The first piece of clothing that I ever tried on for myself was a corset. It is my earliest memory, and must have happened when I was about four or five years old. It’s also the first instance of a confusion which would take decades to reconcile, and the first sign that my nature isn’t necessarily sexual. I remember sneaking into my mother’s closet and trying on her clothes, and the first item that I was drawn to was this beautiful corset. I remember silently trying it on, and how pulling the strings brought a snug tightness around my small frame. It fascinated me, and while I hardly remember anything else from that escapade, I clearly remember that. I said that I snuck into her closet because even then, even at that young age, I knew what I was doing was wrong.
This is the big one. Before Final Fantasy XIII, before I adopted the phoenix, before I knew what either of those was- hell, before I even discovered the term Anguissette, and even before I could read- one defining characteristic has been, has always been with me; I am a masochist. More than that, more than just that word, there is something that I have been since my earliest memory, something that has driven me more than any other facet of my life, that has led me to find a home within the title. The term Anguissette is from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, and is a person who feels no pleasure without pain, and no pain without pleasure. Whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual suffering, finding beauty and relief within those most brutal circumstances.
There’s a reason why this article’s coming out now is that after the disappointment of Catching Fire, I didn’t see Mockingjay Part One in theaters. I wish I had seen Mockingjay, because it is by far the strongest adaptation of the three films. Even if the story is very much incomplete, this first part wasn’t the slog I was expecting. This film rectified so many of my complains about these films that I feel a need to post this, just so I can go on record and say that Mockingjay (Part One) nailed its source material.
As academics and journalists increasingly join the public at large for deriding/ outright laughing at the phrase ‘ludonarrative dissonance’, I believe that while the phrase may have become overused that it is still a valuable tool when discussing games as a medium. This article is in response to a recent Errant Signal episode “The Debate that Never Happened.” In it Christopher Franklin explains the history of games writing from an academic standpoint and eventually admits that the term (while popular a couple years ago) is largely seen as silly. My argument here isn’t that he’s flat out wrong, rather he misses an important aspect of the term’s use. As silly as the term may sound, I do believe we need a framework to critique games whose narrative is dependent on their mechanics, and ‘ludonarrative dissonance/ cohesion’ is vital to that understanding.
I haven’t been shy of admitting to my kinky side online, but it’s been something that I’ve grappled with in my life for years. To the point where I renounced it entirely earlier this year. Until I saw this anime called Kill la Kill, a show I really got into and I think I know why: it is pure joyous kink. It also got me thinking about why its fetish elements work, about depictions of rape in media, and of my own difficult history involving both. It’s a brilliant show well worth discussing that’s rekindled something within me.
Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games and its sequels are brilliant novels, that became tamed and defanged film adaptations. The Capitol was a truly threatening entity, dulled in order to attain a PG-13 Rating. This isn’t about the muted physical violence, either. It’s because the films do not understand what the Capitol is, what made it such a threat, and why made the novels matter.
On July 8th, 2014, Brazil lost by six points to Germany in a World Cup semi-final. At the same time, The International (a prestigious DOTA 2 tournament) began. One day prior, I read a very interesting article (that I will discuss later) and the day after, I read another one (ditto) which covered another aspect of competition. The GER v BRA game was the catalyst for this article, because it made me realize what the World Cup (and indeed all sports) really are: improvised drama. They’re TV dramas, they’re stage plays, and the difference between sport, e-sport, serial drama, even film and suddenly seemed non-existent. The World Cup is the Breaking Bad or Mad Men of sport. It is the top-tier entertainment that, if you’re not watching it, you at least know a dozen people who are.
In this article I’ll be discussing the ‘Ensemble’ trope in media, where different characters have to unite due to external circumstances/ threats. Usually five to eight of them, who bring internal and interpersonal conflicts which drives the storyline. Why is this trope so common, and what makes it so effective? Who does it resonate with? Will the author have another existential crisis? We’re about to find out!
Consider this a sequel to the article I wrote on how there’s no way Fang and Vanille are straight, and then speculated on Lightning’s sexuality. Now that Lightning Returns is out, it’s worth revisitng those as we have the whole picture. Then I’ll touch briefly on Fang/ Lightning. The rest of the article is dedicated to the things I wanted to write, but that didn’t fit into the first two parts. This is the last article I’ll be doing on the XIII… For at least a month. It was never my intent for this project to look like a fansite for XIII, the timings just worked out that way.
Lightning Returns is a brilliant story, often told poorly. In fact, that’s the XIII trilogy in a nutshell. The story has a core that is rock solid, but more layers than it should. XIII* is a love it/ hate it affair. Combine this with the poor direction of a pivotal cutscene, and you have a story which can be really obtuse. If the story speaks to you, and you’re willing to sift through a lot of unnecessary and/or strange concepts and ideas (much like you do reading this blog), then you’re going to have a great time (much like you do reading this blog… right?). If you just aren’t into it, then the layers are just going to obfuscate things further, and I totally understand if you leave the series frustrated.