Addendum: Strong Male Characters (or, That Rogue One Review is Full of Crap)

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Two days ago, I wrote a post about "strong male characters" that took to task some comments made in a review by Todd McCarthy. At the time, I had not seen Rogue One, so my argument essentially rested on the idea that we don't need "strong male characters" in every movie. Now that I have seen the movie, I feel it necessary to come back to McCarthy's review to address the substance of the claims. Expect some spoilers ahead! As a reminder, here is the relevant quote from McCarthy's review:
What the film really lacks is a strong and vigorous male lead (such as Han Solo or John Boyega's Finn in The Force Awakens) to balance more equally with Jyn and supply a sparring partner. None of the men here has real physical or vocal stature, nor any scenes in which they can decisively emerge from the pack in a way that engages audience enthusiasm. Both Luna and Ahmed have proved themselves repeatedly in big-screen and television performances, but their characters never pop here, to the film's detriment. And given that Jyn is rather less gung-ho and imposing than was Ridley's Rey, there's an overall feel of less physical capacity on the part of the main characters.
None of this is remotely accurate. Actually, I'd hazard to call it complete and utter bullshit. Read More

Strong Male Leads (Or, Why You Don’t Need Them in Every Goddamn Movie)

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The Bourne Identity007: SpecterThe Fast and FuriousThe Dark KnightIndiana Jones, and Rocky. What do these films have in common? Well, aside from being action films and most of them featuring the name of the main character in the title, all of these films have male leads and, at best, female supporting characters. Is this a problem for these franchises? Not really. A series about Rocky should probably feature Rocky, after all, and it makes sense that the same be true for most of the films I just listed. For the most part, men dominate action franchises, with some notable exceptions[note]The Tomb Raider series, Resident EvilUnderworld, and The Hunger Games are some notable exceptions. A more complete list of female-led action films/franchises can be found here.[/note] That's been the way of things for decades, and only until recently has that power been properly challenged, with more and more female-led action franchises hitting our screens. It's a good thing. Some of those new franchises are fan-friggin-tastic. And those other franchises are fantastic, too. We can have both! Which brings me to the latest "men aren't getting their fair share" argument in film... By now, some of you have seen Todd McCarthy's review of Rogue One at The Hollywood Reporter. As far as reviews go, it's a fairly standard piece; read it if you like, but be warned there are some spoilers. Part of the reason McCarthy's review has garnered a lot of attention, particularly on Twitter, is the following quote: Read More

On Ethics and Linking Policies (or, Yeah, DNL Doesn’t Work That Way)

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The Internet is a wonderful place. The Internet is a terrible place. The Internet is where dreams go to live and die in a messy conglomeration of joy, hate, madness, rage, love, sadness, and bewilderment. We want this Internet place to be safe for everyone.[note]OK, so that's not exactly true. We don't want the Internet to be safe for the truly awful among us. The murderers and rapists and scummy butt blisters who are the subject-adjacent of this post. Though, in fairness, the meaning of "safe" in this instance means "safe from physical harm" rather than the more universal safe implied in this post. At least, I think I have the right of it here...[/note] Yet, so often it is not. Given the right prompting, Internet detectives can hunt down your information, reveal your identity, and really ruin your day. Hell, in some cases, these folks have ruined entire lives, making people feel unsafe in their actual homes.[note]How these jackasses make people feel unsafe is rather varied: rude tweets, doxxing, mailing knives and letters full of threats, or even showing up at someone's house.[/note] It's an obvious problem, and one that thus far we don't really have a solution for -- at least, not one that doesn't involve putting your entire online identity behind a firewall of private accounts. Even then, it doesn't necessarily work, since your private accounts can be infiltrated by especially motivated people. Read More

Some Thoughts on the Battlefield 1 Beta

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The beta has ended.  B1 is now purchase only. For the past week, I've been playing the beta, learning as much about the ins and outs of the game as I can, and engaging in copious amounts of shenanigans.  Now, I'm asking myself the big question:  is the game worth its $60 price tag? This is a big thing for me.  I'm a huge fan of Battlefield 4.  It is one of the few games I play on a semi-regular basis while I'm doing this whole PhD thing.  The rounds are short, and the game, while extremely fun, doesn't suck me in the way other games do, leaving me with good feelings but no pressure to play for 9 hours in a row while putting off things I should be doing as an adult critter. So, you can imagine my excitement when DICE announced Battlefield 1, set in the First World War and featuring brand new gameplay, weapons, vehicles, etc.  Equally exciting:  getting access to the open beta! Let's dig into the pros and cons: Read More

On Colin Kaepernick, Free Speech, and Bad Arguments

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So, Colin Kaepernick. What's the deal? Over the past week, a lot of folks have had some pretty strong opinions about Colin Kaepernick's choice to refuse to stand for the national anthem -- and his reasons for doing so. If you don't know what's going on, I'll let you read a more detailed account here. My job, today, is to offer a few scattered thoughts about responses to Kaepernick's protest. Since I don't feel like writing a proper introduction, I'll just get right into it: 2. He has freedom of speech, duh! Read More

Gym Reads Poll #3 (Non-U.S. Edition): What should I read next?

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It's that time again!  Another Gym Reads Poll!  Thus far, you all have made me read the following:
  • The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (1978)(podcast forthcoming)
  • Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1997)(almost done)
Now, I need something new to read while I'm at the gym.  This time, I'm mixing things up by providing a list of books by authors who are not originally from the United States.  The following list includes authors from England, Australia, India, Nigeria, Jamaica, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, and Germany! Read More

Gym Reads Poll: What should I read next?

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Fun fact:  I read when I'm at the gym.  In fact, I really like reading while cycling, since it distracts from the monotony of doing a repetitive motion and it lets me do some much needed "fun reading."  Recently, I decided to tweet a picture of a pile of random books to ask folks online what I should read.  I ended up reading The Book of the Dun Cow (1978) by Walter Wangerin, Jr.  And I've quite enjoyed it.  But now I need another book, and I like the idea of making that process random and fun. Read More

Negative Bookstore Experiences: Why Bookstores Should Be Like Libraries

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A few weeks ago, I flew out to California to visit family and friends, pursue some possible job opportunities, and get some much needed decompression from the stress of PhD life.  During that time, I stopped at a Barnes & Noble to pick up a book recommended to me by a friend.[note]a longer story that involves me actually writing fiction for once...[/note]  Unlike previous stops at one of the big chain stores -- whereat the cashier tries to sell me on their membership card, to which I always respond "no, thanks" -- I had a far less pleasant experience.  It went something like this:
Cashier:  Are you a Barnes & Noble member? Me:  No, but... Cashier:  *judgmentally* ...you know what the membership card gives you, right? Me:  I do, but... Cashier:  *dismissively* ...Alright then.  $15.
What I had meant to say was this:
I understand what the card provides, but Barnes & Noble closed down the only store within a 30-40 minute drive of my house, so I don't get the opportunity to browse there anymore.  And I don't like browsing for books online, which means I don't buy books all that often from any online bookstore.  Sorry.
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