Lost in Translation

I might have lost my first reader because of what I’ve been writing.

If you don’t write there’s this thing that seems to be something that even the most carefree, fearless of writers goes through–somehow, someday you’re going to write something that is going to get you into trouble. Writing has caused an uproar before, for sure. There’s what happened with Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code or the many people made about the portrayal of sex and just relationships in general in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Notice that both of those books sold very well.

That’s not an invitation to write the worst things that you can, but there’s obviously something to be said about the controversial selling or the shitstorm that brews around a thing actually helping to fuel its ascent.

We could only hope to be that lucky. In my case I passed a story along to a woman who I wouldn’t call a friend quite yet, but there was something budding there. She had asked to see something I was writing and as she actually reads a lot I thought that this could be a common ground for us.

I e-mailed the first chapter to her, because I almost never send out the complete manuscript, expecting to hear back in a couple of days. The idea was that she would read it and make some comment like “that was really cool, I’d read this” or “nah, not really my kind of thing”. In the past I’ve gotten either.

I’ll interject here that one of the things that I read in Stephen King’s On Writing that has always rang true with me was that the writer in us has this desire to find an ideal reader–usually a spouse or friend or family member whose feedback they write for. This person would be the audience you have in mind. Maybe not so much in the sense that they are the type of person that you’re writing for, but more that you write everything to filter through them. The writing process is lonely by necessity, even when you’re writing with a co-author. That first time that you hand someone the printed stacks of paper that are your novel or send out that little file attachment is a big step. Their impression of the thing is your first impression of what anyone else thinks.

And in a way I’m kind of searching for the person to be that. It takes more than just being the first to read a thing; they have to be honest enough and brutal enough to be willing to take a stab at something very personal that has, up until then, been your own little secret creation.

Sure, you learn to get hardened to criticism and to take it as a critic of what’s on the page and not you, but it’s still a part of you. It’s still a very vulnerable give and take relationship.

So when I didn’t hear back, I figured that it was because she didn’t like it and was scared of hurting my feelings. I actually like hearing someone didn’t like it, someone telling me that they loved it doesn’t usually tell me what needs to be fixed.

Something always needs to be fixed.

She and I talked over the next few days about photography and kind of joked around. We came to the point where she was going to meet up with me the other day and then the day of she backed out. And I did what I do when anyone does anything, even a small thing. I over analyzed it.  It really works in my favor some of the time. If there’s a problem that needs a high level of scrutiny I can do that.

The phrase she used was “no contact” and it seemed like a very specific sort of language to use with someone who you had very lighthearted contact with in the first place. Looking back over the conversations we’ve had since I got the iPhone (and looked for an excuse to text anyone I knew had one to see the little blue bubbles) there’s nothing alarming in my language with her. We had breakfast together once a while ago and haven’t seen each other sense, but I wondered what I’d said to get this response.

The old “what did I do that upset you so much” conversation isn’t one I usually have to have. I know what I’ve said, I probably said it on purpose. I was careful this time; I’m usually extra careful because i can get carried away with jokes that are too much for people and topics that shouldn’t be discussed.

Then I realized the only place I hadn’t been careful was my writing. The first chapter of the novel I sent her has some choice words in it and some choice imagery. She actually questioned it when she first started reading the whole thing, but that was the last conversation where we mentioned it. At that point she seemed fine with there being a little adult content. It wasn’t there for no reason, that’s for sure.

I think she read the rest of it either days ago or very recently and had been thinking it over. Is this the kind of person that I want to be friends with? Someone who would write this must be sick or someone who would write this must have a real problem. Authors aren’t the people they write about in their stories, although part of us does go into the process. I’m no more Lissette than I am any other character written by someone who just had the idea. But she’s up here in my head, she came from there and I can pull that personality forth and put it on the page (haven’t been doing it as much lately).

The writing scaring her is all that makes sense to me with the scant information that I have. This isn’t really the first time this has happened, but it is the first time that someone has not wanted to be my friend anymore because of it and it’s sad because she seemed really sweet and I wish her the best.

Does this mean that I stop what I was doing before or change how I have been writing, no. I don’t have direct feedback to know what it was that caused her issue nor do I want to be the kind of person who censors their writing. I’d rather write things better and strive to take offensive subjects in a thought provoking way, rather than hiding from them or appealing to the lowest denominator.

