Sunday, February 14, 2016

Zak Attack Unleashed: Disney's Frozen

Now a lot of people (family and friends specifically) seem to think I have this strange obsession-like hate for Disney’s FrozenAnd honestly I wouldn’t say it’s an “obsession”, or even a “hate” really. More like a… fascination, if you will. And a slight bit of an annoyance as well. A fascination of how a film of this caliber managed to gain such a popularity in the mainstream audience so quickly, and an annoyance for how people continue to praise it even long after its initial release. Not to mention the fact that the film's overtly enthusiastic fans tend to refer to it as if it were the second coming. Praising it's inherent virtues with such claims as “It's a new Disney classic.”, or a "Wonderfully enchanting wintry fare.", or more simply "Frozen is fabulous."

How Frozen fans are reacting to that statement.
Now I know I’m probably gonna come off as a cold-hearted bastard for saying this, and I'm quite privy to the fact that I'm in the minority on this, but to be perfectly honest... I think Frozen’s really overrated.

Now when I say "I think Frozen’s really overrated.", I’m not necessarily saying that Frozen's a bad film. It's important to remember that distinction, especially in today's Internet savvy age where things are constantly being taken out of context. No, contrary to popular belief, there are actually some things in this film that I do legitimately like. All I'm saying is that I don’t think it’s as good as it's been made out to be. And I think a lot of that has to due with the amount of hype generated around the time of the film's release.

Compared to some of Disney's more recent fare like Wreck-It Ralph or Tangled, Frozen definitely had a much bigger marketing push. Before and especially after Frozen's premiere, there wasn't a single bit of ad space that wasn't occupied by either one of the film's characters or songs. It was virtually inescapable for a while. The hype train was running full steam ahead, and I was practically tied to the tracks all damsel in distress-like. Unable to get out of the way from the locomotive barreling towards me. Needless to say the experience left me a little jaded. Admittedly to some extent this did sour my first impressions of the film upon my first initial viewing. However upon later viewings, I found myself realizing that maybe I was a little unfair in my first appraisal.

However despite my reevaluation of the film, I still hold true to the fact that I think most people (particularly the fans) tend to overlook some of it's flaws in favor of what they attest to be as sheer magnificence. And any self-proclaimed film critic must always remember that no movie, despite however many accolades it has to it's name, is truly without flaws. Or however flawed a film is, people can still find enjoyment out of it. Hell, I think the original Star Wars (1977) film is proof enough of that statement.

So with that in mind, how did this movie become such a big hit audiences anyway? Well before we get started, I think it's important to mention that there will be SPOILERS in this review. So for the two of you who have yet to see this film, do so now, or read on at your own peril.

Let’s start off with the thing that people can’t seem to get enough of from this movie, the soundtrack. While I’m not exactly a music buff, to me personally a lot of the music in the film seems to fall on the lines of either okay, meh, or "NO GOD! NO GOD PLEASE NO!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" For the First Time in Forever, while it is basically in the same vain as some of the more classic style of Disney soundtracks, it's okay. Not perfect, just okay. Love Is an Open Door sounds less like a song you'd hear in a Disney film, and more like leftovers from the cutting room floor of a fairy tale inspired Glee episode. Let It Go, I’ll admit, I think it's one of the better songs of the film's soundtrack. It's got a decent sound to it, and it's pretty catchy after the first couple of listens. Overall, it's actually not that bad. Now if only the fans would stop making so many damn covers of it already.

Then there's Fixer Upper. Next to songs like In Summer, this is one of those songs that doesn't really serve as a way to move the story forward, but rather as a "HEY LOOK AT THESE CUTE CHARACTERS DOING ALL THESE SILLY THINGS!!! ISN'T IT CUTE?!" In short: both seem like roadblocks to the plot, or rather annoying sideshow attractions that won't shut the hell up. 

And then there's Do You Want to Build a Snowman?. The song that launched a million and one memes, parodies, and godawful song covers. A song so overblown and overplayed, that it quite literally rivals Let It Go. Nothing really much to say about the song itself, except for the fact that it's repetitive, annoying, and gets really fuckin' old really fast. I get that the song's purpose is to serve as a way to show the passing of time between Elsa and Anna as they grow further apart as children and later into adults, and it does serve it's purpose fairly well, but good God is it annoying.

Now to be fair, this is probably more of the fault of other outside sources rather then the actual movie itself. Back when Frozen was just starting to generate buzz, I had certain relatives play Do You Want to Build a Snowman? numerous times on repeat. All to my utter annoyance. At that point Shake it Off would've sounded more appealing.

In short: in the context of the film, it's serviceable as a means of advancing the story, but either way it's still unbearable to listen to. But that's just me.

Then there's the animation. Now as much as I love to buck a good trend, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t agree with folks in saying that the animation does look good. Hell I dare say... it looks great. Disney has come a long way since the days of Chicken Little or Meet the Robinsons in terms of their CG animation department, with the animation continuously improving with each passing film. Personally I've always been a fan of traditional hand-drawn animation, films like Mulan, Treasure Planet, and The Iron Giant still look great even by today's standard. However it's hard not to notice that Disney's CG animation has and is getting better with time. And Frozen is definitely proof of that.

Disney took full advantage of the film's setting and environment. Creating a visually impressive world that almost feels as if it were something pulled right out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. I mean the snow effects alone look fantastic. If I had to pick something that I genuinely liked about the film, it’d be the animation hands down.

