweet funky hair color! Anyways, in some ways her character makes me happy- it’s good to see a strong , black female who’s actually reverred and respected in the story. What I don’t like, however, is the message her character sends about black females being perceived as beautiful and objects of male affection- esp. when they have natural hair styles.

Throughout the game, these are the women that the womanizing Harry and all the other gentlemen of the game are gawking over are the white, flowy-haired women, wearing more effeminate clothing. It’s almost as if to say that black women , with their natural hair texture, cannot possibly be seen as effeminate and desirable to men. I find it interesting that virtually every other female in this game wins the affection of a guy except Mira. And before someone would like to wrestle me concerning the colonialistic gaze on black natural hair and beauty, perhaps I should remind you (or bring to your attention) Meteorologist Rhonda Lee :

 

If you’d like to check out some of the game’s lunacy for yourself, with good commentary, I recommend you follow the youtube user who actually inspired me to do this post, Black Preon:

Until next time!

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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Videogames as Story-Telling: Anthrpomorphism as projections of race

Howdy! As promised in my last post on Videogames as Storytelling, this post  is going to be a further examination of these intersections. In this installment, I’ll be  a bit more specific.

So, last post I explained the case for videogames as a mode of narrative and story-telling and how even they can (and often do) take on white supremacist characteristics and reinforce the privileding of whiteness as “default”.  Additionally, I mentioned a fancy term , “anthropomorphism” – simply the case of giving -human-like form (upright-walking,bi-pedal, two arms and a head, neck and maybe even clothing) to animals or maybe even objects. My point in the last post, that I hope to make clearer in this post, is that racist, stereotypical tropes can sometimes be “sheathed” in anthropomorphism. Exhibit A? – Sega’s  Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

(There are points during this post, that I understand may come across as silly. And perhaps there is an air of humor to some extent, but ultimately, we must realize that these are highly problematic, racist projections of racist myths.)

Everyone loves Sega’s blue hedgehog who can zip through levels, through flying through loops and bouncing off of launch pads, to defeat Eggman (Dr. Robotnik) in record speeds! My main interaction with Sonic franchise was through Sega Dreamcast in playing games like Sonic Adventure and Sonic Shuffle (like Sonic’s mario party). I then went on to play Sonic Adventure Battle 2 for GameCube and then Sonic Heroes – two of GC’s most successful titles!

It wasn’t until really paying close attention to the music (character themes) in Sonic that I really started to realize some racialized themes going on. So, while we know there’s Sonic, there’s also Tails ( the cheery, intelligent side-kick fox) and Knuckles (the strong, ‘defender of the Master Emerald). Knuckles was always a fan favorite for his immense strength and brawny personality. But if we go with the theory that Sonic, as the main character , on some level, represents some aspect of “default whiteness”, then it should come as no surprise, that Knuckles, is relegated to be the “other” rival. When compared witht he more “even-tempered”, yet heroic (white)Sonic, Knuckles(who I believe is supposed to be the “black man” of the series, has many descriptions as being “heroic, yet stubborn and hot-headed”

Additionally, Knuckles, (supposedly an echidna- whatever that is) has what I guess is supposed to be its “pins” styled in a way that resemble dread-locks- I mean just look at his Rastafarian color-scheme (red, gree, and yellow!)

Now, one way that a character’s “motif” may be rounded out is through music. One especially memorable component of Sonic Adventure that many fans will recall is that characters had a “theme”-song, music that was supposed to “fit” the character. Just take a listen at Knuckles':

It’s not about how “good it sounds” or even that white guys can’t participate in rap. But the fact that Knuckles ( whom I have already began to make the case is an anthropomorhpised black man) is the only character with a music score characteristic of black musical genre( originating from black musical traditions/culture) with the rapping, jazzy saxophone, harmonies,and urban beats. It is tough ot ignore that Knuckles the Echidna has a clear motif of “the brawny black man”

He actually has more themes, for the different stages where the player must play as him, and in everyone one, we hear the same rap/hip-hop jazzy themes and the “swagged-out” male voice:

You get the picture.

And, it doesn’t really stop there. Meet Rouge the Bat:

Rouge, is a morally ambiguous character who is commonly ‘grouped’ with the villainous antagonists like Shadow the Hedgehog ,etc. This seductress is also supposed to be Knuckle’s love interest. WHat’s interesting is her character is a very smooth-talking, seductive, diva-like, Jezebel – which all happen to be racist tropes versus black women. So while we have the morally questionable Jezebel Rouge, guess what the “leading lady” of the Sonic franchise is like?:

A bubbly, much-less busty Amy Rose – who appears closer to what we’d identify as an “innocent white girl”. And furthermore, we have the , once again, the character theme further the motif of Rouge the Bat:

A latin, Bossa-jazz style theme typical of what you’d expect from a black/minority female. And listening to the theme’s lyrics sounds like the Jezebel motif is furthered.

 

Until next time! ;)

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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Videogames as Story-telling: Narratives and #Negrophobia

Since I was a young lad, I have always appreciated the art of storytelling – in all of its forms it comes in. Whether through oral traditions of pre-Modern societies, through strokes of a pen in novel form, through film, and yes- even through videogames.

The idea as videogames as story-telling would tend to confuse most people – how on Earth could the likes of Supermario Bros., Crash Bandicoot, or Sonic the Hedgehog be considered storytelling or even art!? Well, recently I happened across a video on youtube that discussed this very topic:

I recommend watching the video as it contains very interesting, critical perspectives further validating the idea that videogames are in fact a method of telling stories. As is said in this video, a stories are essentially humanity’s way of making sense of events that happen that are otherwise unrelated. We fashion these discrete instances into something more coherent- something to make sense of the world. Some might define this as poetry in a way as well. I had a professor who I had blogged about earlier this year who once stated ” a poet is anyone who makes sense of his or her experiences”. This idea of videogames as narratives becomes especially powerful because of their emphasis on interaction – rending them an especially interactive narrative.

So if it’s no secret that racist , misogynist tropes might be propagated through film and novels, or even individuals/institutions built on such problematic narratives, then could we truly expect anything truly different when it comes to videogames? Videogames represent , thus, another form of media to reinforce ideas, myths and mainstays to a general population. So, videogames as narratives combined with capitalistic enterprise portends the pressure from gamers on the gaming industry. If you have even a cursory understanding of  game journalism, you would be familiar with the fact that the relationship between the game-maker and game-player is a fragile, yet reciprocal relationship. The game-makers on one hand are wanting to create games with narratives as a form of their own artistic expression yet at the same time one that will sell – and in order to sell you must create a narrative that will resonate with those that are actually participating (literally) in them. I’m no psychologist but it’s certainly no secret that actually interacting with anything (kind of like doing homework) helps to reinforce behavior and/or beliefs in the mind of the individual.

Hopefully, by now the case is clear as to why something like say, the racial composition of the characters in a videogame, even as seemingly whimsical as Mario Kart 8( and yes, there was even an article about the average skin tone in MK8 being too light- FINALLY!) is so significant. …But at the same time, the fact that we don’t see black (men or women) in videogames as leading ( at least not the popular games) is telling of the demographic exhibiting the most consumer power. Angsty white teenage “geeky” boys are constantly portrayed in other forms of story-telling – books, television, movies- as the demographic participating in games. If there is a black nerd “blerd” or female nerd (who is hardly even portrayed as  black – b/c they’re too busy being” jezebels”, as racist tropes would have it), he or she is often “side-kicked” or rendered secondary to the main , typically white male. White men have the privileged of participating in their narratives – seeing themselves projected as more muscular, “masculine” and handsome, essentially as they imagine themselves to be… or perhaps more jovial, happier, and charismatic- whether they;re Snake( Metal Gear Solid), and Italian plumber (Mario), or even Sonic the Hedgehog, they participate in narratives ( as well as encourage gaming companies to maintain these boundaries) that regularly affirm them as “main” or “default”. And before we even get into “BUT SONIC’S A HEDGEHOG, HOW IS THAT RACIST!?!?!’ – there’s a little thing called anthropomorphism: the fictitious depiction of animals with human-like traits ( giving them a human-like form through the five main appendages, usually – head, left and right arms and left and right legs). And so when animals are made to look like humans, it’s obviously clear that their features ( and motifs reinforced through character themes, assigning cultural traits/style) are going to be racialized. This will be the topic of the next post …

I will end this with a story. It’s been a while since I’ve actually played Nintendo Wii ( it seems to have been forgotten about anyways, since the Wii U), but I had been a part of a skype group of gamers who mainly focused on Nintendo games and I decided to reconnect with them after a few months of not really interacting. I had brought up various instances of racism, sexism, etc. just in the news in general ( not even about games) and I was constantly berated and labeled a “social justice warrior” (SJW) – this seems to be the “trope” that angsty white “geek” teen gamer dudez will throw at you, should you start speaking up on behalf of a marginalized group. Furthermore, I was accused of “ALWAYS talking about social justice issues”  and “making people feel bad for having opinions” – mind you I’m the demon for talking about marginalized groups yet no one says anything about the rampant distasteful, hypersexual ( constantly talking about porn fantasies involving videogame characters) – but no, talking about race? that’s FAR more nauseating! How fowl! But I guess we can’t really be surprised when forcing them to see race forces them to reconsider their narrative – cognitive dissonance, no?

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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Geeky Men, Gamer Misogyny, and Gender

In recent months, I updated my videogame system to a PS3; yes I know its not the latest and greatest but its recent enough for me. Earlier this summer I spent a few hours working and improving on my skills at playing Injustice: Gods Among Us in the hopes of someday playing online versus other games when wintertime comes. I’m learning who are my favorite characters, and they happen to be Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Deathstroke, and behind those three, Green Arrow and DoomsDay apparently. So when and if I may the decision to play Injustice online, I have the privilege of being male, and there I am most likely not to be bothered or harassed when interacting with other gamers. 

To the horror of many, this is just not the case for women who are into gaming. When I was in undergrad before there was even a Playstation Network, I was placed in a dormitory with a fraternity that played Playstation One a lot. It was there I heard my first jokes about rape.  If a frat dude was victorious over one of his brothers or a member of another fraternity at a game of NCAA Football 2002 , it was pretty much guaranteed that there would be explicit references to sexual assault when it came to bragging rights. Further along my undergraduate career, the games Halo and Halo 2 were very popular. Being able to talk over the microphone with other players allowed for opponents to drop the n***** word a lot, and of course, there was the widespread practice of Halo teabagging. In spite of their “nice guy” reputation, gamer geek culture is still fraught with the same sexism that they like to point out in professional sports. 

I have written in the past about the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency faces before.  Recently, the situation has gotten far more serious with Sarkeesian and her family receiving death and rape threats. Gaming developer Zoe Quinn has faced so much harassment that she has been left no choice but to move in with friends. What’s the outrage all about? An angry ex-significant other wanting to get revenge while gamers claim its about the loss of “objectivity” in journalism. Frantz Fanon, I’ll let you take this one. (he argued in Wretched of the Earth that the concept of ‘objective media’ will always be wielded as a weapon against the oppressed. Like, always).  I still have yet to see Fanon disproven on that one. EDITOR’S POLITICAL NOTE: WHY IS THERE EVEN CONCERNTROLLING OVER REVIEWS OF VIDEOGAMES IN THE FIRST PLACE? WHEN I REVIEW A PUBLISHED REVIEWS OF ANYTHING–BOOKS, MOVIES, VIDEOGAMES, I HAVE COME TO EXPECT SOME BIAS TO BEGIN WITH. 

