Weird Implications of the Horror Genre

I think most of us would agree that many horror movies are just made to be dumb fun and aren’t meant to be taken seriously.  There’s a movie called “Wish Upon” that’s coming out at the end of the week that’s about a magic box that grants people’s wishes.  But there’s a catch.  For every wish the box grants, someone close to the wisher dies!

Yeah…it’s pretty dumb.  But that’s usually the point.  These kind of blockbuster horror movies aren’t really about a story…they’re about spooks and scares and things going “BOO”.

Also gore…there’s a lot of gore these days.

But what if we took these movies more seriously?  It is true that some older horror fiction contained moral lessons or at least satirical observations on modern society.  So what would happen if we took these tales at face value?

Well…

 

Sex is bad

If you’ve never seen the show “Robot Chicken”, all you really need to know is that it’s a skit show involving action figures.  And it’s raunchy…oh so raunchy…

There’s a skit on the show that mashes together “Scooby-Doo” and “Friday the 13th”, with the crew of the Mystery Machine getting brutally murdered one by one by the masked killer Jason Voorhees.  At one point during the skit Velma complains that “the virgin lives the longest in these horror movies”.  And it’s true.  The virgin is the last one alive, particularly in slasher movies.

The excellent 2011 movie “The Cabin in the Woods” references this, stating that for things to work out, the virgin has to be the absolute last one to die, if at all.

But why is this exactly?  How did this become a trope?  Well, as it turns out, horror movies have a weird thing with sex.  Which is that sex is bad.  Very bad.  Unless you’re married.  Which is why in slasher flick movies, the promiscuous cheerleader and the football jock she’s dating are pretty much always the first targets.

The movie “It Follows” literally revolves around a monster curse that is passed on by sleeping with people.  It’s weird, but horror movies apparently grabbed on to this cultural fear of teenagers having sex.  The plot of “It Follows” reads like a paper-thin metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases.

 

You darn kids and yer unprotected sex!

 

It’s like horror movies abide by this strange, Victorian era sense of morality when it comes to sex.  Which brings us to our next topic…

 

Warped Moral Messages

The Sam Raimi movie “Drag Me to Hell” features a female loan officer who refuses an extension to an old lady, who subsequently turns out to be a gypsy or something and puts a curse on the main character which will send her to hell.

Seriously?  I mean, refusing a loan extension is a cruel thing to do, but even the IMDb plot summary points out that she only does it out of misplaced fear for her job:

“Christine Brown is a loans officer at a bank but is worried about her lot in life. She’s in competition with a competent colleague for an assistant manager position and isn’t too sure about her status with a boyfriend. Worried that her boss will think less of her if she shows weakness, she refuses a time extension on a loan to an old woman, Mrs. Ganush, who now faces foreclosure and the loss of her house. In retaliation, the old woman place a curse on her which, she subsequently learns, will result in her being taken to hell in a few days time.”

Given that this movie seems to take place in the modern-day, why not go after the people who caused the housing bubble to burst and created the economic turmoil that likely put the old lady in danger of being foreclosed on?  What about the politicians and the rich people who sat by and let everything fall apart?  I mean, if it’s that easy to curse someone, why not curse the people who deserve it?

But that’s horror movies for you.  They attempt to justify all manner of horrible things through the flimsiest lens possible.  Take, for example, the “Saw” franchise.

If you’ve never seen the movies, the basic premise is that a serial killer kidnaps people and forces them to play elaborate games involving deadly traps.  It’s a franchise that spawned seven different movies and is even spawning another movie later this year, seven years after the last movie came out.  But what bothers me isn’t how many sequels there are, but the motivation behind the killer himself.

In the second movie, Jigsaw tells a former police detective that he attempted to commit suicide after he was diagnosed with cancer.  Evidently, when his attempt failed, he was infused with a new appreciation for life.  And apparently, he was compelled to inspire that appreciation for life in others.

Inspiring an appreciation for life…by physically and psychologically torturing people until they have PTSD and nightmares for the rest of their lives.  And that’s if they survive.

Yep…seems legit.

 

Superstitions are not to be mocked

“There’s a logical explanation for all of this” – Guy who is about to be killed in horrific fashion

A great example of this trope can be seen in “Blair Witch”, the 2016 sequel to “The Blair Witch Project”.  It was…not very good.  Near the beginning of the movie, when the crew is first making their way into the woods, one of the characters makes their thoughts on the legend of the Blair Witch heard and mocks it for all it’s worth.  Then, on the second night, he is chased by some unknown entity and presumably killed.

Just goes to show you kids: don’t mock superstitions.  Because they’ll come true and kill you dead.

And this a common character in horror movies, especially ones involving local legends or folklore.  They’re a skeptic by nature, so they loudly proclaim their disbelief in “silly” superstitions and the like, much to the chagrin of others.

“You actually believe in Bigfoot,” they’ll ask with a mocking chuckle.  “Bigfoot isn’t real.  He’s a myth and a hoax, sustained by people who have nothing better to do with their lives.”

And then Bigfoot will promptly stroll out of the woods, rip the person’s spleen out of their chest, and it so far up their rear end that it pops out their mouth.

Actually, that sounds pretty badass.  I’d pay to see that movie.

 

Archaeology is nothing more than grave robbing

This is a weird one.

I’ve gone on record before about how I enjoy point and click adventure games.  Well I have a couple in mind when it comes to this trope: “Barrow Hill” and its sequel “Barrow Hill: The Dark Path”.

In these games, the central plot revolves around an isolated gas station and motel set near an ancient barrow or burial mound.  In the first game, archaeologist Conrad Morse triggers the horrible events that trap you and other characters in the area because he digs up the mound, taking dirt samples and treasures.  The implication is that he disturbed some kind of ancient spirit by doing so.  And in the second game, which features the spirit of an ancient Wicca witch, goes much the same way.  In the game you find the diary of an archaeologist who dug up the grave of the witch and angered her spirit.

