Fictional Friends

It's strange how we can attach ourselves to those that don't exist. A piece of media can be an emotional journey and like any sort o...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Fictional Friends

It's strange how we can attach ourselves to those that don't exist. A piece of media can be an emotional journey and like any sort of journey, we feel a good relationship with those involved, for maybe just resonating with a couple of personality traits, aspire to be like them or love what they do or stand for. Today, I felt like gushing about fictional characters I adore for a myriad of different reasons.

Lucio (Overwatch, 2016) 
"My New Year's resolution? Hm, new skates for all the kids in the neighborhood."

I managed to jump in the open beta of Overwatch before the game came out and was set on maining Mei. Of course, like any competitive team game, I couldn't do such a thing because I was always stuck playing healer. Cue Lucio, a freedom fighter and musician from Brazil. I liked the fact he looked straight out of Jet Set Radio which is why I went over to him and he happened to be the most fun to play for me, currently sitting on almost 50 hours playtime with him. Not only that but he is such a good character to aspire to be. Lucio grew up in a poor background so to lift people's spirits, he used his music, going from playing music on street corners to the successful musician he is today with his debut album "Synaethsia Auditiva". Between this, Vishkar Industries (Symmetra's company) took over his hometown to try and "improve the lives of the people" but instead did the complete opposite, using their tech to keep people down. Lucio stole their equipment and transformed it into his signiture getup that he uses to motivate the people and help his fight for freedom.

Lucio absolutely shines in every line he speaks. It's unreal to think people hate him because of how much of a good heart he has. Most of his lines are an attempt at motivation, his most common being "Look at this team. We're gonna do great!" just before a match starts and the flutter in his voice when he sings "Mo-ving with the pay-load". The only reason to hate him is when you're near a ledge and the fucker boops you right down it. God damn it, Lucio... but I still love you. How can I stay mad at you?

Beavis and Butthead (Beavis and Butthead, 1993 -2011)
"A bed shouldn’t have instructions. Except for, like, ‘Sleep."

You ever have those characters that you're kind of ashamed to admit you act like? Beavis and Butthead are those characters for me. Beavis and Butthead is an animated series created by Mike Judge which was intended to make fun of the MTV crowd of the time; dopey teenagers making sex jokes and listening to rock and roll. What happened instead was these pair of apathetic morons weirdly resonated with that crowd and became a huge hit for the station... I am one of those people that resonated with these guys. Around when I was 17, I reflected back on the kind of person I was before; loud, overly-expressive, obnoxious, "le su nerdi xd" and didn't really think about what I said. When I reflected, I sort of became the opposite as sort of defense mechanism and basked in my own apathy. My humour became ridiculously dry and it's why Beavis and Butthead just hits that spot so well for me. Crude humour is hard to work with but I think it works very well with B&B because of the way they express it and how socially unaware they are. Even them walking out in the middle of class with no-one saying a single thing to them makes me laugh. Beavis and Butthead are also strangely clever in a post-modern sort of way; the anti-intelligent intelligent. They make very witty observations about the things around them or the cutaway segments where they watch a music video (or reality TV in the newer episodes). It's just that monotone apathy that tickles my fancy. It's why the movie, "Beavis and Butthead Do America", is my favourite movie of all time. That's no sarcasm. The movie does not fail to make me laugh every time.

Melia Antiqua, Xenoblade Chronicles (2010)
"G-gotcha...friendio! Leave it to us...m-mate! Is that correct, Sharla?"

It's no secret to everyone that I bloody love Xenoblade Chronicles. The music, the sprawling world to explore, the story and - of course - the characters. It is so hard to pick a favourite because almost all of the main party are just great but I have to point to Melia for this.

Melia is daughter to the emperor of her people, the High Entia. When we first meet her, she's reserved and quite stuck up (yeah, cliche, I know) but she warms to the rest of the party as the game goes on. She develops a crush on Shulk, the main character, but she learns to reserve her feelings to make Shulk happy in his relationship later in the game. She also doesn't wear the title of princess lightly and actually does stuff in the name of her kingdom which is why she joins the party permanently later on. There are many other reasons why I love Melia but that goes into spoiler territory and I'd love people to give Xenoblade a try for themselves.