The characters themselves, while not spectacular by any means, do have a few things in particular that stood out to me. Elsa for example is one of those characters that clearly possesses a great deal of potential for a story, but thirty minutes or so into the film the focus then shifts away from her to her less interesting sister, Anna (which I'll get into a bit later).

 Screwing up your own child psychologically
because she might be a danger to herself and 
others? That's gotta be worth a Razzie Award 
for Worst Parenting Ever right there.

Elsa is kept hidden from the outside world due to the unpredictable nature of her powers. Because of this, she ends up becoming somewhat introverted as well as a bit timid around other people, even around her own sister. Much of this can be attributed to the fear of losing control of her powers. A fear of which that's basically been projected onto her by her parents since childhood, after Elsa accidentally injured her sister Anna while playing. Inevitably, years later, through the provocation of Anna, she does lose control and runs away into the mountains. Where we then get the musical number/marketing centerpiece of the film, Let It Go. Instead of confronting her problems head on, she essentially skips town and relegates herself into her own little self-imposed exile. A short time later, when Anna does confront Elsa in hopes of bringing her back home, as well as spare Arrendel from the oncoming apocalypse-level ice age. She is then firmly rejected by Elsa because she still sees herself as a potential danger to anyone around her.

Now in the final cut of the film we get a reprisal of Anna's song from earlier, For The First Time in Forever, between Anna and Elsa. In this instance, the song is supposed to convey Elsa's frustration with never being able to escape the pressures of her own life, while Anna continues to persuade her to return home.

However, there is a deleted scene consisting of a song that for one reason or another, never made it into the final cut. The song is called Life's Too Short. In this alternate scene, we see Elsa and Anna engage in more of a confrontation with one another as opposed to the final cut. Both characters engage in bit of a sisterly slap fight, as Anna is trying her hardest to convince Elsa to come back and undo the eternal winter that she's unwittingly caused. Whereas Elsa is more or less coming right out and saying "Fuck that noise! I'm looking out for number one now."

Life's Too Short deleted scene
Honestly, I'm pretty disappointed that this scene was cut from the film. In my opinion, it would have made the character dynamic between Elsa and Anna a lot more compelling. I mean what's wrong with Elsa being a little selfish in this case as opposed to the "Oh woe is me, I'll never be free" spiel from the final cut? For someone who's been forced to repress her abilities from childhood well into adulthood, something of which has obviously effected her emotionally and psychologically, is it really that far fetched to believe that she might adopt a more self-centered mindset after finally snapping from years of internal conflict? And when she does lash out out, striking Anna in the heart with a blast from her powers, the emotion of the scene has more of an impact. You can practically imagine what Elsa's feeling afterwards. Confusion, regret, anger, panic, fear. It gives more relatability to their relationship as sisters. As for the song itself, it's actually pretty good. Hell, I dare say it might be almost as good as Let It GoThe way this scene plays out in the final cut just seems rather contrived to me. And it's really unfortunate that this was cut from the film and relegated to just being an extra on the soundtrack.

But I digress.

I feel like there was a lot that the writers could have explored with Elsa's character. Everything from peer pressure, isolationism, fear, these are ideas that are touched upon here and there during the film when in regards to Elsa. Unfortunately, a lot of that is bogged down due inclusion of Anna as the film's main lead. I mean I get that part of the appeal of Frozen is it's theme of sisterhood, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but even then it's just kinda mediocre and nothing really to write home about. Overall, I just wish the film put a bit more focus on Elsa as opposed to Anna. As I believe there to be some unrealized potential for her character. But for what we got in the end, she's not half bad.

And speaking of Anna, let's dissect her a little bit.

Hmm, I wonder why? (  -__-)
As I mentioned earlier, she does get most of focus in the film. And while some may find her eccentric behavior and unwavering optimism appealing, to me she tends to come off as over-enthusiastic, annoying, and if I'm being perfectly honest here, not all that interesting of a character. Now I get it, she's supposed to be the polar opposite of Elsa, which is fine. And I'm not suggesting that you cut her out from the movie entirely, but did you have to make her the animated equivalent of every female character from a Disney Channel sitcom?

With that said, despite her annoyance, there are some things that the film does do with Anna's character that deserve recognition. One of her main goals in the plot, aside from rekindling her relationship with her sister, is too eventually find her “one true love” – ugh, just saying that sounds cheesy. However, interestingly enough, she eventually comes to the conclusion that one's happiness doesn't necessarily rely on that of another. Better to be patient and wait for the right one to come along then to rush headlong into something you might not even be ready for. Which is an interesting take on the whole love-at-first-sight-married-in-three-days shtick that most Disney films are known for these days. So I gotta give credit to the writer (Jennifer Lee) for pulling this element off pretty well. Even if her characterization of Anna could use a little work.

Kristoff on the other hand, I don’t really have a whole lot to say about. It’s not that he’s bland or forgettable mind you, it’s just that I didn’t really gravitate towards him as much as I did with Elsa. However, much like Elsa before him, he does act as sort of a voice of reason against Anna's insistence on marrying the first guy you meet. He's cynical, but pretty offbeat. So at the very least he's not some thickheaded jock serving as the film's sole comedic relief. Sure there's his relationship with Sven, but at least that's not his entire character. And while his backstory does get glossed over - in fact the film barely addresses it, there's still a bit to like about the guy.