Now, “Dark Path” ends with a message from one of the main characters stating that “there’s a difference between archaeology and grave robbing”.  But the game never makes that distinction.  There’s no point in the game where it points out what would be considered good archaeology.  Because for archaeology to work, things have to be dug up.  But according to the “Barrow Hill” series, that’s a bad thing.

You could argue that it’s more a point about having respect for ancient cultures and tradition, but without any clear indication of how you’re supposed to have respect for these things it comes across as a harsh indictment of the profession itself.  Even if it’s just about not forgetting the past, if we leave it alone eventually nature will erase any trace of these things ever existing.  Even if Conrad Morse hadn’t dug up the barrow in the first “Barrow Hill”, nature would have eventually eroded away the rocks or overgrown the area, which means that people would have forgotten about Barrow Hill anyways.  Think about how many ancient cultures or cities we don’t know about, that we may never know about because nature has long since destroyed any evidence of their passing.

Maybe Indiana Jones could get away with it.  Who knows?

 

I hope you enjoyed reading.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

A Man Walks Into A Bar

A man walks into a bar

He’s been here a thousand times before

He sits down on a stool

orders his favorite drink

and whiles the night away

 

A man walks into a bar

He’s only been here once or twice before

Unsure of himself, he lets his eyes wander

After a minute he sits down

and asks the bartender what’s good here

 

A man walks into a bar

looking to use the restroom

He finishes his business

then quickly exits

It’s a dark and dingy place

Shadow-bound faces hoot and cough

as suffocating smoke spews forth from their lips

 

A man walks into a bar

and sits down at a stool

He catches the eye of a woman

wearing a cheap, revealing dress of red

They strike up a conversation

and later leave in her car

 

He’ll remember this night

as his lawyer hands him the divorce papers

 

A man walks into a bar

As he sits he notices the wandering eyes of a woman

scantily-clad in a red dress

He shrugs off her advances

After all, he’s a married man

 

A man walks into a bar

Silver revolver gleaming underneath

his heavy, brown leather coat

The bartender’s eyes are wide

as the two molded hunks of silver lead

pierce his flesh

The two stare each other in the eye as chaos erupts

People fleeing in a panic

Knocking over large pitchers of beer in their wake

Shattered glass coating the dark wood floor

 

Before he fires one last shot into the bartender’s head

The man says, “you’ll never have her.”

 

A man walks into a bar

Clueless and devastated

He orders a beer

and spends the night wallowing in the brown foam

He tells his story to the bartender

He tells him about how his wife left him

seemingly without provocation or cause

He shows the bartender a picture

The bartender’s face flinches

almost imperceptibly

 

Later that night the bartender makes a call

Tells the woman on the other end that it’s off

He’s seen the pain his actions have caused

 

A man breaks into a bar

It’s after closing time

The bar is silent and barren

A red can of gasoline jostles up and down

as the man walks behind the bar

He lifts the can up over his head and shakes it

Dark liquid spreads all over the counter

and drips onto the floor

 

Reports of the fire would hit early in the morning

The man would never know that the bartender slept

in a loft above

until the silver-colored cuffs click around his wrists

 

A man walks into a bar

and orders a drink

He enjoys himself for a while

But then he wonders

Wonders about the choices he’s made

The choices he will make

And the choices he could have made

 

He wonders if somewhere…

Somehow…

Someone made those choices that he didn’t

He wonders if someone took a left

when he took a right

Where would that man be now?

The thoughts perturb him

and he sits motionless for a minute

the dim lighting casting his face

in half-shadow

 

But then the man shakes his head

and returns to his drink

Maybe it’s better not to know

 

 

Thanks for reading!  This was something a little more experimental than what I usually do, so let me know if you enjoyed it.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here.

It’s Halloween! Time for some spooky ghosts.

Happy Halloween!  As everyone knows there’s nothing scarier than breaking your schedule and posting two days early OOOOOOH SPOOKY!

In all seriousness though, I wanted to do a special post for Halloween.  I’m not much for the dressing up in costume type stuff, but I do enjoy the stories and the general atmosphere that pervades the holiday.  So with that in mind, today I wanted to share some ghosts stories with you.  Generally speaking, I don’t technically believe in ghosts, but I enjoy the tales nonetheless.  So let’s get started.

 

The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

Raynham Hall is a country house in Norfolk, England that was built in the 1600s and is the seat of the Townshend family.  It may or may not have been the first of its kind in England, as the builders choose an Italian style rather than the native one.

 

Raynham Hall

Raynham Hall from the outside.

 

It is certainly something to look at.  But Raynham Hall’s fame extends beyond its architecture, as it is also the sight of one of the most famous ghost photographs of all time.  The story goes like this: two photographers from Country Life magazine, Captain Provand and Indre Shira, were on assignment at the house taking pictures for the magazine in September of 1936.  They had just finished taking a photograph of the stairs when Shira says he saw a veiled figure descending the stairs.  He called out to Provand, who was focusing for another exposure, to take a picture quickly as he flashed the light.

This was the photograph they caught:

 

brown-lady-of-raynham

 

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve seen this image before, as it is one of the most famous ghost photographs of all time.  Now, is it necessarily real?  No.  It is possible that the image is a double-exposure, especially considering the photographers had just taken a shot of the stairs moments before.  But the age of the photograph makes it highly unlikely to be a fake in the sense that they staged it (although some have suggested that maybe Shira walked down the stairs himself or smeared grease on the camera lens).  To me it is likely a genuine article, although whether or not it’s actually a ghost is debatable.  Nevertheless, it is one of the more well-known photos out there, even today.

The supposed ghost is called the Brown Lady because of the dress she wears.  According to legend the ghost is that of Lady Dorothy Walpole, the sister of Robert Walpole who is considered the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.  She was married to Charles Townshend, a man who was apparently known for a violent temper.  When Townshend discovered that Lady Dorothy was having an affair, he grew angry and locked her into her rooms in the house.  She officially died of smallpox in 1726.  Her ghost was seen a number of times, although the sightings grew less frequent following the 1936 photo.

 

The Lord’s Chair

Next we have another old photograph, this one from the 1890s.  But first, a little background.

