On this week's episode we are discussing the loved and hated topic that is known as romantic movies. With Valentine's Day being a great day to dive into the world of love and romance, what better time to bring up these movies?
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On this week's episode we are discussing the loved and hated topic that is known as romantic movies. With Valentine's Day being a great day to dive into the world of love and romance, what better time to bring up these movies?
By Daley Wilhelm Last fall, Wolfenstein did it’s utmost to capitalize on the current culture by featuring a social media campaign fueled by unadulterated violence against Nazis—what Wolfenstein has always been about. Of course, that made the alt-right and all their Neo-Nazi leanings pretty upset. Punching Nazis is "morally wrong," after all. This spring, the much anticipated fifth installment of the Far Cry franchise left behind it’s exotic settings for something a little more domestic, something worryingly familiar: your all-American cult. The box art says it all with a tableau of the Eden’s Gate cult posed like the Last Supper—Jesus’ stand-in is the enigmatic Father, his apostles his zealous, gun-toting family.
By Daley Wilhelm Wakanda is not a real country. But what’s important is that it could have been, which is one of the core messages behind Black Panther that makes the film so poignant, especially at this moment in history. In the film, the fictional country features an amalgam of African cultures and traditions, with Wakanda representing what might have been in the absence of the violence of colonization. Wakanda’s history is explained as the movie opens. After a meteor hit the African continent, it affected the plant and wildlife, along with creating the largest deposit of vibranium on Earth. Around this resource, five tribes united to create the kingdom of Wakanda. Religion The panther goddess Bast (or Bastet) originally led the people of Wakanda to the heart-shaped herb, a plant effected by the meteor that gives those who eat it the power of the Black Panther—enhanced sight, speed, and strength. Bast is worshipped as a goddess of cats, warfare, and as a protective figure. Attributed to the Egyptian pantheon of gods, this is a good reminder of the fact that Egypt is in Africa, and for millennia was ruled by Africans before that dragon called colonization came around. One tribe of the original five split from Wakanda. The Jabari instead went to the mountains, worshipping an ape god called Hanuman. Hanuman is a Hindu deity, but one whose influence is multicultural: Hanuman is also found worshipped in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Africa, considering the Indo-African cultural exchange throughout centuries of history. So when the Jabari chieftain M’Baku says that he’s joking, the Jabari are vegetarian, considering the Hindu influences behind Hanuman, he’s probably serious in saying that the Jabari tribe is vegetarian. Wakanda is ruled through pseudo-tribalism via the council of elders being made up of representatives from the original tribes, and their practices in the transference of power being largely based on traditional rituals with strong shamanistic elements. Zuri is the holy man of the film, he oversees the ceremonies and the nursery where the heart-shaped herb grows. One element of shamanism is the veneration of ancestors, which is shown in Black Panther via T’Challa visiting his father and other former kings in the spiritual plane. Costume design with diversity in mind The diversity of African peoples being represented in Wakanda was most evident visually. Black Panther is a gorgeous film, but costume designers Ruth Carter and Hannah Beachler did serious research in terms of showing that Wakanda is made up of several tribes, each with their own unique style. Twitter user @diasporicblues gave her followers a lesson on the African inspirations behind the costume design in Black Panther. https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964772084906909696 Nakia’s tribe’s elder wears a lip plate featured in Mursi and Surma cultures, which reside in Ethiopia. Wakanda’s fictional location has shifted over the decades it has been featured in Marvel comics, but typically it is thought to be somewhere in central Africa, close to Ethiopia. https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964775326776745984 The blankets (enhanced with force fields) of W’Kabi’s tribe are the traditional wear of the Basotho people in Lesotho, the country surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho is mountainous, which means it snows in the winter. The blankets the Basotho people wear are an important deterrent to the cold, and in distinguishing those who wear them, the various patterns having various cultural significance. The Basotho people are also known for their horsemanship, likely leading to the addition of the armored rhinos that W’Kabi’s tribe keeps. https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964778609893310464 Another of the Elders on the council has hair reminiscent of the OvaHimba women. In arid Nambia, the women of the OvaHimba tribe put a paste made of butter, fat, red ochre, and herbs in order to protect their skin. They plait their hair and put in the otjize paste, leaving the ends to puff out. https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964772947087929350 Queen Mother Ramonda first greets her son T’Challa wearing a 3D-printed dress and a Zulu headdress, which is called a isicolo. https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964773856841027584 The Dora Milaje are the elite, all-female fighting force who protect the throne. Their armor and spear-usage is inspired by the Maasai warriors of East Africa. The Dora Milaje are inspired after a real all-female military unit from the 1600s in Dahomy, present-day Republic of Benin. https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964774542471294976 When Erik Killmonger was in the museum in London, he pointed out several bronze heads, which are typically associated with Benin Kingdom. In 2016 one bronze Benin artifact was removed from the College of Cambridge after student protests. The idea repatriation of African art was clear throughout the scene, as Killmonger criticizes the plundering of African artifacts by museums in white countries. Ultimately, Killmonger takes a mask inspired by an Igbo Mgbedike mask, which typically feature horns and teeth. https://twitter.com/bigg_sapp89/status/965328025536614400 https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/964900111129174021 Killmonger’s scars over his body are referential to the scar tattoos of the aforementioned Mursi and Surma tribes. And while it’s not based in African culture—has anyone else noticed that Killmonger’s armor looks a lot like Vegeta’s from Dragon Ball Z? https://twitter.com/UnlockableMind/status/966433227115286528 Perhaps it’s a connection to Micheal B. Jordan’s secret love of anime. Vibranium is actually uranium The largest deposit of vibranium—perhaps the most powerful substance on earth—is in Wakanda. Back when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were first writing about Wakanda, the largest deposit of uranium in the world—considered one of the most powerful substances, especially at the time—was in the Congo, in Africa. Coincidence? Give them more credit than that. The Shinkolobwe mine produced the uranium used in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 1960, the French colony known as the Belgian Congo became the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Written and spoken Wakandan Xhosa is one of the official languages of South Africa, and evidently one of Wakanda’s. The distinctive clicks are difficult to master, but it was used both in Black Panther and back in Captain America: Civil War when T’Challa and his father T’Chaka would speak to each other. John Kani, who speaks Xhosa, taught Chadwick Boseman how to speak it for his role. In the film, whenever text is featured on screen, it is translated from Wakandan. The lettering is inspired from Nsibidi script used in southeast Nigeria, but colonization has reduced it’s use. “Coloniser” Wakandans call white people “colonisers.” This is tied to the fact that via isolationist policies and hiding their resources, Wakanda managed to avoid being colonized, a fate most of the African continent fell to. The colonization of Africa by Europeans is a history of genocide and slavery. Colonization ultimately destabilized and disrupted Africa’s development. Africans were exploited and enslaved under colonial rule. Wakanda is the fictional exception, having been able to use its resources for its own peoples’ interests and develop without influence or, more accurately, the violence of European invasion. The detrimental and destabilizing effects of colonization is what motivates Killmonger’s hatred. He asks, “Where was Wakanda?” when his mother’s ancestors were enslaved, when colonizers were carrying out genocides in Africa and abroad. Pan-Africanism, the movement and idea that all people of African descent are united by it, is one of the most powerful themes throughout Black Panther. Killmonger feels a responsibility to the “two billion people who look like us” and therefore feels Wakanda has a responsibility to the crimes perpetuated against people of color. Black Panther, specifically Killmonger, pulls no punches in reminding everyone of the long, long, long history of the subjugation of black people from the Atlantic slave trade to the racism that clearly persists today is purportedly progressive countries like the United States. In my experience as a white college girl in a Midwestern state accustomed to seeing people who look like me filling out the cast of multi-million dollar Marvel movies, I can’t personally speak to how important this film is for the black community. So I’ll let the tweets speak for themselves: https://twitter.com/G_Eazy/status/965809128428875776 https://twitter.com/diasporicblues/status/965063812209618944 https://twitter.com/quintabrunson/status/965615202929598465 https://twitter.com/WajahatAli/status/964324241423380481 https://twitter.com/Irette/status/965598460115410946 Sources: CinemaBlend, osu.edu, Quartz, and Religion News Images: The Points Guy, Aeromental, The SciFi Stack Exchange, the Disney Wikia, Firstpost, and Twitter
By Daley Wilhelm George R. R. Martin by no means invented action-packed stories of political tension, long anticipated reunions, necromancy, or incest. This makes Game of Thrones one of the most controversial and talked-about series in modern television, but the same exciting themes can be found in classic plays, one of which is showing here in Ball State’s own Strother Theatre. Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Shakespearean work first published in the 1600s. However, the story was already a familiar one to those who knew their Athenian history because the headlining hero Pericles was an actual person back in ancient Greece. The play revolves around Pericles’ various adventures: fighting pirates, ending famines, and generally being an incredibly fantastic guy. One might think it’s unrealistic, annoying even, to have a character that is so good and perfect, but the Shakespeare version of Pericles actually tones down the legacy of the true Pericles who was heralded as a powerful leader, an excellent strategian, and a compelling orator, which was all the rage in Athens during the “Age of Pericles” in the 460 BC. The real Pericles Contemporary historians hailed him as “the first citizen of Athens” and modern museum goers have probably seen his face before. Busts of his image abound and all feature his signature look: a helmet on his head that denoted his rank of general. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, there may have been another reason behind Pericles’ favoring of his helmet. It’s said that Pericles’ mother Agariste, a member of a powerful but controversial family, dreamed just nights before Pericles’ birth that she had actually been pregnant with a lion. Lions are symbolic for greatness. Alexander the Great’s own father had had a similar dream predicting his son’s greatness. However, lions also have big heads. It’s theorized that Pericles had some sort of deformity that led him to wear a helmet at all times. Comedians at the time essentially called him “onion head.” Nevertheless, the prediction of Pericles being a lion in the political sphere rang true as he became a notable prosecutor in the Athenian senate and eventually gained ultimate authority in 461 BC. As the leader of Athens’ armies he launched several unsuccessful bids at expanding his rule, but was ultimately admired for the orations he gave after soldiers’ deaths and for “expelling barbarians.” Widely known as a clever and an unwavering leader, it was personal blows that crushed him at the end of his life when plague took his sons and his wife, after which he fell into a depression before the epidemic took him as well. The play Pericles In Shakespeare’s work, Pericles is a Tyrian prince rather than an Athenian senator. Tyre was the richest city in the Phoenician empire, a neighbor of Athens on the Mediterranean. Rather than conquering for his country, he’s sailing on the high seas and looking for love. Like the Athenian Pericles, the Tyrian Pericles’ troubles come from personal tragedies—the perceived death of his wife and child. Other than that, their histories are vastly different, but their seemingly flawless characterization of being strong, smart, and kind is equally annoying. Incest has always been bad In the Game of Thrones universe, incest is taboo and the same rings true in Pericles, Prince of Tyre. While ancient Greece might have the reputation of having loose morals when it came to prostitution and pedophilia, incest was something punishable by death. It also served as a kind of ultimate punishment in many stories at the time. Think Oedipus or Antigone. Not exactly happy endings. This is why Pericles knows that if the King Antiochus discovers that Pericles is aware Antiochus is in an incestuous relationship with his own daughter, then he’s as good as dead. Which is what leads to Pericles’ high seas adventures—he’s on the run from an assassin. Throw her overboard Sailors are famously superstitious, especially when it comes to women. At the time, women were generally not present on sea-faring vessels. Women—along with bananas for some reason—were considered bad luck for sailors. I can’t speak to what destructions bananas might cause, but women were said to distract the crew, and therefore enrage the jealous maiden that was the sea. Following this logic, when there is a terrible storm while Pericles’ wife Thaisa gives birth to their daughter Marina, the sailors insist that the only way to calm the waves would be by throwing Thaisa’s dead body overboard. Jon Snow-esque plot twists If you’re not caught up on Game of Thrones and/or if you want no spoilers for a play hundreds of years old, read no further. Seemingly dead, Thaisa is revived by a physician. While Jon Snow was certainly deader than a doornail when The Red Woman brought him back, it was likely that Thaisa had been very much alive when tossed overboard in her conveniently located casket. Back in the day, it was actually quite difficult to tell whether or not someone was well and truly dead. This made for some famous mistakes—finding claw marks inside coffins and loved ones’ traumatized when grandpa suddenly sat up at his own viewing. Without modern medicine, people had to go off of what they could immediately observe—a lack of heartbeat, a cold, non-responsive body, and an ailment that had already claimed lives. Faint heartbeats were hard to distinguish, along with shallow breathing, so those unconscious or in comas were often mistaken for deceased. Therefore, we can’t blame Pericles for prematurely giving his wife an impromptu burial at sea. Maybe this is his one flaw as an otherwise Gary Stu of a character. Murder plots, brothels, assassins, pirates, and more: Game of Thrones fans can find all the things they love in Ball State’s production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The play premieres February 16th at 7:30 in Strother Theatre, with encore performances the 17th, 20th-24th, and Sunday the 18th at 2:30PM. Sources: Wikipedia, TVTropes, Ball State University Images: Time, Maritime Museum, FMH, All Events
By Daley Wilhelm We’re all just out here looking for love, companionship, and understanding. With the unstoppable march of technological progress, that search has become increasingly easier as the years go by. In the past, finding a suitable mate meant hoping that strangers and friends you meet in bars, in class, and out in the wild would share your interests and values. Today, you can sit on the couch and browse through thousands of faces, their likes and dislikes displayed in plain text. For introverts especially, online dating has evened the playing field in a sense. Rather than having to work up the courage to talk to strangers—who may or may not be creepy in the first place—and compete with extroverts, introverts can quietly message people whose profiles interest them. That said, online dating or just flirting can be dangerous. Unsolicited pictures, rude replies and downright creeps abound, so I can understand wanting to turn to a platform more curated than Tinder or Cupid or Grindr. There appears to be a dating site for every particular interest or lifestyle. No matter how niche your interests are—there is a place for you too, to find love. Dating for Muggles If you’re looking for the “Snape to your Lily” as is often said on the site, look no further than Dating for Muggles, a dating site that will match you with the Harry Potter fan of your dreams. While the site is sparse in appearance, you have the ability to browse exactly what kind of Muggles are magical to you—from dog lover Muggles, to redneck Muggles, to policeman Muggles, to Mormon Muggles—these myriad people are united in their love of magic and their search for love. BronyMate Also grabbing onto the magical theme, BronyMate is where “magical relationships begin.” BronyMate is a dating site geared toward fans of My Little Pony founded in 2013 with the mission “to connect Bronies and Pegasisters and create long lasting relationships between our members.” The site offers both free and paid services. Mouse Mingle Into all things Disney? Or Star Wars and Marvel for that matter? Mouse Mingle hosts a offers a way to find “YOUR Mickey or Minnie.” Exclusively for fans of Disney, the site has been spoofed on Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Whovian Love “Find your companion! Because you never know when adventure will find you!” is how Whovian Love, the dating site for fans of Doctor Who, greets visitors. Most features on the site like “Who News” and the Forums appear untouched since 2013, but this is a site filled with fans of a show where time travel is commonplace so who (haha) knows? Maybe Whovian Love is where real Time Lords seek out adventure. Looking for Group Dating Finally, we have the most visually appealing site of all: LFGDating. This site is where you too, can find your player two. Touted as the number one dating site for fans of World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and even Pokemon Go, LFGDating promises a dating experience without the usual stereotypes associated with the gamer identity. Our interests connect us, so why not find love through them? Sources: LFG Dating, Whovian Love, Mouse Mingle, BronyMate, Dating For Muggles Images: Funny Junk, YouTube
By Daley Wilhelm Back when Harvey Weinstein was first revealed as a sexual predator who manipulated and silenced the women he assaulted with a powerful cocktail of payouts, threats to their respective reputations, and offers of further roles, there was one thing that was clear in each telling of the survivor’s stories—that he was not committing these crimes alone. Lawyers involved with hush money settlements knew, personal assistants knew, and a troubling amount of people in the industry were fully aware of what was going on behind closed hotel doors. It’s been outright admitted by many in Hollywood that Weinstein’s behavior wasn’t just an open secret—it was a poorly kept one. From the 90’s onward, Weinstein’s serial assaults were an in-joke of Hollywood. Seth McFarlane joked about it during the 2013 Oscars. Courtney Love gave the following sage advice to young starlets on a red carpet in 2005: “If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party at the Four Seasons, don’t go.” Since the horrifying details of Weinstein’s victims have come to light, many prominent names in Hollywood have been called out for not having spoken sooner including, but not limited to Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, and even Oprah. https://twitter.com/thedailybeast/status/958616006313771013 While it can’t be confirmed whether or not these people explicitly knew, others have claimed they did—and that they could have done something. “I knew enough to do more than I did. There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.” said director Quentin Tarantino in an October interview. Tarantino has been in recent headlines since actress Uma Thurman spoke out against his behavior on set during the production of the cult hit Kill Bill. Allegedly, he had been reckless and put Thurman’s life in danger during a car stunt that result in her hospitalization, along with the disturbing details—which he has admitted to—of his insistence upon personally spitting in her face and choking her in two different scenes during the filming. https://twitter.com/RajaSen/status/961176136767094784 He also wanted to personally choke actress Diane Kruger in Inglorious Basterds, stating in an interview with Deadline that this was done for the sake of realism. To be frank, the pattern established here and in his subsequent interviews doesn't help convince people that his actions are more than a little strange. His argument seems to be centered on the fact that his behavior gave results—realistic scenes in gritty movies that make millions and are hailed as art. For art, you must suffer. But does that also mean making others suffer? https://twitter.com/TheReelAnderson/status/960917454175137792 Tarantino is just the newest name in a string of auteur directors whose eccentricities and outright crimes are often swept under the rug for the sake of the great films they produce. Woody Allen continues to find big name actors to star in his critically acclaimed films despite the rape allegations against him from his stepdaughter Dylan Farrow. The director of the Jeepers Creepers films, Victor Salva, is directing again after being convicted of molesting a 12 year old and filming it. In 2009 David Lynch, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky and over 100 other names in Hollywood signed a petition for the release of director Roman Polanski, best known for his films Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby, after he was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland for an outstanding warrant in the US. Polanski had been on the run after being charged with drugging and raping a 13 year-old girl and convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse in 1977. Tarantino is also a big name director who embraces Polanski, but does not admit to his innocence. Rather, as he revealed in a 2003 interview with Howard Stern, he said that the girl had been “down with this” because she had been “dating” the 44 year-old director at the time. Polanski’s film, The Pianist, won three Academy Awards in 2002. It is a fantastic film, and the taint of the director did not seem to affect its success. This seems to be the status quo in Hollywood. Despite wrongful actions and unacceptable behavior, if the art a director, actor, or actress produces is good enough, those actions will be forgotten in the scree of awards. Is there a scandal large enough to topple a great auteur? Despite the damning quotes from Tarantino on how he chokes his actresses and thinks that 13 is an appropriate age for a 44 year-old man, it is unlikely that his future films will fail or that he will to struggle to find talent for them. His films are good—maybe fetishistic with all the blood and shots of feet—and they will always have an audience, whether it’s in mainstream moviegoers or followers of Tarantino’s particular brand of violent romps through various moments in history. https://twitter.com/C_Stroop/status/961215367883436037 The people who continued to work with Weinstein and the people who now continue to work with Tarantino are culpable for whatever might happen to those who work with them. Disrespectful actions, reckless neglect during stunts, and sexual assault—if you work with these men, you are complacent with that eventuality. But the thing is we, as audiences, are also at fault. With our wallets and views, we communicate to the world at large that we—like Scorsese, Lynch, and Aronofsky—don’t care about the women and children being taken advantage of as long as the final product is a good movie. This also applies to problematic YouTubers, singers, and writers. There is something to be said, certainly, for separating an artist from their art. After all, for films, games, and music there are often dozens if not hundreds of other hands working on a project and the idea that a lone producer or director should get all the credit is erroneous. But in cases like Salva, Weinstein, and Tarantino there is a clear pattern of these artists being enabled by their craft and success to the point that they are either able to repeat previous offenses or be entirely pardoned for them. This, in turn, perpetuates the idea that success comes at the expense of others. Kill Bill’s success, and by extension Tarantino’s, almost came at the cost of Uma Thurman’s life. Directors like Hitchcock and Kubrick psychologically tortured their lead actresses in order to truly capture horror—is this something that comes with the job? That comes along with working with a great auteur? https://twitter.com/suesswassersee/status/960993940123144192 I don’t think any one should be tortured for the sake of art and thus I don’t think audiences should pay to be entertained by the results of abuse on and off set. It’s only then that there will truly be repercussions for these directors who are, thus far, largely unaffected by their bad or completely criminal behavior. But that’s not likely to happen in the pursuit of "good film." Sources: The Atlantic, boingboing, eonline, The New York Times, Deadline, Time, IndieWire, TVGuide, Jezebel Images: Twitter, WhatCulture
