Lindsey Shepherd: Educational Practices…

I don’t like dealing in political/social issues, so I may not even leave this one up. However this one deal with freedom of speech, and the class Lindsay was teaching, dealt with communication, aka Speech and Writing… so in some ways, it applies here… 

If you’re here for Geek culture or writing advice, you may want to skip this post.

As a former educator myself… there are certain trends occurring right now that I find extremely troubling. Through the media, we’ve all seen a lot of contention of the issues of freedom of speech, expression, etc.

All of this calls into question a fairly basic philosophy of learning. This is especially true for educators.

First of all, let’s ask ourselves this fundamental question: What do you go to college for? What is the purpose of education? Are you attending school to learn how to think critically and come to a conclusion on your own, or are you there to be taught what to think. In other words, are you there to have someone feed the right perspective and thought to you?  In short, are you there to learn what to think or how to think? This may seem like a fairly nuanced difference, but it comes with fairly severe implications.

In my own studies and teaching philosophies, I adopted a philosophy that it’s only through comparing ideas and allowing them to do battle that we can identify the right ideas from the wrong ones.

This unfortunately isn’t as easy as one might think. To accomplish this, we are given the daunting task of having to consider all ideas; whether we agree with them or not. We do this because without the ideas that we may not agree with, or even vehemently oppose, we cannot expect our existing ideas to be adequately challenged. This is why Lindsay was absolutely correct when she said in her interview panel that in a University environment, all points of view are valid.

Of course I understand that said ideal can be a bit of a challenge and a lot to ask of people. I myself have failed at it from time to time. That said, if a person’s feelings are a casualty in a battle of ideas, then it falls to that person to strength them. They must possess the mental maturity to understand that other people have different world views and must be able to accept those views even if they do not agree with them. It does not fall to others to soften winning viewpoints, truth, or even just concepts that they may not necessarily agree with.

All of this is a complete contrast of being taught what to think. In this case, one simply has the ‘correct ideas’ fed to them, requiring a person to accept them without any real critical thought. When you do this, you are not accepting ideas because they are the victor in a battle of morality or overall truth, but because someone in a position of power or authority told you which ideas were the right ones to hold, regardless of context or justification.
Again, the difference of the overall question may seem nuanced, but the consequences of adopting either are quite striking in their difference.
The first one will usually produce an one-minded, intellectually diverse person, capable of critical thought and possessing and open mind.
The other produces a one-dimensional mind trained exclusively in the art of regurgitating what it’s been told, often reacting harshly, if not violently to opposing viewpoints.

Unfortunately, it seems this latter philosophy is quickly becoming the predominant one at centers of higher learning in western nations. The critical value of ‘question everything’ has long been lost to the sands of time in some cases.

The consequences of this irresponsible behavior and teaching ideology are on full display to the public at places like Mizzou, Evergreen State, and… more recently Wilfrid Laurier University. It was here that a communication’s TA named Lindsey Shepherd was attempting to launch a discussion on language use, specifically dealing with preferred pronouns, and the conflict of addressing people as they wish to be addressed when pinned against the rights of others who didn’t want to be forced to use a certain verbiage that they didn’t agree with.

If someone wants to be called a woman, should you be forced to call them as such? What if someone wanted to be recognized as one of the letters in the LGBTQ+ acronym? This is a debate that virtually everyone in the western world should be familiar with. It’s one  If you wanted to examine that debate and be able to launch a critical discussion around it, then the proper course of action is to put both perspectives on display. In the case of Shepherd, to use snippets from someone who uses those unique pronouns and also use some from someone who is against compelled speech. This was what she attempted to do when she showed a brief, 3-5 minute clip from Professor Jordan Peterson’s debate on public television in Ontario Canada,

In short, Peterson argued for what he viewed as a breach of freedom of speech, forcing him and others to use words they do not want to.

I’m including a link to the video here for context:

In the later interview, Lindsey claims that she presented both sides neutrally and encouraged her students to think critically about each side and decide for themselves who’s right. She did what I stated above and put both ideas onto the field of battle and it was up to the students to determine the victor, based on their own reasoning and values.  However, she landed herself in hot water by refusing to take sides.

The problem is that doing something like this will get you in trouble with a University that has lost touch with the mission and purpose of that type of institution. The end result for Ms. Shepherd was censure due to the complaints of ‘one or more students’ and she was summoned for a meeting with the communications dept. professors and someone with… rather lengthy title at the euphemistically named diversity office.

Lindsay, very smartly in my perspective, secretly recorded the exchange… which then made its way to the internet and the dialogue is as cringe-worthy and… I’ll even go so far as to say Orwellian as it could possibly be… (See below.)

