Arrietty and Keeping Our Failures a Secret Jun18

Arrietty and Keeping Our Failures a Secret...

Children’s movies often tout the dangers of secrets. Many a story surrounds a protagonist keeping a secret from friends, guardians, or other adults with lie after lie throughout almost the entirety of the films. George lies to his parents about Stuart leaving on a dangerous journey in Stuart Little 2; Mr. Incredible lies to his wife so he can moonlight hero work in The Incredibles; Miguel lies to his deceased family so he can break his curse in Coco. In the end, after a barrage of damage dealt to relationships or the characters themselves, the secret always comes out. On the other hand, The Secret World of Arrietty, a Japanese animated film, also has a plot surrounding a secret; but instead of lying, right away this little person takes responsibility for her actions. One of the biggest lies I’ve used repeatedly is two words: “I’m fine.” This film is Hayao Miyazaki’s interpretation of The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Fourteen-year-old Arrietty is a girl only a few inches tall, called a borrower, who lives with her mother and father under the floorboards of a house in Japan. While thoughtlessly running in the garden one day, she’s seen by a “human bean,” but she hides this secret from her parents. Their presence being known jeopardizes the safety of her family. As opposed to dragging this secret out for the rest of the film, not far into the story, Arrietty admits to Papa and Mama that she was seen while being careless. Arrietty could have lied to make it easier on herself. Taking responsibility for a secret that’s hurt others can be a humbling process because admitting you’re wrong takes guts. If I admit I’ve done something wrong, then there are all these horrible feelings of guilt...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

God of War and the Weight of Fatherhood...

I never wanted to be a father. I love my two children and the people they are growing to be, but there are many days I wish I wasn’t responsible for them. Not that I’d want my children to cease to exist, rather I often wish I could give them a better father, one who acts more like the other dads I meet. I’m sure I’m not alone in these feelings of inadequacy, but when I talk to other fathers, they often mention how much they love being dads. They show off their photos of their kids and enjoy being in the company of children. I never feel that way. That doesn’t mean I want to be a distant father, I just feel like my goals for parenting, and the “unconventional” ways I may express love or encouragement, are wrong when compared to others. I’ve struggled with feeling alone in these emotions. But when I began playing the latest installment of God of War, I found a kindred spirit in Kratos. Kratos is the god of war in the Greek pantheon, and after spending three games murdering every other god he could get his hands on, he’s grown tired of killing and retired to Midgard. There, he’s settled down with a fierce warrior woman, Faye, and had a son. But with her death, he is left alone with “the boy” (this is literally what he calls Atreus, 99% of the time). Near the beginning of the game, Kratos cries out to his dead wife: “Why did you leave me alone with him? You were always better at this.” As we discussed the ways Kratos is making a mess of fathering and how destructive his secrets are, I found myself understanding how he feels. Every...

When Our Heroes Fall: Our Responsibility to #MeToo Jun11

When Our Heroes Fall: Our Responsibility to #MeToo...

For me, the saddest news of the #metoo movement was when Scott R Brunton accused George Takei of sexually assaulting him back in the late eighties. Part of Star Trek: The Original Series’ cast, I’ve followed Takei for his snappy memes and articles, as well as his widespread LGBTQ activism. Sadly, his name joins a long list of outed celebrities, including Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Morgan Freeman. It’s hard to imagine the distinguished narrator of March of the Penguins as a sexual predator, but as women continue to accuse him, he’s falling into the same category as Takei. Even Joss Whedon isn’t left out. His ex-wife published an essay back in 2017, accusing him of multiple affairs, including some with unnamed young actresses on his classic shows. I’m mindful of his admission that he identified the most with Xander, whose extended and misguided possessiveness of Buffy and his infidelity while dating Cordy stands as possible examples of Whedon’s moral code. The revelations of these men’s characters may come as a shock to me, but many people already knew. Let me rephrase that: many women already knew. The film industry is plagued with sexism; you could read it in the commodification of women’s bodies on screen long before the #metoo movement started. Women talk about these things, spread the word along “whisper networks” of who to play nice with, who to keep at arm’s length, and who to avoid entirely. Whispering truth may have been the only way to stay safe without endangering a precarious career. Living from gig to gig means that no matter what unions do, they can’t force people to hire you. What do I do when a celebrity I love and admire is outed for sexual assault? Speaking...