If I’m published someday I hope she sees the book in a store or while scrolling through Amazon and decides to take it look; I hope she gets that what I’m trying to say is clear. I hope she keeps turning the pages and finally gets what I’m trying to say.

It’s Getting Awfully Crowded in My Sky

Firefly isn’t really one of my favorite shows (don’t get me wrong, it’s good) and you won’t often find me quoting Joss Whedon, but the sentiment there is something I really understand; though in my case there’s a different reason behind the whole thing.

5316963 _9f0c5a820e468023f8ace9ce6ccf97c9The internet has been a cruel place for some time now. The trolls and the cliques with the forceful ways have been a part of the net since I hopped on in the mid-nineties. Back then my browser of choice was AOL and I could only have a set number of favorites. A lot of people actually typed the web addresses in by hand (and they weren’t that long). I didn’t go many places online, but I remember the first time I witnessed what would become known as trolling and recognized it as such.

A user named Angry Kirby was upset at the moderators of the an online bulletin board over a deleted post. What he proceeded to do is something that I will never forget: he had dozens of pictures of babies covered in their own shit mid-diaper change and he posted them all over while the moderators were sleep. The site was run in the states by a small team and no one was typically on after midnight. The shit streaked infants stayed up until well into the next morning.

That might have offended people and seemed like something so disruptive back then, but the internet has become a place where posting pictures isn’t even something that is hard to do (I remember thinking it was so difficult to just get a jpeg into a post and how most bitmaps wouldn’t even fit—I haven’t even used a bitmap in probably ten years).

We didn’t know what the internet was going to become back then. We didn’t have the idea for something like Google or Amazon quite down to the science that it is now…and we didn’t really understand the way communication would change.

Despite all of the tubgirl, goatse (don’t look these things up, please),  and shitty babies I really loved logging on to Zelda forums back in the day. I loved going over to the old Nintendo of America boards and posting about games that we read about in the magazines or sharing tips. I was still a kid and I hadn’t really discovered girls yet. My writing was a small hobby and I loved to draw comics. I talked about these things and when my family got their first scanner I shared them on our slow dial up connection.

I didn’t think that there was much to fight about between fans back then. Almost twenty years the fans of things only seem to gather online for the purpose of bitching. Comic books are something that I’m fairly new to, but the feeling I get when I log onto a site to try and get information about a character or where to find a specific plot point is very similar. And sure, there used to be fighting about which two characters belong together or who would win in a fight, these things go all the way back to before the internet, but there seems to be a war going on right now.

People are so worried about feminism in media or forced diversity in the media that they’re willing to form little online lynch mobs with their own buzz words and ideological rhetoric to do something about it. The changes in television shows have even been enough to prompt one site to write this piece about too much diversity on shows.

Let’s do an experiment: open a browser window about something related to a pass time that’s considered nerdy. Read up on a character from Harry Potter or check in with the Avengers from the comic books and let’s see what’s happening. How long is it before you run across someone making racist comments or sexist comments? How long can you browser a video game news site without someone getting utterly upset that a game isn’t made to their specifications or someone else getting utterly upset that things are so political?

How many pages can you get through without seeing the phrase ‘Cultural Marxism’ or ‘SJW’ or hearing someone wish for the good ol’ days?

This might seem like more complaining, but I’ve been a fan of some of these things, video games in particular, for a long time. I grew up in that second set of NES kids. I watched Captain N on Saturday mornings and remember when Nintendo Power was the best magazine ever. I remember how it used to be with movies and television shows and I like these changes. I don’t feel that they hurt the integrity or story in these things. And I like being able to talk about the things I like online without having to sort through pages and pages of complaining about everything.

Doctor Who, I feel, is the worst. I’ve stopped reading anything related to the show online just because I feel like it’s all negative press and I’ve enjoyed the show more than ever these last three seasons or so. I’m a firm believer in not complaining about media I don’t like (mostly because I don’t subject themselves to them) and unless asked I don’t really bother talking about them. I stopped watching Game of Thrones because I didn’t like it and peer pressure and popularity aren’t going to make me stick with something.

