Yumi’s Greatest Enemy: The Threat of Wolverine Publicity

Fans of Marvelous Entertainment and Tamsoft’s over-the-top, titillating video game franchise, Senran Kagura, are most likely familiar with the character, Yumi. First appearing in Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus for the PlayStation Vita, she is the most popular character in the franchise, with her story stating that she is the granddaughter of the infamous renegade shinobi, Kurokage, and lost her parents in the war between two opposing ninja factions. She was originally cast as a misguided semi-protagonist, semi-antagonist, intent on purging the world of any individuals that she considered evil. However, during her interactions with other shinobi factions, she eventually discovered the error of her ways and was able to co-exist with the others peacefully. In the leadup to the release of the game’s sequel, Estival Versus, Yumi won a popularity contest for all characters in the series, and was heavily marketed as a result. However, despite her strong advertisement, her overall role in Estival’s story ultimately proved lacking for a character so strongly marketed by her publisher. This is not a good thing.

This form of marketing, where a character that plays little-to-no role in the storyline is marketed the more than others, is an example of what some have coined, “Wolverine publicity”. Now, what is Wolverine publicity? Let me explain by first branching into the subject of another media franchise: Marvel comics. You may be familiar with the antihero, Wolverine, best known for his appearances in Marvel’s long-running X-Men comic franchise. He is one of Marvel’s most popular characters, and in the late 20th century, he became a big marketing tool for Marvel, and was perhaps advertised a little too much. In fact, he was even featured on the covers for books where he didn’t even appear at all in the storyline.

Now, what does this have to do with Yumi? Well, Marvelous has announced a new Senran Kagura game, titled Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash. And Yumi is again being heavily advertised, being the franchise’s most popular character. Considering the relatively small role she played in Estival Versus, some might worry that her heavy marketing push is once again an empty one, where she experiences very little significant development or involvement in the larger storyline despite the strong marketing for her, especially considering that, despite Peach Beach Splash being a vastly different game than previous titles, it has been confirmed to be a part of the franchise’s main canon. This is another example of Wolverine publicity, where even if a character contributes very little to a particular fictional storyline, they are still heavily marketed with the intent to sell the story anyway.

Wolverine publicity is a very bad form of marketing that hurts popular characters by taking away what makes them so appealing in the first place and reducing them to mere marketing tools. And right now, the threat it poses to Yumi is high. Some fans are already observing that the marketing for Yumi may be too much, and in some ways, comes at the expense of other characters. It’s no surprise that this form of marketing is being heavily criticized by fans of the games. It’s only natural that popular characters receive heavy advertising, but when they are used the most to market works where the role they play is minimal, it is only natural to be critical of this sort of marketing. And these sorts of criticisms should not be discouraged. Yumi was not the only character to receive the short end of the stick for development in Estival Versus, but her lack of development only becomes more disappointing when one takes the time to consider how she was marketed, and the expectations that such marketing sets for characters in the first place. When these expectations aren’t met, the character’s reputation suffers exponentially.

-Until next time, Dan Bordelon, Jr.

Harassment in roleplay spaces

I didn’t want to have to write this. When I started this blog so many months ago, (I think over a year) I wanted to be positive. Unfortunately, problems arise and sometimes, one person who doesn’t stand to gain anything can make a difference. I am not writing this because I want to. I am writing this because I have to. So without further ado, let’s get started.

The current issue I seek to address has to do with online roleplay. I can attest to the fact that roleplay is fun. Roleplay is a wonderful little activity for passing a few hours of your free time, if everyone involved is happy and comfortable. However, just like with any hobby, a few bad eggs can ruin everything for everyone else.

For me, it all started when I noticed a woman who roleplays as Vert from Hyperdimension Neptunia with the username “per__Vert” (it’s a pun) tweeting about how she was being accused of harassment because she was talking about her experiences with recent harassment. I suppose a statement like this would seem confusing to some, but it reminded me of people I knew, so I took interest in these events. She would later post evidence of harassment towards her in the form of screencaps.