Registry Open for Secret Keeping 101 Jun08

Registry Open for Secret Keeping 101...

This course is required for all students enrolled in the Fundamentals of Superpowers program. Whether you want to dominate the world or stop someone else from ruling it, these skills are key to your success. (Note: If you’re looking for the “superhero only” track, we suggest you apply to that school in Westchester or go back for remedial instruction at Sky High.) Course Modules Part 1: Secret Identity Have you ever wondered why superheroes try so hard to maintain a secret identity? Guest lecturer Chuck Bartowski will go over the pros and cons, with special emphasis on protecting your family and how to deal with all your relatives turning out to be spies. If you insist on a secret identity, we will devote two class sessions to how to sneak away from a hostage situation so you can put on your superhero costume (or whatever) to save your friends. Part 2: Not-So-Secret-Identity Sometimes everybody thinks they’re keeping your secret from everyone else, and you just have to go along with it. Buffy Summers will guest lecture on her experience of winning the “Class Protector” award and how to misdirect outsiders who ask about the obituaries section in the school newspaper. We’ll analyze various techniques, including “hiding in plain sight” (e.g. the super-secret black SUVs with Torchwood written on the front), “wearing glasses,” and “hopefully no one notices I’m suddenly buff.” Part 3: Secret Facilities Common locations include rundown warehouses, abandoned amusement parks, and spacious sewers. Wealthier aspiring supers may opt for more elaborate facilities such as corporate towers, underwater domes, or volcano bases. We will discuss specialty realtors and contractors who can assist in this endeavor and how to clean up your tracks. Lectures will contrast the new Avengers base (not secret) with Dr....

Where is Hope for the Abused in Solo? Jun06

Where is Hope for the Abused in Solo?...

Spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story below. When we first meet Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, she is virtually a slave, running tricks in “these mean streets” for the crimelady Proxima. Qi’ra comes from a nebulous background, but despite having a rough life thus far, she is resourceful and markedly full of hope, a fitting companion for a youthful Han Solo. In the initial scenes of the film, Qi’ra and Han run together in Romeo and Juliet fashion, dodging danger and dreaming of escaping together into a better life. They’re playful and brave, but reckless, fueled by adolescent love. Trouble is never far behind these two: upon a bold attempt to flee their home planet of Corellia, Han escapes and Qi’ra does not. This event seems to become a turning point in Qi’ra’s life, or perhaps, merely a confirmation of what she has always believed about the world and her basic value as a person. Does Qi’ra, like many manipulated, fractured women, believe that she is irredeemable. The next time Han sees Qi’ra, she is on Dryden Vos’s yacht. Everything from her appearance to demeanor has changed. Where she once was an edgy adolescent, brimming with hope, Qi’ra is now poised, worldly, and reticent. Han’s hope hasn’t dimmed, even after years of near-death encounters; but Qi’ra’s life has been harsh in other ways, and it shows. The most poignant, heartbreaking aspect of Qi’ra’s evolution is her confession to Han: “I’ve done terrible things.” And she considers herself worthless because of them. Even when, during a scene inside Lando’s superfluous closet of capes, Han tries to convince her that they can finally run off together, she refuses—not because she doesn’t see the good in him, but because she has lost the ability...

Why Your Friends Don’t Deserve to be Eaten by Dinosaurs Jun04

Why Your Friends Don’t Deserve to be Eaten by Dinosaurs...