There was a moment when we looked online to discuss things, intelligent, polite discussions and theory-crafting. Perhaps we read into things too far, but the people that grew up doing this are the same ones who went on to make some of the most artistic games ever designed and wrote books filled with ideas gathered from discussions typed out on clunk mechanical keyboard of an i686 powered computer.

It seems like everything, the trolling, the discussion, the cliques, has become more malicious online. Now, this isn’t some post about how technology is evil or how the internet is bad. It’s a post about squandered potential and making up lost time. The new ways of doing things and the changes made to media aren’t going to always be easy, but they’re the way a thing grows and develops. And one of the reason we have grown and developed as a species over the last couple of decades is because of the global reach of the internet.

We don’t need to have creative growth stunted because of our inability for civil discourse.

Dual Who Review: Flatline and Forest

Finally.

Flatline

This season has been all about regime change. Direction change. A change in Doctors and the attitude that was permeating the show in the previous three seasons. I think Flatline is kind of what this season is all about. It was dark and creepy and somewhat different in a way where I couldn’t have pictured it taking place with any other Doctor or in any other season.

It takes something we know well (the TARDIS) and know the limitations to and puts it in an unexpected kind of peril. It also used some real science there for a minute. It’s entirely possible that there’s things in the second dimension that can’t interact with us properly and that when you touch their dimensional plane all they see is the flat part of your molecules interacting with their world. To them everything is two-dee and they can only view the world in two-dee. So what happens when they start to try and learn about our universe?

The episode never really seemed to answer that. Kind of like the episode “Listen” we never really get the concrete reason behind what the things are doing and we don’t need to. It’s not important to the episode. In the case of Listen it didn’t matter because the episode didn’t need it. In this case it was just scary to not know and have the assumption be made that since they were hurting people they must be meaning to do it.

There’s a part near the middle of the episode where the humans are speculating about what the aliens are doing by calling out the numbers of people they’ve taken and it has that sort of “Midnight” fear mentality to it. The Doctor is on the phone trying to calm them down, telling them not to make assumptions, but they’re gripped by fear and rightfully so.

The two dimensional beings are sucking people into their dimension and killing them in the process and the Doctor is trapped within his TARDIS leaving Clara to run things. It seems that one of the staples of this season is Clara being left to her own devices or to follow the Doctor’s orders and handle a problem in his absence. We’ve seen a lot of the two of them separated and her with other humans and just interacting. She’s placed in danger often and it seems to be different for her than other companions because she’s not got the safety net. I get the feeling the Doctor is trying to distance himself more and more from her.

A bit of the drama that started in Kill the Moon seems to be going strong and I’m glad they didn’t just abandon the plot thread and act like it never happened.

And I just have to comment on the effects for the creatures in this episode. If there’s one thing that keeps getting better on the show it’s the look of the aliens and monsters. Where as in season five we had moments of horrible CGI with Prisoner Zero, we’ve got really solid effects here with these strange looking shifter creatures. I’ve heard some people claim that rubber suits add charm to the show and the bad effects were a staple. That’s bullshit and you’re simply wrong. Realistic just looks better, sorry we don’t grade things by hipster standards.

In the Forest of the Night

Another big part of this season seems to be the Doctor having to do “nothing” to fix the issue of the episode. It seems like there is a lot more moments of helplessness and a lot less ass pulling. I kind of saw the twist ending coming, but I enjoyed this for the children and their sparse use of the different kids for little beats.

I really enjoyed the Doctor interacting with the kids.

Probably my biggest issue with this season has been that we’re getting much more of the Earth episodes than in the past three seasons. I think that one of the strengths of the show is the ability to go anywhere and do anything and I think we’re better off avoiding Earth as often as possible.

That having been said this was a pretty interesting episode and it didn’t just end up being another romp of “let’s watch Cardiff pretend to be London”. The forest was generally scary, the fairytales thing was well placed with the references to Little Red Ridding Hood and Hansel and Gretel and I think that we’re seeing a good kind of deconstruction of myths associated with things or at least a special way Doctor Who has of dealing with the things that we accept as truth or that we have ingrained in our culture. We saw that earlier this season with the nightmares about someone grabbing our foot and the myth of Robin Hood. We have seen these themes a lot in Moffat episodes with enemies like the Silence, the Vashta Nerada, the Angels and moving statues and other things like that.

