Another hiatus, because I was in Texas for my grandmother’s memorial service and I had to finish writing a book. Things Happened during that time and I feel like this little collection of links is inadequate to deal with any of it but here you go anyway. Let its fragmented nature stand as a representation of what my brain has been like lately.
- “Bodies in the Justice System.” This neatly articulates a lot of what I’ve been flailing clumsily around trying to articulate to myself since the Zimmerman verdict.
The outcome—a not-guilty verdict for Zimmerman— suggests that Zimmerman did experience a dangerous situation, and his actions—fatally shooting 17 year old Trayvon Martin—were justifiable. To be fair, the verdict technically says that there is a “shadow of a doubt” surrounding Zimmerman’s actual threat level, but the fact remains that 1) Trayvon did not get the benefit of any sort of doubt, and 2) Zimmerman’s innocence necessarily implies a degree of guilt for Martin. This is not to say the verdict was legally wrong. Rather, it is to say that the law needs to be examined in a more critical light.
- Mixed feelings on the whole “I Am Not Trayvon Martin” meme. Again, all of this + so many 1s.
As I scrolled through post after post on We Are Not Trayvon Martin, it began to seem a lot less like anti-racist activism and a lot more like a white people’s guilt support group. While a very, very small number of posts stand out for offering some kind of social insight or advice on how white people can be better allies, the majority of posts can be summed up as follows: “Hey everyone! Guess what! I’m not Trayvon Martin, and I know that I’m not Trayvon Martin!” And… that’s it.
- “Nation Throws Hands Up, Tells Black Teenagers To Do Their Best Out There.” The Onion has been pretty unfunny lately, and I think it’s actually because they’re doing their job better than most other news outlets.
“I mean, what can I say? You have no legal system to turn to, the police are out to get you, and everyone is immediately suspicious of you,” said Denver real-estate agent Kelly Martin, adding that she has been racking her brain trying to think of helpful advice for the teenagers, but that all she could come up with was, “Try to stay alive if you can.” “If you’re a black teen, you’re basically living in the Wild West right now. Not exactly words of encouragement, but there you have it.”
- “Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Hot Babe.” This is beautifully written and sort of mess-with-your-head and I love it.
Neither productive nor reproductive, where the Hot Babe does not successfully embody transience, she must stand for destruction. For patriarchy woman is womb but the Hot Babe is wombless; she does not cook, she does not “love children.” She is the much-vaunted machine that comes to replace the mother.
- McDonald’s in-house budget for its workers is demeaning, insulting, condescending, shockingly unrealistic, and also a fucking scam. It’s been somewhat heartening to see that it’s generated quite the backlash.
McDonald’s has handed over its employees to Visa, possibly in exchange for a cut of whatever fees and interest rates they can gouge out of those workers by duping them into unregulated cards that charge poor people fees to use their own money. When a McDonald’s employee signs up for a prepaid debit card, Visa is able to skim a cut from every financial transaction that person makes — every line in that awful, clueless budget.
- “Four things that happened”. “The sequence is undeniable. Whether that sequence means anything in terms of causality or of culpability I will leave for the reader to decide.”
- 11 exhausted SF tropes to avoid. This is funny and also helpful, and the list of offensive tropes is excellent, but I’m also not in total agreement with it (the non-offensive list). Some of my favorite books include those tropes (some of my own books do as well, so take that for what it’s worth). Sometimes you just want to write something like that. I think SF should always be pushing harder and getting better, but I think there also needs to be room for the fluff. Especially if the fluff gives you passage to a denser core, which in my experience it often does.
- “Why Penny Arcade’s Foot-in-Mouth Problem Is Bigger Than Penny Arcade”. They keep doing this shit. They just keep fucking doing this shit.
What Krahulik—like a lot of the self-identified “geek” community—doesn’t seem to understand is that a history as a target doesn’t translate to license to shoot wherever his own crosshairs happen to fall. It’s one thing to smack down notorious bully Harlan Ellison or take on rampaging anti-video game lawyer Jack Thompson at the height of his media popularity; it’s another to go out of your way to mock rape survivors and transwomen and encourage your audience to do the same.
- “Every Misogynistic Argument You’ve Ever Heard About Video Games”. Fuck yes.
Quick aside: I’ve been playing Bioshock Infinite lately, and I love it – it’s beautiful, fun, the relationship between the protag and Elizabeth is awesome, the combat is insane, basically the whole thing gets a thumbs-up from me… or it did, until I got to a part where Elizabeth, who to that point had been clad in refreshingly un-sexed-up clothing, suddenly has to make a laughably justified wardrobe change and appears dressed in a ridiculously tight corset that shows a lot of boob. There is clearly no logical reason for it other than that the designers wanted to put her in a ridiculously tight corset that showed a lot of boob.
Now, I love corsets. I’m a big fan of boobs. But it just felt… It was one of those moments – and I’ve had this a lot with games made by Rockstar, and also recently with Dishonored – where I’m going along in a game that I really enjoy and suddenly something happens that reminds me like a kick to the face that I’m playing a game that was made without considering almost half the gamer population. Not made intentionally to offend us, but made as if we didn’t exist at all. As if the only gamers are straight cis-dudes. And it sort of ruins an otherwise great experience for me. And yeah, maybe I’m oversensitive to it at this point, but you know what: if you were getting repeatedly kicked in the face, I think you might be a tad oversensitive to it yourself.
Why are you assuming games with strong female protagonists might not also be games YOU’LL enjoy? They’re going to automatically not appeal to you just because you’re playing as someone possessed of a hooha? What the hell kind of women-friendly games are your fevered imaginations conjuring up?! SimHairBraider? Metal Gear Solid: Ovaries of the Patriots? Deus Ex: Menstrual Revolution?
Somehow, I don’t think you have to worry. You liked Beyond Good and Evil, right? Of course you did — everyone who actually played it did. Women gamers want more games like THAT. Like I said above, women gamers ultimately want the same thing guy gamers want: good games. Y’know, just good games that make them feel welcomed to rather than othered from the community.
- Finally, I wrote a thing – in response to another great post by David Banks and a comment therein by Robin James – that flails around touching on consumer tracking, Sartre, and quantum mechanics. In some universe or another it works.
Being able to record and analyze what’s not done in addition to what’s done makes it possible to explore and exploit human behavior in ways that approach the level of quantum mechanics. We like to think of ourselves as the products of our decisions, and to the extent that our decisions help to shape the particular universe we perceive, that’s true. But we’re also a collection of negatite-generators, defined as much by what we chose not to do – things which are not simply absence but which are as real in themselves as what we’ve done.
You’re the golden light.