There were few events I anticipated as a kid as much as the opening weekend for Jurassic Park. The excitement around that movie was palpable and all the news and entertainment shows on television—not to mention my friends—were clamoring for it. All the enthusiasm persuaded me to read the novel on which it was based, which was a big deal for me. It was the first book I read for fun, and I enjoyed it fully. Michael Crichton’s work made me feel like an adult, with all its multifaceted characters and scientific context. Well, that and the curse words. I was full of adrenaline when I finally made it to the theater to watch Spielberg’s film. The opening scene with the unseen velociraptor capturing a terrified worker mesmerized me, but soon afterwards, confusion set in. The plot differed greatly from the book and the characters weren’t quite the ones I remembered. I was most confused by the absence of lawyer Donald Gennaro. A major figure in the novel, I wondered why he was missing from the movie. There was an attorney in the film, but that couldn’t be Gennaro, who the author described as strong and stout, who had his faults but also showed scruples. This attorney was thinner, balder, and older than the one in the book, and far more befitting of the “evil lawyer” stereotype. My loved ones are not simple stories or funny punchlines. In Michael Crichton’s version, Gennaro is a corporate lawyer looking out for his employers’ investment and his own well-being, but through the course of the story, he changes. Once put into life and death situations, he focuses on his own safety rather than his greed, and later, also on the safety of the other survivors. When it...

Unwilling to Take Responsibility: Doctor Smith and Manipulation May30

Unwilling to Take Responsibility: Doctor Smith and Manipulation...

In the reboot of Lost In Space that premiered on Netflix last month, June Harris is a survivor at all costs. She doesn’t care who she has to take down to preserve her own life. When her sister prepares to leave on an expedition to colonize another planet on the interstellar spacecraft Resolute, she offers June her beautiful house, car, and clothes—basically, all her possessions. Accepting her sister’s gifts could have been a fresh start for June, a chance to redefine herself honestly. But, June is a jerk. She drugs her sister, stealing her identity and taking her place on the expedition. And when it’s discovered that she isn’t who she claims to be, June kills a guy to keep him quiet, leaves people in distress who she could have helped, and puts countless others in danger during her continued quest to save her own butt. When the Resolute is attacked by killer robots, several of the expedition’s ships crash on an earth-like planet, including the ship of the Robinson family. One of the robots also crashes there, and befriends (and becomes fiercely loyal to) the child, Will. June also finds herself stranded and in need of a new plan to ensure her survival and freedom. She takes the identity of a psychologist named Smith. By pretending to be a doctor and a trained member of the expedition, she puts everyone’s lives at risk because she has none of the survival or technical training that members are expected to have. June preys on people’s unwillingness to communicate or be vulnerable with each other. When someone lies, the freedom of everyone interacting with them is threatened. In a Catholic marriage, misrepresentation is clear ground for an annulment. The reason is that misrepresentation removes freedom; and...

Harvey Dent’s Other Face: Why Gotham Needs the Truth More Than Heroes May28

Harvey Dent’s Other Face: Why Gotham Needs the Truth More Than Heroes...

Gotham City is one of those fictional locations I don’t want to visit. The mob has people under its control in every institution, supervillains regularly hatch deadly plots, and a kid can’t be sure his parents will make it home safe from the opera late at night. Trying to clean up the city is like trying to cure it of cancer—corruption and deception just keep popping up in new places, regardless of attempts to wipe it out. In The Dark Knight, Batman and Detective Gordon employ vigilantism and work with tainted cops to make a difference. Nobody talks about it, but everyone knows they’re fighting fire with fire. Into this chaos, Harvey Dent enters as the white knight. He’s fearless in the courtroom, ingenious in carting bad guys off the streets, and charming enough to win the heart of Rachel Dawes. Even Bruce Wayne is convinced that Dent’s methods are effective. Batman would rather see true law and order prevail in Gotham than his behind-the-scenes crimefighting. “Gotham needs a hero with a face,” he says. But Dent has two faces. “Fair’s fair,” he teases before betting on a cheater’s coin. His deception lets him trick Rachel into dating him and later enables him to terrorize one of the Joker’s minions after kidnapping him for information. He relies on a legal technicality to arrest dozens of the mob’s men at once, knowing most of them will be freed soon. Lying about being the Batman to set a trap for the Joker comes pretty easily for someone whose job is seeking the truth. And his nickname among Gotham’s cops could refer to his shady dealings or the way he suddenly lashes out in anger when something doesn’t go as he expects. We’re tired of hiding, ignoring,...

