Sunday, September 6, 2015

Venom.

Trigger warnings: Extreme , Sexual Violence, Child Abuse.
oh and spoiler warnings but the trigger warnings are the important thing here.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but did not want to throw something with possible triggers on twitter. So I've decided to use this. These are all just thoughts on the game with no real anchor just having beaten it I feel like I want to talk about it but can't because everyone is still playing through it.

The first thing that really stood out to me about the game was the amount of sexual violence between this and Ground Zeroes. The fact that Paz was repeatedly raped and on one occasion Skullface forces Chico to watch and gives him this bizarre sex lesson that I expect a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Gary Leon Ridgeway. Both of them had a severe hatred of women, to the point that Ridgeway didn't even believe the sex workers he killed were even people. The fact that this exists and is sorta swept under the rug is terrifying, either we talk about it or we don't. Putting it in a hidden corner of the game treats it like a reward, and then going into the Phantom Pain and seeing everything that happens to Quiet made things even worse.

There's a point in the game where Quiet speaks Diné Bizaad (Navajo) to Code Talker. In a lot of ways Code talker and Quiet are similar in that they both are able to use photosynthesis, don't breathe, y'know "Parasites Son". The thing is, Quiet is naked all the damn time and Code Talker isn't. Granted, Code Talker looks like a lighter skinned version of my grandpa, and I DON'T want to see my grandpa naked, it makes the reasoning behind quiet being naked really flimsy. Still I liked her because I saw all of her struggles coming in the story and she was great to use in game, although the only unique playable-ish woman is grouped with a dog and a horse you can order to poop is not great treatment we'll get back to that.

Quiet speaks Diné Bizaad, I'm ecstatic because my favorite character thus far may actually be *gasp* a native woman! OH MY GOD A POSSIBLY NATIVE WOMAN IN A AAA RELEASE OH SHIT...then someone tries to rape her. Now I know she could have just learned the language as some Deus-Ex Machina so she wouldn't have to speak English but I wanted to believe. even so, once I saw the Russian soldiers chasing her down I erased the thought from my mind because I've seen enough "NDN" women raped and I just can't do it mentally. I just skipped the scene and found myself with a rocket launcher, whatever.

Despite being in Africa there's no black "good guy" that actually talks to you. I feel like SIGINT (Who later becomes an enemy anyway) is the only one. How hard is it to say "Hey here is this specialist on African affairs"? The game treats most black people almost as bad as it treats women (I say almost because seriously shoving a bomb into Paz's vagina is a pretty sick piece of writing) and like most of the playable women the playable black characters are recruited and have very little personality.

On a mechanics side, I hate that so many of these open world games are made to reduce narrative dissonance by making sure the "endgame" where the player can sandbox actually exists in the narrative. It ends up forcing the ending into something very anticlimactic. Just give me a real ending, show me Big Boss siting at his desk and sending new recruit solid snake to Outer Heaven. Cut 20 years into the future and actually cement that this giant organization that Venom boss has built has somehow crumbled or become Outer Heaven and he created FOXHOUND because it was his plan. Give me a real ending.

See the problem with Peace Walker, Portable Ops and now Phantom Pain is that they each rely on "the next game" to tell a part of the story. Thing is this was supposed to be "the last game" so you needed to clear up some of the confusion between this and Metal Gear 1. The thing is, Boss and Venom boss built some serious shit that can't just be written off.

At the end of MGS3, you know it's big boss, you know he's pissed and you know eventually he will be "The bad guy" you can fill that in between MGS3 and MG1 because there's nothing huge staring you in the face. Militares Sans Frontiers is a huge deal. Big Boss and Kazuhira Miller had an entire army at their disposal, complete with a base. They had nuclear capabilities, they had a damn Metal Gear. So you go ahead and destroy that, well cool, but now you build up Diamond dogs to be the same thing.

Maybe Diamond Dogs becomes outer heaven and they move to South Africa, well that is a pretty big move. That is something worth talking about. Also I remember reading in game informer or something that the base in phantom pain would be outer heaven but as far as I remember Outer heaven was in a desert and mother base in V is in the damn ocean.

Aside from that I really liked the openness of the game to just do solve problems however you want. I wish there were more indoor sections, I wish there was some keycard, gas mask, environmental puzzle type stuff to deal with but hey maybe in dlc. I actually would love to see more Metal Gear games, heck even maybe a remake of Metal Gear 1 and 2 in some form to sorta tie the family together, we'll see how all this plays out with the Kojima situation but hey a person can dream.

The main thing is I wish games could deal with some of these subjects just a bit more. Everyone is talking about Quiet's bikini when we should be talking about how disturbingly bad the entire game treats ethnic minorities. It's almost like a venom in it's own way, we want to like it and have fun but are inundated with pieces of media that are problematic and could act to poison the perception of people who don't know any better. It isn't a matter of should we talk about sexual assault, child soldiers, ethnic cleansing etc, but the way it is presented and the content itself is important. Think of an upper-class white cis-man who was raised in comfort and privilege and one day saw Roots and decided he wanted to help people. Bless him, his heart would be in the right place, but he has no real experiences with the things he may be fighting against. In a lot of ways this is what the Phantom Pain's "lessons" come off as to me.

So there I wrote a hot take, eat up, it's tasty.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#RacistRetcons

I've always been a fan of X-COM. Games with perma-death always seem to get my attention, as Jagged Alliance and Fire Emblem filled up a vast amount of my gaming time as a kid. The newest X-COM was the first to be released during my adulthood, and like many adults I found myself lacking the time to actually play it. I dabbled here and there, but it wasn't until X-COM2 was announced that I decided to really give it some time.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown brought back almost everything I loved about the series, but added the ability to name characters. This managed to make the perma-death and unforgiving situations that are guaranteed to kill off at least a few units that much harder to deal with. It was an extra layer of possible sentimental connection that made each death more poignant.

Being the asshole I am, I decided to start naming each character after heroes I had. First came, Lautaro, then Patoruzu, followed by William Wallace, Harriet Tubman and John Horse. As I lost units like Wallace, I replaced them with people like Ambrosio Vilhalva, and Tecumseh. I found myself unconsciously using the units in similar ways they had accomplished greatness in their real lives.

Wallace served as a distraction during an escape, losing his life, but helping others to continue to fight. Tubman, with her high mobility, has been most useful in missions where the aliens are attempting to abduct humans. Horse was a driving force in being able to turn failure into success, almost single-handedly.

With each of these people doing basically what they did in history I started to really draw a parallel to the narrative that marginalized people have faced in the past. In XCOM, you play as the commander of an international special operations team charged with protecting the member nations from abduction, relocation and enslavement. Change the year and you've got a game about Shawnee leader Tecumseh.

In the early 1800s European settlers were doing what they loved to do; Pushing native people to barren land, attacking women and children, using germ warfare, and being some real pricks. Tecumseh of the Shawnee created a confederacy of nations to fight against the foreign invaders that were abducting, relocating and enslaving native people. Sound familiar?
In the recently announced sequel to XCOM, the story is built around the idea that XCOM is now a nation-less band of renegades. They act as rebels, freedom fighters, you might even call them terrorists. Again, this reminded me not only of the "terrorists" in South America who attack oil fields and situations like "The Oka Crisis" in Oka, Quebec.

As this settled in, a friend bought me Wolfenstein: The New Order. In it, the Nazis have won the war, they've created a dystopian future rife with pollution, have placed dissenters into prisons and exercise their power and privilege as a master race in all of their conquered territories. Boy, alternative history sure is wild huh? This isn't the only game to take the actual struggle many Natives face today, and co-opt it in the way Deus-Ex has co-opted Apartheid. Crysis, Homefront, Freedom Fighters, among many other popular series have used this same narrative but applied generally to the United States and by extension to light skinned (often blonde) heroes fighting for FREEDOM! This is also not specific to video games. Think of books, movies, comics, and even music about "rebels" standing up for what they believe in. Much of it has iconography and narrative concepts that harken back to Native struggles, not only in the distant path but present.

I've heard it said that we, as the disenfranchised children of this land, live in a post apocalyptic world. For us, the total destruction of infrastructure, communication, identity and self determination is very real. Each day, I wake up in a NYCHA apartment too small for a large family. The walls are breaking, bugs are breaking through them. The pipes burst routinely, bullets may hit my window, and strung out junkies might cut me for their next hit. Life truly ain't no crystal stair, and yet I have the opportunity and privilege to sit in front of a computer and take one step each day, to a different future.

Sometimes, when I look at all the white faces, or at the angry comments, or the hate groups I think about my cousins in the jungles of the Amazon, or on the beaches of the Caribbean, or the mountains of Mexico and Peru, and I cry. I think about the kids on the rez, about the kids on the roadsides in huts, about the kids who have nowhere to go, and I cry. I think about how they see no future, for themselves, they see no future for our people, they see no future for our nations and take their lives in a final act of desperation, and I cry. I think about the murder squads of weaponized whiteness that speak colonized languages who rape and murder leaders, who destroy generations of culture simply because they've been told since birth that it was the right thing to do, and I cry. I think of my own family, and the countless others torn apart as mothers and fathers find comfort in the hollow promises of addictive drugs and substance abuse, and I cry.

Being able to tell those stories, from the relative safety of my slum, is important to me. This narrative, is not simply a game, or a movie, or a book for us. We live through the stories, and focus on survival. For many of us, the stories themselves ARE survival, and being able to share them on our terms allows us a stepping stone to actually feeling like human beings again. When you take away a native person's voice, you aren't simply silencing them but contributing to the machine that has, and continues to, destroy the reality and space in which we reside.

The next time you write about a group of rebels fighting off foreign invaders, or use specifically "American" tribal concepts, think about what you are contributing to our world, and what those stories mean to the people you have taken them from.

Think.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I am.

I am the first the first droplet, that starts the rain.
I am the lunatic, who questions the sane.

I am the red devil, on the back of your jersey.
I am the children, you killed without mercy.

I am the earth, the water, the animals, the air.
I am the pain, when you cut a redskin's hair.

I am the darkest hour, in the blackest night.
I am the first rays, of morning daylight.

I am the chariot just ahead, pulling the sun.
I am here to announce, that our day has come.

I am destruction.
I am creation.
I am never alone.

I am a nation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Five AAA Wrestlers that would have a major impact on Lucha Underground if they show up.

 Five AAA Wrestlers that would have a major impact on Lucha Underground if they show up.


5. The Apache Sisters- #GiveMexicanWomenAChance. Faby and Mary Apache are, as their name implies, Apache from northern Mexico. Their dad was one of the first people to train female wrestlers and to this day is one of the main trainers for women looking to get into wrestling. The living legend has passed on all of his knowledge to his daughters who could run circles around just about any diva or knockout, which is saying a lot because I think the current knockouts and divas are amazing athletes. They have competed in mixed matches both in tag and one on one. Faby Apache even held the mixed tag titles with Aerostar who is already in Lucha Underground. Their inclusion puts two powerful women on the roster that always put on great matches and have heat with Sexy star and chemistry with most of the wrestlers from AAA.

4. Psycho Circus- If you want a "Trios" league, you need Trios talent, and the Psycho Circus is the tops when it comes to Trios. Aside from the Hell Brothers they are one of the best when it comes to working as a unit. Each Individual wrestler is capable as a singles performer with each member holding a title outside of Trios. This team can make you a believer in the match type that "The Crew" have been working in the temple. It would only take 3 or 4 teams to cement the league as a whole, and between The Crew, Psycho Circus, and The Hell Brothers competition would be even better then good.

3. Myzteziz (Sin Cara)- Remember how Sin Cara botched a bunch? Now he never does. He's not a joke, he's a serious character that has matches where his blood stained mask is ripped from his face. Much like Alberto El Patron and Texano Jr., bringing over Myzteziz also means bringing over his rival El Hijo de Perro Aguayo; A merciless madman and the leader of Perros Del Mal, which includes maniacs like Pentagon Jr. This is a rivalry so good that you don't even need a belt to legitimize it, they just hate each other that much that every match becomes a bloody ordeal of one-upmanship.

2. Cibernetico- Some people might remember him from WWF, especially the rumble. Ciber is a bonafide star and has a working relationship with Mil Muertes that goes back a number of years. On top of a great singles performer, bringing over Ciber, also means bringing over his stable, The Hell Brothers. Another Incredible Trios team, they can feud with anyone in single, tag or trios and get the job done. Ciber, Averno and Chessman are vets that don't really have bad matches ever, and including them fills out the roster in a number of ways.Not only can they work Trios, but also standard tags and even singles as all three members have held a major heavyweight title.

1. La Parka- Seriously? Do I need to say anything other then "It's fucking La Parka"? This isn't the same La Parka we saw in WCW, but he's just as good, just as charismatic and just as fun to watch. He unmasked Cibernetico and was essentially the John Cena of AAA while it got back on it's feet in the mid 2000s. the guy can carry a company, and having him walk out, chair in hand, on Lucha Underground would make any ECW or WCW fan mark the hell out, even if it's not the same guy, it is the same idea. He has a great working relationship and familiarity with everyone in AAA, so you could throw him into any feud or even have him manage and be a recognizable face...err mask, that has an easy gimmick to understand, even for newcomers that may never have heard of him.

This is just five of many others that could have a significant impact on the roster. Before getting into who from the indys I would like to see (Spoiler ACH and Jay Lethal) I could still keep belting out names like Rey Mysterio, Taya Valkyrie, Jack Evans, and Black Mamba. Lucha Underground is a very different wrestling product and competition is always good for growth in entertainment, so lets all support it because it will make other products good if it is seen as a threat.