I really don’t mind these cultural parallels. It allows the show to use the familiar to be scary without there needing to be blood and gore. 

Sorry about the long wait, I will be back sooner with a review of the next episode.

Ghost by John Ringo Review Part One

239420Imagine that you lay yourself cold and naked on a metallic table. Next to this table is a smaller table with cup upon it filled with thin, fragile glass tubes and you voluntarily take one of those tubes and shove (see: not gentle) it up the hole in your penis (imagine that if you don’t have a penis for the sake of this because I’m almost thirty and I’m still not exactly sure where women pee from). Then you hit that tube with a hammer (and you penis with it) and you’re forced to piss that glass back out.

Rinse, wash, repeat for several hours.

Does that sound bad? Because that is how my experience listening to the audio book for the first of the Paladin of Shadows books, Ghost, has felt thus far.

And if that was too graphic, don’t read this book because it gets way worse for seemingly no reason other than to shock you and make you feel that these characters are evil.

I started reading it because the people over the podcast Read It and Weep were talking about it and I thought it would be sort of an endurance test. Now I’ve learned there are things far worse than Fifty Shades of Grey or the most abhorrent furry pandering fan fiction. I would read all of those things five times over to not have to hear it casually mentioned that some college girt had her nipples burned off with a blow torch before she was flayed or to not have to hear a strange, racist retelling of history where blacks didn’t have writing until they were enslaved by whites and Mexicans always drive vans.

The strange thing is that the author used to be somewhat reputable. He writes Republican space fantasy where capitalism saves the solar system and there’s some flashes of badly written sex scattered between the political grandstanding. But this book broke all the rules of writing at large and then just took a shit on so much else. We get characters being described while looking at their reflection. Women being noted as having nice hooters (in third person narrative), there’s multiple rape scenes that seem to serve as nonsensical torture porn of liberal women getting their “just deserts”. Oh, and at one point two characters just start to sing March of Cambreadth.

Oddly enough all of this has about a four star rating on any site that I can find. The characters seem to serve as either political representations of one thing or another. The main character’s only redeeming quality is his ability to kill scores of terrorists. And the book tries to sneak in a “see Bush was right about the weapons of mass destruction plot line”.

I can’t finish this whole thing, I’m quite sure I’ll rip my nuts off first. But I am determined for some reason to finish the first part of the book, it’s divided into thirds. I’ll write on it as I go through.

The plot thus far seems to be that Assad and a thinly veiled representation of bin Laden team up to bring college aged women from the US to Syria to be raped on live webcast to teach Americans a lesson. The women are always referred to as whores. The main character is a retired SEAL team member who is attending college and likes to stalk women that he dreams about raping. While stalking one girl she’s abducted by a van (that must be Mexicans because only they drive vans) and he follows the van to find out about the terrorist plot. He follows them to an airport and hops on a plane that’s bound for Syria as a stowaway to save the rest of the girls and kill bin Laden.

Never mind that an unauthorized jet full of people on the no fly list would have never taken off from an airport without catching an ass full of sidewinder missiles, the whole thing feels like it’s too crazy to be as popular as it is, but it’s totally well received by a group of people. It’s part of that Ayn Rand style fiction where you teach by writing about how your theories play themselves out.

Except that you write them in a totally biased way where the odds are stacked in your favor. Every capitalist, inventive type is the bastion of good and the rest of the world crumbles because they are tired of holding it up. In the case of Ghost the hero is a white middle aged man who loves Fox News (he’ll only call them to get the story because they’ll tell the truth) and a racist who uses words like raghead all the time and makes a point to talk about how the movie Roots was bullshit and then precedes to blame the Arabs solely for the slave trade as if no one else was there to benefit from it. He makes a point to say things like women want to fuck heroes and even goes on to demand a blow job from the first girl he saves (she tells him that she will blow him the next time she runs into him no matter where she spots him). And a character that refers to almost every woman in the book as a liberal bitch and makes a comment about how they’re going to turn these nearly raped girls into Republicans yet (because they’ve seen the horrors of Muslims).