By Daley Wilhelm Hey 90’s kids, remember PBS? Remember Arthur? Based on a book series of the same name, the show centered around an anthropomorphic aardvark and his friends. Despite it’s after school special nature, the show managed to avoid a condescending tone and featured an entertaining and relatable cast of characters. For a show that often came down to messages of “reading is fun” and “don’t lie to your parents about getting cut on a rusty can at the dump” Arthur was highly meme-able, which is perhaps is what led to the show’s renaissance on Twitter. https://twitter.com/shadyarthur/status/712483249759641600 https://twitter.com/shadyarthur/status/926101293206327296 https://twitter.com/shadyarthur/status/924651090892779521 The most recognizable meme to come out of Arthur is easily the “Arthur fist clench meme” which gained the attention of the show’s production who said that while they appreciated the memes, they were “disappointed by the few that are outside of good taste.” They are a kid’s show after all. https://twitter.com/chrissyteigen/status/834143194619138048 https://twitter.com/iceefiji/status/758570195120037888 https://twitter.com/josieyvette_/status/758566209075884032 But there is so much more to Arthur than meme-ability. While that certainly adds to the show’s appeal, there’s much within the content of the show itself that we all should stop and appreciate for a moment. https://twitter.com/shadyarthur/status/839286422460903424 Arthur is more than memes Okay, so technically everyone is anthropomorphic animals. Aardvarks, rabbits, moose, and whatever the hell Nadine is. Ignoring that--and that like with Disney, some dogs are people and some dogs are pets--there is racial coding to each of the characters. While Alan “The Brain” Powers is a bear, he is also coded as African American. This is mentioned throughout the show, most prominently during the Christmas special wherein The Brain talks about celebrating Kwanzaa. Being the smartest character in the show, and being on a show unafraid of diversity, viewers actually learn about the holiday from him. Even more prominently featured was Francine Frensky’s Jewish heritage. There was an entire episode entitled “Is That Kosher?” wherein the Frensky family celebrates Yom Kippur. Francine’s grandmother who she calls “Bubby” (grandmother in Yiddish) as voiced by one of many celebrity guests, Joan Rivers, comes to celebrate too. During the episode, various Yom Kippur traditions such as fasting are mentioned, along with the fact that Francine’s Turkish penpal Adil Akyuz was celebrating Ramadan. It should be noted that this was the episode after the one in which Binky and his family adopt a baby girl named Mei Lin from China. Throughout the series, Arthur explores the cultural, racial, and physical differences that kids might encounter in their everyday lives. A season 13 episode called “When Carl Met George” gained widespread praise when it featured a new character named Carl, who had Aspergers. The autism spectrum is something adults have a hard time explaining to other adults, but Arthur managed to encapsulate why Carl saw the world differently in about two minutes. As previously mentioned, Arthur keeps consistent in featuring these characters and explores their issues, rather than the issues the main cast might have with them. Like when Prunella (who is a dog… I think) was found guilty of the crime of reading ahead in the final Henry Skreever book that she was supposed to wait to read with her blind friend Marina. This episode came out during the same time the final Harry Potter book was released. Arthur would often comment and parody the latest pop cultural phenomenons. https://youtu.be/K2Mq9weziwY But Arthur also has a particular penchant for literary callbacks that children might not be familiar with. During one of many Halloween specials, The Brain makes a reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart. Several episodes are puns on various films like “Citizen Frensky” or “The Good, the Bad, and the Binky.” And then you have references that are clearly meant to go over kid’s heads: https://twitter.com/BlaireMoskowitz/status/957958881111674881 https://twitter.com/shadyarthur/status/927248417952329728 Arthur is also a kid’s show that doesn’t pull punches. Early on it tackles issues like death, plagiarism, and income inequality. All this while featuring numerous cultural figures like musician Yo-Yo Ma, poet Jack Prelutsky, and that one weird time with Matt Damon. https://twitter.com/buildmeacity/status/956714681682579458 https://twitter.com/shadyarthur/status/857738348491886592 Arthur is still ongoing, and although I’m not as big a fan of the obvious Flash animation, it’s core characters and values are still there. Arthur is definitely worth remembering, fellow 90’s kids, if not worth a rewatch. Just listen to the theme song, and you’ll find yourself back on the couch after a tough day of 4th grade: Sources: Arthur Wikia, Wikipedia Images: Twitter, YouTube, Playrific
By Daley Wilhelm There are a lot of different complaints about The Last Jedi floating around. Not enough character development, no one liked the casino scene, Luke acting out of character – the list goes on. Around the dark corners of the internet, one particular gripe prompted action from a men’s rights activist with video editing software: there are simply too many women in Star Wars. In order to remedy this, he cut every single female character from the film, according to Pedestrian. Entitled “The Last Jedi: De-feminized Fanedit,” the anonymous uploader admitted that the edit was “not ideal” but “had to be done.” The edit of a cam recording with subtitles is 46 minutes long and consists of what the fans really want—only men. General Leia, Rey, Rose, Admiral Holdo, and anyone who could be identified as female is absent from this cut. This also means that the majority of the movie is missing, notably the most plot and memorable lines. But this hack job makes it so that this angry fanboy and his one friend don’t have to suffer through “Leia’s nitpicking” or her disrespect toward Poe (who is a man – meaning that a woman questioning him is unforgivable) and will no longer be exposed to “female fighters/pilots and female officers commanding people around/having ideas.” When this little project was brought to light by Twitter user Pricilla Page, some spoke out in favor of the cut. https://twitter.com/BBW_BFF/status/953139838391209984 https://twitter.com/BBW_BFF/status/953190873004584960 There were also some even less nice replies, but the theme of The Last Jedi actually being social justice warrior (SJW) propaganda persists throughout. This is nothing new. When Rey was first revealed in The Force Awakens, there was an outcry from the Internet that Disney was trying too hard to be politically correct and was therefore ruining their beloved series that was all about the men they loved. And Leia, I guess. The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars film to pass the Bechdel Test, which is the lowest bar possible when it comes to the inclusion of female characters. All that’s required to pass the Bechdel Test is for two women who have names to talk about something other than another male character. This is fulfilled easily by General Leia and Admiral Holdo. Before I get to Admiral Holdo and the unadulterated rage certain fanboys have for her, just consider that The Force Awakens, with Rey as it’s principle character, did not pass the Bechdel Test. This is also a film attacked for being too politically correct because Rey is too perfect “because she is a woman.” Somehow her being female does not allow her to fail. Extensive scenes with General Leia, Admiral Holdo, and other female Resistance fighters are included as a kind of liberal virtue signaling, showing that women are here and ready to fight the patriarchy. https://twitter.com/IG8817/status/942394737667051520 And Admiral Holdo, who everyone universally hates, is meant to be a wink to Tumblr girls with her signature purple hair. At least this is what The Telegraph’s Martin Daubney claims. Others take offense to the notable diversity The Last Jedi exhibits in not only featuring several female characters, but one of them who is Asian. It is this inclusion and the SJW influence over the film that ultimately ruined it and made China drop the film after three weeks in theaters. https://twitter.com/Steve_Sailer/status/952366221256663040 Apparently. All of the previously mentioned vitriol is kind of indicative of how badly some of these people want to be oppressed by some kind of liberal agenda that dares to act like men and women can hold equal roles. I understand the attachment to a series, and the pain that comes when it goes in a direction you personally do not agree with, but these accounts crying “SJW takeover” are delusional. The perception that female characters have taken over when they occupy an equal amount of screen time as male characters just highlights a willingness to accept the norm that one token female character is enough – that tokenism is appropriate or even preferable. It’s confusing that these audiences will accept Ewoks and Mon Calamari from distant planets, but it is somehow a leftist stretch for the film to feature people with Asian-coded features or characters who are black like Finn. We’re running around with lightsabers and droids, but this diverse casting for our favorite science fiction fantasy is just too unrealistic. In the end, there’s very little that can be done to rationalize the thought process of people who are blind enough to think that any member of The Last Jedi cast isn’t attractive or actually believe that the film was female for the sake of being female. Therefore, I recommend doing what Rian Johnson, John Boyega, and Mark Hamill himself did in response. Laugh at them. https://twitter.com/rianjohnson/status/953107873487208448 https://twitter.com/JohnBoyega/status/953395150356705280 https://twitter.com/HamillHimself/status/953312313758564352 Sources: Return of Kings, bechdeltest.com, Quora, Telegraph, Squawker, Pedestrian Images: Twitter, Pedestrian, StarWars.com
By Daley Wilhelm Unpopular opinion: 2017 wasn’t actually a complete garbage fire. Despite a constant flurry of bad news, natural disasters and national scandals, there were some bright spots in the darkness, too. For the sake of positivity, let’s look back on some of the best moments of the year. 1. We live in the future Sometimes we forget the incredibly technologically advanced times that we live in. It’s easy to take for granted that we have more computing power in our pockets than what NASA used to reach the moon. Interest in space travel has spiked once again under the advances made by companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its rival in the newfound space race, Blue Origin, which is looking into being the first to supply the burgeoning demand for space tourism. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/936782477502246912 https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/836328719165763584 The stars have never been closer. 2. Women are wondrous: getting abusers fired Wonder Woman was an absolute inspiration for all those who saw it, but especially to women since it was the first superhero film with a heroine at the center of it’s narrative. Gal Gadot embodied Diana Prince with grace and integrity that translated both on the screen and off. Wonder Woman 2, an important title considering that the first film is the highest grossing DC film to come out in a while, will happen under the condition that Brett Ratner will not be involved with it’s production. Gadot, who had not yet been signed to the movie, stated that she would not work with Ratner because of the many sexual assault accusations against him. In the current sleaze-ridden state of Hollywood, Gadot has taken a step further in preventing serial assaulters from having continued access to people to prey on. While I’m hesistant to say that there’s a good thing to come out all these sexual assault scandals, it’s important to note that people are being heard and that there are finally some consequences to be had. 3. Nintendo is killing it This year we got the Nintendo Switch after so much anticipation. All the fantastic games created for their unique setup do not disappoint: 1-2-Switch, 2017’s Game of the Year The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the infinitely delightful Super Mario Odyssey have made for many wonderful memories for both longtime Nintendo fans and new players. Nintendo is giving fans what they’ve wanted for a long time in opening up to third party, triple-A games for the Switch. Playing Skyrim on the go is an experience, but what’s even better is the indie library for the Switch. Stardew Valley is a personal favorite of mine, and has charmed both PC and console players. But let’s face it: the Nintendo game that got us all hooked in 2017 was the mobile game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. 4. Music saved us https://soundcloud.com/user-519363288/remixed-s2e4-paint-the-town-pnk Bad times means good music. Music can be cathartic, can give voice to all the frustrations caused by a bad year. Green Day came back with a vengeance, proving that divisive political climates creates the best punk music. Eminem also returned to the music scene, performing an incredible cypher during the BET awards that garnered 42 million views. Many of the best bops of 2017 were from old favorites like P!nk and Demi Lovato. Kendrick Lamar delivered in usual fashion yet another fantastic album in DAMN. He’ll finally be getting deserved recognition for it too, having been nominated for 2017’s Album of the Year at the Grammy’s this coming February. There’s a lot of music that we would highly recommend for your New Year’s Eve playlist. Check it out here. 5. We had some movies that weren’t actually remakes It’s a little sad when it’s become the exception to the rule that an original concept is made into a movie. 2017, like 2016 was and like 2018 will be, was filled with superhero sequels and poorly conceived anime adaptations and while those are sometimes good, great even, it’s nice to not be able to predict the end of the movie for once. We had a lot of favorites, but in terms of originality films like Split and Get Out surprised us in the best ways. Pixar took a step away from its old formula to give us a whole new kind of tear-jerker in Coco. And Byte had a great time at the Heartland Film Festival, where originality was the rule. Escapism was the name of the game this year, and the entertainment industry provided welcome distraction from the seemingly constant bad news 2017 had in store. If you want to wallow in the bad, you can remind yourself of all the reasons why 2017 was a dumpster fire here. Or you can stay here and look at this cat. https://twitter.com/catsu/status/946822474653724673