 

Combermere Abbey

Combermere Abbey

 

 

Combermere Abbey is a former monastery and country house in Cheshire England that was built in the 1130s, making it nearly 900 years old.  After its dissolution in 1538 it was bought and held by the Cotton family until 1919.  Ever since then it has been in private ownership.

But the tale we’re interested in takes place in 1891.  In that year the second viscount (a viscount is a British nobleman ranking above a baron but below an earl) Lord Combermere passed away after being struck by a horse-drawn carriage.  At the time his funeral was taking place, Sybell Corbet (Lady Combermere’s sister) decided to take a picture of the abbey library.  The exposure of the camera took about an hour.  And this is what showed up:

 

combermere-abbey-ghost

 

If you look at the bottom left of the picture, you’ll see what appears to be the transparent figure of a man sitting down in the chair.  Many believe the figure to be that of Lord Combermere.  Now, due to the long exposure time, it has been suggested that one of the staff may have stepped in and sat in the chair.  However, the staff and family at the time refuted this, saying that all of the staff were attending the funeral miles away from there.

Does this mean it’s a true and blue ghost?  Again, no.  It could simply be another case of double-exposure, like in the case of the Brown Lady.  It could also be our brains taking in visual data from the photo and arranging it in the form of a face.  You see, we only actually see a certain percentage of what’s around us (around sixty percent or so, maybe even less).  The rest of it is filled in by our brains, which recognizes patterns and smooths over the gaps for us.  So what we see as the ghost of a man might simply be a trick of the mind.

Or maybe it really is a ghost.  Who knows?

 

The White Lady

This story is interesting, because unlike the last two there is no known possible identity to the mysterious figure that appears in the photo below:

 

White Lady of Worstead Church

 

She is known simply as “The White Lady of Worstead Church”.  Worstead Church itself resides in Norfolk, United Kingdom.  Initially the White Lady was believed to be a malevolent spirit of some kind who would appear on Christmas eve, and that anyone who witnessed her would suffer an untimely death.  A story goes that a man in the 1830s heard of the rumor, laughed it off, and decided to spend the night in the church to debunk it.  When he didn’t return, his friends went looking for him.  They found him huddled in the corner of the belfry, shaking with fear.

His last words before he died were “I’ve seen her…I’ve seen her……”

But a more recent story would seem to show the White Lady in a better light.  In 1975 a woman named Diane Berthelot was traveling in Norfolk with her husband and son.  It was a very hot day, and the family decided to take a rest inside the church.  Diane was sick, and so decided to sit down on one of the pews and rest while her husband took photos.  It wasn’t until after they returned that they saw the white figure in the picture, a figure that none of them saw that day.  When they returned to Norfolk the following summer they showed the picture to a vicar at the church who told them of the White Lady and said that she was a healing spirit.  After being told this, Diane realized that her illness had abated somewhat, something she traced back to that hot summer day the year before.

An interesting story, and an exercise in how beliefs can change over time, given how the White Lady went from being a death-dealing spirit to being a healing one instead.

 

Good Life Ghost

I started with older photographs because in the modern era, photographs are very hard to take at face value.  With the advent of Photoshop and other image editing software, it’s far too easy to edit photos and pass them off as real.  But this next one I feel is a good example of a modern ghost photo, regardless of whether or not it’s a fake:

 

good-life-festival-ghost

 

This was taken at the Good Life music festival in Australia.  Now, it might be hard to see, but if you look at the far right of the picture you’ll see what appears to be the transparent image of a little girl hovering over a building of some kind.  Here’s a closer view:

 

good-life-ghost-close-up

 

Now, the Good Life festival actually made an official statement on Facebook, which reads as follows:

“Good Life Management have been made aware of a photo from Good Life Brisbane 2016, showing what appears to be the ghost of a young girl holding a teddy and hovering on the roof of a building over looking the festival. We have checked with the photographer who took the photo and the original image from the memory stick also shows the girl. We have since spoken with the Brisbane Showgrounds who have revealed that ground staff refuse to go near one of the old warehouses after repeated sightings of a young girl. It is rumoured a little girl named Lucy died at the site in the early 1900’s and has haunted it since.”

Interesting stuff.  They later released an update that said they couldn’t find anything that corroborated the story about Lucy, but that they still believe that the ghost in the picture is genuine.  Now, it could still be a fake, perhaps some kind of marketing ploy by the festival itself.  But like I said, these days it’s very hard to tell.

 

Oklahoma Car Impound Ghost

I thought I’d end with something different.  This time, we have a video to look at, instead of just a picture.

Here’s the story: back in July of 2005 a worker at a car impound lot in Oklahoma spotted something moving around the lot on one of the cameras.  Thinking there might be an intruder and confused about why the alarms had not been triggered, she sent another employee to go see what it was.  But of course, they never found anything, and by that time the figure had disappeared off the cameras as well.

Now, much to my chagrin, I was unable to find a good version of the clip.  There was one that just had the video itself, but for some reason the person who uploaded it put some kind of hard rock/heavy metal track in the background.  So rather than make your eardrums bleed, I’ll share this video of a story a local news station did on the event instead:

 

 

It’s an interesting clip, and one I’ve actually been aware of for a long time.  I first heard about the story back when I was in high school actually, and in doing this post, I was reminded of it.  Could it have been faked?  Probably, although I can’t see what the car lot stood to gain from doing so aside from perhaps some brief publicity.  In any case, some people believe the ghost belongs to one of three car wrecks that were there that day which were involved in fatal accidents.  Some went further, saying that the ghost may have been that of a 33-year-old woman named Tracy Martin, whose pick-up truck had been one of those involved in a deadly crash.