Robert (Bob) Richards, Tekken 6 (2007)"Speed...and...weight."
I haven't played a huge amount of Tekken. The only one I really sat down with was Tag 2 and I played a chunk of SFxT if that counts. In Tag 2, my team consisted of Alisa, a robot girl with chainsaws in her arms and has a detatchable head, and Bob, a freestyle karate practicer from the US.
I love Bob for his character. Bob was a martial arts expert at a very young age but the problem he had with himself was his body wasn't enough to take down larger opponents so he focused on a training regime where he was able to continue to be agile with his new larger structure.

Bob represents struggle. It might be comedic to see the silly fat man jump around but it shows you can do anything with hard work. Bob trained for years to be able to maintain the same physical skill with his new larger body. It's something to aspire to be. You can do anything if you put your mind to it and it's why I love Bob so much. He's also really fun to play.

I sat on this post for too long. I showed my friends half of it like 2 months ago but I'm glad it's finally done. I have some uni related gubbins to do but I hope to be more active on the blog in the near future. At most, July.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

I'm Racist According to Oxford University

I've been sitting on another post for a while. I was gonna try and add a bit more to it but let's live in the moment and talk about how much of a bunch of cunts silly people the Equality and Diversity division at Oxford University are.

Oxford; the university every aspiring British child wants to study at. A university of opportunities, the best in the business... the biggest guilt trippers and thought shamers of any university, apparently.

According to the Equality and Diversity division of Oxford uni, not making eye contact or avoiding any form of communication could be seen as racism (or to use the term they used, 'racial micro-aggressions). They don't care about context, they don't care if you share racial traits with the person you're in the situation with. You're racist. It's also racist if you ask someone where they're originally from.

Racism is a very controversial topic. There's debate whether you can be racist to white people, the whole idea of cultural appropriation and just saying the wrong things in general. While we can have our discussions there, it's almost unanimous that these two aspects aren't racist and it's actually ridiculous if people believe it is. It's almost as ludicrous as the belief of the world being flat. Dr Joanna Williams of the University of Kent is one of the bigger POIs when it comes to talking about this, saying to The Telegraph "'the guidance was “completely ridiculous” and will make students “hyper-sensitive” about how they interact with one another'".

I'll touch briefly on asking where someone is from. Asking someone where they're from is usually a polite thing to ask. It shows interest in a person as long as you're not coming off as condescending. It's no different than asking if someone has pets or what hobbies they have. At my university, there are people from many different parts of the world and, heck, many different parts of the UK. I have asked numerous times if people are local or have asked where they're from if they're Erasmus students. Lecturers have even asked this in some of our Language classes to try and help or get a different perspective on a topic such as when we did a module on dialects. It's a conversation starter. Hell, you could make a fucking argument for it being racist NOT TO ask someone where they're from because you're ignoring their indentity. I don't agree it's racist either way but I'd say there's more of a case for the opposite.

But that doesn't get my blood boiling. Let's move on, shall we?

University is a very stressful time. Students have a plethora of assignments to do, have to balance free time with study time and have to attempt to fit in with the right crowd and do well. Let's add the guilt of being racist onto that by doing two things that are not racist in the slightest. You know what else students struggle with? Anxiety and social situations.

In 2014, The Psychologist did a study regarding social anxiety in higher education. They surveyed 1500 students across 2 universities and showcased what the students felt that have said they struggle with anxiety; "...self-selecting participants reported frequent anxiety in learning situations that involved interacting with students and staff (Russell, 2008a; Topham, 2009). They described intense anxiety and embarrassment, physical symptoms (e.g. sweating, blushing), self-consciousness, fear of criticism, cognitive and behavioural impairment (e.g. forgetting, stuttering) and a tendency to dwell on past performance. Students habitually avoided public situations such as lectures, seminars and project groups by being absent or through non-participation".

On the official Social Anxiety UK website, they describe the different symptoms associated with social anxiety and I want to bring attention to the behavourial aspect; "It exceeds normal "shyness" as it leads to excessive social avoidance and substantial social or occupational impairment. Feared activities may include almost any type of social interaction, especially small groups, dating, parties, talking to strangers, restaurants, etc. Possible physical symptoms include "mind going blank", fast heartbeat, blushing, stomach ache, nausea and gagging. Cognitive distortions are a hallmark, and learned about in CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Thoughts are often self-defeating and inaccurate". Keep the phrase "social avoidance" in mind. It not only refers to avoiding going out but also AVOIDING EYE CONTACT.