by Daley Wilhelm Here’s another desperate, alarmist article explaining how net neutrality is a deadly serious thing that you need to be paying attention to. Because it really is. Later this week, the anticipated repeal of net neutrality will have immediate and far-reaching repercussions. You should expect big changes in how your everyday use of the Internet will be effected. This is just a taste of a future without net neutrality. https://twitter.com/DavidLetternan/status/939557674504552448 You know when a web page isn’t loading, but the ads are? When an ad plays perfectly fine, but then the video you actually clicked on is a buffering mess? That’s largely what the Internet will look like without net neutrality. As it stands now, Internet Service Providers like Comcast and Verizon have to treat all traffic equally—ads and the content that you really want are allocated the same speed. This means that big sites like Amazon and obscure sites like bytebsu.com are equal under net neutrality. Stranger Things and Vine complications will be using the same amount of internet. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai seeks to change that. https://twitter.com/MarkRuffalo/status/933059877743755265 Specifically, Pai is for repealing net neutrality in order to give big Internet providers more room to make revenue off of internet users. Without net neutrality, Verizon would be free to slow the loading of sites that it considers to be competition and speed up connection to sites that possibly cut expensive deals with the ISP in order to make sure its content is accessible, all while charging users for access to specific sites in package deals similar to cable. Your wallet This is the internet without net neutrality: And note that this isn’t one of the many user-generated images like the one David Letterman tweeted of what you could be expecting to pay to Comcast without net neutrality. This is from Portugal’s wireless carrier MEO, where without net neutrality, you have to pay a flat data rate. And then pay for the unlimited data you purchased to apply to messaging apps like Skype or FaceTime. And then pay for another package in order to get social media to have that data. Pay more for video streaming. Music streaming is an entirely different package. Need your email for work? That’s an additional charge. This is on top of what you already pay for Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, or any other paid service, but now the apps that you’ve used for free like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat come with a price. Rather than today's model of paying just one fee for everything to run at the same speed, you're asked to split this payment or to pay additionally to have everything on the same level. https://twitter.com/saaarah_marie/status/939723067202220032 Social media (but also Freedom of Speech) Social media, especially platforms like Facebook, are arguably already clogged with ads and sponsored content alongside those outdated memes your aunt posts. Without net neutrality, it might become even harder to sort through the spam to find the things your friends and family are actually posting about. https://twitter.com/stacydejesus/status/935730007925755906 Social media provides a platform to anyone with an internet connection. It has essentially become the world’s soapbox, where movements can be organized, where people can ask for help and find it, and where one person’s voice can be broadcast globally. Anyone can say anything on the Internet. What if that stops being true? Without net neutrality, blogs critical of Verizon, Comcast, or businesses in their pockets could be censored. Already there is speculation that champions of net neutrality have been silenced. https://twitter.com/mackennahood16/status/938530620694827008 Imagine if a person has something important to say or express, but they couldn’t afford Twitter for the month. Barbara wanted to post about her GoFundMe for her hospital bills, but because of said hospital bills she couldn’t afford the social media package needed to promote her dire situation. You set up grandpa’s Facebook, but because he won’t pay for the extra package he can’t see all your graduation pictures since he lives half a world away. Social media has become essential to communication. Should those who can’t afford it be denied a voice? We’re all broke college students here, but why should we be denied the ability to network and befriend and communicate and help each other? https://twitter.com/_NostalgiaKid_/status/938909223857147910 Streaming Comcast owns NBC/Universal, which has long been rumored to be contemplating rolling out its own streaming service, and therefore would benefit from slowing Netflix to a crawl in order to make viewers turn to Comcast content. https://twitter.com/Jim_Gresham/status/935930813115486209 Good luck binging your favorite shows, too. ISPs would be free to limit how much content you stream. That’ll be another five-dollar fee to finish the next season of Orange is the New Black. Work (and finding it) There’s a reason why public libraries have computers with Internet available to the public. That American dream of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? Fairly impossible when you can’t send in job applications, reply to emails, or search for jobs. The idea of “hitting the pavement” is a myth in the modern world. The information superhighway is where the job hunt is. https://twitter.com/RoKhanna/status/935644726941896704 Public libraries might be able to provide that service, but what if that service is throttled in favor of certain employers? Amazon could pay for their job postings to be favored, while the competition’s postings could be throttled or even blocked entirely. If you actually are able to land a job and then can afford access to your email, then you better hope you can afford any of the sites you might need for reference, or video streaming for training videos. Not to mention social media if you’re working for a small business. God forbid you freelance or are self-employed. https://twitter.com/phomarciam/status/935614176948621312 Many businesses, especially those that are small and/or local, turn to social media for free promotion and advertisement that they might not be able to afford otherwise. With fined access to Facebook or Twitter, it becomes all the more difficult for small businesses to get ahead. Gaming Bandwidth caps. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a game of League of Legends or finally getting to max level in World of Warcraft. If you use “too much Internet” then you could be reduced to an unplayable crawl at any moment. What’s likely to happen is that there will be yet another package aimed at covering video games. Even console games, if you’re looking to play online. The message here is that if it’s on the Internet, you will be charged. https://twitter.com/TheTrueAbstract/status/937168312420597760 Start ups, small businesses, and innovation Already sites can pay to be prioritized to pop up first when it comes to Google searches. This could go further under the repeal of net neutrality in that ISPs could ask online retailers or other services for payment in order to have their site function at a decent speed. https://twitter.com/yonatanzunger/status/933023892955787266 An ex-Google engineer Yonatan Zunger has pointed out how that could lead to a slippery slope of increasing demands. https://twitter.com/yonatanzunger/status/933023662004887552 If this strategy sounds familiar, you might be recalling it from old mob movies. Local businesses pay the mob for protection. Small sites pay Verizon to keep from being slowed to oblivion. This puts a huge obstacle in the way of new businesses, content creators, and others. The next Vine, YouTube, Reddit, whatever might never have the chance to take off because it couldn’t pay the toll to get the platform that would have launched it. We don’t know what we might miss out on. The world as we know it Like many apocalypses, this might not happen all at once. Slowly, we’ll become frustrated when Wikipedia doesn’t load, so we’ll turn to Comcast-pedia instead, which loads just fine. I might be dramatic in painting a picture of this dystopia wherein Internet Service Providers get to decide what we can and can’t view on the internet, but we’re at the point where this could happen. It’s something we do have to think about when something that has become a cultural equalizer is under the threat of being censored in any way—especially when literally no one except for those who can stand to make a profit wants it. https://twitter.com/AGSchneiderman/status/939238522522705922 December 14th, 2017 is going to be a significant day in history should net neutrality be repealed. I sincerely hope that a free internet where you can watch what you want, read what you want, and buy what you want without the influence of Comcast or Verizon won’t become just one of those things '90s kids will love to remember. Sources: Business Insider, The Verge, PC Gamer, Twitter, Wired, Gizmodo Images: Tech Insider, Twitter, boingboing.net
by Daley Wilhelm As always happens with the release of a new Pokemon game, there are inevitably some fake leaks that float around online as to what the fresh batch of pocket monsters might look like. Sometimes these leaks are way off base, but other times they're eerily close to the final product, as with what happened before the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon this time last year. Sun and Moon brought forth the interesting possibility of Alola forms: familiar first generation Kanto Pokemon redesigned and adapted to their new environment in the island paradise of Alola. This lead to many artists releasing their own Alola versions, whether those wound up in the final game or not. And whether they looked entirely credible or not. But let’s be honest. None of us thought Alolan Meowth was real initially. Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon promise some new Ultra Beasts and “Dusk Forms” of Alola Pokemon from the last adventures in Alola. So here’s the Alola forms we wish we were getting in these maybe unnecessary titles: This new look for the Gen 2 starters by user badafra on DeviantArt (the mecca of fake Pokemon) reflects the focus of the Alola-typing. Fairy, Ghost, and Ice types are rampant through Alola, so this shiny new crew from Johto would fit right in on the sandy beaches of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. It's back to basics with this Alola version of Snorlax. The changes by Tumblr artist Not Bad Word aren't exactly drastic, but are still arguably better than what happened to poor Persian. Badafra is back at it again, embodying what we all wanted out of Sun and Moon: another Eeveelution. Why shouldn't the Alola-lution be a ghost type? I can totally see Etereon hanging out with Mimikyu and being a favorite of the spookiest girl on the island, Acerola. Artist Rey-Menn from DeviantArt pays homage to the elongated Exeggutor native to Alola. Maybe all the Alola forms should just be taller versions of the original? Maybe this is still a better design than that of Alola Meowth and Persian? Can you tell that I'm not a fan of Alola Meowth and Persian yet? Perhaps rocking the hula girl look a tad bit better than Snorlax is Rafibema's Alola Jinx. Complete with a peek at potential game footage, it's easy to see how a coconut-wearing Jinx would make a great addition to the Alola PokeDex. Finally we have locomotive111's Alola Honedge that looks strangely familiar... According to Honedge's Alola PokeDex entry, Alolan legends tell of a powerful demigod whose partner was a magical Honedge that could pull islands from the sea or slow the path of the sun itself! Alolan Honedge are loyal creatures, and are revered because of the deeds of the legendary demigod and his Honedge. I smell a crossover. All Disney allusions aside, a hook-shaped Honedge would be a fantastic homage to Polynesian culture, which is already wonderfully detailed through the Sun and Moon titles. Disappointed by the lack of new Alolan forms in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon? You can always find fun and fake Pokemon around the Internet. Which is where you can also find Giovanni's reaction to seeing an Alolan Persian for the first time. Sources: IGN, Byte Images: TGN, DeviantArt, Tumblr, Twitter