Skeptics have suggested that perhaps, among other things, someone dangled a doll on a string in front of the camera, replicating the effect of a moving figure.  But like our other stories, neither side gains a victory.  And so the footage will likely remain inconclusive, now and forever…

 

Well thank you for reading this special post.  Before I go, I do want to say that I feel that the line between skeptics and believers is often too harsh.  Skeptics often call believers stupid, and vice versa.  Now, I am a skeptic when it comes to these things, but as I said before I still enjoy the stories.  They’re almost like small nuggets of folklore in a way, telling tales about the people of the region who have come and gone.  And sure, it is probably possible to fake every single entry on this list, but just because it is possible doesn’t mean it is so.  That doesn’t mean that they necessarily show actual, factual proof of ghosts.  It just means that there are other possibilities that don’t involve deceitful intent on the part of the photographer or other parties.  Believers need to take things with a grain of salt as well though.  Far too often their need to believe is so strong that they’ll ignore what is right in front of them, the same way conspiracy theorists will ignore any evidence that doesn’t support the story they want.  And they often mark skeptics as “arrogant”, simply because they dare to question things.

Ghosts or no ghosts, we can all just enjoy the stories themselves.  And can’t we all just admit that it’s a little arrogant of human beings to assume that we know all the ways in which the world works?

Anyways, happy Halloween everyone!  Have a great holiday and I will see you this Wednesday for my regularly scheduled post.

Advertising Gone Weird: The Strangeness That is Video Game Commercials

Before we start, I just want you to take a look at this ad.  No seriously, just watch it.  It’ll give you an idea of what’s to come.

 

 

Yes, that was an actual ad that ran on actual television for an actual game.  Pole Position was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600, so presumably the commercial came out around that same time.  It’s certainly bizarre, and if there’s a lesson to be learned from it, it’s that God can be a dick sometimes I guess?

But this isn’t the only television commercial for video games that goes absolutely batshit crazy.  Oh no…there’s plenty of them out there.  Like this one that Nintendo released in Australia and New Zealand.

 

 

Oh yes…it was a whole thing.  Not half a thing, not even a quarter of a thing, but a WHOLE thing.

Now, these two ads I personally never saw on TV, mostly because one, I don’t live in Australia or New Zealand.  And two, I wasn’t even born when these ads were released.  I found them much later on as part of a Cracked.com article talking about strange video game commercials.  And this weirdness was almost par for the course when it came to video game advertisements, particularly in the ’80s and ’90s.  A possible explanation for this was that the technology was still new, and game companies weren’t sure how to present it to a television audience.  It’s also possible that the people in charge of making the ads had no damn clue what video games were about and so just decided to give good old insanity a try when it came to marketing.

Speaking of insanity, check out this ad for the original Legend of Zelda.

 

 

“Now you’re playing with power”?  More like playing with powers beyond mere mortal comprehension.  Poor guy…doomed to forever scour a room searching for a princess that doesn’t exist…

Well I suppose it’s better than the nerd rap commercial they made.  Or is it?  I really don’t know.

In any case, it seems that advertisers had no clue how to market this new technology to people, so they went for the most attention-grabbing tactics they could find.  But were these ads effective?  I can’t really say.  I know that from my own personal experience, television ads for video games rarely, if at all, affected the games I would buy.  Word of mouth and the internet were far better predictors of the games I bought, along with what I read in the gaming magazines I was subscribed to.  Of course, my experience is merely anecdotal, but as far as I can tell the television ads were secondary to the whole thing.

But hey, this is all in the past right?  There’s no way they’re still doing this kind of thing in modern times…right?

Wait, what’s this?  An ad for the Playstation 3 about ten years ago?  Well there’s no way this could be weirder than-

 

 

…dear god what in the hell did I just witness?  Maybe it’s metaphorical.  Maybe it has metaphysical connotations.  Maybe it’s a musing on the frailty of human life and the terrifying power of the technology it can create.

Or maybe drugs.  Lots of drugs.  Yeah probably drugs.  I’m guessing drugs.

All joking aside, as strange as it might seem there is actually a logic behind these kind of ads.  Because they are not just relegated to the realm of video game marketing.  Have you ever seen an ad that just makes you scratch your head and ask “why would that make me want to buy their product?”  Then you know what I’m talking about.

Back in college I had a class where we talked about the different types of ads marketers will use to sell their products.  At one end of the spectrum you have the typical “problem solution” ads.  An example of this would be those cleaning product advertisements where someone spills something on their shirt, making a stain which is then solved by the appearance of a cleaning product which transforms their shirt into looking good as new.  You see the formula: there’s a problem (stain on the shirt), which is then counteracted by a solution (the cleaning product).  These are probably the most common ads you’ll see on television.

There are other types of ads out there, but in the interest of time we’ll skip to the other end of the spectrum.  These were described in my class as something like “attention ads”.  These ads, rather than straight up selling you a product, will do something to grab your attention.  Most of the time it’s done by being funny, showing something interesting, or in the case of the Playstation 3 ad, fueling unbridled terror in men’s hearts.

 

And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you...

And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you…

 

The purpose of these ads is not to convince you of the virtue of their product, but to make the ad itself stick into your brain.  These will cause you to remember the ad, and by association, the product with it.  And you know what?  It actually kind of works.  After all these years I can still remember the Playstation 3 baby doll ad but I’d be hard pressed to tell you about any of the Xbox 360 advertisements, which was the Playstation 3’s competitor at that time.  Now whether or not these tactics translate into sales I cannot say.  It’s well-known by now that the PS3 was outsold by the Xbox 360 for almost the entirety of that console generation, but that was largely due to a botched launch.  The PS3 was just too expensive, didn’t have many games worth playing, and the technology was just too awkward for game makers to develop for, which lead to consistent technical issues with their games.  The ads were certainly bizarre, but it’s highly doubtful they led to the failure of the system on any level.

In any case, these ads are fun to look back on as curious pieces of history in a way.  They stick with us, and even if they didn’t achieve their purpose, they’re still fascinating to watch.  At the very least, they provide us with some entertainment value.  Creativity is the spice of life after all.

Well thank you all for reading, and check back next Wednesday for another post.  Now, before I go, I leave you with one last video game ad.  So enjoy!

 

 

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here.