The Fear of Disappointing Others is Strong with This One May25

The Fear of Disappointing Others is Strong with This One...

The other day, a friend asked me which I hate more—disappointing myself or others. Assuming the “others” are important to me, I choose them every time as the worst scenario. Even the thought of disappointing those I care about makes my insides twist up and my eyes sting from future tears. In Spider-Gwen #2, Gwen loses her phone and gains a concussion after a devastating fight with the Vulture. But it seems the thing she’s worried about most is not the threat of death, but disappointing others—her dad, her band mates, even the illusion of Spider-Ham who shows up to offer counsel in her concussed state. Rather than stick around to face their disappointment, Gwen has disconnected herself from all the people who care about her. It’s a common super hero trope—leave the people closest to you so they don’t get hurt—but in Gwen’s case, she’s leaving them so she doesn’t get hurt. “Being a super hero is way more than facing bad guys, Gwensday… sometimes you gotta face real life,” Spider-Ham says to her. Walling myself off from others is always the easy answer—it protects me from so many vulnerabilities. Why not just live in solitary to avoid all the messy emotions—feelings that can leave me curled up in a distressed ball on my bed, that can cause so much stress I get physically sick. Except I’ve faced that loneliness before, and I’ve found that the messiness of relationships are worth it. I get tired of carrying my baggage around all by myself, and I’ve found the people who love me are often willing to help me with it. It seems Gwen comes to the same conclusion, because at the end of this comic, she finds her dad in an alleyway. Holding up Gwen’s cellphone that he...

On The Bright Sessions: Superpowers Can’t Cure Loneliness May23

On The Bright Sessions: Superpowers Can’t Cure Loneliness...

In the podcast The Bright Sessions, a scripted serialized drama about a group of misfits with superhuman abilities called Atypicals, characters explore a broader story of social isolation and the deep-seated desire for community. Writer and director Lauren Shippen surprised me by resisting clichés and overused tropes, taking The Bright Sessions to unique creative territory. Currently in its fourth season, it’s no wonder this show will have a series of YA novels published in the next year and is in development for television. Each Atypical patient describes the pain of feeling unconnected—the loneliness and isolation of feeling like they don’t belong. Each episode of the podcast’s first season is presented as a recorded therapy session between Dr. Joan Bright and one of her several Atypical patients. They have a lot to talk about as the patients try to understand how to cope with their developing abilities. While they have different and varied experiences with their abilities, they all struggle with social isolation: Caleb, an empath, can’t connect with his fellow high school students because he’s overwhelmed by their emotions; Sam, an orphaned time traveler, shuns other people for fear of hurting them; Chloe, a telepath, finds it difficult to be around others. Other superhuman characters occupy the margins of these episodes, suggesting similar frustrations: Frank, a homeless ex-marine, has PTSD and some Atypical abilities; Damien, an anti-social Atypical, can influence people to do his will. Each character expresses the pain of being alone, of not feeling connected to a larger group of family or friends. Shippen’s world is populated with people desperate to connect but unable to do so. Many of the characters use aliases to enforce their social isolation, deflecting personal and familial associations. Damien, for instance, uses his alias to project an...

Westworld and Basing Our Identity on Others May21

Westworld and Basing Our Identity on Others...