A detailed account of events, with the URLs of harassing tweets can be found here:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sngq56?new_post=true

Now, I’m no detective, but I find this to be pretty concrete evidence of harassment. The group in particular is called “CCP”. (I don’t know what that stands for. Please do not ask me.) The people who are at the center of this group seem to really hate backlash. Case in point, a screencap of a rant by one of the ringleaders about how naming harassers is such a horrible, evil thing to do.

shitty person rant

Interesting argument. CCPNoire goes on to state that you should never bring your grievances with others into a public space. But what else can one do when someone tells them to “choke on pussy” and makes fun of them in a sexual context? Legitimate question here.

Now, let’s have a look at what is only a couple cringe-worthy tweets sent per__Vert’s way. (Fair warning. Some pretty ugly language is used here.)

IMG_20150927_194417

IMG_20150927_194407

Take a good long look at the behavior that’s being defended. These are horrible things to say, and per___Vert is actually tagged in these posts. How anyone can think of this as A-OK is beyond me. I suppose that next you’ll say “How do we know CCP condones this?” Well, that’s an easy question to answer. If you look, yu can see that CCPNoire actually retweeted the abusive tweets made by HienNoKoukeisha. Look if you want. Te evidence isn’t hard to find. per__Vert even took a screencap of it. (Which I am unable to upload from my tablet due to low memory, so you’ll have to go onto her profile for it. Oh, well.)

So let’s recap. Naming people as harassers is apparently wrong, but publicly demeaning a woman’s sexuality is A-OK in CCPNoire’s book. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

Something that is important to note here is that the CCP are going to keep going as long as people continue to ignore their wrongdoings. It’s like dealing with a schoolyard bully. You get in trouble for fighting back, and the attacker gets off scot-free regardless of what they’ve done. Bullies behave badly because they think they can get away with it. But if enough people take a stand, they start to see that they’re in big trouble. So don’t let the bullies rule the playground. Strike down harassment whenever you see it. Then, and only then, can this nightmare end for good.

Have a nice day.

-Dan Bordelon, Jr.

The Death and Rebirth of “Fandom”

For quite a while now, we have been watching the anime fandom take a turn for the worse. Now, before I begin, I would just like to say that I don’t intend to persecute anyone as I write this. Far from it, actually. Rather, I simply wish to call on you, dear audience to assist me in rebuilding “fandom” and restoring it to glorious life. So, that being said, do not take this as libel or slander. Rather, hear me out and listen as I discuss the ongoing in-fighting and online warfare that is currently being waged by those desperately clinging to the last vestiges of what they see as “deep anime”, or rather, what they personally see as “deep anime”, against those they blame for the supposed “death” of anime.

First, I will have to speak of early exposure of modern western audiences to anime. In the beginning, we didn’t get much. It was mostly either whatever could make it to kids’ networks over here or particularly violent action shows. When audiences got their first taste of Dragon Ball Z, Gundam, and Ghost in the Shell, they absolutely loved these shows. This is where they went wrong. Before I continue, I must first clarify that I do not think they are watching the wrong shows, nor do I believe they had bad taste. Certainly not. They simply got the wrong idea about anime. They started to believe that these shows represented the medium as a whole. However, the truth was that these shows were simply one part of a larger industry.

Over the years, anime localization has started to become more varied since then. More efficient, faster, and increasing in variety of titles. In particular, we are now becoming more exposed in particular, to elements such as cute girls, easygoing stories, and light-hearted humor that, together, have become known as “moe”. While some fines happily embraced this aspect of the medium with open arms, others did not.

Opponents of moe view it as a threat, so to speak. Because they did not know this aspect existed in anime, they deny that it did, and treat as a new thing and decried this ‘change” as a sign that they will eventually no longer see the types of anime they enjoy be made. A misconception created by willful ignorance. If this was the extent of their reaction, it could have been ignored. However, they did not stop there. They would go on to target the consumers of moe with ridicule, insults, and personal attacks.