They tell Lindsay that certain ideas or certain perspectives and arguments are never to be entertained, because at minimum they create a ‘toxic environment’ for certain students. At worst, they are equivalent to violence or threats and thus may violate Canadian law. (They don’t, by the way. This has been completely vetted by the media.)

Keeping in mind, they aren’t talking about physical threats, just arguments and the way the world exists. To these people, whether or not anyone was actually targeted is material at best, at worst is completely irrelevant. Put in the most simple terms,  the point at which an individual’s discomfort starts, is where critical examination must cease.

According to Ms. Shepherd, she presented the material neutrally, and invited the students to debate the merits. However the faculty seem to believe that she has the responsibility to tell students which views are right and which are not, and they’re willing to take this to the point of comparing Jordan Peterson to Hitler.

Goodwin’s Law violation aside… Yes, you should present speeches from Hitler for analysis if that is in context with what you are attempting to teach.

In college, took several classes dealing with socio-political issues. Yes, I read Mien Kampf, I read the Communist Manifesto, the Quran, two different iterations of the Bible, and many other works responsible for human suffering on a monumental scale. In many cases, they weren’t all easy to get through, but I read them to decide for myself what I think of the content.

Entertaining an idea is not the same thing as endorsing it. The grand irony of this whole thing is that Lindsay Shepherd doesn’t even agree with Jordan Peterson, yet the recording she took… pretty much proves that a lot of the concerns he expressed might actually be valid ones.

In closing, if you work as a teacher or school admin and the latter approach mentioned above is the one you believe in, then I would say that terms ‘School’, ‘College’, or ‘University’ might not be the best title for your institution.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Opinion: Rinoa Should Have Been A Kingdom Hearts Princess!

Most of my friends from when I was in college would probably roll their eyes at this one… because I’ve said a lot about it. For everyone who’s played Kingdom Hearts, you know the basic gist of the game.

To beat the game and stop the darkness, you need the power of the 7 princesses… I know, I know, but trust me, it’s a lot more bad assed than it sounds. This isn’t My Little Pony Fanfic.

When you bring these princesses together, they use their combined power to put a stop to the enemy known as the Heartless… again, I SWEAR this isn’t MLP or Care Bears fan fic!!! Trust me, go play the game! It really is good!

Anyway… Let’s take a look at the 7 Princesses.

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As I said, there are seven of them. Six are Disney characters, one is an original character from the game’s own cast.

One thing I would to note, Kingdom Hearts is the marriage of Final Fantasy and Disney. There are several Final Fantasy characters (mostly from 7-10) in the game that play pretty major parts. They have their own worlds, though we only see one, as well as back stories as to how they got there. However none of them are among the princesses and that I do not agree with. If you wanted to go with seven princesses, I get why, and I think there was a space for one. One of the characters, in my opinion does not qualify as a princess. Let’s go through the seven one by one, shall we?

I’ll go through them in order of status, in other words the ones that most qualify as a princess vs. the ones that don’t.

Snow White: This one is a pretty obvious choice. She is a princess. Not only that, but she was the first of the Disney princesses. So I really don’t need to go into much here. She’s kind and innocent. So we’ll just leave it at that, an obvious choice.

Sleeping Beauty: Again, another obvious choice. She was an early princess in the Disney scope. She doesn’t really play that huge of a role I’d argue vs. the faeries and the prince, but that’s my opinion. She’s a princess, another beloved one in the realm of Disney, so no arguments here.

Jasmine: I was going to put her above Sleeping Beauty because honestly she’s a stronger character than Sleeping Beauty and honestly far more likable, but Sleeping Beauty is far more iconic and well-known, IMO. So take that as you will, maybe it’s a tie, maybe not, but that’s where we are, moving on.

Cinderella: Okay… I know she’s iconic, I know she’s beloved in Disney’s circles and her story is beyond legend, but she falls lower than White, Sleepy, and Jaz because well… she wasn’t a princess. I’m not kidding, at what point in the story was she a princess? We never see her get married in the movie, she’s nobility, but treated as a servant until the end of the movie. I guess she qualifies because the prince said he’d marry the owner of the slipper, so until the King dies, that makes her a princess by marriage, but that’s arguable.

Belle: Same as Cinderella, albeit arguably less so. She’s not a princess… heck she’s not even a daughter of nobility. She marries a prince by the end of the movie but… is he a prince? I mean we never see his parents, where are they? In another castle? (Insert Mario Joke) It’s never fully explored, so… I guess we’ll just take it on faith, maybe he’s not next in line to the throne. So again, princess by marriage.

