Archive for June, 2016

On Great Britain and the European Union…

Posted in Grumblings on June 24, 2016 by chemiclord

Not being either British or European (nor having any ties beyond ancestral heritage), I really can’t make too many statements except in a generalized, macrocosm perspective.

On one hand, the European Union has done little to really justify its existence beyond helping the wealthy of the continent get wealthier.  Much like in the United States as our free trade agreements kicked in, there was little to no support for the middle class jobs that got shifted, leaving millions of people in the lurch with few prospects or alternatives.  That’s a problem.  It’s a big problem, and just like the elite in the U.S., the elites in the EU responded to that problem with a shrug and indifference as the armored trucks full of money backed into their bank accounts.

The deplorable “solution” to the Syrian refugee problem was also nothing that can possibly be defended, and their handling of the Grecian collapse was equally despicable.  It’s a bit disingenuous to wag your finger at England for succumbing to fears of the “brown people” while you’re doing everything you can to shuffle those same people off to a questionable regime in Turkey with no small amount of troubling human rights attitudes in exchange for more money and trade.

So no, the vote to leave the European Union isn’t inherently an anti-intellectual, selfish, uninformed one.

That said, if your alternative was to support a blatantly xenophobic, ultra-nationalist party, then your protest vote was put in precisely the wrong hands.  I would have thought Europe and Great Britain would know better than anyone what happens when you give that sort of sentiment validation.

And I’m not even talking about Nazi Germany (although they are a prime example).  The ethnic cleansing of Slobodan Milosevic and then Yugoslavia should still be well within the collective consciousness of the older Britons that voted in supposedly large numbers to support the UKIP’s nigh racist platform.

Not to mention how badly this decision will almost assuredly shoot yourselves in the foot.  At this point, it is almost assured that Scotland will push for another referendum on independence, and that this time in light of “Brexit” it will pass quite easily.  Northern Ireland could quite possibly follow.

Take it from American history; isolationism rarely ends well, and that’s the cold blanket that you’re wrapping around yourselves.

“Old Woman!”

Posted in Grumblings with tags on June 19, 2016 by chemiclord

Here’s an article that I stumbled upon yesterday, in regards to Overwatch, a game I recently purchased.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/165422/20160616/oddly-humorous-form-sexism-plagues-blizzards-overwatch.htm

Now, ignoring the juvenile hate in the comment section (as gamers are wont to do whenever they perceive “SJW” content), there is something of a point to be found within the article, though I’d suggest it goes far beyond Overwatch.

Our entertainment industry as a whole doesn’t quite seem to know just what to do with older females, either as actors or as characters within our stories.  While there are a smattering of examples (Murder She Wrote and Golden Girls from the 80’s) come to mind, especially recently, women in entertainment find themselves more in tune with what Amy Schumer notes in her own show.

(Warning: some NSFW content within this clip)

(I am intentionally ignoring the fact that I would have absolutely no problem dating any of the girls in that video, for the record.  Especially Tina Fey there.  One of my few crushes.  Where are you in my life?)

The stories from Hollywood are especially cringeworthy.  The then 28-year old Olivia Wilde being deemed too old to play the romantic counterpart to 37-year old Leonardo Dicaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street (http://www.avclub.com/article/olivia-wilde-was-deemed-too-old-leonardo-dicaprio–233872).  Or 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhall being “too old” for 55-year old James Spader (http://www.avclub.com/article/maggie-gyllenhaal-37-was-told-she-was-too-old-play-219788).

That said, I am confident that as Blizzard was designing Overwatch that none of them said, “to hell with those crones.”  The female characters in fact do have considerable range of ages going by official biographies.  I’m not even sure that they intentionally tried to make every female character “young looking,” as really the older male characters in Overwatch don’t exactly look all that old outside of gray hair, and also have some fairly absurd backstories to explain their vitality (read up on Reaper or Reinhardt in that game sometime).

And it’s not like video games have ever had the problem of making even canonically old characters look like they’re twelve or anything (glares at the Fire Emblem series warily).

But it is an odd look for a game that went to great lengths to celebrate diversity, and to resounding success, that all the ladies of Overwatch look like they’re barely old enough to legally purchase alcohol in the United States.

Is it a problem with the entertainment culture?  Artistic style?  Market demand?  I dunno.  But I do think there’s a problem there somewhere, and it needs to be found before we can effectively fix it.