From that point on, the “Anti-Moe Brigade” was born. The “Anti-Moe Brigade” is a collection of ideas that moe is a cancer that needs to be purged from anime and that consumers of moe are enemies to be mocked, insulted, and most of all, feared. Supporters of moe are labeled with such “glamorous” terms as “pedophiles”, “virgins”, and “basement dwellers”. Diagnoses of autism and aspergers are used as insults. The ultimate form of deliberate ableism. These attitudes could not be more gross and uncivil, and embody many of the problems described by Timeenforceranubis in his blog, She’s Lost Control Media, as well as the podcasts, NTR Radio and Otaku Midnight(formerly Podcast Zero). These problems also embody the “death”, for lack of a better term, of the anime “fandom”.

Now that the death of “fandom”, Let us talk about what can be done to restore fandom. It will be a long, difficult process. One that will require the effort of every willing anime fan to succeed. But it will also be a rewarding one.

The first step is to start addressing online warfare by its name, and start condemning it as the disgusting misconduct that it really is. We need more people fighting against online warfare. More people like Timenforceranubis, Kgods, and drawingirl94. We need more people who recognize warmongers for what they really are.

We will also need a lot more positivity in the community. As Timeenforceranubis has said, negativity is on the way out. We need to start looking optimistically to the future and quit with the cynicism. It’s time to say goodbye to pessimism, because nobody wants to hear from a doubting Thomas. Let’s can the insults and profanity and start being excellent to each other. Love makes the world go round, as the old saying goes.

We must afford no credibility to the notion that a certain group of people are consuming the “wrong” entertainment. There is no such thing as the wrong entertainment because entertainment is a purely subjective concept based in personal preference.

Well, there you have it. Three easy(?) steps to restoring “fandom”. It may seem difficult at first, but that is most likely because you have not done enough to help yet.

-Dan Bordelon, Jr.

Gamers Are Not Your Military

As you are probably already aware, the gaming community and the internet in general are kind of in turmoil.

It all started about a month and a half ago in August. I’m not entirely sure what the full story is, but a movement (if that’s what you want to call it) has been going on throughout all this time, and the division in attitudes, beliefs, and tactics is so astronomical, it’s kind of unsettling. I’m not going to mention the movement by name, but I believe you’ll know who I’m talking about.

The first problem with this movement is its lack of unification. On one hand, we’ve got people calling for ethics in video game journalism, and while I am certain that there are well-intentioned people who truly believe that this is what the movement is all about, these are not the voices with power in this movement. The people that do have power are the ones that we don’t want in that position.

The most powerful voices in this movement are using the fact that they have been playing video games for a long time as a means to garner sympathy for themselves and engage in online warfare against anyone who crosses their path. They deal in absolutes and have a “with us or against us” mentality stemming from a persecution complex.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Some of these people go far in their venting. Too far. They “doxx” their designated enemies by publicly revealing their personal contact information. This is then followed by rather violent, eerily specific threats of violence which drive these people out of their homes. Some directly mention the movement, and some don’t, but the targets are the same. Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Phil Fish, and Brianna Wu are among the people that have been doxxed and threatened.

This may not be the entirety of the movement, but it is the loudest, most prominent, most consistent group of people exploiting the movement’s hashtag. And they constantly create sock puppet accounts to continue the harassment, threats, and warmongering faster than anyone on either side of the conflict can do anything about it. More and more people are being dragged into this online warfare with each passing second and nobody is talking a stand to protect anyone from it. I have named the worst people in the movement “Galbadia”. Galbadia seeks nothing more than to pull the entire gaming industry, developers, journalists, and most specifically, other gamers, into their own private military, while branding anyone that doesn’t go along as a “social justice warrior”, whether they want to fight or not.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The biggest thing that can help end online warfare is if pacifists unite to form a movement of their own to promote piece and civility and protect others from online warfare. But as the old saying goes: “United we stand, divided we fall.” I can’t keep innocent bystanders safe on my own. I need your help. And the way to help is very simple. Go onto Twitter and tweet your support for piece and civility in the gaming community and the protection of others from online warfare with #balambgamers, a hashtag of my own creation meant for peaceful discussion and the prevention of internet crossfire. If you want to know more about #balambgamers, I encourage you to follow me on Twitter. My Twitter username is @RyuubiGentoku2 and the account is registered under my real name, Dan Bordelon, Jr. I look forward to your feedback and support.