Kairi: Honestly, we don’t know much about her in the first game. Is she a princess? It’s not really explored. However I guess it makes sense that she’s on there as it gives the main hero something to fight for.

Alice: I have no idea why they chose her. Why not Ariel from the Little Mermaid? That might have made more sense here. Though you could argue that she’s in Mermaid form in the game, but there are always ways around that. Alice is not a princess. She’s a girl who daydreams and goes to wonderland. So really… I don’t know why she’s counted as one of the princesses. She could have easily been switched out with literally any other Disney character… or perhaps a Final Fantasy princess?

Enter Rinoa… Now why do I say Rinoa over say… Garnet (Dagger), Tifa, Aeris, Yuna, etc.

Well… Garnet is a true princess, but to be honest… I never found her particularly likable. There really are no other FF9 characters in the first Kingdom Hearts, and honestly, she ends the game as the Queen.

Tifa and Aeris have no real connection to any form of nobility, it doesn’t even really exist in her world other than the nepotism within Shinra. Aeris is the last descendant of the Ancients, but… I mean she’s already a contributing character, so I think that really goes far enough.

So why Rinoa?

Well… Rinoa for one is a very well-liked character. She’s had her own following, multiple figures made, her friends call her a princess, and honestly, you could argue that she’s Gabaldian nobility, being the daughter of a well-respected, wealthy, general in the nation’s army. She’s not royalty, but honestly she fits in about as much as Belle or Cinderella when you think about it. Plus Squall is in the game. Cloud and Aeris are there, why not bring Rinoa in as well for Squall?

If it were me, I would have brought her in instead of Alice as I think she’s definitely a better choice than Alice. IMO it seems like Disney chose Alice because of a lack of princesses to choose from at that point that could fit into the game. However that is my opinion.

What does everyone think? Am I dead on? Not so much? Do you think Alice belongs there? Would you rather a different Final Fantasy character? Let me know.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Unpopular Opinion: Final Fantasy 7 isn’t as good as you remember

 

Oh I just know I’m going to piss off a lot of people with this one…

Keeping in mind, I’m just focusing on the main title, not the sequels or prequel here.

Final Fantasy 7 came out roughly a year after I got my first PlayStation. I was in either 6th or 7th grade at the time… I don’t really remember. The gamer magazines all gave it  outstanding reviews. Many said that the game was edgy in that it portrayed murder, rape, and prostitution among other themes in the story.

The public reception though… at the time and from my perspective, was mixed. A lot of people loved it, saying it had a great story, great graphics, and so on. Other balked at the turn-based system and how the game designers had seemingly focused on good graphics and offered little else. Keep in mind, I can’t gauge a universal fan response at the time. Public use of the internet was still in it’s infancy (You old 56K users know what I’m talking about), so the reception I speak of is strictly anecdotal. Take that as you will.

For years, I was in the first camp. I loved the game.

I saw a commercial for it and asked for the game for Christmas. Upon opening it and playing the first disc… I was hooked. I played the game straight through. I struggled through President Rufus’s inauguration scenes, I teared up when Aeris was stabbed through the back, my jaw dropped when Cloud was revealed to be a clone, and relieved when it turned out he wasn’t one, and chills ran down my spine as ‘One Winged Angel’ echoed through my ears during the final fight.

I cannot tell you how many hours I wasted on this game as I played through it several times. So when I heard that Final Fantasy 7 was being remade, like everyone else, I was excited. So much so that I downloaded the original on my handheld PlayStation to relive the glory days.

I kind of wish I hadn’t… The nostalgia goggles fooled me once again. It was like turning on Thunder Cats or the original Transformers and realizing that these shows were a lot cheesier then I remembered.

The graphics and, by today’s standard, laughable polygons didn’t bother me. I knew that was coming, so I give the game a pass on that. I am also aware of how endearing the turn based system is and how it’s come a long way. So again, not an issue.

So what’s the problem?

Well I think part of the problem is the gamer, yes the problem is us. You see, we’ve all grown and matured and as such, we can now see glaring issues with the game that we didn’t see, or didn’t care about when we were younger.

For starters, let’s look at Cloud. He’s moody, doesn’t talk much, doesn’t seem to care about anything or anyone, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and yet somehow people gravitate to him. Maybe it’s because of his supposed awesome power or something? I can’t really be certain. The thing is, there’s not much to him. He’s a moody character trope that seems to show up in most, if not all, modern Final Fantasies. Granted, not always the main character, but he’s in there somewhere.