by Daley Wilhelm For a long time, the beauty of Twitter has been in its brevity. In fact, these two sentences total in the 140 characters a tweet is made of. Minus the punctuation, actually. Proper grammar and punctuation become issues, making the need for slang and abbreviation essential in tweeting. Which works and perhaps is even preferred in some cases, because a tweet is inherently different from a Facebook post or blog entry. You have to say what you mean concisely, with none of this flowery language I’m implementing in this introductory paragraph. https://twitter.com/Twitter/status/928004549478047744 But now Twitter is changing, and with it perhaps the culture it has created around its short sentences. On the 26th of September, Twitter stated that it had plans to double the character limit, giving people a whole 280 characters with which to express themselves. This decision mostly centers around the fact (and this lovely graph) that English speakers especially have a hard time cramming everything they need to say within a single tweet. Languages like Japanese and Chinese have the benefit of an entirely different alphabet that oftentimes allows them to have an entire multisyllabic word within a single character. Before this becomes official, Twitter is testing it on a small amount of people. In the same blog post, Aliza Rosen and Ikuhiro Ihara both admit to the emotional attachment people might have to the 140 character limit and that Twitter is all about getting right to the point. Many have taken to Twitter to both test and protest the proposed update. https://twitter.com/jacksfilms/status/928033238450188288 https://twitter.com/quest_bread/status/928041259075293184 https://twitter.com/KameronHurley/status/928041908072480769 https://twitter.com/MattFnWallace/status/928045375910436864 https://twitter.com/Nadeshot/status/928060831425642496 As it turned out however, only about five percent of tweets during this test were over 140 characters. I’m inclined to say doubling the amount seems like too much to work with, and to make fun of the 280 character tweets that seem ludicrously long and unnecessary. But part of me hesitates to reject this character limit update, because the culture of Twitter has changed from that of quick quips and memes to policy-making statements and the soapbox of the people. A lot of important things can’t and shouldn’t be said in 140 characters. This previous sentence would be my 73-character statement to the likes of Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/tylertreese/status/928062212794736641 Overall, a look at Trump’s timeline shows that he is comfortable making official statements that affect millions within just 140 characters. This is clear through his trans military ban and travel ban tweet, among others. I think there’s a lot to criticize about the current administration, but for me it seems like there’d be a lot less controversy if such critical statements weren’t made in such an informal way. Finding the president’s personal opinion on the mayor of the drowned Puerto Rican capital beside memes and pictures of my friends’ cats has become a surreal reality. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/914089003745468417 https://twitter.com/dog_rates/status/928069304389652480 The problem with announcing policy-making statements via Twitter (other than the fact that you absolutely shouldn’t) is that you can’t make a complete argument in a tweet. You can make a statement, but there’s hardly any room for facts, let alone citing your sources or appealing to reason. “After consulting with my staff and other experts, I have come to the decision that” is already 84 characters, not leaving a lot of room for further elaboration. And this goes for other public figures as well. Twitter has become the platform where people can take stands, be called out, or make public apologies as with what has happened lately with Hollywood. Typically, apologies like the one Kevin Spacey tweeted last week, are longer than 140 characters and are thus in an image of a note or Word document. https://twitter.com/KevinSpacey/status/924848412842971136 I can definitely see where an increase in space would allow for important statements to be made, because the culture of Twitter has shifted from a place for brief updates and funny quips to where nuclear war can be declared, where movements are started, and where yet another Hollywood actor has to apologize for sexually assaulting someone. This shift shouldn’t entirely be credited to Donald Trump, but rather as an eventuality. One of the biggest appeals of Twitter is the ability to follow celebrities and interact in a way that feels more casual. Random tweets from a nobody with 100 followers can suddenly go viral. In our busy lives, “Did you see that tweet?” is the new “Did you read that article?” The Pew Research Center notes that over 70% of Twitter users get news via Twitter. It’s hard to avoid, and this stat is ever-increasing, and likely will continue to increase so long as people can retweet articles with their outrage, comedy, or elation attached in 140 (or now 280) characters. So maybe Tweets shouldn’t be so brief. Maybe this is the burden of becoming so critical to the public. Maybe Twitter has expanded to make room for more to be put into important people's tweets and more crucial information to be communicated to the masses. Whether one finds this update refreshing or excessive, something about it has made Twitter return to it’s meme-loving roots. https://twitter.com/samuelgnoble/status/928065590962589696 Sources: Twitter, CNN, Byte, The Pew Research Center Images: Twitter's Blog, Twitter, The Pew Research Center
By Daley Wilhelm This weekend at BlizzCon, among many things, Blizzard announced the new Overwatch hero Moira—a support healer who has no ethical boundaries when it comes to her work. She’s a deadly mix of DPS and healing. One hand can hold enemies with a violet beam that drains their lifeforce, while her left can provide long-range healing to her allies. Her two-toned look is doubly evident when you check out her backstory and notice her heterochromia, which is just another homage to the Irish music icon she’s obviously been fashioned after: David Bowie. The devil is in the concept art During the panel that revealed the dark-sided scientist Moira O’Deorain, designers showed off some concept art created during the development of this new hero. One skin design entitled “Glam” was a very clear nod to Bowie. The star, the hair, the eye-covering said it all. Originally, it looked as if concept designers weren’t quite dedicated to the yellow and purple combination to emphasize Moira’s duality between damage and healing. Moira could have wound up being a hunched 2000 X-men movie Toad, or a white-haired femme fatale with a killer, Sombra-esque manicure. Moira’s eventual final form was somewhere in between, but a few details from earlier development stuck. For one thing, Moira is the Talon equivalent of Mercy and like Mercy, she sports some headgear. But unlike Mercy, Moira’s halo appears broken, suggesting horns. The second detail that persisted is the focus on her arms, one with a healing touch, the other destructive. Her current form is not as uneven as the concept art, but the withering of her deadly right hand is still there. Which brings us to the other Irish inspiration behind her design: banshees. The creation of a banshee Moira is an Irish name, originally from the Greek given name connected to the Fates—the three women who could cut the strings of fate and end the life of any one young hero, if you remember your Greek lore or Disney’s Hercules. O’Deorain is likely derived from the Gaelic word deorahd, which can mean stranger or exile, which is what Moira calls herself in her backstory video that Blizzard released this weekend. O’Deorain had a brilliant, but controversial start to her career. She is fully dedicated to science, and therefore pushed past ethical boundaries in studying the cutting edge of genetic engineering. Ever ambitious, she published a paper on the possible creation of genetic programing that could edit DNA to eradicate disease and maximize human potential. Her peers, and the public at large, perhaps detecting hints of eugenics, reacted negatively. Most of all, this reminded people (and especially Overwatch) of the unchecked scientific advancements that gave way to the tragedies of the Omnic Crisis. It’s not clear precisely how, but O’Deorain’s work was stifled, her lab emptied, and reputation ruined. She had, however, piqued the interest of Overwatch’s covert ops division, Blackwatch. This is apparently how Gabriel Reyes became Reaper—his cells able to regenerate and decay at a super-human rate, which apparently comes with the bonus of creepy black tendrils, but more on that later. Located on the Oasis map, one of her concept skins and documents entitled "Draft: Repairing Degenerative Genetic Structures" hints that, once Overwatch was disbanded, she was part of the scientific community behind the founding of the city. It was clear that during this time she kept ties to Talon and eventually earned herself a seat on it’s inner council according to her backstory video. All this is detailed out in the freshly made Overwatch Wiki page on the newest hero, but what is not elaborated on is her decrepit right hand. In fact, the trivia section of the page is frustratingly mysterious; it simply says “there is a story there.” What could this story be? Likely it has something to lend to her Irish origins, as some have theorized. Her killer nails and gnarled palm look a lot like death’s touch—which they just might be. While her face says “Bowie” Moira’s hands say “banshee.” Banshees aren’t just X-Men protagonists who don’t get enough credit, their lore goes hundreds of years back, the earliest known reference being in 1380. Banshees originate in the Irish and Scottish tradition of the keening woman, who were an essential part of the mourning process. The name is fairly self-explanatory, the keening woman would lament and cry at funerals and wakes. In Irish folklore, there is a supernatural keening woman known as a banshee who would appear, wailing and sobbing, as an omen that someone was about to die. The typical depiction of a banshee is the hag, who’s hands match Moira’s. However, modern media has skewed the banshee’s appearance almost exclusively to this wild-haired, shrieking horror floating through Ireland’s moors. Older tales tell of banshees as young and perhaps beautiful women, sometimes quietly crying as they wash bloodied rags, their hair red or orange and “shimmering like wildfire”. Moira has a ginger coif, like Bowie did, and death’s touch, like the legend of the banshee does. Moira’s cinematic and abilities similar to Reaper’s Wraith Form debunk the popular theory that Mercy was the one to give Reyes’ his new form. Closing this gap in the lore, fans are all the more excited to play the newest hero. While there is not yet any release date from the Irish geneticist gone mad, Moira has been called “a healer for people who hate playing healers” among other things. https://twitter.com/chief_sea/status/927011860452229121 https://twitter.com/SpaghettiPirate/status/926955826476134401 https://twitter.com/DezThePuff/status/926933476733046784 https://twitter.com/ASwampWolf/status/926874276547850240 https://twitter.com/TheKentHansen/status/926827864325947394 Sources: Overwatch Wiki, Kotaku, Gamespot, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia Images: Overwatch Wiki, Gamespot, Twitter,
by Daley Wilhelm Odds are, you’re going to spot a witch this Halloween. Browsing any costume shop, you can easily find the pointed hat, an assortment of brooms, dark capes and velveteen dresses. This witchy aesthetic of black-painted nails fanned over tarot cards, dried herbs hanging from ceilings, and crystals scattered in moonlight is now admired all year long, and sometimes by those who claim to be witches themselves. Being a witch is cool now The witch aesthetic, popularized by communities that thrive on microblogging platforms like Tumblr, is defined by the celebration and adoration of all things occult: spells, crystals, potions and black cats. There are entire blogs filled with photographs of tarot card spreads and images from a darklit side of nature. https://octoberis4loverz.tumblr.com/post/165800538571/nature-witch And there is indeed a significant community on Tumblr that practices witchcraft, and perhaps because of these beautiful images of triple moons and candles, more have been inspired to take up the craft. https://littlecrystal-witch.tumblr.com/post/162363451290/my-book-of-shadows-im-a-sucker-for “On one hand I am very happy to see so many people interested in witchcraft, or even Wicca or something, but on the other hand I’m very wary,” said Kora Wilson, a Ball State senior who identifies as a Grey Witch and Wiccan, “People think witchcraft and magick are often like Harry Potter or Charmed or even The Craft. Magick and practicing magick isnt like that.” Witchcraft goes back thousands of years, and almost every culture has some reference to it. Just as universally, witchcraft was viewed generally as an evil practice—something wielded against others. Modern magic practice or Neopaganism began as a movement in the '50s and '60s, eventually leading to formation of Wicca and other religions. Narratives like Harry Potter further served to soften the witch image from an old crone or evil woman who would be burned alive by a mob of townsfolk to something more innocuous, mysterious and even tempting. https://bright-white-moonlight.tumblr.com/post/163528226705/the-gamblers-good-luck-charm-layered-from-the Wilson, who is the President