Spoiler Alert: This article contains details from Season One of Westworld. For the artificial hosts of the TV series Westworld’s resort, life is a daily invitation to be lied to, cheated, shot, or assaulted—all in the service of letting humans have a good time. In the first episode of Westworld, I wondered if the hosts had unexplored potential. Bernard (the lead designer of the hosts’ behavioural algorithms) is interviewing a host named Dolores. While she sits unblinking, he asks, “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” Author and mystic Thomas Merton writes, “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self . . . My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love—outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.” Living with humility is the hard work of pushing through the self-image I’ve created and deciding who I really am. In essence, when I define myself by outside forces, my “false self” conforms to other people’s ideas. The hosts of Westworld exist solely to prop up other people’s illusory selves. Similarly, we often do what we think other people want us to and let our actions define our identity. Fortunately for us, Merton suggests a way to shed the illusion and own the truth about ourselves; his solution is humility. If we are open to the circumstances of our own lives, pay attention to what really matters, and avoiding the temptation to feed our ego by imitating or placating others, we may find a more substantial basis for our identities. Living with humility is the hard work of pushing through the self-image I’ve created and deciding who I...

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture? May18

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture?...

As someone who struggles with a chronic illness, I can’t always relate to my fictional superheroes. Thor’s abs and Wonder Woman’s stamina never give up, after all. The heroes are almost always strong, beautiful, and not sick. If a character with an illness or chronic pain does show up, they’re often a weak link for the hero to save; their illness is mentioned once as the butt of a joke; they’re useless until they’re healed; or they’re only there to provide inspiration for the hero’s journey. These tropes are frustrating for those of us who face sickness every day in a society that doesn’t know what to do with us. But sometimes I come across characters who represent accurate struggles of being chronically ill. Here are some of my favourites: 1. Remus Lupin, Harry Potter Lupin doesn’t consider himself a worthwhile member of society because that’s what the world keeps telling him. For example, as soon as word gets out that he’s a werewolf, he has to vacate his position as a Hogwart’s professor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because people don’t want him teaching their children, even though he is safe as long as he drinks his potions. J.K. Rowling has stated that Lupin’s condition is meant to mimic the stigma of blood-borne diseases. His fear of accepting love is a very real thing people with chronic conditions face daily. “‘I am not being ridiculous,’ said Lupin steadily. ‘Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.’ . . . ‘But she wants you,’ said Mr. Weasley, with a small smile. ‘And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.'” —Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince 2. Izumi Curtis, Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse’s alchemy teacher, Izumi is a tough, stubborn, ...

When Identities are Forced Upon Us: Furyborn and Prophecy May16

When Identities are Forced Upon Us: Furyborn and Prophecy...

Prophecies are a staple plot device in fantasy fiction: they reveal information, advance the plot, and create intrigue around characters. But they are also subject to interpretation. The way they are understood often has more impact on the story than the prophecy itself. For example, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry finds out that there is a prophecy about him. But, the prophecy doesn’t mention him by name, just that “the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.” As it turns out, two boys were born at the end of July: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Though Voldemort chose Harry, he could have chosen Neville just as easily. Voldemort’s interpretation of the prophecy is what led to Harry becoming the Chosen One, not the prophecy itself. Some secrets—like sexual orientation and past abuse—are scary and life-changing, and people should not be forced to reveal them when they are not ready. Interpretation of prophecy is one of the major themes in Furyborn by Claire Legrand, because the identity of the protagonist, Rielle, becomes wrapped up in one. In Furyborn, the people of Celdaria have lived with one central prophecy for hundreds of years—one day, two Queens will rise: the Sun Queen, who will save the world, and the Blood Queen, who will destroy it. In this world, people have the ability to manipulate one of seven elements. However, while magic users need to channel their powers through something, these two Queens will have the ability to perform magic at will—and they will be able to manipulate all seven elements simultaneously. Rielle has been able to use multiple elements her whole life. But, after causing a fatal accident with fire at the age of...

Playing Light Fall Means Accepting I will Fail...