Honestly, Final Fantasy 8’s main character was very similar, in fact I think Square was aware of this as they pared the two characters up and hand them basically taunting each other during the Battle of Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts 2. However, Squall was slightly different. For him, there was a lot more reason given to his moodiness and quiet. He grew up in an orphanage, and the big sister he loved so much, eventually left him behind. Though his memory of all this was gone, the imprint remained, so it made sense.

With Cloud… he was a failure and didn’t want to deal with that or something? Granted the idea of a character concocting a lie about his past and having it consume him to the point where he believed it himself, only to have that backfire, is interesting enough… except there’s a bit of a problem there…

You have everyone’s favorite waifu, (Tifa) who was there for all of the previous events and can easily debunk everything! She doesn’t though because… she’s afraid of what it might do to Cloud? I don’t know, the reason isn’t very well given and honestly makes the whole plot line hard to believe. When Sephiroth reveals that Cloud’s past is a lie and due to his mental insecurities, is able to convince Cloud that he’s a clone because of it. The story started to fall apart, especially with Tifa knowing the truth.

But they explained that too! Sephiroth said that she also had her memory altered. 

Yeah I don’t know, that’s a bit of a stretch. She’s also a little too accepting of the idea. I mean maybe I could believe that Cloud’s true memories didn’t kick in because his mind was scrambled due to Mako exposure, but the rest is really pushing the suspension of disbelief.

Second issue with the story… Vincent. Vincent knows about Sephiroth. He knows about his past and where he comes from. So… why doesn’t he speak up? When Sephiroth is on screen spouting off about his destiny and his mother, why doesn’t Vincent tell him about Lucrecia? I mean yeah you could make the argument that Sephiroth probably wouldn’t believe him, but why wouldn’t you try? At the very least, it may give him pause.

Some people didn’t use Vincent. Others just didn’t have him in the party at the right time. 

True, but the official story has Vincent there so that doesn’t really hold water. Also, there are a few opportunities when the entire party is on screen where he could say something, despite not being in the party.

Third issue, the love interests. Tifa and Aeris (Aerith? Aeries? Aries??? WHATEVER!!)… what can I say about them?

Honestly, Tifa was the preferable character… and I’m not saying that because her cleavage was bigger than her head… no I’m not kidding…

11

 

(I hope Cloud knows a good chiropractor!)

She honestly, despite her flaws was a very energetic and loyal character. Even when Aeris came into the picture, she still stuck by Cloud. Despite everything, she was still there to care for him and comfort him when he needed it. However she did let her emotions run wild and honestly… well let’s just say I didn’t have her in the party all that much.

Then why is she the better of the two?

Because the other option is Aeris.

I actually liked this character when I was younger and now for the life of me, I can’t remember why. Take almost any of her lines of dialogue in the game and try saying those things to people in real life. ‘Hey that’s Cloud’s thing to say, blah, blah, blah.’
‘Let’s ride the airship together, promise? PROMISE ME!’

They’re either going to think you’re a little kid or have serious mental issues. Granted, she’s not the only character with this problem… “Dr. Hojo has named me Red XIII, call me whatever you wish.”

… or you could just tell us your damn name! We’re likely to find out sooner or later anyway! Seriously, what’s your problem?

This actually was revealed a lot more in the game Crisis Core where people started to theorize that Aeris may have had some kind of mental deficiency. I remember message boards going so far as to ask if she was mentally retarded. Granted her character wasn’t done any favors in Final Fantasy Crisis Core, but we’re not really addressing that game here.

On top of that, Aeris is just annoying. She constantly laughing about something or acting like a little kid. On top of all of that, she was kind of the White Mage of this Final Fantasy despite this game not really needing one. Not only that, but her character is really in question. She barely even addresses the nature of Cloud’s relationship with Tifa during her time with the party and at some points seems to either try to sneak around behind it. Even if Cloud expressly says that Tifa is his girlfriend.

Thankfully you have the option of not being nice to her, at which point Tifa shows up for your date at the Golden Saucer and you don’t really have to deal with Aeris past the first act. So that’s a plus.

Let’s move on to the story… I’ve already stated what I take issue with in terms of the main character, but let’s look at the side quests. First of all, too many of them go nowhere. Who is the Kalm Traveler? What was his mission? Who was the man in the pipe in Sector 6? What’s his backstory? What is Aeris doing back in the church after she dies, only to disappear when you turn your back? A lot of these things go nowhere and it feels like there is an incomplete chapter in the game that was supposed to tie these things together.