36 Questions Women Have For Men: The Answers

I’m a bit late to this party, but in January of this year BuzzFeedYellow, a BuzzFeed Youtube channel, posted a video entitled “36 Questions Women Have For Men.”  And honestly, the video comes across as condescending and rather insulting, a thin attempt to disguise man-hating as feminism.

I thought I could have some fun with these by writing some answers to these questions.  So here we go.

 

How does it feel to be the same sex as Donald Trump?

Well, at least he has great hair.

 

The magnificent Trump hair.

It looks even better after Jimmy Fallon is done ruffling it.

 

But in all seriousness, how does it feel to be the same sex as the CEO of Mylan, the company that jacked the price of the Epipen up hundreds of dollars?  Or better yet, how does it feel to be the same sex as Delphine LaLaurie, a wealthy slave owner in the 1800’s who beat, abused, and tortured her slaves?

Bad people exist everywhere, regardless of gender.  Being male doesn’t automatically equal a tendency towards doing bad things.

 

Why do you hate rom coms?  Or do you just feel like you need to hate them?

I…don’t really?  I mean, out of my preferred choice of movies, romantic comedies are not exactly high on the list.  Most of the time I find them boring.  The plots are predictable and the characters are uninspired.  I’m sure there are good examples of the genre, but I don’t exactly go out of my way to watch them.

So no, I don’t hate rom coms automatically because I’m a man.  Do you hate action movies automatically because you’re a woman?

 

Everyone likes The Notebook, everyone likes Beyonce.  It’s just a fact.

No it’s not.  Also that’s not a question.  NEXT!

 

Why do you make women sit around and talk about men in movies when y’all easily just sit around and talk about boobs for hours?

You know, for supposedly being a critique of female stereotypes, this video is certainly feeding into a lot of the male ones.  Not every guy is some dude-bro walking cliché who thinks that sex is the key to being a man.  Now THAT’S just a fact.

You hear that?  That’s the sound of the mic dropping.  I don’t even need to write the rest of this post.  I’m just that good.

 

Why do you automatically assume that you won’t like TV or movies that star a female lead?

Why do you automatically assume things about people you haven’t even met?

 

Also your outfit sucks.

Also your outfit sucks.

 

The original Alien is one of my favorite movies, and it stars a female lead.  I also really like the TV show Fringe.  And guess what?  One of the lead characters is female.

I’m not even sure where this one even comes from.  I have yet to meet the person who’s like “oh a woman has the starring role in that movie?  Well to hell with this, I’m out!”

 

Why are you surprised when women are funny?

I’m not.  I like Ellen DeGeneres among others.  Enough said.

Also this question is stupid as hell.

 

I’m probably funnier than you.

This is your third appearance in this video.  So you’re zero for three right now.  Better step up your game.

Again, this is not a question.  NEXT!

 

Why do you think that we’re obsessed with you when we hook up?

Lady, I don’t even know you.  And after how condescending you were in this video, I don’t think I want to know you.

 

Why can’t I sleep with as many people as I want to without being judged?

Why would I care?  Our whole evolutionary drive means that we want to spread around our genes as much as possible.  So go nuts if you want.

But seriously, stop reinforcing stupid male stereotypes.

 

When men do it, they’re congratulated.

WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!

 

Why do you consider a woman a tease if she doesn’t sleep with you after three dates, but a slut if she sleeps with you on the first date?

Damn is there like, a rule book for this now?  I gotta write this down…

(raises hand) Is this going to be on the test next Tuesday?!

 

In what world does no mean yes?

Opposite World.

 

Why do you say women are too emotional to be leaders then justify catcalling by saying men just can’t control themselves?

I don’t.  Catcalling is stupid.

 

Why do you think that just because you’re nice to me, I owe you my body?

It’s nice that you can take a few choice anecdotes and use them to label an entire gender as sexist and perverted.  Really shows your progressive side.

 

Why would you ever send an unsolicited dick pic?

BECAUSE CARLOS DANGER SAYS TO HELL WITH THE REPERCUSSIONS!

 

Why do you feel like it’s okay to harass women or make offensive comments about women but when somebody does it to your sister it’s not okay?

Uh…I don’t have a sister?  And even if I did, are you saying that I shouldn’t be standing up for them if they’re harassed?  That doesn’t make any sense.

 

How does it feel to interrupt me when I’m in the middle of making a point during a meeting?

I already interrupted you several times by pausing the video.  And let me tell you, it felt good.

 

Why do you have to sit with your legs so wide open?

Yes hello, I have 36 questions too.  And they’re all “WHY DOES THIS VIDEO SUCK?!”

 

I get that you have balls, but I don’t stand around with my arms wide open to make room for my boobs.

Your boobs are not the same thing as my balls.  You are not crushing your boobs together by not having you arms wide open.

Also don’t flatter yourself.  Me keeping my legs open has nothing to do with you.  It’s just more comfortable for me that way.

 

Why are women perceived as the weaker sex even though we literally birth you?

Because women are generally physically weaker than men.  That’s just science.

SEXIST SCIENCE!

SEXIST SCIENCE, UPHOLDING THE VALUES OF THE PATRIARCHY!

 

Why is it so bad to show your emotions?

It isn’t.  Moving on…

 

Why are you always trying to prove your masculinity to me?

BECAUSE ME MAN!  ME STRONG!  ME HIT THINGS WITH CLUB!

Is that to your expectations milady?

 

Why the fuck isn’t it ladylike to cuss?  When did words get genders?

Yeah wouldn’t it be funny if like Spanish had masculine and feminine designations for every word in the entire-

……

Ah crap.

 

Why is it your first instinct to doubt women who have been sexually violated or raped?

Why is it your first instinct to ask loaded questions?  And isn’t it “innocent until proven guilty”?  Does a man just have to be guilty if a woman accuses him?  Is that what you’re trying to say?

That, my friends, is called a double standard.

 

Why do you assume a woman’s angry because she’s on her period?

Because the first thing I do when a girl is angry is ask “HEY ARE YOU ON YOUR PERIOD?!”

 

Why do you think women that wear makeup are false advertising?  We could say the same thing about your dick size.

