Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gaming While Feminist, Part 3

"Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it." - Bertolt Brecht

Tropes Vs. Women, Part 3!

Part 4 came out earlier this week, which reminded me that I hadn't done Part 3 yet. D'oh! Well, better late than never I suppose. Subtitles are on the video in multiple languages.

This video touches on one of my major pet peeves in common defenses of clueless mass culture: It's all a joke/satire/parody! Don't be so sensitive! Gosh! Except that it's not "just a joke." Popular culture defines us as a whole, even when we think it doesn't. And popular culture frequently reflects the uglier side of sexism and racism in a way that inflames it.

But slowly it appears to be changing. The wild popularity of The Hunger Games series is a step in the right direction. Katniss does get manipulated quite a bit by Haymitch and the rebels in the later two books, but she never waits around for someone to rescue her. She's a badass who can shoot, fight, survive in horrible conditions, and even rescue Peeta and the others. And the fact that the series is so popular puts a dent in the belief that "everybody knows" stories driven by women don't do well, money-wise. If there's a modicum of effort put into it, they do just fine. I know this may be a surprise to some people, but ladies have money in addition to lady-parts, and we do spend it on entertainment on occasion. Call the Midwife is one of the most popular shows on BBC, and its cast is almost entirely made of women. It's well-written, well-directed, and well-acted, and the characters are actual people, not fem/sex-bots.

I hope this trend continues, and gets more traction. Even stories with "strong women" still often relegate them to Damsel Mode (Jane in Thor and Thor 2, sigh), and it gets annoying to constantly see women who ostensibly could be awesome and drive their own stories having to be rescued by their heroes all the time. Why not let them be their own heroes?

Catching Fire comes out this weekend, and it looks like it'll do well. I hope so, because hopefully a blockbuster series with a female person (not a fembot) who is not a damsel will pave the way for future female heroes. Moar plz.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

10 Years

On November 8th, I'd officially had Royal for 10 years. An entire high school and college career have passed, with one failing and limping year-and-a-half of failure-as-adulthood (which appears to be coming to a close with some very good news yesterday) on the tail end. And Royal has been there every step of the way.

I suppose I should really subtitle these anniversary post as "How Royal Makes Renee's Tenuous Grasp On Sanity Possible" since that's really what it is. Royal keeps me sane and grounded, mostly. Especially when my Jerkbrain goes on overdrive. I wrote briefly about Jerkbrain back in August when Royal and I won our first real blue ribbon. It basically makes me think I deserve nothing good and everything bad. But Royal counters Jerkbrain like nothing else. I can't brush off his genuine good nature as an act, and it helps me realize good things can happen to me. Royal happened.

Allie Brosh at Hyperbole And A Half has a two part post about depression that summarized it pretty well for me. Especially where she talks about simply wanting to stop existing. Not so much suicide, but just turning life off like a switch. That's what the bad place is like for me, just wanting to flip a light switch on life. I recently heard an interview with Brosh on NPR where she said something that helps her is the fact that she's gone from the whole wanting-to-turn-life-off place to normal is what gives her strength. And the same is true for me. Royal helps me cover up the switch.

This year held a lot of firsts for us. Our first real blue ribbon, the first time I camped in the trailer at an event (and still did it like a diva), sort-of conquering our fear of ditches, and our first ribbon at Carriage House. And Royal is usually pretty happy to see me, which is the most important part. And I'm always happy to see him.