Also when you leave Cait Sith in the temple and he’s destroyed, it’s written in a way that makes it a sad scene. Cait Sith was a likable character… despite having a bit of a forced introduction. So saying goodbye to him was actually a moving scene… too bad it was ruined two seconds later by a second model showing up. Also not helping things is when Cloud gives the black material to Sephiroth while your party… just kind of stands there. Yeah, they don’t make any effort to stop him… only a spectral figure of Cloud as a child… again not really explained, makes any effort.

When the inevitable happens, Aeris tries to comfort Cloud, only to have him jump on her and start beating the crap out of her… our hero everyone. When he’s not lying about his past to hide the shame of his personal failures, he’s beating up on women.

This is the major problem with Final Fantasy 7. It is edgy and it’s plot lines are interesting, but it never seems to follow through on them. Too little is explained and is up to the audience to figure out, and the whole thing just kind of becomes a muddled mess.

I will say that I was not a fan of the ending, but that may be more because of my personal bias against open endings.

So that’s pretty much my feelings on Final Fantasy 7. The characters are incredibly flawed to the point of unbelievably, the story is a mess and… really that’s all I can say about it. However I am someone who was a much bigger fan of Final Fantasy 8, so take that as you will. Of the Final Fantasies, 6(US) and 8 were the two best in my opinion. I never played any after X-2 due to 11 being an MMO and as I got older, I really didn’t have the time to put into them. So if you’re going to judge my taste, judge it on that.

Wait, wait, why did you like Final Fantasy 8 better?

Well honestly because despite being rushed into production thanks to FF7’s success, Final Fantasy 8 had a much more dynamic story, even more impressive graphics, and several twists and turns that made the game far more addictive. The characters were still pretty childish, but I had an easier time believing that these were teenagers… immature teenagers in some cases, but teens never the less.

The only major complaint I had was that its left up to the audience to figure out, despite being fairly obvious, who Squall’s parents were. (Hint: He shows up on the Ragnarok at the end of the game.) Also, up until X-2 came out, it had the best ending out of any Final Fantasy.

You actually liked X-2?

Haha… not really. The characters were annoying and the job system was flawed at best. I actually had to use a gameshark to get the 100% ending, but honestly… if you combine X and X-2 as one long story… the complete ending is actually very satisfying and wonderful.

So take that as you will. Final Fantasys 6(US) and 8 are the superior titles. Final Fantasy 7 isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, I just don’t think it’s as good as anyone remembers. It has very serious flaws that stick out more and more with each replay and sadly… its a major detractor in my opinion.

Will I play the remake? If I have time,  yeah I’d love to give it a try. Hopefully some of these things will be fixed and it’s not just a re-textured redress of the original.

Please don’t kill me!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Moral Guardians, Why They Should Be Ignored

I don’t usually get involved in politics or social issues on here, save for the occasional effects it has on geek culture and for good reason. Most of us are looking for an escape from such issues. However, there has been a major trend recently where such issues have invaded nearly every facet of our existence, including unfortunately, our escapism. As such, it would appear that my participation in such topics is not optional, hence the title of this post.

In many previous advice posts, I have said that a writer should write stories that they want to read and enjoy, let the audience decide later if they want to read it. If the writer spends all of their time worrying about what their readers or viewers want to read/see, then the work will likely be a lot more lackluster and forced in many places. Not only that but no matter what you do, you will never be able to please everyone.

So let me start by posing the question; should fiction cover controversial issues? I think most people would agree that it absolutely should. However, there are some out there that disagree because covering such issues would be uncomfortable. Unfortunately, these people tend to rail against anything that lands outside their comfort zone like Christian purist from the 40s.

Now I think that the appropriateness of covering a controversial issue should be taken on a case by case basis, and even then will be in the eye of the beholder. When Mark Wahlberg put out a movie about the Boston Bombing, a lot of people thought it was in bad taste, especially because of the timing. Others thought that those people were being oversensitive. As someone who experienced the Boston Bombing first-hand in that I wasn’t far away from the area when it happened, I’m on the fence with this one. I’m no fan of Mark Wahlberg by any stretch and the fact that he’s become a local hero is disgraceful to Boston, IMO, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think this movie should have been made. Those that say otherwise are what I refer to as ‘moral guardians’. The fact is, no one has the right to tell a creator what they can and cannot create. The exceptions to this are, of course, deliberate slander, threats, and incitement of violence. Everything else resides in the purview of the creator’s morality. Creators should be able to tackle any topic they want in any way they want and then the audience can decide with their dollars if the creator went too far. Telling someone before-the-fact that they shouldn’t be able to experiment and try out something new or uncomfortable is counter-productive in the worlds of fiction and fantasy.