-Dan

The Truth About Geek Culture’s “Mainstream” Status

Last night on Twitter, I was thrilled to find that my sentiments on nerd culture being “mainstream” were echoed. Allow me to elaborate further.

Timeenforceranubis tweeted about the topic. For those who are unaware, Timeenforceranubis is an African-American blogger who talks about the anime fandom, and in particular, the western fanbase. He brings up factors such as the clamor for more art, and contempt for fanbases for moe and ecchi anime. I have a very strong respect for his work, even if I may not agree with some of his viewpoints. I also believe that the points he brings up are relevant to the larger discussion. One that I now seek to have.

The truth is that the “mainstream” status of nerd culture is a manufactured image created by businessmen and not something that has actually been achieved. Indeed, the vast majority of “nerdy” interests remain niche. Animation is still generally seen as “kids’ stuff”, only a select few video game properties have achieved widespread recognition and approval, and while superhero films may be big in the box office, the comic books they’re based on remain fringe. In truth, geek culture has not been accepted. It has been assimilated. It has been subjugated. This is not an ideal image for a fandom as it gives a not-so-subtle message of “conform or get out”.

What this means is that nothing has changed. If you are a gamer, you have to enjoy Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto to be taken seriously, if you’re trying to talk about comics, you will get nowhere unless there is an accompanying movie adaptation, and above all else, you do not want to try to discuss anime with anyone. Never mind that western anime fans have constructed a hierarchy to place fans of certain shows on top. And when kids are still mocked at school simply for the fact that they like to read, the situation looks even worse as no geek can pass.

And that is the prime problem with nerd culture being assimilated. In this process, we only accept the people and things that are fit to be assimilated. That means that comic books, anime, and their fanbases remain out in the cold.

But we don’t have to buy into the media’s farce. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest things you can do to avoid fading into the crowd is to engage in discussion of the larger nerd culture, beyond the manufactured image of nerddom, and talk about what it really is. We are not a hive mind of drones that like all of the same stuff. We are individuals, each with our own unique interests and chosen media. We are not interested in assimilating into “normal” societal culture or helping to manufactured a false narrative. We are simply interested in discussing our hobbies in the same way that anybody else would. And remember that this is a two-way street, so if you attempt to derail someone talking about their interests with what the mainstream says we’re supposed to be interested in, then that makes us less likely to care about what you enjoy.

The Foolishness of #firerickremender

Note: A while after I originally wrote this, I started to worry that it might seem condescending to some, so I rewrote it to convey a greater sense of general respect. Still working on my online etiquette.

Let’s start calling political bullying by its name.

Last week, the release of Captain America #22 was met with controversy when the Falcon was depicted waking up next to Jet Black, the daughter of Arnim Zola. Although Jet appeared to be quite young at the start of Remender’s run, time flies by fast in Dimension Z, where Captain America spent twelve years, as did Jet. By the time the Dimension Z arc ended, Jet had turned 23. However, some readers who didn’t know the full story in the book misinterpreted the Falcon-Jet scene as a case of statutory rape. Afterward, people wanted Remender fired, and they wanted the rest of us to stop buying Remender’s books. There’s even a hashtag dedicated to getting Remender fired.

Look. I’m sorry, people, but you don’t speak for me, you don’t tell me what I can and can’t buy, and you have no right to try to pressure a whole company to fire one of their hard-working employees who did nothing to hurt you!

Getting into the comics industry is extremely difficult. There are certain hurdles that one must make it past. It’s not easy. Are we supposed to believe that fiction of all things warrants losing a job?

Furthermore, we are talking about a fictional story in a comic book. Trying to get someone fired over comics is hateful. It’s very simple. If you are participating in the #firerickremender campaign, then, sit back and think. Would you want to be the victim of a hate campaign?

Equating a fictional story to real-world crimes is highly insulting both to the story’s creators and real victims of crime. If I were ever asked “What more important, fictional characters or real people?”, I would promptly answer “Real people, of course.”

That’s all I’m going to say on the matter. See ya next time.

-Dan

What We Can Do To Bring More Women Into Comics

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/05/13/let-girls-take-the-lead/#comment-4650812

I was just browsing Comic Book Resources and came across an interesting article about letting girls take the lead in the comics industry. It is actually a guest piece written by a long-time comic writer named Barbara Slate. She talks about the benefits of bringing forth a more girl-oriented line as an alternative to male-dominated superheroes, and once upon a time, Marvel had done such a line, having acquired notable licenses to Mattel’s Barbie, and Disney’s Princess characters. The line, while overshadowed by Marvel’s male-oriented heavy-hitters like Spider-Man, Avengers, and X-Men, did actually prove profitable, and Slate herself worked on the line to help it thrive, until a dark period began later into the ’90s, when a moronic excuse of an entrepreneur who was not well-versed in the comics industry began to drive the company into bankruptcy, and although the girls’ line was profitable, it met an untimely end as a result.

Now, Slate suggests revisting the prospect of a more girl-oriented line separate from superheroes. Now, while I consider myself a feminist and do not generally agree with tactics of gender-based segregation, I can definitely understand the basic idea. The idea of bringing out more titles that are more generally more accessible to women is a concept that seems so foreign to many of comics’ current business practitioners, but can only serve to benefit the industry in the long run, and we definitely need to do more than simply cater to the same already-existing demographic of adult males in their 30s and 40s. Emerald City Comic-Con attendance was over half female, and I believe it goes without saying that women are half the world’s population. With that in mind, why wouldn’t you want to tap into that market? Even with all this in mind, there is still one more thing to consider. The problem does not start and end at how many titles are distinctly “for girls”.

I won’t deny that we need more titles that are more accessible for women. After all, that is the whole point of Slate’s article, as well as the point of this opinion piece. And also, as a man with a particular interest in more feminine stories, and also as a male feminist, I embrace the idea of more stories for women. However, I’m sorry to say that it’ll take more to end the current problem than simply doing a “girls’ line”, although I definitely welcome the idea. Another thing we can do is lower the price point for comics and increase the availability for the books. These days, you only see comic books sold at comic book stores that specialize in this media specifically, or certain book store chains. I can’t help but view this situation as somewhat problematic for the industry, as it limits just how many people are likely not only to find these books, but also how many people are likely to put down the money to actually buy them. After all, I might be able to shell out three or four bucks for what is, in the end, approximately twenty pages of story, but I can’t speak for anyone else in that department.

And finally, another big thing we can to make comics more accessible to women is something that Janelle Assellin has been suggesting since she worked at DC Comics as an editor for Batman. That is, we can make the male-oriented stories more inclusive. Bringing out works for male audiences that do not alienate prospective female customers should be a no-brainer. Say what you will about Assellin’s critique of the Teen Titans cover, but she is absolutely right on the grounds that just because a story is targeted towards a male audience does not necessarily mean that it should be designed only for dudes. In Slate’s article, she states the folowing:

“We all know why women are sexualized in boys’ comics. Boys like boobs. Therefore grown men who draw the comics will continue to draw big breasts because they like to and because they know that it sells comics. We may never get them to stop drawing humongous mammaries, but the industry leading publishers can and should have a counterbalance. Instead of just trying to “educate” the boys, give the girls the lead.”

While I will agree that a counterbalance may be necessary, I must take issue with the rest of this quote. The entire paragraph suggests that exclusionary practices are only human nature, that nothing can be done about it, which, whether Slate intends for it to or not, reinforces sexist notions about gender, that men and women are and always will be fundamentally different in their interests and hobbies, which has time and again, been proven untrue. And also, while I will admit that sexualization is indeed, a part of human nature, but by no means is it unavoidable. I may sound uptight by saying this, but at the end of the day, sexualizing female characters is a choice, in every meaning of the word, and it’s a choice that not every male writer is going to make, no matter how naturally it comes. Furthermore, even those male writers that do don’t necessarily operate under the hive mind of “How are we going to exploit female sexuality next?”. In fact, there are ways of exploring the topic of a female character’s sexuality that aren’t exploitative in nature.

Again, the problems with accessibility towards women don’t start and end with the existence of girls’ lines. Like it has been said numerous times before, we do need more books that are girl-friendly, but we also need to make the books more available and affordable, and, we also need to bring out more titles for men that do not exclude women.

Have a good day.

-Dan