And then there’s Olaf. Okay I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a fan of this guy… Just want to get that out there. I know a lot of people really like him, but for me personally, I just didn’t think he was that funny. Or at least, not as funny as the trailers made him out to be. I mean he can be quirky at times and he has somewhat of a soft-spoken personality, which is a nice change as opposed to the typical fast talking comedic sidekicks we usually get these days, but honestly I just didn't find him all that funny. However, at the very least he did get a chuckle out me a few times, so points to him for that.

And there's the villain of the film, Prince Hans. Oh did I say he was the villain? Oh... SPOILERS I guess.

Now I'm gonna be completely upfront when I say this: but I think Prince Hans is a pretty weak villain and overall not that interesting of a character. Why's that you pugnaciously inquire? Well allow me to elucidate:

It's stated in the film that Hans is the youngest of his family, so it's likely he’ll never inherit the throne. So the only way he can become king is that he’ll have to marry a princess from another kingdom. And in order to accomplish this goal, he creates this false persona of being an honest, noble, kind hearted person, the ultimate princess's true love as it were. Upon meeting him for the first time, Anna practically falls head over heels for Hans's act, literally. As such, Hans uses her naivety to his advantage as a way to usurp his way to into becoming the king of Arrendel. Originally he had planned to marry Elsa, but given her reclusive tendencies, he decides to settle for Anna instead. Once that was done, he would then stage an "accident" for Elsa, thus allowing him to take possession of the throne.

Anna only learns of this much too late, as she lays dying on the floor due to the ice in her heart. With Anna at death's door, Hans decides to leave her there to die while he goes out to confront Elsa, and is more then likely going to kill her. With both of them out of the way, there would be nothing stopping him from usurping the throne and taking over kingdom. All while under the guise of the hero that saved Arrendel from an eternal winter. Literally powerless to stop him, she defiantly tells him that he'll never get away with this. To which Hans responds, "... I already have."

On paper this sounds brilliant, and in theory should make for some great materiel for Han's character motivation. In practice however, it's not very well executed. I think most of my problems with Prince Hans comes down to the either the writing or the actor himself. The motivation for Hans is solid, don't get me wrong. But something about the execution just didn't click with me. And I think that's mostly down to the character himself not being all that interesting. While the actor who voices him (Santino Fontana) does a decent job at portraying the character, it doesn't really add much the character himself. Which is a shame because I think if they had either fleshed out Hans's character a little more, or maybe gotten a different actor to voice him, I probably would have liked him a lot more. Overall though, he's just lacking that spark that a lot of great Disney villains possess.

The surprise twist at the end where it's revealed that Hans is the villain, I'll admit, I was genuinely surprised at first. But aside from that and his motivation, there's just not much to him as a character. Hell, in retrospect you really don't need Hans as the villain. You could have just used Elsa. You could still have Elsa snap from the peer pressure and the constant repression of her powers, and have her be sort of a unwitting antagonist of the film. And Anna, being the protagonist, would of course be the one to redeem her. That I think would have made for a better story.

From I could gather, the film apparently underwent several different story treatments before being commissioned into production in 2011. Originally, Elsa was intended to be the villain, but after the creation of Let It Go, it was decided that Elsa would instead be more of a "misunderstood" character. So it's possible that Hans may have just been added in at the last minute due to later rewrites of the script. Plus with the benefit of hindsight, I think a fair chunk of my issues with the film can be be traced back to the film's writing.

Now with all that said, do I think Frozen is a bad movie? Well no, not really. I mean granted the story is pretty clunky at times, the music as a whole is pretty 50/50 for me, and like I said before Hans is a pretty weak villain, that doesn’t necessarily mean I think it’s a bad film. If anything I think its okay. A bit too overrated for its own good, but okay.

In all honesty though, I just don’t think the film is really that deserving of all the hype it’s received. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t see why people enjoy it so much. Hell, the marketing campaign and Let I Go were probably the biggest contributors to that. Personally, it’s just not what I’d consider to be one of Disney’s best animated films in recent years (that honor of course goes to Tangled). But for a film that's supposedly been in development since 1943, it's not too bad. It may be overrated and overhyped, but it’s an okay film. Not great, not terrible, just okay.

For whatever reasons that you may like Frozen despite whatever I've said here, I’d say more power to you. These are just my personal opinions of the film, nothing more. And for those of you who have yet to see the movie, I’d say give it at least a viewing and draw your own conclusions from there.

And seeing as how I’ve finally said my peace about this movie, perhaps now I too can finally “let it go”.

Don't be shocked. You knew that joke was coming.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Have a Dream That Everyone's a Winner (Part 3)

Ultimately, despite whatever I've said here in this rant, I honestly couldn't care less about the Oscars. I've always viewed the Awards themselves as rather just an appeal to semantics. Not to mention the fact that the whole thing feels like one great big Hollywood circle-jerk. Plus when you get right down to it, films are subjective and open to interpretation. Just as any form of art is. Each of us has our own opinions as to what qualifies a great movie. One man's Big Hero 6 is another man's The LEGO Movie as some would say. So I don't really see myself taking anything these old farts over at the Awards say as seriously as others might. I'd say let the people decide. Because ultimately, it's up to them.

However, if the Oscars are to continue - and they'll continue irregardless of my opinions towards them, I would imagine, nay, I would hope that they stay true to the meritocratic nature of what the Awards are supposed to represent. Something of which Michael Caine and I seem to be in agreement about.