Pandering to Moral Guardians and/or Culture Warriors is never a good idea. For starters, because they’ll often go into writing, video games, and several other mediums that tackle controversial issues and instantly label them as bad without any context such as… actually reading or experiencing the full work. Like it or not, feminist frequency has done this on several occasions with their attacks on video games while bolstering really bad characters simply because of their appearances and genders.

Polygon in their article “Stop using extreme violence to sell your game

Heavily criticized the abuse of women that were put in, as they called it, extremely violent situations.
“The violence is particularly upsetting as it features the assault of women. Violent attacks on women, many times for perfunctory purposes, isn’t new. The Killing Joke saw the Joker torture Barbara Gordon in a statement that reinforced the notion that gender influences violence. The volatile imagery used in the trailer to underline the heinous acts being committed are familiar scenes to us. We’ve seen this play out in other TV shows or movies before, and in real life. 35 percent of women have experienced violence at the hands of another person in their lifetime, according to 2017 report from the United Nations.”

However, these are the same people that complained about the under-representation of female protagonists in these stories. The problem is that… you got what you wanted; more women in fiction. The problem is that fiction can in many cases be extremely violent and as such, the more you put women in the forefront of these stories, the more you’re going to expose them to these situations. It is not avoidable if they’re going to get the level of equality they want.

Simply put, there is no pleasing these people. No matter what you do or how much you try to cater to them, they will find something to complain or faux virtue signal about. There will always be something that they find offensive. They want fiction to tackle controversial topics and then get mad when it does.

Another example I want to tackle is an article by Eurogamer. This time dealing with the imminent release of a game that both I and my wife are really looking forward to; Detroit Become Human. This game looks like its going to be amazing! A narrative-driven story where the choices you make have major consequences on the plot, perma-deaths, etc. A creator’s dream!

Before reading on, I’d advise everyone to watch the most recent trailer for the game. NSFW just as a heads-up:

(I smell a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence if this game does well…)

So… as awesome as this is, of course there are going to be some detractors. Eurogamer does not disappoint me here:

David Cage on Detroit and its depiction of domestic violence

I want to explore a couple of the questions:
The concern I have is that it’s using something like domestic abuse and child abuse – which is a very real issue for unfortunately far too many people – and using it as window dressing rather than exploring the ramifications of those issues.”

Okay, one it’s a trailer. It doesn’t really give you a lot of time to explore the ramifications. Literally, it’s a three-minute taste of something that many writers would have trouble adequately explaining in a 500-page book. Trailers are meant to give you a sample of what you’re going to be experiencing. If something dealing with child abuse bothers you too much that you don’t think this is something you would enjoy, that’s fine. Don’t purchase the game. I have no issue with that, as a child rights advocate, I admit that this put me outside of my comfort zone.

That being said, right after that scene, there is one sentence in the video that makes me think this writer didn’t actually watch the trailer ‘Things could have been different.’ The trailer actually shows you how the decisions you make in the game can change the outcome of this situation for better or worse. The child doesn’t have to end up abused, you as the gamer have the opportunity to prevent it.

However, even if you didn’t… so what? Child abuse is a very real thing. As someone who has experienced it both first and second hand worked at a program for children taken out of their homes, etc. I can honestly say that what goes on in the trailer is not far from reality for too many children. It’s uncomfortable, but it is definitely not something that should be ignored. If fiction can help bring a light to the discussion on this topic, I applaud any attempt made to.

The other question the writer asked that irked me…
Finally – I know I need to wrap up – is nothing off-limits as far as you’re concerned as a writer?” 

I think David Cage answered this one perfectly. So I’ll add his response here:
“Off-limits? What is off-limits is what goes beyond the values I believe in. There are things I’d never do. I’d never do a racist game, or a misogynist game. These are the limits. When you feel okay with the content and the meaning when you know you have nothing to be ashamed of because it’s fair and it tells the right story and because it’s moving. There are no limits.

There’s been these discussion in literature for years and years and years – one of the most famous poets was called Baudelaire, this guy was sued because he was talking about things he should be ashamed of. Today he’s one of the most famous poets in French literature. I think it’s normal that we have this conversation in games now. It’s part of the process.
He is absolutely correct here. The only limits on creators should be those imposed by our own morals and values. The whims of the readers or critics should not be taken into account because it’s not their story. It’s our story that we put out there for them to enjoy. I’m not saying our readers and/or consumers aren’t important. Of course, they are and we want them to enjoy what we offer them. The problem is that our readers typically come from a diverse background and have different wants, desires, and expectations. You can’t pander to all of them and in choosing to pander to any, you run the risk of alienating the rest.
Even worse if you try to pander to the culture warrior or moral guardian crowd. This is something Marvel Comics has done and frankly… they’re hurting bad became of it as I’ve explored in many other topics. These people cannot be pleased and even if you can appease them for a short time, eventually you will put a pinkie toe out of line at which point they will eat you alive.