The writing is made for a specific type of person to confirm what they already believe and what’s probably saddest is that I don’t see enough reviews pointing this out and condemning it. Even in the bad reviews.

This is running long, but there will be more to say once I finish this first third, I’m sure that this shit just gets worse.

Sandman: Seasons of Mists Review

“To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due.”

2530815-death35To quote one of the first reviews that I saw on Goodreads.com: “This is where shit gets real in the Sandman series…” I don’t think I have agreed with any review more than I did with that little snippet of that one. This review is spoiler free.

Seasons of Mists is where everything that I was promised about Sandman kicks in. The comic is a very slow burn and it’s all been good up to this point, but, and let me make this very clear, Seasons of Mists is everything that that makes this one of the most celebrates comic books series of all time.

There’s just some damn good writing here and so many quotable parts. There’s a lot of expansion of the mythos and we finally meet the majority of the Endless Siblings. And we get some really good stuff from Lucifer; his reasons behind the things he does and just some insight into Hell that makes for a really interesting read.

Some of it I had come up with for my own Lucifer, without having read this part. I don’t think this warrants me changing it, but it does warrant me realizing that I need to make sure to not tread on this ground without something of a new take on what I am doing.

If you’re like me and you’ve been hearing for years how amazing Sandman is and you’re on the fence about reading it, just let me say that this short series in it is all the reason you should need to find a digital copy on Amazon or scour the book stores of your city.

You won’t be able to just read the Seasons of Mists without the stuff that came before. It builds largely on a lot of little set pieces that have been in play for a while and I think, that if I’m right, this is only the beginning of the good stuff.

Guardians of the Galaxy was…fun?

Okay, so that title might be one of those things that looks sarcastic. Bear with me here, because this concept might be a little foreign to movie-goers. This movie was just pure fun. Sure there was some drama here and there, but the set pieces, the characters, the plot—it all worked really well to create a fun atmosphere and I think that I heard more laughter in this auditorium than I have in any movie I’ve been to in a long while.

Guardians_of_the_galaxy-Copy1

That includes comedies.

If there’s one thing that I can say about Marvel in the positive it’s that they’re bold. So bold. They put out a comic book movie about a title that isn’t considered mainstream the way your Spiderman or Iron Man types are and they made it look like something watchable. They got star power behind it and sold it. They didn’t shy away from the fact that there’s very little human or familiar in these worlds. They didn’t try to water down the story.

The start of this movie is a little jarring and for the first few scenes it skips around and it’s hard to get a good footing, but once you catch up to where the movies going (maybe about twenty minutes in) it’s just pure fun. I’ve read the comic this book is based on and the characters are pretty much spot on. The snark and the witty banter is well-written and effective. It’s not the Whedon-esque humor that seems to pepper the other Marvel movies and the characters all seem to speak through themselves and be funny on their own merit. No one sounds exactly like anyone else and even in the two hours or so with them you get a definite sense of voice.

I want to keep this short, but go see this movie. Go see it right now if you can. If I had to rank this as opposed to other Marvel films. Like I said, it takes itself a lot less seriously even though the thread is far greater. There’s no political commentary or anything of that sort, but not serious doesn’t mean bad. Captain America 2 was my favorite of the Marvel movies up until this point, but I think this one might be even with it.

Again, go see this movie.

In Defense of Amy Pond Part II

AmyTwoMenYesterday I started a blog post entitled “In Defense of Amy Pond”. Partly because I have been re-watching the show seasons five through seven of the show and I forgot how much I enjoyed Amy and the Doctor and Rory in the TARDIS, but also because there seems to be a never ending stream of hatred aimed at the current Doctor Who show runner, Steven Moffat. A lot of it isn’t over anything that happens in the plot—there’s issue with what’s implied, too.

This second thing I wanted to say was kind of hard to come up with a bolded point for, but, in short, Amy has sexual agency. Bam. Short, sweet and to the point: Amy also has Sexual Agency. I’ve used the term agency on this blog before, but for those who don’t remember it’s defined as:

Agency, in its simplest form, is the ability to act in a way that accomplishes your goals. To have agency in an area of your life is to have the capacity to act in a way that can produce the results you want.