“You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black. I’ll vote for him.’ You have to give a good performance.”

He then continues with a bit of wisdom “... be patient. Of course it will come,” he said. “It took me years to get an Oscar.”

I'd like to think that Leonardo DiCaprio has taken this advice to heart himself. But I digress.

We live in an age of instant gratification. Virtually anything we could possibly want can be ours in relatively little to no time at all. And as such, we've grown accustomed to having things our way, everyday twenty four seven. Gone are the days of humility and patience. In are the days of narcissism and impatience. And believe me, I'm certainly guilty of the latter. I'm open to admitting that character flaw. A key skill you become accustomed to while working in Stop-Motion animation (or Brickfilming in my case) is in fact, patience. Because when it takes almost an entire day to shoot a minutes worth of animation, you have to be pretty patient through the entire process.

We need to abandon this idea that everyone's a winner and that there are no losers. Some people will succeed in life, while others will not. It's a harsh reality to accept, believe me I know, but it's not something we can just brush off so easily. We're not entitled to something simply because we feel that the world owes us. Because in the grand scheme of things, the world doesn't owe you jack with a side of shit. You're not entitled to respect anymore then you are recognition. Like everyone else on this rock, you have to earn it.

As for the whether or not society itself is systematically racist against ethnic minorities, as both Lupita Nyong'o and Mark Kerfufflo seem to believe, I'd like to close this three part series of rants with an excerpt from an interview with Morgan Freeman by CNN's Don Lemon. Take notes Spike Lee.

And that my fellow Internets, is why he's God.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Freedom of Speech Decoded: A Response to Franny Ramsey

Franchesca Ramsey. You may remember her name being mentioned in my previous rant, I Have a Dream That Everyone's a Winner (Part 2). As I recall I described her as being a - oh what was it? Ah yes! I believe it was, "pseudo-intellectual harpy" Well zippity-doo-dah, turns out a mere three days before I published that very article, she came out with a video entitled: Is PC Culture Anti-Free Speech? Where she inquisitively inquires, "Is PC culture destroying freedom of speech?"

Do I even need to answer that question? Seems to me that the answer's pretty obvious. Well, regardless, I'm going to answer that question right here and now. While also rebutting a few of her arguments.

This, is your brain on Social Justice.
Any questions?
Now it's no secret that I absolutely loathe the term "political correctness" In fact the most I ever talked about it was in my Why So Serious?: The Problem With Political Correctness in Comedy rant. Well this time it isn't about comedy, even though certain folks I'll be quoting later on certainly have their ties to comedy. No. This is about speech in general. Free speech as some would call it.

After giving her definition of the term - and make no mistake it is her definition, she states that political correctness is about "avoiding words or behaviors that exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. Basically, treating people with respect." But only women and minorities. Not those pesky cis-white heterosexual men. Pfft, why should they be entitled to respect? After all, they're the oppressors. They've yet to be enlightened by our divine revelation. They're not human like we are. She said while sipping her pumpkin spice latte while reading an article from TheMarySue on her iPad.

First off: "... treating people with respect." I can think of a few things wrong with that sentence.

Thing is, I don't respect people out of some inherent need to show respect simply because "it's the right thing to do" To quote one of my favorite episodes of Marvel's Daredevil, when it comes to respect, "You have to earn it." Simply walking up to me and demanding my immediate respect won't automatically grant you such a privilege. You have to prove to me that you've earned that right. You're not entitled to it merely because of your gender, skin color, age, status, or position. I'll at the very least show you the same level of courtesy as I do with any other human being, but respect only comes if it's earned. Do not attempt to conflate "courtesy" with "respect" Franny. Especially while talking down to me like one of your kool-aid swilling drones.

And to be perfectly honest with you Franny; I don't like you enough to respect you. Let alone tolerate your indignant racist attitude.

Then we get this little gem: "Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences."

You are correct. Those of us who use our freedom to speak freely or express ourselves however we so choose, do so with the knowledge that there may be consequences for our actions. We do so knowingly while accepting the responsibilities that comes with such a right.

So if I were to call you a bitch, I would accept the consequences that would come with making such a obscene remark. Though for the record, I do think you're a bitch. An ignorant and disingenuous bitch if that.

Look mommy, I made up words!
"Political correctness is expanding free speech. We're adding new words to the dictionary every year."

Really?! Do you honestly think that that's what going on? I swear, I'm gonna need chemo to get rid of the cancer cells now growing in my brain for reading that statement.

And another thing, those examples of "new words" being added to the dictionary (NOTE: The Oxford Dictionary, which might as well be the official dictionary of Tumblr at this point) ARE NOT FUCKING WORDS. Mansplain, micro-aggressions, agender, and genderfluid, are not recognized words of the English lexicon. They're nothing more then made up buzzwords. Even as I write this, Blogger's spellcheck doesn't even recognize them as words. And even if at some point in the future it does, that still does not give them any form of legitimacy. They're made up words. The literal equivalent of baby talk. Which seems to fit the demographic for which these words are made to appeal to.

You can dance around like the little spaz that you are, but no amount of protest is going to get me to accept the pseudo-factual basing form which you draw this meaningless drivel from. This, along with your group's incessant need to redefine words such as "sexism" and "racism", is the unequivocal meanderings of mindless simpletons who have to retool language in order to give their position some shred of legitimacy.