So while I’m sure to not get many brownie points for saying this… You cover child abuse, spousal abuse, murder, rape, prostitution, or bigotry. Tackle situations that will make some people cringe. Make people who are usually the moral right the bad guys! You put your companion character in a skimpy outfit while giving your own absurd muscle masses that even a WWE superstar would drool over. Fiction and fantasy are yours to enjoy, so make them good!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Top 10 Horror Movies

Hello everyone and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

While I usually do some writing advice that often surrounds the Holidays, I couldn’t really find anything in the usual writer request mailbox. So instead, I thought I’d offer my top 10 favorite horror movies of all time list. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that these are the scariest movies, but they are horror films that I thoroughly enjoy. So be prepared to disagree with me on whether these are actually scary… even if you are completely wrong.

10. Let Me In

I honestly debated even putting this one on the list. Because despite being on my top-5 favorite movies of all times list, this… really isn’t that scary. I saw that because it’s really a love story first and a horror movie second. It has it’s fair share of jump scares, but that’s really not where the meat of the movie is. Oh and before anyone goes nuts, yes I am aware that it is a remake, and yes I’m fully aware that most people consider the original the superior film, but I consider them completely separate as the original source material is barely recognizable here. So it has it’s moments, but if you’re looking for a deeper scare, this isn’t the movie for you.

9. Paranormal Activity

This movie… okay most of it I find to be kind of slow and not all that scary. However by the time you get to the end, you realize that it was all building up to one single solitary scene:

Oh God… this scene had chills flowing down my back after the screaming stopped. All you hear is slow footsteps on the stares and all you can do is wonder what’s coming up to reveal itself. In this case, it’s not what you see… its what you don’t see that is the most freaky. In the end, this movie turned out to be incredibly well done.

8. The Unborn

Yes… there’s nothing scarier than trying to sit through a horror movie on Netflix that no one has head about, hoping that its good. However this one is actually very well done and extremely enjoyable. The Holocaust backstory and Jewish mysticism actually helped make this one good. I’m also a huge fan of Gary Oldman.

7. Evil Dead (2013)

I’ll be honest, I don’t really consider the original one a horror movie. It was WAY too campy for that. This one however delivers the gore, blood, and demonology. There really isn’t anything else to really say about it. It is the original… on steroids.

6. Pulse (US Version) 

Want to kick your electronics addiction? This movie will do it. It’s got unseen scares, jump scares, a dark story, and all kinds of effects that just add to the darkness of the plot. This movie had me going from beginning to end and really keeps you on the edge of your seat. It basically tells the story of how the dead have found a way back into our world… through the internet and wireless communication. How the right code was cracked that allowed communication between the two worlds and now humanity is forced to either live behind closed doors in red-taped rooms, or head to dead zones where the dead can’t go.

5. Drag Me to Hell. 

Not going to lie, I found this movie quite silly at first. However as it went on, the movie became darker and darker… only to become silly again when the monster possessed a goat. However yet again… this movie was saved by a very dark twist of an ending…

 

4. The Last Exorcism

This is pretty much the opposite of the other movies, while the suspense, build up, and scary scenes were great, I want to know what happened to the born-again exorcist who marched out towards the bonfire right at the end. The sequel doesn’t do anything to help answer any of these questions.

3. The Exorcist 3

In my opinion, the only true sequel to the original Exorcist is this movie right here. It follows the story of the detective from the first movie and even has a major reveal about Father Karras from the first film. It can be silly at times, however it also has a really good twist and an amazing performance from Brad Douriff.

2. The Exorcist

Yeah it’s not really a horror movie list without this one at the top. This is still considered by most to be the scariest movie out there. It is said that people went running from the theaters back when this was first released. Not helping matters was when the church confirmed that yes, things like this can happen.

Whether or not you find it scary, it’s still a dark story that can give even the most desensitized minds pause.

1. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Yeah I think everyone is seeing a pattern by this point. I love exorcism movies. I admit that this one had me freaked out when I saw it and you might be surprised by what scenes. The exorcism didn’t really bother me, nor did the scenes where Emily is shown being possessed. What freaked me out were the two scenes with Dr. Cartright. I can’t find clips for these scenes, but essentially he appears at a low point in the trial offering his help. The entire time the camera is on him, he is glancing off into the sky or behind the lawyer that he’s talking to. It’s never revealed what’s scaring him, but the most chilly lines in the movie were uttered at this point.

