The fun I had last week – Sunday wrap-up

I’m forcing myself to write these posts even if I haven’t managed to write a proper blog post all week. I was kind of busy wih real-life stuff, and … videogames, haha. I’ve been focusing on Dragon Quest VII lately, and made considerable progress. Perhaps I will manage to finish the game before Ever Oasis comes out?

Playing DQ7 put me in a Chrono Trigger mood, because it’s a JRPG, it has Toriyama designs and it involves time travel! I don’t feel like replaying Chrono Trigger at the moment, but I do like to listen to its music and think about its plot and characters.

Square Enix announced a new game by Tokyo RPG Factory, the guys who made I Am Setsuna (another game I’ve yet to complete). Lost Sphear looks a lot like I Am Setsuna, and the trailer suggests that it’s also going to have a melancholic feeling. But the settings aren’t exclusively snowy and the soundtrack isn’t piano-only, so I’m thinking that this game is probably going to have a more open and adventury feel? The plot sounds kind of like The Neverending Story, which isn’t a bad thing, of course. That book will always be special to me.

I’ve decided to quit visiting The Mary Sue. It’s something I’d mostly been doing out of boredom and because I don’t really know any other websites of that type. But since I don’t care for Marvel, superhero movies and Star Wars all that much, most of their content is boring and irrelevant to me anyway. I also think this narrow focus on the biggest franchises is not compatible with the website’s supposed feminist ideals. Most of their resources go towards promoting multi-billion dollar corporations, instead of more obscure stories and creators that don’t get much attention from mainstream platforms. I have a similar problem with AnimeFeminist, who focus a lot on current moe anime available via Crunchyroll, and who have neglected to talk about a couple of manga that should be right up their ally as far as “feminism” is concerned … But anyway, that’s not a fair comparison because AniFem is just a bit disappointing, while TheMarySue is actually loathesome in their hypocrisy and disdain for their readership. The PR disaster surrounding the Geekosystem merger is a great example. For something more recent, try this article, an ad for an unpaid internship at TheMarySue. After commenters criticize the website for not paying their interns, the article is quietly edited to remove any mentioning of unpayment. Which is a bit dishonest already, but to top it all off, a TMS writer goes around the comments smugly telling everyone “Where does it say it’s unpaid?”, which is just incredible disrespectful and insulting and dishonest and so many adjectives more. Basically, this website has no credibility left. I don’t consider it a feminist website at all. I’m not saying that the individual writers and editors aren’t feminists; but the website itself, the way it is organized, financed and run, makes it a very bad platform for actual feminist thought.

I really hate that fandom has been taken over by all these shitty enterprises that try to cash in on pop culture hypes, usually exploiting young, aspiring writers who are naive enough to believe that writing clickbait listicles is going to count as “experience in journalism” and help their future career. A few months ago someone offered me the ~amazing opportunity to work for him for free and get “exposure” – in retrospect, I should have been much less polite. I genuinely hope that all of these websites fail and disappear. Remember: if someone is going to be making money with your work, you deserve to be paid for it; if your business model hinges on unpaid labour, your business deserves to go down.

Anyway … I wonder if E3 is going to bring any videogame news that is relevant to my interests. I hope so. I actually have this dream fantasy that Square Enix is going to reveal Final Fantasy XVI and it will be a “back to roots” kind of thing that melds traditional Final Fantasy traditions with a unique graphics style and more modern elements that feel fresh and unique. I really appreciate all the non-FF titles that Square Enix has produced lately, but deep down inside, I just want to get excited about a Final Fantasy game again. I want to listen to the main theme and get chills of anticipation, I want to save crystals, ride chocobos, stuff like that!

What else? I promise that the next Kenshin post is going to come soon. It’s just such a good part of the manga, I don’t want to half-ass my commentary! I am also deeply in love with Wave, Listen To Me. I wish I was one of those influential bloggers so I could convince people to read it! Alas, I’m not.



I hate TV Tropes

I am actually gearing up for a blog post about Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes VS Women project – what I dislike about the series itself and what I dislike about the reception of it. But the very first thing I dislike about this whole debate is the word “trope”. So many people actually have no clue what the term means, but use it anyway. You get people who wisely suggest that the best way to avoid negative portrayals of women in media is “to stop using tropes”. Ingenious. It’s absolutely true: If we just stop telling stories altogether, it logically follows that we will never tell an offensive story ever again.

TVTropes has this mantra that everyone repeats without truly believing: there are no good or bad tropes. All tropes are neutral and depend on their larger context for real meaning. This is a nice thought but nobody actually thinks this. It’s obvious that some tropes are considered automatically good, elevating a story to a clever, or feminist, or intellectual, or inclusive, ground-breaking masterpiece! Other tropes are seen as bad and using them in your story makes the entire story dumb, evil, stupid, harmful, horrible.

TVTropes uses a list format with very short, simplified explanations – at most. There is little context given to show how these tropes fit together and what story they create in their union. That’s why TVTropes bores me so quickly. I may have a few favourite character types and plot devices, but my true enjoyment comes from seeing how they are integrated into a larger narrative, not just from the mere knowledge that they exist in some way. Additionally, many TVTropes contributors/editors are biased and use the website to promote their favourite show or pairing or character. Sometimes, this means trying to find flimsy connections to popular, “good” tropes. Or omitting or downplaying “bad” tropes. Very often, it feels like no one really knows what a specific “trope”, as defined by the website, actually describes. You get examples that really don’t fit, and after a while, you aren’t sure anymore what the (often confusingly named) trope originally meant.

By the way, I find the trope name “Strangers On A Train Plot Murder” confusing as hell. It sounds like it describes “a murder like the plot of Strangers on a Train“. Which leads to the absurd phenomenon where Strangers On A Train itself “is not a straight example” because the plot of the movie does not actually correspond to Bruno’s envisioned murder plot, since Guy is much too law-abiding to just agree with the plan and carry it out smoothly. Which is the whole damn point of the movie. It’s what the movie’s plot is. I’m not sure if a lot of people actually know that, as I’ve seen plot descriptions that suggest otherwise … Anyway, why not call the trope “Strangers on a Train murder plot“? It would obviously refer to the “murder plot” from “Strangers On A Train”. That’d be clear in meaning and would not necessitate an awkward disclaimer that the “trope namer” is not a “straight” example of the trope. Duh, there is nothing straight about Strangers On A Train anyway.

Speaking of Strangers On A Train, my biggest issue with the film’s TVTropes page concerns labelling Bruno a “Sissy Villain“. As in characterized by femininity, a lack of masculinity. It takes – and deserves – a long-ish post of its own to explain how infuriatingly reductive it is to say Bruno isn’t masculine. As opposed to who? Guy? Hmmm … I don’t think this describes their dynamic very well at all. If Guy was a “manly man” and Bruno was a “sissy”, Guy would punch Bruno in the face five minutes into the film and that’d be the end of it. My opinion is that the film is about masculinity and that it is actually Guy who lacks it and who needs to “man up” to survive.

So before writing about Tropes VS Women, I shall have to write about gender roles in Strangers on a Train. Why do I always get distracted from one topic to another?