To quote Flo-Rida, "it's going down for reaaaal..."
Political correctness, by it's very nature, does not expand free speech. It represses it. It restricts it. It sanitizes it. Am I getting through to you yet? No? Well then allow me to quote George Carlin: “Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.”

But wait! Here's another one, this time from Monty Python legend John Cleese “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.”

And that my fellow Internets is the crux of the issue. Political correctness is not about "calling out oppressive power structures" or "allowing marginalized voices to be heard", it's about manipulating and controlling the language of others. Especially those who are "guilty" of saying, doing, or thinking the wrong things.

The people of which we see espousing this PC dogma, are the kind of people who don't want to be challenged. They don't want to deal with the existence of opposing views and ideas. So they set out to "correct" what they see as problematic language and behavior. Why do you think Franny's definition of political correctness included "avoiding words or behaviors"? People like her are attempting to control and manipulate the language of others, by influencing them into avoiding words and behaviors that they deem offensive. They're not interested in staying true to democratic principles of which we hold dear. Hell, if the current climate at Yale University is any indication, they're not even interested in upholding the 1st Amendment. The very foundation for which freedom of speech and expression is derived from.

"PC culture, treating others with respect, social justice warriors, whatever you call it, isn't prohibiting anyone's freedom of speech."

Damn if only there were a person in existence that you suspiciously left unaccounted for that could categorically annihilate your entire fictitious argument-- oh wait, there is!

Back in 2012, Gregory Allen Elliot, a man who dared criticize a feminist on Twitter, was charged with criminal harassment after he tweeted a number of critical messages directed towards feminist activist - and all-round intolerant harpy, Stephanie Guthrie. Recently however, as of January 22nd of this year, Elliot was thankfully found not guilty of all charges. But the fact that this even went to court to begin with is a clear cut representation of what the current social climate is.

Simply put: To criticize those in power, is to be met with retaliation with that power. Feminists, SJWs, and the regressive left, have taken to silencing any and all dissent within their borders. To question their authority is to be branded a heretic and treated as a social pariah.

My reasoning for writing this here rant is not merely because I find Franny's ideas objectionable - although for the record I absolutely do, it's because both her and those like her, are in positions of power that grant them the ability to influence public discourse. This isn't some rinky-dink hipster with a blog and a YouTube channel folks, this woman is speaking via a platform provided to her by MTV. A network owned by Viacom. If the ideas of which she is espousing go unchallenged, and we continue to allow this narrative of political correctness to be propagated in both the media and society at large, we could be looking at a grim future for our own personal freedoms.

While I'm not inciting you dear reader to any sort of political action, I do implore of you this: Do not allow these cultural authoritarians to silence you. If they speak an idea that you disagree with, challenge them on it. Debate them. Use your right to free speech to offer a viable opposing view. The answer to all of this isn't political correctness or censorship, it's more free speech.

And lastly - and this is just something I noticed while viewing this piece of horse cock, am I the only one that noticed that in virtually all of the animations popping up on the screen, white men are portrayed as the bad guys (or should I say oppressors) in these scenarios? I hate to play the tinfoil hat game here Franny, but seems to me like you might have some internal prejudice towards white people? That or your editor does. Either way, your argument is bad and you should feel bad.

Oh and by the way. Laci Green called, she'd like her absolutely everything back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and cash this white privilege check I received in the mail while simultaneously oppressing all women and minorities by merely existing. Toodles.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

I Have a Dream That Everyone's a Winner (Part 2)

Next, let's look at Mark Ruffalo's response. If there are any Hulk fans out there, you may want to check your fanboy blinders at the door. This one's gonna get a little heated.

“I woke up in the morning thinking, ‘what is the right way to do this?’ Because if you look at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, what he was saying is the good people who don’t act are much worse than the wrongdoers who are purposely not acting and don’t know the right way.”

Funny you should mention MLK, Mr. Ruffalo. Did you know he also said people should not be judged by the color of their skin but rather by the content of their character? Seems to me like you missed that part of his message. 
And in the case of the Oscars, isn't it better to judge an actor's performance rather then whether or not they fit into the "insert minority group here" checklist? Seems to me that this obsession with diversity for the sake of diversity is rather anti-meritocratic, don't you think?

A lot of this recent obsession with diversity, in my personal opinion, comes from an all too familiar concept that many people (millennials especially) seem to be rather reluctant to let go of. The idea that everyone's a winner, and there are no losers. "Blue ribbons and participation trophies for everyone!" as some would say. Not only is this concept inherently flawed and detrimental to society at large, but when applied to something as prestigious as say the Oscars, it essentially renders the meritocratic nature of the awards completely meaningless. Turning the Oscar into nothing more then the adult equivalent of a participation trophy.

This regressive mindset that we should pass around awards simply on the basis of skin color rather then merit, which is something I feel the Oscars SHOULD be about, is incredibly abhorrent. And those who continue to perpetuate this mindset, are pseudo-intellectual simpletons with nary a firm grasp on reality.

To appropriate a quote from the Washington Post, "According to Jean M. Twenge, the “everyone is a winner” mentality does not build true self-esteem; instead, it “builds this empty sense of ‘I’m just fantastic, not because I did anything, but just because I’m here.”

And then we get... this.

“It isn’t just the Academy Awards,” Ruffalo said. “The entire American system is rife with white privilege racism. It goes into our justice system.”