Dr. Cartright: That girl was not schizophrenic, she was not narcoleptic, or any combination of the two… I’ve seen people with those afflictions, they can be horrible of course… but they don’t scare me…

Erin: But what you saw there… did?

Dr. Cartright: God… if I’d known, I never would have been there!

Just the way he says it and the fact that this meeting is before the reveal of the exorcism, makes this movie for me.

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Reality of Child Sex Trafficking Rings…

In the wake of what’s been going on in Hollywood recently… I felt the need to repost this…

James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

… I don’t want to post this. I REALLY don’t want to post this. As all of you know, a lot of my writing advice and posts lately have been about the realities and forms of evil.

Well if you remember yesterday, I posted about just how rare true evil actually was, and how sometimes even the most evil people believe that what they’re doing is for the greater good…

This isn’t one of those times. This is one of the other times I referred to, a complete and utter breach of everything moral and ethical, a violation of taboo, and… I really can’t say anything else.

To anyone who knows who he is, Sargon of Akkad is a fairly prolific Youtuber who does a great deal of political/social commentary. He’s far from unbiased, I’ll admit, but he does a fairly good job of going after both sides of the…

View original post 459 more words

Political Overload… Too Much Already!

 

I’ve touched on this before, but with everything going on and with some rather intense political discussion going on with some of my friends… I kind of wanted to tackle the current situation.

We now live in a world where almost everything is politicized. Those of us who are long time fans of Marvel comics have seen the paradigm shift in content, video games have taken their lumps, commercials have taken theirs, literature has always been politicized, but like comics it seems to have gotten a lot worse, and sports has also entered the mix. Though inserting politics into sports is nothing new (thank you Bob Costas), it’s certainly rare that we see it at this level.

It is an unfortunate trend in the United States which is currently a hugely politically polarized country. It has seeped into almost every aspect of our lives, including our cultural institutions.

So one might ask the question… why is this happening? Well… honestly in my opinion, it is a lack of restraint on the part of many politically minded people. When we talk about the NFL, Colin Kaepernick certain had a huge hand in politicizing football and Donald Trump made it considerably worse with his own comments.

So what’s the issue? People are speaking up about things that they feel are injustices or are speaking out about causes that they feel are important, what could possibly be wrong with that?

Well nothing, for the most part. Just like there is nothing wrong with your friend talking about how much he loved a movie he saw… at first. However after the first hour of listening to him go on and on about it, you start getting bored and if it continues for much longer… it almost gets to the point where you don’t even want to see the movie.

A very enlightening study done by the APA (that’s American Psychological Association… not the Acolyte Protection Agency), showed the people got sick of seeing political ADs really quickly during the election season.

What’s worse is that we also see companies under pressure to add politics into their advertisements for things that are not political, but consumers largely do not like it.

We saw this with Budweiser commercial featuring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen…

The result of this ad were slumping sales and Budweiser axing the campaign. People simply didn’t want to hear about it and voted with their dollars.

So this is quite the enigma… customers do not like this and wind up spending their money elsewhere, yet for some reason advertisers are feeling subtle pressures to insert politics anyway. Like somehow its important that they let people know their political stance and if they are with some perceived notion of ideological correctness, that will sell more product.

However the numbers have shown otherwise.

So why do they do this?

Maybe because they have a devil may care attitude about their brand and view their political leanings as more important? More likely though, as is the case with Marvel, they have completely mislabelled their readers. While it’s true that the majority of millennials are left leaning, that doesn’t mean that entirety of their audience is and it certainly doesn’t mean that they’re as partisan as the company.

In Colin’s case, I’d say it was the former. His politics are more important than his brand. He believes in the issue and forget consequences, he’s going to make his point… unfortunately this got blown way out of proportion thanks in part to Trump.

Here’s the real problem though… The media has been framing this entire thing as a showdown between the NFL and Trump… however if you look at this a lot more closely, that’s not the case. This really boils down to the NFL vs. the fans. As I stated before, you have a fanbase that is largely apolitical when it comes to sports, they use sports as an escape from every day life and politics, so they don’t appreciate it when politics comes into play. I don’t think the NFL quite realizes this.

So they can attack Trump all they want, and that’s fine, they’re well within their rights to do so… however the fans are already leaving. You’re already seeing a lot of people go from Professional to College football because it’s more enjoyable. However with situation may have turned what was a brook into a river. In the end, Trump has nothing to lose here, but the NFL has everything to lose because once the fans are gone, the tickets stop selling, and the sports packages stop selling, so too does their paychecks.

They may think they’re injuring Trump, but the reality of the situation is that this is not what’s happening.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Let me know what you think below.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim