Damsel in Distress: Part 1 – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

The first video from Anita Sarkeesian’s kickstarter project “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games” is up and running, covering the “Damsel in Distress” trope.

You might remember that when Sarkeesian started this Kickstarter project, there was a huge surge of harassment directed at her for even starting the research, before she had even expressed her ideas on the subject [Slate article: Online Misogyny: Can’t Ignore It, Can’t Not Ignore It]

Sarkeesian’s story is a doozy, by the way. She started a Kickstarter page to raise money to make a documentary about the tropes used by video game designers to portray female characters. She hadn’t expressed an opinion about video games yet, but simply by stating that she would at some point in the future do so, she had to endure an absolute avalanche of misogynist abuse from men who hoped they could silence her before her too-scary-to-be-heard opinion could be voiced. Every access point they could exploit was used to try to get to her, especially her YouTube page. Her Wikipedia page was repeatedly vandalized with lies, links out to porn sites, and pornographic pictures.* Eventually, Wikipedia shut it down. Unfortunately for the misogynists, this sort of thing generated a lot of sympathy for Sarkeesian, and she was able to fundraise well beyond her original goals. Like, more than $90,000 beyond what she originally wanted to raise.

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Weekend Update – My Fair Lady, Roller Derby and Canasta

Stephanie and I went with our friend Elizabeth to Bloomington, Ind. this weekend to visit Joe and see My Fair Lady performed by the Cardinal Stage Company at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. I’ve never seen the show onstage; I’ve only seen the movie musical and that was when I was young, so I didn’t have full recollection of the storyline. But my mom had the album (she had albums of almost every movie musical in existence) so I knew the words to the songs by heart. (And I’m still humming the tunes today. Sorry to those around me.)

It was a really great performance – for a regional production on a small stage, it was phenomenal. Cardinal really puts on a professional performance; the choreography was fantastic, stage design was clever and costumes were spot on. Chloe Sabin as Eliza was delightful. Chris Vettel played Higgins so well that I disliked him exactly the way I should, because the character is basically a jerk wad. The fellow who played Alfred Doolittle, Mike Price, is apparently a Cardinal regular and stole the spotlight in every scene he was in.

I didn’t realize that George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion had a different ending – SPOILER ALERT – in his play Eliza ends up with Freddie, rather than Higgins, and he was adamant that Eliza and Henry weren’t right for each other. I rather agree with him. Higgins was a pretty big douche and didn’t deserve her, no matter how accustomed to her face he became. Liking the girl does not actually get you the girl, Sir; you have to treat her well, too, and even then there are no guarantees. (So much stalking could be prevented if we could just teach this simple concept to anxious young males.)

After the play we went to a Bleeding Hearts Roller Derby bout – it was a charity event/scrimmage where the team competed with themselves as “Heroes” vs. “Villains” – Of the Heroes, my favorites were the Ambiguously Gay Duo. Also popular with me: when the Villains chanted “E-V-I-L what’s that spell? EVIL, EVIL EVIL!!!” And here’s another SPOILER ALERT – the Villains won. By a lot. Joe suggested this is a metaphor for real life. I mainly wondered how the villains planned to remove the Old Tymey Villain Mustaches they drew on their faces with Sharpie Markers. I wonder (and suspect it’s true) whether it’s better to practice villainy these days without the tell-tale mustache. I wonder if there is such a thing as “Old Tymey Sharpie Mustache remover”? I wonder if I practiced Heroism with an Old Tymey Villain Mustache, would that be an adequate disguise? Would it be ironic, and by extension, (shudder) hipster-ish? I wonder if I wonder way too much about mustaches and villainy? The probable answer to all of these questions is “Probably.”

After dinner, we spent the evening at Joe’s, where Elizabeth and Joe and Stephanie taught me how to play canasta. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this card game. But I will try. If I bore the pants off of you – well, hey, no pants, right?!! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. I enjoyed canasta more than say, euchre, because canasta is, as Elizabeth pointed out, a blend of skill and luck. Euchre often depends on solely on the deal – if you don’t have a good hand, there’s nothing you can do. If you have a decent hand, you can maybe parlay that into something better (look, I totally used the word parlay in a sentence!!) but often that still depends on what your neighbors are dealt, and if they screw up. In euchre, having been dealt a good hand is the only sure way to take a trick. (Possibly another metaphor for real life?) Double-deck bid euchre tends to break that up and allow for more strategy, which is why I like it better.

Canasta is like double-deck bid euchre in that there are lots of cards (2 or 3 decks, depending on the number playing) and lots of room for strategy, and it has the bonus of being like rummy in that you collect sets. These guys play the game by “Elizabeth Rules” which is basically how she was taught to play; your rules may vary. The goal in each round is to go out (no cards left in your hand) after making two “canastas” – a collection of 7 cards of the same face value. A canasta with wild cards (2s or jokers) is a black canasta, a canasta without is a higher-valued “natural” or “red” canasta. You add up points for your canastas and for the cards you had on the table, subtract what you have in your hand, and the first to get to 5,000 points wins. Also there are some complex things you do with threes, but I’m already getting tedious aren’t I? Anyway, I really enjoyed the game, although I came in dead last. And I’ll probably be babbling about it again sometime in the future after I can rope people into playing with me again.

I spent some time on Sunday re-watching the series Firefly – which I have some thoughts about, but oh, look at the time. I have gotten long-winded, haven’t I? Well that’s refreshing after all the short little link posts, I’ll bet.

Slideshow of photos from the weekend:

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links for 2008-03-15

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links for 2008-03-14

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Pack Rat

my utter lack of blogging lately has been entirely due to playing a Facebook game called pack rat. It’s a card trading game and is completely addicting. I’ve completely neglected numerous obligations to friends and household maintenance due to this game.

In other news, my eye doctor says my eyes are healing exactly as expected. Though they’re still blurry and I’m really impatient about it, that’s good news and makes me relieved. I was a bit worried avoid the pace.

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