Wait…I was supposed to be putting makeup on my dick?  Well shit, I’ve been doing this all wrong!

 

Why isn’t it weird that there’s a bunch of old white men sitting in a room making legislation about what I can and can’t do with my body?

Because family values and Jesus.

 

Do you have a coochie?

No I don’t.  Do you have a penis?  No you don’t.  But that doesn’t seem to stop you from assuming you know what men are all about does it?

 

Why are straight guys so obsessed with lesbians?

Sounds like someone’s jealous…

 

How does it feel to get kicked in the balls?

Like having to watch this vapid excuse for a video.

 

Do you ever get tired of trying to be manly all the time?

I used to cry a lot as a child.  So no, I don’t get tired of “being manly” because I never made much of an attempt to be manly, whatever the hell that means.

 

Why are you so afraid of gender equality?

Oh no, women being equal to me is so scary and horrible!  They should just go back to the kitchen and make me more sandwiches!

You know maybe gender equality would have better luck if certain feminists weren’t so busy trying to reinforce bad male stereotypes.

 

Why do I deserve to be paid less than you?  In what world does 77 cents equal a dollar?  In what world does 68 cents equal a dollar?  How is that fair?

The whole “77 cents on the dollar thing” is brought up a lot when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.  But the problem is that it’s total crap.  They basically just took the average wage for men and the average wage for women, stacked them together, and came to this conclusion without taking into account any other factors like age, experience, time spent working at one particular job, so on and so forth.

If it was actually true, then no it’s not fair.  But we don’t really know that it’s true now do we?

 

Why are you intimidated by a woman who makes more money than you?

Because women scary, me stupid sexist man!

 

Why are opinionated women seen as bitches when opinionated men are seen as bosses?

Have you been on the internet in the last five years?  Everybody’s opinionated and nobody likes anybody.

 

Why aren’t you speaking up when you hear your male friends behind closed doors make jokes that are offensive to women?

Maybe because my male friends aren’t a bunch of raving chauvinists?  And maybe because the whole concept of something being “offensive” has been so twisted around that just disagreeing with someone else can be seen as offensive?  Or maybe it’s because I find the whole concept of being “offended” heinously stupid in the first place?  I mean come on people, that’s why freedom of speech exists, to protect the unpopular ideas from being phased out.  Obviously if you use your free speech to harass someone and negatively impact their life you should be punished, but are we really going to forbid people from making a slightly off-color “dumb blonde” joke?

 

Why are you so afraid of recognizing your own privilege?  It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, just recognize it and do something about it.

If it doesn’t make me a bad person then why did you spend the entire video trying to make me feel like a bad person?  I recognize that men have had unfair advantages for a long time.  It hasn’t even been a century yet since women were first given the right to vote.  But I’m so sick of this stupid attitude that says I should feel like a terrible human being just because I’m a man.  They claim that “oh it’s okay, just recognize that you’re privileged and work to fix it”.  But disagree with them in the slightest, and you’re a pile of human garbage.

 

Now look, I recognize that sexism still exists today and that we still have work to do on that front.  But outright male-bashing?  How is that going to solve anything?

I think the key issue with this video is that these questions don’t seem like they were meant to be answered.  They’re extremely loaded and condescending.  They don’t do anything to further the progressive cause but rather end up stifling it.

But there is a happy ending to this story: apparently the Youtube comments section agrees that the video is bad.  So there’s that.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here.

Silly Realism, Video Games are for Fun

I’ve never been a big fan of people who complain that something isn’t realistic when it comes to a story.  At some point we have to recognize that a story constructed by an author isn’t going to be entirely realistic.  They’re written for the express purpose of entertainment or enjoyment on the part of the audience.  But I think the complaint gets even more ridiculous when it’s leveled at a video game.

So today let’s look at several reasons why video games aren’t realistic (and never should be).

 

1. Getting Hurt

You get shot.  What do you do?  It’s easy.  You just crouch behind a wall for a few seconds and wait for the wound to heal.

Oh…wait a second…I don’t think that’s how it works.

In real life, when you get shot, you can’t just magically heal the damage seconds later.  Neither can you pick up a medical kit and not suffer from a bullet wound immediately after its use.  Instead, getting shot usually involves a trip to the hospital and a lot of pain.  And if there’s no exit wound that means the bullet or bullets are still in your body and need to be extracted, which means even more pain.  And after all of that, you still need to spend days, even weeks in the hospital to recuperate.  The human body isn’t an instantaneous healer.  It needs time to do its thing.

Can you imagine if a game actually did that?  You get shot and you’re not allowed to play for several days because your character needs to heal.  Sounds boring right?

Exactly.

 

2. Wanton Death and Destruction

Like, holy crap, there’s so much death.  THERE’S SO MUCH DEATH.

Ever heard of the game Dead Rising?  It’s a game about the dead, and how they rise.  Pretty self-explanatory.

Well there’s an achievement in the game called Zombie Genocider which you unlock after killing 53,594 zombies in a single playthrough of the story mode.  Why such a specific number?

Because it’s the total population of the town the game takes place in.

Yep, that’s right.  When you unlock this achievement the game is literally saying “hey congratulations, you just slaughtered an entire town!”  And not only that, but there’s still zombies running around.  What, are the zombies having zombie babies or something?

Nope.  It’s just the game developers cheeky way of pointing out that games aren’t realistic.  If you could completely depopulate the game world of enemies it would not only make the game too easy, but it would be boring as well.  And that’s not even mentioning how unrealistically violent and over the top Dead Rising is.  This is a game where you fight zombies with items including but not limited to: katanas, water guns, beach balls, televisions, guitars, pistols, assault rifles, cars, hockey sticks, footballs, grenades, and cash registers.  The hyper violent nature shows us that it was never meant to emulate real life.

And then there’s Grand Theft Auto.  Oh boy…Grand Theft Auto.

Despite how the games try to re-create a real life city, the games themselves are not realistic in the slightest.  I mean imagine you’re driving down a road, just going to the grocery store or something, when suddenly some jerk in a military helicopter (which he somehow managed to steal from a HEAVILY GUARDED MILITARY COMPOUND) flies by and blows you up with rockets.  No reason, no provocation…just mindless violence.  And now you’re dead.