The worst fucking thing you can do to a socially anxious person is make them feel guilty for being socially anxious. You are not alleviating racism on campus; you're putting a strain on those with a potentially emotionally and mentally crippling disorder. They're not making eye contact not because they hate coloured people. They do it because they feel guilty. They feel like they're offending someone or creeping them out by making eye contact. They become nervous if their eyes lock onto someone elses. That's how I feel.

I'll try to give some context as to why this makes me so angry. I have struggled with social interaction since primary school. I didn't fit in in primary or secondary school, I acted like an idiot in college to try and hide my insecurities (and I became ridiculously emotionally reserved after as a result), I was bombarded with stuff that did not help me with a job search when I was denied going to university in 2013 which decimated the little confidence I had and when I finally got into uni, I had my first panic attack in early 2016. I am feeling fucking awful just typing this anecdote. You know what is a result of all of this? Struggling with eye contact. It does not matter who it fucking is, I struggle so much with it. I struggle looking fucking family in the eyes, the same flesh and blood. To link a common trait of social anxiety with something so heinous is such a ballsy move. I have not even touched on the fact it's also a trait of autism and aspergers and there's people that just generally find it awkward to make eye contact with strangers. I commend Oxford in a fucking weird way for having the audacity to come up with such an absolutely fucking inane idea.

You're a bunch of fucking cunts.

Here's a picture of Hunter, one of my cats.

 Isn't he a cutie?

Inspired by the article "Students who avoid making eye contact could be guiltyof racism, Oxford University says" by Allison Pearson of The Telegraph.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Pep(si) Talk

You've all seen this by now; Pepsi have had a new ad campaign where they were trying to push diversity and all that good shit but instead, they've ended up offending everyone.

The premise of the advert is people are marching for a... reason. Right off the bat, we can draw comparisons from this to the Woman's March that occured during Donald Trump's inauguration or the many Black Lives Matter marches. BLM plays a huge role so I'll touch upon it later.

Yeah! Join the non-specified conversation!
During the march, we cut back and forth between a Western-Asian lady in a hijab clawing her way through photos, an Eastern-Asian man rocking it on the cello and... Kendall Jenner?
A lady that is famous purely for her sister's arse is our hero? Sign me up m8!
It's kind of hard to be on board already. This ad is showing a fight for the "little man"; the ethnic minorities, the poor, the women, the non-straights and the person to help push all of this is a woman that's rich and famous purely by association. If they had someone who worked hard for their fame or came from a hard background, I may have been more tame towards this. They would have represented the idea that we can break through our boundaries and become what we want to be. Kendall is under a fortnight younger than me and she sees more money in 15 minutes than I ever will in my entire life. I cannot see how this was a good choice for our "leader".
There's a few more cuts to photo lady and cello man (gotta get the shots of those Pepsi cans!) who join the march after they had a good sip of a refreshing Pepsi. Then, after some more shots of every creed and colour in this march with Pepsi logos all over the place, cello man spots Kendall and prompts him with those special eyes of his.

I need healing!
There's a weird mutuality to it, like he knows exactly what she's thinking and him just looking at her gives her the courage to join the march (I thought it would've been a Pepsi) which is followed by the second dumbest segment.
Boom! She rips off her blonde wig, a symbolism of breaking away from conformism! Money doesn't matter, only people! Apart from that bag of money Pepsi paid you to be in this advert to pretend to care about the smaller guys.

We have shots of some more people of different varieties, followed by more shots of Pepsi and some police officers standing by the protest.

I am the law!
Notice how the coppers aren't being facetious, aren't being violent and aren't antagonising the protest. Despite this, you know exactly what the ad is trying to do. It's shot them in a way to make them seem like the "bad guy" and we presume this straight away as we draw comparisons to the BLM marches. BLM can spark debates all day but this is the main reason as to why everyone doesn't like this advert. To some, it's antagonising all police officers as the bad guys who hate minorities. Let it be clear that there is definitely a problem, especially in America, with police officers racially profiling and police brutality towards minorites but of course, it's the case of bad apples spoiling the bunch. To others, this trivialises the BLM movement, especially with a part later in the ad. To want us to be unified is fine and dandy but it's kind of taking the piss when you're throwing Pepsi in our face every five seconds. It's very reminiscent of the line "Police taking shots and I ain't talkin' bout Ciroc" in the song 'Don't Shoot' by The Game and many collborative artists, Ciroc being P. Diddy's expensive vodka that he references in his own line. It's piggy backing off an issue in order to sell a product.