Really, these controversies aren’t about journalistic integrity or about the videogame industry itself being under any real threat.  This is about gamer geek dudebros losing their power as consumers, and they are reacting in a disgusting manner. I have quoted him a number of times, and I will keep quoting him, but Frederick Douglass was right on the money when he said “Absolute power concedes nothing.” Not one iota. When it comes to dollar signs, human greed+ rape culture in videogames, the combination is a poisonous mix. But actually, I don’t want to really stop here, and just talk about how terrible everything is. I want to reflect briefly on the probable causes for these sexist practices, to drive women’s voices away from the gaming industry. I want to start with this comment made by one of my friends on facebook:

“Geek boys have been told all their lives that their geeky ness makes them “special” and separate from the meat heads who torment them. The male geek persona is at the heart of the *nice guy* culture and is extra fragile-think Isla Vista killer who considered himself the “ultimate gentleman” and couldn’t understand why women wouldn’t even make eye contact with him. Male geeks are just as violently misogynistic as jocks. Obviously.”- M.Sanchez, Facebook 

Athletes are portrayed as hopelessly chauvinistic and hypermasculine. As geeks, we try to define ourselves against this stereotype. We are taught that we can be the nice guy that women will want to depend on if they aren’t “won” over by the jocks. Nerds, dorks, Blerds, we all fail epically when we deceive ourselves that we aren’t in anyway prone to misogyny like those manly men athletes over there. Male geek culture, like the Trio from season 6 of Joss Whedon’s+ Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suffers from the Nice Guy Syndrome. That is, we learn how to and behave as if we are nice, but at the same time, we want something in return. The Nerd who suffers from the Nice Guy syndrome may see himself as “a good listener,” or “a progressive male feminist” but at the same time will refuse to respect women’s boundaries and choices because of his sense of entitlement, ownership over women’s bodies. Maybe it’s time for Gamer DudeBros to get self-critical, and reject the idea that they are “innocent” when it comes to sexism. Rather than the old cliche, “nice guys finish last,” perhaps it would better to start saying, “guys who suffer from Nice Guy Syndrome finish last.”

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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I guess I’m old fashioned but I would let my son watch My Little Pony #MLPFIM

mlp fim

OH MAH GAWDZ WHAT ABOUT THE MENZZZZZZZ! THIS ONE LITTLE CARTOON IS MAKING ALL THESE 21ST CENTURY MALES INTO WOMINZ. WHAT EVER SHALL WE DO????!!!!!

And now for the rebuttal to idiocy and opinions based off of ignorance.

First of all, I don’t know if there’s a rule book or something out there, but I know that it was up until the mid-20th century before colors like pink were assigned to femininity. Second of all, as a Brony who is also Christian and straight, let me just say that the people who are really old fashioned VALUE THE LIVES OF WOMEN AND THEIR THOUGHTS. The dogmatic view that pink means girly is RELATIVELY NEW.

Walsh:

“I’m not actually sure if this is true — and I suspect it isn’t. If the kid was literally assaulted by groups of boys, I find it hard to believe that none of the offenders have been punished.”

Myself:

No offense to survivors and current members of homeschooling, but Mr. Walsh, stick to speaking at homeschooling conferences. You have no idea what it means to work in a public education setting. You see, kids can getaway with a lot, and they find the most ridiculous ways to hide what they do. And hey, how about we not shame victims of violence? Oh that’s right, you are already doing so. 11 year Old Michael Morones, a boy who loves Jesus and Pinky Pie was bullied into feeling worthless and attempted suicide. Here is a boy who carried his Bible everyday and went to church regularly. And he liked the emotionally excessive party pony Pinky Pie. I used to carry my Bible in my backpack to school when I was his age, and I had very few options, so I watched X-Men the Animated Series and Eek the Cat, and The Tick and oh Power Rangers. Boys and Girls used to love power rangers, then they became stale and uncool. If it was okay for girls to like MMPR back in the 1990’s (something marketed at boys) I don’t see the problem with young and old fans of MLPFIM.

Walsh:

“They say the school is wrong, the boy should keep wearing the backpack, and we should all celebrate the individuality and self-expression of a male who watches a TV show about unicorns.”

and

“It isn’t fair or right that a boy’s enthusiasm for a show called My Little Pony – featuring unicorns named Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie”

Me:

YO DAWG DON’T YOU KNOW THAT UNICORNS ARE IN THE BIBLE! YES THE BIBLE ACCORDING TO THE BONAFIDE LEGIT INTERPRETATION OF THE PEOPLE FROM ANSWERS IN GENESIS, UNICORNS ARE IN THE BIBLE. YOU MATT WALSH SIR, HAVE AN UNCHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW!

Also, the show (which has great animation and storytelling btw), has more than just unicorns. It’s filled with Earth Ponies, Pegasi, Alicorns, Dragons, Dogs, fairies, Griffiths, and Buffaloes, just to name a few other creatures. Any show with Dragons should definitely begin a chance. Except for Game Of Thrones.

Speaking of Game Of Thrones and why I don’t watch it.

MLPFIM is a cartoon that does not show violence. “Boy stuff” G.I. Joes to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can glorify violence at times. Why must masculinity be defined by violence? Enter Walsh once more:

“If Grayson were my son, I certainly wouldn’t tell him that he deserves this treatment — far from it. I’d take him aside, as my dad did with me, and tell him that he must always be prepared to stand up for himself. I’d tell him that nobody ever has the right to abuse him. I’d tell him that he may even need to respond physically, and I’d give him the two caveats that my dad gave me: 1) You may hit back in self-defense. 2) You may hit back in order to defend some other innocent person.

Never instigate. Never provoke. But always stand tall with conviction and courage.”

Well, way to vaguely approve of violence, my friend! See, the positive feminist values taught by My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, are that from a relational perspective. I would prefer to teach my son (if and when I ever get married and we choose to have kids), the way of persuasion and dialogue. See, just because MLPFIM is a cartoon does not mean it can’t teach anything. In fact, one of the things about books, television, and other media is that they have a teaching function, since all media is value-laden. There’s really no such thing as a neutral sphere. I mean when I was a kid, The Flintstones and The Jetsons learned us about family, The Smurfs about communism, G.I. Joes about Patriotism, He-Man: Masters of the Universe about well, just plain awesomeness. I want to teach my son to love his enemies, and forgive those who persecute him, just like Jesus would. This means a complete rejection of worldly (read: violent) definitions of manhood. I also plan on teaching my daughter(s) and/or son(s) to be anti-racist as well; and as I have mentioned before, MLP:FIM has a few episodes dealing with race and empire. If a show like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic makes it that much easier for me to do so, then a show like that is okay by me!

cutie mark crusade solidarity

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Afrofuturism and daring to dream!

So, while I was scrolling along my favorite tumblr, Kenobi Wan Obi , I came across this incredible quote that explains a narrative that many blerds would identify with:

In the beginning there was a story, a telling of what it meant to be a Black body in the White Western European imagination. A simple account constructed to explain extant narratives, told to maintain a lucrative status quo. Then there was awareness of counter-narratives challenging the status quo, undermining the easy acceptance of received ideas.

Afrofuturism has emerged as part of an urbanized culture, set against systematic and structural estrangement and disenfranchisement of global Blackness. It is not a movement in the traditional sense. Instead, Afrofuturism is a culture and aesthetic understanding addressing all manifest forms as it seeks ways to tell the Black story of rebellion and engages divergent forms of communication. Music, art, spoken word, dance, literature, and religion are some major forms of expression. Afrofuturism is a post-modern deconstruction of a Western European meta-narrative. 

Imagine a Black person in living memory, and long before that, having to look at their life as lived, their past and present. It is an easy realization that it has not been a good past and present (on most parts of the planet), and it is in the future that a viable and desired existence has a possibility. Or perhaps only in a parallel universe, or even better still, on another planet altogether, in a land far, far away, that the possibility of the Good Life exists.

Science and science fiction (in many forms beyond the written text) have emerged as a solution to the impossibilities that reality proposes. As a consequence, writers who deal with Afrocentric questions, such as Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, Greg Tate, and Nalo Hopkinson in writing, and Sun Ra and George Clinton, and Parliament Funk in music, have been seen as proponents of Afrofuturism. There is always an awareness of what it means to place the Black Body in the future, in Space. Gil Scott-Heron’s Whitey on the Moon attests to this.

Imagining a future, and being able to act on that impulse, has often been treated as a marker of freedom, especially personal freedom. The human spirit, individual and collective, has been rather resilient in maintaining growth, a conceptualization that allowed for a flourishing self-identity capable of resisting psychical death. New cultural forms have emerged to counteract imposed narratives, Afrocentric future-origin myths capable of counteracting the erasure and denigration of the many histories that Blackness endures around the world. 

While easy to argue that loss of identity only happened in the United State through the transatlantic slave trade, the reality is that Africans on the Continent and in the diaspora have had to negotiate their history and identity through a mediated narrative, mediated and reinforced by global colonial relationships, and Afrofuturism has become a viable methodology. Afrofuturism allows everything to be thought through again. Nothing is left untouched. The future allows for ease of interrogation of even the most unspoken taboos of lived life. Afrofuturism therefore allows for a new look at Blackness itself, a re-imagining of the self in relation to the other, the ability to tell one’s own story.

—Raimi Gbadamosi

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTLSm_a9B3OibkBS64bSDIDeon5jdGmkupBSCokQuVRUIikxUeCoA

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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The Dallas Cowboys: Star Wars Remix

I thought I would never see the day, but, THIS IS AWESOME!

dallas cowboys star wars

YAVIN REBELS

Check out the rest of the NFL at this gallery on imgur.com

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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New Year’s Review of New 52: Geoff John’s Aquaman!

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQzgK0lKXC0EI0QRQPuZzsSdyNJmSvGvTKIMkV7l9L41L4gd0f4

This past summer, Political Jesus got SOAKED with a wave of posts ( so many puns!) relating Aquman New 52 and environmental justice! I mainly did topics relating to black American slave perceptions of nature and the physical environment and its suprising, if even a bit elusive, connection to Arthur Curry’s (Aquaman!) own experience as the King of Atlantis.

Aquaman

Aquaman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After having gone through the first 3 volumes (Vol. #0,#1, and #2) I would like to say that all-in-all, I ADORED the comics. I am very much happy with this attempt at blowing new life into a superhero that rarely gets taken seriously to begin with! From the updated cosmetic art-style to the deep , profound story-line and development of Aquaman’s back-story, I became enamored from the first pages of Vol #0!

 Vol # 0: As mentioned, Aquaman was given an edgy storyline with depth. We’re introduced to the fact that the often-mocked superhero, harbors a deep sadness for his father as he’s looking through the pages old photo albums with his red-headed aqua-vixen girlfriend, Mera. It is revealed that his father, who was once keeper of the lighthouse , was swept away by creatures , never to return again. What’s more? Arthur is supposed to inherit the thrown of Atlantis- the epicenter, the political capital of this strange, cold, dark, underworld! While I may have used this fact as an axiom for how black American slaves felt in during slave-holding America, these plot details , even this early in the series, provide a fascinating juxtaposition of a king who has come to reign over a region ( the oceanic depths) that doesn’t receive him. His rejection by the citizens of Atlantis and the ocean at large (the aquatic creatures) is evident through Curry’s father’s death at the hands of the ocean and one of the opening scenes where our hero is swimming through the ocean and narrowly misses an angry shark swipe, hungry for blood! Excellent, excellent plot set-up in Vol. #0!

Custom Aquaman minifig

Custom Aquaman minifig (Photo credit: Roo Reynolds)

Vol. # 1: More lovey-dovey between Aquman and his femme fatale – but one thing I can say ( and perhaps I’m speaking too soon…) is that there is no excrutiating display of affection between the two. I’m not one for sappy love stories so if that’s youas well then Vo. #1 shouldn’t make you wanna vomit or anything. Without giving away too much of the developing plot, the most memorable scene in Vol. #1 was Aquman at a seafood restaurant!  A wiseguy cracks a joke about Aquaman ordering fish, although he “talks” to fish… there are also a few stabs at his relative mediocrity to other D.C. universe heroes (#hatersgonnahate!)…  being a sucker for breaking the fourth wall, I found this amusing! Vol. #1’s pace was a bit slower than  #0  yet still ended on a cliff-hanger, not forgetting the main plot!

 http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120327153336/aquaman/images/8/83/The_Trench.jpg

Vol. #2: Definitely the most high-throttle point in the plot of the three I’ve read!  Vol. #1 was definitely the calm before the storm! The foreshadowed , anthropogenic gremlins of the deep “rise to the surface” of the plot! (ha!) Excellent action shots featuring the combative prowess of Mera and Aquaman as they try and fend of the creatures of the trench that were proving too powerful for law enforcement. Little does Curry know…these creatures are coming for their king… Staying true to the first two issues, Vol. #2 also ends on quite the cliff hanger!

So far, I would give Aquaman New 52 a stunning 4.5/5 stars!!  It features moments of exhilirating action, a captivating storyline rendering Aquaman respect in the D.C. universe and fascinating implications for the environment, politics, and even religion. Perhaps I’ll read the next 3 and do yet another review!

Also, if we learned anything this Summer from this update for Aquaman….

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Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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Book Review: The Quest For The Creed by @dlongenecker1

 

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

A few months ago, I received a review copy of Father Dwight Longenecker’s The Quest for The Creed: What The Apostles Really Believed and Why It Matters. You can find the book on Amazon here.

I read this book as a CredoBaptist: Nicene Creedal Faith + Free Church baptist. This work is a series of geeky reflections on the Nicene Creed, with quite a bit of a personal touch. Longnecker believes that it is the scandal of paradox that is the best way to confront our modern/post-modern society with it’s “Men from Missouri.” Missouri, you see, is the Show-Me-State, that it has a reputation of having people who need to see it before they believe it. In one trip to a museum, Longenecker meets a POC who acts as a Man From Missouri, and Longnecker writes on the importance of being culturally inclusive based “Beauty is in the eye of the beheld” and how beautiful the “scandal” of particularity is as a reflection on the Incarnation and Miraculous Conception.

By completing this work written by a Catholic clergyperson, it has made me a better Christian, and Baptist. I only wish that Longenecker would take more seriously the problem of sin and its impact on humanity socially. That, and I feel that his enthusiasm for the Jedi side of Star Wars was a tad bit much for this Sith warlord. Overall, I would recommend this book to laypersons and persons who would like an introduction to the history of Christian faith.

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h00die_R (Rod)

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Doctor Who: The Time Of The Doctor

 Stephen Moffat‘s War On Christmas Women

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct...

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct times. These are the eleven faces of the Doctor. (Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann (Bottom) L-R: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight the Christmas special of Doctor Who aired on BBC America at 9pm EST/8pm CST.  While all Doctor  Who Christmas specials are meant nowadays to be memorable, this one will be remembered as Matt Smith‘s last episode as the Doctor.  The episode starts off with of course the unrequitted love between the Doctor and his companion, Clara.  Clara invites the Doctor to Christmas dinner because she has made up an imaginary boyfriend.  The Doctor of course obliges, and Clara chooses to cook the turkey on the TARDIS.  While on the TARDIS, the Doctor runs into Tasha Lem, the Mother Superior and chief religious figure of the Church of Papal Mainframe.

Tasha Lem allows Clara and the Doctor to pass through her force field while they investigate a planet with possible Gallifreyan connections.  I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but I will say this, that like last year’s Christmas special, I could understand what was going on, unlike many other times during the Moffatt Era.  I remain a fan of Clara and I hope they make her character stronger.  I liked the way that the 11th Doctor died of old age before his regeneration, and there seem to be some real Star Trek like speculations when it comes to religion such as  “everyone enters the church naked.”  My biggest frustration with  the Moffatt Era continues to be his inability to write women, and much of the time, his portrayals are sexist.  At one point, there’s a disturbing scene where the Doctor kisses Tasha Lem without her consent, and when she confronts him about that fact, the Doctor dismisses her concerns with “humor.”

Much like Moffatt’s dismissal of having a woman Doctor Who (comparing a woman Doctor to a man “playing” the Queen), the Doctor seems not to care for the free will of women like Tasha Lem.  Rape culture dismisses arguments for consent with “she was asking for it.”  I can only hope , that with the new batch of regenerations, Moffatt will choose to make wiser writing choices, and take the sexism out of his story-telling.  As for Capaldi’s 12th/13th Doctor, I wish that they can go back to the Untamed Storm/ angry professor style of Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor. We shall see.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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