of the Society for Earth-based Religions, says that witchcraft has no single defined way of practice, but warns that the Internet is not always the best place to find sources on how to go about being a witch. “But for every one good source on witchcraft or magick there is like five terrible sources or misleading sources. So you really have to either know what you’re trying to find, or definitely take everything with a grain of salt and back up what you’re finding before thinking its fact.” Posting witchy stuff doesn’t make you a witch https://dragoncrystals.tumblr.com/post/158127690994/just-received-this-lot-of-amethyst-and-im-in When millennials jump on a trend, typically retailers are just a step behind, and when it comes to the witch aesthetic this is just what we see happening—crystals being sold in Urban Outfitters, books of shadows found in the trending sections of Books-A-Million, and shirts from Forever 21 featuring pentagrams. Not to mention the plethora of spells available for purchase on Etsy. These items seem to be hawked and bought with consumers oblivious to their meaning within witchcraft. Not everyone who wears crystals and rune stones is necessarily a witch. “In a way I think it is culturally appropriative. Because witches and pagans are a minority and have always been persecuted or looked at negatively. And for me, who has lived and identified as a pagan and witch for close to ten years it seems like they have a way out, they have a way to take off their outfits ad accessories and be themselves, and I can’t.” said Wilson. When movements are commercialized, there’s not much information attached to the product to explain it’s significance it has to those within the aforementioned practice. People buying witchy things like sacred smudge mist from might not even know what smudging is, they just like the scent. https://britneybiohazard.tumblr.com/post/108201234351 “I believe its only appropriative if you don’t understand the meanings behind what you're saying. One can appreciate the spoopy and the witchy, certainly, but understand that culture, those people, and the meaning behind whatever symbols you wear.” said Wilson. Can magic and technology co-exist? Technology and magic might sound antagonistic, like fire and water, but recently there have been examples of the power of magic and the might of the Internet coming together for a common cause. Like when thousands of witches casted a mass hex on Donald Trump. https://twitter.com/i_D/status/835285701482643456 Wilson bursts into laughter. “That happened. I thought it was amazing that so many people hexed Donald Trump. I feel like this could have not happened had technology not existed. Otherwise it would have taken probably months to come together like that.” Some people use the Internet specifically for spellwork, combining tech and magic directly. Wilson often uses the Internet as a resource for her spells and finding ingredient substitutions. Rather than scouring local bookstores, budding witches can find a plethora of magical resources online. Is this wealth of information the reason behind the surge in magic practitioners? Is it the appeal of the witch aesthetic? Or could it be something more related to the millennial mindset? “Our generation is all about being responsible, working hard, and not blaming others for our problems but owning up,” said Wilson, “And ultimately magick, witchcraft, paganism is all about owning up to your mistakes, your actions, and being responsible for yourself on your own.” She adds, “But also, being a witch is cool, its fun, its interesting, its neat.” Sources: Tumblr, Urban Outfitters, Refinery29, Pow Wow Power, Vox Images: Kora Wilson, Tumblr, Twitter
You've probably celebrated the spooky season this month by binging the best of what horror has to offer. Sometimes the best is of the campiest sort like the Scream franchise or the nostalgic like Nightmare Before Christmas or Hocus Pocus. No matter what you watch, chances are it's not your first time seeing it. Behind all the familiar names, we found some hidden gems of horror, suspense, and thrills that you probably have never heard of. Here's one of our hipster picks of Halloween: by Ben Sapet 1960 was a remarkable year for horror movies with iconic titles like Psycho, Eyes Without a Face, and The Little Shop of Horrors as well as strong adaptations of Poe and some delightful B-movie fare. With these hits immortalized by their popularity, innovation, and parade of copy-cats, many of these films have stuck around for us. With 1960’s spike in sheer quantity of horror movies, some quality films have been lost to the whims of popularity (until they inevitably resurface on Svengoolie, that is). One such film, The City of the Dead, is an interesting case as it toes the line between kitschy genre piece and compelling, unsettling “what if” about modern witchcraft. The City of the Dead begins with a full-on 1692 witch burning in the fictional Salem stand-in town of Whitewood, Massachusetts. As they light the fire beneath the witch, she calls out to Lucifer offering to act as his servant and inflict an eternal cycle of evil upon the town in exchange for the immortality needed to do so. Her wild laughter as she burns knowing her compact with the devil has been sealed is one of the film’s most haunting images. This scene sets up the film’s particularly interesting interpretation of the witch trails: that, whether those burned were witches or not (in this case she certainly was), the land itself is cursed by the townsfolk’s violence in 1692 and is resigned to a future of fear and predatory violence with the tables turned. After this cold open, we jump to an intense lecture about witchcraft from Professor Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee with an unsettling, intense suavity) that alludes to - with an off-putting certainty - the supernatural elements at play in the Whitewood witch-hunt. After the lecture a student, Nan Barlow, approaches him about taking on her senior thesis research in the sleepy, generally eerie town of Whitewood. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="320"] Image from Aveley Man[/caption] In the early portions of her visit it’s quite easy for the audience to shrug off the scares as horror tropes, but underneath every predictable scare is a building knowledge that Nan, for all her charm and endearing scholarly enthusiasm, will not be leaving Whitewood. At only 77 minutes, the film is a sprint. As soon as she arrives in Whitewood, we see that the innkeeper is the witch from the cold open and dread sets in. From there, every foreshadowing detail laid out is almost immediately brought to fruition. While this may seem like shoddy storytelling, it becomes a point of acute fear for the viewer – to know exactly what is going to happen and simply wait. The breakneck pace at which Nan’s doom approaches makes her a particularly interesting horror heroine. She is smart, but she is simply unable to put together the pieces because she doesn’t have enough time. The crux of the horror in The City of the Dead is how much the audience knows compared to how little time the protagonists have to reach the same realizations. Strangely, The City of the Dead happens to share a lot of its DNA with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. With a remarkably similar plot structure to Psycho (bait-and-switch plotline, unknowingly trapped heroine, and sudden climax), The City of the Dead could easily be written off as one of the many Psycho copycats from the early 60s. The City of the Dead, however, had its initial European release in September of 1960 – the same month as Psycho. It’s bizarre to think that such similar interesting subversions of the traditional genre structure would occur at nearly the same time an ocean apart. Perhaps The City of the Dead has been eclipsed simply because it had the misfortune of competing with Psycho and only coming to the United States three years later under the more marketable (Psycho-derivative) name Horror Hotel. If you’re willing to stray from the beaten path of straight-to-Netflix slashers and Blumhouse hauntings, there are some genuine frights to be found in The City of the Dead. Sources: Svengoolie, The City of the Dead Images: Wikimedia Commons, Aveley Man, The City of the Dead
You’ve probably celebrated the spooky season this month by binging the best of what horror has to offer. Sometimes the best is of the campiest sort like the Scream franchise or the nostalgic like Nightmare Before Christmas or Hocus Pocus. No matter what you watch, chances are it’s not your first time seeing it. Behind all the familiar names, we found some hidden gems of horror, suspense, and thrills that you probably have never heard of. Here’s one of our hipster picks of Halloween: by Adam Sellers Disclaimer: This film is riddled with blood, gore, and worst of all: CLOWNS! Anybody with a weak stomach should turn away right now. You have been warned. Let’s get it out of the way, clowns can be really freaky. Whether you were someone who was traumatized by last year’s multiple clown sightings or the newest It movie left some nightmare fuel, there’s no denying that clown scare many people or, at the very least, seem unnerving. Whatever the case, it feels appropriate at this time of year to bring up a certain clown movie that many have never heard of. That movie in question is the Irish horror comedy Stitches. What is Stitches about? To put bluntly, it’s a slasher flick with a killer zombie clown. The plot revolves around a group of teenagers at a house party who are slowly being killed by Stitches the Clown, a once second-rate clown who was accidentally killed during a birthday performance by the aforementioned teenagers many years ago, and is now back from the dead to exact his revenge. It has most the well-known classic slasher tropes, from a nigh unconquerable villain to a cast of rowdy teenagers who just want to have a good night all topped off with a bloody body count. Outside of the clown, it’s nothing too crazy as far as a slasher movie goes. The teenager characters in the movie aren’t too spectacular, and many of them are only there to act as an archetype, such as the bully who constantly picks on the main character, the preppy girl who isn’t much nicer, the funny guy who eats a lot, and more. The actual protagonist isn’t any more memorable either, and neither are his close friends. It makes the first half of the movie where the setup takes place a bit boring to watch, but who watches slasher flicks for any of that anyways? The real star of this movie is the villain, the aforementioned killer clown, Stitches. After getting himself killed in the first scene of the movie, he comes back in the second half to take bloody revenge, and boy is it entertaining! His killings all either incorporate clown themes or are humor based, often incorporating magic tricks (like pulling a rabbit from someone’s esophagus) and post-killing lines with clever wordplay. These moments can range from inventive to groan-worthy to somewhat hilarious. Either way, a lot of the horror is taken away from the killer by doing this, but the return is a great deal of humor. Unless you have an extreme fear of clowns or gore, it’s hard to call this movie scary, but it definitely fits a horror comedy along the lines of the Evil Dead movies. Many of the moments are simply ludicrous, such as Stitches removing his red ball nose to sniff out his targets or seeing him ride a tricycle to give chase towards his victims. In fact, this might be the funniest clown movie to come out in recent years, if not in the entirety of film history. Of course comedy is subjective, however, and if you’re the type that can’t stand puns or wacky physical gags then this isn’t the kind of movie that would be enjoyable for you. The word to describe this movie is “fun.” It’s hard to go into most slasher movies expecting actual quality, but that’s because slasher movies aren’t trying to be anything Oscar-worthy. People watch slashers to see characters killed off in a horrifying fashion. Characters should be defined, but not too defined as to detract from the real focus, and if the basic storyline is the same, then why bother reading too much into it? Stitches doesn’t excel in every department, but it hits the right notes to be entertaining. The deaths are gory and inventive, and we don’t care too much about our dying cast while knowing enough as to feel as if the deaths still mean something. At the very least, if a slasher film is intriguing enough to hold the audience’s attention, then it might just be enough to count as an enjoyable film. Overall, Stitches is a gory and quite humorous piece of entertainment that shouldn’t be approached like a masterpiece, but like a fun experience. If the movie sounds interesting to anybody, it’s currently on Netflix’s streaming service and is worth the watch. Sources: Netflix Images: Bloody Disgusting, Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival, giphy, Slackjaw Punks
