Thursday, June 26, 2008

Christmas The Third

[For your recollection, the first two NWN/gender posts are at Always Christmas And and Still Always Christmas.]

It was doing so well up til then.

I've been loving the hell out of the NWN2 xpac. Like Hordes Of The Underdark was to the original Neverwinter Nights, I think it's the project the writers were working on while the tech team wrote the script for the base game. Somehow this one ended up with everything the base game lacked - good writing, genuine plot that twists when you prod it (virtually all quests have multiple endings, and these often affect later events), voice actors that you don't want to see taken out and shot, and some vestiges of originality, albeit within the cliché-eating-cliché that is Forgotten Realms.

And there's far more female visibility. I guess this is a product of the better writing, rather than a cause. The story happens to be set in one of Faerun's canonical matriarchies; aside from that, there's a lot more women around to talk to and get help and advice from. There are even, saints preserve us, women who organise with other women for purposes all their own.

In other words, it was doing pretty well up until we got to what Okku said to Kazimika Vadoi. Kazimika is one of the aforementioned matriarchs, though not their leader, and she didn't like us, for quite sensible reasons. This is what Okku [who is a beary spirit of bears and bearness] did to bring her into line:

I remember the prayers of the dockside girl, before she donned her mask. I remember how she begged the spirits to make her pretty, so that the sailors might whistle at her...might even pay for her company...

This is where I stop playing the game and and start throwing things at the wall behind my desk. Hello, it's the sex work trope again, and this time it's being explicitly used to disempower a previously significant female character, and to shame her, and to silence her objections towards you, no matter that it has nothing the fuck to do with those objections. Congrats, Kazimika, you're up there with Molly Millions and Catwoman in the hall of Awesomely Powerful Female SF Characters Whose History Of Sex Work Is Used Against Them By The Author Who Made That History Up In The First Place.

This is why male SF writers need to stop writing about sex work, unless, you know, they've done it themselves. Because male writers are going to keep building women up then using their own fantasies about sex work to knock them down again. In their hands, the trope is invariably hammer-shaped, and women look like nails.

[I just made an FMT tag, so's not to lose track. For fairness, see the two longest threads on this I've seen elsewhere, in which many people disagree with me; the recent FSF one and the older Alas one.]

Friday, June 13, 2008

few things: urbanisation, politics linkies, and Metal Gear.

Allison at Economic Woman is writing about this neato site called Walkscore. You give it your address, it checks its maps and it gives your local area points for how much cool stuff there is within walking distance. Both of the last two areas of the UK I lived in score in the 60s. My Georgia neighbourhood rates a 15, which is not the worst I've put up with; the Pennine hole I used to inhabit gets a 9, and some of that is new since I was there.

Lessons: a) the more the merrier, b) it's interesting what they can't see - pavements and lack thereof, steep hills, snakes, the presence of other people, and c) that site totally needs to have sex with and make internet babies.

Allison quotes someone citing Friedman on how sprawl, while always harmful to everyone, is particularly hard on women because they're more likely to get trapped at home. She could've gone to the SCUM Manifesto, which she didn't, but I did. We must forgive Solanas her typos and her 60s social map and her blessed batshit:

Isolation, Suburbs, and Prevention of Community: Our society is not a community, but merely a collection of isolated family units. Desperately insecure, fearing his woman will leave him if she is exposed to other men or to anything remotely resembling life, the male seeks to isolate her from other men and from what little civilization there is, so he moves her out to the suburbs, a collection of self-absorbed couples and their kids. Isolation enables him to try to maintain his pretense of being an individual nu becoming a 'rugged individualist', a loner, equating non-cooperation and solitariness with individuality.

There is yet another reason for the male to isolate himself: every man is an island. Trapped inside himself, emotionally isolated, unable to relate, the male has a horror of civilization, people, cities, situations requiring an ability to understand and relate to people. So like a scared rabbit, he scurries off, dragging Daddy's little asshole with him to the wilderness, suburbs, or, in the case of the hippy -- he's way out, Man! -- all the way out to the cow pasture where he can fuck and breed undisturbed and mess around with his beads and flute.