Light Fall, a recent platformer released on April 28, 2018, by Bishop Games, is not an easy game. Once past the tutorial stage, the game moves so fast I had trouble seeing danger before it was too late. And yet, I still find it fun. I’ve enjoyed the hours I’ve put into it. I’ve liked the challenge. I rarely ever feel this way about my own life or work. I tend to associate ease with skill, so I expect a successful journey to be a smooth one. If I have difficulty achieving a goal, then I assume there’s some deficiency in me. But if I actually enjoy the challenge of Light Fall, shouldn’t I also face them well in life? Light Fall puts players in control of a bright-eyed sprite in a dark world and demands the world is explored at breakneck speed. Characteristically, I found myself taking a slow, methodical approach to the opening levels but soon discovered I needed all the momentum I could get. It was impossible to make it through some stretches without failing two, three, or even ten times! Light Fall offers limited tools to get the job done—namely, the Shadow Core, a magical box that lets me move through the game’s stages in ways that would be impossible for Mario or Luigi. It literally allows me to make a way where there was none before, and although it grants me more mastery and freedom, there are limits and obstacles that are still tricky to overcome. In life, as in Light Fall, flawless first runs are happy coincidences; even so, I’ve come to crave and expect them. It turns out the biggest obstacle is me. Light Fall makes it possible to string together beautiful, satisfying runs and it’s a...

10 Female Video Game Characters Who Aren’t Objectified...

Sex sells, which is why video games have a history of objectifying female characters. Many games also feature women with little to no autonomy—think of the princesses Peach and Zelda, waiting in their respective castles for the heroes of plumbers and time to rescue them. They are often stereotypical in their roles—soft-spoken healers who care for the emotions of the party, only there as a side character or love interest. But female, playable characters with three-dimensional personalities and backstories, those who are not objectified for their body types, are gaining momentum in the video game industry. Here are some of our favourites: 1. Chell — Portal Chell is a silent protagonist and, as a test subject, she is physically fit but her jumpsuit is not designed to look sexy. You learn about her, not through dialogue, but by your unrelenting attempts to escape and GLaDOS’s responses to your actions. In the Portal 2: Lab Rat comic, her file says: “Test subject is abnormally stubborn. She never gives up. Ever.” We love that her stubbornness is built in as a function of the game. “The female protagonist of Portal remains fully clothed, from head to knee, throughout the entire game. Moreover, her gender is not used to sexualize the shooter, or market it to horny teenage boys, in any way. No, the hero of Portal just happens to be a normal-looking and normal-dressing woman, like 50% of the world’s population. Imagine that.” —Charlie Barratt “The Top 7 Lazy Character Cliches” (GamesRadar) 2. Aloy — Horizon Zero Dawn Aloy doesn’t deny her femininity to be strong. She isn’t crude, arrogant, or violent to overcome being a woman in a man’s world. She isn’t searching for a male figure to date or marry either, and isn’t consumed with the desire...

Why Choose Reality When We Could Live in the Matrix? May09

Why Choose Reality When We Could Live in the Matrix?...

Which would you take—the red pill or the blue pill? The question isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. The red pill represents the full picture of reality—truth and all it entails. Your eyes are opened, but in that freedom you will find struggle, even overwhelming hardship. The blue pill, on the other hand, allows you to live happily unaware. You’ll be able to live the way you always have, remaining blind to harsh reality. As Cypher notes in The Matrix, “Ignorance is bliss.” The red and blue pill metaphor has become entrenched in our culture as a reality check. After all, I never wondered if Neo made the right decision to gulp down the red pill and battle against alien machines; I just cheered him on as he did. And I became angry with Cypher when he took the blue pill and jeopardized the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar. But I have to admit, the choice is tempting; the reality of the Matrix is ugly and dangerous, and that steak that Cypher is eating as he contemplates his decision looks really delicious. I like to think that I would never pick the blue pill like he did, but I’m not sure the choice is that simple, especially when the truth can be unpleasant. Why would you swap comfort for cold fact? Real life is a little more complicated than red and blue pills. Although I want to be like Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus—not only perceiving reality but fighting against the very things that enslave them—I often live the way Cypher wants to, blissfully enjoying my ignorance. I distinctly remember in seventh grade, I tried reentering my school building from the courtyard during lunch break, which was against the rules, and a teacher...