Real life is not this dangerous (despite what the media might want you to think).  People don’t just break out into wanton rampages of death and destruction while carrying multiple pistols, assault rifles, a rocket launcher, a minigun and dozens of grenades.  It just doesn’t happen.  And furthermore, when they’re finally stopped, they don’t just get out of the hospital or jail six hours later.  They’re either dead or on death row.

Video games are meant as escapist fantasies.  They’re meant to be unrealistic.  People have the ability to differentiate between fantasy and reality.  Sorry Jack Thompson but it’s true, no matter how vigorously you crusade against video games or how antagonistic you are towards people who disagree with you.

Maybe that’s why you got disbarred from practicing law.  Just a thought.

 

3. Scripted

I mentioned this before, but real life is not scripted in the same way as a story is in a video game, book, or movie.  You don’t run into, say, some homeless guy and think to yourself “I bet this character will show up later on in my life.  Is he the antagonist in disguise?  A mentor of sorts?  Some strange alien being trying to guide me to the right path?”  You’re far more likely to think to yourself “man that guy looks lazy…why doesn’t he just get a job?”  Well, far more likely if you’re an uptight jerk that is.

In real life people enter and exit your life without rhyme or reason.  In a carefully constructed story crafted by an author, every little thing has some significance or purpose.  The aforementioned homeless guy provides us with a good example.  If he appears in a story, the author likely wants you to pay attention to how the character interacts with him.  Does the interaction hint at some kind of development down the line.  Is the character someone else in disguise, and if so how does the author foreshadow this?  It might not even be something as large-scale as that.  The homeless guy might just serve as a character building tool.  Does the main character stop and give him money?  Does he continue on his way but regret his decision later?  Does he spurn the man, calling him a “lazy piece of trash”?  Moments like this can tell us much about the protagonist’s state of mind and his way of viewing the world.

In real life only you know your inner thoughts.  Well…you and the Illuminati.  Because the Illuminati knows all.

No I didn’t make a post about conspiracy theories a couple of weeks ago.  I have no idea what you’re talking about.

 

4. Real World Needs Don’t Matter

In life you need to eat.  You need to drink.  You need to use the bathroom.  You need to sleep.  And so on and so forth.

But when I make my character in Fallout 4 stay up for an entire week exploring the dystopian ruins of Boston, he doesn’t complain.  He doesn’t fall asleep on his feet.  His stomach doesn’t grumble and he doesn’t die from dehydration.  Because he’s dead inside…a soulless husk…a puppet controlled by my whims and commands.  Maybe he doesn’t want to kill those people.  Maybe he doesn’t like using guns.  It doesn’t matter.  I am in control.

Because I AM GOD.

Take a deep breath…going mad with power again…deep breath, deep breath…

In all seriousness though games usually don’t bother making you tend to real world needs of your characters (unless you’re playing survival games, but even then the requirements for eating and drinking are usually skewed for the sake of making the game fun to play).  You don’t want to be blowing things up and causing chaos when suddenly your character says “man…I could really use a burger”.  Ain’t nobody got time for your burger man.  We got stuff to explode.

Video game characters don’t need to eat, drink, sleep, or even go to the bathroom most of the time.  They are but digital representations of people, bound only by the logic game developers create for them.  They might not even speak, as is the case for many a silent protagonist in video games.

So here’s the thing, if you’re going to be complaining about how it’s unrealistic that a character could survive some explosion and make it out alive, you might as well be complaining that they don’t eat, sleep, take a piss, and so on.  Realism for realism’s sake doesn’t really belong in a video game.  Realism should serve the purpose of fun for the game, tweaked and modified as necessary to keep the player engaged and enjoying the experience.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt playing Myst if the player character suddenly needed to pee.  Well guess what?  There are no bathrooms on the island of Myst.  Nope, not a single one.

Looks like you’re peeing in the ocean bro.

 

Thanks for reading.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week!

5 Lazy/Inept Villains

We all love our villains, the inevitable bad guys at the center of pretty much every action/adventure story.  They force the intrepid hero into situations that make them question their very status as a hero.  Put simply, villains are just fun.  They can be complicated and nuanced, hinting at a darker side to humanity that many of us would rather deny.  They can force us to confront issues that we’d otherwise ignore.  They can sometimes even steal the spotlight, becoming a far more intriguing character than the main hero.

And then there are the times when they’re just stupid.

Here are five of those times.

 

1. Blofeld and other classic Bond villains

Come on…you knew this one was going to be on here.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the most classic of movie villains.  He is pretty much the one who kick-started the “volcano lair” trope that future spy parodies in movies and television alike would constantly make fun of.  But for all his genius in running an entire global crime syndicate, one has to wonder if he’s really all he’s cracked up to be.  I mean he captures Bond more than once, but instead of simply killing him Blofeld places him into situations where he has plenty of time to figure out an escape plan.  Even in Spectre, the new Bond movie, this happens.  It makes a little more sense in that one (considering his whole “daddy loved you more than me” motivation), but it’s still a bit absurd.  And then even after Bond escapes and proves that he is too dangerous to kill with some elaborate scheme, Blofeld goes and tries it yet again.

And this is not unique to Blofeld either.  Most of the classic Bond villains are much the same way.  For example, Goldfinger (from Goldfinger…surprise surprise) straps Bond to a metal slab and uses a very VERY slowly moving laser to cut him in half.  He gets points for using a plan that Bond has no conceivable way out of, but his plan still fails.  Bond yells out the name of his top-secret plan, which then somehow convinces him to spare his life.

Pride…the villain’s greatest downfall for some reason.

 

2. Aliens in giant monster movies (often known as “Kaiju” films)

So I am not an avid watcher of giant monster movies, but I know a little bit about the aliens in some of them.  And man, are they lazy.