On Rooting For Meteors…

Posted in Grumblings with tags on June 10, 2016 by chemiclord

Way back in 1987 when I was still a kid, I was picking up the paper for my grandfather, and one of the headlines on the front was about the NBA Finals featuring the Boston Celtics and the Los Angles Lakers.

Not fully understanding the rivalry among the Detroit Pistons faithful for both teams at that age, I asked my grandfather who he was rooting for.  He looked at me with a wary eye and said simply,

“The meteor.”

“Rooting for the meteor” as I came to learn it stemmed from that rather gruesome place where you really don’t like either side of a contest, where there’s a sense that in a way you lose regardless of who wins.  I’ve kinda struggled with this scenario outside the sports world as the disaster between Gawker Media and the various lawsuits that have driven it to bankruptcy, as well as the billionaire that had been bankrolling many of those lawsuits in secret.

On one hand, we have Gawker.  While I have on occasion enjoyed their attempts at legitimate journalism, and have commented on articles from Jezebel, Kotaku, and Deadspin (among others), at the same time the media organization has run and stubbornly clung to “articles” that not even tabloids would have touched simply because they served no purpose other than spite… one of which being “outing” the not-so-secret sexuality of the billionaire that went after them in retaliation, Peter Thiel.

Make no mistake, Gawker’s done more than enough things that should have gotten them buried years ago.  From attacking executives that had no significance simply because they were a rival, to posting segments of sex tapes because apparently transcripts just simply weren’t telling enough… this is a well deserved result for the company.

But then, on the other hand, we have billionaire Peter Thiel, who despite claims that his sexuality wasn’t particularly a secret seemed to go out of his way to make sure it wasn’t discussed.

Had Thiel simply sued Gawker himself, and put his own stamp on this, I would have been wholly in his corner.  But instead, he started bankrolling other lawsuits, making sure that the arguments arranged would avoid insurance payout and directly hurt Gawker’s pocketbook in the process, so that he could operate largely anonymously until his scheme had basically reached fruition.

The tactic itself (using a superior bankroll to effectively bully smaller parties into submission) is hardly new, and is pretty despicable.  To do so in secret is even worse in my mind.  The idea that someone with enough money could effectively destroy someone else without even needing to show their face makes me ill, especially considering that “small” independent media is increasingly becoming the only way to find journalism as free from bias as possible.

It’s a worrying precedent to be sure, and a play I really don’t want to see become prevalent in the already thick playbook for the wealthy of our society.

So yeah… I guess I’m rooting for the meteor in this one.

On Rape Culture (Redux)

Posted in Grumblings on June 7, 2016 by chemiclord

Some time ago, I visited this particular topic, and how I felt that rather than “rape culture”, America more has a problem with “fear culture”, rather than normalizing rape and violence against women, we simply don’t want to face it and address it, indirectly allowing it to happen rather than actively supporting it.

While I don’t want to say I was “wrong” (because I do think that a large part of the problem is simply normal people not wanting to face how real and prevalent the problem is), I clearly under valued that there certainly is a very powerful element of our society that actively seeks to diminish women and what they face.

Enter Brock Turner.

I don’t want to get into a blow by blow of the events (mostly because I don’t want to have to hold myself back from punching a wall), but the general synopsis is, potential collegiate swimming athlete rapes an unconscious woman outside a party, is stopped in the process by two others, and despite the witness testimony and evidence… his sentence is a whopping six months of jail time.

In the fallout, we have seen the head of what feminist thought calls “rape culture” rear its head and bear it’s fangs.

Starting with the judge who administered the slap on the wrist declaring in sentencing that, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him…I think he will not be a danger to others.”  Or the father who declared that he shouldn’t lose twenty years of his life over twenty minutes of bad behavior.  Or the friend who blamed “political correctness” for the outrage following the trial and sentencing.

But this is all stuff we have heard before, many times, isn’t it?  This idea that rape is a temporary thing, and that if there are any lasting effects, it’s the failing of the victim.  That this should be a “teaching moment”, not a crime that deserves severe punishment.

But this is the first time that I can remember the victim in question actually taking the advice of MRA twats, having the courage to face her assailant, describe what happened to her, the humiliating process she underwent just to get to this point… and then still be ignored by the justice system in lieu of not ruining a promising young man’s life.

Damn it.  Where’s that fucking wall?

Bah, I’d have to get in line anyway.  Half the country is stuck slamming their heads against it.