by Daley Wilhelm October is typically characterized for all things Halloween: ghosts, pumpkins, witches, and all things spooky. For those immersed in the arts community, it’s a little different. For many artists, amatuers, and others October is Inktober, when doodlers of all sorts challenge themselves to produce a drawing once a day. “What pushed me to actually try and do Inktober this was just wanting a change in my drawing habits.” said animation student Alexis Brooks, and this has been echoed by many other artists online. Along with the fact that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with. Drawing every day isn’t as easy as it might look. “With Inktober, you have to draw every day, and as an animation student, drawing everyday can be a tough. For a while, I kind of fell out of the habit of drawing every day because I have been so busy with school and animation classes.” said Brooks, “I just saw this as an opportunity to grow as an artist, and I am try to take the bull by its horns.” The focus of Inktober is improvement through practice. Sometimes improvement or change in style is visible over the thirty-one Inktober, whereas some artists compare their art from one year to the next. “I don’t think I have been doing enough drawing for Inktober to see a huge improvement.” said Brooks, “However, I do feel a sense of peace when I actually sit down and do a drawing. I get excited, and I am reminded of why I am an in to art in the first place. I see it as a romance almost.” Inktober is often the chance for artists to not only force themselves to improve, but also to explore new mediums and prompts. Any artist can tell you, one of the hardest things about art can be not the drawing, but deciding what to draw, exactly. This is what brings us to the origin of Inktober: Jake Parker and his yearly prompt. Utah-based illustrator started Inktober back in 2009 to achieve the same goal Brooks is here and now in 2017—to create positive drawing habits and improve. Since then, the movement has expanded to include thousands. Each year, Parker posts the official prompt list, which consists of a single word for each day of the month of October for artists to find inspiration in. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="960"] Image from Jake Parker[/caption] “I feel like I am also exercising my brain, focusing it to pull ideas from something as simple as a single word prompt.” said Brooks when prompted about the prompt. While Brooks thinks that having restrictions can sometimes induce creativity, others encourage letting the ink flow wherever it may go. #shy #inktober2017 #strangerthings #eleven #eggos A post shared by Will Long (@wigis101) on Oct 9, 2017 at 7:48pm PDT “For the prompt, I follow it sometimes, but I like to branch out., “ said Ball State alumni Will Long. “For people trying it out, I'd say make it simple and fun, sketch it out first if you need to and maybe add color.“ Long, like Parker, was inspired to try out Inktober to improve his drawing and one other particular skill—inking. This is where the now viral hastag Inktober is derived from. Inking requires ink, obviously, but some artists are mostly if not entirely digital while still participating in the challenge. Are they truly doing Inktober, if there’s no ink involved? Brooks said, “For the first half of October, I did not count digital art. It’s called inktober for a reason; that means you pick up the ink, and throw some down on paper. But then I realized that I don’t have time to draw, and that I am in the animation studio more than I am in my personal space. So I try to do both now.” [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="2550"] Image from Jake Parker[/caption] There is some controversy online about this, pointing to the fact that the rules clearly state ink is required. This tension over the legitimacy of digital participation recently came to a head when Jake Parker made an official statement in response to a question on Twitter as to whether digital art “counted” as participation. https://twitter.com/inktober/status/907341421006381056 In his tweet, Parker reiterated the spirit of Inktober: self-improvement. He then says that digitally, the availability of the control-Z (undo) feature can create bad drawing habits, while working with a physical medium like ink forces artists to commit to their lines. https://twitter.com/ai_valentin/status/907416102543806464 There’s a very mixed response in the thread below this tweet, many pointing out that traditional art is sometimes inaccessible to people with disabilities or that self-improvement is not restricted to one medium. Many take issue with Parker’s statement that they’re “missing out on the FULL experience of Inktober” while he simultaneously promotes drawing apps on his site. https://twitter.com/Roselysium/status/911678639707533312 “For the "right" way and people trying to improve, I'd say there really is no right way to improve your art and that digital work is great too,” said Long, “I was actually planning on doing a digital piece for my own "Digital December" in order to motivate me to do more digital work too but the bottom line would be to keep making stuff every day.” #inktober2017 #gigantic #thelastguardian #trico A post shared by Will Long (@wigis101) on Oct 14, 2017 at 10:22am PDT Inktober has spilled all over the Internet, and become something bigger than even it’s creator. But the core message of improvement still stands. Inspired? Interested in participating next year? Here’s advice from two Inktober veterans. “For people trying it out, I'd say make it simple and fun, sketch it out first if you need to and maybe add color.” said Long. “Plan out time to actually sit down and draw, then actually commit to that plan. Honestly, I think this is the major downfall for a lot Inktober doers. Plan!” said Brooks. Sources: Jake Parker, Twitter Images: Twitter, Alexis Brooks, Will Long
By Daley Wilhelm The Internet is a wonderful, terrible and powerful thing. It’s a tool, and like all tools, it can be fashioned into a weapon quite easily. Cyberbullying has and probably always will happen, especially under the ambiguous ways various harassment laws address it. In some cases, provisions for cyberbullying don't exist at all. Twitter has often been criticized for allowing a toxic environment where rape threats are the norm on their platform. In 2015, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in an internal memo, "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years. It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day." This was in response to the incident at hand back then. Feminist writer Lindy West had been getting deluge after deluge of abusive tweets, including from one account fashioned to appear to be her recently deceased father. Around the same time, Anita Sarkeesian, known for her Games vs Tropes series was receiving graphic threats via Twitter, some of which included the names of her family and her home address. It was a quote from West that originally prompted Costolo to admit that Twitter hadn’t necessarily been doing it's utmost to prevent these situations. I’m aware that Twitter is well within its rights to let its platform be used as a vehicle for sexist and racist harassment. But, as a private company – just like a comedian mulling over a rape joke, or a troll looking for a target for his anger – it could choose not to. As a collective of human beings, it could choose to be better. -- Lindy West, What happened when I confronted my cruellest troll Twitter acknowledged the abuse and made reporting accounts easier since. It would then follow that we would see less tweets like these right? Unfortunately, no. Since 2015, Leslie Jones was bullied off of the platform after a hellstorm of sexist and racist tweets targeted her in response to the “controversial” casting of an all-female Ghostbusters reboot. Ed Sheeran was run off Twitter after his appearance on Game of Thrones. This says nothing of the everyday people who routinely run into the worst the internet has to offer, compressed into a cruel and concise 140 characters. #WomenBoycottTwitter This leads us to today’s Twitter, wherein tweeting a phone number can get your account suspended, but threatening nuclear war is just fine. It takes a lot for an account to be suspended, and even more for a Twitter user to be banned. But last week, actress Rose McGowan’s account was suspended for violating Twitter’s policies following her public call out of Ben Affleck over his alleged complacency in Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment being brought against him from upwards of twenty women. According to Twitter, this temporary suspension was in response to her tweeting a phone number, which goes against Twitter’s policies. This 12-hour freeze on her account prevented her from tweeting, liking or retweeting. However, others were able to express their anger over Twitter’s seemingly arbitrary system of suspension. https://twitter.com/jes_chastain/status/918451606030618624 https://twitter.com/Amy_Siskind/status/918814588484947968 Eventually, this led to Friday the 13th’s #WomenBoycottTwitter wherein users showed their support for McGowan and to bring attention to the overall issue of women being harassed online. Among those who joined the boycott where celebrities like Mark Ruffalo, John Cusack, Chrissy Teigen and Alyssa Milano. https://twitter.com/MarkRuffalo/status/918691419795070976 https://twitter.com/Spacekatgal/status/918691025769476097 While this movement was meant to give voice to women who felt like they had been silenced by the platform’s ambivalence toward abuse, some users, including director AvaDuVernay, pointed out that this response is not often extended when similar situations affect women of color. https://twitter.com/ava/status/918718017030168578 Specifically, last week Jemele Hill, a co-host on ESPN, was the latest target of President Trump’s tweets in relation to her support of the recent NFL protests. Following this, she was suspended over her tweets--not from Twitter--but from her job. Many users asked why was there no outrage over this particular instance of censorship, while Rose McGowan inspired a Twitter boycott. https://twitter.com/BritniDWrites/status/918678981267693574 Nuclear War is Fine Overall, users were upset with Twitter’s history of selectively applying their own rules to who gets suspended over policy violations. To this, current Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that Twitter needs to build trust with its users by trying to be more transparent. https://twitter.com/jack/status/918508443631108096 The whole of the thread beneath the tweet reads as Twitter’s sins: abusive users gone unbanned, Holocaust-denying bots continuing to function, and users’ personal experiences with death threats that, unlike McGowan’s tweets, were ignored by Twitter. https://twitter.com/justkelly_ok/status/918537661609947136 https://twitter.com/JarettSays/status/918508861144776704 https://twitter.com/timcourtney/status/918510629115359232 https://twitter.com/jordanroth/status/918513671038365696 https://twitter.com/rosemcgowan/status/918549157387710464 Twitter stated last month that it will not remove tweets that are considered newsworthy, this statement following Donald Trump’s inflammatory tweets toward North Korea and the question of whether or not threatening nuclear war breaks Twitter’s terms and conditions. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/911789314169823232 Earlier this summer, the White House confirmed that @realDonaldTrump’s tweets are official presidential statements. On its face, this makes sense because Trump’s tweets are very clearly his own words. There’s been significant controversy over several issues involving the president’s twitter, including but not limited to his blocking of people who disagree with him, several accusatory tweets, and of course the infamous “covfefe” tweet. Twitter’s importance when it comes to presidential policy was made terrifyingly apparent last month when after an aggressive tweet from Trump, North Korea stated that the United States had declared war on them, thus giving them the justification of shooting down US bombers even outside of North Korean airspace as a defensive countermeasure. Can you declare war on another country via a tweet? White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “Frankly, the suggestion of that is absurd.” But why should it be? So many other declarations that impact the country have been made through Twitter, so why not this? The state of the president’s Twitter seems to be in this weird limbo where we as citizens are simultaneously expected to take his tweets as official statements, and as just trivial tweets. They’re an uncensored look into what’s going on in our government, a unique chance to know the inner machinations of a head of state as never before. And I’m not saying that as a good thing. Just yesterday North Korea again cited Trump’s tweets as “provocations” and stated that they would unleash a salvo of missiles on Guam should he continue. Whatever one might think of Donald Trump’s twitter, or Twitter itself, the platform has become a staple of statement. Twitter is where one can find precisely what’s on the national conscience, a kind of global soapbox nee water cooler. Twitter is the conduit through which movements like #WomenBoycottTwitter gain attention and action. Twitter is where news breaks, where a nobody’s well-worded aside can become globally recognized and where a significant portion of us go to get informed. But it's also where people can face horrific rape threats. It’s where one nation can apparently provoke another into nuclear war. Twitter, like the internet itself, is a tool easily weaponized. Sources: The Verge, The Guardian, Slate, The New York Times, Mashable, CNN, Twitter, and Independent Images: Instagram, Business Insider, Twitter