Oh... You're really going there, huh? You just had to go and pull that tired old regressive left trope didn't you? I mean, nothing says "equality" like generalizing an entire sect of people simply because the have the wrong skin color. Course if it's blacks who get generalized, you obnoxiously cry out "RACISM!" But when it's done to whites, well that's just called progressive liberalism.

If you're someone who believes in the words of MLK, like any true proponent of equality would, while simultaneously espousing this dogmatic "white privilege" bullshit, it is your imperative to find the shortest cliff within your immediate proximity and kindly take a long walk off said cliff. Doing so otherwise is to miss the entire point of MLK's beliefs. And only goes to cause further division between the races. Something of which you chuckleheads seem to excel at.

Do not think for one fleeting moment that MLK would buy into this horse cock of yours. Because by espousing the words of a remarkable man who stood for the equality of all, while also claiming that “The entire American system is rife with white privilege racism", is to commit complete and utter self-sabotage of whatever political message you were attempting to convey. You wanna be a true spokesman for equality? Consider not alienating the majority populace of this country like the regressive shitbag that you are.

But let's look at this "white privilege" pablum a bit more closely shall we? As mentioned in Part 1, the idea of "white privilege" is that white people (or more accurately Caucasians) are born with inherent privileges, power, and other advantages in life as opposed to those from a minority group. However, the most insidious aspect of this outright ad-hominem based myth, is that you can't be racist towards those who just so happen to be white. Only minorities can be the victims of racism.

And again, despite the fact that the term racism isn't defined as a one-way street, and that you absolutely CAN be racist towards white people as much as any other race, people like Mark Kerfufflo, Franchesca Ramsey (the pseudo-intellectual harpy from MTV Decoded), and practically every single Social Justice Jackoff out there, have taken to using the concept of "white privilege" as a way to shut out opposing views. Especially if said views come from someone who's Caucasian.

It's essentially a free pass to justify their thinly veiled bigotry against white people.

The truth of the matter is, the concept of "white privilege" is inherently racist in and of itself. It's essentially become the go-to trump card to silence dissenting opinions. Shutting down discussion and the exchange of ideas indefinitely. This notion that white people inherently have it made in life is absurd. How can we come together as a society if we're constantly shutting out an entire sect of people because of some arbitrary characteristics they had no control over? Does this not go against EVERYTHING Martin Luther King stood for?

If you really want to know more about the concept of "white privilege", I would recommend checking out Lauren Southern's video on the subject over at Rebel Media's YouTube channel. But if you want my honest opinion on the subject; aside from what I've already espoused here on this article, my idea of privilege, regardless of whatever race benefits from it, is more down to class or financial status. Speaking as someone from a lower class family, when you're raised in an environment that instills in you the idea that the only way you can move up in the world is through hard work and perseverance, you tend to appreciate the more down to earth aspects of life in general.

In short Mr. Ruffalo: You're not an activist. You're a pompous, self-righteous, financially privileged, moral arbiting, slackivist white guilt ridden jerkoff with an agenda to push. Take your self-righteous, moral aggrandizing, holier-than-thou attitude, and blow it out your purple shorts wearing ass.

Oh and by the way, Edward Norton was a far better Bruce Banner.

To be concluded in Part 3...

I Have a Dream That Everyone's a Winner (Part 1)

I think it's safe to say that at this point in time, we've completely lost touch as to what the word "racism" means. Now any sapient being with a dictionary in hand (as long as it isn't from Oxford) will readily attest that the word racism, is based on the belief that one's own race is far superior to that of another. Many who possess this particular mindset, tend to be very discriminatory and prejudiced towards those not of their native land and or skin color. That is what the word is defined as. And call me a traditionalist if you must, but I believe that that definition is all we need to describe it. We needn't redefine the word to fit our own personal political agendas, or add additional clauses as to what else it refers to. Just leave it be.

Sadly, many people - particularly those on the left - are doing just that. One such example is the idea that you can't be racist towards white people, because white people (or more accurately Caucasians) are born with inherent privileges, power, and other advantages in life as opposed to those from a minority group. Only minorities can be the victims of racism. And despite the fact that the term racism isn't defined as a one-way street, and that you absolutely CAN be racist towards white people as much as any other race, the left, specifically SJWs, feminists, #BlackLivesMatter protesters, and others, have completely hijacked the term. And it's ironic that the majority of those espousing this new definition, tend to have a bit of a melanin deficiency themselves - i.e., they're white.

But I'm not here to talk about race per se. No. I'm here to talk/rant about the somewhat recent kerfuffle of which took place over at the Academy Awards, a.k.a. the Oscars.

Basically, what happened was was that there weren't a lot of "diverse" actors or films nominated for an Oscar this year. So in protest, Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, just to name a few, have taken to boycotting the Oscars for it's lack of "diversity", and have been attempting to draw more folks to their cause. This event in particular has been dubbed by social media as the #‎OscarsSoWhite.

How nice.

Instead of railing against the event itself, I'm instead going to look at the response of three individual people. That being: Lupita Nyong'o, Mark Ruffalo, and Michael Caine. Though I want to make it clear: While I will be going through these responses utilizing my usual sarcastic/cynical approach, I want to stress that I don't bare any ill will towards these people. Hell, Mark Ruffalo will probably be the one that I'm the most aggressive towards (you'll see why in Part 2). But even then, I don't hate the guy.

First, let's look at Lupita Nyong'o's response

"I am disappointed by the lack of inclusion in this year’s Academy Award nominations, it has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture. The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today.”