Avengers: Infinity War Defines Love that Lasts Forever May07

Avengers: Infinity War Defines Love that Lasts Forever...

WARNING: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead! Avengers: Infinity War contrasts what cannot last with what endures forever. The main issues at stake are, after all, “infinity” stones. It’s intriguing that, despite their names, these stones command forces that are finite in scope within our universe: power, space, time, reality, soul, and mind. The one notable force that has no infinity stone is love—and perhaps, given the paradoxical nature of the other stones, this is intentional. Thanks to the film’s enormous cast, there are an unusually large number of relationships hanging in the balance as Thanos stalks across the universe in search of the stones. And the explored relationships aren’t all on the heroes’ side; I was surprised to discover that part of Thanos’s motivation is his own twisted concept of love. Selfish Love Throughout the film, Thanos’s self-serving “love” is juxtaposed with the legitimate love demonstrated by the Avengers and the Guardians. First, there’s Thanos’s attitude towards the universe: according to Gamora, “he only ever had one goal: to wipe out half the universe.” Thanos believes it’s his job to maintain “balance.” He doesn’t see his actions as the destruction of billions of lives; he believes he’s giving the remaining billions the chance to experience better existences. In the film, just like in life, sometimes we wonder if love is worth it. Infinity War also highlights a much more personal relationship for Thanos: his status as a father to Gamora, whom he adopted after destroying half the population of her planet. Of all his “children,” Gamora is Thanos’s favourite, even though she hates everything about him. In order to obtain the soul stone, Thanos has to sacrifice what he loves most. Gamora taunts him, believing that there is nothing he loves, and therefore...

6 Video Game Characters with Chronic Conditions...

Video games let us live power fantasies, playing as heroes who epitomize mental fortitude and physical vitality. Characters too sick to leave home or struck with debilitating symptoms mid-combat aren’t usually the playable heroes; usually, characters who suffer from illnesses are the NPCs in need of escorting or rescuing. However, some video games are beginning to reframe empowerment by telling stories about characters who live (and save the day) with chronic conditions. Here are six that should be on every gamer’s radar. 1. Rhys, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance & Radiant Dawn Rhys spends his childhood sickly and bedridden, daydreaming of sword fights, flying, playing with the laughing children outside his window—anything but living with cramps, fevers, body spasms, nausea, dizziness, and the fear of being a burden. Eventually taking up the staff of a priest (but unable to cure himself), Rhys endures many years being denied permanent employment due to his chronic illness before finding acceptance among the Greil Mercenaries, a group led by a warrior with a disabled arm. Years later, Rhys gains enough field experience to become a wielder of powerful light magic, but finds his greatest joy simply in being surrounded by friends and coworkers who understand that he “can’t help being barfy all the time.” “Rhys participates in battles despite his illness. He’s a rare example in [the Fire Emblem] series of a healer you get in the early game who is a male.”— Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Memorial Book Tellius Recollection: The First Volume 2. Athena Cykes, Ace Attorney: Duel Destinies An 18-year-old prodigy lawyer, Athena uses her ultra-sensitive hearing to help discern witnesses’ emotions in court. As a child, her susceptibility to sensory overload provoked anxiety and insecurity, causing her to skip school and live a...

Singers Wanted for a Harry Potter concert! May02

Singers Wanted for a Harry Potter concert!...

Do you have vocal experience? Do you want to be part of a community that sings and learns together? Do you say “Alohomora” when you unlock your car door from a distance? Then Incantatem might be the choir for you! Based in Winnipeg, Incantatem practices on Monday nights and will be preparing for a Harry Potter concert this fall, with practices starting at the end of May. Singers must be able to read music. There are no member fees involved. Incantatem is a project under Geekdom House, a charitable, faith-based organization. Our concerts are not religious in nature and you do not need to be a Christian to participate as long as you are not antagonistic towards other faiths and accept that the group prays before practices. Incantatem is especially looking for tenors. Message allison@geekdomhouse.com to set up an...