But folks, we're not even at the worst part. That comes up next. We get more shots of Pepsi, more shots of the march and Kendall fist bumping and being buddy buddy with folks in the march as she grabs a Pepsi can. With no hesitation, she catwalks over to one of the police officers... and offers the Pepsi as a fucking peace offering.

Wow! All my racial, sexual and gender-specific prejudices are all gone thanks to this canned beverage!
This is the shot that grinded everyone's gears. The shot that cheesed everyone's onions. The shot that got on everyone's tits. I'm pretty sure if someone walked up to a cop with apparently that much prejudice during a protest with a can of Pepsi, they'd get pepper sprayed in seconds. All those decades of social tension, how do we solve it? Mother-fucking Pepsi. What a load of bollocks.
We also have a situation to compare this to. As everyone else has brought up, Isesha Evans was apart of the BLM march for Baton Rouge after the shooting of a black man from the hands of police brutality. Iesha was checked, ID'd and profiled by police all day. As retaltiation, she took a stand and peacefully stood in front of armoured police officers as they rushed towards her. They arrested her for obstructing a highway.

The powerful image taken by Jonathan Bachman of Reuters
She was strip-searched and treated poorly in jail for such a minor crime. Iesha stood for something and her stand was not in vain. She also didn't trivialise the situation by giving the officers rushing towards her a fucking Pepsi.

The bobby smugly sips the can and everyone cheers as the camera girl takes a photo, like they solved prejudice by giving one cop a can of Pepsi. It then cuts to the group with the slogan "Live Bolder, Live Louder, Live for Now!" which is ironic, considering any carbonated drink is bad for you.

We are under huge social tension currently in regards to many things such as race, gender, sexuality and many other aspects. People are scared to just be themselves because of the chance they'd get brutally beaten just because of who they are. People fear the bad police out there who will racially profile them and fear that they could get shot just because of who they are. To use something as sensitive as this to sell a fizzy drink is disgusting.

Fuck this ad. Bring back Pepsiman.

The advert has now been taken down. All screencaps taken from a mirror uploaded by The Independent.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Go, Go Away Power Rangers (Review)

I am a person who rarely watches films. I spend most of my free time playing video games or binging YouTube videos. If I ever want to watch a film, especially at the cinema, there really has to be a driving force, whether a positive one (Deadpool and Lego Batman) or negative (this movie).

I loved Power Rangers as a kid. I grew up from the original Mighty Morphin' up to around Time Force. The pure reason I wanted to see this movie was more curiosity than excitement because I did not have good impressions with the first trailer. When putting it like that, I guess it didn't disappoint in that aspect. That's one good point.

I am going to say right off the bat that this movie is 90% terrible. Even putting my fan biases aside, it is just not a good movie.

The Positives
I liked two shots; the shot of Jason with his friend in the car near the beginning where you see it from his friend's perspective and the shot after the comeuppance of the villain (which was also the only thing I laughed at). I also liked the last 15 minutes when it remembered it was a Power Ranger film. It had some good music choices sometimes?
I guess the actors were nice to look at and Bryan Cranston was decent as Zordon, albeit underused. There was also a nice cameo from Jason David Frank.
There was one at first kind of funny joke where Alpha 5 said "They use English, a primitive language" which stopped being funny when I thought about the fact Alpha and Zordon have been around for 65mil years and English has been around for 1000-1500 years. Kind of a big difference there.

The Negatives
I will start with non-spoiler stuff, then I'll create a break for all the spoiler talk because I cannot fully say why I dislike this movie without going into spoilers.
My biggest problem with the movie is that it cannot decide on a tone. This was a huge initial issue when I watched the first trailer. Some things were toned down, like the removal of the "kill yourself" note in the locker (at least in the 12a UK version I watched if it's still in any other version) but it could not decide on a tone. I actually commend the Mighty Morphin' movie over this purely because it had that cheesy tone throughout rather than trying to appease two sides of the coin and pleasing neither. This felt like a contributing factor to the story being very underdeveloped. Things are brought up by characters and dropped almost immediately, sometimes to the point of tokenism. Billy mentions once that he has autism, in a context where it came out of nowhere, and is never touched on at all nor is used to develop Billy's character in any way. Same goes for Trini's conservative parents that disapprove of her being gay. Brought up once, never developed, never seen again. It seemed like a way to try and get brownie points from the progressives but comes off as pandering and is not utilised at all to create something meaningful or something the audience can get attached to. We know barely anything about the characters and the chemistry is very forced. Kimberly is easily the worst character because there is just nothing interesting about her, somehow being worse than Trini who appears out of nowhere. They touch on her ruining her friend's life and that's it. All the group's time together is on screen and even when they all go on this journey together, they still barely know each other but act like they've been friends for years when it's convenient for the plot. The closest we get to chemistry is the relationship between Jason and Billy but that just stops after 10 minutes.
Plot points are also done within minutes, going back to the disjointed story point. There is absolutely no subtlety nor time for things to sink in because everything is happening so quickly and there is absolutely no excuse for it because this movie runs for two hours. It's comparative to the Fant4stic movie that came out a couple of years ago where it just feels like there's a lot missing or time was a big issue or something stopping this movie from being coherent.
Another comparison to be made to Fant4stic is there's little action. I counted that it took about 1 hour and 40 minutes of the movie for something grand to happen. There was a fight scene around 1 hour 30... which lasted 10 seconds. Proper action did not happen until they got into the Power Ranger suits. It took 1 hour and 40 minutes in this 2 hour movie for them to get into the suits which was pointless anyway to build it up for that long when the suits are in all the promotional material but still build it up when they actually morph by distorting the image and showing them in the dark when they walk up. They do show off something else fans would appreciate which was not shown in any promotional material to my knowledge (or at least not physically shown) with no build up. They just showed it with no build up, like a fart in the breeze.
The CGI ranges from alright to awful. A specific example I can think of for bad CGI is a yellow car that gets stamped on in the last main scene which looks so fake and so out of place. It would actually be an insult to compare it to cars in the early 3D GTAs. The movie is also dark 90% of the time. Not tonally dark but physically. A chunk of scenes are either underwater, in a dark spaceship or at night and you just can't see a thing. I get that it's supposed to set the mood but it goes way overboard to the point where you're watching a black screen with a hint of limbs somewhere.


A good example of scenes not lasting long enough is the absolutely desperate attempt to pull at heartstrings by killing Billy off for less than 5 minutes. There is absolutely no tension at all because Zordon explained to Jason 20 minutes earlier that he needs the rangers to come back so he can come back to life. You knew exactly what was going to happen with Billy when he died. How Billy died also looked off. I think he was supposed to be hanged when Rita ties the group up to a boat and lets Billy drop but it's shot in a way that makes it look as if he died by being in water for 10 seconds.
Krispy Kreme is a huge plot point. Rita needs to find some kind of power crystal to help her destroy the world and Billy somehow figures out where it is; It's under a Krispy Kreme diner. The reason the group were tied up was because Rita somehow knew Billy knew where it was and he doesn't just say "It's in a diner", he explicitly says it's at a Krispy Kreme and Rita asks where it is by name and eats there in the climax. The Krispy Kreme sponsor is not subtle at all.
A lot of plot points were too convenient. They found the power coins because Billy blew up a random wall that happened to have them. Those five people specifically got those coins because they just stumbled upon each other rather than all willingly went together (Jason and Billy were the only ones who were together. Zack was perving on Kimberly from a distance, Kimberly was swimming in the lake which Jason happened to find and Trini doesn't even get 2 minutes screentime before the power coin scene). Rita came back because a fishing boat caught her dead body. Rita knew exactly where Trini lived and knew she was a Power Ranger somehow. Rita just happened to know Billy knew where the crystal was. It happened so often, it came off as annoying.
The thing I mentioned earlier that they showed off with no build up was the Zords. The Zords look fine individually but the Megazord looks bad. In the show, you could see what piece each individual zord made up and it looked cool when it was all together, much like a Transformer, but somehow, the 5 multicoloured Zords created a navy blue generic looking robot. The Zords also made up most of the last 10 minute scene so them being in the suits was pointless anyway, especially because earlier, Zack was riding the Mastodon Zord without a suit on right after they were casually shown off to the group.
Goldarr is in the movie. They shoehorn the line "Make my monster grow!" from Rita despite him materialising, not growing. Goldarr isn't bad but he isn't good either. He's just there and he's giant for some reason. I know Rita is able to make monsters bigger in the show with her staff but he starts out giant and he's a liquid monster as opposed to solid gold.
There was also a post credits scene, which I called right at the beginning of the movie, that teased Tommy. Teasing for a sequel is a negative to me.

__________________________END OF SPOILERS______________________________________

In conclusion, I have learnt a valuable lesson; Even out of sickening curiosity, don't watch movies based on things I like.