April 17, 2011

So Say Most of Us. I guess. I'll get back to you.

Spoilers for Battlestar Galactica may be present.
If you've ever interacted with science-fiction in any way you've encountered robots who don't know they're robots, robots who do know, and hate humans, and humans who might be robots, and hate robots. Phillip K. Dick started it (probably) with "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", which was made into Blade Runner (a more dramatic and catchy title), which inspired stuff like Battlestar Galactica. The good one, not the original. Satan inspired the original.
There's a reason it gets used so often; identity issues seem to go hand-in-hand with being human. It also gets to couch sensitive subjects (like: slavery, war, murder, etc.) in more comfortable terms. It's okay if your coworker is one of those dickbeards who call Cylons toasters, and thinks they should all be killed; your toaster won't rise up anytime soon, and he's not saying anything bad about anyone who actually exists. Hooray for all!
But sci-fi rarely answers these issues, in part because there are no ready answers. A hundred years after the Civil War, Alabama was just getting around to admitting African Americans might be people. Today, we still have organizations like the KKK, "Southern Heritage" is used as a thin veneer to celebrate racism in some places (and in others to actually promote the good things about a state), and Huckleberry Finn is being watered down at the same time some organizations are trying to pretend slavery didn't happen (in addition to other abuses of non-white people). How can a fictional book/show/movie say for certain if we will ever get along with our robot overlords, when most of us can't get along with one another?
This naturally brings up more disturbing questions. This'un is asked in the miniseries of the new BSG, by Commander William Adama, at what was supposed to be his retirement speech.
"You know, when we fought the Cylons, we did it to save ourselves from extinction. But we never answered the question "Why?" Why are we as a people worth saving? We still commit murder because of greed and spite, jealousy, and we still visit all of our sins upon our children. We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything that we've done, like we did with the Cylons. We decided to play God, create life. And when that life turned against us, we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that it really wasn't our fault, not really."
If you wondered, that question is never answered. throughout 4.5 seasons, the characters, main, support, and enemy, are unable to provide a definite answer as to why humanity deserves to survive. This is after the Cylons nuke a several trillion population down to 50,000.
Throughout the show, the characters seem determined to prove why they shouldn't survive. Not that they're stupid; humanity wins at evolution. But Adama asks why we should survive, when another life form - the Cylons - are just as advanced as we are, just as intelligent. But robots. A distinction that, in the show, matters as much as the color of skin. Not that the characters see it that way. For most of the show, the majority of humans and Cylons despise each other, and in the end, though some reconciliation is made, the two groups are separated.
The writers of this show had 4.5 seasons to answer a fairly basic question: why are we, as a species, worth saving? During the show the humans fight, kill, and betray one another. They also love, forgive, and try to be better. The president tries to force an abortion on a captured Cylon, then later kidnaps the baby and gives it to someone else to raise. The doctor (there's basically only one left) objects, but obeys. They leave a ship behind that had a tracking device on it, and it is destroyed by the Cylons. They almost commit genocide, and fail. They don't decide genocide is bad, one of the characters particularly sympathetic to Cylons stops them before they can unleash a plague. By "them" I mean the main characters, the leaders. The support also fucks up royally, and mention is made of the people we don't see behaving... well, like people. Murderous, thieving, lying, cheating, people. These are the protagonists, trying to prove humanity deserves a second chance.
Do we?

April 12, 2011

Santa is real, and he and Jesus fight crime


If you get into the comments (and I can't blame you if you don't, it turns into a real circle jerk) they start bitching about women pushing "chick-lit", describing it as "novels for fat lesbians with cats" (classy), and ousting "real manly-man's fiction, rar!". But the article bitches out fantasy writers who do take a hyper-masculine, super violent approach, but don't end with a snuggle and say "everything'll be all right."
So: fantasy that focuses on personal relationships=bad. Fantasy that doesn't give the warm-fuzzies=bad. Tolkien and Howard, two admitted, admirable masters= good and super dead and done to fucking death.

April 1, 2011

Get ready for some Stupid


I have not played DA2 yet, so I can't respond to criticisms that the games sucks, is not hardkore enough (k intended, sirs and madams), or totally suxxors, lol.
Writing that last part killed me a little inside.
What I do know is that petitioner is angry about how gays are portrayed. He is likely gay himself (I don't typically get mad about fucking games that don't target me directly), and he feels the negative portrayal is firing-worthy.
Let's the back the crazy up a minute.
"This is the type of garbage that has people believe that gays shouldn't serve in the military. We are human beings that are the same as everyone else!"
The garbage that has people believe gays shouldn't serve in the military doesn't come from a game. It comes from insecurity, false facts, and general douchery. No one who has ever actually met a gay person believes that he or she will spend time in combat trying to get in your pants.
No, straight people are more likely to do that. Or at least pretend to do that. Let me explain. For four years, I attended an all-male school. For a while I worked in an all-male environment. In both places, I knew a total of three or four gay men. Yet there was homosexual innuendo all the time. Because straight people mess with each other. It's crazy, but saying "If you don't shut up, I will skull-fuck you," doesn't mean any real skull-fuckery will take place. We're just messed up, dudes. Women probably are too. I know that, in a single sex environment this sort of blatant - whatever, is rampant, whereas in mixed environments things are a lot calmer. By that I mean, I probably won't try to fake seduce a gay man (something I did - or said I did, when I remembered) when a woman is around. And I won't do it at all with someone I don't know well.
So, angry gay guy, think for a moment: you're playing a game with several gay party members, and in context their lives are constantly in danger. Does a pat on the ass or maybe even a smoochy face (anything short of them trying to fuck you, basically) really mean the game negatively portrays gays? Or is it that, in a relaxed, close-knit environment, we (straights, gays, bears, whatever) will fuck with each other in ways not dreamed of by God?