Suburbia is something Americans seem to think is universal, and non-Americans seem unable to even imagine. I was. The car is the biggest difference; American urbanisation assumes that the basic unit of humanity is the car, and European urbanisation assumes that people walk on two feet, and like to resort to cars as little as possible. I don't yet know how to drive a car. Anxious.

I often don't like Cath Elliot's CiF posts. But this one is awesome. It's about some wank I almost missed hearing about - an MP who used her Commons expenses allowance to pay for her children's nanny.

If Tory chairperson Caroline Spelman's defenders are to be believed, it's perfectly reasonable to use taxpayers' money to pay for a nanny. "Of course she should have been allowed to do it," they cried when it was revealed last weekend that she'd paid for her nanny out of the public purse: "She was a busy woman with an important job." Well in that case, what about the rest of us? If an MP can have a state-funded nanny, when can I expect to find Mary Poppins standing on my doorstep, carpet bag in hand?


Note how there's been no mention of her husband's role in any of this, and no questions asked about how much involvement he had in the children's early years. The assumption being made on all sides is that male MPs have wives to look after the kids so they don't need childcare allowances, whereas women MPs are stuck with husbands, so of course they should get extra help. And yet David Cameron has small children, as does Gordon Brown, so why haven't the same voices been calling out for a childcare allowance to help these men juggle work and family life? Who's been looking after their children when they've been going about their important business?

Brad Hicks has done some good stuff lately, especially this about the Clinton campaign debt:

What could possibly justify asking guys like me who make less than $20,000 per year, living on fixed income in a Section 8 housing complex, to donate money so that a multi-millionairess doesn't have to get by on "only" her last five million dollars? Please, somebody, for the love of all that's holy and good, explain this to me?

Consensus from comments there; rich folks should not suffer for their miscalculations and errors of judgement, because they are rich folks, but poor folks deserve to land on their asses every time they misstep.

You've probably seen this already, but: MichelleObamaWatch. Lately the feed of fluff-news pieces about Ms O seems more positive than not, but when there is shit you can read it there first. And often it is shit beyond belief.

Tycho on game reviewing in general, and MGS4 (OMG) in particular:

Even if you could measure games with numbers, a point I do not concede, there's no universal Goddamned basis for comparison - there is no "unit" of measurement. We measure things so we can compare them to other things. The trouble is that everyone is performing a kind of mental arithmetic, cramming their own internal symbologies into this or that frame and stripping out wisdom in the process. Editorial voice is a fallacy. They're all conversions of interpretations of moments. And we lose crucial data at every step.

Tycho usually has impeccable taste, but he is not fond of Metal Gear. My feeling is that Metal Gear is one of those fandoms that can only be enjoyed if you take liberties with it, and grant it liberties in return. It's flawed, it jumps the shark towards the end of each game, it disappears up its own ass every so often, it is cryptic, and it occasionally warrants a cringe. It is also brain-eatingly brilliant and so packed with inspirations that it's spawned an equally diverse pack of rabid fans, of which I am one. But I grant liberties to canon, when a good canon needs it, and not everyone likes to do that, you know?

Five other current things about Metal Gear:

a) My favourite webcomic, the mighty MGS fanwerk Last Days Of Foxhound, just wound up after 500 strips. Much hilarity - and uncanny insights - for any MG fan. [Also spoilers for MGS1, MGS3 and Portable Ops].

Its most famous page is from four years ago: One Mantis, One Vote, in which Psycho Mantis took a step out of the comic to give a big queer political shoutout. (I saw that on scans_daily sometime afterwards, and fell in love from there. Although that page is offcanon unless you assume MGS1 took place in November or December - I thought it was the spring of 2004). My favourite page is Ocelost, the snapshot from inside Revolver Ocelot's mind. Hostage Negotiation is win for anyone who's played MGS, and double triple badass win for anyone who's played MGS3.

b) Some assclown has decided to make a bloody film out of this franchise.

c) ...and the folk on IMDB have pegged David Hayter as the scriptwriter. I am not at all sure that this is true, only that if it is not true, the foundations of the world will splinter and sink.

d) Either way, the film idea has a significant capacity for epic fail.

e) and I'll probably not get to play MGS4 til Christmas anyway. Stupid console wars.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

My Pokemons, Let Me Show You Them.

I have no idea who made this animation. Props to them, anyways!