No. That is not how this works. "... it has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture." Fantastic. You might as well say society is inherently sexist against women while you're at it. You certainly won't be lacking company in that regard.

Lupita, I like you. I really do. But you're flat out wrong. There isn't some invisible oppression boogeyman that's oppressing blacks and minorities anymore then there's some nebulous patriarchy oppressing women. Racism is still a thing, sure, but it's nowhere near as prevalent as it was decades ago.

Have you considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there weren't a lot of minority actors that deserved the award this year? I mean, just this year? Just because the Academy forgot the cross off the "arbitrarily include insert minority actor here" checklist, does not entail that there's some sort of "unconscious prejudice" against blacks. This is essentially just a bunch of high societal sods whining about not getting the nomination this year.

Now this may just be my cynicism talking, but I find it REALLY difficult to find sympathy with people, who quite literally make a living playing pretend in front of a camera that's probably worth more then my rent. And yes I know that's an oversimplification, but that's not the point. 
You guys practically make my yearly income in less then a week. So quit your petulant whining about not getting some overhyped paperweight to parade around like some preschooler that just got a gold star for participating.

In other words: Buck up. Better luck next year.

Now unless I've misinterpreted that latter half of this statement, that statement being that "
The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today.”, this is something of which I do agree with. I think the Oscars could use a little retrofitting in terms of what kind of movies are nominated. For example: In my honest opinion, and I'm certainly far from being alone on this one, The LEGO Movie deserved the award for Best Animated Picture as opposed to Big Hero 6. Yet for some reason The LEGO Movie was snubbed. Either because it wasn't Disney, or that the third act included a live action sequence with Will Ferrell. Though to my knowledge this hasn't been confirmed, so make of that what you will.

Continued in Part 2...

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Keep Moving Forward: Happy 2016

Fear is a natural emotion. It’s natural to fear something. One thing that I think we can all universally agree on is that we as humans, are fearful of the future. Course when I say that, I don’t necessarily just mean being fearful of what might happen or what unforeseeable changes may or will have occurred in the future. No, actually I’m mostly referring to a concept that we should all be relatively familiar with: Fear of the unknown.

Now I think it’s safe to assume that we’ve all had instances in where we’ve held ourselves back for one reason or another. It’s the uncertainty that does us in. We can never be too sure as to what might be around the corner, or where the road of life will lead us. Fear of the unknown can be daunting to some of us, hell it can even be detrimental in some cases. However it’s when we take that leap of faith that eventually we stop looking for what’s behind us, but instead for what lies ahead of us.

As Walt Disney himself once jived: “Around here we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

It’s okay to feel fear, as it is a perfectly natural emotion to feel. But you should never let fear hold you back. I know I’ve made that mistake, more than once admittedly. If one day you should ever get the urge to break away from your usual routine and try something new, whether out of a preconceived determination or just sheer curiosity, give it a shot.

You don’t climb a mountain by simply looking at a picture of Mount Kilimanjaro. Instead you weigh the potential risks, and climb.

After all, unless the Hindus are right and reincarnation is a thing, you only live once in this world. So might as well make the most of it.

Happy New year my fellow Internets.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fury of the Black Death: The Ideological Cancer of Geek Culture

(NOTE: Some revisions have been made in order to better explain my thoughts and opinions on the subject at hand.)

"Want to kill an industry without ever having to lift a finger? Just simply infuse a dose of identity politics into it, and watch how slowly but surely it grows into a cancerous tumor that takes root into what makes said industry great, and then rot it completely from the inside out. Leaving nothing left but a moldering corpse in its wake."

Those are the very words I used on my Facebook page to describe a certain phenomenon that's been plaguing the very confines of geek culture for roughly several years or so. Though dark and hopeless in it's appearance, it's core message bears a warning. One of which I hope many will take heed into, as it is quite relevant to today's rant.

With the advent of such landmark films and television shows as Marvel's The Avengers, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Arrow, and many others, what once was considered the pastime of many a young ostracized geek or nerd, is now the latest cultural phenomenon loved and admired by many. However, for every dedicated fan of a particular geeky medium, be it comicbooks, video games, science fiction, or etc., there's a million and one posers in the world using their identity as a (pseudo) member of geek culture as a way to garner attention for themselves, as well as capitalize on said mediums's popularity in mainstream culture. All while under the clever guise of being champions for inclusivity and equality for all.

While they go by many names, the most common one that is known throughout the wildest and most untamed realms of the Internet, is one that I dread repeating even as I write this rant. Like Voldemort before them, they are the ones that must never be named lest they appear. You may know them as hipsters, keyboard warriors, modern feminists, or online slacktivists. But in the common tongue, they're referred to as Social Justice Warriors (SJWs).

Now while this rant in particular has been cooking on the back burner of my brain for some time now, the ultimate catalyst for this raging stove fire was brought on by a YouTube video courtesy of a channel called Bustle. A video so eloquently entitled: 5 Things You Should Never Say To A Female Star Wars Fan

Notice that the title also includes the word "female". So you know what you're gonna get right out of the gate before you even click the play button. 

Like the Energizer Bunny, the
dislikes are still going... down.
Now throughout this piece of mindless drivel, the two women in this video discuss the five big things you should never say to a female Star Wars fan. The reasons they give, much like video itself, are ultimately pointless and a complete waste of two minutes. Hell, the dislikes count alone should be enough to tell you how well this video was received. 

This is a clear case of identity politics once again burying it's own head up it's ass. Instead of doing anything else worth two minutes of recording a video for, we instead get a video of two dunces parading around their "geek cred" like it's a fucking fashion statement. Which is exactly what this is to these people. A fashion statement. Something to be worn like a piece of designer clothing. It means nothing to them truly.

But what is identity politics I hear you ask? Well simply put: It's the need to create new "identities", or latch onto preexisting ones (see also "hipsters") in order to feel a false sense of being special and unique. Thus your "identity" becomes your defining characteristic. Thereby making the personal political. Example: Someone who says "I identify as pansexual" or "I identify as genderfluid" or in this case, "I'm a geek"

Ironic how a group that rejects labels handed down to them by society are now creating new labels for themselves to identify with. But I digress.

SJWs in general are a cancer to geek culture. They're not interested in having fun, interacting with other fans, or discussing what they love. They're more concerned with shoving their political dogma down your throat, all the while forcing their preconceived world view onto everything within geek culture. The identity politics of which we continuously see being espoused by these unrelenting Jackdaws, will be what inevitably kills the mediums that we love and enjoy. Unlike actual fans, they're not in it for the sheer enjoyment or the thrill of it all, they're in it for the agenda pushing.

And when you dare have the audacity to call them out on their pseudo geek cred, they either cry "HELP, HELP, I'M BEING OPPRESSED!!!" or just block you so as to prevent ever being told that they're wrong again. And as if that wasn't bad enough, after they've clawed their way into the culture, they then become so entitled to a medium that they never were truly invested in to begin with, that they start issuing demands that said fandom needs to become more "inclusive" and "more welcoming to women and minorities" All while casting actual fans out of a place that they've called home for so long, because of the social stigma that these motherfuckers instilled into society to begin with. 

Before, being a nerd or a geek was once considered uncool and not normal. You were the kid that was always the target of bullying, simply because of the fact that you were into things like superheroes or sci-fi. You were always looked down upon as if you were less than human. That you were nothing more then a manchild (or womanchild, though back in the day they were pretty rare) living in your parents basement. However, now that being a geek is considered popular in the eyes of society (though gamers still to this day get the short end of the stick), suddenly you get these posers crawling out of the woodwork. Because now, they see this as just yet another hot new trend to be exploited.

"This is not an attention grabbing throwback."
No darling, it's a fashion statement.
But let's get back to the two ditzes in the video I mentioned earlier just for a sec. Are you two simpletons aware of the fact that many women who consider themselves fans of any particular medium, don't go around parading that fact just for attention? Real fans - like the one's you're failing miserably to replicate - don't feel the incessant need to prove themselves like you do. If you truly considered yourself fans, then you wouldn't be trying so hard to prove it. You like Star Wars? Well let me throw you a fucking parade, because so do I. Liking something doesn't automatically make you a special snowflake.

Have you ever wondered why newcomers into geek culture (both male and female) get "quizzed" sometimes? Because it's pretty easy to say that you're a fan of *insert geek related thing here* when in actuality you've only seen the movie or the show (A.K.A a casual). Regular geeks - such as myself - don't go around parading our geek cred like it's our only defining characteristic. We're rather nuanced in that regard.

We get quizzed when we build ourselves up as an expert in whatever it is we're a fan of, or especially when we wave it around like a newly minted driver's license. For example: I'm a fan of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's DC cartoons. But I know practically next to nothing about the comics of which they're based off. Only snippets of information I have about them I got from friends who are regular fans of DC Comics. So I don't pretend to know about them when I don't. Doing so would just open myself up to the questioning of my legitimacy as a DC fan.

It pisses me off when people like this go around acting like they represent all women and minorities, when in actuality they don't. People like the two dunces present in the video, don't represent anyone outside of a small minority of folk who just so happen to be the most vocal (especially on social media). They don't speak for all women and minorities anymore then the hacks over at TheMarySue proclaim to.

In my opinion, ideologies such as feminism ultimately have no place in geek culture. It's an outdated and divisive ideology that only winds up causing rifts in a community of people who share common interests (Atheism Plus anyone?). And quite honestly, it really doesn't have much of a place here in the western world anymore. So why continue forcing it into a medium that neither wants it nor requires it?

The reason why I feel so strongly about this is because I care about geek culture, and I don't want to see it be torn asunder by these pseudo-intellectual jackoffsIdentity politics is a sickness. And the only way we can combat it is through staunch resistance, and staying true to our core principals as geeks. Because contrary to popular belief, geek culture is inclusive and welcoming. And most certainly does not need to "grow up" in order to be taken seriously. It doesn't require a sign up sheet, or anything complicated. All you need do is find something that particularly interests you, and start learning more about it. Whether it be movies, games, comics, or what have you. All you need is the drive and dedication to expand your knowledge of it. It's that simple.

Geeks typically choose to remain apolitical because honestly, who the fuck cares as to what your political leanings are? Who cares if you're a man, women, black, white, Christian, Atheist, feminist, Muslim, or etc.? In the grand scheme of things none of that matters. What matters is that despite our inherent differences, our love of the medium is what brings us together. Whereas identity politics is what would split us apart.

As the saying goes, "United we stand, divided we fall." So in spite of these ideological charlatans, let us remain forever united. As geeks.

And to the SJWs that come across this rant: Feel free to hand wave this as just me acting like the Gatekeeper. This is merely just my two cents on the matter. Take it or leave it. I don't care which.