Sexual Agency is seen as:

  • The ability to define yourself sexually – whether that means along the heterosexuality/homosexuality spectrum, along the spectrum that runs from asexual to highly interested in sex, or both.
  • The ability to choose whether or not you want to experience sexual activity – both in general and with a specific person at a specific time in a specific way.
  • The ability to choose how you want to engage in sexual activity – including whether you want to practice safer sex
  • The ability to stop engaging in a sexual act that is no longer wanted or to refuse an act that was never desired

There are a lot of talk that she’s too sexy for the show…she’s not really all that sexy. Not for American TV and especially not for British television. If we had a problem with someone being too sexy we’d have said something back when Jack was kissing the Doctor and trying to sleep with anything else that moved and pulling guns out of what seems to be his asshole. We would have had an issue with the idea that the Doctor bedded an important figure in British history (the Queen) and left her high and dry without any way to get hold of him (this is something implied by Ten and rectified by the Fiftieth anniversary special when we see what actually happened with him and the Queen—a retcon that made Ten seem not as full of himself).

The question of a character being too sexy only arises when said character is female. Men being sexual is completely alright, but if a female character is there needs to be someone there to gauge how far is too far. You can claim a lot of cultural mores for this, but in the end they all boil down to a sexist attitude towards a woman’s body and choices. And the character not really caring to stick to those ideals goes back to her having agency.

One of the things I like about Amy is that she’s got a traditionally girlie side and that’s never treated as if it’s a bad thing in the show. But she’s obviously brainy, going as far as to create her own Sonic Screwdriver in season six’s “The Girl Who Waited” and has skills outside of just being a pretty face like so many people have claimed in protest of the character, like how she says in “Power of Three” that she’s a columnist for the paper and in the very next episode she is seen to have done what seems to be some book publishing.

There’s another point I would like to tack on here that isn’t exactly about this, but it has to do with this. It’s about the Bechdel Test. As someone who supports women’s rights, I think this is one of those things shoots feminist in the foot when they bring it up. I saw this same test used recently to prove that Doctor Who was sexist and the test wasn’t even applied evenly to all subjects. The idea comes from a comic strip and basically it’s just a measure of how much interaction a woman has with another woman in any story or script. They have to speak to each other about something other than a boy and no boy can be involved in the conversation. It seems like a pretty easily done thing, but a lot of things don’t pass it just on the merit of only having one woman in the whole movie or because the women are just used as set pieces. However, just because the a female character only speaks to males doesn’t somehow weaken her characterization. Recently the movie “Pacific Rim” proved this when people who had been using the Bechdel test as some kind of measure realized the movie couldn’t pass it, but that there was nothing wrong with it.

The test is easily bullshit and doesn’t take a lot of factors in the narrative into account. By assuming that a female character has to have “meaningful” discussions with only other women it seems to promote another kind of sexism. Also, the test doesn’t have an out for movies and books where there are no female characters because there can’t be. The other issue with this is the idea that two women having a discussion about a male somehow invalidates them being there. But it doesn’t seem to matter if that male is their father, son, brother or someone else. It’s clear what the test was trying to do, but it fails and it also sometimes lets things that are sexist as Hell pass.

Rose Tyler, the character we see boasted about as the favorite companion of so many people is a pretty awful person. She spends an episode where people are being brutally murdered trying to get the Queen of England to say a funny phrase. She is jealous, clingy, and even manages to leap through space time with total disregard for the safety of things just to be with the Doctor. There’s a lot that I could say bad about the character, but the fact that she passes this test doesn’t somehow validate her or make her a less sexist or horrible companion. Also, the test leaves out season seven episodes and seems to have unfair metrics for measuring things as there are episodes that should have passed with Amy Pond, but didn’t because they were held to a more strict standard. You don’t like the Moffat era, fine. But don’t try to justify your dislike with pseudoscience bullshit. And especially don’t try to use the aforementioned blog as evidence when you rush home every Sunday to watch Game Of Thrones, a show that can be seen as easily sexist and where characters who had more agency have actually had it taken.