Basically a familiar plot trope in these movies is that a race of aliens shows up to Earth and wants to conquer/destroy it.  So they beam down some skyscraper-sized monster to wreak havoc, which then usually attracts the attention of the resident giant monster of the planet who’s all like “hey…that’s MY gig!”  So the two then fight in an epic melee and the Earth-based creature typically wins out, proving that humans are…super lucky I guess?

But here’s the thing: if the aliens are so advanced that they can tame/capture a giant monster, fly it through the vast distance of space, and literally teleport it down onto Earth…why can’t they just destroy everything themselves?

I mean, really guys, if you have the capacity for faster-than-light space travel (which I am assuming they do), then it stands to reason that your weapons are far superior to anything Earth can offer in opposition.  Why go for the long-winded plan that has a great chance for failure?  Did you not know that Earth had a giant monster on it already or something?  Or is your entire culture devoted to just sending giant monsters at each other and seeing who wins?

Seriously…who outsources their work anymore?

Oh right.

 

3. Thanos

You know, the blue guy that shows up at the end of pretty much every modern Marvel movie.  He’s all imposing and menacing, but he’s done absolutely nothing but let others do his dirty work for him.  Come on man, get off your butt and do something for once!

Freaking lazy space…god or whatever.

 

4. Aliens (War of the Worlds)

You know I have to say…aliens are really bad at this whole “invading Earth” thing.

If you’ve never seen any of the War of the Worlds movies or read the book, I’ll sum the plot up for you.  Aliens invade Earth.  Aliens try to conquer Earth.  Aliens are defeated by germs, which makes a very interesting philosophical point about humanity’s place in the world.

Now, it’s a very good story (again, one of the classics), but how does an advanced species capable of interstellar travel NOT think to test for deadly germs before landing on a planet?  In the original story, it’s somewhat forgivable, as the aliens are shot through giant cannons from Mars and land on Earth as meteors essentially.  But in the more recent version (starring Tom Cruise), instead of being from Mars the aliens’ origin is left a mystery.  Not only that, but the movie changes things so that the aliens buried their tripod machines on Earth before humanity had even evolved, implying that they were merely waiting until we got all nice and overpopulated before they came in to harvest us.  So that begs the question, how did they not know about the super-fatal germs?!

“So we’re totally going to invade this planet and like, harvest their people for energy and food and stuff!”

“Shouldn’t we maybe, like, check for germs or something first?”

“Nah, we’ve been planning this for thousands of years!  It’ll be fine!”

“But shouldn’t we take just a little bit more time to-”

Stop asking questions!”

Now maybe it could be written off as the germs simply didn’t exist until humans came about (which is very probable, considering the ever-shifting nature of our planet’s ecosystems), but that still doesn’t explain their lack of planning in that regard.

Movie aliens man…they really suck at doing things.

 

5. General Shepherd (Modern Warfare 2)

Ooh…are you ready for this one?  This is a fun one.

About a year ago I wrote a long-winded story analysis of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.  Basically, the game is nothing short of ridiculous.  It’s one of those sequels that tries to up the ante far too much, creating a completely insane laundry list of action scenarios that have no impact or meaning.

But this is about the villains.  With that said, let’s talk about General Shepherd.

General Shepherd is a character introduced to you in the opening cutscene of the game.  He is initially one of the good guys and the one who brings one of the main characters into the fold of a secret CIA task force.  That character dies almost immediately during an attack on a Russian airport because the Russian terrorists he was embedded with knew who he was.  And it’s vaguely implied that Shepherd somehow set all that up.  Because, you see, he was the one behind pretty much everything that happens in the game.

And his motivation is pretty much absolute insanity.

So you see, in the first Modern Warfare, a really bad thing happened.  One of the characters you play as rescues a crashed helicopter pilot stranded in the middle of some generic Middle Eastern city, surrounded by bloodthirsty terrorists.  You rescue her, then bring her back to your helicopter and begin to extract.  But then, a nuke goes off, which takes out your helicopter and renders all your efforts to save that pilot useless.  You are then forced to play as that character as they miraculously survive the crash and are left to stumble around the city as a nuclear cloud of dust and ash swirls all about them.  The character then keels over and dies.

It’s a fun time.

General Shepherd calls back to this scene, telling the heroes of the game that he lost so many soldiers “in the blink of an eye.”  He uses this as his reasoning for masterminding all the events that take place over Modern Warfare 2.  And what are those events you might ask?

Starting World War 3.  Nope, not even kidding.

To be more specific, his motivation is that he lost soldiers in that nuke back in the first game, so he wanted more soldiers.  So to get more soldiers to replace the soldiers he lost, he triggers a chain of events that start a massive global conflict that will undoubtedly kill far more soldiers than the ones that died in that singular event.

Seriously dude, why don’t you just start a massive propaganda campaign or increase the recruitment drive?  I mean if your sole motivation is to recruit more soldiers, why would you start an event that in the end will get far more of them killed?  I don’t know if this even classifies as lazy because it’s so absurdly convoluted.  The amount of hoops he has to jump through to get all of this to work is insane.  First, he has to select a soldier to recruit into this CIA task force for the sole purpose of getting killed.  Then, he has to assume that the Russians, once they discover this dead American agent on their sole, will immediately get bat-shit crazy and instead of trying diplomacy go right out and invade the eastern seaboard of the United States.  Then he has to play dumb and go along with everything Task Force 141 is doing while covering his tracks along the way (which inevitably involves murdering the entire task force, with the exception of two people who then foil all his plans).

Lazy?  Maybe not.  Inept?  Oh most definitely.  There were so many other ways he could have alleviated the problem he saw, but apparently he looked at all those other plans and was like “nah, these aren’t bat-shit crazy enough”.

Because what would a villain be without a crazy master scheme that has a high probability of failure?

 

Well that’s all I have for this post.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

 

Note: I did realize as I was writing this that my two-year anniversary of starting this blog has come and gone.  I thought about making another reflection post, but I didn’t think I’d have that much to say.  Honestly the past year just flew by for me.  So if you’ve stuck around for this long, thanks so much for reading.  I hope you have a wonderful day, a wonderful week, and a wonderful life in general.