by Daley Wilhelm I really never thought I’d have to talk about Nazis this much in the year of 2017. But here we are. When I was nine, ten, eleven I faced one of my first moral conundrums. You see, in lieu of reliable internet, I spent my time on our clunky desktop pecking out stories in Microsoft Word. They were nothing amazing: the typical formula of a hero, her friends (typically modeled from my favorite stuffed animals) and a villain. I had issues casting the villain. I loved all animals, Steve Irwin having taught me that even predators could be cuddly. I didn't want to make the bad guy a person either because I knew people and was lucky enough to not yet know the evil in them. So I made robots the baddies for a while until even then that seemed mean to me. I think Hollywood and video game designers have this same problem sitting on their sleek laptops with a program a little nicer than Word blinking blankly at them. Villains create a message. They tell us who to distrust, abhor and hate so writers should take the utmost care in who they give the title to. Everyone is tired of stereotypes, and social media gives us a platform to tell writers that, loudly. But it's only recently that there's been outcry against one of the most overused and overdone villains in video game history: Nazis. Wolfenstein has always been about killing Nazis Last week the marketing team for Wolfenstein II tweeted the following: https://twitter.com/wolfenstein/status/916075551382585344 I can understand where it might’ve drawn some fire for co-opting Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” phrase, but you can’t disagree with “Make America Nazi-Free Again,” right? Wrong, apparently. https://twitter.com/MiraVylash/status/916095440273182725 This anti-anti-Nazi reaction toward the game first emerged when the trailer went live on YouTube, and as usual, the comment section did its thing. Anti-Semites, actual national socialists and racists came crawling out of the depths to bash Nazi-bashing. For those who didn’t base their arguments against the Wolfenstein franchise’s entire premise on racial superiority, the typical complaint is that the game is either catering to social justice warriors or is too political. I’m a little fuzzy on where killing Nazis is political. While the Wolfenstein games have always been about killing Nazis, all the way back to the original 1992 Wolfenstein 3D, this new game does come at a time where we’re talking about Nazis in the present tense rather than past. But unlike some half-assed plot lines (which you’ll find below,) Wolfenstein II embraces the implications its marketing brings to the here and now. https://twitter.com/wolfenstein/status/917162715684016129 But it’s unfortunate that a Nazi-fied America with Klansmen walking around has become something that could be construed as political. Echoing this in an interview with Gamespot, creative director Jens Matthies said, “That was definitely not something we anticipated. We started writing the script in 2014 right after we released the first one. Somehow things have gotten strangely topical. Which of course is not something we anticipated or feel especially good about. That's the way it is, I guess.” The New Colossus comes at the heels of the current debate of whether or not it is okay to punch real, living Nazis advocating for ethnic cleansing. If you can obliterate a Nazi in-game with a LaserKraftWerk, isn’t that just the same as advocating for the violence against the Nazis running around in public? https://twitter.com/nickspencer/status/822591535158034432 "We're certainly aware of current events in America and how they relate to some of the themes in Wolfenstein II," said Pete Hines, Bethesda’s VP for PR in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. He goes on to say that while Bethesda does not aim to be political--which opponents of the #NoMoreNazis hashtag have claimed--they’re not backing down from their distinctly anti-Nazi stance. Like sane human beings. "In Wolfenstein's case, it's pure coincidence that Nazis are marching in the streets of America this year. And it's disturbing that the game can be considered a controversial political statement at all." he said. https://twitter.com/Evropa2016/status/910265055408738304 It might go back to the hackneyed argument that violent video games can cause players to become violent. Nazis walking among us have become more visible than ever, showing up at their various rallies, college campuses, and online, thus leaving them more punchable than ever before. Personally, I don’t think this comes down to white supremacists being afraid of being punched, rather they’re afraid of being persecuted and called out for what they are. Hines said that, “There's a risk of alienating customers, but people who are against freeing the world from the hate and murder of a Nazi regime probably aren't interested in playing Wolfenstein." Why Nazis are Bad There's no shortage of games that feature Nazis as antagonists. This is nothing to say of other media, with all the superhero origin stories taking place amidst WWII. (And there's a significant reason for that). There's also a really good reason for continually making players shoot Nazis in the head: they're the ultimate villain. On a fundamental level they represent the worst that mankind is capable of, and there should be something cathartic in destroying that. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1800"] Image from Digital Trends[/caption] So when people call out Wolfenstein II for encouraging the lurid killing of Nazis, they're missing the point of killing Nazis. A favorite quote of Inglorious Basterds: “Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac, and they need to be dee-stroyed.” I could go on, but the atrocities of World War II certainly speak for themselves. I will have utterly lost faith in humanity if I feel I have to say, “Hey guys, remember the Holocaust? Millions of people slaughtered? Gas chambers, human experimentation and genocide? Yeah, well all that was very bad, and it was the Nazis' fault.” But today’s Nazis say they’re not like those Nazis. Neo-Nazis hate Jews, advocate for ethnic cleansing and, like the Twitter account above, advocate white supremacy through “white pride” or “Identity Europa,” a campaign that has touched Ball State’s campus. Neo-Nazis are different because they haven’t gotten to the point where they’re able to open concentration camps. However, amid Neo-Nazi outcry against #NoMoreNazis, you can find plenty of support, which just might restore your faith in humanity. https://twitter.com/gritfish/status/875176308828811264 https://twitter.com/Blublud02/status/916095380114329600 When it’s okay to say #NoMoreNazis Obviously the Internet, wonderful and monstrous thing that it is, served as an incubator for the current alt-right and Neo-Nazi ideologies that have come to the fatal forefront of the national conscience. However, as I mentioned before, the media has a hefty power in deciding what we think about Nazis. If anyone has an obsession with Nazis, it’s the History Channel, but recently it is Marvel that has begun to explore a staggering amount of Nazi-involved plots. Of course, Captain America was born out of World War II propaganda, but the difference this time around is that he’s not about punching Hitler on the chin. Captain America is apparently a Nazi. This is an example of when not to use Nazis. There’s honestly a significant amount of examples of when not to use Nazis, but superhero comics have recently been serving as a strange kind of “what not to do.” Marvel amassed some serious ire over it’s “Secret Empire” campaign. In this storyline, Steve Rogers was actually working for the fascist organization Hydra, and with a magical Rubix cube, was able to rewrite history so that Hydra (Nazis) won World War II. When the image of the all-American Steve Rogers saying, “Hail Hydra,” came out over a year ago, people were understandably upset. Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, Captain America’s creators, were Jewish. The very first issue of Captain America features the man in the star-spangled uniform punching Hitler. Kirby and Simon were often threatened via phone calls to their office at Timely Comics (later to become Marvel) by Nazi sympathizers. The man behind the Secret Empire series, Nick Spencer, tried to ride out the wave of internet hate by asking audiences to be patient. Wait and see. Oh, and that Hydra is not technically a Nazi organization. Only some parts are. https://twitter.com/nickspencer/status/839312065412026368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.inverse.com%2Farticle%2F30458-captain-america-hydra-nazi-marvel-nick-spencer-response-secret-empire Disregarding that Hydra has always been a stand-in for the Nazis, this plotline wrapped up in the cliche of two Steve Rogers--one a fascist, the other the Captain America we know and love--duking it out. All the grimness and Nazi-imagery ended with a limp message and the creation of symbolism that real life Nazis reveled in. What’s striking is that this series could have been good. It could have had deeper meaning about America. But Marvel specifically refused to associate this storyline with what’s happening right now in today’s political climate, whereas the original 70’s Secret Empire series was explicitly tied to Watergate. Instead, it just made readers angry, alienated those who love what Captain America truly stands for, and wound up being the second worst-selling series in Marvel history. https://twitter.com/nickspencer/status/792129388078780416?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.inverse.com%2Farticle%2F30458-captain-america-hydra-nazi-marvel-nick-spencer-response-secret-empire Secret Empire was not a story about the dangers of blindly clinging to one definition of the large and complex identity that America as a young and diverse country has, or of the worrying climate of authoritarianism given rise through that very “patriotism.” It was a callous money-grab of edginess and shock that backfired. At worst, it proved that somehow we can forget that Nazis, and yes even those associated with them, are unforgivable. We need to remember why Nazis are typically chosen as the bad guys. They were the worst of humanity, they inherently destroyed humanity by systematically destroying the weak and marginalized: weakness is often what defines our humanity. This is why narratives of the hero beating up Nazis is so appealing, because the hero is protecting the weakest among us, which sometimes is us watching through the screen. Nazis have evolved, maybe our portrayal of them needs to as well The new Wolfenstein game paints a picture of the Third Reich on an American main street--swastikas flying overhead and goose-stepping Germans flanking your neighbors. This is not what Naziism is in America; right now. Make no mistake, there is Naziism in America at this very moment, but it’s appearance is much more subtle, insidious. Naziism in America is personalities like Richard Spencer raising his arm in salute and shouting, “Heil Trump!” to an ecstatic audience. Naziism in America is the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, the tiki-torch wielding white men there who chanted, “Blood and Soil” and eventually did spill blood during their protest. Which happened again this weekend, by the way. https://twitter.com/bigotbasher/status/909541916194201600 Naziism in America is some guy in Seattle feeling comfortable enough to ride public transportation with a swastika on his arm. Naziism in America is someone reading Secret Empire and saying that Hitler-trained Red Skull gives a great speech about anti-immigration ideology and is very inspiring. The Naziism currently infiltrating America is not skinnheads with thunderbolt tattoos bringing violence to peaceful protests. It’s the slow, insidious movement of young white men on the internet feeling disenfranchised and threatened by “PC culture” and “affirmative action” among other things. It’s an average college student trawling 4chan, someone with a Reddit account and a subscription to r/TheRedPill. So maybe we won’t be so numb to Nazi imagery if we use what is more closely associated to the villains of today than of the past. Naziism is no longer an extremist movement from decades ago, sprung out of Germany. It’s here and now in our own backyards, so slapping on a pepe meme here and there on new Nazi mobs you’re meant to run and gun through would better represent how Naziism has evolved to be more hip with the kids. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1120"] Image from The New Yorker[/caption] This generation does not feel the chill of the close brush with fascism and genocide that the generation who actually killed Nazis did, therefore it's perhaps harder to capture that same terror by presenting it in green uniforms and skull-adorned officer’s hats. Familiarity makes things scarier. That’s what developers need to take advantage of now more than ever. Media helps to demonstrate precisely what the wrong side of history is. The Ku Klux Klan lost momentum when popular radio actively mocked them. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus comes at a time where the merciless killing of Nazis is more relevant, and I’d argue more needed, than ever. Personally, I’ll find a welcome catharsis in finding that submachine gun from the trailer and using it liberally when the game comes out the 27th. Sources: Twitter, Gamespot, GamesIndustry.biz, Haaretz, Independent, Ball State Daily News, Cracked, Inverse, The Daily Dot, The Washington Post, and The Virginian Pilot Images: Twitter, The Verge, Digital Trends, The Nerdist, The Daily Dot, The New Yorker