You can’t have it both ways. Amy can’t be a sexist depiction of a female because she does what she wants and acts in a sexual manner if you’re still going to try and defend something like Game of Thrones, which I have seen some people do. Are you really upset that Doctor Who is sexist or are you looking for reasons to not like something? We see so many shows where someone who engages in their desires has to be “taken down a peg”. It seems to happen more if the character is female. Amy is allowed to be sexual without it biting her in the ass. She’s not punished for acting on her desires by the plot or other characters. That’s a very rare thing in television today.

Much Undead About Nothing

Can we stop all of the zombie/zombie apocalypse bullshit?

1074200_705985706094257_825991454_oMaybe that was a bit lacking in tact, but so are the ways I see zombies ramrodded into everyday conversation. They’ve been a common subject of jokes for years, the news has mentioned them when describing cases of people gone insane from drug use, they’re commonly talked about by people in the interest section of dating sites and there is even rumors that the United States government has contingency plans for how to deal with a zombie outbreak.

That last one might be a joke, but let’s face it something that was an underground cult movie topic has become a front and center thing. Two years ago when the world was ending and there was people out there talking about what they expected to happen when the Mayan Calendar ran out (this sounds even stupider now than it did back in 2012) the most popular answer seemed to be Zombie Apocalypse.

I’ve watched most of Walking Dead and years before that I played very Resident Evil game I could get my hands on. Hell, I even read the campy tie-in novels for the series. And when I thought that I was done with zombies and liking them Zombieland renewed my faith in the genre.

I’m not saying that I hate zombies. I’m not even saying that something being too out in the open isn’t good. I like it when things are popular and I’m not one of those people who has to have everything they like be some strange niche thing just so that they can feel special.

Zombies-aheadMy problem stems from how people are bringing it up all of the time as if it’s a badge of coolness. Zombies are getting mentioned the same way that people talking about music used to tell you all about the awesomeness of Radiohead even though they never listened to the band themselves outside of a few times. They’re just name dropping zombies and talking about their zombie plan and telling you their favorite type of zombie. It just seems too much like someone’s attempt to force themselves to appear quirky and different.

This kind of behavior wouldn’t be shocking from someone in the middle of their high school career, but we’re talking about people older than me—in their early thirties doing it with regularity and without anything insightful to add to the conversation.

Probably the saddest thing about all of this is that people like this tend to miss what makes the zombie story so interesting. They’re not monsters in the same vein as vampires, werewolves or even Frankenstein’s monster. They’re husks of humanity reduced to the most basic of needs with little to no personality.

What makes the zombie story interesting is the characters caught in that world and the way they deal with it. All of the zombie stories that have been popular have pretty much focused on this. Night of the Living Dead, Zombieland, The Walking Dead and World War Z. Sure there are fun kills and gore some of the time, but there’s also a character piece that can be told in a unique way where the antagonist won’t always just be the monsters and the monsters won’t always be the only antagonist.

Television Tits: What Other Premium Channel Shows Can Learn From True Detective

true-detective-headerBreasts aren’t a huge secret anymore. We’ve had celebrity sex tapes and leaked photos from stolen phones. If you just need to see a pair of breasts and any pair can do you can hop over to Google. Sometimes you’ll get breasts by searching for completely unrelated subjects.

 

It stands to reason that anyone who really wanted to see nude pictures would just save themselves the twenty a month and hit up Google. Premium movie channels don’t seem to see it the same way. Game of Thrones and True Blood are notorious for it, the latter starting it’s entire run off with a blow job scene. And a scene from Spartacus I caught once seemed to be a group of people being raped by another group of people in a room composed entirely of blood.

It’s nice to run across a show like True Detective that doesn’t use the paid channel label as an excuse to shove sex and rape into every episode and instead uses it to pepper little hints of realism throughout without having to shy away from topics and words.

There’s still nudity and sex, but so far most of the sex has come from actual characters in the show. Not just people taking trips to whore houses for the excuse to have someone be naked in the episode or, worse, people soliloquizing over girl-on-girl sex scenes that have no bearing on what’s happening and that they’re not a part of.

I wouldn’t call True Detective fun. It’s gritty and dark and even the humor is very grim, but the show seems to be more plot and character focused than it is on distracting its audience with steamy sex scenes that add nothing to the plot or characters. It gives me hope that if the American Gods show comes out it won’t just have these things forced into it and that network execs won’t be too keen to believe that this stuff is the only thing that makes a show the hot thing.